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Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled a new plan to get storm-ravaged communities to work together in planning their futures during his NY Rising: Storm Recovery Conference in Albany yesterday. The 102 communities impacted by flooding across the state will be eligible for up to $750 million in combined state and federal aid. “What does the community think is the best approach to rebuild?" asked Cuomo. "And what are the best ideas and what is the best vision and let’s fund the community’s vision rather than ask the community to fit in the template that’s established from up above.” The Cuomo administration unveiled a website designed to help communities apply for the program and to find out how much recovery funding they are eligible for. You can watch a video of the conference here.
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Firefighters Want City to Abandon New 911 System
The firefighters' union plans to go to court today to ask a judge to force the city to hault using what they call a 'deadly' 911 system. The union says the two-month old, $88 million system has caused a number of delays and other problems. The union claims 911 dispatchers waited 8 minutes before sending a call about a five-alarm Bronx house fire to the FDNY. Two children were hospitalized from the fire and nine firefighters were treated for minor injuries. The city disputes that there was a gap and says crews were on the scene 5 minutes after the call. Bloomberg called the response time "better than average." This follows Tuesday's events when it took an ambulance more than thirty minutes to respond to an emergency call after an intern collapsed at a news conference in Brooklyn. Council President Christine Quinn blasted the response time and called Police Commissioner Ray Kelly to ask him to dispatch help. The city said it didn't consider the event high priority because the intern was being treated and was aware and speaking.
Cuomo Vows to Clean up Corruption in TV Ad (NY Times)
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Elections officials say disabled voters will have access to electronic devices at each poll site this year so that they can submit paper ballots for the September primary, even though inaccessible lever voting machines are being brought back.
A spokeswoman for the city's Board of Elections said in a statement today that ballot marking devices would allow "all voters, including voters with disabilities, to vote privately and independently at their poll site" on Election Day.
The Gotham Gazette reported yesterday that the BOE could face legal action from advocates for the disabled over its plan to bring back lever voting machines.
James Weisman, senior vice president and senior counsel at the United Spinal Association, told the Gotham Gazette that his organization was considering taking legal steps to stop the BOE from using the machines.
He said disabled voters would face physical challenges to using the lever voting machines.
It took an ambulance 31 minutes to respond after a Council intern fainted from heat stroke during a press conference with Christine Quinn. A Jewish volunteer ambulance brought the intern to the hospital before the FNDY ambulance arrived, despite it being a day of fasting. 911 relayed the multiple calls with no issues but was overloaded with nearly a third more calls than normal due to the heat. The incident was originally rated as a medium priority. Quinn, who called Commissioner Kelly for help and met with the FDNY commissioner later about the incident, said the city wasn't prepared for the heatwave and called for an increase in emergency vehicles.
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Obama: Kelly 'Well-Qualified' To Lead Homeland Security (Reuters)
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Charities Haven't Spent $240 Million of $575 Million In Sandy Contributions (NY Times)
UPDATED: Board of Elections Says Disabled Voters Will Get Help-at Polls
The Board of Elections is bracing for any potential lawsuits over its plan to bring back lever voting machines for the primary and possible runoff.
The BOE's commissioners voted to pass a revised resolution on the plan for the lever voting machines at a public meeting today, with Board President Frederic M. Umane saying that new language would be "helpful" in case the agency got sued over the plan.
"It's been suggested that there could be litigation over this and it might be helpful to lay out and delineate, to a greater extent than what we did last week, some of the concerns and reasons why we want to be using the lever machines and not the optical scanners," Umane said earlier today before the commissioners voted to approve.
Civil rights and good government groups have criticized the plan for bringing back the lever voting machines. The BOE has said that the optical voting machines are too unwieldy to use for the mayoral primary this year or for the runoff.