Archive for June, 2011

WFP Looks to Pressure Cuomo on Hydrofracking Ban
June 30th, 2011

The Working Families Party is urging its members to sign a petition demanding Gov. Andrew Cuomo to oppose a lifting of the moratorium of hydrofracking in New York.

“The drillers want to drill first and ask questions later. Tell Governor Cuomo not to let them:” says the release.

“We’ll deliver all of our petitions and your personal messages to the Governor’s office pronto. This can’t wait. The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation is due to release its report tomorrow, and reports say the regulations may give the go-ahead for fracking on private lands in parts of the state soon thereafter.”

Here is the full statement:

Dear friend,

Just a few hours ago, the New York Times reports that Governor Cuomo may lift the statewide moratorium on hydrofracking [1]. Now may be our last chance to urge him to protect our state’s drinking water from this dangerous drilling process.

The drillers want to drill first and ask questions later. Tell Governor Cuomo not to let them:

We’ll deliver all of our petitions and your personal messages to the Governor’s office pronto. This can’t wait.

The state’s Department of Environmental Conservation is due to release its report tomorrow, and reports say the regulations may give the go-ahead for fracking on private lands in parts of the state soon thereafter.

Study after study has shown the dangers of fracking — including carcinogens and dangerous chemical contamination in drinking water — along with its negligible economic impact. In fact, in areas where drilling has taken place, communities have seen their economies worsen. That’s in addition to the degradation of their local environments.

Sure, the drillers say it’s safe. But they’re also facing a possible federal investigation for allegedly misleading their own investors. [2] They’re motivated by one thing only: money.

The reports say that Governor Cuomo will keep some areas of the state, including New York Citys watershed, off-limits to frackers. Thats a very good thing. But do you think there are any areas of the state that should be put at risk?

Sign our emergency petition here, and then tell your friends:


TJ & the WFP team


By on June 30, 2011, 9:44 pm
In category: Albany,Environment,Eye on Albany | 1 Comment »

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NRDC Says Don't Jump to Conclusions on Fracking Ban
June 30th, 2011

Kate Sinding of the Natural Resources Defense Council says people are getting ahead of themselves on this whole end of fracking ban thing.

“Rumors have been swirling today that New York is lifting its moratorium on new fracking in the Marcellus Shale. Heres the reality: the de facto moratorium that has been in place since the summer of 2008 remains intact,” wrote Sinding on the NRDC’s Switchboard blog.

“And in fact, the Department of Environmental Conservation is for the first time proposing to place significant portions of the state formally off-limits to industrial gas drilling. They are also proposing a variety of strict new safeguards. These proposed measures appear to represent a step in the right direction, but a full review of the states proposal is required before it can be determined whether New Yorks drinking water, public health and communities are fully protected.”
Sinding says that tommorrow’s announcement will feature the DEC’s incomplete revised “draft supplemental generic impact statement.” Read the rest of this entry »

By on June 30, 2011, 7:03 pm
In category: Albany,Environment,Eye on Albany | 1 Comment »

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Bloomberg on Fracking Announcement
June 30th, 2011

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is weighing in on the DEC’s new guidelines for hydrofracking. Here is his statement:

After more than a year of careful research and analysis, the State Department of Environmental Conservation made the right decision to recommend a ban of hydrofracking in the Citys upstate watersheds and a process to establish rules that will allow drilling elsewhere in a rigorously protective and environmentally responsible way. Governor Cuomo and Commissioner Joseph Martens deserve an enormous amount of credit for protecting the unfiltered drinking water supplies of more than nine million New Yorkers, while increasing our ability to harness the benefits of New Yorks natural gas resources.

My Administration said from the beginning that decisions on drilling had to be based on detailed scientific reviews. After completing our own independent study, it became clear that hydrofracking in New York Citys watersheds would compromise our ability to maintain an unfiltered water supply, and we vigorously advocated for a complete ban on drilling in the Citys upstate watersheds. These new recommendations appear to adopt the restrictions we sought.

We look forward to working with Governor Cuomo, Commissioner Martens and their team as the process outlined in the recommendations moves forward. I again want to thank the Governor for fully recognizing the Citys position and for ensuring that the water supply of half of New York State is protected for generations to come.

By on June 30, 2011, 6:13 pm
In category: Albany,Environment,Eye on Albany | Comments Off on Bloomberg on Fracking Announcement

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Silver Amends Fracking Statement
June 30th, 2011

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has amended his initial statement about Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plans to allow hydraulic fracturing in New York. It is decidedly positive now compared to the initial release.

“I am pleased that the DEC will permanently ban hydraulic fracturing in sensitive watershed areas and the aquifers that feed them.  The Assembly also will be vigilant as the DEC moves forward and will work to ensure that no permits are issued anywhere in the state where there are any possible dangers identified by the federal EPA study.”

Meanwhile the Independent Oil and Gas Association issued their statement on the DEC’s supplemental generic environmental impact statement: Read the rest of this entry »

By on June 30, 2011, 5:24 pm
In category: Albany,Environment,Eye on Albany | 1 Comment »

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Hoyt's Resignation Letter
June 30th, 2011

Here is former Buffalo Assemblyman Sam Hoyt’s resignation letter. Hoyt will be taking up a “senior position” in the Empire State Development Corporation. Hoyt was found in 2008 to have carried on an affair with a 23-year-old legislative intern from 2003 to 2005 and was subsequently denied intern help by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Hoyt is a close ally of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Read the rest of this entry »

By on June 30, 2011, 5:15 pm
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The Dump Continues
June 30th, 2011

The Cuomo administration is releasing news on some of its most contentious issues on the Thursday before the 4th of July weekend. To recap we have prison closings, the lifting of the ban on hydrofracking and the news that Buffalo Assemblyman Sam Hoyt, who had an affair with a 23-year-old intern, is leaving his seat to take up a senior position at the Empire State Development Corporation.

Now about that fracking thing. The New York Times web-site featured a news flash that declared Gov. Andrew Cuomo was set to approve hydrofracking in New York. The Times story came out and revealed that Cuomo would approve fracking outside of the New York City, Syracuse watershed and state-owned land. Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto called the report, “baseless speculation and premature.”

How premature?

Well maybe by an hour or two as the Department of Environmental Conservation issued a press release confirming the Times report and detailing its new recommendations for fracking. DEC commissioner Joseph Martens is scheduled to address the new fracking recommendations at a press conference at 11 a.m. tomorrow. There will also be a 60-day public comment period starting in August. But environmental advocates and politicos aren’t waiting until August. Here is some of what they have to say about the DEC report: Read the rest of this entry »

By on June 30, 2011, 4:55 pm
In category: Albany,Environment,Eye on Albany | Comments Off on The Dump Continues

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Cuomo Announces Prison Closings
June 30th, 2011

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office must want a four-day weekend as they have jumped ahead a day to dump all their potentially unpopular news into the media shark tank. First fracking–now Cuomo has released a list of prisons slated for closing across the state–including one prison in the Bronx and one on Staten Island.

Here is the list:

Buffalo Work Release (Erie County), Camp Georgetown (Madison County), Summit Shock (Schoharie County) and Fulton Work Release (Bronx County); and three male medium security facilities: Arthur Kill (Richmond County), Mid-Orange (Orange County) and Oneida (Oneida County).

According to the release: “Approximately 3,800 unneeded and unused beds will be eliminated, saving taxpayers $72 million in 2011-12 and $112 million in 2012-13. The offenders in these facilities will be moved to other prisons that have available space with no interruption. No maximum security facilities will close under this plan” Read the rest of this entry »

By on June 30, 2011, 2:40 pm
In category: Albany,Crime & Safety,Eye on Albany | 17 Comments »

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What Does the Times' Fracking Report Mean? *Update*
June 30th, 2011

The NY Times is reporting that Gov. Andrew Cuomo will lift a moratorium on the controversial process of extracting natural gas from shale formations called hydrofracking. The administration will reportedly ban the practice in the New York City and Syracuse watersheds.

The Times article cites unnamed sources and the Cuomo administration has called the report “baseless speculation and premature.”

The DEC is currently working on a review of the fracking process and was expected to release its report tomorrow–that was supposed to be followed up with a public comment period–before any decisions were made about the future of fracking. The DEC says it may not make the deadline–it has delayed the report’s release a number of times before. The Times article notes that the time frame for the lifting of the ban is unclear.

*Update* The Post’s Fred Dicker reports that the DEC’s report recommends lifting the fracking band and that environmentalists who are opposed to the recommendations are leaking the document. Dicker has a habit of running clean up for the Cuomo administration. *Update*

In some ways this seems like non news. Read the rest of this entry »

By on June 30, 2011, 2:17 pm
In category: Albany,Environment,Eye on Albany | 1 Comment »

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It's a Budget!
June 29th, 2011

By a vote of 49 to 1, the City Council today approved a $66 billion budget for New York City for fiscal year 2012. The measure contains no teacher layoffs and does not shut any fire companies — but it does include layoffs for at least 1,000 other city workers and cutbacks in some popular programs, such as scholarship for student at the City University.

Despite that most council members clearly thought they had done a pretty good job.

This is, Speaker Christine Quinn said, “not a perfect budget. It would be impossible to have a perfect budget when the city and our tax revenues are still feeling the effects of the recession.”
Read the rest of this entry »

By on June 29, 2011, 2:31 pm
In category: City Hall,Crime & Safety,Education,Gotham City,Public Finance | 1 Comment »

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Chin Applauds Quinn, Wants Millionaires Tax
June 29th, 2011

The City Council voted to pass Mayor Bloomberg’s $66 billion budget earlier today and council members seem pretty happy with their votes. Councilman Charles Barron was the only dissenting vote.

A release from Council member Margaret Chin notes that she “thanked Speaker Quinn and Finance Chair Recchia for their leadership and pairing down the massive cuts proposed in the Executive budget.” A last minute deal averted the layoff of 4,000 teachers.

But it also notes that Chin supported a resolution sponsored by Council members Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander which calls on the New York State Legislature to pass a law extending the millionaires tax.

The budget season may be over but the millionaires tax does not expire until the end of the year. Tonight the City Council has taken the first step in signaling to the State our need for real revenue raising options in the year to come. We want to ensure that this years cuts are the bottom line. It is now time to look at ways to raise money and to do that we need a progressive income tax in New York City

Here is her full statement: Read the rest of this entry »

By on June 29, 2011, 2:07 pm
In category: City Hall,Economy | 2 Comments »

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The Pork List
June 28th, 2011

The New York City Council apparently is still planning to vote on the 2012 budget later today (maybe much later – stay tuned).

In the meantime, the council has released its Schedule C, which lists “funding for community based not-for-profit and other public service
Organizations.” This is, in other words, the list of so-called member items, also known as earmarks or pork — some 700 pages worth.

We’ll be combing through it and posting much of it on Councilpedia in the coming days. In the meantime, you can take a look yourself by going here.

Let us now if you find anything interesting — and we’ll do the same.

By on June 28, 2011, 1:06 pm
In category: City Hall,Public Finance | 1 Comment »

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Addabbo Explains Vote on Livery Bill
June 28th, 2011

Sen. Joseph Addabbo issued a statement today to explain his vote against the livery bill supported by Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The bill that was passed by the Assembly and Senate will create a new class of livery cabs that will be available to commuters in certain busy areas of boroughs outside of Manhattan. There was heavy lobbying on both sides of the issue–with yellow cab drivers who were against the legislation surrounding the Capitol with their cabs and livery drivers who spent hours debating legislators in the halls. The bill was the last piece of legislation voted on before the same-sex marriage bill. Here is Addabbo’s explanation:

“My reasoning for voting against Mayor Bloombergs Taxi Plan bill (S.5825) is twofold. First, this matter should have been decided or negotiated with the NYC Council. Many state lawmakers, like myself, believe the State Legislature was being used to circumvent the usual City government legislative process pertaining to these types of matters. Second, this bill would not truly benefit my residents and certainly would hurt the livery cab industry much more than helping the yellow cab companies. Read the rest of this entry »

By on June 28, 2011, 12:46 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany,Transportation | 5 Comments »

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Views From the Capitol
June 27th, 2011

Wondering what it was like in Albany leading up to the historic same-sex marriage vote. Here are some pictures (of varying quality) I took last week. Feel free to share any photos of your own–from the Capitol, or from the celebrations across the state. Feel free to tweet them to @davidhowardking or @gothamgazette.


By on June 27, 2011, 3:08 pm
In category: Albany,Civil Rights,Eye on Albany | Comments Off on Views From the Capitol

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Why Sen. Kevin Parker Got Mad
June 25th, 2011

Last night as the country watched the New York State Senate vote on same-sex marriage things came to a jarring halt. Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, who was presiding over the chamber, called session into recess to find out what was happening on the floor. Were you watching? Did you wonder what was going on?

Essentially the Senate rules were changed in a backroom agreement before session started and then changed again during the vote to make sure it would be concluded to make the 11 p.m. newscasts.

Sen. Kevin Parker, a long time proponent of same-sex marriage, was informed by Senate staff that he would not be able to explain his vote. He was livid. He cursed out the governor and eventually stormed to the podium where Duffy was presiding — a number of other Democratic senators followed him, seemingly to calm him down.

Earlier when Sen. Ruben Diaz tried to lay the marriage bill aside he was ignored. Normal Senate procedure allows for any senator to lay a bill aside for debate. It gives legislators a chance to debate the bill then when they vote, they again have the chance to explain their vote. But the rules weren’t the same.

Parker told the Gazette that around 7 or 8 p.m. the Senate Democratic conference met and discussed a deal. “We were informed of he procedure,” said Parker. “Everyone knew Rev. Diaz was going to lay the bill aside but we agreed not to debate the bill after he laid it aside. We would call the roll and all be able to explain our votes. We would be given two minutes each.”

The Gazette and a number of other sources reported the proposed limited debate earlier in the week. I was told to expect it by multiple senators earlier yesterday morning. Read the rest of this entry »

By on June 25, 2011, 6:19 pm
In category: Albany,Civil Rights,Eye on Albany,Governing,Law | 22 Comments »

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Oops, They Did it Again
June 24th, 2011

The New York Senate adjourned late tonight without having accomplished…well any number of things. They did not vote on any of the session-ending package that includes rent laws, they didn’t vote on a health exchange bill that is mandated to be in place by the federal government and perhaps biggest of all they didn’t vote on same-sex marriage legislation.

The halls were stacked with chanting, sweating protesters and state troopers watching them. Lobbyists paced the halls, shirts unbuttoned, no ties, some in jeans–a rare sight in Albany–their travel wardrobes sufficiently exhausted.”They used to say it can’t get any worse,” said Tenant advocate Michael McKee who was more than ready to leave Albany. “They don’t say that anymore. They expect it will get worse.” And it did.

Democratic senators were in the dark. They expected to vote on a health care exchange bill, livery cab legislation backed by Bloomberg, legislation giving SUNY and CUNY more control over their tuition, “the big ugly” and same-sex marriage. But according to sources Republicans fell apart while conferencing the Assembly’s health care exchange legislation. The official line was that bills were still not printed and wouldn’t be ready until 3 or 5 AM. Democratic senators were shocked. It was announced the senate would reconvene at 10 am on Friday. Read the rest of this entry »

By on June 24, 2011, 12:21 am
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany | 1 Comment »

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Ball Will Vote No
June 23rd, 2011

The ever controversial Sen. Greg Ball has announced after a few weeks of teasing and working on religious exemptions that he will vote against the same-sex marriage bill. That leaves three undecided Republicans. A number of Republicans, including Ball, have stated that they think same-sex marriage will pass if it comes to a vote. If the vote takes place it will happen very late tonight, as the Assembly and Senate aren’t expected to start passing parts of the major deal until after 9 or 930, or even possibly tomorrow, or next week. Who knows? Here is Ball’s statement:

Knowing that marriage equality was likely to pass, I thought it important to force the issue of religious protections. Over the past few weeks, Ive had the distinct opportunity of listening to literally thousands of residents, on both sides of this issue, by holding an undecided stance. I thought it was important to listen to all of my constituents and hold an undecided position until the actual bill language was written and everyones voice had been heard. Now that the final text is public, I am proud that I have secured some strong protections for religious institutions and basic protections for religious organizations. The bill still lacks many of the basic religious protections I thought were vital, and for this reason, and as I did in the Assembly, I will be voting no.

Republicans tried to beat ball in a primary last year because of the many controversies surrounding his behavior towards women. But he won the Republican primary and moved from the Assembly to the Senate.

By on June 23, 2011, 8:43 pm
In category: Albany,Civil Rights,Eye on Albany | 1 Comment »

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Hurry Up And Wait
June 23rd, 2011

Bills still haven’t been printed for the “big ugly” so legislators aren’t voting on them which means we could all be in Albany for a very long time. Lobbyists and legislators are running out of clothes, protesters seem to be getting louder (it could be me though) and the overcast skies keep dripping sheets of rain down on all of us. Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos emerged after meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo this morning telling reporters that he and his members will finally conference gay marriage to decide when and if to bring same-sex marriage to a vote in the senate. Skelos said he expects it to be a lengthy conference.Same-sex marriage lobbyists are saying that the vote is basically a done deal if it takes place–we will see.

Meanwhile it isn’t clear if all the details are set for the contents of the “big ugly”–that includes issues with rent and mandate relief. Lobbyists and others are saying they expect to be back in Albany early next week.

By on June 23, 2011, 12:24 pm
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Krueger Looks To Lady Gaga On #SSM
June 22nd, 2011

Senate Democrats have a hot new Twitter hash tag: “#letusVote” to prod Senate Republicans to bring same-sex marriage legislation to the floor for a vote. Sen. Liz Krueger is credited with creating the tag and she has been trying to get prominent same-sex marriage proponents to use it. “@ladygaga #NYSenate needs your help!” Krueger tweeted. “Can you & ur Little Monsters pls help us trend #letusVOTE We want to vote for #samesexmarriage in NY” Lady Gaga has yet to pick up the tag says,” Krueger spokeswoman Katie Kincaid,” but we’re working on it
and in one day this # has picked up some serious steam, so we’ll keep on working at it.”A number of other Democratic senators and activists have picked up the call. Gaga has been calling legislators and lobbying them to bring marriage to a vote.

Senate Republicans spent a good amount of time during their two years in the minority kvetching about the majority’s ability to block any bill they didn’t want to come to a vote and now they are doing the thing they claimed so steadfastly to stand against. Advocates wonder how it is that a deal came together that does not include gay marriage and why when asked Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos continues to claim same-sex marriage was not discussed in meetings.

“The debate over same sex marriage is clearly one which deserves a vote. It would be a huge disservice to all New Yorkers, on both sides of the argument, if we left Albany without voting on the issue. Where’s the democracy in that?” asked Kincaid.

By on June 22, 2011, 6:21 pm
In category: Albany,Civil Rights,Eye on Albany | Comments Off on Krueger Looks To Lady Gaga On #SSM

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Cuomo's Democratic Credentials
June 22nd, 2011

Its a dreary rainy day in Albany that has brought yet another leaders meeting and a lot more of the same–waiting. According to Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos there remain a number of sticking points in the deal on rent regulations and mandate relief. He expects to vote on parts of the deal this afternoon–including the SUNY 2020 deal. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said that he would like to finish voting on all the issues today. But Skelos repeated a familiar refrain–that same sex marriage was not part of the discussion with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Silver. A refrain that has disturbed both same-sex marriage advocates and Democratic legislators. Their faith in Cuomo’s negotiations are waning.

As the details of the deal are hashed out few Democratic legislators and tenant advocates are not exactly hopeful that the rent deal will get any better for them. An emergency meeting of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative caucus was called today to discuss the rent deal. Yesterday many minority legislators from the city were trying to come to terms with the deal Cuomo negotiated. They thought they had made it clear him that he needed to deliver big on rent laws if he wanted their continued support.

For the last three months members have been talking about how the Cuomo administration has neglected them and could only make it right with a big delivery on rent laws and a vote on gay marriage to prove that Cuomo is still a Democrat. With such small gains in the rent package lawmakers are wondering whose side Cuomo is on and what exactly he was able to get for Democrats in the deal. It seems almost certain that gay marriage will pass if it comes to a vote but Skelos has made it clear that his members will decide whether to bring it to a vote.

With only a few days likely left of session in Albany minority lawmakers are trying to decide how best to represent themselves and their districts–go along with the popular Cuomo but go back to their districts with very little to show for it, or demand more of Cuomo, challenge the popular and powerful governor and be able to make it clear to their constituents that their best efforts were thwarted. Read the rest of this entry »

By on June 22, 2011, 2:13 pm
In category: Albany,Civil Rights,Eye on Albany,Housing | Comments Off on Cuomo's Democratic Credentials

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Another Day, Another Extender
June 21st, 2011

You guessed it. While the big three hash out the details in the end-of-the-year deal legislators will have to pass yet another extender to keep the city’s rent laws going. It is becoming a big of a habit. See here and here.

Here is the statement from Make the Road New York on the Rent deal:

Statement from Gladys Puglla, Co-Chair of Make the Road New York’s Board of Directors:
On the Agreement of New York State Legislature to Renew and Strengthen Rent Laws

“As an immigrant New Yorker who struggles to pay rent each month, I am disappointed by the deal on rent regulation that is being discussed in Albany. The deal, as it stands right now, is wholly inadequate to protect New York City’s fast dwindling stock of affordable housing.

“As inadequate as it is, I want to acknowledge the incredible hard work that went into crafting this deal. We want to thank those legislators that supported our campaign for stronger tenant protections in both houses. Make the Road New York will continue to work with tenant advocates across the state to ensure real rent reform.”

By on June 21, 2011, 7:51 pm
In category: Albany,Eye on Albany,Housing | Comments Off on Another Day, Another Extender

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