Gotham Gazette https://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/767 Wed, 05 Aug 2020 13:32:54 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) Senate Republicans Leave Molinaro Out of Only Hope Messaging https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8009-senate-republicans-leave-molinaro-out-of-only-hope-messaging https://www.gothamgazette.com/state/8009-senate-republicans-leave-molinaro-out-of-only-hope-messaging molinaro golden

Marc Molinaro & Senator Marty Golden campaign (photo: @marcmolinaro)


Republicans fighting to keep control of the state Senate this year have been adamant that their continued majority in the chamber is the only thing standing between New York and socialism. And with the party playing defense in a number of races, there’s a certain logic to motivating voters to come out based on the idea that their district could be the one that determines who controls the entire Senate, especially resonant given the one-seat margin the Republican conference holds.

But the rhetoric around preserving the GOP majority in its lone source of statewide power seems to leave out a major issue: the party also has a gubernatorial candidate in Marc Molinaro, whose election would guarantee a divided government in Albany thanks to the Democratic supermajority in the Assembly. Molinaro may be facing long odds, but to read much GOP messaging, one could easily think the party isn’t running a candidate against Governor Andrew Cuomo at all.

In the most glaring example of this trend, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, of Long Island, wrote an op-ed arguing for continued GOP control of the Senate, casting the majority as “the most important firewall in history between every taxpayers’ wallet and government coffers,” and hitting common themes of higher taxes and government-run health care if Democrats are victorious. While the editorial confidently predicted “when” and not “if” Republicans control the chamber again, it makes no mention of Molinaro’s campaign for governor on the same ticket.

In a pair of stories about the governor’s involvement in close state Senate races, Scott Reif, the Republican Senate conference spokesperson, kept up the messaging that the Senate GOP was the only chance to hold back Democratic ambitions, telling the Daily News that the governor was trying to “create one-man, one-party rule” and that “there will be no accountability, no checks and balances” if Cuomo successfully helps elect a Democratic Senate majority.

"What Andrew Cuomo really wants is absolute power in Albany, and we're the only ones who can stop it," Reif told the News, again leaving out any mention of Molinaro defeating the two-term incumbent. Reif did not respond to a request for comment for this story.

Molinaro is of course facing an uphill battle in taking on Cuomo, especially in an environment seen as hostile to Republicans, and recent statewide polling saw him down 58-35 to Cuomo. Republican donors seem to believe his campaign is less of a wise investment than the state Senate, as Republican strategist Chapin Fay told the New York Times that “The funding class are investors, and they want to invest in something where they would see a return,” in a story about how the Senate GOP has greatly outraised Molinaro this year. The Business Council of New York’s PAC endorsed Cuomo over Molinaro at the same time as they endorsed only a single Democrat (of sorts) in Senator Simcha Felder, who has long-conferenced with Republicans, in an otherwise GOP set of state Senate endorsements.

Molinaro, for his part, said that he felt his campaign and the Senate Republicans were on the same page as far as messaging and working together. “Almost all of the members are helping to spread our message, we’re magnifying our resources, and working with Senator Flanagan,” Molinaro told Gotham Gazette following a Monday event in New York City. “The entire Republican conference has been good for us,” he said, favorably comparing the relationship his campaign has with the Senate GOP to the fraught one that the Rob Astorino campaign had in 2014. (Cuomo himself has been more actively campaigning for his party-mates to control the Senate, and Democrats are exceedingly optimistic they can flip the chamber.)

Currently the Dutchess county executive, Molinaro is a former member of the Assembly who was quickly endorsed by some of his former colleagues in the lower chamber of the state Legislature when he entered the race. Molinaro’s entrance fairly quickly led then-frontrunner Senator John DeFrancisco to drop out as Republican leaders from around the state coalesced behind Molinaro. DeFrancisco had been endorsed by Flanagan and several other senators before leaving the race, frustrated and headed toward retirement. Molinaro and Flanagan have not campaigned together.

But Molinaro, or his lieutenant gubernatorial running mate Julie Killian, have made campaign stops with a number of Republican state Senate candidates, like the Hudson Valley’s Annie Rabbitt, Long Island’s Jeff Pravato and Brooklyn’s Marty Golden, all of whom are in tight races for seats that could control the balance of the body.

Molinaro also brought his anti-corruption message to Syracuse in September for an appearance with Republican Bon Antonacci, who’s running to succeed DeFrancisco. Rabbit is a candidate who said she was “absolutely” motivated to run by the prospect of a Democratic Senate, and Antonacci has said a Democratic state Senate means tax hikes and increased state spending, a scenario that’s only possible if there’s a Democratic governor around to agree to them.

Molinaro, while admitting that “any one of us could lose,” also said he wasn’t bothered by the theoretical erasure of his candidacy by state Senate candidates, because there are other balances in the state Legislature to think about beyond the party balance. “I look forward to working with whomever, but I think the balance between the Senate and Assembly is important. The Senate Republican conference tends to focus its attention on upstate and Long Island, so this regional balance that’s created there, I think there’s an important benefit to that,” he said.

***
by Dave Colon, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

Samar Khurshid and Ben Max contributed to this article.

]]>
Senate Republicans Leave Molinaro Out of Only Hope Messaging Tue, 23 Oct 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Fear-mongering Versus Reality in New York Parole https://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/7977-fear-mongering-versus-reality-in-new-york-parole https://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/7977-fear-mongering-versus-reality-in-new-york-parole state capital herman bell 3

Senate Republicans oppose Herman Bell's parole (photo via Senator Patrick Gallivan's website)


Juxtaposed with the decision by New York State Senate Republicans to hold hearings to voice anger over decisions by the Parole Board was this past Friday’s annual Parole Summit of the Lifers and Longtermers Organization at Otisville Correctional Facility.

Summit attendees, including parole reform advocates, clergy, academics, and a judge from the New York Court of Appeals, heard person after person talk passionately about the Lifers’ commitment to their “Four Rs” of responsibility, remorse, reconciliation, and rehabilitation. By day’s end it was clear that for many people behind bars there is a fifth “R” – redemption.   

The transparent political motivation to hold hearings so close in time to elections is made all the more shameful by the appeal to fear-mongering, as comments already circulating by Senate Republicans raise the specter of droves of dangerous criminals randomly turned loose on the streets of Albany and Long Island, the chosen sites for the hearings, and elsewhere.  

Senator Patrick Gallivan, Chair of the Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee that co-sponsored the hearings, characterizes a select few Board decisions granting parole as “indefensible and an affront to law-abiding citizens.” To the contrary, the Board followed the laws and regulations that govern the Board’s decision-making. Far more troubling to law-abiding citizens is an elected official urging the Board to flout the law.    

The Legislature passes laws that set minimum and maximum sentences, and judges mete out sentences pursuant to those laws. A person becomes eligible for parole after they have served their minimum judicially-imposed sentence. The Legislature has enumerated a number of factors that the Parole Board must consider when weighing whether to grant parole. If you have done well while incarcerated -- completed all required programs, avoided serious disciplinary infractions, accepted responsibility for your actions, and made a thorough re-entry plan -- you should be released. That is the law. Indeed, that is what people are told when they are sentenced.  

Long-overdue changes to the laws and regulations that govern parole direct the Board to take a forward-looking approach; evaluate who the person is today instead of fixating on the crime of conviction from often decades earlier. Now, the Board is required to utilize an objective evidence-based risk-assessment tool to determine whether someone presents a risk of future violent behavior. Elected officials who suggest that the Parole Board is turning loose a slew of dangerous criminals conveniently ignore that each of these people were deemed to be at the lowest possible risk for re-offending. They also elide the fact that each of these people served decades in prison before they were released. Not only have they been significantly punished, but, according to every study of age and crime, they have long ago “aged out” of any real possibility of future criminal conduct. Put simply, they are profoundly different people at age 50, 60 or 70 than they were when they were in their teens or twenties.  

Several Senators also refer disingenuously to the Board’s “seeming automatic releases.” That is patently untrue. The most controversial cases of the past year all involve people who had been denied parole eight, nine, ten, or more times spanning decades. However, consider the recent case of Richard DiGuglielmo. Mr. DiGuglielmo was convicted of murder and sentenced to 20 years to life in a high-profile case involving the killing of a black man by a white off-duty police officer in a dispute over a parking space. Mr. DiGuglielmo served his 20-year minimum and was released at his very first appearance before the Board, a very rare outcome for someone convicted of murder, especially considering the objections from the victim’s family. Notably, there was no outcry from the Republicans members of the Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee.

The Board is subjected to relatively little public opprobrium when it chooses to deny parole.  Contrary to the claims of Senate Republicans, the far larger problem with the Board, as made abundantly clear at the Otisville Parole Summit, is its habit of routinely denying parole to the many people who have so fully transformed, decisions based solely on the serious nature of the crime of conviction, something the person can never change. These punitive, backward-looking decisions ignore the innate human capacity to change and are ultimately cold and merciless.  

The epidemic of mass incarceration is now readily acknowledged. The 130 Lifers and Longtermers at the Otisville Summit have collectively served more than 2,400 years in prison.  Many of them have been denied parole repeatedly based exclusively on the crime of conviction from decades before. Contrary to the views of Republican members of the Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee, decisions grounded in the extant laws and regulations to grant parole should be praised, not pilloried, and must not be influenced, let alone determined, by who yells the loudest.

***
Steven Zeidman is a professor of law at CUNY School of Law. On Twitter @SteveZeidman.

***
Have an op-ed idea or submission for Gotham Gazette? Email opinion@gothamgazette.com

]]>
Fear-mongering Versus Reality in New York Parole Thu, 04 Oct 2018 04:00:00 +0000
As Teddy Roosevelt Did, 2016 Candidates Drag the Supreme Court Into Presidential Politics https://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/6209-as-teddy-roosevelt-did-2016-candidates-drag-the-supreme-court-into-presidential-politics https://www.gothamgazette.com/130-opinion/6209-as-teddy-roosevelt-did-2016-candidates-drag-the-supreme-court-into-presidential-politics supreme court

The Supreme Court (Carol Highsmith, via Library of Congress


The Supreme Court is being drawn against its will into the chaotic 2016 presidential campaign.

Republicans Donald Trump and Ted Cruz dislike the court's decisions affirming Obamacare and gay marriage. Democrats Hillary Clinton and Bernard Sanders object to its Citizens United campaign finance decision. Senate Republicans are threatening to block President Obama's nomination to replace recently deceased justice Antonin Scalia, alleging the appointment would be better left to the next president (a Republican, they hope). Donald Trump was (probably) kidding when he said his sister, Federal Court of Appeals Judge Marianne Trump Barry, would make a credible Supreme Court nominee.

In a recent speech, Chief Justice John Roberts lamented that partisan extremism is damaging the public's perception of the court as an unbiased interpreter of the law that is above politics. People too often accuse the court of taking sides in an issue but all it is doing is objectively judging constitutional merits, he said. "We have no policy views on the matter at all," Roberts insisted.

But dragging the court into presidential politics has a long history.

Theodore Roosevelt was the first presidential candidate to assail the court, during the 1912 contest. TR, president 1901-1909, was attempting to gain the Republican presidential nomination and oust the man who had succeeded him, William H. Taft.

On a speech-making tour in the West in the fall of 1910, he attacked big business. The nation was in the midst of a struggle "between the men who possess more than they have earned and the men who have earned more than they possess."

He lambasted the federal courts for lagging behind the times and criticized them for "a series of negative decisions to create a sphere in which neither nation nor state has effective control."

He cited the 1905 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Lochner vs. New York as a prime example. By a vote of 5 to 4, the court had overturned a New York law regulating the hours and working conditions of bakeshop employees on the basis that it violated the provision of the 14th amendment to the Constitution that no state shall "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." That amendment, passed in 1868, had been intended to protect the civil rights of newly-liberated African-Americans. But the courts had stretched it so that that "liberty of contract" included the right of employers and employees to work for whatever wages and hours both parties agreed to.

The courts had used this broad interpretation of the amendment to strike down a number of state regulatory statutes. TR knew the Lochner case well. As governor of New York, 1899-1901, he had enforced the bakeshop regulations. As president, he had watched the case come up through the New York State court system. In 1904, the State Court of Appeals validated the law in a decision written by its Chief Judge, Alton B. Parker, who later that same year secured the Democratic presidential nomination and ran unsuccessfully against TR. He followed the case in the U.S. Supreme Court the next year and read the decision, which was written by still another New Yorker, Justice Rufus Peckham. But the president made no public comment on it.

Roosevelt, in 1910, however, declared that the Lochner decision had been particularly egregious because it had ignored the problems that the bakeshop law was intended to address and exercised "the negative power of not permitting the abuse to be remedied." The court had demonstrated that it was "against popular rights" by asserting that "men must not be deprived of their 'liberty' to work under unhealthy conditions....Such decisions, arbitrarily and irresponsibly limiting the power of the people are of course fundamentally hostile to every species of real popular government."

Newspaper editorials and political leaders in both parties expressed outrage at the attack on the court.

Roosevelt, undeterred, went on to suggest something even more extreme, allowing voters to recall judges. He advanced a campaign platform filled with liberal proposals, including federal regulation of corporations, a national health service, and insurance for the elderly (similar to Social Security two decades later). His attack on the judiciary seemed menacing and his other proposals were ahead of their time. TR "startled all thoughtful men and women and impressed them with the frightful danger which lies in his political ascendancy," said the New York Times. Roosevelt failed to get the Republican nomination and went on to found a new party, the Progressive Party, but was decisively beaten in the 1912 presidential contest.

The Lochner decision was influential and was often cited by the courts in striking down state and federal regulatory statutes until 1937, when it was in effect repudiated in the decision of West Coast Hotel vs. Parrish.

Supreme Court Justice Rufus Peckham, in his opinion in the 1905 Lochner case, insisted, a little defensively, that "this is not a question of substituting the judgment of the court for that of the legislature." But TR lambasted the court in 1910 for doing just that. John Roberts, at his confirmation hearing to be Chief Justice in 2005, pointedly disagreed with Peckham's assertion a century earlier. Roberts said that the majority in the Lochner decision was "not interpreting the law, they're making the law...substituting their judgment on a policy matter for what the legislature had said."

Roberts was probably right. Theodore Roosevelt would certainly agree.

But Roberts probably shouldn't be surprised, then, that 2016 presidential candidates are criticizing his court, following the precedent set by TR back in 1910.
They believe the court's objectivity has been tarnished.

And, also like TR, they think they see an easy opportunity to score political points.

***
Dr. Bruce W. Dearstyne's latest book is The Spirit of New York: Defining Events in the Empire State's History, published in 2015 by SUNY Press.

]]>
As Teddy Roosevelt Did, 2016 Candidates Drag the Supreme Court Into Presidential Politics Sun, 06 Mar 2016 21:05:42 +0000
Will New York Be Last to 'Raise the Age'? https://www.gothamgazette.com/government/5916-will-new-york-be-last-to-raise-the-age https://www.gothamgazette.com/government/5916-will-new-york-be-last-to-raise-the-age Cuomo inmates raise the age

Gov. Cuomo meets with young inmates (photo: Governor's Office)


Gov. Andrew Cuomo is fond of calling New York a "progressive leader," declaring the state trailblazing on issues that matter, like marriage equality and gun control. It is a tenet of the governor's new push for an eventual $15-per-hour minimum wage.

However, New York lags so far behind other states on one criminal justice issue that it could soon be the only state in the nation to try 16- and 17-year-olds as adults - a practice that advocates and criminal justice experts say does irreversible damage to youth who are merely charged with a crime, much less convicted.

In declaring October "National Youth Justice Awareness Month" earlier this week, President Barack Obama pointed to the fact that just two states prosecute all 16-year-olds as adults regardless of their crime, and said, "Involvement in the justice system -- even as a minor, and even if it does not result in a finding of guilt, delinquency, or conviction -- can significantly impede a person's ability to pursue a higher education, obtain a loan, find employment, or secure quality housing." A total of nine states prosecute all 17-year-olds as adults, the president wrote.

Raising the age of adult criminal responsibility has been something Gov. Cuomo has been pushing, but unless the governor can soon cut a deal with the state Legislature, especially Senate Republicans, he and his Democratic allies will find themselves watching North Carolina become the 49th state to move to at least 17 as the adult age of criminality. There appears to be bipartisan agreement among North Carolina legislators on a plan to stop the practice of trying 16- and 17-year-olds as adults in their state.

Bipartisan agreement on criminal justice issues has been particularly elusive in the New York state Legislature, despite Cuomo's attention on raising the age and other related matters.

After including funding for "Raise the Age" in his most recent budget, Cuomo was unable to reach a deal with the Legislature. Then, Cuomo made raising the age a major priority during the waning days of this year's legislative session, even visiting an upstate correctional facility to speak to young inmates about life behind bars. Yet, Senate Republicans balked at Cuomo's plan to redirect most 16- and 17-year old offenders to family courts, while some Democrats worried his plan wouldn't actually improve how teens are treated by the justice system. Cuomo's original push stemmed from reports about abuses at Rikers Island jails.

With session over, Cuomo announced he would take "executive action" to at least remove 16- and 17 year-olds from a situation he had described as "intolerable."

"We did not reach an agreement on something called "Raise the Age," which is a proposal that I had made in the State of the State. The executive will on its own raise the age of people in state prison," Cuomo said in June. "Right now 16- and 17-year olds are going to state prisons and that, I believe, is an intolerable situation. So by executive action we will take 16- and 17-year olds out of state prisons and put them in separate facilities which will be designed and managed by the Department of Corrections and OCFS."

Advocates were initially pleased by the move until it became clear the administration had no concrete plan on where to house the 16- and 17-year-olds it promised to remove from adult prisons. They were further disappointed when it became clear the administration would have no say over county jails and therefore the number of youths separated from adult populations would be relatively small - all taken from state-run facilities.

With the year coming to a close the administration appears to be admitting they have hit a wall.

"We are in the process of engaging with a few agencies, the relevant agencies, to determine how we can do that," Cuomo's counsel, Alphonso David, said during an interview on Capitol Tonight earlier this month when asked about the process of relocating 16- and 17-year-olds. "There are operational issues that you can anticipate that we have to address. We're hoping to do that in the near future."

A Cuomo administration official acknowledged to Gotham Gazette that they are aware of the legislation advancing in North Carolina and that they hope to work on the challenges faced in finding alternative housing for the teens currently serving time while negotiating a broader bill with the Legislature. "We are hopeful that the Legislature will take another look at this," said the official.

Paige Pierce, executive director of Families Together New York, told Gotham Gazette that regardless of the fate of the governor's "executive action," the bigger issue remains how being processed as an adult can permanently damage the futures of thousands of young New Yorkers, whether they are found guilty or not.

"The larger issue is that every 16- or 17-year-old arrested is treated as an adult and therefore lacking access to support from family services, their parents don't have to be notified, and their records aren't sealed," Pierce told Gotham Gazette.

Members of the "Raise the Age-New York" campaign point out that youth in adult prisons face high rates of sexual assault and are much more likely to commit suicide than those in juvenile facilities. "New York has failed to recognize what research and science have confirmed: adolescents are children, and prosecuting and placing them in the adult criminal justice system doesn't work for them and doesn't work for public safety," the campaign emailed.

Advocates say that there was some hope at the end of last year as a few Senate Republicans were involved in discussions with Assembly Democrats on a compromise. That last-minute compromise may have died, but it gave indication that there may be room for negotiation when the clock is not ticking. It's unclear what kind of pressure moves by President Obama and North Carolina might exert on the governor and other New York lawmakers.

In his September 30 proclamation, Obama writes that trying 16- and 17-year-olds as adults "continues despite studies showing that youth prosecuted in adult courts are more likely to commit future crimes than similarly situated youth who are prosecuted for the same offenses in the juvenile system." He also points out that it is not cost effective to hold so many young people in state facilities.

Republican Sen. Patrick Gallivan, former sheriff of Erie County, told Gotham Gazette earlier this year that he is interested in discussing increasing alternative sentencing and other diversions for teen offenders. "We need to continue this discussion," he said. "Youth courts and other alternatives should be looked at as models."

How much influence Gallivan might have with his conference on the issue is unknown. However, both he and Cuomo have said that an agreement was in reach last session but was snuffed out by time constraints.

That isn't necessarily good news for the issue in the coming session. Advocates are quick to point out that 2016 is an election year and while the issue might be good for most Democrats, being seen as tough on crime is never bad for electeds, especially Senate Republicans who will be looking to defend and grow their majority.

***
by David King, Albany editor, Gotham Gazette
@DavidHowardKing

]]>
Will New York Be Last to 'Raise the Age'? Thu, 01 Oct 2015 17:14:04 +0000