Posts Tagged ‘New York’

New York State Leadership: Wake Up & smell the fuckin coffee

April 17, 2008

A resident of Buffalo, AP imageFlorida   Florida catching up with once-mighty N.Y.   Posted on Politico By PATRICK OTTENHOFF | 4/16/08   New York had the second-slowest population growth in 2007.   Photo: AP   The era of the Empire State’s reign over America has come to an end, and a new dawn of political power, in the hands of the Sunshine State, is upon us. After the 2010 Census, New York will lose two congressional seats and Florida will gain two. It will put both states’ delegations at 27 seats and mark the first time that Florida has caught up with once-mighty New York.     Fewer jobs and people mean diminishing political and electoral clout. While New York was the anchor for Roosevelt’s presidential run, Florida swung the 2000 presidential election and will only become more pivotal when it has 29 Electoral College votes in the 2012 election. Presidential candidates will have to pay attention to issues that are important to the state, such as Social Security, prescription drug access, offshore drilling and national catastrophic funding.     “If the Florida delegation stays reasonably unified,” St. Petersburg Times correspondent Adam Smith suggested, “Florida could be critical in shaping national policies.” Florida will also have a stronger voice in shaping major economic issues such as labor and trade. “We’re generally a free trade state,” Smith said, adding, “factories aren’t getting closed down and jobs shipped overseas.”  Read more.
 

New York Political Leaders Sleazy Pork Standards

April 7, 2008

From the December 6, 2006 New York Post— For an observant Jew, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver sure likes his pork.      Political pork, that is.     Silver, who has absolute control of an $85-million legislative slush fund meant to buy favor with the folks back home, spent an astonishing $7 million on himself this year alone.      Or, rather, on individuals or groups in his Lower East Side district – in effect purchasing political loyalty come Election Day.     The technical term for such thinly veiled graft is member item.      Silver controls the list (as does Majority Leader Joseph Bruno in the state Senate), and the result is absolute member loyalty to the speaker.      That said, Silver snatches much of the cash for himself – to bestow on his own personal friends.     Corrupt?      In spades.     But it’s perfectly legal – the Legislature writes the laws, after all.      Until now, though, no one knew just exactly how corrupt it is – that is, how much taxpayer dough Silver’s been glomming.      Because the speaker kept it a secret. (Just as state Bruno has with his $85 million pot of pork.)      But recently an upstate newspaper got a judge to force Silver and Bruno to tell the public (i.e., the people whose money they’re spending) who was showering what on whom.      Guess what?     Turns out Silver treats himself best of all.      No surprise there: To the leader goes the spoils.     Still, $7 million-plus is a stunning amount or money – even given Albany’s notoriously corrupt ways.      Stunning even by Silver’s sleazy standards – and that’s saying something.      Silver has long sought to out-do Boss Tweed for twisting the rules to enrich and empower himself and his friends at the public’s expense:      * He consistently blocks tort reform, while collecting a huge fee (believed to be well more than $1 million a year, though Silver keeps that a secret, too) from a top New York tort-law firm.  Read related post.

New York Job Growth

April 6, 2008

 New York State Job Growth and Unemployment Rates:     Albany-Schenectady-Troy: Since February 2007, the number of nonfarm jobs has increased by 500, or 0.1 percent, and the number of private sector jobs has decreased by 500, or 0.2 percent. The area’s unemployment rate was 5.1 percent in February 2008, compared with 5.0 in January and 4.4 in February 2007.     Binghamton: Since February 2007, the number of nonfarm jobs has increased by 800, or 0.7 percent, and the number of private sector jobs has increased by 800, or 0.9 percent. The area’s unemployment rate was 5.7 percent in February 2008, compared with 5.6 in January and 5.3 in February 2007.     Buffalo-Niagara Falls: Since February 2007, the number of nonfarm jobs has increased by 2,200, or 0.4 percent, and the number of private sector jobs has increased by 300, or 0.1 percent. The area’s unemployment rate was 6.3 percent in February 2008, compared with 6.1 in January and 5.4 in February 2007.     Glens Falls: Since February 2007, the number of nonfarm jobs has increased by 800, or 1.5 percent, and the number of private sector jobs has increased by 700, or 1.7 percent. The area’s unemployment rate was 6.5 percent in February 2008, compared with 6.1 in January and 5.6 in February 2007.     Ithaca: Since February 2007, the number of nonfarm jobs has increased by 500, or 0.8 percent, and the number of private sector jobs has increased by 500, or 0.9 percent. The area’s unemployment rate was 3.5 percent in February 2008, compared with 3.9 in January and 3.3 in February 2007.     Kingston: Since February 2007, the number of nonfarm jobs has increased by 300, or 0.5 percent, and the number of private sector jobs has increased by 400, or 0.8 percent. The area’s unemployment rate was 5.4 percent in February 2008, compared with 5.4 in January and 4.5 in February 2007.     Nassau-Suffolk: Since February 2007, the number of nonfarm jobs has increased by 13,800, or 1.1 percent, and the number of private sector jobs has increased by 12,000, or 1.2 percent. The area’s unemployment rate was 4.7 percent in February 2008, compared with 4.5 in January and 4.1 in February 2007.     New York City (five boroughs): Since February 2007, the number of nonfarm jobs has increased by 46,900, or 1.3 percent, and the number of private sector jobs has increased by 44,900, or 1.4 percent. The area’s unemployment rate was 4.4 percent in February 2008, compared with 6.1 in January and 5.0 in February 2007.     Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown: Since February 2007, the number of nonfarm jobs has increased by 700, or 0.3 percent, and the number of private sector jobs has increased by 100, or 0.1 percent. The area’s unemployment rate was 5.1 percent in February 2008, compared with 4.9 in January and 4.4 in February 2007.     Putnam-Rockland-Westchester: Since February 2007, the number of nonfarm jobs has increased by 6,300, or 1.1 percent, and the number of private sector jobs has increased by 5,000, or 1.1 percent. The area’s unemployment rate was 4.5 percent in February 2008, compared with 4.4 in January and 3.9 in February 2007.     Rochester: Since February 2007, the number of nonfarm jobs has decreased by 200, or less than 0.1 percent, and the number of private sector jobs has decreased by 1,500, or 0.4 percent. The area’s unemployment rate was 5.7 percent in February 2008, compared with 5.5 in January and 4.9 in February 2007.     Syracuse: Since February 2007, the number of nonfarm jobs has increased by 3,200, or 1.0 percent, and the number of private sector jobs has increased by 2,900, or 1.1 percent. The area’s unemployment rate was 5.7 percent in February 2008, compared with 5.5 in January and 5.1 in February 2007.     Utica-Rome: Since February 2007, the number of nonfarm jobs has increased by 900, or 0.7 percent, and the number of private sector jobs has increased by 600, or 0.6 percent. The area’s unemployment rate was 6.1 percent in February 2008, compared with 5.9 in January and 5.4 in February 2007.     Note: Labor force statistics, including the unemployment rate, for New York and every other state are based on statistical regression models specified by the U. S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Jobs data for New York are obtained from a survey of 18,000 business establishments. Jobs data exclude agricultural workers, the self-employed, unpaid family workers and domestic workers in private households.  Read more.

New York State Pork Project

April 6, 2008

New York Govenor David Paterson laments what he terms lawmakers’ unwillingness to rein in spending on pet projects By JAMES M. ODATO and RICK KARLIN, Albany Times Union Capitol bureau.  First published: Saturday, April 5, 2008      A frustrated Gov. David Paterson blasted the Legislature Friday for ignoring the state’s economic slide even as he agreed to spend at least $45 million on lawmakers’ pet projects this year.     As lawmakers began passing a pork-laden economic development budget of more than $13.5 billion, Paterson told reporters that no matter how he tries to keep spending in check, legislators push for more.     “I don’t like this process very much,” said Paterson. “What I found in the last week was that the process is actually very ordinary, very much like Albany has been in the past.”     Despite the extraordinary circumstances this year, with an ailing economy and Paterson taking office March 17 after Eliot Spitzer’s resignation, lawmakers are acting as if there’s nothing different, the governor complained, adding he’d pushed for an on-time budget in hopes of sending a message to the public.     With the $124 billion budget being passed slowly and in pieces, Paterson said he wants to keep lawmakers here over the weekend to finish a budget deal. Assembly and Senate members are expected to remain in Albany or be on call.     Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno said a quick resolution may not be at hand.     “If we don’t reconcile what we are discussing, we’re going to be here for awhile, and I’m afraid it’s going to be a long while,” Bruno said, suggesting that tax and borrowing issues remain unresolved.     Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, maintained that the Legislature took the unusual step of not adding new funds this year for member items because of the tight times.     Instead, the budget will allow new member item spending by “sweeping” unused dollars from the member item accounts of past years, he said. That will result in $45 million in new expenditures using previously appropriated funds.     Assemblyman James Hayes, the ranking Republican on the Ways and Means Committee, noted that the budget also includes a commitment of $40 million in new member item money for the next fiscal year.     “The revenue budget that’s coming I’m almost certain will be a crushing blow to people in this state when we go to pay for this budget,” Hayes said.     Typically, the Assembly and Senate add $170 million for member items each fiscal year and split the money 50/50. The Assembly uses a chunk of its funds for programs while the Senate tends to use most of its money for groups in members’ districts.     Both chambers have used the funds in some questionable ways in the past.  Read more.

NO Accountability = Personal & Political Profit

April 2, 2008

Lawbreaker lawmakers are at every level of government. 
Arguably, about 1-in-5 New York State legislators has violated the law. How can this be?
  By MARY CUDDEHE, ELLEN GABLER and EMILY PICKRELL, Special to the Times Union
First published
: Sunday, December 30, 2007 In a perfect world, elected lawmakers would always obey the laws they alone are entrusted to enact, but public records show that in Albany, lawmakers are anything but perfect.  An investigation for the Times Union by the Stabile Center for Investigative Reporting at Columbia University found that about one-fifth of elected legislators in New York have, by some measure, broken some law in recent years. While most of those cases were traffic violations, more than a dozen involved acts charged as crimes — frequently bribery or theft.  Currently, two accused lawmakers have refused to leave office despite a mountain of evidence compiled by citizen grand juries who indicted them for felony crimes — and legislative leaders have done nothing to officially discipline or remove them.  Assemblywoman Diane Gordon, D-Brooklyn, continues to hold office even after the Brooklyn district attorney released video recordings showing her agreeing to receive a house in exchange for arranging a $2 million land deal for a developer. She declined to comment.  State Sen. Efrain Gonzalez, D-Bronx, continues to hold office while awaiting trial on federal charges that he funneled $423,000 in taxpayer money through a charity to finance his cigar company, buy Yankees tickets and pay his daughter’s tuition.  “You’re innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Gonzalez, who was re-elected by a landslide in the Bronx last year.  Such cases have become a perennial disappointment for good-government advocates in Albany who for years have pressed for real ethics reform that, when it comes to lawmakers themselves, has never really come.  “I think what most citizens would say to them is how dare you do this to the working men and women of New York,” said Barbara Bartoletti, legislative director for the League of Women Voters. “You are in a cherished position, voted into office by your constituency, and you let them down; you violated their trust.”  Two lawmakers charged with driving while intoxicated this year had their driver’s licenses suspended after they refused to take a Breathalyzer test: Assemblyman Karim Camara, D-Brooklyn, and Sen. John Sabini, D-Queens. Sabini said it was inappropriate for two student journalists to surprise him in the Capitol this month with a video camera and ask, on behalf of voters, if he was drunk when police arrested him in Albany. “No, I pleaded not guilty,” he said.  Like many lawmakers, Sabini bristles at the suggestion he deserves to be labeled a lawbreaker in the press before his day in court. “I’m only charged at this stage,” he said.  Sometimes lawmakers advocate legislation even as they violate the letter or spirit of the laws they propose.  Nancy Calhoun, a Republican assemblywoman from Blooming Grove, has called herself “a prime advocate for fighting crime.” In 2005, the same year she co-sponsored a bill to strengthen anti-stalking laws, Calhoun pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree harassment for stalking an ex-boyfriend. The case was subsequently sealed in Orange County.  Rarely, a lawmakers admits his or her mistake and becomes a determined advocate to strengthen the law.

Watch it!

November 1, 2007

Higher budget means no money for upstate schools and economic development.  What the fuck?  Now bean counters in the Department of Budget Office will be able to make cuts to social programs needed by 1000’s of people with moderate to low income living in NYS.  Sucks to be poor.  Read more in the New York Times.

Need a current plan to ask for public monies

October 27, 2007

50 Plus Counties in NYS without a consolidated or comprehensive plan representing more than 800 municipalities… what are they waiting for?  Most prosperous Counties work well with the state, and the others, well, are like Chenango County.

NYS Govenor Spitzer’s Driver’s License Plan for Illegal Immigrants

October 26, 2007

Give illegal immigrants identification that looks no different than my driver’s license as a way to identify illegal activity?
Yea ok, but I think the Governor is nuts!

Spitzer to announce two-tier license system
http://www.buffalonews.com/258/story/193544.html

Check out CNN Lou Dobbs on Spitzer’s Driver License Plan:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gsj1XLHrvq4