Archive for the tag 'andrew cuomo'

It’s not often you see a member of one of the nation’s most dysfunctional legislative bodies appropriately shaming members of another dysfunctional legislative body, but that’s what we wake up to this morning.

Congresswoman Yvette Clarke is calling on Albany lawmakers to send resources to those Brooklyn neighborhoods that are currently without representation in either the State Senate or Assembly. Locally, that includes Marine Park, Mill Basin and Gerritsen Beach, who are currently without an assemblyman.

In fact, there are currently five open seats in the two houses of state legislature that represent about 700,000 Brooklynites. Governor Andrew Cuomo has not called a special election to replace them, and those seats will be empty until January 2015.

That means that an entire budget season will come and go, and no one will be representing those districts in negotiations, depriving civic groups and community organizations of operating funds that are allocated annually.

“We cannot allow the failure to schedule a special election to prevent the allocation of resources to the people who lack representation. The legislators whose positions are now vacant supported many of the most important social service organizations and cultural institutions in Brooklyn. I believe we should continue that level of support,” Clarke said.

The Assembly seat representing Gerritsen Beach and Marine Park was vacated when Alan Maisel left the house to become city councilman. Some of the groups that depended on his voice for funding from Albany, according to Clarke, include the Marine Park Community Association and Amity Little League.

Clarke sent a letter to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, urging them to keep these organizations in mind.

The letter, in full, is after the jump.

Source: Thomas Good via Wikimedia Commons

State Senator Diane Savino (Source: Thomas Good via Wikimedia Commons)

State Senator Diane Savino, who represents parts of Coney Island, Gravesend, Brighton Beach and Bensonhurst, thinks highly of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to get groovy with medical marijuana.

News came of Cuomo’s change of heart – he previously said “absolutely not” to medical marijuana advocates as recently as a year ago – on Saturday, when the New York Times reported the governor would announce an executive action allowing limited use of marijuana by those with serious illnesses.

The action is a much more modest step than other states that permit medical marijuana, limiting distribution to just 20 hospitals across a state of 19.5 million people. Prescriptions will only be given to patients with cancer, glaucoma and other diseases determined by the state Department of Health. The program is expected to be formally announced on Wednesday during Cuomo’s State of the State address.

For Savino, who has long been a proponent of medical marijuana and has repeatedly offered up legislation authorizing its distribution (to no avail), it’s a win for seriously ill patients.

“The most important thing is that it’s an acknowledgement that the benefits outweigh the risks,” told the Staten Island Advance. “Compared to where we were last year, when Cuomo said absolutely not, I’m very pleased … It’s a great first step.”

Details about the policy and program are still vague, and Savino hopes to work alongside Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, who sponsored the medical marijuana bill in the Assembly, to flesh out details with the Cuomo administration.

Savino’s bill stalled in the Senate year after year due to Republican opposition. It passed the Assembly four times, and 82 percent of New York voters approve of medical marijuana. Cuomo’s action side steps the legislature altogether.

nyrising

Residents help with long-term planning at a NY Rising meeting.

The Wall Street Journal published an interesting article last week, examining the different and competing visions of city and state administrators when it comes to using the billions of dollars received for Superstorm Sandy recovery.

In short, the city wants to use it for long-term resiliency initiatives. The state wants to see the money funneled to homeowners seeking relief.

Here’s the nut of it:

More than a year after superstorm Sandy, the mounting frustration illustrates a broader dilemma for policy makers in New York City and Albany: Is it better to invest in pricey measures that protect the many or to help those hardest hit immediately?

The question is at the heart of different approaches taken by the city and state in how they distribute federal funds they received to help the region recover.

The city has decided to spend about $300 million of the nearly $1.8 billion it received in the first round on what is known as resiliency, or efforts to protect against future storms. The state, by contrast, has set aside just $30 million of the $1.7 billion it received on resiliency, including increasing public awareness about safe rebuilding and helping places like hospitals and nursing homes create energy backup systems.

About $650 million of the first round of federal funding the city received is being spent on housing recovery, while the state is spending about $840 million on far fewer applicants.

As it stands now, the city has only allocated enough funds to handle approximately 4,000 of the 26,000 applicants to the Build it Back program, and is prioritizing based on financial need. The program will receive another chunk of funds soon, a representative for Mayor Bloomberg said.

What do you think? Should the city have prioritized direct assistance to victims at the cost of long-term planning? Or is it better to get the big projects underway while the political will still exists?

Source: sincerelyhiten via flickr

Source: sincerelyhiten via flickr

The following is an unaltered press release from the offices of Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz:

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn), Chairman of the Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, commended Governor Cuomo for signing into law a bill he sponsored (A.2270A) requiring requires gaming venues to post information about compulsive gambling support services near every entrance and exit.

“With nearly one million compulsive gamblers throughout New York State, this legislation will help to raise awareness on how to access support and services for problem gambling,” said Assemblyman Cymbrowitz, whose committee has jurisdiction over compulsive gambling.

New York, along with most states that allow gambling, require that signage providing a 24-hour hotline number and other support services for problem gamblers be posted prominently in all gaming facilities. But the manner in which signs are posted is often inconsistent and arbitrary, according to the lawmaker.

“These signs are widely accepted as an appropriate tool to promote responsible gaming, yet the New York State Council on Problem Gambling says that in 2011 there were just 1,449 calls to the helpline. That means very few New Yorkers with compulsive gambling problems are receiving the help that’s available to them,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said.

“I am pleased that the Governor has signed this legislation. It is paramount that we consider the toll these new gaming facilities will take on New Yorkers with gambling addictions. Allocating money to problem gambling prevention and treatment programs is not an expense, but rather an investment in a better New York,” he said.

nyrising

Residents identified assets and potential projects during October’s workshop.

The second public engagement meeting of the New York Rising Community Reconstruction Program to restore and protect Sheepshead Bay and Gerritsen Beach will be held tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. in the Amity School (3867 Shore Parkway).

The first engagement meeting took place in October, with a workshop for residents to guide state planners on how to spend millions of dollars to protect local infrastructure. The program is part of a $750 million initiative announced in July by Governor Andrew Cuomo.

During tomorrow’s meeting, officials and consultants will unveil a set of proposals and priorities devised, in part, by community residents. They are soliciting feedback for further refinement before issuing their final report, which will be the roadmap for state investment going forward.

A draft of the plan, which will be the topic of tomorrow’s meeting, is available for review here. You can comment on the plan in person at the meeting, or submit comments online.

Abraham Lincoln High School. Source: Google Maps

Abraham Lincoln High School. Source: Google Maps

New York Rising, the state initiative to put long-term storm resiliency planning in the hands of communities, is gathering tomorrow to unveil drafts of their plan for Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Manhattan Beach and Sea Gate. Members of these communities are invited to attend and give feedback.

The meeting is scheduled to take place in the cafeteria of Abraham Lincoln High School (2800 Ocean Parkway) on Tuesday, November 12 between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.

As we’ve previously reported, New York Rising is an initiative spearheaded by Governor Andrew Cuomo that gives community members power in determining how to spend $750 million in federal Sandy aid dollars. The last meeting was held in late October and a strong public showing is vital for the program’s success.

Event organizers are planning to report on the progress made so far with the public, share ideas for future projects and take community input on ideas for other resiliency projects.

For more information on New York Rising, click here.

The Sheepshead Bay and Gerritsen Beach coalition will meet on November 20.

A new Nexus 7 tablet. (Source: Wikipedia)

A new Nexus 7 tablet. (Source: Wikipedia)

It’s rare whenever Southern Brooklyn get a cool new tech or cultural addition ahead of, like, anywhere else in the city, but the Brooklyn Public Library and Google are looking to reward us for our suffering from Sandy.

Google, a company which knows all and has all the money, generously donated 1,000 fresh Nexus 7 tablet’s to libraries in Brooklyn devastated by Superstorm Sandy. According to a press release, Google, along with Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Fund for Public Schools, donated a whopping 17,000 tablets to New York City libraries, senior centers and community centers, amounting to a $2.7 million donation.

The tablets will be used to support a range of functions, including English as a second language training, job training or simply serving as eReaders. Library patrons will even be able to borrow the tablets, just like a book, free to add music, movies and other apps, as long as they come back freshly deleted when returned.

The tablets will be available for loan from Brighton Beach, Coney Island, Gerritsen Beach, Red Hook and Sheepshead Bay libraries.

Linda Johnson, the president of the Brooklyn Public Library, was thrilled with the donation.

“These communities were some of the worst hit by Hurricane Sandy, so they are receiving priority access to our new tablet lending program. Providing digital learning opportunities is at the forefront of our Library’s mission, so now, one year after the storm, we are thrilled to be able to offer this wonderful new resource to our patrons,” Johnson said in the release.

Wow, the library just got a lot cooler. Also, if you think that borrowing a tablet and never returning it would only cost you 15 cents or so in overdue fees, think again. According to the Brooklyn Library’s webpage on the Tablet Lending Program, you are going to owe $200 bucks for a lost or broken tablet, so be sure not to spill any coffee on it (looking at you, Ned).

Source: sincerelyhiten via flickr

Source: sincerelyhiten via flickr

A new poll suggests that a majority of New York City residents support changing the amendment to add seven new casinos somewhere in New York State, but don’t want to see it in the five boroughs, the New York Times reports.

The poll, conducted by the New York Times/Siena College, found that six in 10 likely New York City voters said they would vote for the amendment, when asked using the rosy, skewed language that highlights unproven benefits of casino gambling, such as job growth and funding for education. But 50 percent were opposed to seeing a full-scale casino in New York City, with only 42 percent in favor.

The ballot measure that would amend the constitution will lead to three new Las Vegas-style casinos to be created upstate as part of “first phase.” The second phase, which will roll out seven years later, will see four more casinos – at unspecified locations. Most observers believe a New York City casino is likely.

The poll also found that voters are fairly well informed about both the positives and the drawbacks of expanded casino gambling:

In the new poll, New York City residents said they expected both positive and negative effects from expanded casino gambling.

Seven in 10 said they thought it was quite likely that the casinos would bring in significant new revenue for government.

“Just in my apartment building alone, twice a month they have buses come and take people to Atlantic City,” Albert Perrotto, 55, from Far Rockaway, Queens, said in a follow-up interview. “If they take them to upstate New York instead, it would be a shorter ride, and people would go upstate, and the revenue would come here instead. It makes a lot of sense to me.”

At the same time, six in 10 city residents said they thought it was most likely that new casinos would increase societal problems such as crime and compulsive gambling

Quin Stratton, 23, who works for a credit-card processing center and lives in the Bronx, said she supported the amendment but would not want to see a full-scale casino developed in New York City. “If it’s in the city, it will attract people who don’t have a lot of money, and they will blow their whole paycheck,” she said.

“If the casinos are upstate, or far away, it’s harder,” Ms. Stratton added. “They would have to actually get into a car and would have to make that decision. If it’s in the city, then someone who gets off work will walk by and say, ‘Hey it’s a casino!’ and blow everything they just made.”

Still, the numbers are a good sign for Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is closely linked with the initiative. As much as 40 percent of the state’s voters live in New York City, and the five boroughs are expected to have higher turnout due to the mayoral elections.

Good government advocates, including the Public Interest Research Group and Common Cause NY, continue to oppose the language and politicking of the ballot measure, although a lawsuit to have it reworded has failed.

A Times Union report notes that PIRG is urging media to use neutral language when describing the proposal. Common Cause NY, meanwhile, has put out a bulletin pulling back the veil on the larged pro-casino PAC – NY Jobs Now – which is funded almost entirely by gambling companies.

Source: Openmarket.org

Source: Openmarket.org

A State Supreme Court judge struck down a suit that sought to change the language on an upcoming November ballot measure expanding legalized gambling in New York. The New York Times is reporting that Judge Richard Platkin ruled that the case was “lacking in legal merit.”

Earlier in the month, we reported that the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) joined the legal fight to block the ballot. The fight was spearheaded by Brooklyn-based bankruptcy lawyer Eric Synder. Synder, NYPIRG and other groups had argued that the language surrounding the casino ballot measure was biased, presenting the issue as a no-brainer for voters, promising jobs and economic growth. The Times explained why Judge Platkin ruled against Synder:

In dismissing the case, though, Justice Platkin said Mr. Snyder’s suit, filed on Oct. 1, had come after the statute of limitations for such ballot-language challenges had passed. (Such challenges are limited to a 14-day window after a referendum’s final day to be certified; this year, that deadline was Aug. 19.)

And while Mr. Snyder had argued that he was not aware of the language at that point, and that the Board of Elections did not post the referendum to its Web site until Aug. 23, Justice Platkin seemed unimpressed. “The petition/complaint would still be untimely,” he wrote in his decision.

While the Times reported that Synder was planning to continue his legal battle, Politics on the Hudson reported that Synder is now giving up his fight.

“Unfortunately, I just don’t think the timing is there,” Synder said in a radio interview.

With the ballot language now in place, voters will be presented with a rosy, one-sided pro-gambling message. As we previously reported, a Siena College poll found that support for the ballot increased nine percentage points when shown the controversial language.

Again, it is worth noting that Governor Andrew Cuomo’s campaign has received $361,000 from powerful gambling interests from 2011 to July of 2013 and that politicians in Albany took in over $1 million from the same groups in that time.

Source: Jamie Adams via Wikimedia Commons

Source: Jamie Adams via Wikimedia Commons

The New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) is joining the legal battle to get the flowery pro-casino language on an upcoming November ballot changed. The New York Post is reporting that NYPIRG filed a brief arguing that the language on the ballot should be presented in a neutral light.

When we last reported on the upcoming ballot that would expand legalized gambling in the state of New York and call for the construction of seven Las Vegas-style casinos, we pointed to a study conducted by the Institute for American Values that found that legalizing gambling does more economic harm than good. This report directly contrasts the language that is slated to be presented with the ballot, which describes the casino referendum as an economic slam dunk for the state, schools and job creation. We also reported that politicians in Albany and Governor Andrew Cuomo had received hundreds of thousands of dollars from powerful gambling interests for their campaigns.

The spin-laden language was unveiled in September, asking voters if they would permit casinos for the “purposes of promoting job growth, increasing aid to schools, and permitting local governments to lower property taxes through revenues generated.” No one has taken credit for crafting the language, and no one in a leadership position has attempted to change it. Early polling comparing this language to a more neutral one shows that a majority of voters support the amendment when written in this language, but not the more neutral version.

The Post described the specific nature of NYPIRG’s complaints about the casino measure:

In a brief for the court, the New York Public Interest Research Group said the final language of the Nov. 5 ballot issue to allow casinos off Indian land should be neutral so that voters can make a decision based on facts, as set out in the state constitution.

Cuomo and legislative leaders added glowing language to the referendum, promising jobs, tax breaks and more school aid, all of which are disputed by some academics and critics. NYPIRG notes in its brief that none of the potential drawbacks from casinos, like crime and gambling addiction, is mentioned.

NYPIRG’s opposition to the referendum language is joined by other groups including the Coalition Against Casino Gambling in New York. Director Stephen Shafer told the Post that benefits promised by the language in the legislation were bogus.

“The rosy language of the reworded amendment for the ballot is a brazen effort to bias the vote. This was a disgrace,” Shafer said.

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