Archive for the tag 'governor andrew cuomo'

Source: Old Shoe Woman/Flickr

Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this week that he hopes to create an advisory board for the implementation of the controversial Common Core curriculum and stop standardized testing for children below third grade, drawing sighs of relief from local education activists who have been critical of the rollout.

“Any progress is great progress,” said Heather Ann Fiorica, the president of the District 21′s Community Education Council. “Now more people are talking about it because of Cuomo.”

Fiorica and CEC21 challenged the curriculum’s implementation during a meeting last week, passing a resolution asking the state to slow down the rollout, relieve the testing burden on special needs students and provide more training to teachers and faculty.

In response to the news, Fiorica, who is a parent herself, also said the idea of an advisory panel was promising since it would “bring more awareness” to legislators and politicians and convince them that Common Core needs a few speed bumps.

Common Core is a new curriculum being adopted across the nation, drawing criticism from parents and teachers. It relies on more rigorous standardized testing, and teachers in New York say they have not received proper training or been informed of materials on the test.

“I support the Common Core agenda,” Cuomo said during his budget presentation on Tuesday. “But the way the Common Core has been managed by the Board of Regents is flawed. There’s too much uncertainty, confusion and anxiety.”

A panel of advisers as Cuomo is now promoting would, presumably, take these things into consideration and recommend “corrective action,” as Cuomo put it, for the new curriculum.

State Senator Marty Golden is also applauding the governor’s plan to change the way Common Core is implemented, and adds that he wants to see an end to standardized testing of children below the third grade.

“I applaud and agree with the Governor’s decision to suspend testing from Kindergarten to 2nd grade, and I am glad to see the Board of Regents concurs,” Golden said in a press release. “The entirety of the Common Core Curriculum must be reviewed, but nevertheless, standardized testing for Kindergarten, 1st, and 2nd graders is unnecessary.”

Cuomo said the advisory panel will issue a report before the end of Albany’s legislative session in June.

“This MTA budget not only lacks accountability, but is also most certainly not elementary, my dear Dr. Watson!” Source: The Gentleman Blog

THE COMMUTE: This can only happen in government. Governor Andrew Cuomo announces that he is making $358 million more available for the MTA in next year’s operating budget. The following week, the MTA announces it is deciding how to spend the new $40 million it will be receiving, while other analysts are claiming the amount is closer to $20 million. Just as the governor’s “new” money can disappear in only one week, so can the additional monies raised by a fare increase. Is it any wonder why transit riders and taxpayers are so frustrated?

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The Jackie Gleason Bus Depot. Photo by Erica Sherman

THE COMMUTE: Governor Andrew Cuomo, who I once said was “not a friend of public transit“ after he cut MTA funding, now has increased MTA funding by $358 million in the 2013/14 fiscal year budget. The question is what will the MTA do with this money? There are several alternatives. The MTA could:

  1. Return subway service crowding guidelines to what they were prior to the 2010 service cuts, thereby increasing subway service and reducing overcrowding.
  2. Restore all the 2010 bus service cuts. Some cuts may have been justified, but the MTA data presented at the time never conclusively proved that was the case. Routes with low ridership were eliminated, such as the B71 in Park Slope, when there were no suitable alternatives.
  3. Finally restructure the bus system to reflect land use changes made during the past 70 years. In many areas, needed bus route changes were never made because the MTA claimed they could not afford the added operational costs. Changes — such as the ones I mentioned here. I say “claimed,” because the MTA never considered increased revenue that would result from improved services, always assuming that additional service would not result in additional ridership or revenue.
  4. Provide new bus routes or extensions at minimal 30-minute service levels, attracting very new few riders.
  5. Provide managerial increases to managers who have not received a raise in five years and also not insist on a zero wage increase contract for the TWU.

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to buy up your Sandy damaged home and sell them over to land developers, according to a report by WNYC.

Following the lead of Governor Andrew Cuomo, who wants to spend $400 million to buy up Sandy homes at pre-Sandy values, Bloomberg wants a similar plan for the city. The difference is that under Cuomo’s plan, the land would be converted into parks, public spaces and wetlands, while Bloomberg wants to use the land to sell to real estate developers.

Brad Gair, the director of the city’s housing recovery testified at a City Council meeting as to why the mayor is pursuing this plan.

“These are valuable properties,” WNYC reported Gair saying at the meeting. “There is a limited amount of coastline properties.”

Criticism of the plan surrounds the economic risk the taxpayers incur should the redeveloped lands be flooded again:

James Fraser, an associate professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, says the requirement protects taxpayers from having to pay twice for the same property: to buy it out, and then again later, if it gets flooded.

“When a locality continues to develop in a flood plains, they are not only putting themselves at risk,” Fraser, who has researched FEMA buyouts, said. “They are putting the nation at risk because financially FEMA has to pay for future flooding.”

Mayor Bloomberg has suggested that modern construction methods, such as elevating homes above the 100-year-flood level, will make them sufficiently flood-proof for the future. Fraser says modern rebuilding helps, but it doesn’t solve the whole problem.

“You still have impervious surface and that impervious surface is going to contribute to the amount of flooding that’s experienced in the surrounding area,” he said.

For Bloomberg’s plan to go through, he’ll need permission from the federal government, which wants to ensure that buyouts are based on pre-storm values and that those selling are given adequate assistance to relocate.

Source: Jamie Adams via Wikimedia Commons

As we’ve previously reported, Governor Cuomo has been pushing to legalize gambling statewide in recent months, but efforts to build casinos within the five boroughs has met stiff resistance, according to a report by Crains New York.

A new poll, conducted by the Global Strategy Group and paid for by the massive Malaysian casino corporation Genting, concluded that, while a slim majority of New Yorkers want to expand gambling, support drops as potential locations are put on the table. And, in New York, support drops even more when placed “in your neighborhood.”

We’ve seen this sentiment expressed by local politicians of Southern Brooklyn, many of whom joined the Stop the Coney Island Casino advocacy group.

A slim majority of New Yorkers polled are against the idea of building all of the proposed casinos upstate, meaning they want one in the city. At the same time, they don’t want it, um, in the city:

The poll showed that a majority of voters were opposed to placing all seven casinos outside of New York City (51% to 44%) and to placing three casinos upstate and none in New York City (53% to 41%.) In other words, those proposals fared slightly worse than if the door were left open to a casino in the city, as Mr. Cuomo recently suggested.

The poll shows favorable voter attitudes towards the idea of turning Genting’s Resorts World Casino in southeast Queens into a full-scale casino, and placing the six other casinos outside of New York City. Half of voters support such a proposal, while 44% are opposed. That is the plan that the company’s high-powered lobbyists are pushing in Albany.

The Global Strategy Group also polled the attitudes of likely 2013 Democratic primary voters, some of whom who could potentially base their decisions in the 2013 mayoral race on candidates’ positions on casinos. A solid 56% of city voters opposed building full-scale casinos in New York City, with 60% opposing building one in Queens, 62% did not want one in Brooklyn and 74% objected to one in “your neighborhood.” Among general election voters (who will be the ones voting on a November referendum), 40% supported building a new casino in New York City and 54% were opposed.

Basically, when it comes to bringing a huge glitzy legalized gambling complex to the city, New Yorkers are conflicted. Where do you stand? And will it effect how you vote for mayor?

Source: eivey2 via flickr

Mayor Bloomberg’s controversial initiative to ban large sugary drinks sold at fast food joints, movie theaters and sporting events goes into effect March 12. Bloomberg is so certain that the ban will curb the epidemic of childhood obesity that he is calling for the state to enact the same measures he has set for the city, according to a report by the Wall Street Journal.

State officials like Governor Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and State Senate Republican Leader Dan Skelos have yet to comment on Bloomberg’s desire to extend the large sugary drink ban across the state.

Bloomberg’s remarks come a few weeks before restaurants, food carts, stadiums, movie theaters, delis and arenas are banned from selling sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 ounces. Establishments that ignore the ban will be subject to heavy fines – though it’s worth noting that convenience stores and venues not overseen by the city Department of Health are exempt.

The mayor has taken a lot of heat after putting forward his plan to limit sugary drink sizes from lobbyists from the American Beverage Association (ABA) who don’t buy that city-sponsored portion-control will do anything to promote public health.

“The soda ban is exceedingly unpopular with New Yorkers. It increases the cost of doing business in the city and will have no impact on the mayor’s stated goal of reducing obesity. New Yorkers can decide for themselves what to eat and drink,” Chris Gindlesperger, a spokesman for ABA told the Journal.

Bloomberg has not backed down.

“Kids, once they get obese, they will be obese as adults. And this year, for the first time in the world, in the history of humanity, more people will die from overeating than from under-eating,” the mayor said. “So, we’re trying to do something here.”

We were wondering what our readers think of the looming large soda ban. Do you think it goes too far? Do you support it? Share your thoughts.

Source: JohnnyBarker / Flickr

In an exhaustive, and frankly depressing, report by the New York Times, the decision not to evacuate nursing homes in vulnerable flood zones by state and city officials, including the Sea Crest Health Care Facility on Coney Island, produced disastrous conditions for thousands of disable seniors across Zone A communities.

Concluding that the approaching storm would be no worse than Tropical Storm Irene, in which an order to evacuate was given, Mayor Bloomberg, acting on advice from officials in Governor Cuomo’s office, issued a recommendation that facility operators in nursing homes not evacuate their patients.

The order to evacuate nursing homes last year for Irene had cost the city millions in transportation, health care and housing. It was a mess the city didn’t want to repeat in light of Irene’s minor impact on the city, and officials were optimistic that Sandy’s impact would be on the level of Irene.

They were wrong.

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Source: U.S. National Archives and Records Administration via Wikimedia Commons

After declaring New York a “fishery resource disaster,” the U.S. Department of Commerce is set to provide loans via the U.S. Small Business Administration to fishing businesses across New York.

“Hurricane Sandy caused widespread destruction to the fishing industry along New York’s heavily-impacted coastline,” wrote Governor Andrew Cuomo’s in a press release. “This federal declaration will enable us to rebuild this vital industry which serves as the economic lifeblood to so many of our coastal communities.”

While the total extent of the damage to the fishing industry has not been fully determined, widespread destruction of docks, vessels, dealerships, processing plants and supporting businesses have been extensively reported. Thus, relief to revitalize and sustain the industry is sorely needed in the aftermath of Sandy’s fury.

To read the full text of the Governor’s statement click here. If you work in the fishing industry and want more information on the loans and who qualifies, click here.

Source: Senator Golden’s offices

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that strengthens laws against viewing and downloading child pornography from the internet.

The bill has been on the table for some time and has been supported by Senator Martin Golden. Lawmakers discovered that a loophole existed in New York’s legislation for prosecuting those charged with viewing child pornography.

The issue came up when lawmakers realized that one who views child pornography on a website where the images appear is not committing a felony unless he or she downloads the photos. Further, the initial law stated that if the images somehow became automatically embedded, this was not considered possession of the pornography either.

The new law amends the old law and prohibits individuals from knowingly accessing a website with the intent of viewing child pornography on the internet. Accessing a website and intending to view child pornography will now be a class E felony.

“With the strengthening of these laws, we eliminate any loophole to better protect our children from predators,” said Governor Cuomo to the Post Star News. “This new law stops criminals who have been able to escape prosecution and punishment for too long. I applaud Majority Leader Skelos, Speaker Silver and the bill sponsors for their leadership and dedication to keeping our kids safe. By working together, we are ensuring that all New Yorkers, especially children, are kept safe and that justice is rightfully served.”

As a result of the new law, possessing child pornography will never be considered legal in New York State.


Former Brooklyn Democratic Party Chairman and current Assemblyman Vito Lopez, in happier times. Photo by Aaron Short

“Politics are a labyrinth without a clue.” – John Adams

BETWEEN THE LINES: More than a year ago, Congressman Anthony Weiner resigned after he admitted taking part in virtual trysts with other women over the course of several years. The stupidity of that incident — and numerous others that preceded it — has apparently not penetrated the minds of shameless politicians as to what constitutes inappropriate conduct.

For decades, from casting to corporate couches, men in positions of power have taken advantage of women in the workplace. Decades after feminism inspired equal rights for women and brought such matters to light, you’d think the sleazy, obnoxious “boys will be boys” mindset would have fizzled out, but the creepy practice still permeates our culture.

For what it’s worth, let’s call groping, womanizing and related acts the “Dirty Old Man Syndrome,” though age, clearly, has no bearing on the matter.

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