Tuesday, June 29, 2010
The Senate Democratic Majority passed legislation (S6418A) sponsored by Senator Craig Johnson (D-Nassau) which toughens existing laws to make it so a person who sells a controlled substance that causes a death would be charged with manslaughter.
This legislation is part of a comprehensive effort to combat drug abuse. Along with other measures that focus on prevention efforts, this legislation targets those who exploit drug addiction for their own profit and holds them accountable when others die because of their actions.
Under current law, a dealer cannot be charged in relation to a heroin user’s death unless the dealer is physically involved in the injection of the drug. Under the proposed legislation, the statute for Manslaughter in the Second Degree would be amended to include anyone age 18 and older, and with a prior drug conviction, who knowingly sells a controlled substance to another person that is consumed by such person or another person and such controlled substance contributes to the death of such person or other person.
Senator Johnson said, “A gravely serious heroin epidemic is gripping Long Island's youth and those who sell death to our children must be held accountable. This legislation will give prosecutors one more tool to protect our communities and safeguard our future.”
Senator Darrel J. Aubertine (D-Cape Vincent) said, “Drug use among teens has become a real problem throughout the state and certainly in the North Country. While our focus must be keeping kids away from drugs, that includes keeping them out of reach from drug dealers.”
Senator Brian X. Foley (D-Blue Point) said, “As communities across Long Island struggle to combat the increased flow of heroin and other illegal drugs into our neighborhoods, we must protect our children and families. This legislation sends a clear signal to drug dealers that we will not allow them to declare open season on our youth."
Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson said, “We must give law enforcement the tools it needs to stop the deadly sale of drugs to our children. From one parent to another, I commend Senator Johnson for his efforts to keep our streets safe and our children secure from drug dealers.”
For more information: http://open.nysenate.gov/legislation/bill/S6418A
Monday, June 28, 2010
This year is no different except that the poorest of the poor are in higher concentration in South Africa. What's more is the incidence of rape is multiplied during the games in a country with the highest occurrence of rape globally. This is why Dr. Sonnet Ehlers is distributing the female condoms with teeth in various South African cities where the games are taking place.
How do you like the looks of that thing? The woman inserts the latex condom like a tampon. Jagged rows of teeth-like hooks line its inside and attach on what shouldn't be there. Now I know this sounds like the screenplay of a horrible B movie, but if you're living in an underdeveloped country where authorities tend to assume you deserved the treatment you got, you'd think about getting a few of these.
Now, you're thinking, what good will this do? He's liable to kill the victim once the deed is done. Well, thats usually the outcome of half tha rapes in countries like South Africa, so while the rapist is jumping around the sidewalk with a plastic monster attached to his Johnson, she will have the chance to escape.
Dr Ehlers was quoted on Roland Martin's Blog: "Once it lodges, only a doctor can remove it. It really hurts and he cannot pee or walk when it’s on. If he tries to remove it, it will clasp even tighter… however, it doesn’t break the skin, and there’s no danger of fluid exposure.”
The final outcome would be an arrest of the rapist once the medical staff removed the plastic monster. Well, one would hope.
Dr Ehlers also stated: “I believe something’s got to be done … and this will make some men rethink before they assault a woman.”
This plan expands on my commitment to take on corruption at all levels of government. In April, I released my Public Integrity Agenda to investigate and prosecute abuses by public officers. You can read more about my Public Integrity Agenda and Albany Reform Agenda, as well as my other policy outlines, on my website listed on the upper left of Mike's Blog.
I have met with New Yorkers across the state to talk about this year’s election and our future. Though we are diverse, we share a belief that government can do better and work smarter for its people.
That’s why I am running for Attorney General – to do the work that New Yorkers expect and deserve of their public officials.
I have tackled difficult problems, creatively using existing law to find solutions – from holding Wall Street’s biggest firms accountable while in the Attorney General’s office to watching over insurance companies and protecting policyholders as the head of New York’s Insurance Department.
As the next Attorney General, I will put my problem-solving experience, strength and independence to work for you.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Today I am focused on the Flexible Fund for Family Services. (Say that one a few times) The FFFS is the funding for New York's most vulnerable population. Housing, food, education and programs aimed at supporting families while preparing them for self sustainability. These programs are also known as Safety Net.
Currently, 97% of the FFFS is regimented very specifically to the programs I just listed with only 3% allotted as discretionary funding for the County to allocate for gaps in services. Both the Assembly and Senate plan to cut $100 million in this area state wide. One house offers a straight cut, the other aims to use stimulus funding for one year before doing the same. Both proposals will have a tremendous impact on the county taxpayers across the state. More so for taxpayers in Kingston and Wawarsing because of our Safety Net burden structure.
We passed a memorializing resolution in the Legislature to urge our friends in Albany to reject this short sighted proposal which will only compound the problems already facing taxpayers across the state. These programs are mandated. MANDATED! We must fulfill these duties. Besides, it would be illegal and immoral to abandon our most vulnerable citizens during these tough times.
Proposed by the Health & Human Services Committee chaired by Walter Frey, (pictured right) this memorializing resolution is an attempt to wake up our representatives as to their basic responsibilities at home and get their funding cut priorities straight. I'm sure there are programs out there that could be slashed without placing more stress on smaller municipalities.
I have an idea... let us have a look at that list.
Monday, June 14, 2010
The Senate Democratic Majority passed legislation to keep government working, preserving essential services used to support employment, health, public safety, transportation, and education related programs, while achieving nearly $330 million spending reductions to close the budget gap. Additionally, the Senate passed key legislation to protect tenants from housing discrimination based on income, require an economically feasible reuse plan for prisons slated for closure and prevent accidents in child care by requiring at least one employee of any child day care facility to be trained and certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid.
Maintaining Services & Operations S8167/S8169: These bills enact an emergency spending plan enabling various state agencies and departments to continue payments to preserve essential programs and functions of government for the period of April 1 to June 20, 2010, absent the enactment of the SFY 2010-11 budget. The legislation also enacts spending reductions associated with Human Services and Mental Hygiene. “We are keeping government working for all New Yorkers. Senate Democrats are making substantial progress on a fair and final budget that meets taxpayers’ needs. We will control spending, protect jobs, provide tax relief, and preserve our investment in health care and education,” said Senate Majority Conference Leader John L. Sampson. This legislation includes $12.95 billion in All Funds appropriation, and $3.45 billion in General Funds appropriation, including but not limited to:
- $175.4 million saving for the Human Services.
- $149 million in Mental Hygiene agencies.
- $2.096 billion for state employees including troopers, guardsmen, corrections officers, nurses and social service workers.
- $261 million for non-State transportation capital projects.
- $140.3 million in overall transit aid.
- $204.9 million for the Social Security Contribution Fund.
- $200 million in federal funds for projects approved during the SFY 2009-10.
- $195 million for Unemployment Insurance Benefits.
- $30 million for emergency health and safety capital construction projects.
The bills both passed 34-27.
Protecting Against Housing Discrimination S7613A (Squadron): Prevents housing discrimination based upon the source of income of individuals. Landlords often reject tenants with rental subsidies, but this legislation would make discrimination by landlords based on a tenant's source of income illegal under New York State Human Rights Law. The bill passed 34-27
Caring for our Children in Day Care S3644 (Montgomery): Requires at least one employee of any child day care facility to be trained and certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation and first aid. Accidents are the leading cause of death among infants. This bill may save lives and prevent cases of brain damage. It is imperative that those who watch over our children are trained to respond when a crisis arises. The bill passed 61-0
Ensuring Evacuation Safety for New Yorkers with Disability S5926 (Parker): Requires counties to maintain a registry of people of all ages with disabilities for evacuation and sheltering during disasters. This bill will greatly aid localities in preparing for and responding to disasters. It will also help protect persons of all ages with disabilities. The bill passed 36-25
Saving Jobs by Requiring a Reuse Plan for Closing Prisons S7068 (Hassell-Thompson): Current law requires the commissioner of the department of correctional services (DOCS) to provide at least twelve months notice of a prison closure to all local governments. This bill makes clear that local government officials as well as other relevant agencies and authorities must be consulted. The bill passed 61-0
Improving Voter Participation of College Students S2003 (Oppenheimer): Improves voter participation among younger voters at college by providing for polling sites to be located on college campuses when the majority of eligible voters in that election district live on-campus. The bill passed 32-29
Other Legislation S5501 (Valesky): Amends an existing property tax exemption for reinvestment in orchards and vineyards by establishing a more streamlined process to implement the exemption. This bill would amend this administration process so that farms would only need to file a soil group worksheet once with an assessor. Every year thereafter, the farmer would simply need to notify the assessor of new acreage planted and eligible for the program. The bill passed 61-0
S5977 (Stavisky): Requires evening court hours be expanded to contest parking violations, allowing those who work during the normal business day the opportunity to contest parking tickets in person without having to take time off from work. The bill passed 58-3
S4199 (Stavisky): Eliminates the requirement that the community college student member appointed by the Governor to the New York State Higher Education Services Corporation's (HESC) Board of Trustees be confirmed by the Senate. The bill passed 61-0
S7806A (Schneiderman): Authorizes pilot programs permitting use of facsimile transmission or electronic means to commence an action or special proceeding. The bill passed 61-0
S5753A (Klein): Allows the New York state Education Department's Professional Assistance Program for impaired professionals to accept people into the program in appropriate situations without having to surrender their license. This will make the Professional Assistance Program more effective in helping impaired professionals and that, in turn, will benefit the public. The bill passed 61-0
S1180A (Oppenheimer): Amends the tax law, in seeking authority to impose a 3% daily room tax hotel, motel, or similar place of public non-property tax revenues to support municipal expenses in the Village of Rye Brook. The bill passed 32-29
S7162 (Adams): Authorizes limited liability companies (LLCs) to hold racing licenses. The value of LLCs in today's business climate is that they can limit potential liability to the company's principals and have certain tax benefits. This bill would allow a LLC to apply for and obtain its own racing license without creating either another corporate subsidiary or holding company. The bill passed 61-0
S7827 (Duane): Increases newborn infant hearing screening rates and improves the completeness and accuracy of newborn infant hearing screening data. Without early identification and intervention, children with hearing loss may experience delays in the development of language and cognitive and social skills that may prevent success in academic and occupational achievement. The bill passed 61-0
S5963 (Schneiderman): Amends the criminal procedure law, in relation to the filing of a probation report for certain misdemeanor cases. In the vast majority of cases involving misdemeanors, the cases are resolved by a plea bargain that includes an agreed-upon sentence. As it currently stands, if the court intends to sentence the defendant to between three and six months in jail, it requires at least one additional court appearance, and sometimes several, while a presentence report is prepared and filed. The bill passed 60-1
S2993B (Klein): Ensures that new scientific knowledge is considered by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) concerning environmental impact. There may be certain governmental actions that can create environmental conditions that adversely affect sensitive populations, such as children, in a manner that is more pronounced than its effect on the general public. The bill passed 61-0
S4103 (Aubertine): Establishes a Strategic Network Partnership Program to coordinate the delivery of services from a variety of agencies to clusters of manufacturing industries and to other clusters of producers of goods and services. Many of these remaining industries are experiencing increasingly stiff international competition and must remain innovative and productive if they are to survive. The bill is based on the premise that economic development policy should be focused on building cooperative linkages among groupings of firms which work together in networks or which are concentrated in regions as sectors or clusters, linked by similar products, shared technologies or common constraints. The bill passed 61-0
S4498 (Duane): Ensures that patients diagnosed with terminal illness or condition receive information about options for palliative and end-of-life care. Patient often do not know what options for palliative care and pain management are clinically and legally available to them at the end of life. The patient is then empowered to control his or her own medical care decisions with full information. The bill passed 42-19
S5113 (Foley): Amends the environmental conservation law, in relation to providing reimbursements to fire companies for costs associated with responding to releases of hazardous materials. Many small municipal and volunteer fire companies accumulate significant costs in responding to hazardous materials spills. The current law does not provide a mechanism to allow these companies to allow for recovery of these costs. The bill passed 61-0
S6102A (Adams): Consolidates the police officer and peace officer registries, and clarifies minimum training requirements for peace officers. The bill would eliminate a significant unfunded mandate currently borne by many county governments. Thus, the new training requirements would apply only to peace officers appointed on or after the effective date. Peace officers appointed prior to the effective date would continue to be subject to the training requirements in place at the time of their appointment. The bill passed 61-0
S6203 (Klein): Provides Economic Development financing for transportation projects to facilitate delivery of New York farm products from farmers and associations of farmers to institutional food service purchasers such as restaurants, schools and other food service operations. In addition, businesses and consumers in urban and suburban communities would benefit from the fresher, nutritious, quality food and meals available because of these projects. The bill passed 61-0
S7838 (Kruger): Amends the local finance law, in relation to the refunding of bonds. Under existing law, refunding bonds must comply with the fifty percent rule or have level or declining debt service. Targeted refundings are an essential tool to address the issue of bank-held bonds that not only revert to higher rates increasing the City's debt service expenses, but often trigger "term-out" provisions that require accelerated repayment of those bonds. The bill passed 61-0
S3573A (Perkins): Requires utility companies to post notification of date and place of proposed hearings concerning rate hikes on the monthly bills. Utility rate hikes over the years have been the subject of tremendous controversy. This bill provides for is a more appropriate method of notifying consumers so that they may plan to attend the hearing or submit comments. The bill passed 49-12
There is an outfit out of Connecticut making surface repairs during the wee hours of the night. From what I've seen and driven on so far, I am impressed.
With the help of some of our own DPW road crew, Connecticut Infrared had conquered areas like Washington Ave (pictured above), Loundsberry and Emerson Streets. You may be asking why the name Infrared...
Well, that's the process they are using to make these radical repairs. The mechanism hovers inches above the macadam, radiates the surface several inches down to over 400 degrees. The crew roughs up a section with short tooth rigid rakes with little effort. Replacing only a few shovels of fresh material, they have the patch in question power tamped within minutes. I witnessed this myself with disbelief last month at this intersection.
The acres of repair during the month of May cost the city 24K. That's a whole lot less than if they had resurfaced the streets curb to curb. Superintendent Schupp had seen the demonstration by this company out at the Hudson Valley Mall a few months ago and realized the potential for our street repairs immediately.
This doesn't take away from the terrific work that the other surface crews have done city wide. Those of you who know the hamlet of Wilbur are well aware of the successful street repair on Fitch & Burnett Streets off of Wilbur Ave. Not to increase traffic because of this long awaited achievement, but it's worth driving on this street if only for the view of the boatyard below. Here are some of those before and after pictures:
I wonder if DeWitt St will ever see the resurfacing I asked for for six years.
Friday, June 11, 2010
Well, no. Since choking during domestic violence cases is so common it would seem logical to have it part of the assault charge. But since it isn't specifically addressed as a specific crime, attackers end up facing menacing or harassment charges instead. This is no-longer the case.
Judges throughout New York State can now use the incident and the choking of one's partner as an additional tool to better address the dangerous issue. Whether it's an act between same gender or mixed couples, the threat of domestic violence is no different and the harm one person can do to another knows no boundaries. What to do about it if it should happen can now be decided more clearly by a judge.
I find it fascinating that this type of heinous act would need to be more defined to get the attention it needs considering the damage that so many perpetrators have done to their victims for so long. Like so many other domestic issues, redefinition seems to be the trend these days and although very late, our lawmakers deserve our thanks on this one.
Thursday, June 10, 2010
Monday, June 07, 2010
The State Senator representing much of the new wetlands is John Bonacic. (pictured above at the annual Police Chiefs Dinner) He has announced that the NYC head of the reservoir system will meet with residents of the town of Wawarsing on June 24 but a location has not been designated yet.
During the last few decades, the residents living above the leaking aqueduct have dealt with increasing problems surrounding the saturated soil in their area. Initially affecting just a few homes many years ago, the number has increased dramatically and now causes a threat to their health as well as safety.
Bonacic, (not usually found on Kingston Progressive) has requested an audience with Cas Halloway, the Commissioner of NYC Waterways to make the trek upstate to meet with the residents. I know how cynical we all are about politician motives during an election year, but sometimes that's the only time we get anything done, right?
Bonacic was quoted: “For too many years, the DEP has delayed acknowledging their responsibility. Now they admit they have ignored it, but still have yet to admit their responsibility. We are talking about people’s lives here. Mayor Bloomberg, ought to come to Wawarsing, look these families in the eye, apologize for taking so long to admit the truth, and offer them just compensation. Anything else is just more of the same – a delay tactic.”
Many of you remember that earlier this year, the State senate unanimously passed legislation (S.6276) to authorize the use of $4 million in State funding to buyout Wawarsing homeowners. This money was intended for surface flood victims from way back in 2008. It's now available for the aqueduct seepage problem,
In an earlier report, Deputy Commissioner of NYC DEP said: "We forgot about Wawarsing. We should have been more connected. We should have done a better job." He went on to admit that the city began monitoring private wells in the trouble area when it became aware of aqueduct water reaching the surface in the 1990s. Since then, they have supplied residents with bottled water for drinking and UV/filtering systems to diminish the health hazards attributed to the fecal contaminated wells.
In one of his many releases on the subject, Bonacic said: “New York City, not the State taxpayers, should be on the hook here. Their years of denials however, left us no choice but to act. This new admission, that they should have done more a long time ago is a step in the right direction, but does nothing in the long term to help these families. We need action, not just words to right the grievous wrongs foisted upon the people of Wawarsing by the DEP."
County Legislator Terry Bernardo, and I joined a group of Wawarsing residents heading for Albany last month in an attempt to educate members of the Assembly of the dire need for action on this issue. Our own representative Kevin Cahill indicated that the measure to hold NYC accountable didn't have the support needed at the time we were visiting the Assembly offices. His attempt to walk this through the committee process at a slower pace rather than have it fail in an immediate vote, was what he offered our group.
Considering the greater part of the majority party in the Assembly is located in the New York City area, it will take some delicate conversation by Kevin to move this legislation toward a YES vote, but time will tell. It is of course, an election year.
Saturday, June 05, 2010
Last weekend was the soft opening which was well attended, bringing people up from Gardiner, down from Saugerties and as far as weekend tourists from the Netherlands. It was quite the mix of patrons which is typical of the Gin Joints throughout the city.
The owner, Paul (pictured left) says the air conditioners will be functioning by next weekend to provide even more incentive to drop in and sample the mescal. The space is set up to allow performances in the back. I expect to see an eclectic range of acts to match the clientele.
Located at 313 Fair Street, only fifty feet from North Front, I'd say check it out and make it your new watering hole this summer.
Friday, June 04, 2010
The Rockland County Dems have chosen Clarkstown Town Clerk, David Carlucci (pictured above) as its candidate for the 38th State Senate seat. He beat out the opposition Grant Valentine (pictured right) and Peter Dolan and Lou Tharp by 150 to 2. Valentine got the 2. I witnessed Carlucci get the endorsement in Orange County the night before with about the same proportion.
One speech that seemed to have everyone on their feet in applause was made by Congressman Eliot Engel in the 17th District. His plea for Democratic unity as we head into this election cycle is what the crowd was looking for. I'd say he made the case.
What we do know about conventions is that the committee shutout doesn't always mean there wont be a primary. After all, the people voting in committee are but a small fraction of the electorate and most candidates would like to give the registered democrats in the district the opportunity to chose their candidate. Having said that, I heard Grant Valentine of Ramapo, Lou Tharp of Nyack, and Peter Dolan of Tuxedo fully intend to stay in the race.
I should note: AG candidate Eric Dinallo started the evening off with a well received speech at their convention. Having made the effort to address democratic membership across the state, Eric has addressed thousands of willing attendees looking for a reason to chose one AG candidate over the others. Thursday night, I think he did just that.
Thursday, June 03, 2010
Well, Monday, June 7th, HG Entertainment plans to use our quaint little streets to film segments of a major feature. What it's about and who's in it...I have no clue. What I do know, is the City of Kingston is expected to lose parking meter revenue, the merchants will lose sales revenue and the DPW crews will invest taxpayer time erecting and removing barricades.
Store manager's patience will be tested. Why? Well, some businesses have employees scheduled in advance. If the days during filming are expected to be well below expected retail, then calls will have to be made over the weekend. I say this, because here it is Thursday and Uptown Businesses are just getting the notices now.
If this were a parade and festival, wouldn't we be asking for a financial impact fee? Should the whole city be responsible for the possible overtime costs accrued because of the film crew? Perhaps they did settle this before, but it would seem unlikely since the locals are just getting word of it today.
In the flier, the Mayor states: "I recognize that this is a huge inconvenience, but it is a great opportunity for the City of Kingston." Sure, it will be nice to see our city streets in some movie someday, but it would have been nice to know about the interruption to our merchant functions more than three days prior. I hope HG Entertainment has made this worth it.