July 3, 2014

Your morning reading from PLA – A sampling of today’s New York news


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Will charge hurt Libous at polls? Times Union (Matthew Hamilton)


Standing on the steps of the federal courthouse in White Plains, state Sen. Thomas Libous calmly denied a charge of lying to federal investigators and played up his record in the 52nd Senate District.

“It’s the kind of thing that’s very disappointing, and we’re going to fight them,” Libous told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “We’re going to fight them because I’ve spent the last 26 years working very hard for the people of the Southern Tier. I’m going to continue to do that. I’m very proud of my record. I’m not going to let this hold me back at all.”


Assemblyman plans shooting-range fund-raiser Capital New York (Jimmy Vielkind)

ALBANY—A Republican assemblyman from suburban Rochester is hosting a day-long fund-raiser later this month at a shooting range, raffling off a dozen rifles and shotguns as door prizes.

Assemblyman Bill Nojay, whose district stretches along Interstate 390 from Pittsford to Hornell, has been an outspoken critic of the SAFE Act, gun control law sponsored by Governor Andrew Cuomo, tand is a plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging the act’s constitutionality. (A federal judge upheld its core provisions, but an appeal is pending.)


Astorino says $2.2 billion windfall should go to infrastructure work Buffalo News (Tom Precious)

ALBANY — Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino said today the $2.2 billion – at least – windfall New York state is receiving from Monday’s settlement with France’s largest bank should be dedicated for long-term infrastructure improvements.

Astorino said $500 million of the new money should go to removing the state’s canal system from the financial responsibility of the state Thruway Authority, an early 1990s budget-balancing manuever long criticized as a fiscal gimmick by critics.


State: Kids will need more vaccinations Times Union (Rick Karlin)

Children in New York will need to get more vaccinations to enter school, according to updated requirements released by the state Department of Health.

Students won’t have to be vaccinated for additional diseases, but they will need more doses for the current list of ailments. For example, students entering kindergarten or sixth grade in the upcoming school year will get two doses of varicella, or chickenpox, vaccine and up to five doses of poliomyelitis vaccine.


NY lawmakers, Gov. Cuomo delay measure intended to help reform charities Tribtown (AP)

ALBANY, New York — The Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have postponed for a year one of the provisions intended to help reform New York charities by prohibiting employees from serving as chairmen of their boards of directors.

The bill, signed this week, will postpone the effective date to Jan. 1, 2016.

In a memo, legislative sponsors say they require more time to study the impact of the restriction on nonprofits.



New York City Budget: Vote First, Read Later Wall Street Journal (Michael Howard Saul)

New York City Council members who approved the city’s $75 billion budget in the middle of the night last week were given little time to read it before casting their votes.

Less than an hour before midnight on June 25, city staff handed the hot-off-the-printer budget documents to the council members.

Minutes later, the council’s speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito, moved forward with a council meeting—beginning after midnight and ending at about 1:20 a.m. Thursday—to adopt the largest city budget in history.


City Reaches Agreement With Union Wall Street Journal (Michael Howard Saul)

Mayor Bill de Blasio and District Council 37, New York City’s largest municipal union, said Wednesday they have reached a tentative contract agreement that follows the pattern of raises set by the teachers union earlier this year.

The agreement provides raises totaling 10%, or 10.41% when compounded, over seven years, plus a $1,000 ratification bonus for each member of a bargaining unit that agreed to the overall deal.


Why property tax bills will rise, despite de Blasio’s boast Capital New York (Sally Goldenberg and Ryan Hutchins)

Many New York City homeowners are facing another spike in their property tax bills, even as the mayor said this week he is “proud” his Fiscal Year 2015 budget did not raise taxes, since overall rates aren’t increasing.

This merely continues a dichotomy that has frustrated the city’s property owners year after year, but is further complicated this time around by an unusual bit of news—for the first time in decades, the city’s tax rate is actually going down for one- two- and three-family homes. The rate also went down for co-ops, condominiums, rental buildings and utilities.


Bratton Putting Desk Officers on Streets to Fight New York’s Summer Crime New York Times (J. David Goodman)

As many as 400 veteran New York City officers assigned to desk jobs in the Police Department will return to the streets this summer as part of a broad push by Commissioner William J. Bratton to head off a seasonal spike in crime.

The program, known in the department as “Summer All Out,” will last 90 days and draw on uniformed officers and detectives in office assignments such as counterterrorism and personnel work. It was announced in a letter from Mr. Bratton to his top deputies dated Monday and obtained by The New York Times from a person who is skeptical of the strategy outlined in the document.



Pegulas hire sports-business slugger Steve Greenberg to oversee pursuit of Bills Buffalo News (Tim Graham)

Terry and Kim Pegula have hired a powerful sports broker to handle their interest in the Buffalo Bills.

The Buffalo News has confirmed Steve Greenberg, managing director of elite investment bank Allen & Company, is representing the Pegulas as they investigate becoming NFL owners.

Greenberg’s presence is the biggest sign yet of the Pegulas’ attraction to the Bills. They already own the Buffalo Sabres.


Schumer urges VA to speed delivery of high-tech medical equipment Buffalo News (Henry Davis)

The long wait for medical care and claims is not the only problem plaguing some veterans hospitals.

There also is a backlog of high-tech medical equipment that has been paid for but not distributed, contributing to the wait times, Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, said Wednesday at the Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Servicemen’s Park.

The Buffalo VA Medical Center, for instance, currently is waiting for at least nine pieces of ordered equipment and, for some items, has waited more than two years, he said. The equipment includes a new MRI, patient lifts and catheterization procedure devices.


Franco drops out of Lockport race, which now pits Feeley vs. Mullane Buffalo News (Thomas Prohaska)

LOCKPORT – Alderman Ronald A. Franco said Wednesday he’s not going to run in this fall’s election, citing time conflicts with his job as an American Airlines pilot.

The 2nd Ward Republican, who was appointed to the Council in March, after Anne E. McCaffrey’s Feb. 21 promotion to mayor, said he will continue to serve until his appointment runs out at the end of the year.


Chestnut Ridge Park to Receive an Overhaul The Buffalo News (Michelle Kearns)

…The 5-year-old Chestnut Ridge Park Conservancy is aiming high: Its $2.5 million wish list of a dozen projects for the 1,231-acre park includes fixing the dilapidated “100” stone steps into a ravine, installing a telescope and adding soccer fields and volleyball courts to the lawns around an overgrown baseball diamond.

“The park can be a draw, a magnet for commerce,” said Ron Michnik, a retired mortgage broker and founding conservancy trustee…



New Adirondack lands opened for camping, hiking Wall Street Journal (AP)

ALBANY, N.Y. — A lake-studded region in the central Adirondacks is now open for backcountry tent camping.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Wednesday that 22 tent sites are now available in the Essex Chain Lakes region near Newcomb. Thirteen of the sites are along lakefronts and must be reserved through a permit system administered by the Adirondack Interpretive Center in Newcomb.

Cuomo said access improvements have created increased paddling opportunities.



State Board Deals a Setback to Apartments in Chappaqua New York Times (Joseph Berger)

A New York State review board on Wednesday issued a split decision on eight zoning variances being sought for a low- and moderate-income housing project in Chappaqua, the affluent Westchester County hamlet perhaps best known as the home of Bill and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Though the ruling will require significant design changes to the project if it is to proceed, the lawyer for the builder said he was optimistic that alternatives could be found that would make that possible.



Officials ask Gov. Cuomo to get involved with looming LIRR strike negotiations News 12 Long Island

WOODBURY – With a potential Long Island Rail Road strike looming, the MTA and railroad unions are heading back to the bargaining table with the National Mediation Board next week.

The announcement comes as some state senators urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to get personally involved with the negotiations in an effort to avoid a strike on July 20.

“We need to have full force of the executive branch brought to bear so that there is a real negotiation,” said state Sen. Kemp Hannon (R – Garden City).

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Postedy by Charles and Randy Fisher (Twitter @HHSYC).