Tag Archives: Albany

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino announces GOP run for governor


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Video via YouTube/Rob Astorino

Rob Astorino is asking voters whether New York is winning or losing.

The Westchester County Executive, in a video challenging Andrew Cuomo’s economic successes in leading the state, has announced he is running on the Republican ticket for governor.

“I’m tired of listening to the fairy tale that everything is just great when it’s just the opposite. I’m tired of watching New York’s decline,” he said, declaring his candidacy Wednesday.

If the state is winning, Astorino, 46, proclaimed, then re-elect Cuomo, but the evidence, he added, shows it is not.

New York has the highest taxes in the country, worst business climate, most corrupt government and second highest electric rates, Astorino claimed.

The video also attacked the governor for raising taxes and for his plan to fund college classes in prisons.

Astorino called Cuomo’s handling of Common Core a “disaster,” and promised to replace it with better standards, teaching and testing, all set and controlled at the local level. He additionally said New York needs more charter schools, not fewer.

He promised bipartisan, inclusive governing that he said helped get “Westchester back on the winning path again.”

Before he was elected to his first term as County Executive in 2009, Astorino served on the Westchester County Board of Legislators, and was a Mount Pleasant councilmember for 12 years.

Though he won re-election last year in a 2-1 Democratic county, he has an uphill battle if he faces Cuomo in the general election.

Cuomo, a popular incumbent, already has more than $33 million in campaign funds, according to the New York State Board of Elections.

A Feb. 13 Quinnipiac University poll showed Cuomo, with a 63 percent job approval rating, would beat Astorino 58 to 24 percent.

It also found he would easily defeat another potential challenger, Donald Trump.

The 2010 GOP candidate for governor, Carl Paladino, could reportedly run as a third party candidate.

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Wednesday: A mix of clouds and sun. High 38. Winds N at 5 to 10 mph. Wednesday night: A few clouds. Low 18. Winds N at 10 to 20 mph.

EVENT OF THE DAY:  Dinner, a Movie and a Side of Reconciliation

Join savvy film and food lovers at Armondo’s Italian Restaurant for dinner and then head two blocks to P.S. 69 (77-02 37th Ave.) to watch Sardines, a short film about a child who goes to unusual measures to get her family’s attention, and the French feature film Tu Seras Un Homme (You’ll Be a Man), about a family coming together with the help of an outsider. $50, call (718) 429-8552. 7 p.m. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

New York City education takes center stage in Albany

Gov. Andrew Cuomo pledged his support to a massive pro-charter school rally Tuesday at the state Capitol as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio urged one more push in the state Legislature for his beleaguered pre-kindergarten funding plan -underscoring the political differences between the two powerful Democrats. Read more: AP

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton to ride night subways to survey problems

New York City’s top cop says he’ll ride late-night subways to get a first-hand look at the quality-of-life problems straphangers face. Read more: NBC New York

De Blasio backers sue to block more charters

Mayor de Blasio is now getting friendly fire from his lefty supporters regarding the charter school space controversy. Read more: New York Post

House OKs bill rolling back huge flood insurance premium hikes

The House approved legislation Tuesday night to roll back a recently enacted overhaul of the federal flood insurance program, after homeowners in flood-prone areas complained about sharp premium increases. Read more: CBS New York/AP

NYPD officers to be equipped with tablets in new pilot program

New York City police officers will soon be armed with a new crime-fighting tool: tablet computers. Read more: CBS New York

Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com

morning roundup

TODAY’S FORECAST

Tuesday: Partly cloudy skies this morning will become overcast during the afternoon. High near 30. Winds NW at 5 to 10 mph. Tuesday night: Cloudy early with some clearing expected late. Low 24. Winds light and variable.

EVENT OF THE DAY:  Queens World Film Festival

In addition to integrating the work of 18 local Queens filmmakers, the festival spotlights a dazzling selection of foreign films from such countries as Belgium, Iran, India, Spain, Kosovo, Switzerland, Vietnam, the UK and Canada. Venues include the Museum of the Moving Image, The Secret Theatre, Nesva Hotel and P.S. 69 in Jackson Heights. March 4-9. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

De Blasio to lobby Albany for pre-K and after-school support

Mayor Bill de Blasio is set to head to Albany again to push for a tax on New York City’s rich to pay for universal pre-kindergarten and middle school after-school programs. Read more: Fox New York

Thousands of flights canceled amid storm, record number this winter

Airlines canceled nearly 2,300 flights Monday as the latest winter storm hit the East Coast, with New York City being among the hardest hit despite just a dusting of snow. Read more: NBC New York

New York State puts brakes on pothole-damage reimbursements

New York state won’t pick up the tab for any cars damaged on its pothole-filled highways this winter. Read more: CBS New York

 Mayor de Blasio will keep Bloomberg’s Bullpen

Michael Bloomberg is gone from City Hall, but his old office will endure. Read more: New York Daily News

New York area , northeast again dealing with bitter blast

With the high temperature staying in the 20s Tuesday, it’s going to be a brutally cold day once again. Read more: ABC New York

State Senate leaders split over de Blasio pre-K tax


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


A fight is brewing in Albany over Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to fund universal pre-kindergarten.

On Monday, Republican Dean Skelos, co-leader of the State Senate Majority Coalition, said he would not allow for a vote on de Blasio’s proposal for a tax increase on the rich to pay for full-day pre-kindergarten in the city, according to published reports.

The Democratic co-leader of the State Senate Majority Coalition, Jeff Klein, responded by saying he will “not approve a budget that fails to realize the vision Mayor de Blasio and I share of providing high-quality, universal pre-k,” according to NY1.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is hoping to pass his fourth, consecutive on time budget this year.

“To deny a vote on something as urgently-needed and as widely-supported as funding universal pre-kindergarten is just plain wrong,” de Blasio said in a statement Monday.

The same day, de Blasio delivered his first State of the City address, where he again made the argument for his pre-kindergarten plan.

“If there are extra resources in the state budget, we must remember that the State Court of Appeals ruled – in the landmark Campaign for Fiscal Equity decision several years ago — that the children of this city deserve billions more in educational resources, and now is the time to provide it,” he said.

Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a statewide plan for universal, full-day pre-kindergarten in his January budget address. The state would fully fund the program.

 

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State Senator Peralta goes on the record on Huntley wiretap


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

File photo

State Senator Jose Peralta says he did not have any illegal discussions with his former colleague, Shirley Huntley, when she secretly recorded him last year.

“I was as surprised as anybody to have my name on this list,” Peralta told The Queens Courier. “I did no wrong-doing whatsoever. I know that nothing on these tapes would implicate me on anything with the exception of the fact that I was recorded.”

Peralta said his lawyers were assured by authorities that he is not the topic of a federal investigation, unlike some others on the list released last week. State Senators Malcolm Smith and John Sampson were arrested within a month of each other on federal corruption charges. Prosecutors have not confirmed whether

Huntley’s cooperation with the FBI aided in those arrests.

Because there are still ongoing investigations, Peralta could not say what he discussed with Huntley.

However, he did say that it was nothing of substance and “people will be scratching their heads” at the content recorded.

Peralta’s own tenure in the Senate came on the heels of another legislator’s removal from the chamber.

He won a special election in March 2010 after the Senate voted to expel disgraced pol Hiram Monserrate, who was convicted of a misdemeanor. Monserrate tried to reclaim his seat in the special election, but with the loss of the Democrats’ backing, he finished third.

“I ran against someone who really shocked the confidence of his constituents,” Peralta said. “I wanted to make sure I was as transparent and as forward-thinking as possible.”

Peralta said the recordings of seven elected officials and two political consultants were an effort by Huntley to point fingers and divert charges away from her.

“She must have thought she can get [a plea bargain] by pointing fingers at others,” he said. “I’m not saying there are no bad apples,” but “most of us are hardworking, transparent individuals.”

Peralta told The Courier that since he is not under investigation, the wiretap will not impact his run for borough president.

“I think it’s a minor setback, of course,” he said. “But I’ve been on the campaign trail and people see it for what it is.”

 

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Malcolm Smith back to work following bribery arrest


| mhayes@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of the Office of State Senator Malcolm Smith

State Senator Malcolm Smith is back to work following his arrest earlier this month on corruption charges.

“We’re serving the people just as we usually do,” said a Smith spokesperson. “We’ve been helping them as we always have.”

On Tuesday, April 2, Smith was arrested along with Councilmember Dan Halloran for allegedly trying to rig the upcoming mayoral election. Despite the charges, Smith arrived in Albany two weeks later to continue his legislation.

In Albany, the embattled senator met with members of the New York State Nurses Association to discuss two bills affecting healthcare: the Safe Patient Handling Act, which would establish safe patient handling policies; and the Safe Staffing for Quality Care, which would set minimum staffing requirements for care facilities.

“These two pieces of legislation will not only makes nurses’ jobs a little easier, but will improve the quality of care for patients,” Smith said.

Back in Senatorial District 14, the spokesperson said that Smith’s staff remains intact and the community feedback has been positive following the scandal.

“They know the senator’s reputation for serving the community and helping people, so they have been very supportive,” said the rep.

As for the future, Smith will be making minimal public appearances, and the staff is “playing it by ear,” according to the spokesperson.

Smith also made a return to Twitter, tweeting that this week’s theme is “God Knows the Heart.”

 

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Queens’ Morning Roundup


| ctumola@queenscourier.com


TODAY’S FORECAST

Thursday: Partly cloudy. High of 48. Winds from the NW at 10 to 15 mph. Thursday night: Clear in the evening, then partly cloudy. Low of 36. Winds less than 5 mph. Chance of rain 20%.

EVENT OF THE DAY: Urinetown: The Musical

Winner of three Tony awards and one of the most uproariously funny musicals in recent years, Urinetown is a hilarious tale of greed, corruption, love and revolution in a time when water is worth its weight in gold. In a Gotham-like city, a terrible water shortage, caused by a 20-year drought, has led to a government-enforced ban on private toilets. Performances start Thursday, January 10 and continue through Saturday, January 26 at The Secret Theatre in Long Island City. Click here for more info or to submit an event of your own

Crane collapses in Long Island City, injuring seven

Seven workers suffered minor injuries when a crane collapsed at a Long Island City building site. Read more: Queens Courier

Cuomo takes aim at guns, Sandy relief during State of the State address

Governor Andrew Cuomo has vowed New York will become the nation’s leader in gun safety laws in wake of recent shootings. Read more: Queens Courier

Seastreak Wall Street Ferry saw other problems before crash

The Seastreak Wall Street ferry that crashed in Lower Manhattan Wednesday has had a few minor incidents in recent years. Read more: CBS New York

Cheating teacher the answer man: probe

A Queens elementary- school teacher brazenly helped fourth-graders cheat on the state’s high-stakes English exams, even though there was a second proctor in the room, investigators found. Read more: New York Post

Breezy Point couple surprised with newly renovated home after it was destroyed by Sandy

An octogenarian Queens couple whose house was ravaged by Superstorm Sandy received a surprise gift on Wednesday — a brand new home. Read more: New York Daily News

Report: Queens Native Will Likely Head Up Treasury Dept.

President Barack Obama is reportedly set to tap a native New Yorker to serve as the new head of the United States Treasury Department. Read more: NY1

NYC firm hit hard on 9/11 gives $10M in Sandy aid

The New York City brokerage firm that lost 658 employees in the Sept. 11 terror attacks announced that it will “adopt” 19 schools in communities hit hard by Superstorm Sandy and will give each family in those schools $1,000 to spend as they see fit. Read more: AP

Cuomo takes aim at guns, Sandy relief during State of the State address


| tcullen@queenscourier.com

Photo courtesy of Governor Cuomo's Flickr

Governor Andrew Cuomo has vowed New York will become the nation’s leader in gun safety laws in wake of recent shootings.

At his annual State of the State address on January 9, Cuomo put forth a seven-point agenda that would lead to some of the tightest gun regulations in the country – particularly aimed at assault weapons and multi-round ammunition clips.

“I know that the issue of gun control is hard,” an energized Cuomo said during his closing remarks. “But we are proposing today common sense measures. It’s simple: no one hunts with an assault rifle. No one needs 10 bullets to kill a deer.”

Cuomo’s seven points are: the toughest assault rifle ban in the country; closing a private sale loophole by requiring background checks; banning high-capacity magazines; harsher penalties for illegal gun use; keeping guns away from the mentally ill; blocking direct Internet sales of ammunition in the state; and creating a state check on all ammunition purchases.

While the governor wants to crack down on high-powered rifles, he clarified any new gun legislation would not harm legal gun owners and would be a balanced plan.

“This is not taking away people’s guns,” Cuomo said. It is “about ending the unnecessary risk of high-capacity assault rifles.”

Relief and moving forward after Sandy dominated a good portion of Cuomo’s hour-and-a-half address.

On delayed federal aid, Cuomo called on Congress to stop “playing politics” and give relief to New York and New Jersey residents who desperately need it. The $9.7 billion initially passed Friday, January 4 for flood insurance was not enough, Cuomo said, and more had to be done.

“My friends, that [$9 billion] is just too little and that is too late,” he said. “This has long been established that in the face of a disaster, the federal government comes in to help.”

Cuomo promised the city as a whole would come back bigger and better, by remaking homes to last and resist future storms, especially in coastal regions. Raising homes in areas such as Rockaway could prevent future flooding like that during Sandy’s surge. The state also plans on buying parcels of land from residents who want to relocate to higher-elevated areas.

This also includes better precautionary measures for tunnels and subways. Though this would be costly for the state, Cuomo said he wants to do it now to prevent the city from shutting down in the way it did after Sandy.

“We can rebuild a better society than we had,” he said.

 

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Cuomo to hold New Year’s open house at Executive Mansion


| brennison@queenscourier.com

Photo via Flickr/governorandrewcuomo

Want to spend New Year’s with the governor? Well, here’s your chance.

Governor Andrew Cuomo is opening the doors to the Executive Mansion in Albany on New Year’s Day and he’s invited the whole state to join him.

The open house will take place from 1-3 p.m.

All adults over 16 wishing to join the governor must have a ticket to get in and space is limited.

Click here to sign up for the open house

Registration will remain open until 6 p.m. tonight. If the number of requests exceeds the available space, guests will be selected by lottery.

No photos or videos will be allowed.

 

Four more US soldiers face court martial over alleged hazing death of New York GI


| jlane@queenscourier.com

Graphic by Jay Lane

Four more US soldiers face court martial over alleged hazing death of New York GI

Four more US soldiers are facing a possible court martial over the alleged hazing death in Afghanistan of a 19-year-old fellow serviceman of Chinese descent. The recommendation from military investigators follows a preliminary hearing at Kandahar Air Field on Monday. Seven of the eight servicemen — originally charged on multiple counts, including involuntary manslaughter and negligent homicide linked to Pvt. Danny Chen’s death — could now end up in the military court. Investigators are still examining the case of the eighth soldier. Read More: New York Post

Liu-nacy! Embattled comp advises pols on money

Beleaguered city Comptroller John Liu’s campaign treasurer is facing fraud charges and his entire political fund-raising operation is ensnared in a federal probe — but, without a hint of irony, the Queens pol advised City Hall yesterday on how to manage its finances. For 45 minutes, Liu testified and answered City Council questions about Mayor Bloomberg’s 2013 budget proposal, agreeing with the proposed sale of 2,000 taxi medallions to raise $1 billion. Like Bloomberg, he also opposed holding off on pension contributions to temporarily fill budget gaps, calling it “kicking the can down the road.” Read More: New York Post

Person Of Interest Sought In Death Of Chelsea Man

Police are looking to question a person of interest in connection with the death of a man in Chelsea over the weekend. Authorities released pictures, above, of the man they’re looking for in connection with the death of 57-year-old John Laubach. At this point police are not calling the man a suspect. Laubach was found dead in his apartment Friday night. Sources say his hands, feet, and mouth were bound with duct tape, and there was a towel over his face. The apartment had also been ransacked. Read More: NY1

 

In Reversal, Albany Now Supports Women’s Choice Of Birth Control

Albany is ordering health insurers not to deny women their choice of contraceptives – or face the loss of state contracts. The state issued the warning after some women on Medicaid were told to use a cheaper, generic brand instead of their regular method. It was part of a state cost-cutting measure put in place back in October. According to the rule, if the generic version failed then patients could go back to their preferred form of birth control. Read More: NY1

 

High-end madam busted for running upper East Side brothel is a suburban mom with four children

A high-end madam who boasted she used cops as security and made millions by peddling flesh — including underage girls — to rich and powerful clients has been busted after a five-year probe, prosecutors said. The Manhattan district attorney’s office indicted petite, blond, green-eyed Anna Gristina, 44, in a corruption investigation that amassed 50 to 100 hours of audio and video recordings, some showing prostitutes doing the deed, according to court records. Read More: Daily News

Cuomo delivers 2012 State of the State [Watch Video of Speech]


| smosco@queenscourier.com

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In his second State of the State speech since taking office, Governor Andrew Cuomo said he plans to straighten out the state’s fiscal problems while expanding job growth and strengthening education.

In front of hundreds of lawmakers, policy leaders and other New Yorkers, the governor delivered his vision for 2012 – a vision that seeks to spin stagnation into governmental action.

“New York State is on the way to coming back stronger than ever before,” the governor said during his speech from Albany on Wednesday, January 4. “By working together in a bipartisan manner and putting the people first, we have established the credibility to govern and to lead. Now we must build on what we have already accomplished to begin to undo decades of decline. We have big problems, but we are confronting them with big solutions. Now is the time to get to work, building a New New York together.”

Cuomo revealed his “Economic Blueprint for New York” and issued a challenge to the state and to himself: “Our challenge for 2012 is this: How does government spur job creation in a down economy while limiting spending and maintaining fiscal discipline? The answer is forging public-private partnerships that leverage state resources to generate billions of dollars in economic growth and create thousands of jobs.”

Some of the governor’s major points included:

- Building the largest convention center in the country at the Aqueduct Racino in South Ozone Park
-Revamping the Jacob Javits site
-$1 billion economic development package for Buffalo
- A second round of Regional Economic Development awards
- Utilization of casino gaming
- New York Works Fund and task force to create private sector jobs and rebuild the state’s infrastructure.
- An “Energy Highway” system to power New York’s economic growth
- Invest in solar energy

Cuomo said that in order to tackle his agenda for 2012, the state government would have to be reimaged in a way that it performs better at a lower cost. To accomplish this, the governor proposed:

- Long term commitment to fiscal discipline by holding the line on spending and closing the remaining $2 billion budget deficit with no new taxes or fees.
-Mandate Relief, which will reform the pension system. The governor said he will ask the joint legislature and executive mandate relief council to hold public hearings.
- Transform public education by appointing a bipartisan education commission to work with the legislature to recommend reforms in key areas including teach accountability, student achievement and management efficiency.
-Redesigning New York’s Emergency Management System by calling for a statewide network of municipal and regional emergency responders.

Cuomo also lauded New York for its progressive history and said that history will be built upon with these initiatives:

- Foreclosure Prevention Assistance
- Tenant Protection Unit
- Continued commitment to Minority and Women-Owned Businesses
- Additional SUNY Challenge Grants
- Increase participation in food stamp programs
- Create an all-crimes DNA database
- Establish a tax reform and fairness commission
- Implement campaign finance reform

Assemblymembers address 111th Precinct


| mpantelidis@queenscourier.com


“For the first time in five years, people think that New York is headed in the right direction.”

That’s the word from Assemblymember Edward Braunstein, who spoke at the 111th Precinct Community Council meeting on Tuesday, October 4. Both Braunstein and Assemblymember David Weprin discussed various hot-button policy issues as well as bills they have passed, and are pushing to pass, in Albany.

Braunstein, a lifelong Bayside resident, called his first year in Albany and the overall political year a success.

He gave much of the credit to Governor Andrew Cuomo “who was very impressive in his performance” in his timely balancing of New York’s 10 billion dollar budget, although Braunstein did express disappointment that the millionaire’s tax will expire at the end of year.The tax, which he and other Democrats fought to renew, was blocked by both Governor Cuomo and Senate Republicans.

“Sometimes it takes courage to recognize you’re not in the majority and you have to compromise,” he said. “We acted like adults and passed Governor Cuomo’s budget.

Braunstein said we should see another heated battle next year in Albany over the tax

Another showdown which may soon occur involves the controversial drilling method called hydrofracking which uses water, sand and chemicals to release natural gas from rock.While both the governor and state legislators expect the hydrofracking plan to revive upstate New York’s struggling economy, many environmentalists are worried about its safety.

Braunstein believes the hydrofracking plan will pass and will include rules that “they don’t drill anywhere near New York City’s water supply.”

Some of the year’s successes cited by Braunstein include an ethics reform package and a ban on the sale of the Meth-like drug known as “bath salts.” He is also pushing legislation which would require state colleges to immediately notify authorities of on-campus felonies anda bill to cap property taxeson co-ops at six percent.

Weprin also declared his support of the millionaires’ tax noting that “anyone making over a million a year can afford to pay that extra 1 percent.”

Weprin discussed his bill which seeks to curb water rate hikes by restructuring New York City’s Water Board. The bill, if passed, would end mayoral control of the board.

“As you can imagine, the mayor opposes the bill,” he said.

Weprin also discussed his new proposal to outlaw smoking in cars occupied by passengers under the age of 16 and an “adoptee bill of rights” which would grant adoptees access to their birth certificates when they reach 18.

He concluded his talk by thanking the community for their support during his campaign for the 9th District’s Congressional seat which he lost to Republican Bob Turner by a narrow margin.“I just wanna thank everybody that wished me well,” Weprin said.

“It was about seven weeks, but it felt like seven years, he chuckled.

Both Braunstein and Weprin gave hearty thanks to the 111th Precinct for its responsiveness and active partnership building.