There can be no doubt that the planet is warming; 2016 was the fifth time in the 21st century a new record high annual temperature has been set (along with 2005, 2010, 2014, and 2015) and also marks the 40th consecutive year (since 1977) that the annual temperature has been above the 20th century average. To date, all 16 years of the 21st century rank among the seventeen warmest on record (1998 is currently the eighth warmest). The five warmest years have all occurred since 2010.
Last week, New Yorkers turned down an opportunity to call a constitutional convention. If it had been approved, delegates would have been elected and given the mandate to propose changes to New York State’s governmental blueprint.
Climate change is not something that will impact in the future – it’s happening now. An unrelenting heat wave in California and on the west coast has helped fuel forest fires, there has been massive flooding in India, Bangladesh and Nepal that have devastated that region, hurricanes Irma and Maria have decimated the Caribbean, hurricane Harvey caused catastrophic flooding in Texas.
In an era of growing poverty, homelessness and hunger, it’s amazing how little attention the problem of food waste gets by policymakers. According to a 2016 report (in the Guardian), roughly 50 percent of all produce in the United States is thrown away—some 60 million tons (or $160 billion) worth of produce annually, an amount constituting “one third of all foodstuffs.”
We live in a representative democracy. We elect our representatives to go to national, state or local office to represent our interests and solve problems. Of course, not all problems can be solved and the policy triage of what gets attention and what doesn’t is the decision of the representative based on what his or her constituents want or need.
Last week the U.S. Supreme Court began its look into the widespread practice of gerrymandering. Gerrymandering is the manipulation of political boundaries (for the state legislature, for example) to favor one party.
Despite the nonsense that Americans hear from their national elected leaders, climate change is the single biggest policy challenge we face. There is no doubt that the planet is heating up and that human activities are the primary driver of global warming. The burning of fossil fuels, coal, oil and gas, are the most significant culprits in those human activities.
Recently, it was revealed that Equifax, one of the big three credit reporting agencies, had been hacked, potentially compromising the data of 143 million Americans, which is more than 40 percent of the entire U.S. population.
The incredible natural calamities occurring around the world have understandably taken away public attention from important policy decisions, such as the Trump Administration’s move to end federal policy protecting the children of undocumented immigrants.
Not only does Labor Day herald the beginning of the football season, it also kicks off the final quarter of New York’s election campaigns. And while the focus of this year’s elections is on local offices, there are three ballot questions that impact the state’s constitution.
A standard page out of the American Business playbook is that if there is a serious problem emerging down the road, corporate chieftains ramp up a massive disinformation and lobbying campaign to undermine the threat.
All across New York State, colleges and universities are opening up for the Fall 2017 academic semester. This annual rite of passage is life-changing for the students and deeply impactful for the families. One key way that college can impact is the cost.
Last week the nation’s top science agencies released a report on the planet’s deteriorating climate. The report, State of the Climate 2016, by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration made it official: 2016 was the warmest year in recorded history. And it was the third year in a row that the record was set.
Last week a gigantic portion of the Antarctica ice sheet broke off. This isn’t the first time an enormous chunk collapsed into the sea, but it may be the biggest. This gigantic iceberg is part of the “Larsen C” ice sheet and measures 6,000 kilometers in size, or roughly the size of the state of Delaware.
On Thursday, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the corruption conviction of former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver – who was facing 12 years in prison after being convicted of taking $4 million in kickbacks. Prosecutors said the powerful Democrat used his powerful post to help a doctor and real estate developers. The court said the judge’s instructions on the theft of honest services law were unclear in light of the 2016 Supreme Court decision on ex-Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. Blair Horner, executive director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, has long been a champion for ethics reform in the state legislature. He spoke with WAMC’s Ian Pickus about what the decision means for that effort.
With timing that was either irony or political tone deafness, just before Independence Day a panel created by the President of the United States issued a directive to all 50 states requesting that they submit a vast amount of information on American voters contained in state databases.
Infrastructure maintenance is the Rodney Dangerfield of budgeting: It never gets the respect it deserves. Failing to maintain water tunnels, roads, bridges and mass transit systems can lead to catastrophic outcomes – both in terms of the impact on people as well as the cost to taxpayers. So, it’s important to keep them well maintained and repaired when necessary. As President John F. Kennedy once remarked, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”
As the scheduled 2017 legislative session wrapped up, commentators noted that Governor Cuomo and the legislative leadership failed to address the seemingly unending corruption scandals that have plagued both the legislative and executive branches.
While the nation was transfixed by former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony on the Russian efforts to influence the 2016 Presidential election and the possible involvement of the Trump campaign, Albany was moving legislation which could dramatically lower electric utility rates across the state.
This was a truly dark week in American history. The President of the United States ignored the advice of the world’s scientific experts and decided to pull the nation out of the global climate agreement hammered out in Paris in 2015. Among the community of nations, only worn-torn Syria and Nicaragua—which believes it does not go far enough to combat climate change—have refused to sign the accord.
It is now clear: The policy of the President and the House leadership is to take away healthcare insurance coverage for tens of millions of Americans. Despite all the hype and tactics of political misdirection, according to the Congressional Budget Office, the health care plan advanced by the President and the House leadership will result in the loss of insurance coverage for over 20 million Americans.
The number one challenge facing all of us is climate change triggered by the warming of the planet. The rising temperatures have heated the world and have already resulted in significant changes: the melting of the ice caps, famine and drought, as well as rising sea levels, and new and unpredictable weather patterns.
The high school prom and graduations are big events over the next few weeks. In an effort to look their best, many high schoolers will go to indoor tanning stores. That decision could harm their health.
Last Fall, top associates of Governor Cuomo were indicted for alleged corruption. In criminal complaints brought by former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, the Justice Department alleged that top ranking associates of the governor used their relationships to steer government contracts to the governor’s campaign donors, as well as enriching themselves personally.
Earth Day was last week. Earth Day is an annual event that started in 1970 and is an important opportunity for our society to examine how well we are protecting the environment. And this year’s Earth Day occurred at a critical juncture: the planet is heating up as the result of human activities, most notably the burning of fossil fuels (oil, gas and coal).
Every year since his first as governor, Governor Cuomo uses the time after passage of the budget to take a statewide “victory lap” to stress what he sees as the most significant achievements. This year has been no different: The governor has used the week or so after passage of the budget to focus public attention on his plan to offer tuition-free public college.
More than a week after the deadline, Governor Cuomo and lawmakers finalized a deal to wrap up the state budget. The roughly $160 billion budget was from a procedural point of view a mess. But there was good news as well.