blair horner

Blair Horner: Another NY Corruption Trial Begins

Jun 11, 2018

It started three and a half years ago with a news report from the Investigative Post, a Buffalo-based media outlet.  In its review of the so-called “Buffalo Billion” economic development programs, the Investigative Post identified an incredible clause in one of the state’s bid offerings that would allow spending on construction projects.

The science is clear:  Human activity, particularly the burning of fossil fuels – oil, coal and gas – is heating up the planet in ways that have never been seen in recorded history.  According to the third U.S. National Climate Assessment, “Global climate is changing and this is apparent across the United States in a wide range of observations.  The global warming of the past 50 years is primarily due to human activities, predominantly the burning of fossil fuels.”

Blair Horner: June In Albany

May 28, 2018

June is a big month in Albany.  After Memorial Day, lawmakers have just 13 days in their schedule to wrap up the legislative session.  In June of last year, the state Senate and the state Assembly each approved about 2/3 of all bills passed during the entire 6-month session.  When it comes to moving on legislation, June is the biggest month.

Blair Horner: Health Care In New York

May 21, 2018

None of us wants to think about this, but getting good medical care isn’t a sure thing.  While the vast majority of providers meet minimum requirements or better, many Americans are injured or killed by the medical care they receive.

Blair Horner: Scandal Rocks Albany... Again

May 14, 2018

Last week was quite a week at the state Capitol.  It started off on Monday with the shocking resignation of the Attorney General within hours of detailed allegations of sexual assaults appearing in media reports.  The week ended with the second conviction of the former Speaker of the Assembly on federal corruption charges.  And in between, an accomplice to a former top aide to Governor Cuomo pled guilty.  In that last one, the former top aide to the governor had already been convicted of corruption; the accomplice was an energy executive who admitted to lying to federal investigators about his role in giving a high-pay, “low-show” job to the former top aide’s wife.

Blair Horner: The Dangers Of Indoor Tanning

May 7, 2018

Finally, Spring has arrived.  The weather is warming up and many think of lying in the sun to get some relaxation and a tan.  Others look to a short-cut: Indoor tanning.  You can see it already, with high school prom and other big events, like graduations, looming, many high schoolers are rushing to look their best, some go to indoor tanning salons.  That decision could change their lives.

Blair Horner: Will NY Become More Energy Efficient?

Apr 30, 2018


Energy efficiency means using less energy to provide the same level of energy.  If a house is properly insulated, less energy is used in heating and cooling to achieve a satisfactory temperature.  Houses can be built facing the sun to take advantage of solar energy. 

Blair Horner: Earth Day 2018

Apr 23, 2018

This week we celebrate Earth Day.  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.  In a sense, Earth Day is the day we issue a “report card” on our stewardship of the planet’s natural resources.


Air emissions from the combustion engine cause many health problems.  When it comes to the emissions of diesel powered engines, the impacts are serious and potentially deadly.

Last week, the Trump Administration moved to roll back the nation’s auto emission and fuel economy standards.  The current regulations are aimed at cutting tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide, a major contributor to global warming.  The Trump Administration also demanded that California, which has its own state-based, more stringent auto emission standards, must follow the federal decision or face legal challenge. 

Blair Horner: The Budget Wraps Up

Apr 2, 2018


After three months of discussions and posturing, Governor Cuomo and the legislature finalized a state budget late last week.  Lawmakers took their final votes in the hours after midnight Saturday morning and met the deadline for getting the budget completed on time.

Blair Horner: The NY State Budget Deadline Looms

Mar 26, 2018

Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers are now into the final week of the fiscal year.  New York’s fiscal year starts on April 1st.  Given the holidays this year, there is a push to get a budget agreement in place by Thursday, March 29th.

Last week was Sunshine Week; an annual celebration of the benefits of open government and how to safeguard and expand upon current transparency laws.  If the success of a representative democracy hinges on the informed consent of the governed, it is critical that the public know as much as possible about the information used and the processes by which its representatives spend tax dollars and act on policy recommendations.

 IAEA experts depart Unit 4 of TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station on 17 April 2013 as part of a mission to review Japan's plans to decommission the facility.
Greg Webb / IAEA / IAEA Imagebank / Flickr.com

Last weekend was the seventh anniversary of the disaster at the Japanese nuclear power plant located in Fukushima.  On March 11, 2011, an earthquake occurred in the Pacific Ocean that spawned a huge tsunami.  The quake itself caused considerable damage to the Japanese islands near the center of the quake, but the tsunami’s impact was catastrophic.

Host Alan Chartock is joined by Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group. 

Blair Horner: New York's Ethical Failings

Mar 5, 2018


New York State’s long running corruption crisis continues to this day.  For each of the first seven months of this year, a new high-profile corruption case goes to trial.  Last week the first of those cases went to the jury for deliberations and in the second case, a trial was averted when a former legislator pleaded guilty.


New York lawmakers return to the Capitol this week to begin their push to agree on a state budget, due by April 1.  There are a number of issues on which they must agree: first the amount of money that is available and then how to spend it. 

Blair Horner: Lead Poisoning Threat Persists In NY

Feb 19, 2018

Almost 50 years after New York banned the sale of lead in paint, each year some 1,800 children are found to be lead poisoned in New York.  This epidemic affects mostly young children of color from low-income communities who live in poorly maintained housing, where windows, doors, walls and ceilings produce invisible lead dust that is ingested by infants and toddlers through hand-to-mouth behavior and inhalation.

Blair Horner: NY's Political Culture Again On Trial

Feb 5, 2018

For the past two weeks, a former top aide to governor Cuomo has been on trial for corruption.  According to federal prosecutors, he was a key figure in a widespread bribery scheme that included shaking down those seeking government contracts for special treatment in exchange for campaign contributions and money for him and his associates.  The trial continues and the individual is presumed innocent.  But this trial – combined with others in recent years – offers unique insights into what ails Albany.  There are four overarching problems that emerge when reviewing the totality of the corruption cases brought in New York.

Blair Horner: Climate News Just Keeps Getting Worse

Jan 29, 2018

Earlier this month, the European Union’s climate change center (the Copernicus Climate Change Service) named 2017 as the second hottest worldwide temperature on record, just behind 2016.  The EU said that the Earth’s surface temperature averaged nearly 58.5 degrees Fahrenheit, which is over 2 degrees warmer than the average in pre-industrial times.

And so it begins: Call it the kick off to New York’s “corruption palooza; the first of the now seven corruption cases go to trial. It is expected that there will be seven high-profile corruption cases going to trial in each of the first seven months of the year.


The fight to get public pension fund officials to pull out of investments in oil, gas, and coal companies hit a new level of intensity last week.  The City of New York announced that it was using its considerable financial clout to advance the fight over climate change by unveiling their plans to sell off $5 billion of the City’s pension investments in fossil fuel companies.  The rationale was that the companies – primarily oil – made business decisions that harmed the City – and the planet. 

As governors move through their tenure, the focus of their State of the State addresses change.  In the first few years, governors shape their addresses as part of a reform package.  As they are in office, and if they get re-elected, that tone changes.  More and more of the State of the State reflects the achievements of the Administration; after all, they are now the status quo and “reforms” imply failures.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
Office of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered his 2018 State of the State address today. Here to discuss what the Democrat had to say is WAMC's Alan Chartock, Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group and ​Morgan Hook – a communications specialist who has worked for SUNY and Governors David Paterson and Eliot Spitzer. WAMC's Ray Graf hosts.

Blair Horner: The 2018 State Of The State

Jan 1, 2018

New York State’s constitution requires that “The governor shall communicate by message to the legislature at every session the condition of the state, and recommend such matters to it as he or she shall judge expedient.” Since the early 20th Century, governors have delivered a State of the State speech in addition to delivering a written document. Traditionally, the address was usually held on the first Wednesday of January and presented to an audience of state legislators, dignitaries and other guests. However, for the last two years, the governor did not hold the State of the State on that date. After a two-year hiatus, the governor is scheduled to issue his message on January 3rd, the kickoff of the 2018 legislative session.


As the holiday shopping season hits its peak, not only are consumers buying lots of gifts, they are accumulating an incredible number of plastic bags.  Combined with the ongoing plastic bag use, New Yorkers gets an incredible number of plastic bags – almost always for one, and only one-time, use.  According to the Cuomo Administration, “residents use 23 billion plastic bags annually.  A significant number of these bags make their way into the environment causing litter and damaging wildlife, which can be seen within our waterways, along our streets and in our oceans and lakes.  Moreover, these bags do not biodegrade – they persist for years.”

Last week, the New York State Assembly Higher Education committee held a public hearing to review the performance of the new Excelsior Scholarship program.  The Excelsior Scholarship was established in this year’s state budget and was rolled out with great fanfare by Governor Cuomo and Vermont’s U.S. Senator Sanders.

Blair Horner: Progressive New York?

Dec 11, 2017


New York considers itself a “progressive” state.  Progressive meaning that New York’s political leaders view the policies of the state as “cutting edge” in its responses to society’s problems.  And in New York State, there is a track record that backs up that view.

Thanksgiving was the start of the holiday shopping season. The holiday shopping season is a time when many adults look for gifts for children. And while the holidays are a time for fun and giving, it is important that it be a safe time as well.

Blair Horner: American Democracy Hits A New Low

Nov 27, 2017


There has been a palpable decline in political ethics in America.  What was once suspected – that elected officials could their trade policy positions for campaign contributions – has become more and more openly discussed.  It’s as if elected officials no longer see themselves as servants to the public, but instead as servants to the rich and powerful.

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