Blair Horner

WAMC photo by Dave Lucas

An ethics bill New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says will increase accountability and transparency was signed into law Wednesday. But good-government groups say the measure is just a band-aid on chronic corruption in Albany.

Blair Horner: Shopping Smart For Healthcare

Aug 8, 2016

Choosing a health care provider can be tough.  Most of us look at the physicians and hospitals in our network and just make a choice. Sometimes, we ask our friends for a recommendation.  But usually, it’s a shot in the dark; we assume that since the government has licensed the state’s providers, all meet a minimum basic level of competence.

Blair Horner: Albany Considers A Pay Raise

Aug 1, 2016

Should New York’s legislators and state government heads get pay raises?  Asking that question usually has people grabbing for their pitchforks and torches.  Pay raises for politicians has as much popular support as the plague – which is why there hasn’t been one in New York in nearly 20 years.

Blair Horner: A Closer Look At Nuclear In New York

Jul 25, 2016

When public officials reach for over-the-top metaphors, more often than not it’s an effort to distract the public from the question at hand.  Such was the case when Governor Cuomo argued that the state should spend billions of ratepayer dollars to shore up New York’s aging nuclear power plants.

Not surprisingly, New York State’s political leadership has been crowing about the successes of the 2016 legislative session.  And there have been successes, as well as notable failures.  But in one key area, the governor and the legislature approved an important bill.  The bill requires that New York State schools will soon have to start testing for lead in drinking water.

Blair Horner: End-Of-Session Reform Scorecard

May 30, 2016

With only nine scheduled working days until the end of the 2016 legislative session, it’s a good time to review where New York is at after what is arguably the most scandal-ridden session in state history.

Blair Horner: Higher Ed Shortfall Gets Response

May 23, 2016

The New York state budget approved in April contained some good news for public college students and their families: It added a $100 increase per full-time enrolled student (FTE) in community college base aid over that proposed by the governor—an increase over last year’s budget.  The new budget also restored the governor’s proposed cuts to some financial assistance programs.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s explanation of some of the circumstances of a U.S. Attorney’s probe into his administration has left some answered questions.

NYS Assembly
Wikipedia

The legislature returns next Tuesday for the final push in a session that ends in late June. Government reformers say with a burgeoning scandal involving potential violations of campaign limits in Democratic Senate races in 2014, and the scheduled sentencing of the two former leaders of the legislature in early May, it’s time to focus on ethics fixes.

ballot box
en.wikipedia.org

New York’s restrictive voter access rules came under scrutiny during Tuesday’s Presidential primary. And some are saying there’s a need for changes.

When New York lawmakers announced the state budget agreement last week, ethics reform was not part of the package. That’s likely to come up at tonight’s Albany Museum of Political Corruption roundtable discussion at the College of Saint Rose.

Blair Horner: A Perfect Storm For Ethics Reform?

Oct 19, 2015

 


Is it possible that there might be a “perfect storm” which will break Albany’s ethics reform logjam?  New Yorkers should hope so.

Last week, advocates across the nation celebrated “National Voter Registration Day.”  In New York, there was little to celebrate.


Five years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court issued the latest in a series of rulings on campaign finance regulations – the Citizens United decision.  That decision was the latest in equating free speech with the ability of individuals and corporations alike to spend as much as they wanted to advance a political point of view.

WAMC composite photo by Dave Lucas

As fighting there continues, Governor Andrew Cuomo and other top New York lawmakers fly off to Israel Tuesday for what's being described as a  “unity trip.”  

Cuomo said in a statement New York has a "special relationship" with Israel and that he's proud to be leading the bipartisan visit to "reaffirm our friendship and support."  Cuomo,  Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate co-leaders Dean Skelos and Jeff Klein plan to meet with Israeli leaders and visit residents affected by the fighting.

America’s campaign finance system has been awful for many years.  But thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court, that bad situation has gotten worse.  In its landmark decision Citizen United, the Court ruled that corporations have the same free speech rights as flesh and blood human beings.  As such, corporations can spend as much as they want on elections, as long as such spending is not coordinated with a candidate.

Karen DeWitt

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo defended himself yesterday against the fallout from a New York Times report last week revealed that a top Cuomo aide pressured the Moreland Commission to stop subpoenas to a pair of Cuomo-friendly organizations.

Governor Andrew Cuomo
Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders are touting the virtues of the newly enacted state budget, but the spending plan has its share of critics.

flickr.com

The April 1 deadline has come and New York State has an on-time budget. New York Public Interest Research Group Legislative Director Blair Horner joins Alan in the studio today to talk about the budget. We want to know what you think of it, too.

WAMC's Dr. Alan Chartock talks with NYPIRG's Blair Horner about New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and campaign financing.

Blair Horner: Ethics Reform Is Still Needed

Mar 10, 2014

The failure of Albany to clean up its ongoing – and seemingly unending – ethics scandals was again in the news last week.

A national coalition of anti-smoking advocates has ranked New York 21st among states in funding for smoking cessation programs.

Blair Horner: Mayor Bloomberg's Public Health Legacy

Dec 23, 2013

Next week New York City will have its first new Mayor in 12 years.  Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire Mayor, will leave office.  Bloomberg who was elected Mayor as the City was reeling from the September 11th terrorist attacks, dramatically changed both the politics and policies of New York.

Blair Horner
C.W. McKeen / The Post - Standard, 2006

Among the many recommendations contained in the report from the Moreland Commission is one to dismantle the New York State Board of Elections, which the commission members called an abject failure in its oversight and enforcement of state election laws. The board would be replaced by a new watchdog agency to be headed by a person appointed for a five-year term by the governor and confirmed by the state senate. The Board of Elections, and the Moreland Commission report, was the topic of discussion on WAMC’s capitol connection program with Alan Chartock, and Blair Horner, the legislative director of the New York Public Interest Research Group.

Blair Horner: Regulating E-Cigarettes

Dec 2, 2013
Blair Horner
Blair Horner

Last week, legislation was introduced in New York City to regulate the use of electronic cigarettes.

By December 1st, Governor Cuomo’s Moreland Act Commission to Investigate Public Corruption is supposed to release its interim report.  The 25 member Commission was appointed earlier this year by the governor to examine New York State’s laws regulating public officials’ ethics as well as its campaign financing system.

On this week’s Capitol Connection, our Alan Chartock asks Blair Horner, legislative director of the New York Public Interest Research Group about one of the six ballot questions New Yorkers will vote on next Tuesday – specifically, question as to whether certain judges in New York should be allowed to serve up to ten years after the age of 70 …

NYPIRG’s Blair Horner on this week’s capitol connection which you can hear tomorrow afternoon at 3.

One year ago, Governor Cuomo signed a law prohibiting the use of indoor tanning facilities by minors under the age of 17.  The reason that this restriction became law was the mounting evidence that indoor tanning is dangerous – particularly to young people.  The more you indoor tan, the more likely you will get skin cancer.

Last week’s big news included the release of New York students’ academic test performance.  The news was grim:  Statewide, less than a third of the students in third through eighth grade were proficient in math and English.  And in some areas, only a tiny fraction passed: On the reading exams, a mere 5.4 percent of Rochester students passed, 8.7 percent of Syracuse students passed and 11.5 percent of Buffalo students passed.  In New York City, 27 percent passed English and 30 percent passed math.

Albany is well known for its overblown promises and rhetorical hype.  Often newly passed laws are promoted as “historic” and criticisms of health reforms paint a picture of the end of civilization as we know it.

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