new york

A panel of federal judges says the new election district lines drawn by the Senate and Assembly majorities will be used in the fall elections. WAMC's Dave Lucas reports…

The decision is a critical win for Senate Republicans hoping to secure their slim majority in the chamber despite a Democratic voter advantage of nearly 2-to-1 in the state.

Good-government groups have criticized the Senate GOP redistricting plan. They say it continues a tradition of twisting district lines to protect the power of the majority parties.

Governor Cuomo is pleased with the outcome of Tuesday’s state wide school budget vote, but teachers and school board leaders see some disturbing trends.

This year’s school budget vote was the first to take place after Governor Andrew Cuomo convinced the legislature to adopt the property tax cap. The governor says the tax cap imposed “fiscal discipline.” He says he’s pleased that few schools attempted to override the cap, and that most schools kept tax increases to a minimum, and were approved by voters. He says tax payers, as well as state government, are tapped out.

NY Anti-Fracking Movement Gets Star-Studded Boost

May 15, 2012

The anti-fracking movement in New York State is turning up the star power with a rally and concert hosted by actors Mark Ruffalo and Melissa Leo and featuring Natalie Merchant, Joan Osborne and a host of other performers.  WAMC’s Tristan O’Neill reports…

The concert tonight at The Egg in the state Capitol complex will conclude a day of demonstrations calling on Governor Andrew Cuomo to ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for gas in New York State.

Former New York State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. has been found guilty of embezzlement charges. WAMC’s Dave Lucas has more…

A jury delivered the partial verdict Monday in federal court in Brooklyn.  It was the 11th day of often tumultuous deliberations. The jury is still deliberating on charges against Espada's son and on four remaining counts against him.

NYS Ethics Commission Pursues Complaint against Libous

May 15, 2012
Sen. Tom Libous reading to children.
WAMC

On the heels of former New York State Senate leader Pedro Espada’s conviction, the state’s ethics commission is pursuing a complaint against one of Albany’s most prominent lawmakers.  WAMC's Tristan O'Neill reports...  

The Albany-Times Union reports (http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Libous-the-target-of-ethics-inquiry-3558178.php) that the recently-created Joint Commission on Public Ethics has sent a letter to Deputy Senate Majority Leader Thomas Libous.   

What led to the sudden change in President Obama’s itinerary last week in the Albany area? The president came to the University at Albany’s College of Nanoscale science and Engineering, even though the original choice was GlobalFoundries’ plant in Malta in Saratoga County. At the time, the reason given for the change was “logistics,” but James Odato of the Albany Times Union is reporting today it was the Cuomo administration that lobbied for the venue change, he spoke with WAMC’s Brian Shields.

Opponents of natural gas drilling using hydraulic fracturing are planning a big day of action in Albany, culminating with a star-studded concert at the Empire State Plaza.  WAMC's Ian Pickus reports...

New Yorkers Against Fracking, a new coalition of organizations calling for a fracking ban, plans a rally and multi-media concert Tuesday afternoon and evening. The event features actors Mark Ruffalo and Melissa Leo acting as hosts of the concert at the Egg Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets range from $40 to $150.

Governor Andrew Cuomo's tax cap is being put to the test as voters cast ballots on the first batch of school budgets drafted under the new taxing limits.

Most districts have proposed budgets that stay within the boundaries established under the cap adopted last year, so it will take a simple majority of votes Tuesday for them to pass.

About 50 districts, hoping to lessen staff and program cuts, are asking taxpayers for a bigger increase in the property tax levy than the cap allows. Those budgets will need a 60 percent "super majority" to pass.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand is making the rounds of upstate New York college campuses to promote legislation to help veterans get education and training needed for civilian jobs.

Her schedule Monday includes stops at Syracuse University, Nazareth College in Rochester, and D'Youville College in Buffalo.

The American Cancer Society and other health groups are pressing for a law in New York State that would ban anyone under the age of 18 from using a tanning salon. They argue the growing risk of cancer to young people is too great a threat to ignore.  Capitol Correspondent Karen DeWitt reports…

Supporters of the law cite statistics that show all forms of skin cancer, and particularly melanoma, which can sometimes result in death, are on the rise among young people.

The New York Commission on Judicial Conduct has recommended a town justice from Rensselaer County be taken off the bench for her involvement in two ticket-fixing cases. WAMC's Dave Lucas has details…

According to the commission, East Greenbush Town Justice Diane Schilling improperly intervened in the disposition of a speeding ticket given to the wife of another town judge in 2009. Four years earlier, the commission said Thursday, she returned her own speeding ticket to a state trooper who said he would void it.

Governor Cuomo, who won national praise and attention for championing the passage of same sex marriage in New York, calls President Obama’s support of gay marriage a “major advancement for equal rights in this country.”  Capitol Correspondent Karen DeWitt reports…  

A coalition of upstate New York landowners seeking to lease land for natural gas drilling is pressing state officials to consider the rights of property owners as they make decisions on shale gas development. WAMC’s Dave Lucas has details…

The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York is at the Capitol Wednesday to present a "Declaration of Rights."

A third year of dredging for PCBs has begun on the upper Hudson River. The Environmental Protection Agency says dredging started for the season Wednesday. WAMC’s Dave Lucas has more…

General Electric Co. plans to start with a single dredge about 40 miles north of Albany and ramp up work over the next few weeks.  Three to four dredges will eventually be operating all day, six days a week along a two-mile stretch of river south of Fort Edward.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has praised President Barack Obama's leadership as the two men toured a high-tech facility in Albany created out of a partnership with private enterprise and bipartisanship. WAMC’s Dave Lucas reports…

Cuomo made jobs and the economy part of his "new Democrat" movement in his 2010 campaign. Speaking during a tour of a nano-technology facility Tuesday, Cuomo said Obama has bought the nation "through the storm."

When Obama took the stage, he and Cuomo embraced and the president returned the praise his own speech, saying Cuomo has done "outstanding work."

On this very special extended edition of Vox Pop, we follow President Barack Obama's speech at the University at Albany's College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering with a discussion of his remarks and the 2012 presidential contest. WAMC's Ray Graf and Alan Chartock co-host, plus a live-in-studio pre-presidential event report from Joe Donahue.

NY Considers Transgender Anti-Discrimination Bill

May 8, 2012

A year after New York lawmakers legalized gay marriage, the next civil rights debate in Albany takes on discrimination against transgender New Yorkers. WAMC’s Dave Lucas reports…

The Transgendered say they face discrimination in employment, housing and public treatment because they stray from accepted male and female norms in dress and behavior.

The Catholic Church as weighed in on raising the state’s minimum wage, but Governor Cuomo says the chances of an increase becoming law are “dubious."  Capitol Correspondent Karen DeWitt reports…

Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed his second blue ribbon panel of the week- this time to oversee infrastructure and capital projects including road and bridge repairs for the state.  Capitol Correspondent Karen DeWitt reports…

Governor Cuomo says the task force represents a break from the old way of divvying up money for capital projects like road and bridge repair and new buildings, where each state agency operated in its own little universe.  The governor says there’s a “lot of damage” that needs to be undone.

Democrats and Republicans in the NYS Senate engaged in partisan squabbling over reform of the state’s campaign finance system.  Capitol Correspondent Karen DeWitt reports…

Senate Democrats, who are the minority party in that house, held a news conference with government reform advocates to push for public financing of campaigns, a bill Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson says will lessen the influence of big money special interests in politics.

“Government is being hijacked right now by the Super PACs,” Sampson said.  “You have the haves versus the have-nots.”

Gas-Drilling Protesters to March on NY Capitol

Apr 30, 2012

Young people from around New York state are heading to the Capitol to call on Governor Andrew Cuomo to ban "fracking" for natural gas and lead the state toward a clean energy economy.

The Green Umbrella, a network of college students fighting climate change, held a conference in Albany over the weekend. On Monday, they'll be demonstrating against hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which frees natural gas from shale. Critics say it threatens drinking water supplies and causes other environmental damage.

Governor Cuomo cast further doubt on issues like campaign finance reform and increasing the states minimum wage to become law this year, and says he’s “shifting” to a new phase of governing instead.  Capitol Correspondent Karen DeWitt reports…

Governor Cuomo, in remarks to his cabinet, says he expects a “relatively quiet” end to the legislative session. He says campaign finance reform, including public campaign financing, are measures that he supports, but says that they are “controversial” and “polarizing” issues in the legislature.

New York's top court says prosecutors can use wiretap evidence even when they fail to comply with the state law requiring disclosure to their targets within 90 days after the eavesdropping warrant expires. WAMC's Dave Lucas has details…

The Court of Appeals says Manhattan prosecutors violated the statute following the July 2005 investigation of Rafael Rodriguez, later convicted of drug offenses. The general penalty for a violation is suppression of the wiretap evidence.

Governor Cuomo says he has some goals for the rest of the legislative session, including reforming the campaign finance system and possibly raising the state’s minimum wage.  Capitol Correspondent Karen DeWitt reports…

Governor Cuomo previously said he thought that now might not be the right time to raise the minimum wage, but his position has softened in recent days. He now says that “philosophically” he supports an increase, and he cast doubt on opponents’ claims that it would hurt job creation.   

Governor Andrew Cuomo for the first time addressed speculation that he might be a candidate for President in 2016, saying it’s “flattering”, but “distracting”.  Capitol Correspondent Karen DeWitt reports…

Governor Andrew Cuomo for the first time addressed speculation that he might be a candidate for President in 2016, saying it’s “flattering”, but “distracting”.

After nearly six weeks, the trial of former New York Senator Pedro Espada Jr. is winding down.  WAMC's Dave Lucas reports...

Espada is standing trial in Brooklyn federal court. He's charged with looting around a half million dollars from the nonprofit Soundview Healthcare Network.

Espada founded the network in the 1970s. Prosecutors say he created a sham cleaning company that overcharged the not-for-profit so he could take money whenever he wanted.

The State Assembly has introduced a bill to permit for the first time in New York State  voluntary public financing of some election campaigns.  Capitol Correspondent Karen DeWitt reports...

The Assembly bill would offer an optional public financing system for campaigns for state legislative and statewide offices, giving candidates six dollars for every one dollar in contributions. It is modeled after the New York City system and would be financed, in part, through a $5 check off option on state income taxes.  

New York’s Presidential primary is today, but the initial excitement over the vote vanished when Rick Santorum dropped out earlier this month. State GOP leaders say they are looking ahead to the general election instead.  Capitol Correspondent Karen DeWitt reports…

A published report says the Cuomo administration tried to keep a whistleblower from a Senate hearing on the state's care for the disabled. WAMC’s Dave Lucas reports…

The New York Times named the whistleblower: state worker Jeffrey Monsour, an outspoken critic of the system that provides care to thousands of people.

It says his invitation to the Monday hearing was pulled at the administration's request. But Monsour is now expected to attend the panel discussion after the administration relented.

NYS Police Will Target NY Drivers on Cell Phones

Apr 23, 2012

NYS police are on the lookout for drivers illegally using cell phones and other electronic devices.

"Operation Hang Up" starts Monday and runs through next Sunday.

The first "Operation Hang Up" campaign took place over last year's Thanksgiving holiday. Troopers ticketed more than 800 drivers.

The enforcement campaign is funded through a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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