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Andrew Cuomo

February 20, 2014 - 11:14am
posted by Howard B. Owens in steve hawley, Andrew Cuomo, NY-27, chris collins.

Press release from Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley (R,C,I-Batavia) today announced his opposition to Gov. Cuomo’s plan to give free college degrees to people in prison. The governor’s plan reflects the misplaced priorities of Downstaters who continue to ignore the needs of hard-working Western New York families. Instead of rewarding criminals, Hawley says the state should help the families who are taking on overwhelming debt to put their kids through college.

“The governor’s plan to give free college to convicts is one of the worst ideas I’ve heard during my tenure as an assemblyman. It’s insulting to middle-class Western New Yorkers who are taking on debts over $50,000 to go to college,” Hawley said. “This plan punishes law-abiding citizens while rewarding criminals. Not only is this idea wrong in principle, but it may cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars. We should never ask taxpayers to pay for the college education of convicts while they are taking on debt to pay for their own.”

Press release Congressman Chris Collins:

“The Governor’s latest plan to fund college educations for convicted criminals with New Yorkers’ tax dollars is an insult to law-abiding citizens all across our state who are struggling to pay for higher education or find employment in this stagnant economy. This plan is just the latest sign that for a state that is the highest taxed and ranks among the worst in job creation, Albany has its priorities all screwed up.”

The Wall Street Journal: New Gov. Cuomo Initiative Will Fund College Classes in Prisons

UPDATE -- from Chris Collins:

Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) will introduce legislation to prohibit the use of federal taxpayer dollars to provide a college education to convicted criminals. The pending legislation is in response to Governor Cuomo’s announced plan to use taxpayer dollars to fund college degree programs for convicted criminals in New York State prisons.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons provides states with funding for educational and other programs at state prisons and correctional facilities. Collins’ legislation would ban states from using the federal taxpayer dollars to fund college degree programs for convicted criminals.

“We hear over and over again from politicians concerned about the growing cost of higher education and the amount of student debt our young people are sacked with after earning their degree," Collins said. "Strangely, many of these same politicians think tax dollars should be spent to give convicted criminals a free college degree.”

According to The Project on Student Debt, 60 percent of college graduates in New York State carry student debt. The average amount of student debt for New Yorkers is $25,537.  

Congressman Collins will formally introduce the legislation in the coming days. As the House moves forward with the Appropriations process later this year, Collins will also introduce a limiting rider to ensure no appropriated funds in a particular bill are used to fund college courses for convicted criminals. Collins’ bill would not ban states from using federal dollars to support GED or work training programs in prisons and correctional facilities.

January 18, 2014 - 2:06pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, Andrew Cuomo, 2nd Amendment, SAFE Act.

More than 100 gun rights advocates turned out this morning in 20-degree whether at the NYSP barracks on West Saile Drive to protest the SAFE Act.

As expected, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was the target of the protest signs and the speakers' rhetoric, but as it turned out, Cuomo gave the protesters a little extra ammunition when, during a radio interview yesterday, the first-term governor said, “If they are extreme conservatives, they have no place in the State of New York."

More than one speaker mentioned Cuomo's statement and suggested that perhaps it's Cuomo who should leave New York and is the one out of step with the majority of New Yorkers.

Assemblyman Steve Hawley also took Cuomo to task for his statement.

“The governor’s comments about my constituents are offensive and are a Freudian slip, which reveals what he truly thinks of Upstate New Yorkers. He has no right to come to Upstate New York and call himself governor when he has such obvious disdain for its people,” Hawley said. “The majority of Upstate New Yorkers are pro-Second Amendment and believe in traditional family values.

"If the governor does not think the good people of Upstate New York have a place in New York, he seems to be doing a good job of driving our families out of the state with his highest-in-the-nation taxes and infringements on our rights.”

Cuomo's apparent lack of fondness for the people of Upstate New York is yet another reason, Hawley said, for supporting his call for a voter referendum on dividing New York into two states.

For more on Cuomo's statement, see this Buffalo News article.

We had a request to purchase these photos, so, for anybody who would like to purchase prints, click here.

June 10, 2013 - 4:28pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCC, taxes, Andrew Cuomo.

The language of the proposed law that would create "Tax Free New York" has been released. It articulates how tax free zones would be created on SUNY campuses, as suggested by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Genesee Community College would be among the state's colleges that could potentially host tax-free zones.

In order to foster entrepreneurial businesses, especially in tech fields, Cuomo hopes the proposal will lead to start-ups and business expansions on college campuses.

Highlights:

  • Colleges would apply for use of vacant space on campus or on property owned by the college and within one mile of the campus with space allocated to business not to exceed 200,000 square feet.
  • The state could also select up to 20 strategic locations of currently vacant or soon to be vacant state buildings for tax-free zones.
  • The college must demonstrate how a business located within a zone would align with or further the academic mission of the college.
  • In its application, the college must discuss whether the business in the tax-free zone would compete with a business in the community, but outside the tax-free zone.
  • Businesses would be required to create new jobs and pay employees prevailing wage in accordance with the Labor Law.
  • The tax exemption would last for 10 years and in order to maintain tax-free status, a business must retain the new jobs it created or face sanctions.
  • Businesses that cannot participate: retail, real estate and professional services.
  • The state will not reimburse local governments for any tax revenue loss.

The state Legislature has this week to either pass or reject the proposal.

Documents (PDF):

May 31, 2013 - 9:28am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCEDC, Andrew Cuomo, Batavia Towne Center, COR Development.

During the "gaggle" (that's what reporters call it) with Gov. Andrew Cuomo following his speech at GCC yesterday, I asked him specifically about Genesee County Economic Development Center providing tax incentives to the retail project at Batavia Towne Center.

In these mini-press conferences, reporters are only given enough time to ask a few questions and it's difficult to ask follow-up questions, so I fumbled through my question (which really should have been a two- or three-parter), trying to cram in as much information into a short time as possible (and it was still a pretty long-winded question).

Another media outlet has reported that Cuomo was critical of the retail tax subsidies given to COR. The quote used: “It wasn’t the smartest investment of money."

The quote, in my view, is being taken out of context.

Here's Cuomo's full response to my question:

Your case is fact specific and I would have to look at the actual facts to see what they did. We had proposed IDA reforms. I believe there are economies that I can find there and I believe there are incidents where you can find it wasn't the smartest investment of money. That's why, that's one of the reasons I like the approach we're talking about here today. It's simple. It's clean. It doesn't have a lot of bureaucratic red tape. It's very easy to administer. Very few government officials required to administer it. So I think it's preferable to a lot of things we've done in the past.

Included in Cuomo's budget was a reenacted law meant to curtail IDAs providing tax breaks to retail projects. I asked Cuomo what the intent of that law was. He said, "Just improve the process and address the kind of abuses you've been talking about." He then said thank you and turned and left.

I didn't report any of this because I didn't find it particularly newsworthy. He couldn't address the specific local issue (hardly surprising, but I had to ask) and his answer to the more general "intent" question referenced my own question, which by his own admission, he didn't know much about. That seemed like a kind of circular logic that didn't make a lot of sense.

However, given that another media outlet used the quote, and though I don't mean to be critical of a fellow reporter, I feel obliged to put the quote in context.

April 27, 2013 - 2:33pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in elba, Andrew Cuomo, 2nd Amendment, SAFE Act.

I'm seeing quite a few anti-Cuomo, anti-SAFE Act signs around Genesee County this spring. This one is in Elba.

January 26, 2013 - 10:47am
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, genesee county, Andrew Cuomo, pensions.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a program that would help local governments save on near-term pension costs, potentially relieving local administrations of a major budgeting challenge, but both County Manager Jay Gsell and City Manager Jason Molino are reacting to the news with some caution.

Molino said until he can fully study the budget bill, assuming this provision even moves forward, he can't really comment on it.

He isn't yet ready to agree with the governor that the city will realize $3.1 million in pension savings over the next five years.

In a press release yesterday, Cuomo isn't promising local governments that they will completely avoid the pension expense, just some relief from near-term pension cost instability.

From the press release:

Under the plan, localities are given the option for a stable pension contribution rate that significantly reduces near-term payments but still keeps the pension systems fully funded over the long term. Local governments which opt in would avoid significant volatility in contribution rates and be better able to plan for the future. Though the locality receives short-term relief, because the contribution rate remains fixed, the total amount paid into the fund by the locality would not be diminished over the life of agreement, thereby maintaining the fiscal stability of the pension fund.

While over the next five years, Genesee County could receive a $11.5 million benefit over five years under the plan, Gsell is also keeping the proposal at arm's length.

Here's his e-mail response:

On the surface it is intriguing, but there are concerns as to the back-end balloon escalators in 10 to 25 years and what Comptroller Dinapoli will do every 5 years to "protect" the retirement system dollars is a major note of caution. This could be the NYS version of the Titanic iceberg, only it involves our budgets and employees retirement assets. Once the full details and not just the second-floor spin are revealed we will look at our pay-as-you-go options.

A year ago, Albany enacted a Tier VI retirement plan, which covers only new hires by government agencies. The plan will supposedly greatly reduce local government pension costs, but not for decades from now. What Cuomo is proposing now is to shift those savings so local governments can realize some benefit from Tier VI in the near term.

In the press release, Cuomo hails the plan as a major step toward helping local governments.

"The difficult financial pressures facing localities are well-known here in Albany, and my administration from day one has been committed to helping local governments meet their budgetary obligations as well as continue to provide critical services to their residents," Governor Cuomo said. "While the Tier VI reforms were a major step toward helping local governments deal with the pension crisis, we understand that more help is needed. For this reason, the Executive Budget proposed the Stable Rate option to offer local governments and schools a bridge to the long-term savings of Tier VI, as well as greater predictability."

September 11, 2012 - 9:20am
posted by Howard B. Owens in Andrew Cuomo, 9-11, kathy hochul.

Press release:

"On this day, we mark the eleventh anniversary of the terror attacks that claimed thousands of lives and truly changed New York and our nation forever. On this day, we honor the memories and the lives of those who were killed and the families who will never forget them. We also honor the first responders who bravely put themselves in harm’s way – many of whom never returned home.

"It is also our obligation and our duty to make sure that we will always remember. As a new generation grows up without having witnessed the horror of September 11th, it is important to educate our children so they can understand the tragedy that unfolded on that day, the bravery and courage of our first responders, and the outpouring of goodwill in communities across New York and America as we recovered as one state and one nation."

UPDATE:  Statement from Rep. Kathy Hochul:

“Today as we mark the passing of another year since the September 11 attacks in 2001, we honor those we lost on that day. We recall the innocent victims taken too soon, the courage of the passengers who prevented further tragedy, and those first responders, who in doing their jobs, laid down their lives to protect their fellow Americans.

“What grew from this tragedy was an all encompassing spirit of patriotism, bonding our nation together in common purpose to move our country forward. Our endeavor today is to find that spirit once again. We must recognize that so much more binds us than divides us, and as Americans we are capable of solving the challenges of our time.

“In the memory of all who were lost on 9/11, I call on each of us to rekindle the spirit of patriotism that brought us together in our country’s darkest hour.”

August 7, 2012 - 6:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in crime, Andrew Cuomo, synthetic drugs, bath salts.

Local officials welcome new NYS Health Department regulations cracking down on the sale and possession of synthetic drugs, but also say the new rules are no substitute for aggressive legislation from Albany.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made three stops across the state today to announce new rules against drugs he deemed more dangerous than crack cocaine or methamphetamines or heroin.

“It is a new face on a very old enemy. It’s an enemy that we fought decade after decade. The enemy is drugs, and it’s an ongoing battle. When you beat one manifestation of the drugs, it comes back in another form, sometimes more virulent.

But whether it’s crack cocaine or methamphetamines or heroin back in the old days, this is just the newest explosion of that old enemy. And in some ways it’s more dangerous and it’s more insidious, because this wasn’t sold in a back alley. This wasn’t sold on a street corner. This isn’t sold in the shadows. This is sold in broad daylight, over the counter in stores all across this state and across this nation.”

Unlike a previous health department ban on synthetic cannabinoids, which allowed only for civil penalties, the new emergency regulations give local police officers the power to arrest people found in possession of banned substances.

If convicted, a person caught selling or possessing one of the banned substances could be fined $500 or serve 15 days in jail, and while the new regulation (PDF) allows for multiple penalties for a shop owner caught with several packages of drugs, District Attorney Lawrence Friedman said he's concerned the new rules won't have the desired effect.

"When you consider the harm that we know is caused by these substances, I would like to see more teeth in the law," Friedman said.

When The 420 Emporium stores, along with the residence of the owner(s), were raided by the DEA on July 25, agents recovered more than $700,000 in cash.

Friedman said thinks the penalties need to be harsher than just a $500 fine, even if the fine and jail time can be strung together.

Sheriff Gary Maha expressed some of the same reservations.

Maha urged the Legislature to pass a bill that would make the sale or possession of synthetic compounds a violation of the law under the state's penal code, rather than just a violation of the public health law.

"This appears to be a 'Band-Aid' approach until the legislature enacts such legislation," Maha said. "It helps, but is not enough."

The new regulation bans a dozen specific compounds associated with the type of synthetic drug commonly known as "bath salts." 

While the state has already listed some "bath salt" compounds as controlled substances, the state doesn't have a comprehensive "analog" law (a law that bans substances that are the same or similar to already illegal controlled substances).

The new regulation does specifically cover analogs of banned substances. It also covers a wider variety of the more than 450 known synthetic cannabinoids.

While the regulation specifically states employees of stores selling such products can be prosecuted, the store owners (anybody with an ownership interest in the store) are also held to criminal liability even if not present at the time of sale.

Besides the fine and jail time, a store owner could lose his business.

Batavia PD Chief Shawn Heubusch wasn't available for comment today, but City Manager Jason Molino said the health department's new regulations were a topic on conversation today in a meeting between city staff and the county health department.

Molino said that while the new law seems to lack teeth, it is a step in the right direction.

He also pointed out that tonight is National Night Out and several neighborhoods in the city are actively participating, including the neighborhood around Pringle Park, which organized its own event this year.

"When neighborhoods get together, that is your more powerful enforcement tool," Molino said.

Inset photo: File photo.

January 8, 2011 - 6:03pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in schools, elba, Andrew Cuomo.

sam_parents.jpg

Sam Lamont, a student in Elba, was selected to attended Gov. Andrew Cuomo's State of the State speech earlier this week.

He was one of 62 students selected from throughout New York. The Elba Central School District was asked by the governor's office to select one of its student.

Sam was selected because of his leadership qualities, involvement in the community and was a Boy's State representative last summer.

Above, Sam is pictured with his parents, Skip and Mari-Ellen Lamont.

Below is his report on attending the event.

Being chosen to attend the "State of the State Address" was an honor. This was my first trip to Albany and yes it was impressive. This was a moment in history.

Seeing Governor Andrew Cuomo outline his plan to bring New York forward and reduce spending was inspiring and rang true with those present.

He is an emotional speaker and today, in Albany, it didn't matter if you were a Republican or Democrat.

He does care about the future of our state. Rochester's own Robert Duffy, taller than I had expected, gained the respect of everyone in the room.

As I sat on the stage, I was immediately impressed by the number of black power suits and the presence of the press. Cameras were everywhere. It seemed everyone was making contacts and later being interviewed as to their opinion of the speech.

The receptions were filled with a cross section of New Yorkers looking forward to a canoli or cheesecake while discussing politics.

I came to the realization that Albany is a powerful place and those individuals in dark suits are many of our elected officials. They are powerful people and are decision makers in our future. Let them hear your viewpoint; vote, contact your representatives and be informed.

January 5, 2011 - 5:22pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in new york, Andrew Cuomo.

Newly minted New York Governor Andrew Cuomo delivered his first State of the State message today and came out strongly against taxes:

The New York Times:

Mr. Cuomo proposed to freeze the salaries of the vast majority of public employees for one year, to limit new spending to no higher than the rate of inflation, to limit school property tax increases and to “hold the line” on taxes in general.

“New York has no future as the tax capital of the nation,” Mr. Cuomo said. “Our young people will not stay, businesses will not come, this has to change. Put it simply, the people of this state simply cannot afford to pay more taxes, period.”

Cuomo pledged to cut spending, consolidate agencies and reform programs such as Medicaid.

We've been receiving reactions today from local leaders. Their full statements after the jump:

Assemblyman Steve Hawley:

In today’s State of the State Address, the governor acknowledged the dark times ahead, but looked to a brighter future on the horizon. Many of his cornerstone proposals, from a property tax cap to an independent redistricting commission, have been advanced by the Assembly Minority Conference for years.

What we must do now as state legislators is change the way we operate in Albany and run state government like a private-sector business. We need to find savings in the state budget through consolidating state agencies and ending optional Medicaid programs that other states do not offer.

Unfunded mandates that force localities to raise property taxes and drive our families across state lines must be repealed immediately. Powerful job-creating programs like IDA’s need to be embraced, not ignored. I am eager to work with the governor to accomplish these goals that will improve the quality of life for Western New Yorkers.

State Senator Mike Ranzenhofer:

Today, the Governor’s State of the State address echoed opinions of so many New Yorkers, including myself – especially for the state to close the budget deficit, impose a property-tax cap, and create private-sector jobs. 

I have been an outspoken advocate and introduced legislation on many of these issues during my first term and I am pleased to hear the Governor make them his major legislative priorities.  More importantly, New Yorkers have been demanding property tax relief and a smaller and leaner State government over the past few years as well. 

As the 2011 Legislative Session begins, the governor and legislature have an opportunity to turn our state’s fiscal and economic future around. I am eager to begin working with the governor and my senate and assembly colleagues during the 2011 Legislative Session.”

Steve Hyde, director of the Genesee County Economic Development Center:

The governor’s message today was one of change, coming together, and hope for a prosperous economic future for the Empire State. During his State of the State, Governor Cuomo mentioned his idea of creating 10 Regional Economic Development Councils (REDC’s) throughout the state which will be chaired by Lt. Governor Bob Duffy. 

Steve Hyde, President and CEO of the Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC), was impressed with the Governor’s message. “I’m optimistic that the REDC’s will help foster job growth and benefit Genesee County. The private industry uses pay-for-performance and competition to drive success and I think that our state will succeed through rewarding performance.”

He continued “… if done right the REDC’s have potential to better integrate the GCEDC’s regional partners, including Greater Rochester Enterprise and Buffalo Niagara Enterprise, with the development communities, local governments, and the state’s Economic Development Agency. These ongoing partnerships will lead to more efficiency and development for all of Western New York.”

Genesee County has continued to grow and strategically invest to develop shovel-ready industry specific sites for medical devices, food processing, distribution logistics and high-tech advanced manufacturing companies. A mega site, Western New York Science, Technology, Advanced Manufacturing Park (WNY STAMP), is under development in Genesee County, Alabama, NY and has the ability to transform Western New York.

Hyde is convinced that STAMP will be a contender in the competitive funding pool that the governor announced. Funds will be allocated to the most innovative and creative regional job creating initiatives. The WNY STAMP project and the Buffalo East Tech Park in Pembroke, NY, have the potential to bring 11,000 jobs directly into Genesee County and add an additional 27,000 jobs through the supply chain impact between Buffalo and Rochester. Potentially, the REDC will assist to promote WNY STAMP and bring the project to a reality for Western New York.

New York Farm Bureau President Dean Norton:

Governor Cuomo's property tax cap plan is a much needed New Year's resolution for New York State farmers.

Because of our land holdings, property taxes are killing us. We love the governor’s plan to cap taxes at 2 percent. Also, we love the cap because it's coupled with a recognition that long-term restructuring is needed to Medicaid, government consolidation and education reform.

Equally exciting is his mandate relief program, which will help shrink the massive tax burden local municipalities are forced to levy against its residents and businesses.

The governor made it clear today, as he did throughout his campaign last fall, that agriculture will be a central factor in his effort to revitalize the economy.

We are grateful for his vow to help get more New York-grown food into the New York City market. This is a no-brainer. This idea will benefit farmers as well as city residents who will have greater access to fresh local produce and dairy products.

We applaud his support to renovate the Hunt’s Point Terminal Market, which is a vital resource for farmers to deliver produce into the New York City market.

We’re looking forward to working with Lt. Gov. Duffy in his role as advisor to regional economic development councils. He’s already visited my farm and many others over the past several months. He has demonstrated a clear recognition of agriculture and its role in the economy and culture of Upstate New York and Long Island.

Governor Cuomo and Lt. Gov. Duffy have pledged their commitment to the farm families of New York and we’re looking forward to working with this exciting new administration.

October 25, 2010 - 6:42pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in batavia, politics, Democrats, Andrew Cuomo.

cuomo01.jpg

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo made a campaign stop -- he's running for governor -- in Batavia this afternoon at Larry's Steakhouse on East Main Street.

The room was packed with local Democrats and several members of the media.

We'll have more coverage later.

UPDATE:  My digital recorder failed me. I was planning to post an audio of Cuomo's speech, but the file didn't save right.  All I have is his meeting with reporters (audio starts just after a TV reporter asked about his plans for the lieutenant governor). There are more pictures after the jump.

cuomo02.jpg

December 12, 2008 - 9:50pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in consolidation, government, Andrew Cuomo.

The idea of consolidation of local governments is on its face appealing. It holds out the promise of cost savings, if not lower taxes, as well as reduced regulations on businesses.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo thinks there are too many government agencies in New York.

“Simply put, our system of local government is broken. It has been outpaced by globalization, regionalization, and an ever changing marketplace,” he said. “The density of local government in New York is astounding. There are 10,521 overlapping government units, providing duplicative services creating needless, wasteful bureaucracies.”

The questionable assumption in Cuomo's statement is that globalization and regionalization (never heard that word before) is a good thing.

One could make the case that the smaller the government agency, the closer it is to the people it effects, and the more responsive it is to small group or individual needs.

Here are some other assertions worth further examination:

The law is filled with anachronisms. More disturbing is that the law contains provisions that are relics of the past that conjure up images of “poll taxes.” In some cases, an individual may vote to dissolve or consolidate governments, such as special districts, only if they own taxable real property in the area.

Comparing current laws in New York to racist policies of a Jim Crow era is a pretty loaded. What civil rights are being impinged by the current system?

Again, the idea of consolidation has its appeal. With 10K+ government bodies in New York, you can be assured that many are receiving totally inaccurate oversight.

As a young reporter in California, I loved covering special districts because they received such little attention from journalists. That lack of oversight encouraged a devil-may-care attitude among the officials charged with running the districts. Their expense reports were often a playground of excess if not outright maleficence. There's no doubt that there are redundant and uncessary districts in WNY.

However, I would be leery of any consolidation scheme that diminishes a small town's ability to engage in self rule. Residents shouldn't lose the ability to rub elbows with the elected officials who decided how to spend their tax money.

(Link via Buffalo Pundit)

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