New York's Constitutional Convention won't look quite like this.

Will New York have a Constitutional Convention?

In November, New Yorkers will vote on whether to hold a constitutional convention (or Con Con, as its been called). For many parts of the state, it’ll be the most consequential and contentious election of the year. But what’s it all about?

A Constitutional Convention? What’s that?

Remember your old high school history textbook with Washington, Hamilton, Franklin, and Madison coming together in Philadelphia to write the Constitution? Well so New York’s Constitutional Convention will be a little like that, but for New York and without the Founding Fathers.

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Trump's signature healthcare plan will have vast impacts for New York.

Trumping the AHCA? How New York will respond to Trumpcare

Since the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act and its impact on New York has become more clear, the reaction has been angry towards the Republican Party which pushed it through. After several false starts with Paul Ryan repeatedly delaying a vote on Donald Trump’s signature proposal, the measure squeaked by on a 217 to 213 vote. A series of polls in early May found a paltry 31% approval rating for the plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, the Affordable Care Act, while nearly 50% of the country disapproved.

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IDC Leader Jeff Klein and Republican Leader John Flanagan could be in trouble because of the Senate lulu scandal.

Why the Senate Lulu Scandal Might Be Trouble for Everyone

Right now, the top news in the New York politics is the story of the State Senate’s lulu payments, the extra money that legislators in leadership positions earn. A New York Times investigation discovered that seven Senators (three Independent Democrats and four Republicans) earned lulus for positions they did not hold. While the legal fallout is unclear, the consequences will reverberate throughout New York politics.

Thanks to his coalition with the eight-member Independent Democratic Conference, Republican Leader John Flanagan (Long Island) leads the Senate even though there are 32 Democrats and only 31 Republicans. To maintain support, he arranged for seven Republican and Independent Democratic Conference members to earn larger lulus by paying committee vice-chairs as if they chaired the committees. This continued a practice of his predecessor, Dean Skelos (since convicted for corruption). Flanagan must have figured no one would notice.

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Did Trump’s former campaign manager break the law?

Thought you could avoid hearing about Trump, did you? Sorry.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance are digging into former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. He may have committed fraud and money laundering by using shell companies to buy property, including a Trump Tower apartment. The FBI, Treasury Department, and Congressional investigators are also looking at his overseas bank accounts and work for Vladimir Putin and his Russian and Ukranian allies.

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Are de Blasio’s new homeless shelters breaking the law?

Critics say the new homeless shelters planned by Mayor Bill de Blasio break the City’s fair share rules that require services to be equitably distributed across the city. The shelters are going in area with the most homeless people, which tend to be predominately black and Latino. Residents of those neighborhoods want fewer shelters around them and more to be built in whiter, wealthier places too.

Rep. Chris Collins didn't read Trumpcare. He's now in trouble for other reasons, too.

Did a Buffalo Congressman Break the Law with Insider Trading?

The Office of Congressional Ethics is looking into Republican Chris Collins. He was involved in passing a law to speed up drug trials. That benefitted a biotech company that he invested in. Collins also told others including Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price to buy stock. Collins then bragged in front of reporters about “how many millionaires I’ve made.”

Chris Collins is the Congressman who voted for Trumpcare, the American Healthcare Act, without reading it. Guess that’s where his priorities are.

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Why is Joe Ponte still in charge of the Rikers Island jail?

Did Someone Break the Law Overseeing NYC’s Jails?

Corrections Commissioner Joe Ponte is stepping down following a series of devastating stories about his leadership of the increasingly-dangerous Rikers Island jail. Then news came out that he took a government car on weeks of vacation and allowed a deputy to eavesdrop on investigations into the jail. While Ponte is on his way out, he already fired the deputy, Gregory Kuczinski.

Senate lulu payments are stoking controversy. Are they legal?

Who in the Senate Broke the Law?

Last week, we mentioned that the Independent Democrats in the State Senate are earning more money thanks to their alliance giving Republicans control. Turns out, there’s a lot more to the story of the Senate lulu payments.

Catch me up:

Even though there is a 32-31 majority of Democrats in the State Senate, nine of those Democrats support the Republican leadership, giving them control of the chamber. Those nine Democrats (eight members of the Independent Democratic Conference or the IDC and Brooklyn Sen. Simcha Felder) got leadership positions as the chairs or vice-chairs of committees.

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It's from the Simpsons but this seemingly describes the attitude of Republicans. Unfortunately for them, the consequences of Trumpcare threaten New York Republicans.

Repeal & Replace Republicans: How Trumpcare Threatens New York Republicans

In a prescient moment from an episode of The Simpsons years ago, there’s a scene of celebration taking place at the Republican National Convention. Above the meeting’s jubilant attendees are two signs – one that reads, “We Want What’s Worst For Everyone” and another that says, “We’re Just Plain Evil.”

These banners capture the spirit of today’s GOP with surprising accuracy.

How else can one explain the heartless mendacity of the House’s Trumpcare bill, the American Healthcare Act, which strips away health security for millions of people in exchange for billions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthiest few?

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Commutes: Back to the Bad Days of the 1970’s?

If you’ve been thinking the subway is getting worse, you’re right. Three times in the last week, problems have stranded thousands of subway riders. Since 2012, There’s been a 332% increase in subway delays, according to the MTA’s own data. This comes on the heels of a big New York Times report about the aging subway system. Meanwhile, LIRR had third straight day of evening rush hour train delays due to issues at Penn Station.

Activists say we’re fast approaching a redux of the 1970’s, New York’s nadir. Then, trains regularly broke down due to lack of maintenance, and New Yorkers fled the city. Of course, then and now, everything comes back to money. Thanks to Gov. Cuomo and his predecessors, the MTA doesn’t have the money to make repairs or replace outdated technology.

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