State Government Matters, Even on Local Issues

It’s counterintuitive but even on as local an issue as speed limits on a street, state government matters.

State Senator Simcha Felder (Brooklyn) introduced a bill to raise speed limits on Ocean Parkway in Brooklyn, one of the main street in his district. Felder, a registered Democrat who joined the Republican Party in the Senate, got the bill included in the Senate’s budget proposal so there’s a decent chance it’ll pass.

What’s going on?

The state legislature must approve the budget by tomorrow and legislators are all trying to get their pet issues included. Republicans control the State Senate thanks to Simcha Felder and the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of eight Democrats who support Republican control of the Senate. That means Simcha Felder has some significant leverage. However, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Democratic-controlled State Assembly will need to agree.

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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio

A sensitive topic exposes how politics really works

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration is approaching a public health issue in the New York Orthodox Jewish community very sensitively. It’s a demonstration of how politics sometimes requires almost surgical movement to balance competing demands, especially in an election year.

Jews circumcise eight-day-old baby boys and some Orthodox Jewish communities hold by a practice called metzitzah b’peh or oral suction. The mohel who makes the cut places his mouth on the wound to draw blood away. This risks transferring herpes, which is common in adults but can be fatal to infants.

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Will New York Be a Sanctuary for Immigrants?

UPDATE: As of May 2017, Congress chose not to pass legislation that would have allowed Trump to defund sanctuary cities.

Original story

This week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions threatened to take back $4 billion in federal aid to sanctuary cities, including New York City, Syracuse, Ithaca, and Rochester. Those cities have said they will not help Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) enforce federal immigration laws.

What’s the big deal?

Over 5 million immigrants were deported under Obama but his administration focused on criminals and people caught crossing the border. While campaigning, President Donald Trump criticized this focus and promised to create a “deportation force” to remove undocumented immigrants. In February, he issued rules to make it easier for ICE to deport immigrants (both documented and undocumented), including people who hadn’t committed a serious crime. This even included people who had filed for DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, under Obama. Also called Dreamers, these are people who were born abroad but arrived in the US as children and grew up here. Trump’s so-called “Muslim bans” on travelers from several majority-Muslim Middle Eastern countries have also fueled this alarm, though court orders have stopped those for the moment.

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The NYPD is under fire.

Trouble for the NYPD

The New York City Police Department had a string of bad news stories over the past week. They settled a court case over illegal Muslim surveillance, paying millions in the process. A leaker revealed the disciplinary records of the NYPD officer who killed Eric Garner, Daniel Pantaleo, giving the police department another black eye. And another bad cop, Richard Haste who killed Bronx teen Ramarley Graham, was allowed to resign rather than be fired.

Expect more pressure on Mayor Bill de Blasio and his Police Commissioner James O’Neil to change how the NYPD operates.

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President Donald Trump's budget will affect Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio's plans.

How Trump Threatens to Derail New York’s Plans

New York is in the midst of budget season. By the end of the week, the state government should have decided upon spending plans for the year and New York City will follow with its budget in June. But the New Yorker in the White House is already threatening to foil Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s best-laid plans.

What’s going on?

By law, Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature have a deadline of April 1st to agree on how to allocate the $162 billion or so that New York State will spend over the next twelve months. New York City has until July 1st to do the same for its $85 billion budget.

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Two More State Politicians Indicted, Where’s Cuomo?

Two more politicians are in hot water. Yesterday, a grand jury indicted State Senator Robert Ortt (R-Niagara) along with his predecessor, George Maziarz, for election law fraud.

State Senator Robert Ortt
State Senator Robert Ortt is under indictment for election law fraud. (Official photo)

Ortt is accused of using political donations to enrich himself, paying his wife $21,000 from the Niagara County Republican Party for work she didn’t do. Maziarz is accused of secretly paying a staffer in the same way. The former Niagara County Republican Chairman pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge though both Maziarz and Ortt pled not guilty.

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Bo Dietl is running for Mayor. Should you care?

Let’s throw cold water on Bo Dietl’s campaign for Mayor of New York City. He’s a loud, brash celebrity who needs something to do but he doesn’t appear to be a serious candidate.

Bo Dietl is running for Mayor
Bo Dietl is running for NYC Mayor as an independent. (Photo from Twitter)

Bo Dietl, a former New York City detective, found some measure of fame as a commentator for Fox News. Last year, Fox axed him after discovering that he did private investigative work for former Fox News chief Roger Ailes who had been fired amid sexual harassment allegations. Now, Dietl is running for Mayor as an independent.

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How Does the Firing of New York’s Top Cop Shake Up NY?

Preet Bharara’s nationally publicized firing from the US Attorney job in Manhattan created some intrigue about his political ambitions and the implications for those he was investigating, like New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Governor Andrew Cuomo. Despite the fanfare, it could be a big bag of nothing.

Bharara’s ouster does seem tailor-made to launch a political career — getting fired by President Donald Trump alone could be a badge of honor for liberal votes, then throw in the fact that his firing might have been a gift to Rupert Murdoch and Fox News — but his sudden super-nova status might not shake up the board all that much.

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News from Western New York

Ok, this is absurd …

Trump’s refugee and travel ban plans have thrust an immigration focal point to emerge in … Champlain, New York? Yep. People are illegally crossing the border into Canada near Champlain in the North Country to escape persecution here in the United States, according to this story by Rick Rojas in the New York Times.

The beats go on …

Eric Schneiderman may be on the rise because of his antagonistic approach to President Trump, but New York Republicans are feeling the squeeze.

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Why ShakingNews

Information is the lifeblood of democracy.

When voters don’t know what’s going on in their community or why, important issues go ignored.  People then vent their frustration, unaware of the root causes of these problems and unable to fix them. Moments of annoyance build up into a feeling that representative democratic institutions are either powerless or else simply unwilling to address their concerns. Eventually, those feelings boil over into tumult with unpredictable consequences, such as Donald Trump becoming President or Britain voting to leave the European Union. Or worse.

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