Editorial Roundup: New York

New York Post. June 21, 2021.

Editorial: ‘Progressive’ Maya Wiley is anything but

When Al Sharpton faults you for your (lack of) work on diversity, you know you have a real problem running as a progressive. But mayoral candidate Maya Wiley is such a hypocrite, progressives are finding, she’s unlikely to care.

Even those sympathetic to her ideas should resist ranking her on their ballots, lest she take the race with second-choice votes; she’d be a disaster for a city already on the brink.

Sharpton is declining to endorse a candidate in the Democratic primary, but that’s not keeping him from criticizing Wiley, who is in a dead heat for second, according to a Post poll. When Wiley left Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration as Minority/Women-Owned Business Enterprise director, less than 5 percent of government spending went to such firms, though they represent 30 percent of city companies. Indeed, in her time at City Hall from 2014 to 2016, the city’s proportion of MWBE procurement dropped from 5.3 to 4.9 percent.

Sharpton told The Post that much of his National Action Network’s work “is around economic equity and fighting to get MWBE contracts up, not down.”

We’re the last ones to back such bean-counting as a matter of policy, but progressives who do may be disappointed by Wiley’s weak performance on that score.

Then again, Wiley never puts her money where her mouth is. She wants to slash the NYPD’s budget by a further $1 billion and is open to the idea of taking their guns away, even though the Brooklyn neighborhood in which she lives with her husband (in a $2.7 million home) is protected by private security — something almost no high-crime neighborhoods have the luxury of funding.

She also wants to reduce choice for New York schoolkids by getting rid of admissions screenings for city schools that she calls racist — while taking advantage of them for her own kids. One daughter went to Mark Twain Intermediate School for the Gifted and Talented in Brooklyn and Humanities Preparatory Academy in Manhattan, which require good grades for admission. Another spent grades six through 12 at Brooklyn Friends, a private school that charges $51,000 per year.

She’s raked in six-figure salaries for years — though she left off her time as a federal prosecutor from her LinkedIn profile.

Maya Wiley advocates for fewer cops patrolling unsafe streets and fewer opportunities for gifted minority students from the safety of her privately protected home. She has no business being on any New Yorker’s ballot.

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Newsday. June 21, 2021.

Editorial: Permit backlog must be eased

The failure of the State Legislature to approve a bill that would jump-start the Long Island economy by easing a backlog of building permits is frustrating: It exposes the limited power of the region’s legislative delegation and likely will hold up the Island’s recovery.

The bill, which would allow engineers and architects to certify that their planned projects met state codes so they could obtain permits and start work more quickly, only applied to Long Island. And while State Sen. Jim Gaughran and Assemb. Steve Stern made amendments and tried to push the bill through, they were met by a wall of opposition they couldn’t break.

That leaves Long Island at a standstill. In some towns and villages, it’s taking more than five months to obtain a permit. That’s a lot of waiting and economic stagnation that ripples through related industries from plumbing to landscaping.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the region can’t afford to lose that kind of time.

The pushback came in part from the Civil Service Employees Association, whose officials said they saw building permit approvals as “essential functions” of local government and pointed to safety issues. But there are no safety issues with permits, as the rest of the process, from inspections to certificates of occupancy, wouldn’t change. And there would be ways to provide oversight. The CSEA, unsurprisingly, suggests the backlog could be alleviated with more resources and staff. But adding public workers isn’t always the way to resolve bureaucratic sclerosis.

It’s worrisome that Long Island’s senators and Assembly members couldn’t get this Long Island-specific bill through, even as they beat back other bills that would have hurt the region. The delegation has to develop a stronger voice and tighter relations with leadership so the region’s needs supersede a union’s reach and quell objections from lawmakers from outside the area. There’s no reason out-of-region legislators should have opposed a bill with no negative impact, when Long Island members supported it. The situation seems to undercut the argument of Democrats that they have more clout as majority conference members.

The State Senate should revisit the bill if it returns to work in the coming weeks, as expected, and the State Assembly should follow suit. This is too important to wait until next year.

Absent a state fix, municipalities should make changes quickly to ease the backlogs. That starts with bringing the permit process online; too many towns and villages, amazingly, still use paper. Some, like the Town of Hempstead, have moved the process online — and that’s helped. Experts and advocates say it should take no more than 30 days to process a permit. That’s a good goal.

But the ultimate goal is even simpler: Cut the red tape, and get Long Island building again.

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Dunkirk Evening Observer. June 22, 2021.

Editorial: NEW YORK STATE As COVID wanes, powers must end

Gov. Andrew Cuomo spent Tuesday taking a COVID-19 victory lap.

News that 70% of adult New Yorkers have had at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine is a milestone for the state, but if the governor is celebrating, we wonder why he still clings to his emergency authority?

We’ve seen only recently examples of why the governor’s executive authority needs to end. The governor’s edicts on travel restrictions, sports seasons in schools, vaccine eligibility, business restrictions and, most recently, the administration’s three-day flip-flop over mask wearing in schools do nothing but undermine the state’s efforts to convince unvaccinated New Yorkers to get vaccinated.

One of the reasons there was such celebration statewide as restrictions were lifted is because many New Yorkers look at the past 15 months and see inconsistent, often capricious rules and regulations, and are relieved to see those rules and the governor’s near-constant influence lifted.

What happens if the governor decides that counties with vaccination rates less than 70% — Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, Allegany and Wyoming counties among them — must operate under pandemic restrictions because the counties don’t reach herd immunity? As long as the governor is operating under one of his existing executive orders, he could do so. Continued limits on schools are within the governor’s authority as well, and few rural New Yorkers want to go through another school year like the one we’re finishing. As the early June school masking confusion reminds everyone, the governor can still exercise tremendous influence over schools, health care and other areas even after taking his COVID victory lap.

It’s time for the governor’s emergency powers to come to an end.

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Advance Media New York. June XX, 2021.

Editorial: Congratulations, graduates. You made it through the year of Covid-19

This weekend and next, more than 60 high schools across Central New York are holding commencement ceremonies to send their graduates on to the next phase of their lives. The milestone is all the sweeter because this year’s graduates and their families can celebrate together, with few worries about catching or spreading Covid-19.

The rest of us also are graduating, in a way. We’re leaving behind 15 months of restrictions on our activities and picking up the threads of our lives before Covid. Gov. Andrew Cuomo lifted most of the state’s onerous rules last week, when 70% of New Yorkers had received at least one vaccine dose.

While the pandemic isn’t quite over, and many uncertainties await, let’s take a moment to celebrate how far we’ve come.

A handy marker is the distance between last year’s high school graduations and this year’s.

Class of 2020: masks for everyone, contactless diploma pickup, drive-by celebrations, elbow bumps with the principal, immediate family only. Also, no to proms and parties.

Class of 2021: no more masks for the mostly outdoor ceremonies, looser limits on the number of attendees, no contact tracing or Covid test required. Also, yes to proms and parties.

It’s a bummer that New York changed its outdated limits on graduations too late for many schools to adjust – befitting a school year whipsawed by the pandemic. There were infections and quarantines; remote schooling and hybrid schooling and in-person schooling; extra-curricular activities held in new ways or not at all; live-streaming of classes, sporting events and concerts; and an untold number of never-before-seen problems and solutions to match.

We salute every student, parent, teacher, coach, counselor, administrator and support staff who got through it – and send some extra cheers to those who carried the exhausted and emotionally wounded with them. We congratulate the graduates whose path to a high school diploma took a detour through a global pandemic. That’s an accomplishment in itself. They have earned the right to celebrate.

It’s also OK to grieve for all that we lost to Covid: the people who died or became ill, missed time with friends and faraway family, forgone experiences with classmates, teammates and friends.

Look ahead now. Graduation is called a commencement because it’s a beginning – of college, of adult life, of possibilities, of the future. We’re all heading into the unknown. Having been through this fire, the graduates of Covid-19 are better prepared to meet it.

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Albany Times Union. June 18, 2021.

Editorial: Protect New York’s children

THE ISSUE:

The Legislature failed to tackle problems in New York’s Family Courts, despite an obvious need for reform.

THE STAKES:

Lawmakers once more have left the state’s most vulnerable children in harm’s way.

Family Courts in New York are in desperate need of reform, as the deaths of children throughout the state have made agonizingly clear.

But in the face of such an obvious and well-documented need, the state Legislature this year has done … pretty much nothing at all. That’s a dereliction of governmental responsibility.

Yes, these are complicated issues. Yes, reform must be thoughtful and well-considered.

But one needs only to read the series of articles by Times Union investigative reporter Chris Bragg to understand why lawmakers should be demonstrating an urgency they seem to lack. The reports document how children whose families were already in the courts or the child protective system have died at the hands of a parent or guardian even after concerns were raised about abuse or mental instability.

Several bills introduced this session would have begun to address the shortcomings, including “Kyra’s Law,” introduced by Assemblymember Andrew Hevesi, D-Queens.

The bill was named after a Long Island girl, just two years old, killed by her father. Her mother had warned that the man was unstable and suicidal, but he was nonetheless allowed unsupervised visitation. In 2016, he shot the child as she slept, set the house on fire and killed himself.

As we’ve previously noted, Mr. Hevesi’s law would require courts to hold an evidentiary hearing to determine the veracity of allegations of child abuse or domestic violence; among other changes, it would mandate the training needed to help courts vet such allegations.

Those would be clear steps forward. But the Legislature failed to pass that bill, just as it failed to pass a proposed law implementing new standards and training requirements for so-called forensic evaluators, the mental health professionals who play a crucial role in assessing bitter child custody disputes.

That leaves reform in the hands of a 20-member commission created by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and charged with issuing recommendations on the evaluators, whose work couldn’t be more important. The governor says the commission will “improve the quality of the forensic custody evaluation process, help ensure equal access to justice for survivors of domestic violence, and improve the fairness and transparency of the Family Court system.”

Last week, Mr. Cuomo appointed members to the commission announced in January, and recommendations are expected by the fall. That’s progress — but hardly enough. Not when the lives of vulnerable children are at stake. Not when the failings of the system are so obvious.

Protecting children. What state responsibility could be more important? What could be a more pressing legislative priority?

And yet, New York’s Legislature failed to take action. If there was ever a topic worthy of a special session, it is this one.

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