Editorial Roundup: New York

New York Post. July 6, 2021.

Editorial: Andrew Cuomo’s new ‘anti-gun-crime’ push is utterly pathetic

Waking up to the fact that voters are worried about crime, scandal-battered Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday lurched for some good headlines by dropping an executive order declaring a statewide gun-violence emergency.

But his initiatives were all plainly chosen with an eye on not offending lefty sensibilities (after all, the hard-left Assembly still has an impeachment probe going). They won’t do much to turn the tide that over the holiday weekend saw 14 shot in Buffalo, five in Syracuse and 26 in New York City in the latest statewide surge in gun crime.

To do that, he’d need to start working to un-do all the foolish laws passed on his watch. But there’s not a word in his long release about fixing the disastrous bail reforms that he so proudly signed onto — not even the one that guaranteed that nobody would see jail time “just” because he got caught with an illegal gun.

Nor about undoing his “Say Their Name” package of restrictions on cops, which encourage police all across New York to look the other way rather than act when they see suspicious activity, lest the officer’s career be ruined by good-faith attempts to proactively protect the public.

Instead, he’s telling the State Police to do more to cut the flow of illegal guns from out-of-state — but guns used illegally in New York are typically a decade old. Imports aren’t driving this crisis, they’re just a safe target for “bold action.”

The gov makes a big deal of treating the bloodshed as a “public health crisis” — signaling that his “help” will be all about supposed “root causes,” not actually getting guns off the street. His $138.7 million for “intervention and prevention” means more “violence interrupters” and social workers, not more or even better policing.

Heck, his new state Office of Gun Violence Prevention will report to the state Department of Health — the very agency that so bungled the pandemic’s onset, to deadly effect for thousands of elderly nursing-home residents.

Anyway, it’s plainly absurd to think that micromanaging policing from Albany will improve results. All the gov’s orders to local police departments — from his new demand that they share data on shootings to his mandate last year that they all come up with plans for de-policing reforms to appease Defund protesters — are just loud posturing.

New York needs its cops getting guns off the streets, and its prosecutors and judges jailing those caught with illegal firearms. But the politicians have spent the last several years making that work near-impossible: That’s the “root cause” of the crime spike Cuomo pretends he’s addressing, and his own fingerprints are all over it.

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Newsday. July 1, 2021.

Editorial: Remember LI’s role in the Revolutionary War

When it comes to celebrating and thinking about the Fourth of July, it can sometimes seem that places like Boston and Philadelphia get the bulk of the attention.

There’s a reason for that field trip of the imagination, of course, given the early Revolutionary War skirmishes that took place in New England, and the Declaration of Independence signed in the City of Brotherly Love.

But this July Fourth — after a pandemic year spent close to home — let’s not forget the events of Revolutionary War history that took place right here on Long Island.

In a raucous beginning, a Huntington public reading of the Declaration in 1776 led to residents creating and hanging an effigy of Britain’s George III.

But with the retreat of George Washington’s forces from Brooklyn, the Island was bound for some seven years of British occupation, during which the region became a storage and foraging place for British troops. A strong Loyalist presence made life difficult for patriots in what is now Nassau and Suffolk.

That concentration of British forces and their allies, however, meant that Long Island was also a buzzing and noteworthy hive of spies and forays. There were quick-hit whaleboat raids launched across the Sound, including a famous one that reached Sag Harbor. Would-be 21-year-old spy Nathan Hale, who is forever famous for his alleged line about regretting having only one life to lose for his country, landed near Huntington Bay to begin gathering information about the British.

The longer-lasting Culper Spy Ring carried secrets from Manhattan to Setauket and beyond to keep Washington informed.

And Long Islanders participated in and suffered through the war in great numbers, on both sides. A famous but failed plot against Washington led to some Loyalists being pursued and one shot on Long Island, an event memorialized in 2019 with a Rockville Centre marker. Local militia and unvetted soldiers — including enslaved Long Islanders — took up arms. The conflict was a brutal civil war here and the onerousness of British wartime rule was felt by many Long Islanders, a bitter legacy of years of war or occupation on New York soil.

Some of these events, experiences and historical figures are memorialized in plaques or exhibits on Long Island — Hale, for example, has a plaque and memorial in the Town of Huntington, plus a bronze statue in the town clerk’s archives. They’re worth revisiting during our annual celebration of America’s independence, a major and consequential event with reverberations around the globe.

But Revolutionary War-era Long Island is also a reminder that history happens to regular people, in their homes and towns. History is made by those who rise to the occasion and those who struggle through the slog of events. It includes pandemics and political movements and the extraordinary advances of technology, and the way lives are shaped and changed. It is happening now, here.

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Dunkirk Evening Observer. July 6, 2021.

Editorial: NEW YORK STATE Put funding toward the roads

An additional $2.1 million in state funding for highways and bridges in Chautauqua County is welcome news.

Brad Bentley, county Public Facilities director, said the county usually only paves about 15 miles of highway a year. However, with the additional funding, county officials will be able to pave 32 miles of the 550 in the county this year. He said the county will also be able to rehabilitate 16 bridges this year instead of the usual 10.

The short-term hassle of working around paving projects and bridge rehabilitation is worth it for the decreased wear and tear on one’s vehicle.

While the state is at it, legislators should consider increasing the reimbursement rate for localities that maintain state highways. Jamestown alone has 239,440 square yards, or 20 miles, of state arterial highways, which ranks fourth in the state behind New York City with 7,999,975, Yonkers with 502,441 and Niagara Falls with 472,499. Cities get 85 cents per square yard to maintain those state highways, which is not nearly enough to actually pay for the maintenance needed.

Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, has co-sponsored legislation (A.4931) that would increase the reimbursement rate to $1.85 a square yard and an additional 20 cents per square yard of pavement located on any elevated bridge. The bill wasn’t considered move to a committee meeting agenda during this year’s legislative session.

The state is spending money away in record numbers these days. It should spend some of that windfall properly reimbursing the municipalities that maintain state-owned roads.

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Auburn Citizen. July 1, 2021.

Editorial: Don’t shut public out of marijuana law decisions

Whether you think legal marijuana is good, bad or indifferent, you should have a say in whether or not pot stores are going to be allowed to open where you live.

The Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act signed into law this spring legalized the possession and use of marijuana. And with retail sales coming down the road, municipalities have the option of banning dispensaries and sites where the drug may be used by passing a local law prohibiting those activities.

We believe the Town of Brutus is skipping an important step in that process with the town board deciding to opt out of marijuana sales without holding a forum to hear from residents. Municipalities that opt out can reverse that decision in the future, but public discourse on an issue like this is the absolute least a government can do in this situation.

The village of Weedsport, on the other hand, discussed the issue at a recent board workshop meeting and plans to solicit more input from residents before making a decision.

The Auburn City Council had its first public discussion on the matter in April as a means of both explaining the law to the public and getting the conversation going about how people are feeling about it. One presenter talked about the economic and environmental benefits of marijuana and said that the elimination of criminal charges for simple possession was a step in the right direction, considering that people with past convictions then sometimes found it difficult to find a job. Another speaker said that marijuana use among area teenagers is already above the national average and that people driving under the influence should also be a community concern.

That type of engagement is exactly what every municipality should be striving for when considering the pros and cons of marijuana in their communities, and we hope other towns and villages in the county follow that example. Marijuana is a controversial topic, and government leaders should check the pulse of their communities before moving toward one decision or another.

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Advance Media New York. July 2, 2021.

Editorial: Katko’s Choice: Follow Kevin McCarthy or Liz Cheney? The answer is clear

With the failure of Senate Republicans to appoint an independent, 9/11-styled commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, the House has established a select committee.

It did so Wednesday, with just two Republicans voting in favor – Reps. Liz Cheney of Wyoming and Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. Surprisingly, Rep. John Katko voted against the investigation apparently deciding it’s time to just move on.

Predictably and cynically, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy is crying politics, hoping that the gullible will buy his line that the select committee – set up very much like the committee that investigated the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Benghazi – will be a hopeless partisan exercise to make the GOP look bad.

This is the Kevin McCarthy who sided with a lawsuit in Texas to cancel votes in swing states won by Joe Biden, voted twice against certifying Electoral College votes for Biden, opposed the independent commission to investigate the Jan. 6 attack and has done little to confront the big lie perpetrated by members of his party that the election was stolen.

McCarthy’s cries for bipartisanship are laughable and his leadership of the House GOP is doing a pretty good job of making the GOP look bad.

Katko’s duck and run is more curious and should be compared to the words and actions of House GOP colleague Liz Cheney.

Katko negotiated the agreement on the independent commission -- only to have his own party pull the rug out from under him – when it was deep-sixed in the Senate. He has spoken passionately about the dangers of the Jan 6th attack on Congress and the need for Congress to own the investigation. Katko has in the past fought hard to burnish his reputation as independent minded.

In June former President Trump who continues to promote the lies that led to Jan 6th attack on the Capitol wrote to offer encouragement to Central New York conservatives and “help with the campaign” to challenge Katko. Trump has made clear his disdain.

On Wednesday, Katko said that the lack of independence undermines the select committee’s mission as he voted against its creation.

“It would be a turbo-charged partisan exercise,” he said, “not an honest fact-finding body that the American people and Capitol police deserve.” A bewildering statement since at this point the alternative to the House select investigation is no fact-finding at all.

Cheney, however, made it clear which side she’s on. She will serve on the committee. Here’s her statement after Wednesday’s vote, in full:

“The attack on January 6th was an unprecedented assault on Congress and the functioning of our democratic process. That day, almost all of us recognized immediately the gravity of what had occurred. Since January 6th, the courage of my party’s leaders has faded. But the threat to our Republic has not. On an almost daily basis, Donald Trump repeats the same statements that provoked violence before. His attacks on our Constitution are accelerating. Our responsibility is to confront these threats, not appease and deflect.

“Earlier this month, along with 34 other House Republicans, I supported the establishment of a bipartisan independent commission to investigate the attack of January 6th. As I’ve said before, that would have been the best way to address the dangerous assault on the institutions of our democracy.

“Although that bill passed the House, it was defeated in the Senate. It is right to be wary of an overtly partisan inquiry. But Congress is obligated to conduct a full investigation of the most serious attack on our Capitol since 1814. Our nation, and the families of the brave law enforcement officers who were injured defending us or died following the attack, deserve answers. I believe this select committee is our only remaining option. I will vote to support it.

“This investigation can only succeed if it is sober, professional, and non-partisan. The threat to our democracy is far too grave for grandstanding or political maneuvering. The Committee should issue and enforce subpoenas promptly, hire skilled counsel, and do its job thoroughly and expeditiously. The American people need and deserve a full accounting. We must ensure that what happened on January 6, 2021, never happens again.”

Katko has hinted that he would not serve on the committee even though he would be an excellent choice. His curious vote will not save him the wrath of Trump. That die is cast. He should seek a role on the select committee that will investigate the most serious attack on the Capitol since 1814.

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Albany Times-Union. July 5, 2021.

Editorial: Another JCOPE charade

Members of the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics must know that a crime may have been committed right under their noses, possibly by someone close to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Possibly by one of them. Yet the commission won’t ask the state attorney general to investigate.

At issue is the apparent leak of a confidential JCOPE vote in 2019 on what’s believed to be the question of whether to open an investigation into whether a former top Cuomo aide, Joseph Percoco, used state resources in the governor’s office while he was on leave to work on Mr. Cuomo’s reelection campaign. Shortly after that vote, which resulted in no investigation, Mr. Cuomo is said to have contacted Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to express displeasure with how Mr. Heastie’s appointees on the commission voted. Divulging such a vote would be a misdemeanor crime.

An investigation by the state inspector general’s office was inconclusive; little wonder, since neither the governor nor the Assembly speaker was interviewed. So JCOPE last week considered referring the matter to Attorney General Letitia James.

That went nowhere. Four of Mr. Cuomo’s appointees voted against the referral without explanation; another, Colleen DiPirro, abstained, saying that although she has been on JCOPE for two and a half years, she didn’t feel “qualified” or “educated” enough to cast a vote. To put this tortured logic another way, she didn’t have enough information to decide whether more information is needed.

Mr. Heastie’s appointees abstained as well, including one of the targets of the governor’s ire, James Yates, who said he couldn’t cast a vote even to refer the corruption he witnessed for an outside investigation because it would be a conflict of interest. What, one has to wonder, could he possibly be accused of having to gain by a pursuit of the truth?

“Sham” is too mild a word for this corrupted ethics commission. JCOPE has got to go.

With New York in line for hundreds of millions of dollars in opioid settlement money, state lawmakers did the right thing in passing legislation to create a special fund for that money and ensure it’s spent on the crisis, not just used to balance the budget.

Last week, Mr. Cuomo signed it, which was hardly a given. The governor wanted more flexibility, including the ability to use the money to replace existing state spending on the problem, rather than enhance it. To its credit, the Legislature dug in. And to Mr. Cuomo’s credit, he gave in.

Yes, get to the truth of Jan. 6

Before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol by fanatic followers of former President Donald Trump is spun and twisted any more by politicians and pundits trying to rewrite history, America needs an authoritative look at the entire affair. Congress was offered the chance for a fully bipartisan commission to undertake that, but Senate Republicans, running interference for Mr. Trump, blocked it.

So House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has designated a select committee to take up the task, and Republicans complain they don’t have equal representation on it — as the commission they rejected would have provided.

No more games, no more delay. This attack our democracy must be fully investigated and understood.

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