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Special Section:


June 16, 2014






Yuwshua Mayers JOURNEYMAN

Heat and Frost Insulators Local 12 Completed apprenticeship in 2013 Bronx resident

“After my graduation from high school, I became an apprentice and member of Heat and Frost Insulators Local 12, where I’m now a journeyman. If you stay on top of your game, it’s a great opportunity. I’m 24 years old and happy to be buying a home with my mother and sister.

Without my career in union construction, I wouldn’t be able to do that.” Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York Gary La Barbera, President

This is what union construction looks like. Shouldn’t it be what all construction looks like?


CONTENTS June 16, 2014 6...... 7.......


Madison Square Garden’s Sweetheart Tax Break By Azure Gilman Will Yeshivas Comply With Secular UPK? By Nick Powell

9....... STATE 12.....

The High Price Of Per Diems By Matthew Hamilton


Who Will Take The Hit If The Bills Bolt From Buffalo? By Matthew Hamilton

20.... SPOTLIGHT: ENERGY 22.... Cuomo’s deregulation reform By Jon Lentz

24.... A New Day For Solar Power By Azure Gilman

26.... Q&As with Richard Kauffman, George Maziarz, Amy Paulin, Gil Quiniones and Audrey Zibelman



30.... SPOTLIGHT: CASINO SITINGS 32.... The Players 36.... Local Leaders’ Case For A Casino 40.... PERSPECTIVES

Special Section:


Michael Benjamin on how Cuomo is killing the Democratic Party … Alexis Grenell on the myth of the “Shadow Speaker” … Nicole Malliotakis on the Women’s Equality Agenda … Jim Heaney on Buffalo’s Tale of Two Cities

June 16, 2014



42.... BACK & FORTH


A Q&A with 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee Co-Champion Sriram Hathwar


61 Broadway, Suite 2825 New York, NY 10006 Editorial (212) 894-5417 General (646) 517-2740 Advertising (212) 284-9712

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Graphic Designer Michelle Yang

Vice President of Advertising Jim Katocin

Managing Editor Michael Johnson

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Business Manager Jasmin Freeman

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Office Administrator Kyle Renwick

City Hall Bureau Chief Nick Powell

Distribution Czar Dylan Forsberg

Reporter Matthew Hamilton Reporter Azure Gilman Associate Editor Helen Eisenbach

Illustrator Danilo Agutoli Columnists Alexis Grenell, Bruce Gyory, Nicole Gelinas, Michael Benjamin, Seth Barron, Steven M. Cohen, Susan Arbetter

City & State is published twice monthly. Copyright ©2014, City and State NY, LLC

city & state — June 16, 2014





city & state — June 16, 2014


he recent passing of the sterling former State Sen. Roy Goodman is a sad reminder of a lost breed of politician: the Rockefeller Republican. As hard as it may be to imagine today in a borough without a single Republican elected official, when I was growing up on the Upper East Side of By Morgan Pehme Manhattan in the ’80s and ’90s, Editor-In-Chief Rockefeller Republicans made up a significant percentage of my elected officials: sensible and noble leaders like Goodman, Assemblyman John Ravitz, City Councilman Andrew Eristoff and Congressman Bill Green. Rockefeller Republicans are sometimes mistakenly characterized these days as having been socially liberal and fiscally conservative. In actuality, however, they were relatively liberal from an economic standpoint, too, particularly in comparison with the overwhelming majority of their party’s members now. Yes, they championed Wall Street and big business—like all but a handful of Democrats on the national level in 2014, including the President—but they understood the virtues of the New Deal, and embraced the social safety net, though they wanted its programs to be administered more responsibly and efficiently. They also pushed for balanced budgets; however, they were not philosophically opposed to raising taxes when necessary to achieve this aim, rather than gutting important services. Beyond their approach to fiscal matters, they were generally advocates for good government reform, and strong supporters of affordable public higher education and infrastructure improvement. In regard to foreign policy, they were typically in favor of using America’s military might to promote and protect the country’s strategic and financial interests abroad. While I myself am not a Republican, I mourn the decline of this wing of the party, because it offered a genuinely palatable alternative to the one-party rule New York City has now. Whereas the national brand of the GOP, even in its most moderate form, is so out of step with the sensibilities of New Yorkers that we viscerally reject practically any candidates with an “R” next to their name on the ballot, Rockefeller Republicans—named for our former governor, Nelson—were a model of Republican forged in New York by real New Yorkers. They could appeal to our city’s independently minded electorate—Democrats, Republicans, third party members and unaffiliated voters alike—because they were just as eccentric as the rest of us.

In many ways, former Mayor Michael Bloomberg was cut from the same cloth, even though he himself is a Bostonian. Had he applied his billions to expanding the GOP’s tent to encompass more Republicans of his ilk, he could have spawned a new generation of Rockefeller Republicans and renamed them after himself. Unfortunately, however, he used all of the millions he dumped into the state and local Republican parties to subjugate them to his will, rather than refashion the party into a true counterweight to the national GOP, which keeps getting pulled ever farther to the right. Even if you don’t believe that in the era of the Tea Party—when any member of the GOP who dares to challenge conservative orthodoxy is denounced as a RINO—that any moderate (or worse, liberal!) Republican from New York could influence the course of the national party, there is ample reason right here at home to hope for the resurrection of the Rockefeller Republican. Monopolies rarely spur innovation, and one-party rule generally degenerates into groupthink. The fact that all three of the Big Apple’s citywide elected officials, the Speaker of the City Council and 48 of its 51 members are all Democrats who largely agree with one another and reflect the same political interests, should be deeply concerning to anyone who believes that vigorous, intellectually honest debate and a multiplicity of ideas is the cornerstone of a great government. I’m no Republican, but that doesn’t mean I want to live in a city where Republicans cease to exist.

WORLD CUP PREDICTIONS Politicos around the state predict who will win


razilians like to use the phrase O país do futebol, which roughly translates as the Country of Football. Which would suggest that with the World Cup taking place on their home turf, anything less than a victory will be a disappointment for Brazil’s soccer-crazed fans. But although they may be the favorites in the tournament, they aren’t the popular choice for the New York politicos who sent us their picks.

Nily Rozic D - Assembly (Fresh Meadows) “Can’t wait to see Leo Messi and the Argentina national team in the finals!” ••• Francisco Moya D - Assemblyman (Jackson Heights) Through a spokesperson: “Although he wishes Team USA had a real chance of taking home the FIFA World Cup Trophy, his bets are on Spain.” NOTE: Moya also wants people to know he will be hosting a public viewing of the World Cup Semi-finals and Finals at William F. Moore Park in Corona, Queens. ••• Karim Camara D - Assembly (Brooklyn) “Brazil will win the World Cup.” ••• Carlo Scissura President and CEO, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce “Italy, of course!” ••• Jessica Ramos Queens Democratic District Leader Communications Director, Build Up NYC “Columbia will surprise us all!” ••• Jerry Skurnik Founder, Prime New York “Netherlands.”

Former State Sen. Roy Goodman (1930-2014) cit

city & state — March 24, 2014




SWEETHEART DEAL Will MSG keep its multimillion dollar tax giveaway? By AZURE GILMAN


city & state — June 16, 2014


adison Square Garden hasn’t paid property taxes in 32 years. The one-of-a-kind deal was struck in 1982, in a very different New York City—one with a fiscal crisis and a high murder rate—when the prospect of the beloved Knicks and Rangers moving elsewhere was real and frightening. And yet while the city has changed, the tax break remains— and in theory will last forever, because it has no sunset clause. As a result, the Garden and its owners, the Dolan family, who also preside over the Cablevision empire, avoid having to pay $17.3 million every year—a figure that swells to roughly $54 million when the stadium’s new billion dollar renovations are taken into account. The New York City Council recently revisited the tax break at the prodding of Queens Assemblyman David Weprin, and passed a resolution opposing the exemption. Mayor Bill de Blasio has also come out in support of taxing the sports complex. But de Blasio, Weprin and City Council members know that such a move would never get through Albany. As Councilman Vincent Ignizio put it, “This bill is dead on arrival. It’s not happening … The governor’s opposed, the Speaker’s opposed; it’s not going anywhere.” Still, the implied leverage that the Dolan family has to keep the exemption in place—threatening to move the Knicks and the Rangers out of the city—is no longer a plausible concern. There is little to no chance that the Dolans would ever abandon the enormously lucrative New York sports market. Nonetheless, they are still winning the property tax battle. Madison Square Garden is by no means the only stadium to benefit from major tax breaks and public subsidy. Yankee Stadium, the New York Mets’ Citi Field and the Brooklyn Nets’ Barclays Center, all of which opened in 2009 or later, have each cut deals whose upside to the city has often been called into question. The Garden, however, has the most favorable arrangement of the lot. At a recent City Council hearing, George Sweeting, the deputy director of the Independent Budget Office of the City

of New York, testified that the current estimated subsidy values for Citi Field is $138 million, $350 million for Barclays and $362 million for Yankee Stadium. All three are dwarfed by Madison Square Garden’s estimated public subsidy of $541 million. “They have a lot of lobbyists,” Weprin said, when asked about the Garden’s clout in Albany. “They would rather spend $17 million on lobbyists than what they would be paying in property taxes, to be honest. They don’t want it to be taken away from them.” The new Yankee Stadium and Citi Field were both built on public land. Neither technically owes property taxes, but they do make PILOTs (Payments in Lieu of Taxes). Both stadiums were also built using tax-exempt bonds. Typically the city prohibits the use of tax-exempt bonds for sports arenas, except when those bonds are serviced by general municipal revenues, a major loophole that has since been closed by the IRS. The city persuaded the IRS to treat PILOTs as equivalent to tax revenue, even though the money doesn’t go directly to the city but instead to the bondholders. Yankee Stadium, Citi Field and the Barclays Center also receive additional incentives and subsidies from the city. Madison Square Garden does not have to pay property taxes or PILOTs. Moreover, although the Yankees, Mets and Nets stadium deals were put together to subsidize the construction of new facilities, the Garden’s arena had already been built when it got its tax break. “People mention that other stadiums get subsidies, and that’s true,” says Elizabeth Bird, project coordinator at the policy resource center Good Jobs New York. “But at least in those cases, those costs tend to be shared in federal, state and local subsidies. In Madison Square Garden, the property taxes directly affect the city’s budget,” because if the Garden were ever required to pay taxes, the revenue would go exclusively to the city. Opponents of Madison Square Garden’s one-of-a-kind deal have not been completely unsuccessful.

When the arena’s “permit to operate” expired in January 2013, it was renewed for only 10 years, meaning that the city could technically force the Dolans to move out in 2023. Most recently the Council passed another resolution against the never-ending tax break—it previously passed one in 2008—and in May the Real Property Taxation Committee of the State Assembly approved a bill to revoke the break by a vote of 7–2. That bill, which has 54 sponsors, is now in the Ways and Means Committee of the state Assembly, which will be meeting every day before the current legislative session ends. But there is no chance the measure will pass. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is on record as saying he is opposed to repealing the break, as is Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Political contributions may play a part in their calculation. Since 2000 Charles F. Dolan and his son James, the founder of Cablevision and executive chairman of the Madison Square Garden Company, respectively, have each contributed $3,100 to Friends of Silver, as has Charles’ wife, Helen. In addition, since 2000 James Dolan has personally contributed $7,000 to Cuomo and his son, Charles P. Dolan has given $30,000 to Cuomo. And those are just their individual contributions. Since 2000 Cablevision has donated $7,100 to Friends of Silver, and $370,000 to Andrew Cuomo. Unions are also a factor in the future of the Garden’s tax break. James Dolan and Cablevision have

come under fire for preventing some of their employees in Brooklyn and the Bronx from unionizing with the Communications Workers of America, leading to a complaint being filed against Cablevision with the National Labor Relations Board. However, at the Council hearing on the tax break, representatives from several unions testified in support of the Garden’s exemption including the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. Their support may be related to the Garden’s recent renovations, which entailed a significant amount of construction by organized labor. The president of the Building and Construction Trades Council, Gary LaBarbera, also sat on the advisory board for the Committee to Save New York, the pro-Cuomo business-backed group that raised $17 million for the governor in the early years of his term before disbanding in 2013. CWA, on the other hand, is taking a particular interest in the tax break fight. It is currently rolling out advertisements critical of the tax break in several Albany publications. “It’s no secret that CWA members are facing aggressive union busting tactics from Cablevision’s leadership,” said Pete Sikora, a research economist with CWA District 1. “But the issue here is clear. This tax break is an outrageous giveaway to a profitable company that costs the city $54 million a year, and it’s indefensible on public policy grounds, separate and apart from any labor issues.” cit

Will Jewish preschools comply with secular UPK? By NICK POWELL


s New York City ramps up its implementation of full-day universal pre-K for this coming fall, with progress reports coming out of the mayor’s office seemingly every week, one question that remains to be answered is how will UPK-contracted yeshiva programs and preschools serving predominantly Jewish children comply with the strict secular guidelines set by the city? When the state Senate announced its proposal in March for the state to allocate $300 million to New York City to fund full-day universal pre-K for all 4-year-olds, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in an effort to allay concerns that the state would not honor its commitment, said, “Pre-K is going to be just another grade. You’re not going to stop funding first grade.” But if pre-K truly is to be considered the initial rung in the education ladder, then the question arises whether there are fundamental issues of church and state separation regarding the traditional values and teachings of some of the organizations receiving public money to deliver the “high quality” pre-K that Mayor Bill de Blasio is seeking to provide. The de Blasio administration attempted to address this concern after “intensive” negotiations with Jewish officials and education leaders. The Department of Education issued a document providing “initial guidance” on the administration of UPK programs by religious schools and faithbased organizations. These guidelines include prohibiting religious symbols in school buildings or classrooms used by UPK students; texts from religious traditions (the Bible, Torah, Qu’ran, etc.) may be used when presented objectively as part of a secular program, though cit

religious instruction in general is not permitted; and programs must include an English learning component, even if some portion of instruction is conducted in a non-English language. Not listed in these guidelines, but confirmed with city officials, is the provision that these schools must also accept any child regardless of ethnicity, religion or gender. The guideline that is most problematic in the eyes of some legal experts, however, is that these UPK providers may, to the extent permitted by law, give preference to job applicants of the same religion or denomination. “It’s one thing for religious institutions to minister exclusively to the faith and to hire people exclusively of the faith when they’re doing it on their own dime,” said Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union. “When the taxpayers are funding a program that’s provided by a religious entity, then it must be done with a strict mandate against discrimination based on religion. New York City taxpayers would be unhappy that their tax dollars were being spent on hiring discrimination of people of any faith.” These guidelines were also issued only days ahead of the deadline for public schools and community-based organizations (CBOs) to submit Requests for Proposals to enroll in the program, raising legitimate questions about whether the city had properly vetted the dozens of yeshivas and Jewish day schools that are participating in the UPK program. In response to numerous questions posed to the agency on the issue of yeshiva programs complying with UPK standards, Harry Hartfield, a spokesman for the Department of Education

would provide only a blanket statement on the record. “Our goal is pre-K for all, and we’re going to achieve it by offering a wide range of options that meet the needs of parents as their children enter the educational system. We have a tremendous number of high quality community-based educational options across all neighborhoods to meet that demand, and we are reaching out to families directly to make sure they know their options and can find the right fit for their child.” City & State browsed the Department of Education’s directory of Community Based Early Childhood Centers (CBECC), and phoned dozens of the yeshivas and Jewish organizations listed. None responded to requests for comment about how they are complying with the administration’s UPK guidelines, and several categorically refused to answer any questions. One only has to read some of these organizations’ mission statements, however, to see where conflicts from a required secular curriculum could arise. Associated Beth Rivkah Schools, a Chabad institution in Brooklyn that runs from preschool through high school, states on its website that its teachings “integrate the love of God, commitment to intellectual knowledge and understanding of the Torah.” Further down, the school adds, “Our teachers help our students realize that the Jewish and secular worlds are interconnected, and that it is neither possible or desirable to isolate ourselves 100%.” Other CBECCs listed in Brooklyn, such as Magen David Yeshivah, explicitly state that they are focused on the Torah, and celebrate “the existence of the modern state of Israel, and supporting it through prayer and deed.” Yet another,

CIT Y Legislation Threatens Independence of Local Libraries in New York State By Mike Neppl Our community libraries are rooted in the concepts of free inquiry, free expression and the free and fair pursuit of information. Dating back to our country’s first lending library, founded by Benjamin Franklin in 1731, libraries have served as guardians of free speech and intellectual discourse. However, recently proposed state legislation threatens these core tenets by injecting politics into the day-to-day operations of our local libraries. Legislation proposed by State Senator Michael Gianaris and Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry (S.6893-B/A.09217-B), as well as by Senator Tony Avella (S.7015-B) creates a dangerous precedent for our state’s eleven-hundred libraries – comply with political demands from elected officials or risk having your community-based organization targeted with reactionary, heavy-handed state legislation. That colleagues are jockeying for position on this issue demonstrates that there are political points to be scored. The library community has always been a strong leader for good governance, oversight and transparency, particularly where public dollars are involved. That’s why local libraries, including the Queens Library, have many of these proposed measures already in place, and supported the Nonprofit Revitalization Act signed by Governor Cuomo last year.


This current legislation, though well-intentioned, is proffered as reform, but actually accomplishes the opposite. The Gianaris/Aubry legislation would reduce trustee terms from five years to three, and thereby deprive the library board of the experience needed to engage in effective oversight, budget analysis and long-range planning. Coupled with a provision that would allow unilateral removal of trustees with little or no cause, these bills allow politicians to unjustly compel action from library trustees on any issue, including what content patrons could access and what community organizations could use the library as a meeting space. This legislation threatens the independence of every library in the state, and seeks to bring the Queens Library, a private not-for-profit corporation, directly under political control. It would open the door to patronage hires, politically-driven programming and censoring of content. In fact, this legislation sets the truly menacing precedent that any private, not-for-profit corporation receiving public funding is vulnerable to political persecution unless it complies with the demands of politicians. The noted American author Norman Cousins once said that a ‘library is the delivery room for the birth of ideas.’ Independent thought and leadership at our libraries are absolutely necessary for those ideas to take shape. Our elected officials are supposed to defend our cherished institutions, not threaten them. This legislation must be shelved. Mike Neppl is the General Counsel and Director of Government Affairs for the New York Library Association.

city & state — June 16, 2014



Bnos Menachem, an all-girls school in Crown Heights, states that the school’s vision is to “create a learning environment that promoted traditional and Chassidic values.” Numerous education sources within the city’s Orthodox community suggest that many of these stricter Orthodox schools would have great trouble abiding by the guidelines set forth by the de Blasio administration, because the aforementioned religious values are so embedded in their curricula. “It’s incredibly difficult for a yeshiva to comply with the rules set forth by UPK,” said one education advocate, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of upsetting the de Blasio administration. “Most of the schools that are actually going to have the program, if they’re Chassidic, they’re not going to be complying with the rules.” Another Jewish parent, whose children attended a yeshiva preschool, asserted, “A full-day UPK program, it just doesn’t work; none of these are going to work if you’re in an Orthodox school with city funding, if you’re not allowed to have [religious] icons and you’re not allowed to have [religious]

material. Every Jewish school is probably too Jewish for these rules.” The de Blasio administration has also added an extra hour and 20 minutes to the typical preschool day, meaning that many yeshivas and Jewish CBOs have little wiggle room in structuring the nonsecular components of their programs—such as blessings and any form of religious instruction—to comply with the UPK standards. “Many Jewish day schools have been able to incorporate part-time UPK in the past; they’ll have an hour of Judaic education for the beginning of the day,” said Maury Litwack, the director of state political affairs for the Jewish advocacy organization Orthodox Union. “Legislators realize the bigger question is ‘How do we fit everything we have to teach a 4-year-old within the requirements of this program?’ Within the mayor’s regulations, it’s much more difficult. A number of schools who applied to it are hoping they can figure out a way to make it work, but this is a nearly unanimous concern.” To ensure compliance with the UPK religious guidelines, the Department of Education has added extra staff to its early childhood education office, and


city & state — June 16, 2014

Print. Mail. Win.

many of those staffers will be tasked with periodic site visits to yeshivas and Jewish CBOs. It is not immediately clear what will happen to schools that are found to be in violation of the UPK guidelines, nor did DOE respond when asked how many site visits will be made to individual schools each year. The agency indicated that it would also respond to complaints from parents about various issues with the preschool programs. And what about a secular family whose only conveniently located pre-K options may be yeshiva programs? An administration official pushed back at the notion that there would not be a variety of options in any given neighborhood of the city—but even so, that does not answer the question of whether UPK programs rooted in Jewish teachings would accept students outside of their faith. Rabbi David Niederman, the executive director and president of the social services agency United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg, said that individual schools’ mission statements and educational philosophies should not necessarily be read as gospel. “There’s something called ‘discrimination,’ ” he said, “and something called ‘Who are

you marketing?’ ” Niederman added that it is ultimately a choice secular parents will have to make if they want to apply to a program that serves predominantly Jewish students. “That parent will make a decision if they want this child to be there or not,” he said. “That school, upon application, will comply with the law.” Still, some are skeptical. The NYCLU has corresponded with the mayor’s general counsel on religious compliance with universal pre-K, and while the city has assured the organization that it is committed to secular programs, the aforementioned red flags mean that civil liberties experts like Donna Lieberman will be keeping a watchful eye on the implementation. “If there are environments that are not secular, and not welcoming to children of all faiths, those programs would be in violation of the law and, I believe, of the [administration’s religious] guidelines,” Lieberman said. “It’s up to the city to enforce [secularism] and to protect the rights of children and families to equal access to this wonderful new resource, and to make it wonderful in a secular way.”

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Estimates Call Into Question Albany Lawmakers’ Per Diem Totals By MATTHEW HAMILTON


hen FBI officials raided the home and offices of William Scarborough in late March, hauling away cardboard boxes filled with documents, the assemblyman met reporters pooling outside his office to calmly dispel chatter that he would soon become another in a long line of indicted legislators. “I believe that they represent a misunderstanding of the Assembly voucher system, or a misrepresentation of what I did,” he said of the investigators who showed up at his hotel room that morning at 5:45 a.m. Everything was in order, Scarborough claimed. He had an explanation for each day that it might appear he cheated the Legislature’s per diem system. But a crunching of the numbers to determine just how much is reasonably acceptable for legislators to receive for travel and lodging expenses each year shows Scarborough, an annual top spender, yet again approached generous estimates for what legislators should have spent. And he isn’t alone, though the good news for reformers is the spending seems to be going down. In 2013 three members of the Assembly exceeded what constitutes a reasonable annual per diem total, according to calculations performed by the good-government group Citizens Union that were provided to City & State. Assembly Ways and Means Committee Chair Herman Farrell led the group with cit

$24,901 in per diem spending in 2013, $5,520.80 over the estimate by Citizens Union, which based its figure on the assumption of perfect attendance by legislators and additional days in Albany for each week of the legislative session. Assemblyman Keith Wright and Assemblyman J. Gary Pretlow were also over the estimate, though by just $185.80 and $76, respectively. In the state Senate, Sen. Malcolm Smith led the pack with $21,372 in per diem reimbursements, exceeding the Citizens Union estimate by $2,507.80. Smith told the Daily News in April that he had lost most of his legislative staff last year after being arrested, forcing him to travel to Albany more often. However, overall lawmakers’ totals are significantly lower than in 2012, when 11 legislators from both houses were above the estimates. In that year Farrell again led the Legislature and exceeded his own 2013 spending. In both years a majority of the legislators in the top 10 for 2012 also appeared in 2013. The Assembly members who exceeded the estimates in 2012 include Farrell ($25,924), Scarborough ($25,038), Earlene Hooper ($22,571), Carl Heastie ($22,265), Pretlow ($22,222), Eric Stevenson ($20,999), Wright ($20,585), Jeffrion Aubry ($20,147) and Steve Englebright ($19,731). In the Senate, Michael Nozzolio ($21,899) and Catharine Young ($18,904) were over. But even lawmakers who have been outspoken on

reforming the per diem system caution that scrutinizing the numbers can lead into a murky area, where catching cheaters proves challenging. For that reason, some lawmakers say per diem reform needs to go beyond just making abuse more difficult; it also must include altering the rules so they are less confusing and better defined. “It’s not that simple,” Keith Wright said. “It’s not a simple process, especially if you have to itemize what you have. It’s not particularly easy.” The per diem rules authorize legislators to put in for a daily stipend for travel, tolls, lodging and food for days they spend away from their home bases. Lawmakers are permitted to pocket whatever part of the allowance they don’t spend, a provision good-government advocates have long said makes the system vulnerable to abuse. Citizens Union estimates that Assembly members should be spending in the neighborhood of $19,380.20 per year at most in per diems. For the Senate, which has fewer session days, the number drops to $18,864.20. Again, the estimates assume legislators are staying over in Albany every day of the session, plus one extra night per week. They also account for driving and toll costs or round-ticket train fare from New York City to Albany. When compared with various travel spending data, Citizens Union’s Director of Public Policy and Advocacy Alex Camarda, who helped create the estimates, said it’s less problematic when legislators spend within a close range of the


An Open Letter to the NY State Legislature,

On behalf of the American Library Association (ALA) and two divisions of ALA, the Public Library Association (PLA) and United for Libraries, we are writing to express our concerns with recently proposed legislation affecting library trustees. As the presidents of national organizations, we have a unique opportunity to observe and learn from the experiences of public libraries across the nation, and we know that the Queens Library is an award winning library system that serves as a national model for excellence in library services. Public libraries are a public good, providing impartial information and services to all, and should be held by the public, beyond the reach of undue political influence. Recently proposed legislation would negatively affect the independence of these public libraries, imposing a process from Albany that is clearly not in the best interests of the library or the community. Public libraries must be as independent as possible if they are to impartially and effectively support, rather than be at the mercy of, the political process. This concept is central to our democratic system and to public libraries throughout the country. The vibrant system of trusteeship in public libraries in New York is one that is renowned and respected around the country.


Proposed bills S. 7015 and S.6893/A.9217 threaten this standing not only in Queens but throughout the state of New York. By reducing trustee terms from five years to three, combined with a proposed unilateral removal provision, these bills would threaten the ability of libraries to provide unencumbered access to information, values core not only to libraries but to our country as a whole. Freedom of information and freedom of thought cannot exist in a system where undue political influence can be brought to bear arbitrarily. The proposed bills threaten the ability for Queens Library to operate free of political influence, and will serve as a dangerous precedent for libraries and library boards around the nation. We urge you to reject this legislation.

Barbara Stripling President American Library Association Carolyn A. Anthony President Public Library Association Rod Wagner President United for Libraries

city & state — June 16, 2014


American Library Association 850 East Huron Street Chicago, Illinois 60611-2795

Special Issue:

NY’s Veterans and the Military Educate NY’s government officials on your organization’s veterans programs and incentives.

On June 30th, City & State will publish our inaugural Military & Veterans Special Issue intended to bring attention to issues facing New York’s veterans and active service members.

Featured Editorial:

• Q&A with relevant New York government officials on veteran/military affairs:


NY Legislature Veterans Affairs Committee Chairs Sen. Greg Ball and M/A Michael Benedetto | NYC Council Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Erich Ulrich | Director of NYS Veterans Affairs Division, Eric Hesse.

• Roundtable with the 5 heads of the active military bases in New York: Saratoga Springs NSU | Watervliet Arsenal | Fort Hamilton | Fort Drum | West Point. • Highlight of current NY government officials who have served in U.S. Military • City & State examines Governor Cuomo’s NY Veterans and Militaries Summit initiatives to Provide Veteran and Military families with Affordable Housing, Jobs and Educational Opportunities. • How is private business promoting the hiring of U.S. veterans in New York? • Op-Ed by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand* • A back and forth interview with U.S. Senator John McCain.*

city & state — March 24, 2014

Please contact Jasmin Freeman at 646.442.1662 or for more information on advertising in this special issue.

20% of advertising proceeds will go to the Wounded Warrior Project

Publish Date: June 30 // Deadline: June 27 *Pending Confirmation

SPECIAL DELIVERY: This special issue will be hand delivered and mailed first class to New York’s Veterans of Foreign Wars facilities, NYS Veterans Housing, NY’s Active Military Bases and other targeted print distribution. cit

The home and offices of Assemblyman William Scarborough were raided by the FBI in March. He told the press investigators were looking at his travel expenses.

Our Perspective Our Perspective Enforce York’s New York’s Enforce New Pay Reporting Reporting Pay Regulations Regulations By Stuart Appelbaum, President, and Department Wholesale Retail, President, Store Union, Appelbaum, Stuart By UFCW and Department Store Union, RWDSU, Wholesale Retail, RWDSU, UFCW etailers today are overscheduling hourly workers sending and subsequently workers, hourly are overscheduling etailers today These order to cut costs. home early workers sending andinsubsequently workers, stress on undueThese putcosts. scheduling abusive order to cut early inpractices home workers when lives – especially workers’ on stress need undue putretail practices abusive scheduling for provide to hours part-time unreliable than more workers’ lives – especially when retail workers need their than unreliable part-time hours to provide for morefamilies. their families. New York already has a solution for this problem on regulations hour and for The state’s the books. problem on this solution has awage York already New must to work, is scheduled employee require that when anthe hour regulations and employers state’s wage books. The if the worker - even hours of work wage for four pay at least must is employers to work, is scheduled when an employee that minimum require are scheduled And when sentathome worker is the shifts, even if two of work - across for four hours wage workers minimum leastearly. pay do not But employers of pay. across hours least sixare to atworkers legally they are two shifts, scheduled And when early.entitled home sent to right their of aware made aren’t workers and law, state this to adhere they are legally entitled to at least six hours of pay. But employers do not end early. shift theirand reporting aren’t made aware of their right to workers state law, thisshould adhere to pay reporting pay should their shift end early. In fact, in 2012, 73 percent of they said of surveyed 73 percent 2012,workers In fact, in retail Our communities cannot a full four were not paid they saidhours workers retailfor surveyed afford the wage theft Our communities cannot Fromhours home sentpaid whennot a full four for early. were that occurs when these afford the wage theft transportation, childcare early. Fromthe cost senttohome when important reporting pay that occurs when these – highcost work can runthe of reporting transportation, to to childcare regulations aren’t enforced. important reporting pay aren’t workers when especially high – can run to work reporting of regulations aren’t enforced. hours. It their scheduled being paidwhen workers aren’t especially at an It Yorkers hours. puts scheduled paid theirNew beinglow-wage disadvantage. worse economic even low-wage at an New Yorkers puts even worse economic disadvantage. The New York Department of Labor job of educating a better doYork should of Labor Department New The State regulations require about employers and workers educating of job better a do should that when an employee is State regulations require pay regulations, existing reporting about and employers workers scheduled to work, employers that when an employee is prioritize to regulations, needs DOL the and existing reporting pay must pay at least minimum scheduled to work, employers employers law sotothat thisneeds enforcing prioritize the DOL and wage for four hours of work. must pay at least minimum it. ignoring before twicethis think that employers law so enforcing wage for four hours of work. regulations theseignoring Violations it. are a twiceofbefore think by some which – theft wage of form are a Violations of these regulations in annually $1 billion than theft of more estimates has cheated workers out form by some – which of wage the law. breakthan by employers York City New $1 billion annually in of more workers outwho cheated hasalone estimates New York City alone by employers who break the law. Far too many working New Yorkers are struggling just to survive, and our these that occurs the wage communities and our survive, just towhen struggling aretheft New Yorkers workingafford too many cannot Far counts. hour Every regulations important reporting these when that occurs theft enforced. the wagearen’t afford cannotpay communities important reporting pay regulations aren’t enforced. Every hour counts.


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for, a position with which Breslin concurred. The other criticism of the system is that attendance must be taken into account. When an out-of-town legislator has perfect attendance, presumably their per diem total would be greater. But when attendance is suspect—as was the case with former Assemblyman William Boyland—and the per diem total is high, questions arise. That’s the equation that has drawn attention to Scarborough, though concrete evidence has yet to be released either way, and Scarborough has not been charged with any wrongdoing. “If it showed he went up to Albany 60 to 80 additional days a year, I don’t think that would be an issue,” Camarda said of Scarborough. “It’s questionable as to what he was doing if receipts showed he was in places that weren’t required of his job.” Wright, like Breslin, defended some higher per diem values and off-session travel, saying some legislators simply need to travel more often than others during off-session times. “Some people are high … [because] we go up there in the off session a lot to do committee work,” he said. “Certainly legislation does not grow very quickly. We go up there during the off session to talk to commissioners. And going up in the off session is the best time to get things done. Sometimes getting to them during the legislative session is not always easy.” Wright—a high-ranking lawmaker who traveled more often during off-session times than some of his colleagues—said the current per diem system seems to be working. But as with anything that has been around for years, it could probably use a checkup. “Anything after … years could be examined and looked at,” Wright said. “I go to the doctor once every year. So I need to be looked at, right? Anything after however many years could certainly be looked at.”


city & state — June 16, 2014

estimates. It’s when their per diems run well over the figures that eyebrows should raise. “It points to the need for changes to be made to the per diem system, namely for legislators to be required to submit documentation [of their time in Albany],” Camarda said. “Given the calculations regarding the costs associated with traveling and lodging and other expenses, when we see lawmakers put in for $25,000 and as high as $30,000, the question is why their costs are so much higher relative to other lawmakers from the same area?” Data show gradual reductions in per diem spending across the board, from the top lawmakers on the list to the bottom, from 2012 to 2013. Moreover, there aren’t large gaps in the amounts between legislators—for example, a $10,000 discrepancy between legislators next to one another on the list. And while some may question why a particular lawmaker is higher on the list, as long as they can prove their per diems went to legitimate legislative purposes, the spending is legal. Some lawmakers defended their colleagues’ outlays, even the more lavish sums, while still cautioning that the system could be reformed. “The amount they spend … if they’re coming here all the time, they have a right to do it,” said state Sen. Neil Breslin, who as a local representative does not submit for per diems during his time in Albany. Records from the state comptroller’s office show Breslin submitted for per diems only for conferences and meetings last year. “If they are taking that amount of money, you want to make sure there is sufficient proof that they’re complying with the rules and adhering to their work.” For Camarda, that’s the sticking point when it comes reform. He said legislators should be required to submit additional documentation of what they’re submitting per diems




Which politicians will take the hit if the Bills bolt from Buffalo? By MATTHEW HAMILTON


city & state — June 16, 2014


uss Brandon had grown exasperated with the question. He had heard it countless times as Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson’s health failed in recent years. Age appeared to have finally caught up with the father of Western New York football after a broken hip in 2011 and an infection in 2012 left the 94-year-old hospitalized. Now here the Bills president and CEO was standing on a dais with Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy, delivering what was supposed to be an early present four days before Bills fans awoke on Christmas morning 2012. After a 20-minute address to the media about the freshly minted lease deal between the Bills and county and state officials to keep the team in suburban Buffalo for 10 years and spend $130 million—much of it public money—on stadium upgrades for the “fan experience” at the 40-year-old stadium, Brandon fielded the inevitable question wearily. “With all due respect for Mr. Wilson’s health—and we wish him another 30 years,” a reporter began as Brandon drew a breath and sighed, “can you talk about, to the fans, what succession plans there are, should Mr. Wilson pass, [which is] ... the fear of every Bills fan?” Brandon was polite but blunt in his response. “I focus on the here and now, and Ralph Wilson is the Hall of Fame owner of the Buffalo Bills,” he said. “The question becomes tiresome. I understand it, but it becomes tiresome.

A consortium of potential buyers including musician Jon Bon Jovi are vying to move the Bills to Toronoto and make the team Canada’s first NFL Franchise.

Mr. Wilson’s loyalty is unmatched [by] any owner in professional sports. And I think we should be here today to applaud him.” A year and a half later, the here and now is exactly what Brandon didn’t want to discuss. Wilson died in March at the age of 95. With his death, the floodgates of speculation opened, with the foremost question for Bills fans being not necessarily Who will become the new owner of the team? but rather Where will those owners have the team play? That’s the question that elected officials are likely to have a hand in. And if they don’t try to answer it in a way that appeases Western New Yorkers, their political careers may be at stake. cit



signed on to chip in $54 million, with the county ponying up the remaining $41 million. The agreement also established the New Stadium Working Group and Fund to explore the potential for the construction of a new stadium somewhere in Western New York. That working group includes members of the Bills, the state (including outgoing Lt. Gov. Duffy, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster) and Erie County (including Poloncarz, Deputy County Executive Richard Tobe and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new lieutenant governor running mate, former Rep. Kathy Hochul). At the time, with Wilson as the team’s owner, the deal looked like a long-term embrace by the franchise of Bills-crazed Western New York. Brandon called it a shining example of Wilson’s commitment to the area, for which Cuomo thanked the owner. But with Wilson gone, will Donald Trump, Jon Bon Jovi or Tom Golisano show the same commitment? That is where a new stadium—likely incentivized with taxpayer money—is all but certain to play a key role in the

In 2012 a deal was reached for the Bills’ Ralph Wilson Stadium to undergo a $130-million facelift, but potential owners and local elected officials are eyeing sites for a new stadium.

Billionaire Tom Golisano, the former owner of the Buffalo Sabres, is among the Bills’ potential buyers.


city & state — June 16, 2014


o grasp how politics will steer the discussions about where the Bills will play their home games in the decades to come, it is first necessary to understand the politics currently binding the Bills to the small suburban town of Orchard Park, southeast of Buffalo. The 10-year lease announced that pre-Christmas day in 2012 was heralded as a commitment to keeping the Bills in Ralph Wilson Stadium, the 73,000-seat football coliseum named after the team’s late owner. During the first seven years of the agreement, the Bills are virtually locked into staying put by a $400 million penalty if they break the deal. In the last three years, the team could buy out the lease for $28.4 million. But the lease isn’t just a contract to play in the building. The deal included a sweetheart pot of taxpayer funds to go toward $130 million in stadium renovations planned to be completed by August of this year, in time for the start of the pre-season. The team ended up with the cheapest part of the tab, agreeing to spend $35 million, whereas the state

espite his trouncing Buffalo businessman and Republican gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino in the general election, Cuomo’s weak spot in his 2010 campaign was Western New York, even with Duffy, the former mayor of Rochester, on his ticket. In 2014 conventional wisdom is that Cuomo wants to crush his Republican challenger, Rob Astorino, in every area of the state—a feat he can accomplish only by significantly improving upon his numbers in the eight-county region, and a goal for which he has spent the last four years preparing. Cuomo has been highly visible in Western New York since his election, most prominently with his Buffalo Billion Investment Development Plan, an initiative that has already brought millions of dollars into the region and given the City of Buffalo a much needed shot of optimism after decades of decline. While the promised “Billion” from the state is still a major topic of discussion, it has been overshadowed since Wilson’s death by the fate of the Bills. The sale of the team is not necessarily where the governor or other elected officials will be made or broken in the eyes of Western New Yorkers. But political ramifications are possible down the road, depending on which ownership group wins the bidding war. Of those who have expressed interest in purchasing the team, Golisano, the former Buffalo Sabres owner, Trump, the billionaire celebrity who has reportedly always wanted to own a football team, and current Sabres owner Terry Pegula have all been named as possible saviors as far as those who want to keep the team in Buffalo are concerned. It is Bon Jovi who has given fans and politicians cause for alarm. The multiplatinum rocker has teamed up with Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, the owners of the Toronto Maple Leafs, to emerge as serious contenders in the Bills

city & state — June 16, 2014


sweepstakes. The consortium is looking to move the team to Toronto, a Canadian megamarket where the NFL could conceivably make the biggest splash if it moved a franchise north of the border to become the first non-United States-based team in the league’s history. Some insiders involved with putting together bids for the team, who spoke on the condition of anonymity so as not to hurt their prospects for coming out on top in the process, have expressed the belief that the Wilson family, which inherited the Bills after its patriarch’s death, will go for the highest offer, regardless of where it comes from or the buyer’s future plans for the team. These insiders also say that the winning bid could end up at more than $1 billion, with a new stadium projected to run close to an additional $1 billion down the road. Last August Forbes magazine valued the Bills at $870 million, with revenue of $256 million, making the franchise the 30th most valuable of the 32 teams in the NFL. By comparison, the Cleveland Browns, currently the 22nd most valuable franchise in the league at $1.005 billion, sold for $1 billion in 2012. The Wilson trust has hired a pair of New York City firms to be financial and legal advisers to oversee the sale of the team. Up until last week they reportedly were putting together information for interested buyers, which would then be reviewed before bids are submitted. If the fate of the Bills is not sealed by the time of the upcoming statewide election in November, insiders say where the process stands could impact voters’ decisions in Western New York—with fans going to the polls to punish officials they perceive not to be giving their all to preserve the Bills’ future in Buffalo. Republican political operative Michael Caputo— who served as Paladino’s campaign manager in 2010 and who is part of the team aiding Trump as he considers buying the team—said he does not believe the speed with which the bidding process will unfold depends on politicians’ involvement, although it could still become a campaign issue in this year’s gubernatorial contest. “The interesting angle I see is there are many tools at Governor Cuomo’s disposal, including the power of the bully pulpit,” he said. “Conversely, the Republican nominee might be more cautious. Politicizing the Bills would have a downside.” Caputo said Astorino has to walk a fine line after offending a number of Western New Yorkers with his criticisms of the governor’s Buffalo Billion initiative. Astorino has questioned the development plan’s long-term stability, and last month said that just throwing tax dollars at

the region wasn’t going to help revive it—a comment that drew the ire of area residents and officials and was widely treated as tone-deaf, Caputo said. While the Wilson trust, NFL and the public vet prospective owners, new stadium locations in the region are being explored simultaneously by politicians, developers and potential bidders. Though Ralph Wilson Stadium was only built back in 1973, the NFL is currently experiencing a new arena craze, with 11 new football palaces opening since 2000, another set to open this year in San Francisco and yet another planned within the decade for Minneapolis. New stadiums have also become more mixed-use by design, as opposed to purely about the gridiron,

lease expires in 2023. McMahon highlighted the many millions of dollars being invested in upgrades to Ralph Wilson Stadium before pointing out the precedent for major league teams—the San Francisco Giants, for example—to build their own stadiums without taxpayer subsidies (though the Giants did receive some tax abatements and infrastructure upgrades). Gillette Stadium was built entirely with private money, and for just $325 million, far less than the $1 billion figure floated as the cost of a new Western New York football destination. Cuomo has indicated that he too would prefer this approach, saying earlier this month that if the team’s new owners said they would not stay in Buffalo unless a new stadium were

Though Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park was only built back in 1973, the NFL is currently experiencing a new arena craze, with eleven new football palaces opening since 2000.

opening up additional revenue sources for the owners and the communities in which they are located. For example, the New England Patriots’ Gillette Stadium, which opened in 2002, is now surrounded by an array of entertainment and shopping sites— not unlike one of the plans proposed for a Bills stadium along Buffalo’s waterfront, which would include a convention center and retail outlets. Fiscal conservatives warn that the notion of the state and local governments having to fund a new stadium in order to keep the team in Western New York is dangerous, however. The Empire Center’s E.J. McMahon scoffed at the idea that without a new stadium the Bills’ new owners will walk off with the team either in 2020, when they would no longer have to pay such a stiff moving penalty, or when the current

built, he would be cautious about a course of action that would cost taxpayers money. However, even if the stadium were to be constructed completely with private funding, the state would likely have to chip in for new transportation infrastructure to help 80,000 fans flow easily in and out of the new location on any given Sunday. Though state and local governments are not likely to write a blank check for the new owner just to keep the team in Western New York, some sort of public-private stadium financing deal could be a viable option to keep the Bills in the area long-term. There is already some precedent for publicprivate stadium deals with Yankee Stadium and Citi Field in New York City, though McMahon was quick to say, “Two wrongs don’t make a right. If you watch a game at either

of those places, all the expensive seats are empty, and the parking garage at Yankee Stadium is going broke.” Golisano, one of the potential buyers, said recently that he believed the team needed a new stadium, and intimated that government might be willing to pay for it. During a recent public appearance at a high school in Rochester, Golisano said, “My guess, and it’s strictly a guess, is the stadium will be covered. I don’t know if it’ll have a sliding roof or just a permanent roof, but my guess is it will be covered. And the state government, our governor and some of our U.S. senators are very much in favor of this happening.” Former congressman, assemblyman and Erie County legislator Tom Reynolds said it will take long-term planning coordinated between the team’s new owners and the community and the state to figure cit

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Bills. Assemblyman Mickey Kearns, whose district includes Orchard Park and Ralph Wilson Stadium, said that having a major sports team like the Bills is important to Buffalo because it has taken other major cities that have lost franchises years to overcome the loss. “Eventually, even if they’re given another team by the NFL like Cleveland, a stadium follows,” Kearns said. “So we’re trying to be proactive. I do think elected officials at the highest levels see the importance of keeping the Bills in Western New York.” Reynolds, who coordinated with then Gov. George Pataki on a round of Ralph Wilson Stadium upgrades approved in 1998, said elected officials in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives will likely play some sort of role in trying to keep the Bills in Western New York, though a new stadium deal will be transacted more between the team and local and state officials. The stakes will not be dissimilar from those that drove the 1998 renovations, when Reynolds asked Pataki, “Do you want to have the Buffalo Bills leave on your watch because of stadium inadequacy?” Two things instill pride in Western New Yorkers, Reynolds said: the Bills and Roswell Park Cancer Center—so it remains up to officials to keep both thriving. “I believe everybody has got skin in the game for their own political futures, [based] on what success can be [for] a combination package that satisfies new ownership that Buffalo is the place to be,” he said. To come out as winners, everyone needs to be in lockstep, Caputo said, from the executive chamber down to local leaders and the fans. There seems to be unanimity thus far in terms of wanting to keep the Bills in the region, though the stadium process has shown signs of fragmentation. Kearns has been vocal in calling

out the New Stadium Working Group for using executive sessions to skirt the Open Meetings Law (OML) and air their deliberations before the public. He has repeatedly insisted that taxpayers, including the so-called 12th Man—the name given to Bills fans— be allowed to know what is going on in the process, and he has introduced a bill in the Assembly, co-sponsored in the state Senate by Patrick Gallivan, to force the group to comply with the OML. To Kearns, a former ticket taker at the Ralph, as the stadium is affectionately known, the one constant for the Buffalo region through the loss of industry and population over the last 50 years has been the football team. It is this strong bond between the team and its fans—many of whom will be eligible to cast votes in the fall—that has so many Western New Yorkers and their representatives in government on edge about what the future holds. “I think we’re doing a lot of things that we’re supposed to be doing,” Kearns said. “But the problem is we’re doing them privately and secretly behind closed doors. And that doesn’t breed confidence among the fans.”

Donald Trump also is a potential buyer of the Bills who wants to keep the franchise in Westerrn New York

The stakes for keeping the team in Western New York will not be dissimilar from those that drove a round of stadium renovations in 1998, when Tom Reynolds asked then Gov. Pataki, “Do you want to have the Buffalo Bills leave on your watch because of stadium inadequacy?”

city & state — June 16, 2014


out which requirements to build a new stadium can legitimately be met. “Make no mistake about it, Western New York will ask its elected representatives to be a key part of that,” he said. Locations outside Erie County have also been weighed as possible landing spots for a new stadium. They include sites as far east as the city of Batavia in Genesee County—which is halfway between Buffalo and Rochester with plenty of land but little infrastructure, and a longer drive time from Southern Ontario, a major market for the Bills—and as far north as Niagara Falls—a location whose feasibility is adversely impacted by the major traffic headaches that would ensnarl game attendees who would have to cross Grand Island, the halfway point between Niagara Falls and Buffalo. In addition to Toronto, another proposed location in Canada is St. Catherines, Ontario, the halfway point between Niagara Falls and the City of Hamilton. There is zero doubt that the Bills choosing to stay or go once a new ownership group is in place will have implications for the region for decades to come. For the elected officials in the thick of the conversation, the same principle holds true. “I don’t think anybody wants to be known as—[for example]—the county executive that let the Bills go,” Caputo said. “Those kinds of labels would put you out of politics for the remainder of your career.” To this point, if there are any elected officials who are indifferent to whether the Bills decamp for another city, they have not announced their position publicly. Beyond not wanting to be branded the official who let the team go, electeds will likely include in their calculations Buffalo’s blossoming economic and cultural revitalization, which could be adversely impacted by the monetary and psychological blow of losing the city’s beloved


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GENDER AGREEMENT Cuomo decision emboldens transgender-rights advocates By ELIZABETH MENDEZ


The transgender community has been advocating for such an act for almost a decade. But while the change will benefit thousands across the state, it does not apply to those born in New York City, which has its own birth certificate policy. Advocates say Gov. Cuomo’s action might be just the push that leaders need to generate support for the measure to be extended to New York City as well. In 2006 Dr. Barbara Warren, now Mt. Sinai Hospital’s director of LGBT Health Services, was on the advisory committee formed to make a recommendation on birth certificate requirements to the city’s health department. The committee pushed

for the same policy change the state adopted last week, but the Board of Health denied the recommendation, despite it being approved by both the committee and its health commissioner at the time, Dr. Tom Frieden. “I just remember we were bitterly disappointed,” Warren said. After the Board of Health’s decision, advocates turned their attention to the state, but there was no movement on the issue until Gov. Cuomo was elected in 2010. Jonathan Lang, the director of government projects and community development at ESPA, said his organization had been in talks with Cuomo about the birth certificate adjustment since he

took office. “It definitely took a lot longer than we thought it would take,” Lang said. Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund Executive Director Michael Silverman, whose organization introduced a lawsuit against the city’s Health and Mental Hygiene Department three years ago in an attempt to compel action through litigation, is optimistic the state’s new policy will lead to a shift on the city level. “We’re hopeful that change at the state level highlights how outdated and incorrect the city’s policy is, so that the city takes to changing it without waiting for a court to order that

city & state — June 16, 2014


he news came out without much fanfare—not even a press release from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office. But the announcement that transgender people would no longer need to show proof of genital reassignment surgery in order to alter the gender markers on their state birth certificates quickly circulated among the LGBT community. The Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA) issued a statement praising Cuomo for the decision, calling it “tremendous news for New York.” Days later the American Medical Association called on other states to enact this change as well.


change,” he said. Conversations have already begun among Council leadership, the health commissioner and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to explore a change at the city level. The spokesperson for the department told City & State that it was considering a change similar to the one made by the state. Officials also said they intend to speak with members of the transgender community soon for input. New York City Council Health Committee Chair Corey Johnson said he hopes to enact the alteration by the end of the year. He went on to say the Council is exploring the possibility of going further than the state’s amendment. New York State’s regulation requires a signed confirmation of transitioning from a medical professional for people to change their certificate’s gender marker. Johnson said he’s interested in seeing an approach similar to

approach would be the best option for New York but believes legislators are concerned that it would increase costs, even though a study cited by a progressive advocate conducted in states where the Medicaid exclusions were repealed found that the associated cost increase was negligible. Asked if it is considering repealing the ban, a state Health Department spokesperson responded with a statement: “This administration is committed to advancing equitable policies, and in this spirit, the state continues to actively review existing regulations regarding Medicaid coverage of gender reassignment surgery.” In Albany, the LGBT Caucus is focusing its efforts on passing the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), which it maintains would improve the political environment for transgender people, paving the way for further action. GENDA has passed the

“We’re hopeful that change at the state level highlights how outdated and incorrect the city’s policy is.”

THE ENGINEERS REPORT EVEN AS WE CELEBRATE OUR MILESTONES, WE MUST KEEP AN EYE TO THE FUTURE Kuba J. Brown Business Manager/President IUOE Local 94-94A-94B, AFL-CIO Last week our union, IUOE Local 94 recognized and honored nearly 200 of our members who have provided more than 25 years of service to our union and engineering rooms across our city. They are the children and grandchildren of the immigrants who found opportunity in New York and through hard work and perseverance helped build families and communities across the five boroughs. Their children are our members, who today run some of the most efficient and complex engineering systems in the world. These are the same men and women who as boys and girls attended our public schools and played in on our parks and schoolyards. Many of them were “knock around” kids who were never the most studious but were good with their hands and could take apart and rebuild an engine blindfolded. Nearly all of them were fortunate enough to be given an opportunity to work in a building. For many that opportunity meant sweeping floors. Even as they were pushing mops and brooms they knew they wanted more. And our union through mandatory training offered at our local headquarters and funded by the Real Estate Board opened the door to a career.


Every helper who joins our union must complete a three-year regimen of eight courses and earn his or her license to remain in our local.


Assembly on seven different occasions. In 2011 Gov. Cuomo said he would sign the bill if it got to his desk, but it has never made it to the Senate floor. Assembly sponsor Richard Gottfried said the fact that more and more local governments in the state have passed their own versions of GENDA is indicative of a change in the political climate for LGBT support. He said the bill is long overdue for Senate Republicans to bring to the floor, but multiple Senate sources told City & State it was unlikely GENDA would come up for a vote this legislative session. “We don’t have the political capital for GENDA on the state level. There are no Republican sponsors,” said Melissa Sklarz, head of the Stonewall Democratic Club of NYC. In all her time advocating for GENDA, Sklarz said that it had been rare that she even had the opportunity to speak directly with a Republican senator. She did meet with Dean Skelos at the end of April to share how the bill would affect the transgender community, but she said the meeting was inconclusive.

But our training does not end there. To expand opportunities for our members and to improve operating efficiencies in the buildings we run, many Local 94 engineers continue their studies at our state-of-art training center. Advanced courses lead to a wide range of licensing and certifications including Refrigeration Certification, Fire Safety Director, Emergency Action Plan Director, Critical Systems, Chief Engineer, and more than a dozen others. These are the licenses and skills which translate to the jobs and careers providing good wages, health care, pensions and security which members of Local 94 enjoy. This is the pyramid, built on opportunity that created and has maintained a strong middle class. Last week we recognized those men and women who took full advantage of those opportunities. Secure in careers and having earned service watches and pins they are now concerned about the opportunities and futures of their children. It is time we work together to strengthen and expand our public schools to provide a wealth of alternative educational opportunities; and provide a living wage for all our workers to preserve, protect and strengthen the middle class. Kuba J. Brown is the Business Manager and President of IUOE Local 94-94B, AFL-CIO representing 6,000 stationary engineers working in commercial, residential, school buildings and hotels in New York City. city & state — June 16, 2014

one recently suggested for the city’s proposed municipal identification cards, where no documentation would be necessary, and people could simply self-identify their gender. On the federal level, many transgender people have turned their focus to altering the designation on their social security cards, the key document needed to sign up for the medical insurance policies offered under the new Affordable Care Act. The ACA expanded eligibility for Medicaid and did away with exclusions for pre-existing conditions, but the policy currently features a ban on covering any services related to gender transitioning. Lang said ESPA has urged the Cuomo administration to repeal the exclusion ever since the governor convened his Medicaid Redesign Team in 2011. “There definitely hasn’t been a strong ‘yes’ that they’re in favor of the repeal, but there definitely hasn’t been a strong ‘no’ either,” said Lang. Other states that banned Medicaid transgender coverage exclusions have simultaneously demanded that all other insurance carriers operating in the state do the same. Lang said that




22 24 26 29 REREGULATION





city & state — June 16, 2014




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city & state — March 24, 2014

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S P OT L I G H T: E N E R G Y city & state — June 16, 2014


DEREGULATORS Can Cuomo’s big energy overhaul improve on the last round of deregulation? By JON LENTZ


n April, Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled a groundbreaking proposal to transform New York’s electric utilities. The proposal, billed as the Reforming Energy Vision initiative, conceives of industrial customers, small businesses and residents producing more and more of their own energy—much of it through environmentally friendly sources like solar and wind—while shifting electricity generation away from the large power plants that have dominated the industry for generations. In time, New York would thus usher in a utopia of lower energy costs, greater resiliency and cleaner air. “What the governor is doing in New York State is to start writing the rules of the road, creating a marketbased system so that our utilities will evolve to be that more decentralized power system,” Gil Quiniones, the president and CEO of the New York Power Authority, said during a recent City & State conference. “And that will spur innovation, and that will spur investment in the grid.” This effort isn’t the first time that the state has reenvisioned its energy system in an attempt to harness the power of the free market. And the last major overhaul earned mixed reviews. In the late 1990s, New York and a number of other states began moving toward “deregulated” power systems. The transition, following the opening up of other monopolized industries like telecommunications, was aimed at injecting private sector competition into the mix. Gov. George Pataki spearheaded the deregulation of New York’s wholesale electricity market, persuading utilities like Consolidated Edison to sell off their power plants to independent producers. It wasn’t long before that appoach came under sharp scrutiny, however. The most notorious case was in California, where Enron was accused of exploiting the state’s new market structure to restrict supply and rake in profits, and was widely blamed for a series of major blackouts in the early 2000s. In 2007 Marilyn Showalter, a former Washington State utility regulator, analyzed federal data and found that deregulated states

experienced steeper rate increases— the opposite outcome of what was intended. Showalter’s figures demonstrated that New Yorkers would have saved $1.65 billion in 2007 if the state’s prices had risen at the same rate as states that were still regulated. “Consumer organizations and pro-regulation advocates have done studies that basically indicate that the prices that are charged are overcharges, that the prices are too high, and that they reflect the lack of competition in these markets and the ability of the producers to—in combination with the wholesale operations that they control—to charge way in excess of what a normal competitive price would be,” said Assemblyman James Brennan, whose office came to the same conclusion when it replicated Showalter’s study a few years ago. “Obviously, the industry has their own opinion.” Industry representatives counter that the market structure in place for more than a decade in New York has resulted in lower power plant emissions, has shifted the financial risk from customers to private investors and has improved reliability, especially during the hottest days of summer when the system is under the most stress. Some utility experts also note that the term deregulation itself is misleading, since the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission still regulates the wholesale market, and New York power producers are subject to oversight by the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC). A better

description, they say, is that the market has been restructured or reregulated. Gavin Donohue, the president and CEO of Independent Power Producers of New York, Inc., a trade group, argued that Brennan’s analysis was fundamentally flawed, and that the real problem as to cost is a set of state taxes and fees built into energy bills. A proposal by the assemblyman to reregulate the market would be unworkable, Donohue said. “If you take it to where Brennan wants to go, and say, ‘Well, we should go back to the old system,’ the state of New York would be literally bankrupt, with what they would have to pay these folks to get those power plants back,” Donohue said. Where everyone agrees is that the REV initiative, currently under review at the PSC, will take years to plan for and to implement, and that many tough questions remain unanswered. To what degree can the energy grid rely on solar and wind, which are not always available? Will energy storage technology develop enough to be viable on a broad scale? Will alternatives like natural gas or diesel generation spread throughout cities and neighborhoods in an increasingly decentralized system pass muster with environmentalists? As for who will build out the upgraded system, and how everyone will get paid, that question—likely to be answered by state officials—serves as another reminder that the next step in deregulation will continue to leave plenty of regulation in place. “We’ve deregulated the wholesale market. Con Edison does not own

power plants today to sell electricity to consumers,” said Quiniones, who suggested that utilities would take on the role of overseeing a restructured retail market. “So we kind of have started, the fact that they’re really just delivery utilities. They get paid for delivering the utility and, if we add the role of traffic cop, should be appropriately compensated by the various distributed resource providers that deliver electricity. We just need to set up the right compensation scheme so that utilities like Con Ed are properly compensated, [and] they are able to invest and maintain the reliability that we need here in New York City.” Compared with deregulation of the telecommunications industry, which has spurred a new era of technological innovation and competition, the restructuring of New York’s energy markets has been relatively limited so far, said Charles Zielinski, a Washington, D.C.-based energy lawyer and a former chair of the PSC. “The electric industry, historically, while it’s done a good job providing service—Con Edison has a terrific record, in terms of service reliability, bar none, when you look at it compared to other electric utilities—but the fact of the matter is, it’s not been very innovative in developing new technologies,” Zielinski said. “If you look at what we have today basically providing electric service, it’s the same technology we had 50, 60, 70 years ago. There’s been very little in the way of new development.” Cuomo’s Renewing Energy Vision could change all that, Zielinski asserted. “The newer technologies, the stuff that Mr. Quiniones was referring to, such as solar and wind, have also been around, but they haven’t been developed to the point they are being developed today so that the cost can be brought down by the utility industry or through private incentives that have been developed,” he said. “So to the extent that what Mr. Quiniones referred to—the governor’s initiative and what the Public Service Commission is doing—can bring more of that into the electric industry, if we see the telecom industry as being the model for that, I think that’s going to be helpful.” cit


OUR RISKY ROMANCE WITH NATURAL GAS The stability of New York’s power grid is at risk due to an overreliance on one fuel source that is subject to dramatic price swings driven by changes in demand.

New York State’s Generating Capacity*

Here in the Northeast, natural gas provides more than half our power generation, and that share is growing. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. More than 10 years ago, our state created a diversified and well-balanced energy marketplace that was designed to lower prices and strengthen our electric system. The key to this Natural Gas market model? Diversity — so no single energy source would dominate the Dual Fuel market or dictate pricing. 47%

Natural Gas 8% Coal 4% Oil 7%

Wind & Renewables


Hydro 15%

Today, that balance has shifted dramatically toward natural gas, despite the many risks of relying too heavily on a single fuel source. With natural gas, it’s becoming increasingly Nuclear difficult to meet growing demand with our Diversification is 14% existing pipeline structure. Natural gas is also one of the first critically vulnerable to weather-related price rules of investing. spikes — especially in cold seasons. During the The same is true recent polar vortex that gripped our region, natural in a balanced gas prices hit record highs, causing many electric energy market. customers’ bills to surge more than 20 percent.


Advocates tout natural gas as a cleaner alternative to coal and oil. And they are right. But an average natural gas power plant still emits 2 million metric tons of carbon dioxide each year. Nuclear power, in contrast, produces virtually no greenhouse gas emissions while generating 25 percent of the electricity for New York City and Westchester. Nuclear is an important part of the electricity mix here in New York State, and reliably provides power to our grid 24/7. It’s a clear hedge against volatile energy prices and it’s one of the cleanest sources of electricity we have — and that’s good news for everyone who cares about our air quality. If we ignore the current risky imbalance, our economy, environment and ultimately the residents of this region will pay the price. We need nuclear energy to continue to be an important part of our electric infrastructure.

*New York Independent System Operator. Power Trends 2013: State of the Grid. Rensselaer, NY. cit

city & state — March 24, 2014

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S P OT L I G H T: E N E R G Y city & state — June 16, 2014


HERE COMES THE SUN Gov. Cuomo aims to ramp up solar energy production By AZURE GILMAN


urrently, solar energy makes up less than 1 percent of the power produced in New York, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants that to change. In April Cuomo announced that his administration would be putting $1 billion into the NY-Sun Initiative, an effort to expand solar power throughout the state and refine existing programs that deal with the renewable method of energy generation. The plan creates a timeline of declining incentives—the Megawatt Block Program—which is designed to lower the upfront cost of photovoltaic systems (PV), so that the state can eliminate solar subsidies in the longterm. It also decentralizes the program, establishing distinct regions with the goal of allowing certain areas to better adapt to the local economy, landscape and existing solar industry. In 2013 the Public Service Commission (PSC) invited the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to submit a petition recommending ways to strengthen the state’s renewable energy program, which supports solar projects. As an outgrowth of those recommendations, the NY-Sun program will distribute $1 billion through 2023, including $851 million in planned incentives, $13 million for increasing the participation of low-income households, $3.5 million in consumer education, and some funding for quality assurance programs. Despite the large investment, some advocates for solar power say the program is still relatively modest, predicting that it will account for only 10 percent of the state’s energy production by 2023. Currently there are roughly 400 companies involved in the solar industry in New York, and about 5,000 jobs associated with them. There have been over 300 megawatts of solar power installed the last few years. If everything goes according to plan with NY-Sun, 3,000 megawatts of PV will be installed over the next 10 years. NYSERDA would not provide its own projections for the percentage of the state’s energy it expects solar power

to yield at the end of the 10-year time frame covered by the NY-Sun plan. In addition to the billion dollar investment, the state is taking steps to educate local officials involved in solar planning, create more workforce development initiatives to train PV installers and designers, and instruct first responders how to deal with PV systems if there is a fire. The incentives program, which will be administered by NYSERDA will be divided into three geographical regions: Long Island, where PSEG will help manage it locally; New York City and southern Westchester County; and the rest of the state. Officials say the regions behave very differently when it comes to solar energy and PV installation. For example, Long Island’s incentives are currently—and will continue to be—lower than those in Con Ed territory and the rest of the state, because Long Island has already demonstrated a higher demand for solar power. Conor Bambrick, air and energy director for Environmental Advocates of New York, approves of the division. “[T]hat will accurately reflect a number of other factors that come into the price of solar …. Downstate you have to deal with high real estate costs, high labor costs … and high electricity costs, as well … versus upstate New York, where the electricity costs are lower.” The actual incentives that will be made available to each region have not been finalized, but the categories have. Tax breaks will be given to residential PV projects up to 25 kilowatts (kW), small-scale nonresidential PV projects up to 200kW and large-scale nonresidential projects larger than 200kW. The state is betting that the Megawatt Block Program will build the market for solar, and eventually eliminate financial incentives for solar projects. Each “block” will have different wattage goals, which will be slowly filled up as more and more PV systems are installed. (A typical home usually uses a 3–7kW system.) Once the goal of the first block is completed, the state will move on to filling up the second block, which will have a lower incentive level for

solar customers. In other words, the first PV customers will get the largest incentives, and the latecomers will get the smallest. NYSERDA is still in the process of laying out those blocks and incentive levels, with the goal of eventually eliminating the need for incentives altogether. For residential projects, incentives will be fixed, meaning that all units in a residential block would receive the same incentive amount until that block is completely used up. For nonresidential PV projects up to 200kW, however, incentives may decrease within the same block for systems larger than 50kW. The incentive design for nonresidential systems larger than 200kW has not yet been determined. Residential and small-scale megawatt blocks will be available starting later this summer, and the megawatt blocks for above–200kW systems will be available in 2015. NYSERDA expects financial incentives will phase out statewide by 2023, with different regions becoming incentive-free at different times, depending on how quickly their megawatt blocks are completed. The progress of the program will be tracked on a website so that the industry and the public can see when a block is close to being filled. “It’s a 10-year plan that’s going to give the solar industry the assurance that New York is committed to investing in solar,” said Bambrick,

“and that allows them to make longterm business decisions.” But will it work? New York has consciously looked toward the California Solar Initiative as a template for the Megawatt Block Program, which has already experienced some level of success. As California’s solar market grew, and installation costs decreased, incentive levels dropped from $2.50 per watt to $0.20 as of June 2013. NYSERDA is also working on a project with the City University of New York to get communities across the state to adopt a standardized permitting process for solar. Such a process would make the industry easier to navigate for installers, and enable them to spend less time on paperwork. There are currently about 60 different communities using the standardized permitting process and application. Solar advocates are generally happy with the program, and everyone interviewed for this article said that NYSERDA had labored in good faith for years to build consensus around the program. “Our industry has been working on something like this for 10-plus years,” said Shaun Chapman, president of the New York Solar Energy Industries Association. “And in one stroke of the pen, the governor has taken leadership …. It’s very clear he wants to lead on this, and were really excited about it.”


city & state — March 24, 2014




SPOTLIGHT: ENERGY city & state — June 16, 2014


RICHARD KAUFFMAN Chairman of Energy and Finance for New York

Q: Can you provide an update on the status of the Green Bank? RK: The $1 billion NY Green Bank, which opened earlier this year, is seeking financing partnership proposals. NY Green Bank’s goal is to help the private sector achieve scale as markets improve and accelerate the pace of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in New York State. As the largest green bank in the nation, it will fill gaps in financial markets by working with the private sector to enable greater investment in clean energy. Currently, many clean energy projects are constrained by lack of financing. NY Green Bank will help fill this gap and will more effectively and strategically leverage ratepayer dollars, so there will be less need for traditional grants. NY Green Bank gets leverage for several reasons: It is engaging private-sector funds and gets paid back for the credit it provides, so it can recycle funds to facilitate further market transformation. As it accelerates commercial markets, it will move out of the way and let the markets work on their own. NY Green Bank is looking to close transactions in the coming months. Q: What are the most important energy issues facing New York and what, if anything, is being done to address them? RK: A key energy issue facing New York State is the need for a cleaner, more affordable, reliable and resilient energy system that preserves the environment, decreases utility bills and creates opportunities for economic growth. The state is addressing this by working to create a world-class energy system that will

transform the energy industry. If we do this right, it will be a real first mover in developing clean energy policies in the United States that we hope others will follow. A major driver for this transformation is the Public Service Commission’s Reforming the Energy Vision initiative. This regulatory process will open the door to changing incentives and rules for our current utility systems, and will create new business models for the energy industry that will help drive economic development. With regard to greater deployment of renewable energy, through Gov. Cuomo’s $1 billion NY Sun initiative, New York State is building a bridge to a self-sustaining solar market by supporting solar on a large scale, giving the industry market certainty. As private investment in solar increases over time, public incentives will gradually decrease, as the state moves toward self-sustaining solar markets. By developing innovative market solutions, New York will be seen as a first mover in clean energy policies in the United States.

GEORGE MAZIARZ Chair, State Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee

Q: Is there a possibility of a coal comeback in New York? GM: It’s hard to forecast long-term, but in the short-term I’d say coal remains a viable energy source in the state. Power plants get paid for the production of energy and the capacity they provide to the grid as a whole. Right now capacity prices are rising across the state, and these payments are making coal more viable. Also, the fact is that while I believe natural gas is a very viable and generally inexpensive fuel for our state, the recent polar vortex exposed a real

issue with our overdependence on natural gas as a generating source. We currently get 55 percent of our power from natural-gas-fired plants, and therefore when gas prices spike as they did this past winter, consumers are largely at their mercy. This winter, that led to bills that spiked as much as 80 percent, and that is not acceptable. The solution is maintaining strong fuel diversity in our generating portfolio. That should include gas, renewable, hydro, nuclear, oil and, yes, coal, too. This diversity allows us to burn the least expensive fuel at the best times, thereby protecting consumers from large fluctuations in price and providing greater reliability to the energy grid. National regulations dictating more pollution controls on power plants announced recently by the EPA will also make fossil fuel plants in New York more competitive, since our generators have already made these investments due to regulations in our state and compliance with the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. This will make coal plants and other fossil fuel plants in New York more cost-competitive and could level the playing field with other states. Q: What steps, if any, do you think need to be taken with regard to the increasing shipments of Bakken crude moving through the Port of Albany and along the Hudson, as well as the possibility of shipping Canadian tar sands oil through the area? GM: The discovery of Bakken crude and oil from Canadian tar sands is a good thing for our state and our country, since it increases the North American supply of oil and will lead to lower prices and more energy independence. The Department of Transportation and the Department of Environmental Conservation have oversight of train shipments of these kinds of products within the state, and have the necessary authority to ensure that companies take proper precautions. Unfortunately, this issue is already falling victim to the usual demagoguery from opponents who seem to always believe that the risk of doing anything in the energy field outweighs the reward— particularly if it involves a fossil fuel. Like exploration for natural gas, opponents on the environmental side cit

Q: What is New York’s biggest energy challenge going forward, and what are lawmakers doing to address it? GM: There are many energy challenges, but let me mention just a couple of things that are important. Before the end of session, I believe the Legislature will act to extend the property tax exemption for renewable energy for 10 years, incentivize the fuel cell industry in the state, and undertake a comprehensive review of the benefits and costs of our net metering programs.

AMY PAULIN Chair, Assembly Energy Committee

Q: Two bills you have been pushing are A.7896B and A.9931. What would they do, and what is their status? AP: A.7896B authorizes a municipal energy aggregation pilot program in Westchester County. A municipal energy aggregation program allows a municipality or group of municipalities to pool together a large number of residents and solicit bids from energy services companies to supply their electricity and gas. The municipality can then obtain the best price for electric and gas customers, saving them money on utility bills. It will save customers money, and also cit

GIL QUINIONES President and CEO, New York Power Authority Q: At City & State’s recent State of New York Infrastructure conference, you talked about how utilities are a one-way system for now, but that a more dynamic grid is in store for the future. Can you say anything more about a possible trajectory for the governor’s Reforming Energy Vision initiative? GQ: Gov. Cuomo’s Reforming Energy Vision, or REV, along with his New York Energy Highway Blueprint, are springboards for transformational changes in New York State’s electric power system. The end goal is a clean, reliable energy system providing services that customers value. We believe in a future “integrated grid” that combines expanded deployment of distributed generation, clean central generation, and a flexible transmission and distribution grid. A system with more power supply sources, along with more technologically advanced demand-side management practices, as envisioned by the governor’s REV initiative, will result in some operational challenges.

But the rewards are far-reaching, centering on the unleashing of technological innovations that will also support jobs and economic development in New York State. The Power Authority will be at the forefront of leading change in the energy industry. NYPA’s “Strategic Vision 2014–2019,” issued this past March, addressed some of the anticipated changes of locally generated power and other improvements to the state’s electric power system that the Cuomo administration is dedicated to bringing about. It describes how NYPA intends to assist our customers, including state agencies and local governments that operate schools, hospitals and other facilities, as well as businesses, manufacturers and also municipal and cooperative utilities, to take advantage of new opportunities to reduce cost, improve the environment and increase the resiliency of electric system infrastructure. We also are modernizing our generation and transmission system to enable clean electricity to move more flexibly and efficiently from one area of the state to another, as anticipated in the Energy Highway Blueprint. NYPA is also the lead organization in implementing the Governor’s Build Smart NY initiative for improving the energy efficiency of state government facilities by 20 percent by 2020. In the program’s first year, the energy performance of state buildings improved by nearly 5 percent, representing approximately one-quarter of the governor’s 20 percent goal. Working in close partnership with public facilities throughout the state, the Power Authority is investing hundreds of millions of dollars each year in wide-ranging upgrades to reduce the energy use of those facilities, which also include local governments. In undertaking these improvements, we’re cutting electricity bills and fossil fuel emissions, while helping to manage electricity supplies and improve the reliability of the overall electric power system. So, to the greatest extent, there are major initiatives under way in New York State for empowering electricity customers, improving the reliability and resilience of the electric power system, advancing clean energy sources and lowering electricity costs. This will lead to significant benefits for all New Yorkers in the coming years and decades.


provide flexibility for the municipality to buy energy produced from alternative sources. The Westchester pilot would be the first time such a program would be employed in New York. These programs are already in use throughout the country in Ohio, California, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Illinois. The bill has passed the Assembly and is on the floor of the Senate. I expect it to pass this session. I recently introduced A.9931, which establishes a shared renewable energy program. Currently, the vast majority of electricity customers, especially those in New York City and other urban communities, are unable to install renewable energy systems on their property due to various impediments, such as highrise apartments that have one small roof for many inhabitants. A shared renewable energy program will provide the opportunity for electric customers, especially multi-dwellers, to invest in shared renewable energy facilities and see tangible economic benefits in their utility bill. This bill will provide significant financial, health, environmental and workforce benefits to the state, and promote energy independence, security and grid resiliency. Many other states already have similar programs in place: California, Massachusetts, Washington, District of Columbia, Vermont, New Hampshire, Maine, Colorado, Minnesota, Delaware plus, the District of Columbia. The bill is currently in Ways and Means in the Assembly and in the Energy Committee in the Senate.


city & state — June 16, 2014

are now rallying to block shipments of Bakken crude. This is unfortunate, since our goal should be to use more localized sources of fuel safely and keep consumer prices down, whether that fuel source is a fossil fuel or a renewable one. Activists take the opposite opinion, of course, but I think that this kind of opposition is another reason people do not want to do business in our state, and it is unfortunate and off target.




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use of advanced energy management products to enhance demand elasticity and efficiencies.

AUDREY ZIBELMAN Commissioner, New York Public Service Commission Q: Reforming the Energy Vision Initiative: What is it and why is it important? AZ: The challenges New York and other states are facing in the energy marketplace are formidable. Over the next decade, if we continue to do business as usual, New York’s energy consumers and the respective electric utilities will have to invest more than $30 billion to maintain and upgrade the state’s aging delivery and transmission infrastructure system, a substantial figure that does not include much-needed clean energy investments. To mitigate the impact of these potential future energy costs, New York has taken a number of major, proactive steps to create a more affordable, resilient and cleaner energy grid, as well as taking a leading role in tackling concerns about the future of energy production, distribution and consumption. Our goal is to achieve resilience, reliability and emissionreduction goals by taking advantage of the declining costs of clean energy and distributed resources by modifying how we regulate and incentivize utilities to use these resources in developing a cleaner, more resilient and affordable power system. New York launched its groundbreaking, comprehensive energy initiative Reforming the Energy Vision, or REV, to fundamentally transform the way electricity is distributed and used by consumers in New York State, by modernizing the grid, among other things. REV will promote more efficient use of energy, deeper penetration of renewable energy resources such as wind and solar, and wider deployment of “distributed” energy resources, such as microgrids, on-site power supplies and storage. It will also promote greater

Q: What is going on with the state’s Clean Energy Fund? AZ: The Clean Energy Fund is part of an overall effort by New York to improve system efficiency, empower customer choice and encourage greater penetration of clean generation and energy efficiency technologies and practices in New York. It is one component of the state’s strategy to bridge the transition from the current portfolio of clean energy programs to the new REV market and required regulatory framework. The comprehensive fund will provide continuity of funding for a full suite of ratepayer-funded clean energy initiatives, flexibility to allocate funds among initiatives in response to market conditions, and a transparent upper limit on contributions from ratepayers. In this new model, the utilities will proactively incorporate the deployment of clean, energy-efficient distributed energy resources as a core component of their businesses. Q: Is the Con Ed Collaborative that worked on the latest Con Edison rate agreement still active? What is the latest there? AZ: The Commission’s recently approved Con Edison rate agreement recognized the impact climate change is having on Con Edison’s energy distribution systems in New York City and Westchester County. As part of that agreement, Con Edison is investing $1 billion over a fouryear period to harden and make more resilient its electric, gas and steam systems. The specific elements of the storm-hardening plan were born out of a collaborative effort led by government regulators, utility executives and municipalities, as well as labor, consumer, academic and environmental groups. The collaborative earned high praise nationally because it drew upon the expertise of so many diverse parties and for its willingness to tackle the impact of climate change headon. The collaborative continues to meet to discuss various long-term issues, such as refining future stormhardening capital expenditures. Ultimately these discussions will result in a collaborative report to the Commission this fall. cit


THE STATE Gov. Andrew Cuomo has taken the lead in transforming New York’s energy system with his Reforming the Energy Vision initiative. Audrey Zibelman, the head of the Public Service Commission, and New York Power Authority President Gil Quiniones are helping to coordinate this broad-based effort to reimagine the state’s power grid. Richard Kauffman, New York’s first chairman of energy and finance, is spearheading the state’s new Green Bank. In the Legislature, Sen. George Maziarz chairs the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee; Amy Paulin chairs the Committee on Energy in the Assembly.

REFORMING THE ENERGY VISION Gov. Andrew Cuomo has a lofty goal: to entirely restructure the way electricity is distributed and consumed in New York and to make the state a national model for embracing clean energy. For the past century, the state’s centralized network, in which consumers purchase power directly from a handful of giant producers, has remained essentially unchanged. The governor’s plan, which is part of the Public Service Commission’s overall effort to revolutionize the grid, will promote system reliability and clean technologies by investing in energy efficiency and storage, rewarding customers who control their energy usage, and fostering distributed generation—the small-scale production of electricity at myriad locations throughout the grid.

THE CITY Sergej Mahnovski, formerly the head of the Mayor’s Office of LongTerm Planning and Sustainability under Michael Bloomberg, is an expert on smart grid technologies and renewable energy, who has since since taken a position at Con Edison as the director of its Utility of the Future team. The de Blasio administration has yet to appoint a high-level energy expert to replace him. THE ADVOCATES Ralph Cavanagh and Sheryl Carter co-direct the National Resources Defense Council’s energy program. David Gaul, director for strategic engagement at the Pace Energy and Climate Center, engages with policy makers at both the city and state levels on energy and climate change issues.

BY THE NUMBERS 53,166 – The number of residents across the state who had their power shut off between Jan. and April as a result of an inability to pay their bill $350 - $400 million - The amount New Yorkers owed in unpaid electric bills as of early 2006 $740 million – The amount New Yorkers owed in unpaid electric bills as of April 2014


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NEW YORK’S GREEN BANK New York’s Green Bank is now open for business, and it is looking to forge partnerships between financial institutions and clean energy companies that lenders might otherwise view as risky investments given the early stage of the market. This government initiative could, for example, use tactics like enhancing the credit profile of a transaction to make it palatable. Ideally, once the market has matured, the Green Bank will step aside and let the free market take over. THE HIGH COST OF ELECTRICITY New Yorkers collectively owed $740 million in unpaid electricity bills to utility companies in April, according to utility reports submitted to the state’s Public Service Commission. It’s no secret that New Yorkers pay some of the highest utility bills in the country. Last year Cuomo’s Moreland Commission on Utility Storm Preparation and Response recommended the creation of a “Citizens Utility Board that is independent, controlled by ratepayers, adequately funded and not subject to political interference.” Now, a bill that would create just such an advocate has passed the Assembly and sits in the Senate. 45 Beaver Street • Albany, NY 12207 518-694-3322

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city & state — June 16, 2014

The Players....P. 32 Reactions From Local Elected Officials....P. 34 Map Of Potential Sites....P. 36


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ho will wind up with potentially billions of dollars in revenue is in the hands of the three men who sit on the New York State Gaming Commission’s Location Board. Per the regulations laid out in the Upstate New York Gaming Development Act, which are aimed at creating an independent screening process, the members of the siting committee must have at least 10 years of experience in fiscal matters and cannot have ties to the gambling industry. They also must reside outside the eligible casino zones, live in New York and cannot be elected officials. Still, the three men selected by the governor’s appointees to the Gaming Commission—the Legislature has not nominated anyone for its two allotted seats on the five-person board—all have deep ties to state government.


Founder and Managing Partner, Cedar Street Group, LLC

city & state — June 16, 2014

Francis served as budget director and then director of state operations for Gov. Eliot Spitzer. He stayed on to serve Gov. David Paterson before leaving government in 2008. When Gov. Andrew Cuomo was elected, Francis was pulled back into the fold to fill the newly created post of director of Agency Redesign and Efficiency and serve as vice chair of the governor’s Spending and Government Efficiency Commission, known as SAGE. He lives in Westchester County.

STUART RABINOWITZ President, Hofstra University

Rabinowitz has had a long history at Hofstra. He served as the dean of the law school for more than a decade before taking over as president in December of 2000. In addition, he serves as a member of the board of directors for the Long Island Association and as the co-vice chair of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council. He lives in Nassau County.


Chief Administrative Officer and Senior Managing Director, Siebert Brandford Shank & Company L.L.C. Thompson served as comptroller of the City of New York from 2002 to 2009 and unsuccessfully ran for mayor both in 2009, when he lost to Michael Bloomberg, and in 2013, when he finished second in the Democratic primary to Bill de Blasio. In that primary, the New York Hotel Trades Council, which represents casino workers, backed Thompson’s opponent Christine Quinn. He lives in Harlem.

CASINO SITING PROCESS • June 30, 2014 – Applications Due by 4:00 p.m.


• On or after July 21, 2014 – Oral Presentations of Applications • Early Fall – Selection of Gaming Facility Operators


city & state — March 24, 2014





Bidder: Wilmot Casino & Resort by Wilmorites Inc. Key player: Wilmorite owner Thomas Wilmot Price tag: $350 million Bidder: Tioga Downs Racetrack LLC Key player: Tioga Downs owner Jeff Gural Price tag: Unknown Bidder: Traditions Resort & Casino Key player: Traditions at the Glen owner Bill Walsh, Seneca Gaming Corp. Price tag: $150 million

city & state — June 16, 2014

Bidder: Grossinger Development Corporation Key players: Foxwoods Resort and Casino President and CEO Scott Butera; the Mashantucket Pequots, operators of the Foxwoods resort in Connecticut; and Jeff Kay, COO of Muss Development Corp. Price tag: $400 million Bidder: Concord Kiamesha LLC and Mohegan Gaming New York LLC by DelBello Donnellan Weingarten Wise & Wiederkehr LLP Key players: Developer Louis Cappelli and Mitchell Grossinger Etess, CEO of the Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority Price tag: $600 million Bidder: Empire Resorts Key players: Emanuel Pearlman, chairman of Empire Resorts, which operates the Monticello Casino & Raceway; Malaysian billionaire K.T. Lim of Genting, who controls Empire Resorts; and EPR Properties Price tag: $750 million

Capital Region

Southern Tier


Other cit

Bidder: Florida Acquisition Corp by Clairvest Key players: Clairvest, a Canadian private equity management firm and casino operator; and Peter Marcil of the investment bank Bentley Associates Price tag: Unknown


Bidder: Howe Caves Development LLC Key player: Howe Caves Development Corporation President Emil Galasso Price tag: Unknown

Bidder: NYS Funding, LLC by Och-Ziff Real Estate Key players: Developer David Flaum; John Signor, president and CEO of Capital District Off-Track Betting Corp.; Chickasaw Nation of Oklahoma’s Global Gaming Solutions; U.W. Marx Construction Co. Price tag: Unknown Bidder: Saratoga Harness Racing Inc. (one of two bids) Key players: Saratoga Casino & Raceway partners James Featherstonhaugh and Dan Gerrity; Bill Carstanjen, president of Churchill Downs Incorporated Price tag: $300 million Bidder: Nevele-R, LLC by Nevele Resort, Casino & Spa Key players: Nevele Investors CEO Michael Treanor; and Nevele parent company Claremont Partners Price tag: $640 million


Bidder: Saratoga Harness Racing Inc. (one of two bids) Key players: James Featherstonhaugh and Dan Gerrity Price tag: $670 million Bidder: Greenetrack, Inc. Key player: Luther “Nat” Winn, CEO of Alabamabased Greenetrack, Inc. Price tag: $400 million Bidder: OCCR Enterprises, LLC Key players: The Cordish Companies and Penn National Gaming, Inc. Price tag: $750 million

MYSTERY BIDDERS Several companies that submitted the $1 million fee have not revealed any details about their locations or partners, including Hudson Valley Gaming, LLC and Capital Region Gaming, LLC. Rush Street Gaming and the Galesi Group also have a $300 million casino proposal in Schenectady, although it is unclear to which official bidder the group is tied.


Bidder: RW Orange County LLC by Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP Key players: Christian Goode, senior vice president of Genting Americas; K.T. Lim of Genting Price tag: Unknown

city & state — June 16, 2014

Bidder: Caesars Entertainment Key players: Developer David Flaum; and Jan Jones Blackhurst, Caesars Entertainment executive vice president Price tag: $750 million


ALL-IN Local leaders make pitch for a casino in their communities

KATHY JIMINO Rensselaer County Executive

city & state — June 16, 2014


Local Casino Bids: • NYS Funding, LLC by Och-Ziff Real Estate, de Laet’s Landing site, Rensselaer • The Casino at East Greenbush, Saratoga Harness Racing, Inc., East Greenbush “This part of Rensselaer County is accessible by a couple of interstate highways and it can provide the utilities and infrastructure needed in terms of water, sewer and roadways. And this is an opportunity to make a significant impact on the economy of Rensselaer. These jobs would be highly appreciated by people who still have not seen the recovery from the recession that began in 2008. As we look at our social service caseloads, whether it is Medicaid or food stamps or temporary assistance to needy families, each of the program areas still have a caseload that is some 40 to 60 percent higher than it was in June of 2008. So that tells me that we still have quite a number of people who are unemployed or underemployed who would certainly benefit from the employment opportunities presented by a casino. The jobs, we’re told, are unionized positions so they would be above minimum wage and would include benefits such as health insurance and retirement. The other aspect that will be beneficial is the money that is expected to flow from the casino to the county on an annual basis. New York State requires a large

percentage of their programs and services to be paid for at the county level, and this would help with the funding. The local taxes in New York State are around 80 percent higher than the national average, as measured by the Tax Foundation in Washington, D.C. So this would be an opportunity to provide families and businesses with some relief from that burden and make Rensselaer County and the state more attractive to other businesses and families who are looking to relocate and put down roots.”

RICHARD SUSH Deputy Supervisor and Councilman, Town of Thompson

not need to be built from scratch. Our message to developers is: ‘We’re ready; start building.’ For the past 40 years we have been working to attract casinos. Since gaming was not legal in New York, we tried to attract Native American gaming interests, and now that the referendum allowing gaming was passed, we believe that we are in a position to see our goals finally realized. We’ve had 40 years to prepare for this day. We are ready and we are able.”

Local Casino Bids: • Mohegan Sun Concord, site of former Concord Resort Hotel, Kiamesha Lake • Adelaar, Empire Resorts, site of former Concord Resort Hotel, Kiamesha Lake

GEORGE GREEN Town Supervisor, Town of New Windsor Local Casino Bid: • Greenetrack, Inc., Stewart Airport, New Windsor “Our location is the obvious choice. We have about 200 acres, and they’re looking to locate on 140 acres of Stewart International Airport. Stewart Airport is the obvious location … as the state has already spent about $25 million dollars in providing access—four-lane road access—directly off of [Interstate] 84. It’s reachable by Interstate 87 and 84 directly onto a dedicated four-lane highway that takes you directly into the airport.”

“The Town of Thompson, located in Sullivan County, is home to ... shovel-ready [projects] able to begin construction as soon as a casino license is awarded. And the sooner a facility is under construction, the sooner we can see jobs for construction workers; and the sooner it is completed, the sooner we can begin to realize revenues from the project. ... These proposals are for resort destinations with a casino as an amenity of the larger resort, which will offer a mix of attractions, a family-friendly atmosphere, and an opportunity to explore the natural beauty of our area. We anticipate that many of the visitors to the hotels will choose to vacation there for its many other attractions, and not just for gaming. And unlike other communities, there is overwhelming local support for these projects. Our community has a long and storied history of being home to many large resorts. There were once more than 1,000 resorts and hundreds of bungalow colonies. We are familiar and comfortable with the increase in traffic flow. The infrastructure to accommodate that kind of traffic already exists, and does

CHARLIE BARBUTI Supervisor, Town of Liberty Local Casino Bid: • Foxwoods Catskills Resort Casino, site of former Grossinger’s Hotel, Liberty “I have been asked to explain why locating one of the proposed casinos in my town of Liberty, N.Y., would be the right fit. As the old saying goes: ‘Location, location, location.’ Developer Joshua Muss has partnered with Foxwoods Resort, a premier brand in the casino gaming business, to propose a resort casino at and around the grounds of the once famous Grossinger’s Hotel. The site is less than one-quarter of a mile from the exit of the major four-lane highway, Route 17—soon to be Interstate 86— which connects New York City to Binghamton and the Southern Tier. cit

last fall with over 83 percent voting “yes.” They have continued [that] support in many ways with letter writing, petition signing, Facebook comments, and naming the Foxwoods Catskills Resort as the No. 1 choice among all proposals in the region in a recent newspaper poll. Our citizens understand that this project is about job creation and enabling people to afford to live in a region which is unsurpassed in natural beauty, outdoor activities and overall quality of life.”

JUDY KENNEDY Mayor, City of Newburgh Local Casino Bid: • Saratoga Harness Racing Inc., location TBD, Newburgh “The gaming commission set up as one of the reasons for doing this to help distressed areas, and the city of Newburgh meets all of the criteria set forth by the commission, and meets it better than any other in the county of

The Myth Merit New YorkofToo Timid in Newon York City’s Minimum Elite PublicWage Schools When the calendar turned to 2014, hundreds thousands workers in aNew Every October nearly thirty thousand eighth graders of spend two and of a half hours on multiple York the New with aHigh raise. Thanks to a deal reached by their legislators in choicerang examin known as theYear Specialized Schools Admissions Test (SHSAT); scores will March 2013, the minimum wagetoincreased from to $8.00 hour be the sole determinant of admission eight of the best$7.25 public an highhour schools in Newan York City.on January 1st and will increase in phases until it reaches $9.00 at the start of 2016. It was a positive step for the millions of workers their families who willglance benefit The use of a single, unevaluated test for the Specializedand High Schools, which at first may from deal. appearthe to be objective, actually ignores true merit. Students’ hard-earned grades, awards and honors throughout years of middle school are irrelevant in the admissions process, as none of A positive but not nearly enough. these factorsstep, are considered. New York is well behind the curve when it comes to providing meaningful increases The SHSAT-only admissions policy also fuels an increasing inequality, as black and Latino students to the minimum wage. California’s minimum wage will increase to $9.00 an hour who take the test in large numbers continue to lose ground in admission. This year only about in July of this year before going to $10.00 an hour on January 1, 2016. Several four percent of black applicants and less than seven percent of Latino applicants were granted other states have proposed legislation to raise the minimum wage to $10.00 or admission to any of the Specialized High Schools. As a result, the schools do not reflect the broad, higher. In many states, the minimum wage rises automatically every year to adjust rich diversity of New York—where three-quarters of public school students are black or Latino. for inflation. Stuyvesant offered admission to only seven black students out of an incoming class of nearly 1,000. It is impossible that there could beto so inflation few bright,was intelligent eighth graders the city. deal Indexing the minimum wage a key black component of theinoriginal being worked on in Albany. However, in the negotiation process, indexing was left The NYC Department of Education outlier,inas2016 the only districtfor in the out, meaning the $9.00 an hour is weanreach willschool be around as country long as that it uses a test as a sole criterion admission to its best high schools. While all standardized tests takes lawmakers to makeforanother change. can be gamed and studied, the SHSAT is especially unfair because it is not aligned with the curriculum are expected to learntoinprovide middle school. As a result, whowage can afford Last year’sstudents compromise also failed an increase in thestudents minimum for expensive private prep classes enjoy a major advantage. most tipped workers. Employees in food services remain at $5.00 an hour while service employees remain at $5.65 an hour. These workers are forced to rely on tips admissions policy is also– unfair manythem hard-working deservingwage. white and –The ansingle-test unreliable source of income just totohelp reach theand minimum The Asian-American students. In fact, leading Asian-American organizations have vocally deal required the Governor to many convene a wage board to settle on an increase for supported the call for After all, how families have $1,000 to $3,000 to spare tipped workers. Sochange. far, that board has many not been convened. for test preparation classes and private tutoring for their child? What’s more, the city has now In California sixproof otherthat states, tipped measures workersanything receive close the same minimum wage admitted that itand has no the SHSAT to merit. Yet parents are as other California is alsoscores among a handful of states allow cities toldalleach yearworkers. that whoever gets the highest on this exam must be the that smartest. to enact their own minimum wage laws. In San Francisco, the minimum wage is $10.74 rises every year in admissions relation topolicy, changes in the consumer The timean hashour, come and to change this backwards to end the myth about price merit, index. The new is moving forward plans to enact a $15.00 and to challenge themayor notion of thatSeattle the Specialized High Schoolswith would somehow be less elite if an minimum wagemechanisms for city workers, panel effects theyhour employed assessment that mostwith othera top highinvestigating schools in thethe country use.of a citywide $15.00 an hour minimum wage. This month, Albany lawmakers proposed legislation that would require all eight Specialized So theSchools question is: what is test New York waiting High to consider state scores and GPA, asfor? well as the current admissions test, in the admission process. The bill, introduced late in the legislative opens the door for a more In 2013, there was an explosion of workers across thesession, country striking in protest robust on fast-food current admissions policies elite high schools. of lowpublic wagesdialogue at major restaurants andforretailers. The issue of income inequality has become one of the defining political and policy issues of our time. The Mayor decontinues Blasio has already signaled thatout he wants to make recession a change. He should start by the country to figure its way of a massive – one from which announcing reforms to the admissions policy for the five newest Specialized High Schools forced wealthiest have fully recovered, but the middle and working class continue to feel to follow the test-only admissions policy by fiat of the Bloomberg administration. Mayoral the effects. Increasingly, working full-time is no guarantee out of poverty or even control of schools means that with the stroke of a pen he could lift the test-only designation homelessness. Despite this, New York continues on a timid path. at these schools and adopt a policy that included multiple measures of student knowledge and potential as early asSpeaker next year. State Assembly Sheldon Silver has announced that he will propose legislation increasing New York’s minimum wage to $9.00 an hour by 2015 – a year Towardof setting such a–policy, the mayor should also community leaders educational ahead schedule and having it indexed forconvene inflation. Democrats in and Washingexperts study and provide recommendations on how make admissions Specialized ton aretouniting behind a proposal – supported bytoPresident Obamainto – that would High Schools fairer, more inclusivewage and based on a broad definition merit. In increase the federal minimum to $10.10 overand thehonest next two yearsofwith indexing doing so, he would show his leadership on an issue illustrative of the glaring disparities across our for inflation. education system when it comes to access to quality schools. Workers in New York are hopeful that momentum will continue to build. Between The courageous SHSAT-only admissions policy is an arbitrary deviceworkers, that deniesthe many gifted students access to an the protests of fast-food and retail support of President exemplaryand educational experience. New York City do better because its deserve better. Obama Democrats in Washington, or must the embarrassment ofstudents being left so far behind cities such as San Francisco and Seattle, perhaps legislators in Albany will Last year CSS andtotheact. NAACP Legal Defense anddeEducation Fundratchet co-authored a recently published feel compelled Or maybe Mayor Blasio will up the pressure from report, The of Merit: Alternatives Determining Newminimum York City’swage within, in Meaning recognition of the fact that for New York CityAdmission needs itsto own Specialized High Schools. if Albany stands pat. The fate of millions of workers hangs in the balance.



Literally, you could exit the highway and make one left turn, go through one traffic light and be at the resort. Muss, LLC entered into an agreement with [developer Louis] Cappelli to be able to use the famous Grossinger’s golf course and entryway to enhance the project. … [It’s also] about two hours away from over 8 million potential customers in the New York metropolitan area, [making it] positioned to lure gamblers away from other casinos in our neighboring states of Connecticut, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and provide all New Yorkers who enjoy gaming the opportunity to have some fun, and keep the job creation and profits in our home state. The site is located on and around what was once one of the largest hotels in the upstate region. A return to hosting tourists here will produce a minimal impact on the environment. Competing locations have to clear the land, disturb animal habitat[s], create new highways and otherwise negatively impact the environment. Infrastructure at this site that was in existence 40 years ago supported thousands of guests on a continuing year-round basis. If the casino selection committee stays true to the intent of the referendum passed last fall and the legislation passed by our Legislature, which listed criteria that must be used to award the casino licenses, the Grossinger’s site in Liberty is a winner. Among the criteria were community support and economic development. Folks in my town supported the proposition


city & state — June 16, 2014


By: David R. Jones, Esq., President and CEO, Community Service Society.

S P OT L I G H T: C A S I N O S I T I N G S city & state — June 16, 2014


Orange. … The bidder is a subsidiary of Saratoga [Casino and Raceway], so when I went up to Saratoga and looked at the way they run their operations, it seemed that they are really good community partners. They have done this before, and have a great record. They are also a New York company, which adds additional revenue to the state of New York. … The other reason a casino in the county of Orange [makes sense is that at] the intersection of [Interstates] 87 and 84, [it] will draw a great many more patrons than anything in either Ulster or Sullivan [counties]. We’re closer to [New York City], and we’re going to pull a lot more people from the city and also from Connecticut, Pennsylvania and all directions. I believe the statistics could be as much as 10 times more revenue than in Sullivan and Ulster County. … Also, a casino in Orange County would impact the schools’ taxes. Newburgh Enlarged City School District is the second largest district in the state of New York. It takes in all the City of Newburgh, about three-quarters of the Town of Newburgh and twothirds of the Town of Windsor. Every person or entity who owns a piece of property in those three municipalities should very carefully be considering the property tax issue, because it will significantly reduce some very high property taxes, which we are all suffering under the burden of. ... The Hudson Valley Casino and Resort and the Town of Newburgh have both entered into an agreement—a memorandum of understanding— with the City of Newburgh to give us 15 percent of the host municipal seat, so that in addition to reducing our school taxes and [creating] jobs— about 2,800—and generally helping the economy, this 15 percent from both the Town of Newburgh and the Hudson Valley Casino and Resort will bring in an excess of over $2 million initially, and if it grows even more, it’ll help move the city forward to rebuild infrastructure, [spur] economic development and, most especially, help our crime reduction. … If we can really pull ourselves out of the economic hole, then the state will not have that much of a burden with us.”

JEFF KAPLAN Mayor, Village of Ellenville Local Casino Bid: • Nevele Resort, Casino & Spa, site of former Nevele Grande Hotel, Ellenville “The Ellenville area has a historical background in resort. We were at one point at the very center of the Borscht Belt—and frankly, as a result of the fact that New York limited casinos, our resorts basically went into a state of disrepair and decline, and most of them have closed, and have created a significant loss of employment in the area. That added on to the fact that the recession a few years ago killed our manufacturing and industrial base, and resulted in the Ellenville area [being] limit[ed] in its employment opportunities to, basically, public employment as either correctional officers or teachers working for the town or village. … Wherever you go in the world, you mention where you’re from ... so the historical basis for that site and the aesthetics of that site are incredible. You would not just be opening a casino but you’d be restoring a site that’s now a basically abandoned hotel and has been that way for five years, and an abandoned golf course, and is one of our entries into the area that really gives the whole area a blighted look, and would clearly be turned around. Our area is really prime for resort, because we are a two-lane highway somewhat off the four-lane road, and our roads could handle [the volume of] automobile traffic, as they did for many years. … We have the full support of the county, town and village … and in fact I haven’t heard any negatives from any religious organizations in our areas. [We have] universal support for this one specific site, as opposed to some of the areas [that] are split.”

MARTHA SAUERBREY Legislature Chair, Tioga County Local Casino Bid: • Tioga Downs Casino, Town of Nichols “In 2006 Jeff Gural opened Tioga Downs in Nichols, N.Y. This was the site of a former quarter-horse track that despite attempts for revitalization sat idle for many years. It took Gural years to perfect the system, editing his leadership staff until he was able to find the best management for the property. Tioga Downs is now a smooth-running machine. They offer harness racing, simulcast betting, over 800 VLTs [video lottery terminals], two bars, a restaurant, concerts— and the list goes on. Over the years Jeff Gural has made numerous improvements to the property and added new opportunities and venues to attract people from all over the area. It’s important to note that the process of making this venture work has taken a high level of financial investment, along with an ability to build a strong positive relationship with our local communities. In a recent article out of Albany, a report states that part of the

casino evaluation criteria likely would include: immediate and full financing availability; a level of comprehensive development; relative experience in the gaming industry (track record of success or lack thereof); timeliness of project completion; pace of construction; significant ethical and integrity review of corporate activities; personnel; workforce development issues; labor harmony agreements; and environmental sensitivity. In my opinion, Tioga Downs in Nichols, N.Y., is the best choice for the Southern Tier. Their location is ideal, as they are already established along I-86. They are experienced, qualified, and ready to go with construction projects and improvements to an already established site. As I mentioned, their relationship with our local community is positive. The organization supports many community events, veterans’ groups, and they provide an ideal venue for various community events. The whole of the Tioga County Legislature agrees. Tioga County is a rural upstate county. We don’t have a large population, or extensive development. We do have an excellent work ethic. The people of our communities look forward to the opportunity that will present itself when Tioga Downs is designated a full casino. Jeff Gural came with an idea, and he made it work. He brought jobs to the area, increased sales tax, and on numerous occasions [has] come to the aid of people in desperate need. We have faith that he will continue to do the same with the expansion of table gaming to the facility.”


Leo McAllister, Supervisor, Town of Cobleskill Ronald McGreevy, Supervisor, Town of Tyre Robert Jeroloman, Mayor, South Blooming Grove


Ann Thane, Mayor, City of Amsterdam Eric Mead, Supervisor, Town of Florida Greg Deemie, Mayor, Village of Johnson City John Burke, Supervisor, Town of Woodbury


—R.D., Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn A. Great question. I don’t know all the inside story. I know the top WFP operatives are savvy players. I also know that the WFP’s major labor funders threatened to stop funding the WFP if the party went with Zephyr Teachout. Finally, I know that some of these same unions—who wanted to go with Cuomo because of pending labor negotiations and other breadand-butter concerns—have long had a nonaggression pact with Senate Republicans. So it seems that Cuomo was almost a bit player in the same drama to which he was central, if that makes any sense. In other words, while all eyes were focused on the endorsement (and Cuomo’s nearimmediate walk-back of his pledges to the WFP), the real consequence of the frenetic deal-making is that in exchange for enough of the WFP’s activist base holding its nose and supporting Cuomo, the big unions have agreed to fully engage in the progressive (i.e., non-IDC) battle to regain Senate control. I don’t think anyone—even many of the WFP members pressing most vehemently for a Cuomo endorsement—believes that Cuomo will be their savior in taking back the Senate or in any particular policy area, from public campaign financing to minimum wage battles to tax policy. But the endorsement was a chit that the activist base used— probably not without orchestration by top WFP strategists—to ultimately achieve a positive if not optimal result: the full financial backing of key unions against Republican and some IDC incumbents.

Q. Dear Professor Smith, I see that you teach classes on campaign management and have written on the political machinery, in addition to your own political career. I am wondering if you would be willing to give some candid advice regarding a potential campaign of mine. From watching the documentary about you for a fourth time, I gathered that campaign financing was your largest concern; meeting people and learning their concerns was almost a second priority. How do you develop your initial sets of funds and get your campaign off the ground? What is the best way to start introducing yourself to your perspective constituents? In the documentary it cit


JEFF SMITH seemed you spent a considerable amount of time going door-to-door. Was this very effective? —R.B, Southern Illinois A. I’ll take your questions in order. Yes, in my congressional race—in a district of nearly 800,000 people—financing was necessarily my largest concern. Unfortunately, that’s true for any serious congressional candidate who doesn’t start a race with substantial name identification. I hated almost every moment of raising money, but I spent more time on it than I spent on anything else, even though I definitely preferred meeting regular voters and learning their concerns. (I suspect that’s true of most candidates.) I developed my initial set of funds by asking 13 of my closest friends, all of whom were under 35 and none of whom was wealthy, to commit to co-hosting my kickoff fundraiser and raising $1,000 each for me. Then I got out a legal pad and wrote down the name of everyone I’d ever known in my life, and put the highest dollar amount they might reasonably give next to their names, and started calling them one at a time and asking for it. Sickening, I know. But that was my first $60,000. In my opinion, the best way to start introducing yourself to constituents is at small (20–30 people) coffees hosted by supporters. That way you have a validator whose opinion the guests presumably trust, and the event is intimate enough that you can spend enough time with folks to really win people over and convert them into proselytizers. Yes, door-to-door canvassing was very effective for me. I did it every

afternoon/evening for a year, except for Christmas Day, New Year’s Day and days when I had out-of-state fundraisers. It was effective because of the sheer numbers we were able to generate. With four clipboardwielding volunteers, I jogged down the middle of the street and zigzagged back and forth across the street, only talking to “live” doors (where actual primary voters answered). Since I moved quickly and wasted no time on “dead” doors, I was able to talk with more than 100 people a night—and, combined, we were able to gather information on 400–500 people per session. The accumulation of that data gave me the best picture of the electorate of any of the candidates in my 10-way primary and nearly helped me upset the scion of the state’s thenleading political dynasty.

Q. Hey Jeff, I work in a large congressional office and I am secretly seeing a girl who works at a desk approximately five feet from me. I’m in love with her; she likes me a lot. That’s the rub. She has an upcoming wedding in Spain and hasn’t invited me. It’s killing me. Whenever I’ve asked about it she gets defensive, because apparently there is some guy she used to date in Madrid. I’ve had a lot of women—not Wilt Chamberlain status, but I’m definitely no slouch—but I’m ready to settle down with this girl. What should I do to get to this wedding in Spain and convince her to forget about that guy over there, so that I can take things to the next level with her? —No initials, no clues(!), Washington, D.C. A. The two words that really tip me off to the extent of your problem are

whenever and convince. Let’s start with the former. Whenever you’ve asked her about it? You mean you continue to nag her to invite you to something that she obviously doesn’t want to invite you to? That’s obviously a losing strategy and will only annoy your paramour. Second, will you convince her to forget about the other guy? No. No guy has convinced a girl she should be with him since John Cusack hoisted a boom box over his head 25 years ago. You don’t lawyer a girl into love. So what should you do? There’s an imbalance here—your love versus her like—and the good news is that you recognize it. The bad news is that to get back to balance—the only route to a durable relationship—you need a sea change in your attitude and behavior. In politics, undecided voters love to see a candidate fight for it. In dating, not so much. So if I were you, the first thing I’d do is find another job, if possible. Office romances are generally a nightmare, but Capitol Hill offices romances are, if possible, worse, because of the fishbowl effect. So leave before anyone catches on. That accomplishes at least two things: 1) You won’t be tempted to bug her so much, and 2) You’ll be making a broader statement to her that you don’t need to be five feet away from her 60 hours a week. Second, don’t ever say the word Spain again. And more generally, lose the attitude suggesting that because you’re ready to settle down, she should be. Other than bad breath and dense back hair, there are few bigger turnoffs than a sense of masculine entitlement. Instead, give her some distance and hope that she comes to the realization (of desire for you) on her own time. It sounds to me like you’ve misplayed things badly enough that the fate of the contest is no longer in your hands. Your best bet now is probably to act as happy and breezy as possible and hope that her presumed Spanish rendezvous either goes disastrously or somehow makes her miss you.

Jeff Smith (@JeffSmithMO on Twitter) is a former Missouri state senator who resigned from office after a felony conviction and served a year in federal prison. Now an assistant professor of politics and advocacy at the New School, Jeff recently co-authored The Recovering Politician’s Twelve Step Program to Survive Crisis.


Q. Was the WFP smart to endorse Cuomo?


city & state — June 16, 2014






on’t worry—Melissa MarkViverito isn’t really in charge. The first Latina Speaker of the City Council has a “shadow Speaker,” her amiable second in command, Councilman Brad Lander. The demeaning term first appeared in an otherwise flattering New York Times profile. Anonymous sources used it to describe their collaboration, which has since been repeated elsewhere as fact. A well regarded ally and deputy, Lander has fervently denied he’s secretly in charge, and condemned the epithet. Yet a toxic narrative persists,

implying that the Speaker is weak, and a white man is running the show. Female leadership remains a fraught matter, because the climb to get there is so perilous. And the fall can be even steeper. The firing of Jill Abramson at the Times set social media ablaze, because of the unceremonious way in which the first female executive editor appeared to be shoved off a cliff. Abramson’s supposed “management issues” smacked of a double standard from a news organization that has historically given wide latitude to men (see: Rosenthal, Abe). Just as the parents of black boys instruct their sons to defer to the police for their own protection, the parents of girls brace them for the subtle sexism of lowered expectations. It’s something that never goes away— and yes, all women have to deal with it. Even women at the top. Despite what can be an obvious and pervasive experience, women constantly have to prove their case to critics who charge that men also get fired, undermined and criticized at work. But it’s far from a fair fight. A study published in the journal of Global Business and Organizational Excellence looked at gender discrimination in hiring, based on the sex of the recruiter.

Identical résumés, scrambled for gender, showed that 70 percent of male recruiters favor a male candidate for a successful company. It also found that “male recruiters prefer male candidates in times of success not because they evaluate men more favorably, but because they evaluate women less favorably.” The problem extends to the wage gap. Pay inequity is often dismissed as a composite of factors having little to do with overt sexism, and more with time spent out of the workforce. But this doesn’t explain why women just starting out make less than men. In its annual survey of graduating seniors, The Harvard Crimson revealed that a plurality of women entering the highest paying fields will make less than their male classmates. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics bears out this finding across industries. Gender inequality, and the struggle to prove it exists, doesn’t just come with a personal cost. The entire economy suffers. Studies repeatedly show that companies with more diverse management actually outperform those driven by all-male decision-making. A 2012 Booz & Co. report estimates that fully engaging women in the economy could increase U.S. GDP by as much as 8 percent.

And then there’s the social cost. A few years ago I was invited by a former colleague to attend a reception for his law firm. I came with a friend who was clerking for a federal judge at the time. Dressed in dark suits, we blended into the crowd except for our skirts. We soon understood our place when not one but two gentlemen over six feet tall crouched to compliment us on planning such a successful event. The first time it happened, we chalked it up to mistaken identity. But the second time, there could be no confusion: “You’re women, you know how to send out invitations,” my friend mocked. That’s when I realized that despite all our education, hard work and professional success, to some men we would always be out of place. No, not all men exhibit sexist behavior, but the history of inequality is woven into institutions, infrastructure and even “polite” conversation. Acknowledging its extent isn’t just about right-sizing the economy but about doing right by half the population.

permits cross-party endorsements by party leaders. Back in 2013 when he was an anticorruption leader, Cuomo proposed eliminating the Wilson-Pakula authorization given by a political party to non-enrolled candidates wishing to run on that party’s ballot line. Queens State Senator Malcolm Smith and ex–New York City Councilman Dan Halloran are presently on trial in an alleged corruption plot that involved Smith paying bribes to Republican Party leaders to obtain a Wilson-Pakula so he could run on the GOP line for mayor of New York City. Wilson-Pakula gives third parties like the WFP outsize influence with the two major parties, because New York law enables candidates to combine their vote totals from multiple party lines in the general election, and in many close races that aggregate total is the difference between victory and defeat. To their credit, the Green Party of New York has stayed out of the major parties’ political affairs by refusing to cross-endorse any of their candidates. The cruel irony is that had Cuomo been successful, he probably would have had difficulty petitioning his way onto the WFP ballot this month. WFP state committee members, as

well as the rank and file, are known to be displeased with what they see as Cuomo’s less than progressive record. Even more ironic is reconciling 2014 Candidate Cuomo with statements made by his alter ego Gov. Cuomo in April 2013. That year Cuomo accused the minor parties—forget that it was Queens GOP officials who allegedly accepted bribes from Smith—of perpetuating a “pay-to-run” system. “The allegation is that the minor parties on occasion have used campaign contributions to determine who gets the line, and it’s almost that the line goes to the highest bidder,” asserted Cuomo. Again, Cuomo conveniently ignored the 12 years that the state Senate majority, the city’s county GOP machines and the Independence Party were wholly owned subsidiaries of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Thus Candidate Cuomo aggressively pursued and won the support of both the WFP and the discredited Independence Party after arguing in 2013 that candidates should be allowed to run without the approval of party bosses. Gov. Cuomo has succeeded in raising political cynicism to high art, where truth and facts are as malleable as clay or praise dancing. I am concerned about the future of party politics in New York. As

a centrist Democrat, I embraced Cuomo’s politics of bipartisan cooperation. Streamlined, efficient and effective delivery of government services benefits all. I thought Gov. Cuomo subscribed to those notions. Instead, Cuomo seems to be about accruing and wielding political power. You can agree or disagree with the WFP, but at least New Yorkers know what they believe and where they stand on issues. Aside from the settled issues of marriage equality and abortion, can the same be said of Cuomo Democrats? The Cuomo fils brand may in the long run weaken and bankrupt the state Democratic Party far more than his father did at the end of his 12 years as governor in 1994. In doing so, Cuomo may well leave the Democrats in the thrall of the WFP. That end would be the most ironic kicker in the history of New York State politics.


city & state — June 16, 2014



fter Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s bruising battle for the endorsement of the leftleaning Working Families Party, I must ask, What is the future of New York’s Democratic Party? Is it in a continued alliance with the left-leaning Working Families Party? Had Gov. Cuomo lost the WFP nomination, I tweeted that he would resume his pursuit of legislation ending the Wilson-Pakula law that

Alexis Grenell (@agrenell on Twitter) is a Democratic communications strategist based in New York. She handles nonprofit and political clients.

Benjamin (@SquarePegDem on Twitter) is a former state assemblyman from the Bronx.




he Women’s Equality Act has been hotly contested for the past two years, and now is the time to come together and deliver legislation that helps New York’s women. With one week remaining in this year’s legislative session, Albany must act now or it will be on course to let New York’s women down again. It has been made very clear: The




ill de Blasio deployed the imagery of a Tale of Two Cities in his campaign for mayor, but his is not the only city of haves and have-nots in the Empire State. Buffalo is also a city of stark contrasts. Politicians looking to take credit portray Buffalo as a comeback city. It is … maybe, sort of. There is, of course, the Buffalo Billion, which is seeding three clusters of business activity in and around downtown involving clean-energy manufacturing, software development, and drug research and production. It will be years before we know whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s highrisk, high-rewards approach will pay cit

can all be proud of. That’s why I’m focused on making the 10th piece of the women’s equality agenda about providing women with safe care in a health facility and ensuring it has been inspected by the Department of Health. Earlier this year it was revealed that of the 25 abortion-providing clinics directly overseen by the department, only 17 were inspected, and only 45 routine inspections were conducted from 2000 to 2012. Eight of the facilities went through the entire 12-year period without a single visit. Whether pro-choice or pro-life, we can all agree that the health and safety of women is paramount and that this is an issue that needs to be addressed. Assemblywoman Jane Corwin and I have introduced legislation that deals with this critical concern for women’s health—a real women’s health issue that could potentially mean life or death for a young woman visiting one of these clinics. Assembly Bill 9538, sponsored in the Senate by Sen. Marty Golden (Senate Bill 7726), affirms a regular schedule for inspections of abortion clinics by the commissioner of the New York State Department of Health, directs the commissioner to disseminate rules and

standards by which abortion clinics must be evaluated, and directs the commissioner to create a report on the results of the inspections and submit that report to the Assembly, the Senate and the governor. Instead of making women political pawns for the second year in a row, we should deliver them the equality they deserve. A true women’s agenda is about doing what’s right for women. It isn’t about riling up your base or putting the opposition party on the record with a vote on legislation that is clearly going nowhere. I strongly urge my Assembly Democrat colleagues to do what’s right and bring up the Women’s Equality Agenda for a vote in a way that works for all involved. Each point can stand alone on its own merits. A 10-point agenda that includes regulation and inspection of women’s health centers would deliver meaningful results for New York’s women. Let’s stop playing politics and start protecting New York’s women.

off, but in the interim it has provided the community with a psychological boost. Elsewhere around town, the statefinanced Canalside project is slowly taking shape at the foot of Main Street on the waterfront. Next door a twin hockey rink, hotel and retail complex is under construction, underwritten by the Buffalo Sabres’ billionaire owner, Terry Pegula. With taxpayer assistance, of course. Move up Main Street to the other end of downtown and you’ll find the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, with its 85 businesses and institutions and 12,000 employees. Many have relocated from within the region at, again, considerable taxpayer expense. In between, Delaware North Companies, owned by billionaire power broker Jeremy Jacobs Sr., is building a shiny new headquarters. At the risk of repeating myself, I’ll report that that project too is being subsidized by taxpayers. So, it’s good to be a billionaire in Buffalo. Or a recipient of the governor’s billion. It’s also not too bad if you’re living in tony Elmwood Village on the city’s West Side or off Hertel Avenue on the North Side. Property values are climbing, and the commercial districts are thriving in these predominantly white neighborhoods. Then there is the rest of Buffalo.

Poverty is pervasive. New U.S. Census numbers show that 26.4 percent of families in Buffalo live in poverty, and that overall the city is the fourth poorest in the country. Any way you cut the numbers—poverty rate, unemployment rate, actual number of city residents working—they lag behind where things stood prior to the Great Recession of 2008–09. Buffalo’s public schools, which are 78 percent minority, have resegregated to levels not seen since a landmark lawsuit targeting separate but unequal schools was initiated in the 1970s. The high school on-time graduation rate hovers around 54 percent. The state has declared 44 of 56 schools as failing; only about 12 percent of students across the district are deemed proficient in reading, and 10 percent in math. While either end of Main Street is booming, the rest of downtown struggles with an estimated 22 percent office vacancy rate. One Seneca Tower, the former HSBC Center and tallest building in Buffalo, is 95 percent vacant and on the cusp of bankruptcy. Little is happening along neighborhood commercial stripes aside from Elmwood or Hertel. Block after block after block of main arteries on the East Side are lined with abandoned buildings and vacant lots. Many inner city neighborhoods struggle as well, contributing to the Buffalo-Niagara

region’s 8.7 percent residential vacancy rate, which amounts to around 45,475 empty dwellings, more than three times the number in 1970. This state of affairs is ironic given that Buffalo elected its first black mayor nearly nine years ago. But unlike de Blasio, Byron Brown did not embark on a mission to help the have-nots, even though they comprise his political base. He has shied away from tackling the schools’ problems, shown an unwillingness to address poverty, and has been content to follow the lead of other politicians and the downtown business establishment. Like the Greyhound Bus commercial, he’s left the driving to others. You could say his strategy has worked—for him, anyway—given that Brown has been re-elected twice. But when you look at his city, you see a great and growing divide between the haves and have-nots. Buffalo’s recovery is indeed a Tale of Two Cities.


state Senate will not pass the omnibus bill put forward by the Assembly Democrats. Fortunately, Assembly members on both sides of the aisle have stepped forward and introduced nearly all of the 10 points as individual legislation. So why do we continue to linger in perpetuity? Pay equity, an end to sexual harassment, prohibiting housing discrimination and protecting women from abuse: These are principles we all can agree upon. In fact, legislation on each of these subjects has passed the state Senate, and a bipartisan group of legislators has called for passage of these issues as individual bills in the Assembly. The sticking point is somewhat perplexing. New York ranks among the top states in the nation for number of abortions performed. In New York City, a striking 41 percent of pregnancies end in abortion, equating to roughly 87,000 abortions per year. Clearly, there is not a lack of access to abortion here in our state. Then why do the Assembly Democrats continue to hold up so many good measures for a 10th plank that they claim simply “codifies” federal law? They need to stop holding the Women’s Equality Act hostage and put forth a plan we

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis is a Republican representing parts of Brooklyn and Staten Island.

Jim Heaney is the founder, editor and executive editor of Investigative Post, a nonprofit investigative reporting center focused on Buffalo and Western New York.


city & state — June 16, 2014



riram Hathwar, an eighth grader from Steuben County, rocketed to fame last month by winning the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Hathwar, who correctly spelled such words as nocifensor, sdrucciola and stichomythia, shares the title with Ansun Sujoe of Texas, the first time there have been co-champions in more than 50 years. Hathwar also stands out as the first winner from upstate New York since 1976. His victory keeps the trophy in New York for a second straight year: Last year’s champion, Arvind Mahankali, hails from Queens. Recently Hathwar and his family paid a visit to Albany, where the state Senate and Assembly passed resolutions recognizing his achievement. Afterward, City & State Albany Bureau Chief Jon Lentz tried (unsuccessfully) to stump Hathwar and asked him about his path to victory, his future plans and the time he got beaten in a spelling competition by his little brother. The following is an edited transcript.

City & State: Congratulations on your victory! Is it a relief that it’s all over? Sriram Hathwar: I was kind of happy that it was over with, but I was also happy that I got the trophy. It was a pretty defining moment.


C&S: What are you going to do with all the time you spent studying? SH: I actually have not thought too much about it. I really want to do well in high school and get a little better in subjects like math and science. I have my interests in helping my brother lift the trophy, too. C&S: What grade is your brother, Jairam, in? SH: He’s in fifth grade.

city & state — June 16, 2014

C&S: You think he will do well? SH: He has actually already beaten me once. He came in second and I came in third once. This was a different competition, not for the Scripps. In the regional competition, to advance to the national, they only accept the top two. I was third and he was second, so he could have actually gone. But he gave up his place because he thought he was not prepared enough to win it. So he said, “You go get the title and I’ll get the money.” C&S: You were one of two winners in the Scripps National Spelling Bee this year. Was that disappointing?


SH: I think that we were both fine with it. We became pretty good friends, and we knew that it was a competition against the dictionary, so we did not mind sharing it. C&S: Last year Arvind Mahankali, another New York native, won the bee. Did you get to know him, too? SH: I’ve actually known him for a long time. We do keep in touch still. I email him frequently. C&S: This was your last year of eligibility, so you’re done now. SH: Right. This would have been his last year too. He was in seventh grade. But because he has won, he cannot come back next year. C&S: You obviously spent a lot of time studying, but was your ability to spell something you were born with? SH: Actually until I was 3 years old, I only spoke my mother tongue: Kannada. Once I started to learn English, it grew rapidly, my love of language. So I’d always been interested in geography, math, science, but I guess this stuck with me because learning the etymologies and the language patterns helped while learning cultures and everything, and learning the vocabulary helped me in any field, just by learning those terms. C&S: The English language is interesting because you have


German words, French words, and if you get a sense of how the French, for example, spell things, it can be helpful. SH: Yeah, I’m learning a second language now, which is French. By learning spelling, it really gives me more insight into learning French. My school actually starts in sixth grade for French, but I came into school in seventh, so I was one year behind, but I was able to get far because I had learned already so many words. Like on the first day, the teacher asked, “Does anybody know what plage is?” And I was like, “Oh, that means beach.” And I just knew that because of learning spelling. And everyone was shocked, because even they did not know the word after taking one year of French. C&S: Can you spell parliamentarian? SH: P-A-R-L-I-A-M-E-N-T-A-R-I-A-N. C&S: How about colloquy? SH: C-OL-L-O-Q-U-Y. C&S: Solecism? SH: S-O-L-E-C-I-S-M. C&S: Has any interviewer stumped you since you won? SH: No, not yet. A lawmaker just asked me the word coxswain, and that was the only word that I thought was difficult, but I still got it right. I asked my brother how to spell it, and he did not know. C&S: What did you think of the State Capitol? SH: It was a stunning building. I was really surprised. And everyone greeted me very nicely, so I was very happy to be here.

the governor is? SH: Yeah, Cuomo. The whole SAFE Act and everything. I keep up with the news to a certain point. C&S: You are also into geography, and you’ve been to Albany before for a geography bee. What interests you about geography? SH: Learning more about the world is key. Even through spelling I got to do that, and just merging the two is really good. I guess once you learn more about the world, it helps you gain insight into meeting new people, learning new cultures, eating different food. Geography is just all around us, too. C&S: Anything I should know about Painted Post, your hometown? SH: There is the Corning Glass Museum there, which is huge, and the Corning company. And the Finger Lakes region is only about 45 minutes away, so we go there pretty often. C&S: And you want to be an ophthalmologist when you grow up? SH: I’ve always been interested in the eye, because I’ve had glasses and I always wondered why I got headaches in kindergarten. It was because my eyes were changing, and I’ve always wanted to learn more about that. I actually did a project on that in sixth grade, like, a 25-page essay about it. So it was pretty cool. C&S: Any chance you’d ever want to go into politics? SH: I don’t know about that. The Wall Street Journal asked the same thing. I don’t know. It’s still up in the air—I mean, even ophthalmology.

C&S: The two lawmakers who honored you— Assemblyman Phil Palmesano and state Sen. Tom O’Mara—had you met them before? SH: No, I have not. But they were really delighted to meet me. So I felt welcome. C&S: Did you know they were your representatives? SH: I know Tom O’Mara, but I did not know the assemblyman. C&S: Do you pay much attention to state politics? Do you know who

To read the full text of this interview, go to


Special Issue:

NY’s Veterans and the Military Educate NY’s government officials on your organization’s veterans programs and incentives.

On June 30th, City & State will publish our inaugural Military & Veterans Special Issue intended to bring attention to issues facing New York’s veterans and active service members.

Featured Editorial:

• Q&A with relevant New York government officials on veteran/military affairs: NY Legislature Veterans Affairs Committee Chairs Sen. Greg Ball and M/A Michael Benedetto | NYC Council Veterans Affairs Committee Chair Erich Ulrich | Director of NYS Veterans Affairs Division, Eric Hesse.

• Roundtable with the 5 heads of the active military bases in New York: Saratoga Springs NSU | Watervliet Arsenal | Fort Hamilton | Fort Drum | West Point. • Highlight of current NY government officials who have served in U.S. Military • City & State examines Governor Cuomo’s NY Veterans and Militaries Summit initiatives to Provide Veteran and Military families with Affordable Housing, Jobs and Educational Opportunities. • How is private business promoting the hiring of U.S. veterans in New York? • Op-Ed by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand* • A back and forth interview with U.S. Senator John McCain.*

Please contact Jasmin Freeman at 646.442.1662 or for more information on advertising in this special issue.

20% of advertising proceeds will go to the Wounded Warrior Project

Publish Date: June 30 // Deadline: June 27 *Pending Confirmation

SPECIAL DELIVERY: This special issue will be hand delivered and mailed first class to New York’s Veterans of Foreign Wars facilities, NYS Veterans Housing, NY’s Active Military Bases and other targeted print distribution.

Albany: Stand Up for Workers and Protect the Scaffold Safety Law Support S.6700/ A.8745


June 8, 2014

Resist industry pressure; it won’t be futile The American Insurance Association last week stepped up opposition to a bill from Assemblyman Francisco P. Moya, D-Queens, who wants to require insurance companies to reveal data that would clarify the true impact of the Scaffold Law on insurance rates. Gary Henning, the association’s northeast region vice president, said in a statement: “The arduous task of compiling the voluminous information required under A8745 would not provide new or useful insights.” We beg to differ. Scaffold Law opponents are all too quick to link New York’s high construction costs to the Scaffold Law, which imposes “absolute liability” for injuries from work site falls. But is the law really the culprit? What this opaque debate needs is hard data, which could help answer that question. Until it’s forthcoming, the Legislature should leave the Scaffold Law intact.

Scaffold Safety Coalition

For further information, straight facts and the 12 things you need to know about the scaffold safety law, please visit:

w w w. S c a f f o l d S a f e t y L a w. c o m

City & State Magazine, June 16 2014 Edition  

This issue of City & State features a cover story on the potential impacts of the Bills' departure from Buffalo. A comprehensive spotlight o...

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