NY authorizes prosecution of crooks pardoned by Trump


Shows Pence how to pardon himself [Trump] after impeachment

❝ Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced he signed legislation…to close New York’s double jeopardy legal loophole that protects individuals who are pardoned by a President from being prosecuted at the state level for the same offense. This key reform, which was an Attorney General’s program bill, gives New York prosecutors discretion to pursue prosecution of criminal acts where they have jurisdiction.

❝ “No one is above the law and New York will not turn a blind eye to criminality, no matter who seeks to protect them,” Governor Cuomo said. “The closure of this egregious loophole gives prosecutors the ability to stand up against any abuse of power, and helps ensure that no politically motivated, self-serving action is sanctioned under law. I thank the Attorney General Letitia James for her work to advance this much-needed reform and by signing it into law we are taking another step toward a stronger, fairer and more just Empire State for all.”

❝ The statutory change takes effect immediately and applies to future and past offenses, provided the person has not already been tried or entered a plea.

Trump has done everything but publicly pledge to use his pardon power to allow friends and associates off the hook. Now, the Double Jeopardy jailbreak is closed in New York.

“Frankly, it’s not surprising that the citizenry of this state have absolutely lost faith in their government.”


NY Gov. Cuomo’s top advisor sentenced to six yearsPickett/NYTimes

❝ Joseph Percoco, a former top adviser and confidant to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, was sentenced to six years in prison on Thursday in a case that cast a long and unflattering shadow over the Cuomo administration.

Mr. Percoco, 49, was convicted in March of soliciting and accepting more than $300,000 in bribes from executives of two companies with state business in return for taking official actions on the firms’ behalf.

❝ “I hope that this sentence will be heard in Albany,” Judge Valerie E. Caproni, of Federal District Court in Manhattan, said before sentencing.

She said the case had reached to the highest level of the executive branch. “Frankly, it’s not surprising that the citizenry of this state have absolutely lost faith in their government.”

My question, of course, is…Anyone surprised?

New Yorkers get a nuclear New Year’s present

❝ Entergy Corp. has reached an agreement with New York officials to close the Indian Point nuclear power plant in 2021, bringing an end to a long-running dispute over the future of the reactors located just 25 miles north of New York City.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo had pushed for years to close Indian Point because of what he says are radioactive risks it poses to the city. The company agreed to the shutdown as the plant struggled to compete with lower-cost energy sources, including natural gas and renewable energy. The closure completes Entergy’s exit from its merchant power business…

❝ Five nuclear plants have shut in the U.S. in the past five years with about 20 gigawatts of capacity expected to retire by 2040, according to the U.S. Energy Department. Cuomo has supported measures that would keep reactors in upstate New York operating despite lower power prices. Workers will get access to retraining, according to the statement…

Entergy will take a non-cash impairment charge of $1.5 billion after tax in the fourth quarter of 2016. In addition, the company said it will record additional charges of about $180 million related to severance and other employee expenses through 2021…

❝ Meanwhile, environmental groups praised the landmark deal led by Riverkeeper, which has filed legal challenges to Indian Point and was part of the negotiations with the state and Entergy.

Ordinary folks keeping to their principles, willing to commit to the long fight against one of the most entrenched segments of American capitalism – get themselves a victory.

You know, living in a society generally governed by ideologues maintained in office by an ignorant electorate, it’s easy to let cynicism overwhelm the optimism derived from science, a liberal knowledge base and confidence in history’s advances. Best to get the word out and about when a long hard struggle heads into a win.

Fracking banned in New York State as public health risk

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration has announced…that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State because of concerns over health risks, ending years of uncertainty over the disputed method of natural gas extraction.

State officials concluded that fracking, as the method is known, could contaminate the air and water and pose inestimable dangers to public health.

That conclusion was delivered during a year-end cabinet meeting Mr. Cuomo convened in Albany. It came amid increased calls by environmentalists to ban fracking, which uses water and chemicals to release oil and natural gas trapped in deeply buried shale deposits…

Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat who has prided himself on taking swift and decisive action on other contentious issues like gun control, took the opposite approach on fracking. He repeatedly put off making a decision on how to proceed, most recently citing a continuing — and seemingly never-ending — study by state health officials.

On Wednesday, six weeks after Mr. Cuomo won re-election to a second term, the long-awaited health study finally materialized.

In a presentation at the cabinet meeting, the acting state health commissioner, Dr. Howard A. Zucker, said the examination had found “significant public health risks” associated with fracking.

Holding up scientific studies to animate his arguments, Dr. Zucker listed concerns about water contamination and air pollution, and said there was insufficient scientific evidence to affirm the long-term safety of fracking.

Dr. Zucker said his review boiled down to a simple question: Would he want to live in a community that allowed fracking?

He said the answer was no.

“We cannot afford to make a mistake,” he said. “The potential risks are too great. In fact, they are not even fully known.”

Good enough for me. I still have a few reservations about environmental reservations. Those mostly reflect the paucity of studies on fracking and health. Everything raised by Dr. Zucker can be raised about every form of drilling for fossil fuels. And I think if we’re to ban one technique – we may as well ban them all.

Incidentally, that wouldn’t upset me, either.

Thanks, Mike — GMTA

First same-sex couples marry in New York State


Jonathan Mintz, Mayor Bloomberg presiding, marries John Feinblatt
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Hundreds of gay and lesbian couples, from retirees in Woodstock to college students in Manhattan, rushed to tiny town halls and big city clerks’ offices across New York to wed in the first hours of legal same-sex marriage on Sunday, turning a slumbering summer day into an emotional celebration.

They arrived by subway cars and stretch limousines, with children and with grandparents, in matching sequined ties and pinstriped suits, to utter words that once seemed unimaginable: I do.

Even those who had been together for decades, watching same-sex marriage become legal in surrounding states but suffer rejection in New York, said there was something unexpectedly moving and affirming about having their unions recognized by the state in which they live.

“We feel a little more human today,” Ray Durand, 68, said moments after marrying his partner, Dale Shield, 79, whom he met 42 years ago by a jukebox in a West Village bar.

The start of same-sex marriage in New York instantly doubled the number of Americans who live in states where gay and lesbian couples can wed. Gay-rights advocates, energized by their victory in New York — the sixth and largest state where it is legal — are turning their attention next to Maryland, but they face long odds in much of the country, where there are tougher legal and political obstacles…

Despite demonstrations, long lines and bureaucratic glitches, a spirit of patience and good humor pervaded. In Lower Manhattan, brides and grooms defiantly opened dozens of rainbow-colored umbrellas to block the protesters from view.

There were scenes, too, of striking public embrace. Outside marriage bureaus, police officers offered unsolicited congratulations, passers-by honked their horns and strangers tossed hand-made confetti at the newlyweds.

After a bruising multiyear legislative battle that ended when the State Senate approved same-sex marriage last month by a narrow margin, some of the state’s top elected officials seemed determined on Sunday to demonstrate public support for the new law.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo hosted a party for same-sex marriage advocates in Manhattan, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg presided at a wedding in the backyard of Gracie Mansion, and the City Council speaker, Christine C. Quinn, visited the marriage bureaus in all five boroughs.

The bulk of the day’s marriages took place in New York City…Most were New York residents, but 107 of those who married in the city had arrived from states where same-sex marriage is not legal.

But even far from Manhattan, city and town offices opened their doors, sometimes just for a handful of weddings, on a day when they would ordinarily have been closed.

In Shandaken, a town of 3,100 in the Catskills, the town clerk issued just one marriage license, to a New Jersey couple: Katie Morgan, 37, a freelance television producer, and Brooke Barnett, 30, a wine consultant, who have a weekend home in Shandaken.

Three communities — Niagara Falls, Albany and Hudson — were so eager to marry gays and lesbians that they opened their doors shortly before midnight.

Ain’t nothing as American as civil rights proclaiming the all citizens may be married. Too bad the nation ain’t there, yet. But, then, that’s why Black Folks in Texas get to celebrate Juneteenth. Reactionaries and bigots will always try to keep the good news from spreading, change from happening.

NY senate leader “looted” $14 million


Pedro Espada
Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

New York state Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada and his family looted more than $14 million from a Bronx not-for-profit organization over five years, the state attorney general said on Tuesday.

Cuomo said his office sued Espada and 19 current and former executives of the Comprehensive Community Development Corporation, called Soundview.

“The lawsuit alleges Espada diverted Soundview’s charitable assets and used the money for himself, his family, his friends and his political organization,” according to the attorney general’s statement…

Both Cuomo and Espada are Democrats

Cuomo, in his statement, said: “Siphoning money from a charity would be egregious under any circumstances, but the fact that this was orchestrated by the State Senate Majority Leader makes it especially reprehensible.”

Reprehensible, yes. Surprising? Uh, no.