: Long Island's Political Network Long Island's Political Center Mon, 01 Jun 2015 21:53:48 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick: New York State’s Expanding Pension Bubble Continually Threatens to Further Increase Cost-of-Living Mon, 01 Jun 2015 21:39:25 +0000


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New York State taxpayers are sitting on an ever-expanding pension bubble that needs to be popped. Due in large part to the billions of taxpayer dollars the state and its localities are required to contribute toward New York State’s public pension fund, residents endure some of the most oppressive property taxes in the United States; Long Island suffering some of the highest. To prevent this problem from ballooning further, legislation is needed to ensure limits on future pension liabilities.

Unfortunately, reforming our pension system may not be so easy due to our state constitution. Just weeks ago, The Illinois Supreme Court voted down an overhaul of its state pension system. The overhaul was voted unconstitutional as membership in a government pension system is defined as a “contractual relationship, the benefits of which shall not be diminished or impaired,” according to Illinois’ state constitution. New York State’s constitution contains nearly identical language on the subject matter. Based on this ruling in Illinois and how New York’s constitution is written, a constitutional amendment will be needed to allow the legislature to make changes to our current pension system. This cannot wait, which is why I am proposing this amendment in the Assembly.

According to the Office of the State Comptroller’s website, the New York State Common Retirement Fund holds $176.8 billion in assets “for more than one million members, retirees, and beneficiaries from State government, most local governments, and some public authorities.” This massive pension fund comes at great taxpayer expense and it only gets worse as each year passes. We must reform the pension system now to prevent the state’s economic climate – which was ranked the worst in the U.S. by the American Legislative Exchange Council – from continuing to drive our residents to other states in search of a lower, more feasible cost of living.

As a step toward solving this problem, I have authored legislation to remove elected officials from the equation and make them part of the solution. These officials cannot be expected to vote in an unbiased manner when it comes to making much needed changes to our pension system when it directly benefits them. My proposed legislation (A.4957) will convert elected officials from the current pension system to a 401(k)-style defined contribution plan, of which they will be required to be members. This will save New York taxpayers money as soon as it is enacted and will allow elected officials to vote – with no bias – to reform the pension process, thus providing increased taxpayer savings in the future. The goal should be to convert all state and local employees to defined contribution pensions to move toward sustainable benefits for members and, subsequently, less oppressive property taxes for our residents.

The more recent system of placing new hires in New York into “tiers” is another small step in the proper direction of limiting large pension payouts. Taxpayers, however, will barely see the savings trickling down from this. We must be more proactive.

We must prevent oppressive tax burdens from burying our residents in debt and poverty. My proposed legislative reforms aim to do just that; these measures will mean budgetary savings and more money in the pockets of taxpayers. I have reached out to my colleagues and other members of the state Legislature and now I am asking all New Yorkers to encourage their state legislators to join my efforts and support these bills.

buy viagra in ukraineMike Fitzpatrick  is a Suffolk County Republican who represents Long Islanders in New York’s 8th assembly district.

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Has the NYS DMV been selling drivers’ information to private companies? Sun, 31 May 2015 19:32:35 +0000

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Nassau and Suffolk County Republicans recently expressed outrage at the revelation that the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has been selling drivers’ information to private companies to the tune of an estimated $60 million. This has happened without the consent of New Yorkers and there has been no information forthcoming as to who has been sold the personal data of our residents. Murray is calling on the governor and the DMV to end this practice and come clean about who has received this information.

“In a time when identity theft and individual privacy rights are hot-button issues, our residents deserve the truth,” said NYS GOP Assemblyman Dean Murray (East Patchogue). “Allowing the DMV to continue selling our information sets a dangerous precedent where other agencies, if they aren’t doing so already, could sell private information to the highest bidder without consent.

“The governor and the DMV need to come clean with the whole story. Who has our information been sold to, and what are these companies doing with it? New Yorkers have a right to know this important question: just how long has this been going on?” Murray concluded.

 In a released statement, NYS GOP Assemblyman Mike Fitzpatrick (Smithtown) added, “It has recently come to light that the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles has been bidding the private information of millions of New York residents to third parties and selling it to the highest bidders. Private information should be kept private. I am appalled by this act, and I will be signing on to sponsor legislation (A.2509) which limits the dissemination of this information to situations such as the issuance of manufacturers’ warranties and safety recalls as well as statistical compilations without an individual’s consent. For the protection of all New Yorkers, we must act on this immediately and make this a priority as session comes to a close.”

NYS GOP Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino (Sayville) also weighed in on the news of the Department of Motor Vehicles selling driver’s personal information to third parties for profit.

“With so much of our personal data given to the DMV and so little known about where it ends up, this is a serious cause for concern,” said Garbarino. “This information belongs to the people of New York and they deserve to know where it’s going and why. Why is the public only finding out about this now? When the people go to the DMV they have an expectation of privacy, and right now that is simply not the case.”

Assemblyman Andrew Raia (East Northport) slammed the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) for selling motorists’ personal information to companies to make a quick profit.

“A reasonable expectation of privacy is one of the most sacred rights we have as American citizens and the DMV’s practice of selling personal information is an egregious violation of this profound principle,” said Raia. “A lot of people aren’t aware their information is being sold to various advertising agencies. Perhaps even more frightening is that, at the moment, we have no way of knowing which companies are buying this data. This quick cash scheme is a gross, underhanded abuse of our rights and we should at the very least have the ability to opt out of this program.”

Fellow Suffolk and Nassau County encouraged those who believe that their private information should stay private to sign on to the petition. The petition was organized by fellow New Yorkers to express their discontent with the DMV’s practices.

“This information is private and should stay that way. I will be signing on to legislation to ensure that our information is not tossed around as a commodity. Furthermore I encourage anyone who feels that their privacy has been violated to sign the petition and demand Gov. Cuomo suspend this shady practice.”

Editor’s Note: A link to the petition calling for Gov. Cuomo and the DMV to cease the sale of private information can be found other lasix and drug testing.

Update: July 1, 2015 @5:17p

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Karl Grossman: Is it time to again revive the drive for Peconic County? Yes. Sun, 31 May 2015 18:33:15 +0000

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The Suffolk County Legislature deadlocked last month on a measure to have meetings of its committees held in the historic county seat of Riverhead. Now all meetings of its 12 committees are held in Smithtown in the western portion of the county.

The 7-to-7 vote, which meant the resolution failed, was an insult to the citizens of eastern Suffolk County. “Some residents of my district travel nearly 60 miles to attend a legislative committee meeting,” said the measure’s author, Legislator Al Krupski of Cutchogue on the North Fork. “This places an undue burden on those who want to be civically engaged or those who want to comment on proposed legislation before it moves out of committee to the entire legislature for consideration.”

Riverhead is to be the site of only five of the 14 general meetings of the Suffolk Legislature this year. That no committee meetings—critical in the consideration of legislation—are in Riverhead at all adds further insult.

This unbalanced meeting distribution has been the situation for years.

For more than two centuries, all meetings of the county’s governing body, the Suffolk Board of Supervisors, were held in Riverhead, centrally located in Suffolk. Then, in 1970, as a result of a one-person-one-vote court decision, the board, consisting of the supervisors of each of Suffolk’s 10 towns, was disbanded.  In its place a legislature composed of 18 representatives of districts of equal population was created. The legal argument was that it was wrong for the supervisor of a lightly populated East End town to have a vote equal to that of a supervisor of a heavily populated western Suffolk town.

In the post-World War II Long Island population influx, western Suffolk’s towns gained populations many times higher than those of the eastern towns. Starting in the 1960s, Suffolk government buildings began going up in Hauppauge and it became the second county center quickly overshadowing Riverhead. The new Suffolk Legislature alternated its general meetings between a new meeting room built in Smithtown and the old meeting room of the county board in Riverhead.

A key problem projected with having a county governing body based on population was its domination by the representatives from western Suffolk. On the federal and state levels, the population issue is dealt with by bicameral legislatures—a geography-based Senate and what’s called an Assembly in most states and is population-based.  That way, lightly populated areas are protected.

As Shelter Island Town Supervisor Evans K. Griffing, chairman of the Suffolk Board of Supervisors from 1962 to 1966, told me in 1979 about the Suffolk Legislature: “You can’t accomplish anything with your vote. Your vote is a wasted effort…It’s diametrically opposed by the 16-and-a-half votes…at the other end of the county. They’re not concerned with what goes on here, I have a feeling that we’re simply being taken to the cleaners.”

Before the vote at the meeting April 28 on the Krupski resolution, Southampton Town Supervisor Anna Throne-Holst urged the legislators to vote for it for the sake of “balance…It means a lot to us.” Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said it would be “beneficial to the legislature because of the knowledge and talent out here.”

As the News-Review newspapers based in Mattituck subsequently editorialized, “It’s a shame half the legislators felt their personal convenience is more important.”

It is not simply a matter of a meeting place. Many of the interests of officials from suburbanized western Suffolk are markedly different than those from eastern Suffolk. That’s why starting in the 1960s, seeing what the future could hold, the initiative began—led then by Mr. Griffing—for secession of the East End towns from Suffolk and their formation into a new Peconic County. The drive has been revived twice since and most recently blocked in the State Assembly by its now fallen and indicted Speaker Sheldon Silver of Manhattan. He feared secession of Staten Island from New York City if the East End split from Suffolk.

There continues to be marked differences. An example is the push now by western Suffolk officials for major sewering to stimulate development in order to promote economic growth.

Mr. Griffing spoke of how development helped “the economy momentarily” on western Long Island, but then the region “went down the drain” becoming overcome in sprawl, “over-populated, overcrowded…If you allow the thing to get house-against-house you’re going to have trouble…I have watched Jericho Turnpike, it used to be a beautiful, beautiful avenue running the length of this island” and became “a visual sewer.” Mr. Griffing warned about “all of Long Island” being “ruined, the rest of it like it is way west.”

Is it time to again revive the drive for Peconic County?  Yes.


Karl GrossmanKarl Grossman has covered Long Island politics for over 50 years.  He is an honored member of the Long Island Journalism Hall of Fame.

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Karl Grossman: Preet Bharara—connecting the dots of how New York State government really runs Tue, 26 May 2015 23:58:34 +0000

Preet Bharara Skelos

The arrest this month on federal corruption charges of a Long Island politician, Dean Skelos, majority leader of the New York State Senate until due to pressure from fellow Republican senators he resigned that post, has cast a spotlight on a law firm that is a big mover-and-shaker of governments on Long Island—and includes as a partner a former Democratic state assemblyman in charge of lobbying activities for the firm.

For more than 20 years, Skelos has been associated with the law firm of Ruskin Moscou Faltischek. But “with his grip on power in Albany slipping,” as the New York Times stated following the Skelos arrest, his name “was no longer on the firm’s website, and a page with his biography was removed.”

The Times article said “the criminal complaint in the case—which cataloged a series of accusations centered on the senator’s efforts to use his official position to extort money for his son—did not reflect well on the firm.” The Times noted that the federal charge alleged that at “at the senator’s request, the lawfirm ‘steered title insurance work’ to his son, Adam B. Skelos, ‘including at least one real estate transaction’ for over $32.6 million.”

I obtained a cached copy of the page—actually two full pages—on which Ruskin Moscou Faltischek featured Skelos. Although it was taken down on May 5, it was still on the law firm’s website on May 4.

Skelos had been presented on the law firm’s website page for him in the context of his official position—“Senator Dean G. Skelos, Of Counsel,” was its heading. Although now mired in legal problems involving alleged corruption, one passage speaks about Skelos “building upon his record of combating fraud and abuse in government.”

According to the federal charge, noted the Times, “since the senator began working at the firm in 1994, he has been paid more than $2.6 million, despite the fact that it appears, based on evidence gathered during the investigation, that Skelos ‘did not perform any actual legal work’ for the firm.”

Ruskin Moscou Faltischek describes itself as “a sixty member professional firm” which has “built a reputation as one of the region’s leading providers of innovative legal services.”

An aspect of the firm that is unusual is that a component of the firm is what it calls its “government relations arm, Empire Government Strategies.” This is headed by Arthur “Jerry” Kremer of Bridgehampton. In the section on the law firm’s website devoted to Mr. Kremer, under his photo is a quote by him: “Law and politics have always been closely aligned. Many of my clients turn to me for legal counsel, but also for my insights into the political arena, which is a constantly changing landscape.” He is described as a partner in the law firm.

Kremer, a Democrat, was for 23 years was a member of the New York State Assembly. As a lobbyist, he has been active on Long Island representing, among other clients, the tobacco industry and in that role Kremer sought to block measures advanced by the Suffolk Legislature to restrict smoking. Although Kremer is a highly active lobbyist, he has for 20 years, at the same time, regularly appeared as a political and government analyst on Cablevision’s News12.

Newsday in an investigative article by reporter Mark Harrington in 2013 detailed how the “influential law firm and its government relations arm have a history of close ties to the Long Island Power Authority and stand to gain if billions in new LIPA contracts come their clients’ way in coming weeks and months.”

It noted that the Uniondale-based firm “long has represented Caithness of New York City through its government relations arm” and “helped the energy company through lobbying and consulting work to secure a $1.49 billion LIPA contract for a new power plant.” Caithness is now pushing to build a second gas-fired power plant in Yaphank.

The law firm through its “Empire Government Strategies, meanwhile, also has represented PSEG of New Jersey since at least last year. PSEG is slated to see a $200 million-plus expansion of its $3.8 billion contract with LIPA if the State Legislature Oks Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s proposal to give PSEG near total control of the LIPA grid in January,” the Newsday piece continued.

Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, has been doing an extraordinary job in exposing how New York State government functions (or dysfunctions). His charges against Skelos of Rockville Centre follow the indictment in February, also on corruption charges, of the top Democrat in the State Legislature, Sheldon Silver of Manhattan, the Assembly speaker, also forced to resign his leadership post. Earlier, Bharara brought a series of successful prosecutions against other state officials.

Bharara—connecting the dots of how New York State government really runs—is energetically continuing his much-needed investigation.

Karl GrossmanKarl Grossman has covered Long Island politics for over 50 years.  He is an honored member of the Long Island Journalism Hall of Fame.

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Karl Grossman: Swan Kills Plans Turns DEC Into Ugly Duckling Mon, 18 May 2015 21:48:29 +0000

Murdering Mute Swans Long Island

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation just can’t let go of its outrageous plan to go after the 2,200 swans in the state. Most of these beautiful and graceful birds, some 1,600, are here on Long Island.

The DEC advanced a plan to slaughter the elegant birds last year claiming they were an “invasive” species. The reaction to the scheme from the public, environmentalists and members of the New York State Legislature was intense.

“Real stupid” were the words Larry Penny, a foremost Long Island naturalist and the long-time East Hampton Town director of natural resources and environmental preservation, chose to sum it up. As to swans being “invasive,” he commented: “Nonsense.” They were brought to North America from Europe after the Civil War and “they’re not doing any harm,” he emphasized. Also, there “are natural checks on their population—raccoons and foxes take them. They’re subject to a lot of pressure.”

State Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele, Jr. co-sponsored a measure demanding a moratorium on the plan and for the DEC to prove the swans cause “actual damage to the environment or other species.” It passed the New York State Legislature overwhelmingly. “My office has not received one report in all my years in office that the mute swan is a nuisance or an environmental problem,” commented Mr. Thiele of Sag Harbor.

So the DEC recently backed off on its kill-the-swans plan—but only somewhat. “Complete elimination of mute swans from New York is not a viable option, given the expressed public opinions associated with these birds,” it announced.

In a report on the public comments it received on its plan, the DEC said: “Tens of thousands of individuals and organizations provided input in the form of e-mails, letters, form letter e-mails, and signatures on various petitions.”

But it made clear that it is still on the warpath against the swans.

It has come up with a “revised” plan to destroy not all but most of the swans in New York State—bringing the total population down to 800. And this would be done mainly but not always by “nonlethal methods.” These would include clipping the wings of swans and “addling” their eggs so they do not hatch.

The organization Goose Watch has declared that “the revised plan does not go nearly far enough in protecting mute swans, and we oppose its implementation.” It would cause swans to “remain threatened across the state.”

Moreover, states the group, “the DEC’s plan to drastically reduce the state’s mute swan population continues to rely on outdated and immaterial research. New studies are needed to justify any control or killing. We remain strongly opposed to designation of mute swans as an invasive species, a subjective determination, and we remain concerned with the DEC’s objectives to completely eliminate free-ranging mute swans from New York State.”

State Assemblyman Steve Englebright of Setauket, who this year became chairman of the Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee, in a letter to the DEC says the revised plan “appears to disregard the Legislature’s key requests” in the bill passed last year. This includes not providing “compelling scientific information as to why such an aggressive management strategy is being pursued.”

Himself a scientist—Mr. Englebright has long taught geology at Stony Brook University—he said the “specific threats cited in the revised Management Plan are not supported with scientific evidence. In cases where information is provided it is often outdated or overstated. For example, the statement ‘Swan feces contain especially high levels of fecal coliform bacteria, so the presence of large flocks at certain times could impair the use of waters for drinking, swimming or shell fishing’ is justified by a single study conducted almost forty years ago that included only 44 birds some of which were Canada geese.”

The bureaucratically unbending attitude of the DEC is apparent in its responses to criticisms of its plan contained in its report on public comments. You can see the report—and the stubborn DEC responses—online HERE.

Perhaps the State Legislature might this year pass a bill calling for the reduction by 15 percent in the DEC budget if it persists in going after swans. That surely will get the DEC’s attention—and might cause it to drop its dumb plan and do better things with our tax dollars.

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State Review Findings Back Up NY Fracking Ban Mon, 18 May 2015 21:39:29 +0000


Mike Clifford | New York News Connection

 A new report backs up Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision to ban fracking and details a wide range of environmental dangers.

Earthjustice managing attorney Deborah Goldberg said the Department of Environmental Conservation report spells out a long list of potential dangers from fracking operations which involve blasting millions of gallons of water mixed with hazardous chemicals into the ground.

“It does mention earthquakes, risks to water quality, air quality, risks to our communities,” she said. “There really isn’t any environmental parameter that is not severely affected by fracking.”

Industry officials maintain that the process is safe, and may file suit if the report is accepted.

This report is not the final word, Goldberg said, adding that the DEC commissioner still needs to issue findings and make a final determination.

Goldberg credited the Cuomo administration with taking the right course because it puts the burden on the industry to prove the process is safe before allowing any natural-gas fracturing in New York.

“I think we are completely on the leading edge,” she said. “Gov. Cuomo is the only governor in a state that has proven gas reserves to follow the science and recognize that we just don’t know enough to go forward safely.”

While the Marcellus Shale is estimated to have more than 140 trillion feet of natural gas in reserve, experts can’t say for sure how much gas is contained within the New York state boundaries. Given that uncertainty and the safety issues, Goldberg said, she is not certain the industry will see any real gain in challenging the report.

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Obama Administration Sued for “Weak” Oil Rail Car Standards Mon, 18 May 2015 21:35:18 +0000
Photo credit: Chris Jordan-Bloch.

Photo credit: Chris Jordan-Bloch.

Mike Clifford | New York News Connection

Environmental groups are taking the Obama administration to court over what they call “weak” safety rules for oil shipped by rail. It’s a timely issue given last week’s fatal Amtrak derailment.

Sean Dixon, an attorney with Hudson Riverkeeper, says the rules issued this month don’t contain enough specifics, and don’t address the broader issue of crude oil safety on the railways. For example, he says, the Amtrak crash happened within several hundred feet of a line of tank cars.

“There’s nothing in this rule that even attempts to address human error, with respect to early reports out of Philadelphia on the Amtrak derailment that high speed may have been a player,” says Dixon. “So, there’s a lot of ancillary issues with respect to crude safety that aren’t anywhere in this rule.”

Dixon says the lawsuit filed last week by Earthjustice charges the administration with not doing enough to protect public safety. The American Petroleum Institute also has taken issue with the new rules and filed suit in the D.C. Circuit.

Some in the petroleum and railroad industries are voluntarily taking steps to improve tank car safety.

Larissa Liebmann, staff attorney with the Waterkeeper Alliance, says the oil industry relies on so-called unit trains, which often link as many as 120 tank cars carrying more than three-million tons of crude oil.

“Even beyond the fact that we have explosions and fires that can happen in communities, a single spill of one tank car can mess up the water for swimming for a good amount of time, for fishing,” says Liebmann. “It can cause drinking water sources to be contaminated.”

Nationwide, Dixon says there has been a 4,000 percent increase in the amount of crude oil shipped by rail in the past six years and a significant share rolls through New York.

“Recent numbers have shown that about a quarter of all of the oil produced in the Bakken fields comes through Albany,” says Dixon. “This last winter, that number got a little bit higher. So, we are a pretty significant player, in terms of regions through which these trains are being shipped.”

The suit was filed in the 9th Circuit on behalf of the Sierra Club, the Waterkeeper Alliance and several other conservation groups.

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Karl Grossman: An explosion and transformer fire at Indian Point 3 on Saturday. Should we be concerned? Tue, 12 May 2015 22:07:29 +0000



In 1976, Robert Pollard, a rarity among U.S. government nuclear officials—honest and safety-committed—said of the Indian Point nuclear power station that it was “an accident waiting to happen.”

Pollard had been project manager at Indian Point for the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) from which he resigned at that time charging the NRC “suppresses the existence of unresolved safety questions and fails to resolve these problems.” He joined the Union of Concerned Scientists.

An explosion and fire at a transformer at Indian Point 3 on Saturday is but one of the many accidents that have occurred at the Indian Point facility through the years—none catastrophic as have been the disasters at the Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plants.

But Indian Point 2 has been in operation for 41 years, although when nuclear power was first advanced in the United States, plants were never seen as running for more than 40 years because of radioactivity embrittling metal parts and otherwise causing safety problems. So licenses were limited to 40 years.

Indian Point 2 is thus now running without an operating license while the NRC considers an application before it from the plant’s owner, Entergy, to allow it to run another 20 years—for 60 years.

Indian Point 3, where the transformer explosion and fire occurred, has been operational for 39 years and its license expires this year. (Indian Point l was shut down early because of mechanical deficiencies.) Entergy also is seeking to have Indian Point 3’s operating license extended to 60 years.

These old, long problem-plagued nuclear plants, 26 miles up the Hudson River from New York City, are now disasters waiting to happen in a very heavily populated area. Some 22 million people live within 50 miles of the Indian Point site.

This plant is the nuclear plant that is closest to the most densely populated area on the globe,” declared New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at the Indian Point site on Sunday. Cuomo, who has been pushing to have the Indian Point nuclear plants closed, noted that this was “not the first transformer fire” at them. And the concern is that “one situation is going to trigger another.”

Entergy PR people in recent days have stressed that the transformer explosion and fire occurred in the “non-nuclear part” of Indian Point 3. However, as Pollard noted in a television documentary, “Three Mile Island Revisited,” that I wrote and narrated on that accident, “there is no non-nuclear part of a nuclear plant.”

What could be the extent of a major accident at Indian Point?

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission in 1982 issued a report titled “Calculation of Reactor Accident Consequences” or CRAC-2. The research for the report was done at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Sandia National Laboratories in New Mexico.

CRAC-2—you can read the full report online here — projects that in the event of a loss-of-coolant accident with breach of containment at Indian Point 2, there could be 46,000 “peak early fatalities,” 141,000 “peak early injuries,” 13,000 “cancer deaths” and a cost in property damages (in 1980 dollars)  of $274 billion (which in today’s dollars would be $1 trillion)

For an accident at Indian Point 3 in which the transformer explosion and fire happened, because it is a somewhat bigger reactor (generating 1,025 megawatts compared to Indian Point 2’s 1,020) the impacts would be greater, said CRAC-2

For Indian Point 3, in the event of a meltdown with breach of containment, CRAC-2 estimates 50,000 “peak early fatalities,” 167,000  “peak early injuries,” 14,000 “cancer deaths” and a cost in property damage at $314 billion.

Compounding the problem of the Indian Point plants being old—consider driving a 60 year-old car on a high-speed Interstate—they are at the intersection of the Ramapo and Stamford earthquake faults. As a 2008 study by seismologists at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory found: “Indian Point is situated at the intersection of the two most striking linear features marking the seismicity and also in the midst of a large population that is at risk in case of an accident. This is clearly one of the least favorable sites in our study area from an earthquake hazard and risk perspective.”

“This aging dilapidated facility has endless problems leaking radioactive chemicals, oil and PCB’s into the Hudson River. It’s unconscionable to permit the continued operation of Indian Point,” said Susan Hito-Shapiro, an environmental attorney and member of the leadership council of the Indian point Safe Energy Coalition.

Further, she pointed out this week, Indian Point has been described as “the most attractive terrorist target” in the U.S. because of its proximity to New York City and it also being seven miles from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Indeed, there was consideration by the 9/11 terrorists of crashing into Indian Point. Both captured jets flew over the Indian Point nuclear station before striking the World Trade Center minutes later.

And she described it as “outrageous” that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved an evacuation plan for Indian Point “although it would never work” in the event of an major accident at the plants considering the millions of people who stand to be affected.

The key to New York State’s strategy to shut down Indian Point is the denial by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to give Entergy a “water use permit” to let it continue to send many hundreds of millions of gallons of water a day from the nuclear plants into the Hudson River.

“We need to make sure DEC stays strong,” says Hito-Shapiro.

In light of the historic, reckless, scandalous weakness of the federal government when it comes to Indian Point—and the nuclear power plants of other utilities—strong state action is most necessary.


Karl GrossmanKarl Grossman has covered Long Island politics for over 50 years.  Karl is an honored member of the Long Island Journalism Hall of Fame.

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NYS Assemblyman Dean Murray: Pull the plug on Start-Up NY Tue, 12 May 2015 21:51:13 +0000

Dean Murray

After a state Comptroller audit showing $211 million being pumped into Start-Up NY and other promotional campaigns with no tangible results, Suffolk County Republican Assemblyman Dean Murray (East Patchogue) called for the governor to pull the plug on his failed initiative. To date, only 76 jobs have actually been created by the program and the state is far behind its projection of 2,100 new jobs in five years. Murray, a staunch advocate for real development, would like to see Start-Up NY eschewed for a back-to-basics approach to growing our economy.

“Millions of dollars have gone into pumping up Start-Up NY and all it’s been is a waste of taxpayer money,” said Murray. “The program can only take credit for a paltry 76 jobs across the state and is promising a total of 2,100 new jobs. That’s just unacceptable.

“The governor needs to give up on this disastrous program and stop relying on cheap gimmicks and costly ad campaigns. They don’t create jobs. They don’t grow an economy. They just waste our money and allow our economic decline to continue unabated, while in many cases actually harming existing businesses.

“It’s time to get back to what really works: cutting the red tape that stifles new and existing businesses. We also need to end the nickel-and-diming of our residents that has led our oppressive tax climate and causes too many businesses to shutter their doors. Instead of trying to invent innovation and progress, we need to take a step back and give our entrepreneurs and successful businesses room to breathe and develop,” Murray concluded.


NYS Assemblyman Dean Murray is a Suffolk County Republican who represents Long Islanders in New York’s 3rd Assembly District comprised parts of Suffolk County, including Medford and Mastic Beach.

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Karl Grossman: Will Long Island join in harvesting the power readily available offshore? Sun, 10 May 2015 22:12:25 +0000

offshore wind power e Long Island

Work began last week on the first offshore wind farm in the United States—being built just east of Long Island off Block Island 14 miles out beyond Montauk Point.

“It’s a small project but this is a big deal,” commented Gordian Raacke, executive director of Renewable Energy Long Island. “Paraphrasing Neil Armstrong, this is one small step for offshore wind power but it could turn out to be a giant leap for America’s energy future.”

The five six-megawatt wind turbines to be erected by Deepwater Wind will provide 30 megawatts of electricity—all the electricity needed by Block Island now dependent on diesel oil generators to produce electricity.

Deepwater Wind, based in Rhode Island, has also sought to build a second, larger wind farm east of Long Island—to service Long Island.

But in the most myopic of decisions, the trustees of the Long Island Power Authority voted this past December not to go ahead with this 210-megawatt wind farm. The LIPA trustees are appointed by the New York governor and leaders of the state legislature. Under the original legislation creating LIPA, they were supposed to be elected by Long Islanders.

“We want wind!” people at that LIPA meeting began chanting.

The vote “signals that the LIPA board, PSEG Long Island and the governor were not serious about their commitment and are not going to uphold their commitment” for renewable energy, charged Lisa Dix, New York representative of the Sierra Club. “Their position is unacceptable. Long Islanders have been waiting for a really long time to have this promise fulfilled.” PSEG is the New Jersey company that Governor Andrew Cuomo arranged to be the major operating electricity utility on Long Island starting this year, along with a major reduction in LIPA staff and power.

Said Jeffrey Grybowski , CEO of Deepwater Wind: “With today’s decision, LIPA/PSEG  missed an opportunity to build a 21st Century energy supply for Long Island and a new local industry employing hundreds for years to come.”

Mr. Raacke of East Hampton said last week about what happened: “It was utterly disappointing.” And multiplying that disappointment now, he said, is the push by PSEG and LIPA in recent months for “peaker” electric-generating plants burning oil and propane. They are supposed to be used during high-demand or “peak” periods. The electricity generated by the Deepwater Wind turbines would have come at “a third of the cost of the ‘peaker’ plants,” he said. “And these ‘peaker’ plants are not only very costly but they are very polluting.”

Still, despite the huge Long Island misstep, off our shores the Block Island project has started. “The importance of this day cannot be overstated,” declared Emily Norton, director of the Massachusetts chapter of Sierra Club, at a ceremony last Monday in North Kingstown, Rhode Island where parts for the turbines are being fabricated. “The Block Island Wind Farm is our Apollo 11 moment. I am going to remember this day, and tell my kids and grandkids that I was there when the first U.S. offshore wind farm was built.”

Public officials in attendance included Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo (Block Island, although so close to Long Island, is part of Rhode Island) and Sheldon Whitehouse, a representative of the state in the U.S. Senate. Mr. Whitehouse called the project “a milestone in our nation’s transition to a clean energy economy, and I’m proud that Rhode Island is leading the way.”

Although this is the first offshore wind project in the U.S., in Europe “offshore wind is a booming industry and a major source of energy,” said Mr. Raacke. “There are thousands of megawatts of installed wind that have been in use there for decades.”  He recounted a visit to an offshore wind farm off Copenhagen, Denmark and the wide support he found for it among Danes. He said offshore wind has “enormous potential” for Long Island and the U.S.

The Deepwater Wind project for Long Island would have involved wind turbines going up 30 miles east of Montauk Point. They would not have been visible from Long Island. The electricity would have come to the Long Island through an undersea cable.

At the same LIPA meeting on December 17, the LIPA trustees voted to extend a contract to continue bringing electricity to Long Island from the FitzPatrick nuclear power plant in upstate Scriba. This although the main reasons LIPA was created were to stop the now defunct Long Island Lighting Company from opening the Shoreham nuclear plant and building other nuclear power plants here and to facilitate the  production of safe renewable energy.

When and if will Long Island join Rhode Island in harvesting the power readily available offshore?


Karl GrossmanKarl Grossman has covered Long Island politics for over 50 years.  He is an honored member of the Long Island Journalism Hall of Fame. 

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Community Organizers Respond to Cuomo’s Move to Raise Wages for Fast-Food Workers Thu, 07 May 2015 23:00:08 +0000

increase wage $15/hr fast food workers

The Fight for $15 that Started Right Here In New York City is Closer Than Ever to Winning

Governor Cuomo’s move to raise wages for fast-food workers shows the importance of organizing in order to win higher wages for low wage workers.

In response to Governor Cuomo’s Op-Ed calling for a wage board to examine the minimum wage on the fast food industry, New York Communities for Change released the following statement:

“Raising wages for low-wage workers is not only a winning political issue; it’s a moral obligation. The movement of thousands of fast food workers are now being heard at the highest levels of government. Thanks to Governor Cuomo, fast food workers are closer than ever to winning $15 an hour,” said Jonathan Westin, Executive Director of New York Communities for Change.

“The fight for $15 started here in New York City, at New York Communities for Change, when 200 fast food workers went on strike, sparking a global movement.  When we called for $15 people thought we were crazy, but since then Seattle, San Francisco, and Portland have all raised the wage to $15.  Today, New York is no longer behind. Thanks  Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who first championed the wage board idea, thousands of workers have gotten millions in back wage. The leadership of thousands of workers, who have risked everything to earn basic dignity, have put millions in the industry closer than ever to changing winning a true living wage.”

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Tens of thousands of police officers from across the country to attend funeral tomorrow Thu, 07 May 2015 22:49:43 +0000

New York police officer Brian Moore

James Carver, president of the Nassau County Patrolman’s Benevolent Association, said that over a thousand Nassau County cops will join tens of thousands of police officers from New York City and across the country at funeral services in Seaford, Friday, May 8, 2015, for murdered New York City Police Officer Brian Moore, 25, whowas killed in the line of duty in Queens last Saturday.

The funeral for Officer Moore will be one of the largest for a police officer or fire-fighter in decades. “The entire Nassau PBA is in mourning for this brave, young officer who gave his life protecting the citizens of New York City,” Mr. Carver said. “We will all be on hand, along with officers from around the country, to honor our brother, whose life was cut so tragically short. Our hearts go out to Officer Moore’s family. He hails from a long line of police officers. His father and uncle served in the NYPD, and many of his cousins are police officers on Long Island. This is a family that knows service.”

Officer Moore had an extremely promising career on the NYPD. He had served less than five years, but had already made more than 150 arrests and had earned several medals for meritorious service. He died after being shot in the head by a man with an extensive criminal record.

“The Nassau PBA stands ready to assist the Moore family in any way we can,” Mr. Carver said. “It will be an honor for us to stand by them at the service for Officer Moore.”

The funeral will be at 11 AM on Friday at St. James Roman Catholic Church in Seaford.

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Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray To Be Nominated for Nassau District Attorney Wed, 06 May 2015 20:53:10 +0000
Kate Murray

Kate Murray

Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray has accepted the Republican nomination for the Office of Nassau County District Attorney tonight, Wednesday May 6, 2015, 7pm – 8:30pm at Wisdom Lane School 120 Center Lane, Levittown, NY

Surrounded by hundreds of friends, community leaders and elected officials, Kate Murray will detail her priorities for the District Attorney’s Office.

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Funeral Traffic Advisory Closures | NYPD Officer Brian Moore Wed, 06 May 2015 20:45:26 +0000


The Nassau County Police Department Public Information Office is assisting the New York City Police Department with the viewing and funeral of Police Officer Brian Moore.

Following are guidelines for media that plans on covering the viewing and / or funeral.

For the viewing which will take place at Chapey and Sons Funeral Home located at 20 Hicksville Rd., Bethpage on Thursday, May 7, 2015 from 2:00 PM until 10:00 PM

All broadcast trucks will be parked on the West side inlet of Hicksville Road at Ludwig Lane.  Only one truck per media outlet will be permitted to park at this location.

Media will meet NYPD DCPI or NCPD PIO personnel at location at 12:30 PM to be directed to designated area Once a truck is parked at this location it will not be permitted to leave until 10 pm.

Traffic Advisory





12:00 NOON TO 10:00 P.M.



9:00 A.M. UNTIL 2:00 P.M.


1490 Franklin Ave., Mineola, NY 11501

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Zephry Teachout: Of the three men in the room who control our state, two have been arrested Mon, 04 May 2015 21:22:16 +0000
Dean Skelos has been arrested on corruption charges.You may not be shocked, but you should be angry.

Of the three men in the room who control our state, two have been arrested (Silver and Skelos), after the third, Governor Cuomo, shut down the Moreland anti-corruption commission, saying its work was done.

You should be angry for all the kids who are ignored while Albany serves other interests, for the anemic infrastructure support, for the refusal to serve New Yorkers instead of friends and donors. You should be angry because according to the charges, the state is serving Glenwood Management’s interests, instead of your interests.

If you live in New York City, you should be angry when you look out at the new skyline, built on tax breaks for wealthy developers, while many people can barely afford rent. The Skelos indictment details how Glenwood Management (the company that also gave Cuomo over $1 million through the LLC loophole) funneled money to Skelos’ son in exchange for Skelos pushing for tax breaks for Glenwood, and against rent regulations.

Glenwood, with ties to all three New York leaders, is the power behind the throne, using legal and illegal bribery to reshape our state in its image, instead of with our visions.

We’ve got a fight on our hands. But the distance between the state we are, and the state we could be, is just a few feet, if we leap over the chasm of corruption.

I believe that love, hope, and anger are the heart of building a powerful populist fighting force, one that works for the people. But along with love, hope, and anger, we need to break down the toxic system of legalized corruption and build up a new system, structured on people, not money.

I’m happy to be a broken record on public financing of campaigns until we get it passed state-wide. Right now, the doors to Albany are barred to would-be candidates who don’t have rich friends. If we want a new crop of public-spirited lawmakers, we need to pass public financing and open the doors.

Andrew Cuomo defended his record as an anti-corruption reformer this spring by saying that too many lawmakers were judged by a “few bad apples.” When two of the three biggest apples in the state are arrested, it’s not just bad apples. It’s the crop.

PS: If you want to follow the details of the Skelos case, and corruption in Albany more general, follow They’ve been providing great coverage.


teachoutZephyr Rain Teachout is an American academic. She is an Associate Professor of Law at Fordham University. In 2014, she ran for the Democratic Party nomination for Governor of New York, losing to incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo.

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