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Food Coops: The Not-So-Happy Marriage of Organic Produce and Politics

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

WNYC

In Brooklyn, the Park Slope Coop voted 1005 to 653 not to move forward on a controversial proposal to ban products from Israel Tuesday night.

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The Empire

New ethics panel finds $220 million spent on lobbying Albany last year

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

By Karen DeWitt, New York State Public Radio Capital Bureau Chief

The seemingly recession proof business of lobbying grew once again in New York last year. The state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics found a total of $220 million was spent to influence the Governor and members of the legislature.

In particular, JCOPE found that a lobbying group closely associated with the Governor’s policies, The Committee to Save New York, was the biggest spender in 2011. The group, made up of business interests, financed nearly $12 million worth of lobbying and advertising campaigns.

In second place, is the health care workers union SEIU 1199, which spent nearly $7 million dollars on lobbying. Most of the largest lobbying clients were health care or education concerns.

Also on the top ten lobbying expenditure list: Wal-Mart and New Yorkers United for Marriage. The state approved same-sex marriage in June of last year.

Among the highest paying clients: the gambling conglomerate Genting, which wants to expand the Aqueduct race track’s gambling capacity, and Rudin Management, a major real estate firm.

The top lobbying firms include many with ties to government leaders. For example the firm of the Assembly Speaker’s former press secretary, Patricia Lynch Associates, netted nearly $8 million dollars form lobbying clients.

The report can be read here:  http://www.jcope.ny.gov/pubs/annualreport2011/2011%20Annual%20Report.pdf

 

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The Empire

Cuomo, Skelos and Silver announce agreement on NY state budget

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Courtesy of the Governor's office

Governor Andrew Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos announced Tuesday that a final agreement has been reached on this year’s $133 billion budget. It marks the second year in a row the state’s budget has come in balanced and before the deadline.

"For the second straight year, New York State has worked and created a balanced budget based on fiscal responsibility, job creation, government efficiency, and the premise that we must invest in our communities," Cuomo said in a statement announcing the final agreement.

The final agreement comes a week after Cuomo and the legislative leaders agreed to a number of the Governor’s policy items, including the creation of a new DNA databank, an agreement on teacher evaluations and a scaled back version of the pension reform he outlined in his budget proposal. The deal also saw new state legislative districts, drawn by the legislature, passed alongside an agreement to push forward a constitutional amendment to change the decennial redistricting process beginning in 2021.

This year’s budget closed the remaining $2.1 billion budget gap left over after last year’s tax restructuring, which left higher income earners paying more but helped reign in an initial gap of $3.5 billion. The final budget limits spending growth to two percent, while investing in infrastructure job programs, restoring education aid, and eliminating or consolidating dozens of government agencies.

“This agreement puts us in a position to deliver another early budget that controls spending and taxes, and builds on the bipartisan successes we achieved last year,” Skelos said in the statement.

“This budget includes much needed increases in education spending, including an increase in base aid for community colleges for the first time in five years, and vital restorations to programs that protect our state’s neediest citizens,” said Silver in the statement.

Some of the budget highlights include:

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The Empire

Councilman Halloran's entrance gives Dems in NY-06 primary a new target

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Courtesy of the Halloran campaign.

The cast of characters is assembled. Republican City Councilman Dan Halloran’s official announcement yesterday that he is running for Congress in the new 6th District in Queens capped a week or so of campaign launches. Unless a Republican challenger emerges, Halloran will face whichever of the three Democrats pulls out a win in this year’s sprint of a primary race.

“I am running for Congress because the president and the Democrats’ policies have failed, and New Yorkers need a new voice,” Halloran said in a statement announcing his campaign’s launch. “Democrats in Washington, led by President Obama, have spent us into financial ruin. They have failed to grow our economy and have led us deep into a harrowing recession. And they have thumbed their nose at Israel, calling for a return to its 1967 borders and showing an unwillingness to stand up to our mutual enemy, Iran, who wishes to destroy us. My Democratic opponents are nothing but a rubber stamp for this president’s failed leadership.”

Halloran was first elected to the city council in 2009 after a campaign that took some interesting as well as ugly terms. Halloran has been called a "pagan" after reports connected him to a group that worshiped Nordic and Germanic gods. Halloran was also accused of race baiting white voters against his Korean rival, Democrat Kevin Kim.

There’s a decent chance Halloran could again face an Asian candidate from the Flushing area. The early Democratic frontrunner is Assemblywoman Grace Meng. Last week Meng received the backing of the Queens County Democratic organization. This week she officially launched her campaign, listing a large number of Queens Democrats as supporters.

At least from the statements from the campaigns, it looks like Halloran and Meng arepicking up where now-Congressman Bob Turner and Assemblyman David Weprin left off in their special election last September. Republicans appear to want to continue to make the the race about Obama and, in a heavily Jewish district, Israel. Democrats—at least those around Meng—lead with House Republicans’ fiscal combativeness and attacks on the social safety net in Meng’s statement on Halloran entering the race:

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It's A Free Country ®

Listen | Day 2 Highlights from the Supreme Court Health Care Case

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

On the second day of oral arguments on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate to purchase health insurance, the Supreme Court weighed the federal government’s argument that health care is different from all other products.

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The Takeaway

President Embraces "ObamaCare"

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

In this conversation with Kathleen Hall Jamieson, professor of communications and director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, we hear how Democrats plan to rehabilitate the word "ObamaCare" through coordinated public relations campaigns online and off.  

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The Empire

'The Capitol Pressroom' with Susan Arbetter

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Today on "The Capitol Pressroom":

Legislative leaders were in high gear last night: With a Saturday midnight budget deadline starting them in the face, they got down to business, hammering out agreements on infrastructure spending; a new broadly defined commission on gambling and gubernatorial power to transfer money from one agency to another. Newsday’s Albany Bureau Chief Yancey Roy joins us with an update on where things stand.

Then, what will NOT be in the budget? Legislation to create a health care marketplace in New York. Blair Horner of the American Cancer Society will share his thoughts on what that could mean for New York as we head deeper into health care reform.

General Contractors are thrilled by the money that will be spent on transportation infrastructure. Mike Elmendorf, President & CEO of the New York State Association of General Contractors will have reaction.

Plus, Senator Liz Kruger and Senator Bill Perkins, both Democrats, want a bill currently sitting in the Senate Codes committee to be pulled off the shelf. The bill authorizes the use of deadly force in self-defense. Senate Dems say that in light of the Trayvon Martin shooting tragedy the bill invites vigilantism.

For show archives, please visit The Capitol Bureau's website here.

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It's A Free Country ®

Championship | Most Memorable GOP Debate Moments

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

It's all come down to this. After two weeks of voting, it's between Rick Perry's "Oops" and the booing of a gay soldier for most memorable moment of the 2012 GOP debates.

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The Takeaway

Ohio Attorney General Explains Why He Joined Suit Against Affordable Care Act

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The case against the Affordable Care Act currently being heard by the Supreme Court was brought by 26 states. Ohio is one of those states, and in Ohio, disapproval of the health care law runs deep. Last fall, Ohio voters amended the state constitution to say that no federal or state law will require any person, company or health care provider to participate in a health care system. Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine explains why he joined the suit against the Affordable Care Act.

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The Takeaway

Doctors Debate the Individual Mandate

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

All this week, we're talking about Department of Health and Human Services vs. Florida, the health care case at the Supreme Court. Today the Court will hear arguments on the constitutionality of the individual mandate, the provision of the Affordable Care Act that requires Americans to purchase health insurance. Failure to purchase health insurance could result in a fine. We've heard from constitutional scholars and economists for their take on health care reform and the individual mandate, and today we turn to three doctors this morning who have very different perspectives on the individual mandate. 

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The Takeaway

Day Two: The Supreme Court and Health Care

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Taxes, penalties, and tax penalties. That sums up much of what was discussed at yesterday's Supreme Court hearing on the 2010 health care overhaul bill, also known as the Affordable Care Act. Today's hearing, in which the court will focus on the constitutionality of the health overhaul, promises to be much more exciting. We speak with Jeffrey Rosen, professor of law at George Washington University, and Monica Haymond, a legal assistant originally from California who's been sleeping outside the Supreme Court Building since Friday night, hoping to get into today’s hearing.

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It's A Free Country ®

Chat Recap: Supreme Court on Healthcare

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

This afternoon at 2, Anna Sale and Brian Lehrer hosted a live chat on the Supreme Court hearings. They were joined by The Takeaway host Celeste Headlee, health care reporter Fred Mogul and others to parse out what’s at stake. Read a recap of the live chat below.

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It's A Free Blog

Opinion: Boycott ZTE for Helping Iran Oppress Its People

Monday, March 26, 2012

Despite tough sanctions on the Iranian government, they still were able to get embargoed American technology that has helped them track down and arrest—and then assuredly torture and otherwise harm—critics of the regime.

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It's A Free Country ®

Listen | Day 1 Highlights from the Supreme Court Health Care Case

Monday, March 26, 2012

On Monday, as the Supreme Court began hearing oral arguments on the constitutionality of the health care individual mandate, the nine Justices had to answer a question of terminology that’s been debated since 2009: is “Obamacare” a “tax”?

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The Empire

Liu pivots from pension risks to benefits for workers without retirement security

Monday, March 26, 2012

Colby Hamilton / WNYC

For a while, the conversation around pensions has primarily been focused on the cost and risk public pensions present to their fiscal backstops, the taxpayers. During this year’s budget negotiations Governor Andrew Cuomo pushed for changes to the system for future public employees. They were needed, he said, because New York’s state and local governments could not afford the system as-is. He was at least partially successful.

Now, the man in charge of the city’s pension system, Comptroller John Liu, wants to change the focus on pensions, from the debate over their sustainability to a wider discussion about retirement security, and the positive role public pension funds could play.

On Monday, Liu joined Dr. Teresa Ghilarducci, director of the New School’s Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis, to promote an idea they say could help the 60 percent or so of New Yorkers currently without a retirement plan by allowing them to buy into the public pension system.

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The Empire

State electeds hold hoodie protest over Trayvon Martin shooting

Monday, March 26, 2012

Karen DeWitt / NYS Public Radio

Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries, holding a bag of Skittles candy, is joined by other elected officials to protest the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida.

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The Takeaway

The Criterion Collection Releases "The War Room"

Monday, March 26, 2012

Documentary filmmakers D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus followed Bill Clinton's campaign staff during his 1992 Presidential campaign. The resulting film "The War Room," was a quick classic, giving viewers a peek behind the curtain of American politics. Last week "The War Room" was released as part of the Criterion Collection on DVD and Blu-ray.

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The Empire

'The Capitol Pressroom' with Susan Arbetter

Monday, March 26, 2012

Today on "The Capitol Pressroom":

A new statewide coalition New Yorkers Against Fracking, is launching a campaign to ban the controversial drilling technique here in New York. Wes Gillingham of the Catskill Mountainkeeper will have details of this morning’s event. Plus keynote speaker, author, biologist and activist Sandra Steingraber will join him on the air. And she won’t just be talking about hydrofracking. She will also be dishing about her latest break-up. In case you didn’t hear the news, Sandra dumped the Sierra Club. She lets it fly in the latest edition of Orion Magazine.

The Supreme Court today begins hearing arguments on the constitutionality of Affordable Care Act. Over the next three days, the court will be presented with four questions:

  1. GATEWAY ISSUE -- Should the Justices be hearing this case at all since no one has yet been penalized for failing to obtain health insurance? Aka Anti Injunction Act
  2. INDIVIDUAL MANDATE-- Does Congress have the power to mandate that people buy healthcare coverage?
  3. DOMINO EFFECT-- If the Justices say “no” the mandate isn’t constitutional, then the next question is “Can the other provisions of the law stand?” (this is the severability question)
  4. COERSION --“Does Congress have the power to require states to expand Medicaid? Does it make it impossible for States NOT to comply by forcing them to foot the entire bill for Medicaid, if they say ‘no’?

We will be joined by three experts in different aspects of the case. Susan Low Bloch, a Professor of Constitutional Law at Georgetown; Richard Kirsch a Senior Fellow at the Roosevelt Institute and the author of Fighting for Our Health: The Epic Battle to Make Health Care a Right in the United States; and Thomas Dennison, professor of public administration and director of the Syracuse Maxwell School’s certificate program in Health Services Management and Policy, and co-director of the Central New York Master of Public Health program, a collaboration between Syracuse University and SUNY Upstate Medical Center.

For show archives, please visit The Capitol Bureau's website here.

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It's A Free Country ®

Herman Cain Unleashes Most Bizarre Political Ad Yet

Monday, March 26, 2012

I promise, you won't be able to guess what's about to happen to that little bunny.

Comments [1]

It's A Free Blog

Opinion: How to Blow the Whistle on Big Money

Monday, March 26, 2012

Citizens United allows corporations to use money to influence elections, so a group of progressive organizations is using money to influence corporations. Larry Flynt has once again issued a call for evidence of improprieties -- sexual and financial -- by members of Congress.

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