Tag Archive: Andrew Cuomo

Aug 17 2016

Prison Reform: The Aging Population Problem

One of the many problems faced by the federal and state prison system is a fast growing elderly population that is ill requiring special medical attention and facilities. Some of these people, men and women, are serving sentences for violent crimes, others for low level drug possessions and have been sentenced due to mandatory minimums, …

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Feb 26 2015

Is Cuomo Covering His Corrupt Tracks?

The International Business Times is reporting the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has ordered the destruction of state government e-mails older than 90 days. Cuomo ordered this in the midst of a Federal investigation into public corruption.

In a memo obtained by Capital New York, Cuomo officials announced that mass purging of email records is beginning across several state government agencies. The timing of the announcement, which followed through on a 2013 proposal, is worth noting: The large-scale destruction of state documents will be happening in the middle of a sprawling federal investigation of public corruption in Albany. That investigation has been looking at state legislators and the Cuomo administration.

Cuomo’s move to purge state emails follows a similar move he made as state Attorney General. International Business Times confirmed that in 2007, he put in place a mass deletion policy for emails in the New York Attorney General’s office that were more than 90 days old, making it difficult for the public to know how — or whether — his office investigated bank fraud in the lead-up to the financial crisis of 2008. In the Cuomo administration’s announcement this week, the governor’s chief information officer, Maggie Miller, justified the new email purge as a cost-saving measure aimed at “making government work better.”

But former prosecutors and open-government advocates interviewed by IBTimes say the move seems designed to hide information.

According to the Capital News article, the memo (pdf) from Ms. Miller, a former Girls Scouts of America executive who was hired in December, was sent to agency heads of Friday. The article goes on tho site that over a dozen advocacy agencies sent a letter to the governor’s office (pdf) last month  arguing that the policy was out of step with federal guidelines and technologically unnecessary:

In this era, government runs on email, and access to email and electronic records has become a cornerstone of public transparency. Our groups are very concerned that the administration’s June 2013 policy of using centralized software to automatically delete state employee emails after 90 days is resulting in the destruction of emails that are considered public records under New York’s Freedom of Information Law,” wrote the groups, which were organized by Reinvent Albany. “This policy was adopted without public notice or comment. Furthermore, we are extremely concerned that the inevitable destruction of email records under your 90-day automatic deletion policy directly undermines other public accountability laws like the False Claims Act.

New York’s contract with Microsoft, which developed Office 365, allows for 50 gigabytes of e-mail storage per employee. Reinvent Albany estimated this would be enough to handle up to 30 years worth of messages. [..]

In addition to the federal seven-year standard, other states like Washington, Florida and Connecticut have retention periods of between two and five years. The Central Intelligence Agency recently proposed a three-year retention period for departing employees, and was criticized for not archiving messages for longer. Shorter retention periods are more common in corporations seeking to reduce their exposure in litigation, according to a memorandum compiled by Reinvent Albany (pdf).

After Cuomo abruptly ended his Moreland Commission that was investigating campaign finance and public corruption when it apparently got too close to his own office, US Attorney Prete Brarara began a federal probe into Albany. The timing of this order raises significant legal questions, according to Melanie Sloan, a former Clinton Justice Department official:

“This is potentially obstruction of justice,” she told IBTimes. “The only reason that the government destroys records is so no one can question what it is doing, and no one can unearth information about improper conduct. There’s no reason for New York not to preserve this information.”

Sloan said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who is spearheading the Albany probe, could issue a letter to Cuomo ordering him to preserve all documents that could be relevant to the public corruption investigation. In May 2014, Bharara issued such a letter to state legislators. Bharara’s office declined to comment when asked by IBTimes if it had now issued a similar directive to Cuomo.

John Kaehny, the head of a coalition of transparency group called Reinvent Albany, said the purge order may be designed to circumvent obstruction of justice statutes that are designed to prevent deliberate document destruction.

“[The policy] may mean that you could never be accused of obstructing justice or destroying evidence because you could claim that the machine automatically deleted it,” he told IBTimes. “It creates a loophole and opportunity to destroy embarrassing emails.” [..]

Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, says beyond questions about legality, the public should be concerned about how the policy may preclude journalists from reporting on state government.

“This policy will allow the Cuomo administration, in many cases, to delete newsworthy emails faster than reporters can even request them,” Timm said. “It looks like an attempt to avoid accountability.”

This lookng more and more like a cover up of Cuomo’s corruption ever since he was the state’s attorney general. Hopefully, he won’t get away with it.

Sep 07 2014

Zephyr Teachout Speaks Out For New York

On Tuesday New York will decide which candidate they want to represent the Democratic Party on the November ballot for the offices of governor and lieutenant governor. While incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo has been refusing to debate his primary challengers, Zephyr Teachout and Randy Credico, to the point of pretending he didn’t see Professor Teachout at Saturday’s Labor Day parade, Prof. Teachout has been making appearances on radio and television talk shows.

Saturday morning Prof Teachout was a guest on MSNBC’s “Up with Steve Kornacki

For many New York voters the choice is becoming clear: a vote for Andrew Cuomo os a vote for the 1% and the same old corruption and pandering to the interests of Wall St.; a vote for Zephyr Teachout is a vote for the working class majority of New York and real Democratic principles.

Aug 27 2014

Democratic Choices for New Yorkers

New York State’s Primary is September 9. New York registered Democratic voter’s will have an option for governor and lieutenant governor, despite incumbent Governor Andrew Cuomo’s best efforts to keep his challenger, Fordham University law professor Zephyr Teachout, off the ballot. Prof. Teachout and her running mate , Columbia Law professor, Tim Wu are gaining name recognition are gaining recognition and important endorsements from labor unions, environmental groups to the National Organization for Women (NOW). The campaign’s platform is clear in it’s support of a Democratic liberal agenda that opposes corruption and fracking; calling for support and funding of free public education; increase of the minimum wage; fair taxation; rebuilding infrastructure and real campaign finance reform.

The campaign has focused attention on Gov. Cuomo’s failures to live up to his 2010 campaign promises and has criticized his selection of conservative Democrat, Kathy Hochul, the former Democratic representative to the federal House, as a running mate.

Teachout and her running mate Tim Wu unveiled the first installment of what they called the “Hochul Dossier” detailing the Erie County Democrat’s conservative leanings. The first segment dealt with Hochul’s stint in Congress and several votes she took siding with House GOP leaders against the Obama administration. [..]

Teachout said Cuomo’s choice of Hochul is part of a pattern of behavior that shows the governor is at odds with Democratic primary voters. She also noted his failure to support more ardent redistricting reforms and his lack of support for a Democratic takeover of the state Senate. [..]

Democrat Zephyr Teachout says Gov. Cuomo’s choice for lieutenant governor is too conservative Christie M Farriella/for New York Daily News Democrat Zephyr Teachout says Gov. Cuomo’s choice for lieutenant governor is too conservative

With barely two weeks to go until the Democratic primary, gubernatorial hopeful Zephyr Teachout’s campaign launched a new broadside against Gov. Cuomo’s pick for lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul.

Teachout and her running mate Tim Wu unveiled the first installment of what they called the “Hochul Dossier” detailing the Erie County Democrat’s conservative leanings. The first segment dealt with Hochul’s stint in Congress and several votes she took siding with House GOP leaders against the Obama administration.

“Kathy Hochul is a choice that Andrew Cuomo made that reflects his own Republican values as opposed to Democratic values,” Teachout said on a conference call with reporters to announce the dossier. The campaign plans to release three other segments of the dossier over the next 10 days.

Teachout said Cuomo’s choice of Hochul is part of a pattern of behavior that shows the governor is at odds with Democratic primary voters. She also noted his failure to support more ardent redistricting reforms and his lack of support for a Democratic takeover of the state Senate.[..]

Among the votes cited by Teachout and Wu were instances where Hochul supported GOP-led efforts to strip away portions of Obamacare, block funding for groups affiliated with the scandal-plagued community group ACORN and hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for failing to produce documents related to the “Fast and Furious investigation.”

The campaign also released this video of Ms. Hochul’s conservative leanings.

Professors Teachout and Wu may be underdogs but they are giving disgruntled Democrats in New York a clear choice on the issues and the kind of government most New Yorkers really want. The choice on Speedometer 9th is a choice between real Democrats or Republicans cloaked in a Democratic facade.

Jul 25 2014

Andrew Cuomo’s Saturday Night Massacre

Last year, after the New York State legislature failed to pass campaign finance and a year riddled with corruption scandals, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo empaneled an “independent” commission to pursue misconduct among public officials and make recommendations to changes to the state’s election and campaign fund-raising laws. The 25 member Moreland Commission was created last July to restore public trust in government. But nine months later, Gov. Cuomo shut it down. The governor claimed that with “the passage of new tougher laws on bribery and  corruption, and improved enforcement of election law”, the commission was no longer needed.

That didn’t satisfy government watch dogs or some lawmakers. Nor did it satisfy Preet Bharara, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, whose investigations had led to the commissions formation. According to the New York Times, Mr. Bharara contacted two of the commission’s three chairs, William J. Fitzpatrick and Milton L. Williams Jr. His suspicion was that Gov. Cuomo had shut down the commission for political expediency and because the commission’s investigation was getting to close to his office. It now appears that Mr. Bharara has really good instincts.

This week the New York Times broke with this extensive report:

Cuomo’s Office Hobbled Ethics Inquiries by Moreland Commission

With Albany rocked by a seemingly endless barrage of scandals and arrests, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo set up a high-powered commission last summer to root out corruption in state politics. It was barely two months old when its investigators, hunting for violations of campaign-finance laws, issued a subpoena to a media-buying firm that had placed millions of dollars’ worth of advertisements for the New York State Democratic Party.

The investigators did not realize that the firm, Buying Time, also counted Mr. Cuomo among its clients, having bought the airtime for his campaign when he ran for governor in 2010.

Word that the subpoena had been served quickly reached Mr. Cuomo’s most senior aide, Lawrence S. Schwartz. He called one of the commission’s three co-chairs, William J. Fitzpatrick, the district attorney in Syracuse.

“This is wrong,” Mr. Schwartz said, according to Mr. Fitzpatrick, whose account was corroborated by three other people told about the call at the time. He said the firm worked for the governor, and issued a simple directive:

“Pull it back.”

The subpoena was swiftly withdrawn. The panel’s chief investigator explained why in an email to the two other co-chairs later that afternoon.

“They apparently produced ads for the governor,” she wrote.

The pulled-back subpoena was the most flagrant example of how the commission, established with great ceremony by Mr. Cuomo in July 2013, was hobbled almost from the outset by demands from the governor’s office.

Despite Gov, Cuomo’s denial and protestations that it was his commission to dismiss, Mr Bharara is taking over where the commission’s investigations. The lengthy article is a must read.

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow roasted Gov. Cuomo in an extended segment that included an interview with Thomas Kaplan one of the three authors who wrote the NYT’s article.

The governor’s travails also caught the attention of The Daily Show‘s Jon Stewart

Gov. Cuomo’s Democratic Primary opponent Fordham University law professor Zephyr Teachout has called for the governor to resign should these allegations prove true.

Also complicating his headaches, Gov. Cuomo had some of the commission members sworn in as deputy state attorneys general by State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman that calls into question his assertions that he had a right to interfere with the commission. Quite similar to late President Richard M. Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre when he ordered the independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox fired after Mr. Cox issued subpoenas asking for copies of taped conversations recorded in the Oval Office and authorized by Nixon as evidence.

Gov. Cuomo does have a lot of questions to answer and so far his answers have fallen very short.

Oct 26 2010

How to Murder a Third Party

Cross-posted at Progressive Blue and several other places.

Actually the list of ways to kill off competition from Parties that represent the people is endless. When it comes to getting things done, taking out Third Parties has been one place where the two power parties has always preformed to the utmost of their ability and this is just one New York story.

Some states have evolved Fusion Parties in an attempt to get out from under the scrutiny of these power happy keepers of the plutocracy. One of these upstanding parties is The Working Families Party that has some presence in New York State. They stand for progressive values and labor union rights but this party has endorsed Andrew Cuomo. Reading Cuomo Vows Offensive Against Labor Unions it seems mysterious that the Working Families Party would place Cuomo on the ticket.

Andrew M. Cuomo  will mount a presidential-style permanent political campaign to counter the well-financed labor unions he believes have bullied previous governors and lawmakers into making bad decisions. He will seek to transform the state’s weak business lobby into a more formidable ally, believing that corporate leaders in New York have virtually surrendered the field to big labor.

By following the explanation of Celeste Katz who writes The Daily Politic at the New York Daily News the mystery is solved. Did you know that the Working Families Party has to receive 50,000 votes in the governors race this year to be on the ticket in 2010? Not getting those 50,000 (and it was because of Andrew Cuomo) was how the Liberal Party lost a column in New York State and later withered and died.  

The short version is that Andrew Cuomo used that 50,000 hurdle to blackmail the Working Families Party but below the fold I’ll follow the full explanation by Celeste Katz to understand how a union hating gubernatorial candidate got the endorsement of a party that is suppose to represent labor.