Category Archives: Governor Andrew Cuomo

NYS, Google Public-Private Partnership Launches App to Help Struggling New Yorkers Locate Benefits

Back in May, NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo announced collaboration with Eric Schmidt, former CEO and Executive chairman of Google, who serves as chair of a new 15 member commission to help New York  “use technology in the economy of tomorrow” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State has just launched a new web application to help struggling New Yorkers locate benefits to assist them during their time of need. Developed through a public-private partnership with Google.org, the user-friendly social services discovery application will help individuals who are either new to or unfamiliar with the state’s social programs network. 

“COVID-19 has caused unprecedented demand for social services in New York, including families and individuals who have never relied on social programs before,” Governor Cuomo said.”This new web application, the result of a public-private partnership, will provide New Yorkers with a user-friendly, stigma-free resource to get the assistance and relief they need.”

The “Find Services” web application provides an easy-to-use starting point for first-time users of social programs. The web application prompts each user with a series of simple questions aimed at narrowing the field of possible services to those that are best designed to serve their needs. After answering the questions, the user is provided with a ranked list of potential services along with a description to help residents judge if the service is right for them and provide them with more information about how to apply.

The web application was developed at no cost to taxpayers during a six-month collaboration between the state Office of Information Technology Services and the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, which oversees many of New York’s social services programs, and a team of 10 full-time pro bono Google.org fellows supporting the Governor’s COVID-19 Tech SWAT Team initiative. This unique public-private partnership has enlisted the assistance of leading technology companies and has assisted roughly four million New Yorkers since its inception. The web application’s code has been open sourced to allow other government entities the opportunity to build on this project to meet the needs of their residents.

During a three-week pilot of the application, more than 100,000 New Yorkers accessed the web application. The State will use analytics data to understand where residents need help getting connected with vital government services and refine the application over time to best serve the needs of New Yorkers. 

ITS Interim Chief Information Officer and Director Jeremy Goldberg said, “Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York State has moved with urgency and resilience to tackle the coronavirus head-on. We have received unprecedented support from civic-minded technologists across the state to support our response efforts. We welcomed that support and worked hand-in-glove with this team to assist those who needed it most.”

New York’s social services programs have seen increased caseloads since the start of the global pandemic.  More low-income New Yorkers are availing themselves of critical benefits, including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and temporary cash assistance.

OTDA Commissioner Mike Hein said,”Now more than ever, it is critical for eligible New Yorkers to have easy access to programs designed to help them and their families in their time of need. This new web application expands our ongoing efforts to provide a stigma-free platform for individuals and families to explore and familiarize themselves with social programs that can make an enormous difference in their lives.”

President of Google.org Jacquelline Fuller said, “Seeking social services can be difficult, especially if you don’t know where to start. The Google.org Fellows wanted to make it easy for New York residents to find and access essential programs, especially in times of crisis. In under six months and 10,000 pro bono work hours donated, the team was able to build a web application from the ground up by combining the technical expertise of Googlers with the unwavering leadership of New York State. Google has called New York home for the last 20 years and we’re proud to stand alongside Governor Cuomo and the members of the Tech SWAT Team to help ensure the health and safety of our community.”

In March, Governor Cuomo directed ITS to solicit volunteers from the technology community to help develop competent technological solutions to meet the unprecedented challenges posed by the unprecedented coronavirus outbreak, to help facilitate New York State’s coordinated, decisive, and rapidly evolving response. ITS worked with the Governor’s Office and the state Department of Financial Services to establish a team of highly trained civic-minded professionals in the technology field to assist the state’s response over 90-day periods.

The New York State COVID-19 Tech ‘SWAT’ Team  has since assisted state agencies with operations, analytics, communications, and other critical needs during the ongoing response. The team completed 21 large projects managed and led entirely by internal government teams at ITS, the New York State Digital Service Team, and state Office of General Services. An additional 19 projects were completed pro bono, involving a combined 25,000 hours of volunteer hours and saving taxpayers roughly $14 million.

National Governors Association Questions Trump Administration on Funding, Distribution of COVID-19 Vaccine

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, who chairs the National Governors Association, raised questions of all state governors on how a COVID-19 vaccine would be distributed when it becomes available. Who would be in line first? Who pays for the extraordinary storage requirements (minus 80 degrees)? Who pays for the essential workers to administer the millions of doses when states are suffering deficits forcing layoffs among essential workers? The National Governors Association raised these questions in a letter to the Trump Administration© Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The National Governors Association, chaired by New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, today sent a list of questions to the Trump Administration seeking clarity on how to most effectively distribute and administer a COVID-19 vaccine. The distribution and implementation of the vaccine is a massive undertaking that cannot be managed without significant logistical coordination, planning and financial assistance between states and the federal government. The list of questions — which were submitted from Republican and Democratic governors from around the country — covers funding for the administration of a vaccine, allocation and supply chain, and communication and information requirements.

“The National Governors Association, which I chair, sent a letter to the president of the United States last week. We asked to meet with the president to discuss how this is supposed to work between the federal government and the states,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are now releasing a compilation of questions from governors all across the country, Democratic and Republican, saying to the White House: how is this going to work? We need to answer these questions before the vaccine is available so that we are ready to go and no one is caught flat-footed when the time comes to vaccinate people.”

In his press briefing on COVID-19 in the state, Cuomo commented, “The 36 questions from the Governors sent to the White House basically are asking, ‘How does this work. We understand the concept but how does it work?’ Some of the questions: How will the vaccine be allocated to states? What formula is used – in other words, are you going to allocate it by infection rate? Are you going to allocate it by number of cases of COVID? Are you going to allocate it by population? Who determines how many each state gets – what’s the basis that you using.

“Is there a national strategy on the prioritization – in other words, the federal government going to say, ‘I think nursing homes should get it first. I think nurses should get it first. I think doctors should get it first. I think anybody over 70 should get it first.’ Is the federal government going to do that prioritization? Can they tell us if they’re going to condition the release of vaccines, right? The vaccines are controlled by the federal government. Are they going to turn around and say, ‘Well we won’t give you the vaccines, New York State, California unless you do X Y Z.’ And can we know that now? Is there multi-state coordination? On our own, during COVID we coordinated with the Northeastern states to New Jersey, Connecticut, et cetera. Is there a multi-state coordination piece here, or is everybody on their own? Am I my responsible for all of New York and there’s no connection to New Jersey and there’s no connection to Connecticut, there’s no connection to Pennsylvania?

“And who is going to pay to do this? New York State is already $50 billion in debt between state and local governments. And they have not passed legislation on the state and local relief. If the state has a deficit and the local governments have a deficit, we can’t fund essential workers. That’s who gets cut when you cut state and local governments. And now you’re going want undertake this vaccination program, which frankly requires more essential workers, not less? And they’re talking about a vaccine possibly in December. We’re here in October – this is just a few weeks to plan in this massive undertaking. Let’s learn the lessons from the past seven months. Otherwise, we’re going to relive the nightmares that we have lived through, right? Let’s not repeat the mistakes of March, April, May….

“We can’t go through that same confusion again. It’s not a question of knowing what to do. It’s a question of knowing how to do it. We know what we need to do. We need to control the virus, we need to take more tests, now we need to do vaccines. We know what we need to do. How do you do it? How do you do it – the devil’s in the details. How do you administer 40 million vaccines in the State of New York. That’s the trick. Everybody agrees with the concept. “Yes, vaccinate everyone.” Got it. How? How?

“And that’s the art form of government by the way and that’s what separates words from action and rhetoric from results and talk from competence – how do you do it? And that’s what we have to focus on now and that’s what the governors are saying to the federal government. Why? Because the way the federal government has structured it, the states are in charge of the doing. This person got to the COVID situation, he said, ‘It’s up to the Governors. It’s up to the states’. I don’t even know how that works by the way. It’s a nationwide problem. 50 states have it. But it’s not a federal response? The federal response is, ‘It’s up to you. You take charge, Governor. But I’m right behind you -go get ’em, tiger.’ Yeah, thank you very much. So again, I’m sure what the federal government is talking about is we’ll approve the vaccines, we’ll appropriate the vaccine, we then deliver them to the state. You figure out how to do it. Who pays? Insurance companies? What happens for the uninsured people? How do I keep dosages cold, – 80-degrees? Well, those are details. No. That’s the difference between life and death in a situation like this. And that’s where we have to get.”

Cuomo added, “The State will have a statewide vaccination plan. We will do it in concert with the federal government. The federal government is in charge of producing the actual vaccines and distributing the vaccines so the State’s position is we have to wait for the federal government to provide us the vaccines, what is the schedule, how many, etcetera…

“We believe there’s going to be questions about the safety of the vaccine, so we put together a special New York task force team of experts. I’m going to ask them to review any vaccine before I recommend it to the people of the state. I think that will give people added surety in the vaccine. But, we are coming up with a plan on many presumptions. We don’t really know how many doses we’re going to get. We don’t know what vaccine we’re going to get. We don’t know when we’re going to get it. So this is all preliminary. But, we would prioritize the vaccinations. The prioritization would be based on risk and essential workers would have a priority and people at risk would be prioritized and we’d set up a matrix on that regards, by that regards, and there’d be several phases to the administration of the actual doses. We’re working with our health care partners all across the state. This is going to be a massive undertaking, hospitals, urgent care facilities , primary care facilities, pharmacies, local departments of health, mobile units, mass vaccination sites.”

Here is the list of questions NGA gathered from the nation’s governors:   

Funding for Vaccine Administration  

  • Will there be funding allocated to states to assist with distribution of the vaccine and other vaccine efforts?  
  • Without additional state and local funding to implement COVID-19 vaccine plans, we will be hampered in what we can accomplish. When can we expect more definitive information about resources related to this response?   
  • What are the plans for any federal contracts and/or additional funding to support “boots on the ground” to vaccinate in tiers 2 and beyond?  
  • How will vaccine administration costs be covered for people who are uninsured?   
  • Will the federal government be setting guidelines around allowable vaccine administration costs for those with health insurance (whether that is state insurance, Medicaid, Medicare, CHIP, or some other state funded health insurance)?   
  • How will funding/reimbursement for vaccines be handled?  
  • We understand that the vaccine will initially be provided at no cost, as was remdesivir. However, states now must pay for remdesivir on the commercial market. How long will the federal government commit to providing the vaccine to states cost-free?  

Allocation and Supply Chain  

  • How will the vaccine be allocated to states? What formula will be used?  
  • How will the vaccine be distributed? What mechanism will the federal government use?   
  • Can the administration provide more guidance on what prioritization requirements will be a condition of vaccine release and to what extent will states have latitude to guide these decisions?  
  • Are any further PREP Act changes anticipated beyond authorizations for pharmacists and interns to administer vaccine?  
  • How is CDC planning to manage vaccine distribution to Federal entities such as Federal Prisons, the VA and other Federal organizations? Will these entities receive a vaccine supply directly from the CDC or will states manage it?    
  • Similarly, when can states expect guidance from the federal government on the states’ responsibility to vaccinate federal employees (e.g., who is vaccinating National Guard, USPS employees, FBI, etc.  
  • How will tribal sovereignty be respected? The CDC sent a template asking how many vaccine doses need to be sent to each IHS/tribal health facility rather than asking states where each tribe wants their vaccine doses sent (which could be one of those facilities, a DOH public health office, a private provider that they’d like to contract with, etc.)  
  • What will be the national strategy for vaccine prioritization when supply is short?  
  • How will management of supplies (i.e. needles, syringes, alcohol pads, band aids, etc.) work?  
  • Will there be further guidance documents on handling ultra-cold vaccine (i.e. thawing, storage after thawing, reconstitution, etc.?  
  • We are aware of concerns that there is already a shortage of dry ice, which is being used to store the ultracold storage vaccines during the clinical trials.  
  • If that is true, does that shortage impact plans for shipping of ultracold storage vaccine using dry ice and containers that could store the vaccine for up to a week?   
  • If there is a shortage of dry ice, does this change the guidance to states to not purchase additional ultracold storage freezers?  
  • We also need guidance on redistribution of ultracold storage vaccines. If they will come in 1,000 dose shipments as indicated by the federal government, we likely will need to distribute them further in our rural areas.  What will the guidelines be to do that without compromising the vaccine?   
  • How long will the product be viable outside of the original packaging that the 1,000 doses will be shipped in? Can/will smaller volume packaging be provided in the shipment as well?   
  • What will the federal guidance be on sub-prioritization among the initial priority groups since there will not be enough vaccine at first for even healthcare workers as a group?   

Communication and Information Requirements  

  • There has been some indication that large pharmacy chains and possibly interstate healthcare systems will register directly with the federal government. We need the specific details since many of them are also reaching out to the states. This affects our targeted enrollment of these stakeholders to onboard as Covid-19 vaccine providers. When can we expect clarification on which stakeholders will contract directly with the federal government?  
  • Will there be coordinated multi-state process for monitoring vaccination effects (adverse effects, lack of immunity responses, etc) to ensure early warning signs are identified as quickly as possible?  
  • Will the federal government provide current/real time information about tribal nations enrolling with the CDC for direct shipments, versus enrolling through the state?   
  • Can the administration provide more information around long term care facilities? Specifically, are they planning to mandate vaccines in nursing homes through CMS? For example, will the use of vaccines be connected to continued Medicaid funding? If so, when would such requirements take effect?   
  • Is the federal government going to request that states report personally identifiable COVID vaccine data? We have concerns that this may create a lack of trust and discourage people from getting vaccinated.    
  • What is the state’s role in safety monitoring after people have been vaccinated?   
  • How many states are using VAMS as their Immunization Information System (IIS)?  
  • Will states share their micro-prioritization within Phase 1b?  
  • What communication/messaging materials have been developed?  
  • How will complex scientific data be messaged and shared publicly? What type of educational material, and in what languages, will be developed?  
  • What information will be shared publicly on each approved vaccine? How will transparency be ensured?   
  • CDC is planning to require reporting to the IIS within 24 hours of administration of the vaccine.  We know for flu vaccine there is a dramatic lag in data coming in – how will COVID-19 vaccine data reporting be any different?  

NYS Gets $18 Million Federal Grant to Train Workers, Support Entrepreneurs During, After COVID-19 Pandemic

Announcing an $18 million federal grant for to train workers for in-demand jobs and support entrepreneurs during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “Our workforce is the bedrock of our economy, and I know that this funding will help bridge the gap between education and industry, allowing us to build back better by uplifting both individuals looking for jobs and small businesses across the state.”  © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State has been awarded an $18 million federal grant to fund educational opportunities that train New Yorkers for in-demand jobs, support entrepreneurs, and help small businesses recover from the coronavirus pandemic. New York was one of just eight states to receive the funding – made available through the CARES Act – and received the most of any state that was awarded a grant. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo made the announcement during Workforce Development Awareness Week.

“The coronavirus pandemic is far from over, and as we continue to fight against this deadly virus, we must also respond to the economic devastation it has caused. With millions of Americans out of work, we must use every resource available to train New Yorkers to compete – and succeed – in this difficult economic situation,” Governor Cuomo said. “Our workforce is the bedrock of our economy, and I know that this funding will help bridge the gap between education and industry, allowing us to build back better by uplifting both individuals looking for jobs and small businesses across the state.”  

“We are making success accessible ensuring New Yorkers have the training and skills they need to seek new jobs and opportunities as we continue to battle this pandemic,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul.”Our ongoing workforce development initiative is supporting efforts to improve the economic security of women, youth and other groups that face significant barriers by making job placement more inclusive and leaving no New Yorker behind. We are sending a clear message to New Yorkers that they will have the training and skills they need to succeed as we build back better, smarter and stronger for the future.”

The New York State Department of Labor will partner with the Office of Workforce Development, Empire State Development, New York’s ten Regional Economic Development Councils, the State University of New York, and the City University of New York to allocate the federal grant funding on programs that support New York’s continued economic recovery. 

Educational programs will focus on developing the skills needed to succeed in emerging growth industries like tech, logistics, and advanced manufacturing, and supporting entrepreneurs. New York’s multi-pronged approach will include four elements:

1) Education for Hard-Hit NYC: In New York City, which was among the worst-hit COVID-19 communities, the CUNY system will assist in training residents with the digital skills needed for in-demand sectors such as data analytics, cybersecurity, advanced logistics/supply chain, digital marketing and communications, and software development.  

2) “Stay Near, Go Far” at SUNY: At 30 community colleges across the State, SUNY will leverage its existing “Stay Near, Go Far” initiative to train New Yorkers in high growth industries, including technology, healthcare, and advanced manufacturing, and provide them with the entrepreneurial skills needed to open their own businesses. 

3) Entrepreneurship Boot Camps: Building on its existing resources, Empire State Development will host a series of intensive workshops and boot camps to train entrepreneurs and small business owners on how to run their own business during – and after – the pandemic.  

4) Industry Focus, Regional Results: The Department of Labor will issue a competitive Request for Proposals and work with New York State’s ten Regional Economic Development Councils to identify industry-driven programs that either train job seekers to meet current local employment needs or are designed to address future economic and workforce development needs. 

New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said,”The COVID-19 public health emergency has changed nearly every facet of our lives – including our workplaces and workforce. We have a responsibility to prepare New Yorkers to succeed in, during, and after the pandemic, and these new training opportunities will give them the skills needed to get back to work and help small businesses thrive.”

“Workforce training has long been a fundamental part of ESD’s mission and will be a key towards helping our State’s businesses build back better,” Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Eric Gertler said. “This funding allows us to develop, in partnership with and supported by the strength of New York’s top-tier public universities, workshops and boot camps that will connect entrepreneurs with the skilled talent needed to meet the challenges of this new economic environment.”

State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras said, “The Pandemic has challenged us to identify and pursue bold, creative, outside-the-box strategies for stimulating the economy and getting people back to work. Connecting people with the specific skills needed for in-demand jobs right in their own communities is crucial to rebuilding the economy and ensuring that New Yorkers who have fallen on hard times can find new, meaningful opportunities that support themselves and their families. The Reimagine Workforce Preparation Grant will provide a major boost to that important effort.”

“CUNY is committed to helping all New Yorkers navigate and access high quality upskilling opportunities that are connected to jobs that are growing, as our City and State continue to recover economically,” CUNY Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez said. “This grant will enable CUNY to serve thousands of New Yorkers in important areas like digital marketing, data analytics, software and web app development.”

Congressman José Serrano said, “We have to make sure New York’s labor force has the skills necessary to access opportunities as we recover from COVID-19.  This initiative will expand access to free or low-cost support, education and training in the state of New York – one of only eight states selected for this investment. Made possible thanks to the CARES Act approved in Congress, this timely effort will ultimately help local workers, entrepreneurs and small businesses find opportunities, remain in business,  and emerge stronger during and after COVID-19.”

Congressman Joseph Morelle said, “COVID-19 has left more than a million New Yorkers out of work and businesses across every sector struggling, profoundly altering the future of our economy. We need bold investments in workforce development to rebuild and recover from this pandemic, and I’m proud to have helped secure critical funding through the CARES Act to make this initiative a reality and give workers and businesses the support they need. I’m grateful to Governor Cuomo for his steadfast leadership throughout this crisis and his commitment to ensuring New York emerges safe and stronger than ever.”

This federal grant comes as New York State recognizes its second-annual Workforce Development Awareness Week, which runs September 28 to October 4. During this week, New York State spotlights job training and higher education strategies that will help meet business and industry workforce needs, improve regional talent pipelines, enhance the flexibility and adaptability of local workforce entities, and expand workplace learning opportunities for the diverse cross-section of people who remain the bedrock of the state and nation’s workforce. These efforts take on even more importance as the state continues to battle the COVID-19 pandemic, continues the state’s economic reopening, and begins the process of building back better. 

NYS Takes Dramatic Steps to Expand Absentee and Early Voting; Launches Public Awareness Campaign

Voting will have a very different look in 2020. New York State is taking dramatic steps to expand absentee and early voting to address concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. “To say this election is the most critical in recent history is understating its importance. We want to make sure every vote in New York is counted and every voice is heard,” Governor Cuomo said. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Voters Can Learn More About Absentee Voting And Early Voting In New York By Visiting ny.gov/earlyvote

New York State had  long been criticized for having some of the most restrictive rules for voting, resulting in some of the lowest turnout rates in the country. But that has changed with a series of reforms aimed at making it easier to vote, including making absentee voting (vote-by-mail) an option available to all, new early voting, to meet the coronavirus crisis so that casting a vote does not have to be a life-and-death choice between exercising a citizen’s most cherished right, and their health.

In addition, Cuomo issued executive orders allowing registered voters to drop off their completed absentee ballot at a Board of Elections office, early voting location or Election Day voting location without requiring them to wait in line with in-person voters. Boards of elections are required to develop and submit a plan to the State Board of Elections by September 21 and make it publicly available.

Meanwhile, the state is launching a public awareness campaign to ensure New Yorkers know all the ways they can vote in November’s election, including voting early, voting absentee, or voting in person on Election Day. 

“Because of COVID, this year New Yorkers have several options when it comes to casting their ballot. You can vote early, vote absentee, or vote in person on Election Day, and I am issuing an executive order to ensure boards of elections have plans in place to safely receive the anticipated additional volume of absentee ballots through in person return,” Governor Cuomo said.”To say this election is the most critical in recent history is understating its importance. We want to make sure every vote in New York is counted and every voice is heard.”

Absentee ballots can be dropped to county boards of elections offices as soon as voters receive their ballot; any early voting location between October 24th and November 1st; and at polling locations on Election Day. By dropping off an absentee ballot at a county board of elections office, early voting site or polling location, New Yorkers can avoid Post Office delays and the need for a stamp.

Most New Yorkers can now request an absentee ballot for the first time under a new law the Governor signed expanding eligibility to all voters who have concerns regarding COVID-19. They should check the “temporary illness” box on their absentee ballot application. To learn more about absentee voting and early voting in New York, visit ny.gov/earlyvote.

The state has launched an absentee ballot portal where voters can directly request an absentee ballot for the upcoming November 3rd election.

Given an expected unprecedented increase in the use of absentee ballots and concerns about the reliability of the United States Postal Service, today’s executive order ensures an expedited, dedicated line for returning absentee ballots in-person, or a contactless drop box in every county.

The state made several sweeping election reform steps in advance of the November 3rd election. 

On August 20, Governor Cuomo signed into law a three-part election reform package to make it easier for New Yorkers to vote and be counted in November, including: allowing absentee ballot applications to be submitted to a board of elections immediately; expanding the necessary protections to allow a voter to get an absentee ballot due to risk or fear of illness including COVID-19 and; ensuring all absentee ballots postmarked on or before Election Day or received by a board of elections without a postmark on the day after the election will be counted. Ballots with a postmark demonstrating that they were mailed on or before Election Day will be counted if received by November 10. 

On August 24, Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order to further bolster and support New Yorker’s right to vote by requiring county boards of elections to take the following actions:

  1. Send a mailing outlining all deadlines for voters by Tuesday, September 8.
  2. Send staffing plans and needs to the New York State Board of Elections by September 20 so BOE can assist in ensuring adequate coverage.
  3. Adopt a uniform clarified envelope for absentee ballots and require counties to use it.
  4. Count votes faster: require all objections to be made by the county board in real time, make sure that boards are ready to count votes and reconcile affidavit and absentee ballots by 48 hours after elections. 
  5. Provide an option for New Yorkers to vote absentee in village, town and special district elections.

“All board of elections make sure they have everything in place, the staff in place, to count the ballots as soon as possible,” Cuomo said. “And the board of elections have to report staffing plans and any needs for additional staff. If they don’t have the staff. Tell us tell us before. So you can get the staff because you have to be able to count the ballots. You have to be able to tabulate the vote. We want it done and we want it done right, but we want it done timely. We don’t want to hear after-the-fact excuses for why you couldn’t do it. Tell us how you’re going to do it before-the-fact, and your staffing plan from the board of elections that will actually do that.

“This election is going to be one of the most critical in modern history. It will be controversial. You already hear the statements questioning the vote, and the accuracy of the vote, and mail-in ballots. We want to make sure that every vote is counted; every voice is heard and that it’s fair and right and accurate.”

“The federal administration has ordered an unprecedented attack on the U.S. Postal Service and with COVID-19 threatening our ability to have safe, in-person voting, these measures are critical to ensuring a successful and fair election at one of the most important moments in our nation’s history,” Governor Cuomo said. “These actions will further break down barriers to democracy and will make it easier for all New Yorkers to exercise their right to vote this November.” 

New Laws Will Make It Easier for New Yorkers to Vote and Be Counted in November

S.8015-D/A.10833 Authorizes Voters to Request an Absentee Ballot Due to Risk of Illness, Including COVID

S.8783A/A.10807 Authorizes Voters to Request Absentee Ballots Starting Today

S.8799A/A.10808-A Allows Ballots to Be Postmarked On the Day of the Election, November 3

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said, “Voting access is one of the core foundations of our democracy. With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we must ensure that no New Yorkers feel pressured to put their health and well-being at risk to exercise their Constitutional right to vote. I thank the bill sponsors for advancing this legislation, and my Senate Democratic Majority colleagues for their ongoing

commitment to empower New York voters and Governor Cuomo for signing these bills.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, “The Assembly Majority knows that democracy is best served when it is easier, not harder for Americans to vote. But the administration in Washington is once again proving that they do not value these critical democratic institutions, going as far as attacking the U.S. Postal Service to limit access to voting by mail. Here in New York, we will not stand for that. Earlier this year, we passed legislation to expand voters access to mail in voting, and we will continue to fight to make it easier and safer for New Yorkers to exercise their constitutional right to vote, and protect the integrity of our elections.”

Relating to Absentee Ballot Requests Due to Risk of Illness (S.8015-D/A.10833)

This legislation gives voters the right to request an absentee ballot due to risk of illness to themselves or others.

Senator Alessandra Biaggi said, “COVID has upended every aspect of our lives — but we cannot allow it to undermine our democracy and New Yorkers’ sacred right to vote. I introduced S8015D to ensure that no New Yorker will have to choose between their health and fulfilling their civic responsibility. Unfortunately, during the June election too many New Yorkers had to make that very choice because they did not receive their ballots on time. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for signing my bill to provide every New Yorker with the assurance that they can vote via absentee ballot come November and to give the Board of Elections the time they need to prepare. I also want to extend my gratitude to Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and my colleagues in the Legislature for their partnership and commitment to protecting our democracy.”

Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz said, “Today is a great day for our democracy in New York State. As we continue to work on ways to increase voter efficacy in the absentee ballot process, I thank Governor Cuomo for signing this bill into law so that New Yorkers do not have to choose between risking public health and fulfilling our civic duty to vote. I am proud that New York State can stand in contrast to our White House administration by taking steps to make it easier and safer to vote, instead of casting political dispersions that erode our core democratic institutions.”

Relating to Absentee Ballot Requests (S.8783A/A.10807)

This legislation authorizes voters to request absentee ballots immediately, 30 days before Election Day, adding almost 7 weeks to the amount of time a voter has to vote by absentee ballot. This legislation eliminates an outdated statutory provision that prevents voters from requesting absentee ballots until 30 days before Election Day. The legislation gives voters reassurance that they will receive and can cast their vote in a timely manner.

Senator Zellnor Myrie said, “With an increasing number of voters planning to vote by absentee ballot this year, it is important to give local boards of election sufficient time to process applications and send out ballots, and maximize the time voters have to complete and return them. This legislation is part of our continued effort to expand access to voting, during the pandemic and beyond. Voters should have full confidence that, whether they use a mailbox or a ballot box, they can exercise their rights safely, securely and without obstacles.”

Assemblymember Al Taylor said, “The COVID-19 health crisis has transformed life as we know it, including how we vote. This year we saw a tenfold increase in absentee ballot requests, with more people than ever choosing to vote by mail to protect the health of their families and community. With this new reality, we must ensure voters can exercise their rights in future elections both safely and efficiently, and that includes receiving absentee ballots in a timely fashion. I am honored to continue the fight to expand and protect voting rights in New York alongside my colleagues as we build upon the progress that’s already been made while helping our neighbors stay safe.  Thank you Governor Cuomo for signing this bill into law.”

Relating to Ballots Postmarked on Day of Election (S.8799A/A.10808-A)

This legislation allows ballots to be postmarked on the day of the election, November 3. The legislation also amends election law to allow the Board of Elections to count all absentee ballots that have a time stamp showing it was delivered to the Board of Elections the day after the election but does not have a dated postmark. The Board of Elections shall deem those ballots mailed in a timely fashion.

Senator Michael Gianaris said, “It’s critical we learn the lessons of the primary election and ensure every valid vote counts in November. The bill being signed today will help insulate voters from problems caused by difficulties with the US Postal Service. I’m grateful the Governor is enacting it.”

Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte said, “The legislation the governor is signing today will ensure that New Yorkers’ right to participate in the electoral process is protected. We saw unprecedented absentee voter turnout during the primary, but because of financial challenges at the United States Postal Service, many ballots did not receive timely postmarks. We must rise to the occasion and make sure that voters across the state can safely and effectively cast their votes. This legislation will help to address problems with the Post Office, by ensuring that absentee ballots that do not receive a postmark are considered timely if they are received by the Board of Elections the day after an election. This protects the integrity of votes and enfranchises the voter. I thank Gov. Cuomo for signing this bill and my colleagues in the Legislature for supporting New Yorkers by ensuring that their constitutional right to vote is protected.”

NYS Governor Cuomo: ‘Trump is actively trying to kill New York City’

NY S Governor Andrew Cuomo: We lose more people per day to COVID than any nation on the globe. You know who did that? Donald Trump’s incompetence. And now they won’t provide federal funding to help repair the damage from the ambush they created…The federal government must provide a response; if they don’t provide a response the national economy will suffer for years…They don’t want to provide a response, why? Because they’re playing politics. They don’t want to help Democratic states. They don’t want to help Democratic cities. This is a war on cities: New York City, Portland, Chicago. These are the enemies from the president’s point of view.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Andrew Cuomo in his daily briefing in which noted that New York State’s COVID-19 infection rate has been below 1 percent for 32 straight days., laid out a searing attack on Donald Trump, charging that Trump is waging war on Democratic-lead cities.

“Trump is actively trying to kill New York City,” Cuomo declared. “It is personal. I think it’s psychological. He is trying to kill New York City…

“We lose more people per day to COVID than any nation on the globe. You know who did that? Donald Trump’s incompetence. And now they won’t provide federal funding to help repair the damage from the ambush they created…

“The federal government must provide a response; if they don’t provide a response the national economy will suffer for years. Every economist says that They don’t want to provide a response, why? Because they’re playing politics. They don’t want to help Democratic states. They don’t want to help Democratic cities.”

Cuomo put it into the context of Trump administration’s failure to take measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus which came into New York and the Northeast from Europe, not China, causing untold emotional and economic harm, and now doing everything possible to prevent the city and state from recovering economically.

Here are his highlighted remarks –Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The good news is this: reopening is proceeding and our strategy is working. New Yorkers are doing a better job than any state in the United States of America— period— and I’m proud to be a New Yorker. The bad news is we have after-effects of COVID, social after-effects. We have economic issues. we have quality-of-life issues. We have increasing crime issues. We have habitability issues.  

I can’t tell you how many phone calls I get from people, especially in New York City, who are literally worried about the degradation of New York City— and much of it stems from the economic problems. And Washington is doing absolutely nothing. They’re going back and forth with gridlock. This was the last piece of legislation that they were supposed to pass to handle the aftermath of COVID and they haven’t done it. The Republican Senate doesn’t want to fund state and local governments and that’s the sticking point. Not to fund state and local governments, but to provide all the money that they did to businesses— but you’re not going to provide funding to state local governments, who basically support police, fire, hospitals and schools is just totally ludicrous to me. And it starts with the President.

There was a headline in the Daily News once: “Ford to City: Drop Dead,” and the city was outraged Ford wouldn’t provide financial resources. What Ford did pales in comparison to what Trump is doing; not only did he tell New York City to “drop dead,”

Trump is actively trying to kill New York City. It is personal. I think it’s psychological. He is trying to kill New York City.

He passed SALT, which was targeted just at New York City tax reform; it cost us $14 billion.

He’s refused to fund the extension of the Second Avenue Subway from 96th to 125th Street. Every prior administration has funded the Second Avenue Subway. It is always been a federal-state partnership. Only this President, a former New Yorker, refuses to fund the Second Avenue Subway— even after we opened it up to 96th Street and did an amazing turn-around on the construction project that everybody celebrated.

He won’t approve the AirTrain to LaGuardia. And you want to talk about really ironic, repugnant logic? You know why he won’t approve the AirTrain to LaGuardia? He says he has to do an Environmental Review statement. The same President who has lamented about the delay of Environmental Reviews and how they take so long, and how they stop development and how bad the SEQRA is and how the environmentalists are all full of baloney when it comes to ANWAR. Now he says, “I can’t approve the AirTrain from LaGuardia that’s been talked about for decades because I have to do an Environmental Review. Now Trump, as the environmental bureaucrat. How incredible is that? 

He won’t approve congestion pricing for the MTA. What does he have to do with congestion pricing? Nothing! It is just gratuitous. It is just gratuitous. There is no federal involvement with congestion pricing. Their approval is purely technical and it’s been over a year— we passed it in New York State. He won’t approve it.

He won’t rebuild the tunnels between New York and New Jersey that are dangerous. They’re Amtrak tunnels. Do you know who owns Amtrak? Who owns Amtrak? The federal government owns Amtrak. They’re his tunnels. They’re decaying. I went to the tunnel; I took a video of water seeping into the tunnel. I took a video of bricks crumbling. I sent them the video. He watched the video. Still, no money to fund the Amtrak tunnels.

This weekend, they stopped FEMA funding from cleaning schools and trains. “We want students to go back; we want schools to reopen.” But you don’t want to clean the schools? Students should go back to a dirty school? Is that what you want your child to do? Gratuitous and arbitrary, and now no federal funds for New York City and New York State post-COVID.  

Donald Trump caused the COVID outbreak in New York. That is a fact. It’s a fact that he admitted and the CDC admitted and Fauci admitted. “The China Virus, the China Virus, the China Virus.” It was not the China Virus; it was the European Virus that came to New York. They missed it. They missed it. The China Virus went to Europe. It got on a plane and went to Europe. They never even thought of the possibility and then 3 million Europeans got on a plane and came to New York and they brought the virus. January: they brought the virus. February: they brought the virus. March: they brought the virus. And in mid-March, the federal government does a travel ban from Europe. Mid-March. Too little too late, Mr. President. He caused the COVID outbreak in New York. Donald Trump and his incompetent CDC and his incompetent NIH and his incompetent Department of Homeland Security.  

Department of Homeland Security- “We’re going to protect the people of this nation “We’re not going let the immigrants come across the southern border; we’re going to create a wall” Why didn’t you stop the virus? The virus killed many more Americans than anything you were worried about on the southern border. This nation loses more people per day to COVID than any nation on the globe. Do you hear that point?

We lose more people per day to COVID than any nation on the globe. You know who did that? Donald Trump’s incompetence. And now they won’t provide federal funding to help repair the damage from the ambush they created. That’s where we are.

The federal government must provide a response; if they don’t provide a response the national economy will suffer for years. Every economist says that They don’t want to provide a response, why? Because they’re playing politics. They don’t want to help Democratic states. They don’t want to help Democratic cities.

This is a war on cities: New York City, Portland, Chicago. Right? These are the enemies from the president’s point of view. Look at his tweets. “These are the locations and the outposts of the enemies, so don’t provide them any funding even though we caused the COVID virus. It is an unsustainable position for the federal government.

Either this president will figure it out or the next president will figure it out. If Congress doesn’t figure it out, there will be mayhem in this country and there will be a different Congress in January. That is my political opinion. In the interim we have to be smart. We’ve gone through tough times before, New York, we had the fiscal crisis of the 70s; post 9/11 – I experienced it was a whole disruptive period – we went through the Great Recession, but we have to be smart we have to be smart we have to be financially smart and we’re going to have to come together and figure this out in the interim before we have a federal government that is sane and functional.  

The good news is, this is going to be a challenge, yes, but nothing like the challenge we just went through. COVID was the challenge of our lifetime. COVID was the challenge of our lifetime. I hope and pray. But compared to what we went through with COVID, dealing with the fiscal crisis is a mere bump and we’ll get through it, and we’ll get through it together because we’re New York Tough, Smart, United, Disciplined and most of all: Loving.

The number of new cases, percentage of tests that were positive and many other helpful data points are always available at forward.ny.gov.

As schools reopen and districts, local health departments, and labs begin reporting data to the NYS Dept. of Health, the COVID-19 Report Card will be live at: https://schoolcovidreportcard.health.ny.gov/

Black Lives Matter Protest for Equal Justice Comes to Suburbia

Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people who took a knee for 8 minutes 46 seconds, the amount of time a police officer had his knee on George Floyd’s neck, snuffing out his life. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

The murder of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officer has galvanized the nation and the world. His murder was only one of a long, long list of murders and lynchings over decades. But this was a perfect storm that made its heinousness obvious to all: this was not the instant firing of a gun in a moment of fear, but a tortuously long, drawn out 8 minutes, 46 seconds, during which three other police stood around, onlookers pleaded for mercy, and the whole thing captured on video shared over social media. So while there were other unprovoked killings – Breonna Taylor, shot in her own apartment in the dead of night after police invaded with a no-knock warrant – this one was undeniable in demonstrating the ingrained culture that dehumanizes in order for such violence to occur, and the smug security of police, given unparalleled power of a gun and a badge, that they would not be held accountable.

Enough is enough, protesters by the tens of thousands in hundreds of cities throughout the country and the world, chant, even putting their own lives at risk, not just from the baton-wielding, tear-gas throwing, flashbang grenade hurling, rubber-bullet firing police dressed as an invading army, but from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The protests have come to suburbia and our home town as well – most affectingly, one this weekend organized by Great Neck high school students which drew well over 500 people to Firefighters Park in Great Neck Plaza. (They withstood accusations on Facebook they were terrorists who had collected stones to throw at police. Meanwhile, county police closed off the main street to traffic so they could march a mile to the Village Green, and walked along side.)

They decried the structural racism at the heart of a police culture that has its origins in catching slaves, then, morphed into an enforcement mechanism for White Supremacy, along with so many other structural inequities that, by design, have kept African Americans, Hispanics and other minorities unequal in society.

While the elements of police brutality and criminal injustice are well known, they are kept in force year after year, decade after decade, generation after generation by supremely politically powerful police unions.

Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Indeed, the most dramatic “reform” is to completely rebuild police departments – there are 16,000 of them. Some police departments have actually done this – Camden, NJ, for example – and it may be the only way to really root out the structural inequities, bias. Now Minneapolis’ city council has voted to disband its $193 million police department. What that actually means is that, like Camden, it intends to rebuild it, in order to make it functional and appropriate in a country that supposedly is based on principles of “equal justice for all.”

They will likely scrutinize how police officers are recruited, hired, know if there is a record of police brutality (like Timothy Loehmann who murdered 12-year old Tamir Rice). How are officers trained and what they understand their “mission” to be? One trendy training program (as John Oliver disclosed on “Last Week Tonight”) is in the “art” of “Killology” where officers are instructed that if they are not predators prepared to kill, they have no business being police.  

Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Not only are the problems well known, but the solutions have been methodically investigated, analyzed, quantified and put in the form of recommendations – by the Obama Administration after the Ferguson, Missouri, riots that followed Michael Brown’s unprovoked murder by police. The task force developed a template for 21st Century Policing, including ending militarizing police. His Department of Justice under Eric Holder obtained consent decrees from the most vile police forces. But, like the template to address a global pandemic handed  to the Trump Administration, it was immediately discarded, and the consent decrees withdrawn.

Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

But George Floyd has created the rarest opportunity for reform. With breathtaking speed for New York or any state government, major measures for a “Say Their Name” police reform agenda have already passed the Legislature:  Allow for transparency of prior disciplinary records by reforming 50-a; ban chokeholds; prosecute for making a false race-based 911 report; and designating the Attorney General as an independent prosecutor in cases involving death of unarmed civilian by law enforcement.

Cuomo wants to go further to “seize the momentum,” correctly seeing this time as transformational to “reinvent” policing..

“This is a long time coming,” Cuomo said. “It is time to reimagine and reinvent policing for 2020…Police are public servants for that community – if the community doesn’t trust, doesn’t respect police, police can’t do their job.”

Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Democrats in Congress have also seized on this transformational moment as well, introducing “Justice in Policing Act” which at the federal level would ban chokeholds; challenge “qualified immunity”; prohibit no-knock warrants; counter the trend toward militarization of police; require body and dashboard cameras; require independent prosecutors in cases of police brutality; establish a national database to track police misconduct; and (finally) make lynching a federal  hate crime.

Calls to Defund the Police. Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Others want more. There are calls to “defund police” – which like “They’re coming for your guns” and “Open Borders!” is a catchy slogan that fits on a sign that has been deliberately distorted by Trump and the Republicans  and used to incite fear among (white suburban) voters who are being told their neighborhoods will be overrun by criminals, gangs and rapists.

What “defund police” means is reassessing what functions the police do. Do we want protectors or warriors? Are police the best ones to address situations involving mental health, drug overdoses, domestic violence or school discipline? More accurately, people are calling for “divest-reinvest”:  take that money and invest in social workers, mental health professionals, and guidance counselors that police, themselves, have said they are not equipped to deal with.

Divest Police-Reinvest in Communities. Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

And it means investing in community programs that in themselves reduce crime. That’s what Cuomo is proposing in a Justice Agenda to root out the causes of criminal injustice, all on view in conjunction with the coronavirus epidemic and its disproportionate impact on communities of color: it goes to addressing the disparities in education, housing, health care, poverty.

“This is not just a moment for political protest,” Governor Cuomo said. “It’s not just a moment to express outrage. It’s a moment to do something about it, and to make real reform and real change. That’s the goal of the moment. I understand the emotion. I want people to know how upset I am. Good. Second step, what do we do about it? And let’s get it done here in the State of New York.

Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“When we talk about a Justice Agenda, we want to fight the systemic racism, inequality and injustice in our society. That is what the protesters are saying and I stand with the protesters in saying that because it’s very true. But in this moment of change, let’s make it real change and let’s get to the root of the issue. You want to talk about injustice and inequality in America. Well then it has to start with our education system. We do not educate all children the same. ‘Opportunity for all.’ No, opportunity for some, opportunity for people who grow up in a rich school district and a rich family with high property taxes and they go to great schools, but not for the children who grow up in poorer communities, who go to inferior schools. That is the reality today. That is the truth. I’m saying that as Governor of New York not as a protester on a street corner. It is a fact. Even in this state, we spent $36,000 per year, per student, in a wealthy school district, $13,000 per year in a poorer school district. How do you rationalize that? You can’t and say this is a system that provides equal opportunity for all.

Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“How do you still have children living in poverty? With all this wealth, with all this abundance, how do you tolerate a situation where some children to no fault of their own, you can’t blame them, they were born into one circumstance and they are living in poverty? You can’t justify it. The number of homeless, lack of affordable housing, you have a federal government that just went out of the housing business. I was the former housing secretary, worked in housing all my life. Housing was a federal responsibility, not state, not local. 1949 Housing Act, “for this nation, safe, clean, decent housing for all Americans.” 1949, it’s 2020, what are we doing? There’s no section eight, no section eight project base, no more public housing, and then we wonder why there is an affordable housing shortage.

Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“And yes, criminal justice reform, why do we lock up more people than any industrialized nation on the globe? That is a sign of success? …Why do we have racial disparity in the criminal justice system? How do you rationalize it? Unless it goes back to the other systemic injustices and inequality, if a person grows up in poverty, if a person doesn’t have education, if a person doesn’t have access to opportunity, then you see the result in the criminal justice system. This is how you get at injustice and inequality, and you can’t do it piecemeal, either attack it fully or you will never defeat it. That is the justice agenda. And this has to be done on the federal level and it should be done on the federal level because this is not a New York or California or Florida issue. It is an American issue. And you are in the middle of election season, stand up and say, ‘Here is my election reform agenda. You want my support and my vote? Here is my agenda. You are running for Congress, you’re running for Senate, or whatever you’re running for, you want my support? Here is my agenda.’ That is my opinion,” Cuomo said.

But none of this will happen as long as Trump and the Republicans are in power.

Marching up main street. Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Marching up main street. Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Marching up main street. Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Marching up main street. Black Lives Matter protest comes to suburban communities. This one in Great Neck, Long Island, was organized by high school students and drew well over 500 people. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

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© 2020 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Cuomo Proposes Reform Agenda to End Police Brutality, Systemic Racism, Tells Protesters ‘Use Moment Constructively’

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a national agenda to end systemic racism in law enforcement, end police brutality. “Use this moment. Let’s talk about investigation of police abuse. No chokeholds, nation-wide standard for undue force. Let’s talk about funding of education and equal funding in education. Let’s talk about affordable housing. Let’s talk about a child poverty agenda. Let’s use the moment constructively.” © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo proposed a positive reform agenda to address systemic racism and police brutality amidst the ongoing protests across the state and nation in response to the killing of George Floyd. The reform agenda includes a national ban on excessive force and chokeholds by law enforcement officers; independent investigations of police brutality conducted by independent, outside agencies – not by local prosecutors; and disclosure of disciplinary records of police officers being investigated.

While standing firmly in support of the protests against police brutality, the Governor said that protest for its own sake would only work against the cause, but that there needs to be a clearly defined list of actions that need to be articulated.

“You want to make that moment work,” he declared. “Yes, you express the outrage. But then you say, ‘Here’s my agenda. Here’s what I want.’ That’s what we have to be doing in this moment. And the protesters are making a point. And most of them are making a smart, sensible point. But you have to add the positive reform agenda that every voice calls for so the government, the politicians know what to do. And there is a positive reform agenda here. There should be a national ban on excessive force by police officers. There should be a national ban on chokeholds. Period. There should be independent investigations of police abuse.”

And Cuomo also differentiated between the those who are exercising their Constitutional First Amendment right to protest against those who are taking advantage to loot and vandalize, giving Trump the opportunity to deflect and discount, and shift focus to himself as the “law-and-order” strongman. Indeed, there are reports that White Nationalist group is posing as Antifa on Twitter, calling for violence. Trump is proposing to designate Antifa a terrorist group, and is using them to justify calling out military against protesters – which would be a violation of the Posse Comitatus Act.

“There’s no doubt that what the President’s trying to do here is turn the attention to the looters rather than the point of the protest, which is genuine outrage,” Cuomo said in an interview with Nicolle Wallace on MSNBC. “”You look at what happened with Mr. Floyd, you have to be outraged. It’s not just Mr. Floyd in an isolated situation, it’s been years and years of the same situation. You can go back to Rodney King, Amadou Diallo and Eric Garner – it’s a long list.

They want to make this about looting and criminals rather than the killing. That’s what they’re trying to do. In New York, we did have large protests and we do have people who are, I think, exploiting the protest. There’s no doubt that there’s some people who came out and did looting and criminal activity. You have some disrupting organizations that are seizing upon the moment. We want to make sure that order is maintained and we’re putting in place a curfew.”

“Use this moment. You look in history, Nicolle, when did change come? Change came when the people insisted on change. Let’s talk about investigation of police abuse. No chokeholds, nation-wide standard for undue force. Let’s talk about funding of education and equal funding in education. Let’s talk about affordable housing. Let’s talk about a child poverty agenda. Let’s use the moment constructively.”

Cuomo ordered a curfew of 11 pm in New York City, and doubled the number of police, from 4,000 to 8,000. However, that was not enough to stop a spate of acts of looting and vandalism.

The protests come just as New York City was hitting the milestones in the fight against COVID-19, which has taken more lives – and more disproportionately in communities of color – in the city and state than anywhere in the country or world. The  Governor said that if there was any “silver” lining in the timing, the protests are happening when the infection rate has been cut from 20 percent to 2 percent but still raised concerns of reigniting the spread of the pandemic.

Here is a transcript of Governor Cuomo’s remarks:

We’re talking about reopening in one week in New York City. Now we’re seeing these mass gatherings over the past several nights that could, in fact, exacerbate the COVID-19 spread. We spent all this time closed down, locked down, masked, socially distanced and then you turn on the TV and you see there’s mass gatherings that could potentially be infecting hundreds and hundreds of people. After everything that we have done. We have to talk a minute and ask ourselves what are we doing here? What are we trying to accomplish?

We have protests across the state that continued last night, they continued across the nation. Upstate we worked with the cities very closely. The State Police did a great job. We had, basically, a few scattered arrests, upstate New York. But the local governments did a great job, the people did a great job, law enforcement did a great job. The protestors were responsible. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t bad, either, upstate.

I said from day one, I share the outrage and I stand with the protestors. You look at that video of the killing of an unarmed man, Mr. Floyd, it is horrendous. Horrendous. It’s frightening. It perverts everything you believe about this country. It does and there’s no excuse for it. No right minded American would make an excuse for it. So, protest yes. Be frustrated, yes. Outraged, yes of course. Is there a larger problem? Of course. It’s not just Mr. Floyd, it goes back – there are 50 cases that are just like Mr. Floyd. We’ve them here in New York City. What’s the difference between Mr. Floyd and Amadou Diallo? Or Abner Louima? Or Eric Garner? What is the difference? What have we learned? Nothing?

So, yes, we should be outraged. And yes, there’s a bigger point to make. It is abuse by police. But it’s something worse. It is racism. It is discrimination. It is fundamental inequality and injustice. My father spoke about it in 1984. The speech called “The Tale of Two Cities.” People still talk about it. The point of the tale of two cities is there’s two Americas. Two sets of rules. Two sets of outcomes. Two sets of expectations. It’s true. It was true then, it’s true now. Look at our prisons and tell me there’s not inherit injustice in society. Look at public housing, tell me there’s not inherent injustice.

Look at what happened with this COVID infection rate nationwide. More African Americans infected, more African Americans dead proportionally than white Americans. Of course, there’s chronic institutionalized discrimination. There is no doubt. There is no doubt. And there’s no doubt that it’s been going on for a long time and people are frustrated, and it has to be corrected and it has to be corrected now. And there’s no doubt, that this nation as great as it is has had the continuing sin of discrimination. From before the nation was formed and it started with slavery. And it has had different faces over the decades, but it’s still the same sin. That is true. That is true. So let’s use this moment as a moment of change? Yes.

When does change come? When the stars align and society focuses and the people focus, and they focus to such an extent that the politicians follow the people. That’s when change comes. “Well, the leaders lead!” Baloney. The people lead. And then the politicians see the people moving, and the politicians run to catch up with the people. How did we pass marriage equality in this State, giving a new civil right to the LGBTQ community? Because the people said, “enough is enough. How can you say only heterosexual people can marry, but the LGBTQ people— they can’t marry? How is that constitutional? How is that legal?” You have your own preference— God bless you. But how in the law, do you discriminate between two classes of people. We passed marriage equality.

After the Sandy Hook massacre, after all those years we tried to pass common sense gun safety. Do you really need an assault weapon to kill a deer? But then the Sandy Hook massacre happened, and the people said, “enough. You’re killing children? Young children in schools with an assault weapon? In the Sandy Hook massacre. Enough.”

And in that moment, we passed common sense gun safety in the State of New York. Record income inequality? People said, “enough” and passed a real minimum wage in this State that went all across the nation. There’s a moment for change, and is there a moment here? Yes. If we’re constructive and if we’re smart, and if we know what were asking for! It’s not enough to come out and say, “I’m angry, I’m frustrated.” OK. And what? “Well, I don’t know, but I’m angry and frustrated.”

And you want what done? You need the answer. “Well, I want common sense gun reform.” OK, what does it look like? Here it is— three points. “Well I want to address income inequality.” Well, what do you want? “Here’s what I want. Minimum wage at $15. Free college tuition.” What do you want?

You want to make that moment work. Yes, you express the outrage! But then you say, “here’s my agenda. Here’s what I want.” That’s what we have to be doing in this moment. And the protestors are making a point. And most of them are making a smart, sensible point. But you have to add the positive reform agenda that every voice calls for so the government, the politicians know what to do. And there is a positive reform agenda here. There should be a national ban on excessive force by police officers. There should be a national ban on chokeholds. Period. There should be independent investigations of police abuse. When you have the local District Attorney doing the investigations— I don’t care how good they are— there is the suggestion of a conflict of interest. Why? Because that DA works with that police department every day and now that prosecutor is going to do the investigation of that police department that they work with every day? Conflict of interests can be real or perceived. How can people believe that the local prosecutor who works with that police department is going to be fair in the investigation? It shouldn’t be state by state. Minnesota Governor Walz put the attorney general in charge. Good. In this state, I put attorney general in charge of investigations where police kill an unarmed person. Good. But it shouldn’t be the exception. It should be the rule. There is no self-policing. There’s an allegation, independent investigation. Give people comfort that the investigation is real.

If a police officer is being investigated, how is there disciplinary records not relevant? Once a police officer is being investigated, if they have disciplinary records that show this was a repeat pattern, how is that not relevant? By the way, the disciplinary records can also be used to exonerate. If they have disciplinary records that say he never, she never did anything like this before, fine. That’s relevant too.

We still have two education systems in this country. Everybody knows it. Your education is decided by your zip code. Poorer schools in poorer communities have a different level of funding than richer schools in this state. $36,000 per year we spend in a rich district. $13,000 in a poor district. How do you justify that? If anything, the children in a poorer community need more services in a school, not less. How do you justify that? You can’t. Do something about it. You still have children living in poverty in this nation? Well, when we had to, we found a trillion dollars to handle the COVID virus, but you can’t find funding to help children who live in poverty? No, you can find it, United States. You just don’t want to. It’s political will. When you need to find the money, you can find it. Let’s be honest, the federal government has a printing press in their basement. When they have the political will, they find the money.

The federal government went out of the housing business and never re-entered it. We have a national affordable housing crisis. Of course you do. You don’t fund affordable housing. I’m the former HUD secretary. I know better than anyone what the federal government used to do in terms of affordable housing with Section 8 and building new public housing. And we just stopped, and we left it to the market. Now you have an affordable housing plan. That’s what we should be addressing in this moment. And we should be saying to our federal officials, “There’s an election this year, a few months away. Here’s my agenda. Where do you stand?” Say to the congress, the House and Senate, “Where’s your bill on this?”

I heard some congressional people talking saying well maybe they’ll do a resolution. Yeah, resolutions are nice. Resolutions say in theory I support this. Pass a law, that’s what we want. A law that actually changes the reality, where something actually happens. That’s government’s job is to actually make change. Make change. You’re in a position to make change. Make change. Use this moment to galvanize public support. Use that outrage to actually make the change. And have the intelligence to say what changes you actually want. Otherwise, it’s just screaming into the wind if you don’t know exactly what changes we need to make.

And we have to be smart in this moment. The violence in these protests obscures the righteousness of the message. The people who are exploiting the situation, the looting, that’s not protesting. That’s not righteous indignation. That’s criminality and it plays into the hands of the people and the forces that don’t want to make the changes in the first place because then they get to dismiss the entire effort. I will tell you what they’re going to say. They’re going to say the first thing the President said when this happened. They’re going to say “These are looters.” Remember when the President put out that incendiary tweet? “We start shooting when they start looting or they start looting, we start shooting?” That’s an old ’60s call. The violence, the looting, the criminality plays right into those people who don’t want progressive change. And you mark my words, they’re going to say today, “Oh you see, they’re criminals. They’re looters. Did you see what they did breaking the store windows and going in and stealing?” And they’re going to try to paint this whole protest movement that they’re all criminals, they’re all looters. That’s what they’re going to do. Why? They don’t want to talk about Mr. Floyd’s death. They don’t want people seeing that video. They want people seeing the video of the looting. And when people see the video of the looting they say “Oh yeah, that’s scary. They’re criminals.” No, look at the video of the police officer killing Mr. Floyd. That’s the video we want people watching.

Now, I don’t even believe it’s the protesters. I believe there are people who are using this moment and using the protest for their own purpose. There are people who want to sow the seeds of anarchy, who want to disrupt. By the way, there are people who want to steal. And here’s a moment that you can use this moment to steal. You can use this moment to spread chaos. I hear the same thing from all the local officials. They have people in their communities who are there to quote unquote protest. They’re not from their community. They don’t know where they’re from, extremist groups, some people are going to blame the left, some people will blame the right. It will become politicized. But there is no doubt there are outside groups that come in to disrupt. There is no doubt that there are people who just use this moment to steal. What, it’s a coincidence they broke into a Rolex watch company? That was a coincidence? High end stores, Chanel. That was a coincidence? That was random? That was not random. So, can you have a legitimate protest movement hijacked? Yes, you can. Yes, you can. And there are people and forces who will exploit that moment and I believe that’s happening.

But we still have to be smart. And at the same time, we have a fundamental issue which is we just spent 93 days limiting behavior, closing down, no school, no business, thousands of small businesses destroyed. People will have lost their jobs. People wiped out their savings. And now mass gatherings with thousands of people in close proximity one week before we’re going to reopen New York City? What sense does this make? Control the spread, control the spread, control the spread. We don’t even know the consequence for the COVID virus of those mass gatherings. We don’t even know. We won’t know possibly for weeks. It’s the nature of the virus. How many super-spreaders were in that crowd? “Well, they were mostly young people.” How many young people went home and kissed their mother hello or shook hands with their father or hugged their father or their grandfather or their brother or their mother or their sister and spread a virus?

New York City opens next week. Took us 93 days to get here. Is this smart? New York tough. We went from the worst situation to reopening. From the worst situation to 54 deaths in 50 days. We went from the worst situation to reopening in 93 days. We did that because we were New York tough. New York tough was smart. We were smart. We were smart for 93 days. We were united, we were respectful of each other. We were disciplined. Wearing the mask is just discipline, it’s just discipline. Remember to put it on, remember to pick it up, remembering to put it on when see someone, it’s just discipline.

It was also about love. We did it because we love one another. That’s what a community is. We love one another. And yes, you can be loving even in New York. Even with the New York toughness, even with a New York accent, even with a New York swagger. We’re loving. That’s what we’ve done for 93 days in a way we’ve never done it before. Never in my lifetime. Never in my lifetime has this city and this state come together in the way we have. I don’t think it ever will again, in my lifetime. Now you can say maybe it takes a global pandemic for it to happen. I don’t know if that’s true and I don’t know that the power of what it was like when it came together might not be so beautiful that people want to do it again.

Remember when we all acted together during coronavirus and we rallied and we knocked coronavirus on its rear end. Remember when we all wore masks and we had to have hand sanitizer? Remember what we did? Wow. When we come together, we can do anything and it’s true. It’s true for the state, it’s true for a nation. When you come together and you have one agenda you can do anything. You want to change society, you want to end the tale of two cities, you want to make it one America? You can do that, just the way you knocked coronavirus on its rear end.

People united can do anything. We showed that, we just showed that the past 93 days. We can end the injustice and the discrimination and the intolerance and the police abuse. We have to be smart. We have to be smart right now. Right now in this state. We have to be smart tonight in this city because this is not advancing a reform agenda. This is not persuading government officials to change. This is not helping end coronavirus. We have to be smart.

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© 2020 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Cuomo Tells Trump to ‘Be Bold & Build’ to Spur Covid-Ravaged Economy, Blasts Washington’s Hyper-Partisanship

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo at the National Press Club, Washington DC, after meeting Trump at the White House, calling for COVID-19 aid to states and localities, repeal of the SALT cap, and a bold infrastructure spending plan (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, after a meeting with Donald Trump at the White House, chided Washington for politicizing the coronavirus pandemic, and not acting swiftly enough to provide crucial funding to states and localities, especially those – New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Massachusetts, California – where the outbreak of cases and the death toll has been the worst. “This hyper-partisan  Washington  environment is toxic for this country,” he stated in a press briefing shortly afterward at the National Press Club in Washington. He urged government to “do the right thing.”

Senate Republicans, led by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, have called such funding a “blue state bail out,” after having allocated billions to friendly industries and funneling millions to connected business interests. He stressed that New York and California, alone, represent one-third of the nation’s Gross Domestic Product, so you don’t have a reenergized economy without them. New York and California are also are the biggest donor states, sending billions of dollars more to taker-states like Kentucky than they get back in federal spending (New York sends $29 billion a year more than it gets back; Kentucky takes $29 billion more than it sends).If the states do not get federal aid, he stresseded, they will be forced to cut spending for hospitals, schools, police and fire – all the services most essential during a public health crisis – and excess thousands of workers, which won’t do the unemployment rate much good. Or, he said, the federal government can use this time as Franklin Roosevelt did during the Great Depression, to finally build the big, bold infrastructure projects that have been put on back-burners for 30 years.

Cuomo noted that the The House of Representatives has already passed its Heroes bill that includes $500 billion for states and $375 billion for locals; Medicaid funding for the most vulnerable; increased SNAP food assistance; 100 percent FEMA federal assistance; funding for testing; and repeals SALT cap to help states most affected by COVID-19, “the politically motivated first double tax in U.S. history” that was implemented by the federal tax law in 2017.

The Governor also renewed his call for Congress to pass the ‘Americans First Law’ to help prevent corporate bailouts following the COVID-19 pandemic. First proposed by the Governor on May 10th, the legislation states that a corporation cannot be eligible to receive government funding if it doesn’t maintain the same number of employees that the corporation had before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cuomo also urged President Trump to support a real public infrastructure program and to advance infrastructure projects in New York — including the LaGuardia AirTrain, the Cross-Hudson Tunnels, and the Second Avenue Subway expansion — to help supercharge the economy.

He listed a series of projects in New York State that are ready to go – including the LaGuardia AirTrain, the Cross-Hudson Tunnels, and the Second Avenue Subway expansion – that are just awaiting federal approval “to help supercharge the economy.” Significantly, Trump earlier has told agencies to dispense with regulations that are obstacles to speedy development, and during the 2016 campaign, boasted he would be the builder, with a $1 trillion infrastructure spending plan.

Cuomo also renewed his call for ‘Americans First Law’ which would require any company that takes government funding to rehire the same number of employees it had before the COVID-19 pandemic, and not use the pandemic to “right-size” or “downsize” and cut costs to increase profits.

“Washington is now debating their next bill that would aid in the reopening and the recovery. Prior bills have helped businesses, large businesses, small businesses, hotels, airlines, all sorts of business interests,” Cuomo said. “That’s great but you also have states and local governments and state governments do things like fund schools and fund hospitals. Do you really want to cut schools now? Do you really want to cut hospitals now after what we have just gone through when we are talking about a possible second wave, when we are talking about a fall with possible more cases? Do you really think we should starve state governments and cut hospitals? Would that be smart? Do you really want to cut local governments right now? That is cutting police. That is cutting fire. Is now the time to savage essential services and don’t you realize that if do you this, if you cut state and local governments and you cause chaos on the state and local level, how does that help a nation striving to recover economically?

“The Covid states, the states that bore the brunt of the Covid virus are one third of the national GDP. How can you tell one third of the country to go to heck and then think you’re going to see an economic rebound? Also, state governments, state economies, local economies, that is what the national economy is made of. What is the national economy but for a function of the states? There is no nation without the states. They tend to forget that in this town. But it is the obvious fact and we have made this mistake before.

“Again, look at history. If you don’t learn from your mistakes you are going to repeat the mistakes. It is that simple and we have seen in the past what has happened when state and local governments were savaged and how it hurt the national recovery. Wall Street Journal, not exactly a liberal publication, makes the point that on the economy cuts to employment and spending likely to weigh on growth for years. So even if you believe the rhetoric we are about reopening, we are about getting the economy back, great. Then if that is what you believe you would provide funding to the state and local governments.

“The Federal Reserve Chairman Powell, very smart man respected on both sides of the aisle, said we have evidence the global financial crisis in the years afterward where state and local government layoffs and lack of hiring weighed on economic growth. We want to reopen the economy. We want to get this national economy better than ever. Fine. Then act accordingly and act appropriately.

“This hyper-partisan Washington environment is toxic for this country. You have people saying, well don’t want to pass a bill that we continue don’t want to pass a bill that helps Democratic states. It would be a blue state bailout is what some have said. Senator McConnell, stopping blue state bailouts. Senator Scott, we’re supposed to go bail them out? That’s not right. On Fox TV, Laffer, you want us to give our money to Cuomo and New York? Hello, not this week.

“First of all, this is really an ugly, ugly sentiment. It is an un-American response. We’re still the United States of America. Those words meant something. United States of America. First of all, Mr. federal legislator, you’re nothing without the states, and you represent the United States. Not only is it ugly, it is false. It is wholly untrue, what they are saying, 100 percent. And there are facts, if you want to pose the question, which is, I think, divisive at this period of time.

“But if you want to pose the question, what states give money and what states take money? Right? There is a financial equation that is the federal government. And if you want to ask, what states give money to other states and what states take money from other states, that’s a question that Senator McConnell and Senator Scott and Mr. Laffer don’t really want to ask, because the truth, the truth is totally the opposite of what they’re saying. You look at the states that give more money to the federal government than they get back. You know the top, what they call donor state, you know what one state pays in more to the pot than they take out to the federal pot than any other state than the United States? It’s the State of New York. New York pays more every year, $29 billion more, than they take back. You know the second state, New Jersey. Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, every year, they contribute more to the federal pot. You know who takes out more than they put in from that pot? You know whose hand goes in deeper and takes out than they put in? Virginia, Maryland, Kentucky, Alabama, Florida. Those are the facts, those are the numbers.

“The great irony is, the conservatives want to argue against redistribution of wealth. Why should you take money from the rich and give it to the poor? That’s exactly what you are doing. That is exactly what you have done every year. So it’s only redistribution unless you wind up getting more money. Then it’s fine, then it’s not redistribution. Take from the rich, give to the poor, that’s redistribution, yes, unless you’re the poor, Senator McConnell, Senator Scott because you were the ones who have your hand out. You were the ones who are taking more than others. Redistribution, you’re against it, except when the richer states give you more money every year. Then the great hypocrisy, they actually make the redistribution worse when they passed three years ago a provision ending what’s called state and local tax deductibility. That didn’t level the playing field. 

“What they did was they took the states that were already paying more money into the federal government, the quote, unquote richer states and they increased the money they were taking from the richer states. They took another $23 billion from California and another $14 billion from New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Illinois, Connecticut. The hypocrisy is so insulting because when you start to talk about numbers, there is still facts. People can still add and people can still subtract and they know what they put in and they know what they take out. 

“I know it’s Washington, D.C. but the truth actually still matters. Americans are smart and they find out the truth even in the fog and the blather of Washington, DC. My point to our friends in the Congress: Stop abusing New York. Stop abusing New Jersey. Stop abusing Massachusetts and Illinois and Michigan and Pennsylvania. Stop abusing the states who bore the brunt of the Covid virus through no fault of their own. Why did New York have so many cases. It’s nothing about New York. It’s because the virus came from Europe and no one in this nation told us.”

Cuomo hit back on suggestions that the state was at fault for having so many COVID-19 cases – indeed, more than almost any other nation, at 364,965, including 1129 cases added the day before, from 45 counties. Indeed, though Trump had intelligence briefings in January, he downplayed the threat and even later, only looked to China as a source, so the country’s attention was focused on cases in Washington and California. 

“We were told the virus is coming from China. It’s coming from China, look to the West. We were looking to the West it came from the East. The virus left China, went to Europe. Three million Europeans come to New York, land in our airports January, February, March and bring the virus. And nobody knew. It was not New York’s job. We don’t do international, global health. It didn’t come from China. It came from Europe and we bore the brunt of it. Now, you want to hold that against us because we bore the brunt of a national mistake? And because we had more people die? We lost more lives and you want to now double the insult and the injury by saying, ‘Well, why should we help those states? Those states had more Covid deaths.’ That’s why you’re supposed to help those states because they did have more Covid deaths and this is the United States and when one state has a problem, the other states help. 

“I was in the federal government for eight years. When Los Angeles had earthquakes, we helped. When the Midwest had the Red River floods, we helped. When Florida had Hurricane Andrew, we helped. When Texas had floods, we helped. When Louisiana had Hurricane Katrina, we helped. We didn’t say “well, that is Louisiana’s fault. They had the hurricane. Well, that is Texas’s fault, they had the floods.” It was nobody’s fault. And we were there to help because that is who we are and that is what we believe. What happened to that American spirit? What happened to that concept of mutuality?

“You know there still a simple premise that you can’t find in a book, and Washington hasn’t written regulations for, called doing the right thing. There is still a right thing in life. The right thing you feel inside you. The right thing is calibration of your principle and your belief and your soul and your heart and your spirit. And we do the right thing in this country, not because a law says do the right thing, but because we believe in doing the right thing. As individuals, as people, we believe in doing right by each other, by living your life by a code where you believe you are living it in an honorable way, acting on principle, and you are doing the right thing.

“Why can’t the government? Why can’t the Congress reflect the right thing principle that Americans live their life by? Pass a piece of legislation that is honorable and decent and does the right thing for all Americans. Why is that so hard? And if you want to talk about reopening the economy, then do it in a productive way. People think this economy is just going to bounce back. I don’t think it is going to bounce back. I think it will bounce back for some, and I think there will be collateral damage of others. We already know that tens of thousands of small businesses closed and probably won’t come back. We already know the large corporations are going to lay off thousands and thousands of workers, and they are going to use this pandemic as an excuse to get lean, to restructure, and they will boost their profits by reducing their payroll.

“We know it. We have been there before. We saw this in the 2008 Mortgage Crisis where the government bailed them out, the big banks that created the problem, and they used the money to pay themselves bonuses and they laid off their workers. They will do is same thing again that. That is why I propose the Americans First legislation that said a corporation can’t get a dime of government bailout unless they rehire the same number of workers they had pre-pandemic as post. Don’t take a gift from the taxpayer and then lay off Americans who are going to file for unemployment insurance paid for by the taxpayers. Don’t do that again.

“And if you want to be smart, we know that there is work to do in this nation. We have known it for years. You can fill a library with the number of books on the infrastructure and the decay of our infrastructure and how many roads and bridges have to be repaired, how this nation is grossly outpaced by nations across the world in terms of infrastructure, airports and development. Now is the time to stimulate the economy by doing that construction and doing that growth. You want to supercharge the reopening? That’s how do you it. This nation was smart enough to do it before. We did it in the midst of the great depression. We created 8 million jobs. We built an infrastructure that we’re still living on today. We’re still living on the infrastructure built by our grandparents, not even our parents. What are we going to leave our children? And now is the time to do it.

“We have major infrastructure projects in New York that are ready to go, that are desperately needed, that were desperately needed 30 years ago. Build them now. Supercharge the reopening. Grow the economy. That’s what we would do if we were smart. You’re not going to have a supercharged economy. You’re not going to see this nation get up and start running again, unless we do it together. That’s states working with other states. That’s a federal government that stands up and puts everything else aside.

“They were elected to provide good government. Nobody elected anyone to engage in partisan politics. There was a time when as a nation we were smart enough to say, “You want to play politics? That’s what a campaign is for.” Run your campaign against your opponent. Say all sorts of crazy things. That’s crazy campaign time. But when government starts, stop the politics, and do what’s right and smart. Don’t play your politics at the expense of the citizens you represent. There is no good government concept anymore. It’s politics 365 days a year. From the moment they’re elected to the moment they run again, it’s all politics. And that is poison. We have to get to a point, if only for a moment, if only for a moment, if only for a moment in response to a national crisis where we say it’s not red and blue. It’s red, white, and blue. It’s the United States and we’re going to act that way.

“In New York we say that by saying New York tough, but it’s America tough. Which is smart, and united, and disciplined, and loving, and loving.”

Cuomo said that the ninth of 10 regions, Long Island, began reopening today, joining Mid-Hudson Valley which opened yesterday, the Capital Region, Western New York, Central New York, North Country, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley Regions, which all have met the seven metrics required for Phase One of a multi-phase process. Each of the regions has to have a monitoring commission in place to make sure reopening does not trigger new outbreaks, and that any upticks are addressed.

New York City still has more metrics to complete before it can begin its formal reopening, though the New York Stock Exchange did reopen yesterday.

Governor Cuomo: “States are responsible for the enforcement of all the procedures around reopening but at the same time the federal government has a role to play and the federal government has to do its part as we work our way through this crisis. There cannot be at national recovery if the state and local governments are not funded.”

See also: Politicizing a Pandemic

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© 2020 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go to www.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging at www.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures. ‘Like’ us on facebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Cuomo Launches $100 Million New York Forward Loan Fund for Small Businesses; Sees Phase 1 Reopening in LI, Mid-Hudson; Expands Testing to Pharmacies

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo  is so keen on emphasizing the importance of wearing a mask to keep down the rates of infection, hospitalization and deaths from COVID-19, the state is mounting a contest for a public service announcement. Five finalists have been selected. To vote (by May 25) go to coronavirus.health.ny.gov/wear-mask © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the launch of the $100 million New York Forward Loan Fund to provide flexible and affordable loans to help small businesses, focusing on minority and women owned small businesses, that did not receive federal COVID-19 assistance. The state will take a smart, targeted approach for distributing these loans, focusing on businesses with 20 or fewer employees and less than $3 million in gross revenues. Businesses interested in receiving a loan should visit esd.ny.gov/nyforwardloans.

Governor Cuomo also announced the Long Island and Mid-Hudson Valley Regions will be permitted to begin construction staging in anticipation of phase one of reopening. If the number of deaths continues to decrease and the tracing is online, both regions could reopen next week.

The Governor also announced the launch of a new pilot program with 52 independent pharmacies to conduct 7,000 tests per week. New York State now has more than 750 testing sites across the state. The Governor also encouraged eligible New Yorkers to visit coronavirus.health.ny.gov to find a nearby testing site and get tested.

The Governor also announced that the state is making its contact tracing training curriculum available at no cost to all states through the National Governors Association to speed the process of creating contact tracing programs. The state partnered with Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University to develop this comprehensive online curriculum to train potential contact tracers. Contact tracing is currently underway in seven regions of the state – the Capital Region, Central New York, Finger Lakes, the Mohawk Valley, the North Country, the Southern Tier and Western New York.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stresses the importance of wearing a mask to slow the spread of coronavirus (c) Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.

The Governor pointed to the urgency of continuing practices like social distancing, hand-washing and perhaps most critically, wearing a mask in public when six-feet separation cannot be maintained.

“How do you know the mask works?” he said. “First responders have a lower infection rate than the general population. Nurses, doctors in emergency rooms have a lower infection rate than the general population. How can that possibly be? Because they wear the mask and they do the hand sanitizers. You feel out of control, you can’t protect yourself, you can’t protect family? Yes, you can. That’s what the mask does. You want to be in control of yourself? You want to greatly increase your odds? Wear the mask. By the way, not just asking you. The mask is mandatory in public settings. Public transportation, if you are in a taxi or Uber, private carriers, or anytime you are in public within six feet of another person, the mask is mandatory. It is not just a nice thing to do, a responsible thing to do, for citizen duty, it is mandatory that you wear the mask within six feet of another person in public. You don’t have a right to infect another person. You don’t. Look at the constitution, tell me where it says you have the right to infect another person. You don’t.

“So, how do we reopen smart? It’s up to you. It’s up to us. And that’s both the beauty and the conundrum of this situation. It is wholly dependent on social action. Wholly dependent on social action. You tell me what people do, I will tell you the results, period. Government can say whatever it wants. I can sit up here and say whatever I want. I can’t control it. People can control it.”

Cuomo is so keen on mask-wearing, that he enlisted his daughter Mariah Kennedy Cuomo to create the state’s Wear a Mask New York Ad Contest, which was launched on May 5th. Out of 600 submissions, five finalists have been selected. New Yorkers can vote for the winning ad until Monday May 25th at WearAMask.ny.gov, and 92,000 people have voted to date. The winning ad will be announced on Tuesday, May 26th, and that ad will be used as a public service announcement.

On the state’s decision to launch its own small business loan program, Cuomo said, “Small business is a priority. Federal government passed the Small Business Assistance Program. That has run out of money and small businesses are taking a real beating in this situation. They are 90 percent of New York’s businesses and they’re facing the toughest challenges. The economic projections, vi-a-vie small business are actually frightening. More than 100,000 have shut permanently since the pandemic hit. Many small businesses just don’t have the staying power to continue to pay all the fixed costs, the lease, et cetera, when they have no income whatsoever. Minority owned businesses face a far greater risk and have received less in federal relief.”

The state’s own small business relief program will make $100 million available through private banks.

“We’re going to focus on MWBEs that did not receive federal assistance and focus on really small business. The federal definition of small business is what many could consider large business, but we’re going to focus on true small businesses. Twenty or fewer employees, less than $3 million in gross revenues.”

Finally, the Governor confirmed 1,696 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 358,154 confirmed cases. Of the 358,154 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:

CountyTotal PositiveNew Positive
Albany1,75656
Allegany440
Broome46817
Cattaraugus743
Cayuga731
Chautauqua635
Chemung1351
Chenango1180
Clinton940
Columbia3561
Cortland371
Delaware721
Dutchess3,76722
Erie5,397127
Essex360
Franklin190
Fulton1893
Genesee1891
Greene2150
Hamilton50
Herkimer952
Jefferson721
Lewis191
Livingston1140
Madison2973
Monroe2,60171
Montgomery770
Nassau39,608121
Niagara89717
NYC196,484809
Oneida82811
Onondaga1,82857
Ontario1804
Orange10,14250
Orleans1751
Oswego964
Otsego670
Putnam1,18712
Rensselaer4604
Rockland12,90528
Saratoga4488
Schenectady6457
Schoharie490
Schuyler111
Seneca542
St. Lawrence1950
Steuben2402
Suffolk38,672119
Sullivan1,2876
Tioga1181
Tompkins1472
Ulster1,59511
Warren2465
Washington2242
Wayne1041
Westchester32,76794
Wyoming790
Yates340

Beaches to Reopen in NY, NJ, CT, DE; 5 of New York’s 10 Regions Get Go Ahead to Reopen

Last Memorial Day at Jones Beach State Park, Long Island, featured the annual Bethpage Air Show, this year, New Yorkers are just thrilled the beach will be open © Karen Rubin/goingplacesfarandnear.com

Acting on a commitment to coordinate regional policies in response to COVID-19, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont, and Delaware Governor John Carney today announced a multi-state agreement to reopen public and private beaches with certain restrictions in place effective, Friday, May 22. This approach will better align the states’ policies ahead of the summer months.

“With Memorial Day weekend fast approaching and warmer weather on the way, we want to make sure New Yorkers and residents of our neighboring states are able to safely enjoy outdoor recreational activities,” Governor Cuomo said“We have been coordinating with other states throughout this entire pandemic, and we have worked on an agreement allowing beaches to be open with proper social distancing and other public health protections in place so we can begin establishing a new normal without jeopardizing the progress we’ve already made.” 

The agreement provides for New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Delaware will all be opening beaches, including local beaches and lake shores, for the Memorial Day weekend. Pools will remain closed.

Under the rules, the beaches will operate at no more than 50 percent capacity by controlling parking areas, entrance areas, exit areas. There will be no group contact activities like volleyball, football, and social gathering areas will remain closed, such as picnic areas, playgrounds, pavilions, arcades. 

“Social distancing will be enforced for employees and for visitors. Masks must be worn by employees and visitors must have masks and wear them when they can’t socially distance. At this point, concessions will not be operating. We don’t want long lines of people waiting for concession stands and we’ll ensure that staff levels are adequate to enforce these measures,” Cuomo stated.

“On the beaches that are controlled by cities, towns, counties, municipal beaches, municipal lakes, the local government can decide to open or stay closed. If they choose to open, they must adopt the state’s requirements at a minimum and the chief executive can decide to do that. If they want to impose additional requirements above and beyond the state requirements, they are free to do that. That will be done by a home rule message and those decisions should be made by the locals by Wednesday, May 20 so we can plan accordingly. If a locality doesn’t open beaches, we need to know that because then we’ll have more demand on state beaches in that area. If they do open beaches, we need to know that also just to understand the flow, the traffic, and where we have to staff up. Again, the state beaches will be open the Friday before Memorial Day.”

“A trip to the beach is a treasured past time for New Jerseyans on Memorial Day weekend just as it is for residents in our neighboring states,” said Governor Murphy. By aligning our social distancing policies for beaches, we can bring some semblance of a ‘new normal’ to our region ahead of the first weekend of the summer season.”

“Our beaches are some of our most beautiful and treasured assets,” said Governor Lamont. “We want to make sure they are enjoyed up and down the East Coast in the safest possible way, especially as the Summer Season begins. Working together as states to make sure they can be enjoyed responsibly makes sense.”

 “Summer at the beach is a huge part of life for so many Delawareans. As we ease our way into a new normal, we’re trying to find ways for Delawareans to safely to enjoy the outdoors and the company of their families,” Governor Carney said.

5 Regions Begin To Reopen

Meanwhile, five regions of the state’s 10 regions will begin reopening today. The Central New York, North Country, Finger Lakes, Southern Tier and Mohawk Valley Regions have met all seven metrics required to begin phase one of the state’s regional phased reopening plan. NYS on PAUSE will be extended until May 28 for all regions that do not reopen today – Western New York, the Capital Region, the Mid-Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island. When a region meets all seven metrics required for reopening, that region may immediately enter phase one of reopening.

“Throughout this entire pandemic New Yorkers have stepped up to the plate and done a great job of working together to bend the curve, and today half the regions in the state will begin to reopen,” Governor Cuomo said.”These regions have met the seven criteria needed for reopening, and as soon as other regions hit those benchmarks they can begin phase one of reopening as well. As we move forward with this process, it is up to all of us to understand our personal responsibility – that’s how this worked from day one and that’s how we will continue to slow the spread of the virus and start our new normal.”

Governor Cuomo outlined additional guidelines and protocols for phase one businesses as they begin to reopen:

Residential/Commercial Construction:

All workers must have masks and wear them when within six feet of another worker

Employers must provide masks to all employees

No congregate meetings

Retail Business Owners – Curbside Pickup

Employee and purchaser in vehicle must wear a mask, gloves preferred

Hand sanitizer must be made available

Retail Business Owners – In-Store Pickup

Requires ordering ahead – pre-arranged orders

Social distancing required in store

No more than 50 percent of maximum occupancy

Patrons must wear masks

Store employees must wear masks, gloves preferred

Hand sanitizer must be made available

Finally, the Governor confirmed 2,762 additional cases of novel coronavirus, with new cases in 44 counties, bringing the statewide total to 345,813 confirmed cases. Of the 345,813 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:

CountyTotal PositiveNew Positive
Albany1,53829
Allegany440
Broome3907
Cattaraugus640
Cayuga611
Chautauqua451
Chemung1331
Chenango1131
Clinton854
Columbia3336
Cortland330
Delaware670
Dutchess3,49824
Erie4,782111
Essex320
Franklin170
Fulton1451
Genesee1750
Greene2092
Hamilton50
Herkimer871
Jefferson712
Lewis120
Livingston1060
Madison2561
Monroe2,09172
Montgomery723
Nassau38,864121
Niagara74333
NYC190,3571,812
Oneida71315
Onondaga1,44017
Ontario1334
Orange9,82554
Orleans1472
Oswego802
Otsego670
Putnam1,1216
Rensselaer4285
Rockland12,63741
Saratoga4216
Schenectady6036
Schoharie470
Schuyler80
Seneca490
St. Lawrence1920
Steuben2311
Suffolk37,719175
Sullivan1,18921
Tioga1102
Tompkins1360
Ulster1,51116
Warren2281
Washington2172
Wayne912
Westchester31,943151
Wyoming770
Yates220