Tag Archives: Governor Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo Signs New York State Budget Advancing Progressive Priorities Including Campaign Finance Reform

New York State Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed the 2021 Budget. The budget is balanced, includes no new taxes, continues to phase in tax cuts for the middle class, enacts the strongest Paid Sick Leave program in the nation, and advances other progressive priorities including the legalization of gestational surrogacy. “I understand we’re all consumed with the coronavirus situation but we have to be able to walk and chew gum. We have to move forward at the same time and that’s why passing the budget and these pieces of legislation were important. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Cuomo: “I understand we’re all consumed with the coronavirus situation but we have to be able to walk and chew gum. We have to move forward at the same time and that’s why passing the budget and these pieces of legislation were important. These issues are still important and child vaping, et cetera, surrogacy, these are major issues for people. And they passed last night and congratulations.”

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed the FY 2021 Enacted Budget. The budget is balanced, includes no new taxes, continues to phase in tax cuts for the middle class, enacts the strongest Paid Sick Leave program in the nation, and advances other progressive priorities including the legalization of gestational surrogacy.

This is a transcript of the Governor’s remarks:

State budget passed last night, 3:00 a.m., as you know. The state budget was extraordinary. First, it passed a lot of major policy initiatives that we should all be very proud of: the nation’s first domestic terrorism law. It improved bail reform. It addressed this child vaping scourge going across the nation. We banned fentanyl, a ban against repeat subway sex offenders, campaign finance reform, paid sick leave, middle class tax cut, very aggressive airport construction program and accessible renewable energy sitings.

I understand we’re all consumed with the coronavirus situation but we have to be able to walk and chew gum. We have to move forward at the same time and that’s why passing the budget and these pieces of legislation were important. These issues are still important and child vaping, et cetera, surrogacy, these are major issues for people. And they passed last night and congratulations.

The budget was difficult because the State has no money, and how do you do a budget when you can’t really forecast revenues, and we came up with a somewhat novel budget that actually is calibrated to future revenues or losses. So we really start with an assumption and then what we’re saying is when we see how much revenue the state makes, how fast the economy comes back, what the expenses are, we’ll calibrate accordingly.

We are heavily reliant on the federal aid legislation that gets passed. The federal government has passed a couple of pieces of legislation. They’re planning to pass another piece of legislation. It’s very important that whatever legislation they pass helps state and local governments. When you deprive a state government all you are actually achieving is that that state government has to turn around and not fund the programs that were dependent on that state government. We fund education, health care. I spoke to Speaker Pelosi today. She’s working on the program for the next piece of legislation. She understands fully the need of state government. She understands fully the need of local governments. She understands my position on how New York was shortchanged in the past bill and she said she’s going to do everything she can do to help New York. I’ve worked with the Speaker many times. I’ve known her for 30 years and I believe her and her credibility and her competence is unparalleled, in my opinion. So I’ll be working with the Speaker and the rest of the Congressional delegation going forward. But we need federal assistance. Depending on how much federal assistance we get, will be that calibration of the budget going forward.

2021 MAKING PROGRESS HAPPEN ENACTED BUDGET HIGHLIGHTS

Establishing Paid Sick Leave for Working New Yorkers: To further empower New York’s workers and protect all consumers in the State, the FY 2021 Enacted Budget enacts a paid sick leave program for working New Yorkers. Businesses with five to 99 employees will provide their employees at least five days of job-protected paid sick leave per year and businesses with 100 employees or more will provide at least seven days of paid sick leave per year. Smaller businesses, with four or fewer employees, will guarantee five days of job-protected unpaid sick leave to their employees every year. Small businesses already providing paid sick leave will be able to so.

Legalizing Gestational Surrogacy in New York State: The FY 2021 Enacted Budget legalizes gestational surrogacy in New York State once and for all, helping LGBTQ couples and couples struggling with infertility. The legislation will also establish criteria for surrogacy contracts that provide the strongest protections in the nation for parents and surrogates, ensuring all parties provide informed consent at every step of the process, and will create a Surrogates’ Bill of Rights, which would ensure the unfettered right of surrogates to make their own healthcare decisions, including whether to terminate or continue a pregnancy and that surrogates have access to comprehensive health insurance and independent legal counsel of their choosing, all paid for by the intended parents. The legislation included in the Budget will also create a streamlined process for establishing parenthood when one of the individuals is a non-biological parent, a process known as “second parent adoption.”

Passing the “New York Hate Crime Anti-Terrorism Act”:  The FY 20201 Budget establishes a “domestic act of terrorism motivated by hate” crime as a new A-1 class felony punishable by up to life in prison without parole.

Closing the Out-of-State Gun Loophole: The FY 2021 Enacted Budget includes legislation to prohibit individuals from obtaining a gun license who commit serious offenses out-of-state that would disqualify them from obtaining a gun license if committed in New York. This will provide greater consistency in New York’s licensing scheme and ensure individuals who are prohibited from purchasing a firearm are not able to do so. The Enacted Budget also includes legislation to require all state and local law enforcement agencies in the state to opt in to the ATF’s crime gun trace data sharing program and submit crime guns recovered through the ATF’s eTrace system. Additionally, the Enacted Budget includes legislation to amend the Mental Hygiene Law to allow New York to share reports of individuals who are a danger to themselves or others with other states.

Housing and Services for People who are Homeless, Including Those with Mental Illness: New York’s homeless community and those with mental illness are among the hardest populations to help. The FY 2021 Enacted Budget includes an aggressive strategy and additional support to provide housing and services to these vulnerable populations.

Enact a Comprehensive Tobacco Control Policy. Governor Cuomo has taken unprecedented steps to ensure the health and safety of all New Yorkers by combatting the use of harmful tobacco and nicotine products. The Enacted Budget prohibits the sale or distribution of e-cigarettes or vapor products that have a characterizing flavor unless approved as part of an FDA pre-market approval; prohibits the sale of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, in all pharmacies; restricts the delivery of e-liquid products only to NYS-licensed vapor retailers; restricts the public display of tobacco and vapor products near schools; requires manufacturers of vapor products to disclose to the DOH Commissioner and the public, information regarding the ingredients, by-products, or contaminants in vapor products, whether intentional or unintentionally added; bans certain carrier oils if they are determined to be harmful; bans coupons and manufacturer discounts and displays in shops; and increases penalties for illegally selling tobacco products to minors.

Prescription Drugs: The FY 2021 Enacted Budget includes a three-part plan to lower prescription drug costs for all New Yorkers. The Budget caps insulin co-payments at $100 per month for insured patients to help address the rising cost of insulin that has resulted in diabetes patients rationing, skipping doses and not filling prescriptions. Finally, the Enacted Budget establishes a commission of experts to study the feasibility and benefits of a Canadian drug importation program and submit a plan to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for review.

Banning the “Pink Tax”: The FY 2021 Enacted Budget prohibits gender-based pricing discrimination for substantially similar or like kind goods and services. The legislation would require certain service providers to provide price lists for standard services upon request and notice that gender-based price discrimination is prohibited under state law. Businesses that violate the law would be subject to civil penalties.

Authorized the Creation of a $3 Billion Restore Mother Nature Bond Act: The Budget authorizes the creation of a Bond Act to fund critical environmental restoration and climate mitigation projects in every corner of the state to ensure New York is able to adapt to the intensifying impacts of climate change, and reduce emissions, while creating jobs and local economic development. As part of the larger Restore Mother Nature Initiative, the Bond Act will be a key source of funding for projects focused on reducing flood risk, investing in resilient infrastructure, restoring freshwater and tidal wetlands, preserving open space, conserving forest areas, and reducing pollution from agricultural and storm water runoff. It will also fund up to $700 million in projects to fight climate change, including green buildings. It also aims to spend 35 percent of the funds on projects to benefit underserved areas of the state. The Budget Director will assess the state’s finances and the economic outlook later this year and make a determination as to whether to move forward with the Bond Act.

Permanently Banning Hydrofracking: The Enacted Budget codifies Governor Cuomo’s ban on the Department of Environmental Conservation approving permits that would authorize an applicant to drill, deepen, plug back or convert wells that use high-volume hydraulic fracturing as a means to complete or recomplete a well. In addition, it places a moratorium on future gelled propane hydrofracking applications until the Department can conduct an analysis of the impacts of this completion method. This will protect the health of New Yorkers and ensuring permanently that our environment is not harmed by this practice.

Continuing Middle Class Tax Cuts: This year’s Enacted Budget continues to lower Personal Income Tax rates for middle-class New Yorkers. In 2020, the third year of the multi-year tax cuts enacted in 2016, income tax rates have been lowered from 6.85 percent to 6.09 percent for taxpayers in the $43,000-$161,550 income bracket, and to 6.41 percent in the $161,550-$323,200 income bracket. These cuts are expected to save 4.7 million New Yorkers over $1.8 billion this year. Furthermore, income tax rates will continue to drop to 5.5 percent for taxpayers in the $27,900-$161,550 tax bracket and 6 percent in the $161,550-$323,200 bracket. When the cuts are fully phased in, middle class taxpayers will have received an income tax rate cut up to 20 percent, amounting to a projected $4.2 billion in annual savings for six million filers by 2025. As the new rates phase in, they will be the State’s lowest middle-class tax rates in more than 70 years.

Increasing and Modernizing Emergency Response Capacity: Over 60 percent of New York counties have been flooded twice in the past 10 years. We must be ready to handle these increasing, life-threatening, emergency situations. It is a new and growing challenge for our state operations. The FY 2021 Enacted Budget sustains $12 million in capital funding to increase and update the State’s emergency response capacity so our brave women and men have the right equipment to do their jobs.

Addressing Veteran and Law Enforcement Suicides: The FY 2021 Enacted Budget invests $1 million to partner with organizations to help veterans, law enforcement and first responders with suicide prevention efforts. The Budget also directs state agencies to expand suicide prevention strategies for veterans, law enforcement, correctional officers and first responders, including a new campaign by the Office of Mental Health to reduce the stigma of mental illness. Additionally, the State will convene a panel of stakeholders and experts at its annual Suicide Prevention Conference to develop and implement strategies for preventing suicide among these special populations.

Adding E Pluribus Unum to the State Coat of Arms: Our founding fathers said clearly that the idea of unity was the key to America’s future. In 1782, on the first seal of the United States, they said it in three simple words – E pluribus unum, out of many one. This federal government and our nation seem to have forgotten that essential American principle. In this time of turmoil, New York State will remind the nation of who we are by adding E pluribus unum to the State’s coat of arms as part of the FY 2021 Enacted Budget, proclaiming at this ugly time the simple truth that without unity we are nothing.

Highlights of the FY 2021 Enacted Budget are available here.

NYS Governor Cuomo: ‘We’re working on every level. Every pistol is firing. Everything that can be done is being done.’

Governor Andrew Cuomo tours Northwell Health Laboratories on Long Island to urge CDC to allow private labs to test for coronavirus using automated systems to better monitor and contain the spread of COVID-19 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Cuomo: “My last point is practice humanity. We don’t talk about practicing humanity, but now if ever there is a time to practice humanity the time is now. The time is now to show some kindness, to show some compassion to people, show some gentility – even as a New Yorker.”

Trump has played a pathetic game of catch-up to the actual task of getting Americans through the coronavirus pandemic as best as possible, with as few deaths and as little destruction to the economy and society as possible. While he has proved a mendacious inept clog, true leadership has been demonstrated by Governors, especially New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. His press availability today, in which he gave updates on his nonstop effort to increase hospital capacity and obtain necessary protective equipment and medical supplies in anticipation of a surge of patients, was heartening to New Yorkers. It was a speech that hearkened to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who was Governor of New York before he was President, leading the nation through the Great Depression and later through World War II.  This is a rush transcript of the Governor’s remarks:

Good morning. Happy Saturday. Welcome to the weekend. I want to give you an update and briefing on where we are today and then we’re going to go out and do some real work, get out of this building before we get cabin fever. You know the people who are here today. From my far right, Simonida Subotic who is in charge of managing supplies which is a major function for us, Robert Mujica, Director of Division of the Budget, Melissa DeRosa, Secretary to the Governor, the great James Malatras who has been a tremendous help here.

Go through the facts, the numbers are still increasing. We have been seeing that. That’s the line that we’re tracking. This is all about the increase in the number of cases and managing the increase in the number of cases to the capacity of our health care system. What are we doing? We’re reducing the spread and the rate of the spread to match the increase in the number of cases and increasing hospital capacity at the same time – just how do our hospitals manage the rate of the spread.

We’re trying to reduce the spread to over a period of months. Over a period of months our healthcare system can deal with the numbers. We have moved to zero non-essential workers. You can’t go below zero so we’re doing everything we can there and we put out new rules on personal conduct and what people should be doing and how they should be behaving and where they should be.

Matilda’s Law which is for the vulnerable population, senior citizens, people with compromised immune systems, underlying illnesses – that was very specific. As I mentioned we named it for my mother Matilda because I went through this with my own siblings. How do we help mom? Where do we bring mom? There was a difference of opinion. The best health professionals put together guidelines that not only help senior citizens but also their families who are trying to deal with this. I know it was helpful to my family and the question among siblings these laws and guidelines answered. I don’t want to mention which sibling but it turns out that he was wrong.

The personal conduct rules and regulations are also very helpful. I want to thank Dr. Fauci who is really an extraordinary American and has given me great guidance and help and assistance in putting together these policies so I’d like to thank him and we’re doing those.

We’re working on every level. Every pistol is firing. Everything that can be done is being done. New Yorkers are lucky. We have a very experienced team that’s doing this. This is not their first rodeo. They’ve been through a number of emergencies on a number of levels.

Increasing hospital capacity – we want to get the capacity of 50,000 thousand up to a minimum of 75,000. We told the hospitals we’re going to be ending elective surgeries. We are now working with hospitals to reconfigure the space in the hospital to get more beds and to find more staff to manage those beds. We’re working on building new beds. We’re going to go out and review a number of sites today. I’d like to give the final list to the federal government and the Army Corps of Engineers today but we’re looking at Javits, SUNY Stony Brook, SUNY Westbury, the Westchester Convention Center, and I’m going to go out and take a look at those sites today or the ones I can get to. That would give us a regional distribution and a real capacity if we can get them up quickly enough and then increasing supplies which is one of the most critical activities.

We are literally scouting the globe looking for medical supplies. We’ve identified 2 million N-95 masks which are the high protection masks. We have apparel companies that are converting to mask manufacturing companies in the State of New York in all sorts of creative configurations and I want to thank them. I put out a plea yesterday to ask them for help and we’ve been on the phone with all sorts of companies who are really doing great work. We’re also exploring the State of New York manufacturing masks ourselves.

We’re going to send 1 million N95 masks to New York City today. That’s been a priority for New York City and 1 million masks won’t get us through the crisis but it’ll make a significant contribution to New York City’s mask issue and I want to thank Mayor de Blasio for working in partnership. We’re sending 500,000 N95 masks to Long Island. We’ve been working with County Executive Laura Curran and County Executive Steve Bellone and I want to thank them.

We’re gathering ventilators. Ventilators are the most important piece of equipment and the piece of equipment that is most scarce. We’re gathering them from all different health facilities across the state and then we’re going to use those in the most critical areas. We also identified 6,000 new ventilators that we can actually purchase so that’s a big deal.

From the federal government’s point of view I’ve spoken to the President a number of times. I spoke to the Vice President a number of times. They’ve issued a federal disaster declaration which is a technical act by the federal government but what it basically does is it allows the federal emergency management agency called FEMA to step in and assist financially. By that declaration FEMA would pay 75 percent of the cost of a disaster. New York State would pay 25 percent of the cost. The federal government can waive the 25 percent of the cost. I’m asking them to waive that 25 percent in this situation. I’ve worked on many disasters, FEMA has waived the 25 percent. If there’s any situation where FEMA should waive the 25 percent, this is the situation.

We’re also working with the federal government. We’re requesting 4 field hospitals at 250 capacity each. That would give us 1000 field hospital beds. We’re going to be looking at Javits as a location for those field hospitals. We’re also requesting 4 Army Corps of Engineers temporary hospitals. Those are the sites I mentioned earlier that I’m going to take a look at. The SUNY Stonybrook, Westbury, Westchester Convention Center and also Javits. Javits is so big that it can take the 4 field hospitals and an Army Corps of Engineers temporary hospital. We’re also requesting assistance with medical supplies which has been a very big topic of conversation all across the country. 

We’re also asking our federal congressional delegation to fix a law that was passed on the coronavirus federal aid because of a technical issue the way the bill was written, New York State does not qualify for aid. That’s over $6 billion, that is a lot of money and we need the federal delegation to fix that bill otherwise New York State gets nothing. New York State has more coronavirus cases than any state in the United States of America. That we should not be included in the bill, obviously makes no sense. 

We’re also going to conduct immediately trials for the new drug therapy which we have been discussing. I spoke to Dr. Zucker about it. There is a theory that the drug treatment could be helpful. We have people who are in serious condition and Dr. Zucker feels comfortable, as well as a number of other health professionals, that in a situation where a person is in dire circumstance, try what you can. The FDA is going to accelerate to New York 10,000 doses. As soon as we get those doses we will work with doctors, nurses and families on using those drugs and seeing where we get. 

I spoke to the President, he spoke to this drug therapy in his press conference yesterday and I spoke to him afterward. I said that New York would be interested and we have the most number of cases and health professionals have all recommended to me that we try it, so we’ll try it.  We’re also working on a number of other drug therapies, an anti-body therapy, a possible vaccine. We have a company here in New York called Regeneron that’s really showing some promising results. I exempted them from the no work order, because they couldn’t possibly have a really significant achievement for us. The new numbers, the more tests you take, the more positives you find, and I give this caution because I think people misinterpret the number of new cases. They take that number of new cases as if it is reflective of the number of new cases, the spread. It is not. The number of new cases is only reflective of the number of cases you are taking, right. Where our goal is to find the positive cases, because if we find a positive case we can isolate that person, and that stops the spread. So we’re actually looking for positives. The more tests you take, the more positives you will find.

We are taking more tests in New York than anyplace else. We’re taking more tests per capita than China or South Korea. We’re also taking more tests than any state in the United States of America. That is actually a great accomplishment. Because if you remember back, two weeks, which seems like a lifetime now, the whole question was coming up to scale on tests. How do we get the number of tests up and how do we get it up quickly? I spoke to the president and the vice president and said decentralize the testing, let the states do it. I have 200 labs. I can mobilize quickly. Let us do the tests. They agreed. We’re doing more tests than any state, so for example, we’ve done 45,000 tests. California has done 23,000, Washington has done 23,000, so you see how many more tests we are doing. And again, I credit the team that’s working here, because this is exactly what the mandate was. Perform as many tests as quickly as you can, and that’s the drive-thrus we’ve put in place, the hospital management, et cetera. So our numbers should be higher. And they are.

Total number of positive cases now is up to 10,000, number of new cases has increased by 3,000, let’s go back in case you can’t read as fast as I can read. 6,000 New York City, 1,300 Westchester, 1,200 in Nassau. You see the Westchester number is slowing. We did a New Rochelle containment area. The numbers would suggest that that has been helpful. So I feel good about that. You see Nassau increasing, you see Suffolk increasing. So that’s just the wide spread increase that we have been anticipating. But our hotspot of Westchester is now slowing, and that’s very good news. New York City, it is the most dense environment. This virus spreads in density, right. And that’s what you’re seeing in New York City, obviously, has many more people than any other specific location in the state. Number of counties are increasing. You see the blue. I said to you early on that blue is going to take over the whole state, just the way every state in the United States has now been covered. Most impacted states, you look at the cases in New York is 10,000, Washington, California, 1,000 each. Does that mean that we have ten times the number of cases as California or Washington? Or does that mean we’re doing more tests than California or Washington? The truth is somewhere in the middle, and nobody can tell you. Total number of people tested, we’re up to 45,000. Number of new tests. This is a rate that we watch. What is the rate of hospitalization? Again, because this is all about hospital capacity, right, 1,500 out of 10,000, it’s roughly 15 percent of the cases. It’s been running about 14, 15. It’s gone as high as 20 percent, 21 percent. So actually 15 percent rate of hospitalization is not a bad number. It’s actually down from where it was. The more refined number is, of those who are hospitalized, how many require the ventilators, because the ventilators are the piece of equipment that is most scarce. That’s the next refinement of these numbers that we have to do.

And again, the context on the numbers is important. We’re talking 10,000 et cetera. You look at any world health organization or the NIH, or what any of the other countries are saying. You have to expect that at the end of the day, 40 percent to 80 percent of the population is going to be infected. So the only question is, how fast is the rate to that 40 percent, 80 percent, and can you slow that rate so your hospital system can deal with it. That is all we’re talking about here. If you look at the 40 to 80 percent, that means between 7.8 million and 15 million New Yorkers will be affected at the end of the day. We’re just trying to postpone the end of the day. Again, perspective, Johns Hopkins, this is not a science fiction movie. You don’t have to wait to the end of the movie to find out what happens. Johns Hopkins has studied every case since it started, 284,000, 11,000 deaths, almost 90,000 recoveries, 183,000 still pending. Which tracks everything we know in the State of New York. Our first case, first case, healthcare worker, 39-year-old female who was in Iran. She went home, she never went to a hospital, she recovered, she’s now negative. You get sick, you get symptoms, you recover. That is true for the overwhelming number of people. Again, context, people who died in the flu, from the flu, in 2018-2019: 34,000 Americans. 34,000, so when you hear these numbers of deaths, keep it in perspective. 34,000 people died of the flu. Over 65, 74 percent of the people were over 65. 25 percent were under 65. So, if you have an underlying illness, you catch the flu, you can die. More likely if you have an underlying illness, senior citizens, et cetera, but not necessarily. You have 25 percent under 65 years old die from the flu.

Also, in terms of context, perspective. Don’t listen to rumors. I mean, you have such wild rumors out there, and people call me with the craziest theories. Just, I understand there’s anxiety and stress, but let’s remember some basic context and facts. Society functions. Everything works. There’s going to be food in the grocery stores. There’s no reason to buy a hundred rolls of toilet paper. There really isn’t. And by the way, where do you even put a hundred rolls of toilet paper? The transportation system functions. The pharmacy system functions. These things are all going to work. Nonessential workers, stay home, but the essential workers are staying home, especially the healthcare workers. There is not going to be any roadblock when you wake up in the morning that says you can’t leave this place, you can’t leave that place, right? So if you have a real question, because you think there’s a real concern from a credible source, contact my team. We have a special website: coronavirus.health.ny.gov, and ask the question and you will get a real, truthful, factual response.

I have not hidden anything from the people of this state. I have not tilted facts. Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the American people deserve the truth, they can handle the truth, give them the truth. When they don’t get the truth and if you don’t get the facts, that’s when people should get anxious. If I think I’m being deceived or there’s something you’re not telling me, or you’re shading the truth, now I’m anxious. Everything I know, I’ve told you, and I will continue to tell you, and these are facts, and you hear a rumor, and you want to check it out, go to that website, these are people who work for me directly, and you will have the truth. We do have an issue with younger people who are not complying, and I’ve mentioned it before but it’s not getting better. You know, you can have your own opinion. You cannot have your own facts – you want to have an opinion, have an opinion, but you can’t have your own facts. “Well young people don’t get this disease.” You are wrong – that is not a fact. 18-49 years old are 54 percent of the cases in New York State. 54 percent. 18-49 years old. So you’re not Superman, and you’re not Superwoman, you can get this virus and you can transfer the virus and you can wind up hurting someone who you love or hurting someone wholly inadvertently. Social distancing works and you need social distancing everywhere. There’s a significant amount of non-compliance, especially in New York City, especially in the parks – I’m going to go down there today, I want to see what situation is myself, but it has to be stopped because you are endangering people and if it’s because of misinformation, if it’s because of noncompliance, I don’t care frankly – this is a public health issue and you cannot endanger other people’s health. You shouldn’t be endangering your own. But you certainly have no right to endanger someone else’s.

This is my personal opinion, this is not a fact, you know to me it’s very important in a situation like this, tell me the facts and then tell me your opinion – this is my opinion. We talk about social responsibility, especially young people talk about social responsibility and they should – we pass a lot of legislation in this building, groundbreaking legislation, national firsts, on economic rights, highest minimum wage in the United States of America, human rights, first state to pass marriage equality, which I believe was a human rights issue, we talk about environmental responsibility and this state has the most aggressive environmental laws in the United States of America and I am proud of it, but I also want people to think about the social responsibility when it comes to public health. We haven’t talked about it before, not really a field, it’s not really an issue, it’s not really a hashtag, but social responsibility applies to public health just as it applies to human rights, and economic rights and environmental rights – public health, especially in a moment like this, is probably most critical.

So let’s think about that and let’s act on that. In this crisis, think of yourselves, we are all first responders – your actions can either save or endanger a life, so we are all first responders. What’s going to happen? We’re going to get through this. We don’t know how long it’s going to take us to get through this. Fact is we’re trying to slow the spread of the virus to a number of months so the healthcare system can deal with it, so therefore by definition it’s going to be a number of months. I know people want to hear, “It’s only going to be a matter of weeks and then it’s going to be fine.” I don’t believe it’s going to be a matter of weeks. I believe it is going to be a matter of months, but we are going to get through it, and how long and how well it takes us to get through it is up to us. It depends on what we do – you know when you’re sick and you say to the doctor, “Well how long until I get better?” And the doctor says, “It depends on what you do. If you follow the advice, you’ll get healthy faster, but it depends on what you do.” This depends on what we do. China is now reporting no news cases. Let’s assume that’s true – look at that trajectory, look at that turnaround, look at what they did, we do have data we can follow. So how long is it going to take? It depends on how smart and how we responsible are and how diligent we are. You tell me the percentage of compliance and intelligence and discipline on social disciplining et cetera? I’ll tell you how long it takes for us to get through it.

Also something that people aren’t really talking about but I think we should start talking about – we talk about the economic consequences of this situation and they are going to be significant, and we are going to have to deal with it and New York will be right on top of it and as aggressive as we are with everything else. But economic consequences come second – first, is dealing with this crisis. We talk about the economic consequences but we also need to talk about the social consequences. There is no Dow Jones index that we can watch on the screen that is measuring the social consequences and the social decline. But the stress, the anxiety, the emotions that are provoked by this crisis are truly significant, and people are struggling with the emotions as much as they are struggling with the economics. And this state wants to start to address that. I’m asking psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists who are willing to volunteer their time to contact the state and if this works out I would like to set up a voluntary network where people can go for mental health assistance where they can contact a professional to talk through how they are feeling about this. They are nervous, they are anxious, they are isolated. It can bring all sorts of emotions and feelings to the surface. When you are isolated you do not have people to talk to.

So I am asking the professional mental health establishment to contact us. Let us know that you are willing to volunteer time. It would obviously be all electronic. It would not be in person. It would be telephone, it would be Skype, etc. But I would ask you to seriously consider this. Many people are doing extraordinary things during this public health crisis. I ask the mental health community, many of them are looking for a way to participate, this is a way to participate. And if we get enough mental health professionals willing to volunteer their time, we will set up a mental health electronic help center. And we will talk more about that the next few days.

What happens besides how long? What happens? The bigger question to me is what do we learn about ourselves through this? As a society, we have never gone through this. We have never gone through a world war. We have not gone through any great social crisis. Here in New York, we went through 9/11 which I think is relevant in terms of some feelings that people are now experiencing. 9/11 transformed society. I was there. I was part of it. You were never the same after 9/11. You had a sense of vulnerability that you never had before which I feel to this day. There was a trauma to 9/11. But as a society, as a country, we have been blessed in that we have not gone through something as disruptive as this.

So what do we learn about ourselves? I think what we are saying already is a crisis really brings out the truth about ourselves first of all and about others. And your see people’s strengths and you see people’s weaknesses. You see society’s strengths and you see society’s weaknesses. You see both the beauty and the vulnerability. You see the best in people and you see the worst in people. You see people rise to the occasion and you see people fall from the burden of the emotion. So, I think – You take a step back.

NYS Restricts Mass Gatherings, Visits to Nursing Homes & Creates Drive-Thru Testing Facility as Numbers of Coronavirus Cases Rise

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo, touring Northwell Labratory on Long Island, announced the first public drive-through testing facility for coronavirus on the East Coast and new restrictions on gatherings of more than 500 as the number of coronavirus cases rises in the state © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.

With the Trump Administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic in severe disarray, it is falling to states and localities to protect their residents. This is the latest from New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo:

During a novel coronavirus briefing, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the state will institute limits on mass gatherings, directing events with 500 or more individuals in attendance to be cancelled or postponed. Public health experts agree mass gatherings with people making sustained close contact are a place where the novel coronavirus can easily infect many people quickly and continue its spread. As such, events, gatherings, or places of business with less than 500 individuals in attendance will be required to cut capacity by 50 percent, with exceptions being made for spaces where individuals do not make sustained close contact, such as schools, hospitals, public buildings, mass transit, grocery stores and retail stores. These new regulations will go into effect Friday, March 13th at 5pm, with the exception of Broadway Theaters where the limits will go into effect this evening at 5pm.

In an effort to protect some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers, Governor Cuomo also announced only medically necessary visits will be allowed at nursing homes. This policy will be effective Friday at 5pm. The state is also asking nursing homes to set up skyping and other online communication capacity so families can tele-visit their loved ones. Additionally, the state will require health screenings for all nursing home workers each day when they enter a facility and require them to wear surgical masks to guard against any potential asymptomatic spread.

In order to increase testing capacity, the State is contracting with BioReference Laboratories to run an additional 5,000 tests per day on top of what the state is already doing. These additional 5,000 tests per day will come online next week. This additional testing capacity is on top of that of the 28 private labs the Governor announced are partnering with the state in the coming days and weeks. Additionally, the Governor announced the first public drive-through testing facility on the east coast will start testing people tomorrow in New Rochelle. Testing will be done by appointment only. New Rochelle residents who have been quarantined will be tested first. 

Finally, the Governor confirmed 109 additional cases of novel coronavirus, bringing the statewide total to 325 confirmed cases in New York State. Of the 325 total individuals who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:

Albany County: 1 (1 new)

Broome County: 1 (1 new)

Delaware County: 1 (1 new)

Dutchess County: 1 (1 new)

Herkimer County: 1 (1 new)

Monroe County: 1 (1 new)

Nassau County: 41 (13 new)

New York City: 95 (43 new)

Orange County: 1 (1 new)

Rockland County: 7 (1 new)

Saratoga County: 3 (1 new)

Suffolk County: 20 (14 new)

Ulster County: 4 (3 new)

Westchester County: 148 (27 new)

“The spread of this coronavirus is not going to stop on its own, and we know that mass gatherings have been hotspots for the virus to infect large numbers of people quickly,” Governor Cuomo said.”To help contain it, we are instituting limits on large events as well as new measures to protect our most vulnerable populations — including people in nursing homes — and preparing our healthcare system to be able to deal with any future capacity issues. While the context is key and the anxiety is outpacing the facts of this situation, we will continue taking aggressive action to protect public health and prepare for any future spread of this virus.”  

“Our number one priority is protecting the public health and every action the Governor and the State of New York have taken thus far have been in furtherance of that goal,” State Health Department Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said. “Public health experts have been clear that limiting large public gatherings where there is potential for close contact is a critical way to slow the spread of this virus. This regulation will help keep people healthy and safe.”

The Governor also announced that the State is taking measures to create a reserve workforce of health care professionals in the event of a staffing shortage and identify state facilities that can be used as temporary hospitals. The State is asking former doctors, nurses and other health care professionals to reconnect with their former employers and offer to work on an on-call basis in the cases of a staffing shortage. The State is also identifying National Guard medics for reserved staffing and contacting medical schools to identify possible reserve health care professionals. Additionally, the Department of Health is accelerating regulations to get more health care personnel trained so they can work in other areas.

For all schools in communities with the highest rates of positive cases, the state will be taking proactive steps to implement protocols that limit mass contact. Today the Governor announced SUNY Albany will cancel in person classes for the rest of the semester effective tomorrow after a positive case was confirmed today.

Additionally, any business that cannot accommodate rigorous cleaning standards should contact Empire State Development at (212) 803-3100 for a close order.

To Help Stem Coronavirus Spread, Counter Price-Gouging NYS To Provide Hand Sanitizer for Free

Governor Andrew Cuomo tours Northwell Health Laboratories on Long Island to urge CDC to allow private labs to test for coronavirus using automated systems to better monitor and contain the spread of COVID-19 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

During a novel coronavirus briefing, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the state will provide alcohol-based hand sanitizer to New Yorkers free of charge. To help combat price-gouging and ensure New Yorkers have access to this vital prevention method, the state will produce up to 100,000 gallons of hand sanitizer each week in 1.7 oz., 7 oz. and gallon bottles. The hand sanitizer will be made available to residents free of charge, and distribution will be prioritized by the most impacted and high risk communities, including the New Rochelle community, and state agencies, including the MTA.

Governor Cuomo also confirmed 37 additional cases of novel coronavirus in New York State since his last update from Sunday, bringing the statewide total to 142 confirmed cases.

The Governor also announced the New York State Department of Health will work with the New York State Education Department to issue guidance for schools with students, teachers or other staff who test positive for novel coronavirus. Under the policy, schools will close for an initial 24-hour period if a student or a teacher or any other staff at the school test positive for the novel coronavirus. This will allow the school to undergo disinfection, and for the State to perform an assessment of the situation and make a determination going forward in that particular school district.

Additionally, the Governor will send a program bill to the legislature today to provide paid sick leave to working New Yorkers and specifically protect those who are required to stay home from work because they are being isolated or quarantined as a result of the novel coronavirus.

“As the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus continues to rise, unscrupulous retailers are exploiting New Yorkers’ anxieties about the virus and charging exorbitant prices for hand sanitizer and other similar products,” Governor Cuomo said. “To solve this problem, the state is producing and deploying hand sanitizer to high impact areas as well as schools, the MTA and other government agencies because you can’t get it on the market and the product that is available is very expensive. The biggest problem we have in this situation is fear, not the virus itself, and I’m once again reminding everyone to focus on the facts because the facts do not warrant the level of anxiety we are seeing.”

Of the 142 total individuals in New York State who tested positive for the virus, the geographic breakdown is as follows:

Westchester: 98 (16 new cases)

New York City: 19 (7 new cases)

Nassau: 17 (12 new cases)

Rockland: 4 (2 new cases)

Saratoga: 2

Suffolk: 1

Ulster: 1

DOCCS, through its correctional industries entity known as Corcraft, will produce an alcohol-based formula recognized by the World Health Organization and has begun production at Great Meadow Correctional Facility in Comstock, Washington County, this week. Through this ongoing effort, the Department will be able to produce up to 100,000 gallons of hand sanitizer per week. Corcraft, which produces dozens of products, uses the manufacturing process to assist in the department’s overall mission to prepare offenders for release through skill development, work ethic, respect and responsibility.   

Local governments seeking to obtain additional stocks of hand sanitizer should work with their County’s Emergency Manager and local Health Department to submit requests directly into NY Responds, the state’s web-based system which enables both local governments and state agencies to submit and share vital emergency-related information and resource requests.

Reportedly, some retailers are charging approximately 10 times what major retailers charge for hand sanitizer. On eBay a pack of five 2.5-ounce Germ-X hand sanitizer bottles were selling for $500 – by comparison, two 30-ounce bottles of Germ-X were offered online by Walmart for less than $8.

The Department of Corrections and Community Supervision also began a new screening protocol for COVID-19 for visitors to each of the State’s 52 correctional facilities to help avoid the introduction of COVID-19 into the Department’s facilities. Upon arrival to the facility, visitors will be asked a series of questions regarding any illness or symptoms they may be currently experiencing; travel outside of the United States within the past four weeks, including that of family members; and any direct exposure to an individual diagnosed with the novel coronavirus in the past four weeks.

DOCCS Acting Commissioner Anthony J. Annucci said, “Between increased demand and the price gouging currently taking place in the market, there is a very real need for hand sanitizer for New York residents. DOCCS is proud to meet the Governor’s call to action and do our part in stemming the spread of COVID-19 across the state.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo, flanked by Dr. Howard A. Zucker, the state’s Health Commissioner, and Northwell Health’s CEO Michael J. Dowling at Northwell Health Laboratories on Long Island, urged CDC to allow private labs to test for coronavirus using automated systems to better monitor and contain the spread of COVID-19 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Last night, the Governor announced that Northwell Laboratories has been authorized to test under Wadsworth’s emergency use authorization. Manual testing of 75 to 80 samples per day has begun at Northwell, but automated testing still needs to be approved by the federal administration so the lab can perform thousands of tests per day. Additionally, NY Presbyterian Hospital is ready to start running 50 to 60 tests daily once it receives federal approval for testing. The Governor again today urged the federal administration to approve the use of the state’s coronavirus test by private labs, such as NY Presbyterian.

See: Cuomo Pleads with CDC to Allow Coronavirus Testing in Private Labs to Better Monitor, Contain Spread

Prevention tips from the New York State Department of Health:

While there is currently no vaccine to prevent this virus, these simple steps can help stop the spread of this and other respiratory viruses:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

The Department of Health has additional information on COVID-19: https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/communicable/coronavirus/

25,000 Turn Out for ‘No Hate, No Fear’ Solidarity March Against Anti-Semitism in NYC; Cuomo, Schumer Announce Actions to Combat Hate Crimes

Governor Cuomo, Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio, NYS Attorney General Latitia James, Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul, Michael Miller, Executive VP & CEO of Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Eric Goldstein, CEO of  UJA Federation of NY and faith leaders march across Brooklyn Bridge in a show of “No Fear, No Hate” solidarity against anti-Semitism, racism, bigotry © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News-Photos-Features.com

It took more than 2 ½ hours before all the marchers standing against Anti-Semitism, racism and bigotry got across the Brooklyn Bridge from Foley Square – an estimated 25,000 marching behind Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, Governor Andrew Cuomo, Mayor Bill DeBlasio, and a slew of state and local leaders, marching in solidarity with Michael Miller, Executive VP & CEO of Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, Eric Goldstein, CEO of  UJA Federation of NY, the Anti-Defamation League, American Jewish Congress, NY Board of Rabbis, and faith leaders across Brooklyn Bridge, with a singular message: “No Fear, No Hate”.

The political leaders did not just come to give speeches and march, but to take action.

US Senator Chuck Schumer announces funding to enable religious centers to be better protected against hate crimes, at ‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Senator Schumer said Congress would quadruple federal funding to $360 million to help places of worship increase security – video cameras, doors, hired guards, and $100 million to coordinate with local police to act more effectively to prosecute hate crimes.

“America has a culture of diversity and tolerance. Anti-Semitism and bigotry is a national crisis…We will not stand for bigotry of any type,” Schumer said. “We will not only speak and march, but act.”

Governor Cuomo at ‘No Fear, No Hate’ solidarity March against anti-Semitism, announces $45 million in funding to protect New York’s religious-based institutions, including parochial and private schools and cultural centers, and said he would seek to elevate hate crimes to the level of domestic terrorism, and prosecuted as such. US Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Michael Miller, Executive VP & CEO of Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, and State Senator Anna Kaplan, were among the leaders supporting the effort to combat anti-Semitism © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Cuomo also announced $45 million in additional funding to protect New York’s religious-based institutions, including parochial and private schools and cultural centers. He said that there would be increased state police patrols in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods across the state, and has created a new state police tip line for people to report incidents (1-877-NO-HATE-NY). Also, Cuomo said he would introduce legislation to elevate hate crimes to the level of domestic terrorism, and prosecuted as such.

Funding is being made available through Requests for Applications under New York’s Securing Communities Against Hate Crimes Grant Program. Created by Governor Cuomo in 2017, the program provides funding to strengthen security measures and prevent hate crimes against non-profit day care centers, community centers, cultural museums, day camps andnon-public schools,which may be vulnerable because of their ideology, beliefs or mission. Since the program’s inception, more than 500 such projects have been supported by $25 million in state funding. The Governor also announced the creation of a new tip line that New Yorkers should call if they experience bias or discrimination – 1-877-NO-HATE-NY. Additionally, the Governor announced that State Police will continue increased patrols and security in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods across the state.

Governor Cuomo, with Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Michael Miller, Executive VP & CEO of Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, and Eric Goldstein, CEO of  UJA Federation of NY, says he will seek legislation to prosecute hate crimes as domestic terrorism © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“The recent rash of anti-Semitic and other hate-fueled attacks in New York and across the nation are understandably causing anxiety, but we will not be intimidated,” Governor Cuomo said.”In New York we stand up to those who try to sow division and fear, and this new funding will provide religious and cultural institutions the support they need to help protect themselves and keep people safe. We will not let the cancer of hate and intolerance weaken us – we will continue to stand up and denounce it every time it rears its ugly head.”

‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Hate crime statistics indicate a surge of anti-Semitism and hate crimes against the Jewish community, nationally and in New York. Nearly half of all hate crimes in New York over the last several years have been against the Jewish community. Last year, more than half the hate crimes recorded in New York City, 229 (a modern city record, up from 185 in 2018) were recorded against Jews – and these statistics do not include hate crimes directed at Jews outside the five-boroughs, such as the the slashing of five people attending a Chanukah service in a rabbi’s home in Monsey, NY. The October 27, 2018 mass shooting at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh and the recent terror attack at a kosher market in Jersey City, New Jersey, in which a local Yeshiva and Catholic school faced gunfire, underscore the need to protect Jewish institutions from violent extremism and anti-Semitism.

The grants, which will be directed by the New York State Division of the Budget, provide up to $50,000 in funding for additional security training, cameras, door-hardening, improved lighting, state-of-the-art technology and other related security upgrades at each eligible facility. Organizations that operate more than one facility have the opportunity to submit up to five applications.

The program provides funding to strengthen security measures and prevent hate crimes against non-profit day care centers, community centers, cultural museums, day camps andnon-public schools,which may be vulnerable because of their ideology, beliefs or mission. Since the program’s inception, in 2017, more than 500 such projects have been supported by $25 million in state funding. 

The Hate Crimes Task Force was created last year to mitigate recent incidents of bias-motivated threats, harassment and violence in New York. As part of the Task Force, New York State Police, the Division of Human Rights and the Division of Criminal Justice Services engage local stakeholders and law enforcement agencies, and work to identify and investigate hate-motivated crimes and bias-related trends, community vulnerabilities and discriminatory practices.

The Governor also announced the creation of a new tip line that New Yorkers should call if they experience bias or discrimination – 1-877-NO-HATE-NY. Additionally, the Governor announced that State Police will continue increased patrols and security in Orthodox Jewish neighborhoods across the state.

‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“I’m heartened to see this amazing show of support and solidarity,” the Governor said at a press conference before the march. “Literally over 10,000 people have shown up to show support and love for the Jewish community. And that’s New York at her best. And it’s fitting. Because what has happened in Brooklyn, what has happened in Monsey, New York was an attack on every New Yorker. And every New Yorker has felt the pain. Discrimination, racism, anti-Semitism is repugnant to every value that every New Yorker’s holds dear. And it’s repugnant to every value that this country represents. Racism and anti-Semitism is anti-American and we have to remember that.

‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“It is ignorant of our history because to know the history of the Jewish community is to love and appreciate the Jewish community because New York would not be New Yorker without the Jewish community. It is intolerant of who we are as a people. It’s intolerant of our diversity and our humanity and it is also illegal. And while we’re here today in the spirit of solidarity and love, government must do more than just offer thoughts and prayers, government must act. This is illegal and it is government’s responsibility to protect the people of the State of New York and the State government will be doing just that. As soon as the Legislature comes back I’m going to propose a new law for the State of New York that calls this hate what it is – it is domestic terrorism. These are terrorists and they should be punished as such. We’re going to increase the State Police force and the Hate Crimes Task Force so we have more State Police in vulnerable communities.

“We are going to work with schools all across the state to make sure our young people are educated on our history and our diversity and the strength of that diversity. We’ll be working with faith leaders, because from every pulpit, every podium to every congregation in this state, we have to be condemning these acts.

“And today the state is going to make an additional $45 million available to non-public schools and religious institutions for security. We also ask every New Yorker to be involved in this crusade today. And if any New Yorker has any information about a possible attack or an attack that has happened, we ask them to be active and to help us thwart these attacks. We have a 1-800 number – 1-877-NO-HATE-NY. If you have any information, we have that tip line open, let’s all stand together and united.

“These acts of hate may not have started in New York – we’ve seen them across the nation – but these acts of hate must stop and end in the State of New York, and that’s New York at her best. Everyone today says the same thing: No hate in our state, period. We won’t tolerate it, we condemn it, we stand united against it and we are going to act against it. Let’s march.”

Here are more photo highlights from the Solidarity March:

‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Madeline Yousefzadeh, Rebecca Sassouni and Rebecca Harounian, part of a contingent of 30 members of the Sephardic Heritage Alliance Inc (Shai) from Great Neck, join the “no Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan. 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
‘No Fear, No Hate’ Solidarity March against Anti-Semitism, NYC, Jan 5, 2020 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

__________

© 2020 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go towww.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

Politicos, Officials, City Workers Join WorldPride NYC 2019 March

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo was joined at the WorldPride 2019 parade by Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, Chris Quinn, Randi Weingarten, Adriano Espaillat, Jim Gaughran, Jen Metzger, David Weprin, Amy Paulin. Chad Griffin, Alphonso David, Counsel to the Governor, State Senator Brad Hoylman, who’s been a champion, Kristen Browde, Dolores Nettles, Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa, as well as Cuomo’s three daughters Cara, Mariah, Michaela. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

What a difference 50 years makes – from the Stonewall Uprising when the forces of government were marshaled against the gay and lesbian community, to today, when government officials and even members of New York City’s Police Department, flocked to take part in WorldPride NYC 2019, the largest Pride event in history.

US State Senator Charles Schumer, with his familiar bullhorn, declared,, “I was the first US Senator to march, and I won’t be the last.”

US Senator Charles Schumer. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, revved up the crowd to chant “ERA, ERA” and Congressmembers Jerry Nadler and Nydia Velazquez joined the parade.

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State officials were there in force, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, who appropriately crowed about the gains a progressive legislature accomplished, NYS’s first black woman Attorney General Leticia James, Comptroller Thom DiNapoli, and a score of state senators and assemblymembers..

NYS AttorneyGeneral Letitia James. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Cuomo did not come empty-handed: he used the occasion to sign into law legislation banning the gay and trans panic legal defense (S3293/A2707), fulfilling his pledge to ensure nobody uses this abhorrent legal defense strategy in the State of New York. The Governor signed the measure, a key component of his 2019 Justice Agenda, on WorldPride and the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising. The Governor also vowed to double down next legislative session on his campaign to legalize gestational surrogacy, which the Assembly failed to take up this year.

NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“The gay and trans panic defense is essentially a codification of homophobia and transphobia, and it is repugnant to our values of equality and inclusion,” Governor Cuomo said at a press conference on the street before joining the parade. “This defense strategy isn’t just offensive – it also sends a dangerous message that violence toward LGBTQ people is somehow OK. It’s not, and today we’re sending this noxious legal tool to the dustbin of history where it belongs.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio, who is running for the Democratic Nomination for president, marched with the city’s First Lady Chirlane McCray.There were also the NYC Comptroller Scott M. Stringer with his family, Public Advocate Jumaane D. Williams, members of the City Council including Speaker Corey Johnson,

There were contingents from just about every city agency, from Sanitation to Transportation, the Department of Social Services, to the Bar Association and teachers.

WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“In the month of June, we celebrated 50 years of Pride here in New York State and around the world,” stated New York’s Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul. “We marched in parades from Buffalo to Albany, and finished the month with World Pride in New York City this past weekend.

“We celebrated how far the LGBTQ+ community has come since the Stonewall Uprising in 1969, and reflected on the progress we still have to make.

“Throughout this legislative session over the last six months, we made history. GENDA is now the law of the land, ensuring permanent protections for transgender New Yorkers. Young people are now protected from the barbaric practice of conversion therapy. Finally, with the stroke of a pen, we ended the legalized hatred that was once allowed by the gay and trans ‘panic’ defense. 

“I am always proud to stand in solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community and continue the fight for equality.”

LGBT Bar NY applauds the victory of New York State banning conversion therapy. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Here are more highlights:

US Senator Charles Schumer. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
US Congressman Jerry Nadler. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
State Senator Brad Hoylman. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
State Assembly Member DickGottfried. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and family. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams WorldPride NYC 2019 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

See more photos:

Record Numbers Turn Out for WorldPride NYC 2019, A Celebration of Pride & Joy

See also:

At WorldPride NYC Parade, NYS Governor Cuomo Signs Law Banning Gay, Trans Panic Legal Defense

__________

© 2019 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

Thousands Join Celebrate Israel Parade in NYC to Show Solidarity, Pride; Cuomo Denounces Anti-Semitism

Children from Mazel Day School, among the 40,000 marchers at the 55th Celebrate Israel Parade on Fifth Avenue, New York City © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

Tens of thousands of marchers and supporters turned New York City’s Fifth Avenue white and blue for this year’s Celebrate Israel Parade, the 55th annual parade which has become one of the biggest events in a city known for its fantastic parades and festivals. Among the dignitaries and elected officials who marched to show support was Governor Andrew Cuomo who used the occasion to denounce anti-Semitism and announce he will soon make a visit to Israel to show solidarity.

Governor Andrew Cuomo marching with Israel Consul General Dani Dayan and state elected including State Senator Anna Kaplan at the Celebrate Israel Parade, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Governor Andrew Cuomo, who marched with his mother, Matilda, daughters Michaela and Cara, and administration officials, government leaders including State Senators Anna Kaplan and Brad Hoylman, and Assemblymember David Welprin and Council Member Ben Kallos, as well as the Israel General Consul Dani Dayan, noted his special guest, Devorah Halberstam, who runs the Jewish Children’s Museum. Halberstam started the museum in honor of her son Ari Halberstam who was killed in an anti-Semitic attack; this week, an anti-Semitic note was left there, “Hitler is Coming.” 

Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“We are here to celebrate Israel,” Cuomo said. And it’s more appropriate than usual this year because the blunt truth is there has been an increase in the number of anti-Semitic attacks in this country and in this state. There’s been about a 57 percent increase in anti-Semitic attacks in the United States of America. People have heard about the Pittsburgh horrendous temple attack, in California. But a 57 percent increase. There’s been an 83 percent increase in anti-Semitic attacks in the State of New York, 83 percent increase all over the state – upstate, Long Island, Brooklyn. I just mentioned Devorah Halberstam’s most recent attack.”

Cuomo said the rise in bias and hate crimes was akin to a “cancer of the American body politic.”

“Cancer of the American body politic has been the new way. Cancer because one cell attacks another. When you have Jewish people being attacked, gays, members of the LGBTQ community being attacked, with anti-Semitic sayings just last night, anti-Muslim, anti-African-American. This is a cancer of hate that is all throughout our country and unfortunately even in our State of New York.

Governor Andrew Cuomo with family members at Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“There was a time when we could have political differences, but it didn’t turn into hate. We’ve always had political differences, back to our founding fathers we had political differences. But we tolerate them and we understand them. We can have political differences about Israel and Palestine, that’s what makes democracy that debate. But when did the strongest four letter word in America become hate instead of love? That’s what’s most troubling. And that is what is now going on. These anti-Semitic attacks are personal to the Cuomo family. We have many friends who we grew up with who are of the Jewish faith. I have two brothers in law who are Jewish, my mother has two sons in law, my daughters have two uncles – Howard and Ken – who are Jewish. These anti-Semitic attacks, the Cuomo family takes personally. Every family in New York takes personally.

“And I want the people of this state to be clear: anti-Semitism is not just wrong and immoral and unethical and anti-American; it is also illegal. And we will enforce the law to the fullest extent and you have my word on that. 

Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“As a sign of solidarity, at this time of crisis for the Jewish people, I’m going to be doing another trip to Israel as a trip in solidarity right after the legislative session and I invite my Jewish colleagues to join us as a sign of solidarity. New York stands with Israel. We are all Jewish today. We all appreciate the Jewish community. They are part of what makes New York, New York and one of the best parts.”

Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Asked what is being done to combat the wave of anti-Semitism, Cuomo said, “We have increased the hate crime penalties all across the state. We are working on more understanding, more communication, but we’re also going to enforce the law because it has reached a critical point. Eighty-three percent increase in the state of New York. Twenty-two percent increase in neo-Nazi groups. And by the way, I invite all politicians to condemn the neo-Nazi groups for what they are. They are domestic terrorists. That’s what they are. And this is not part of the democracy. They spread hate, they spread violence, they attack and every politician—Democrat, Republican—should condemn these neo-Nazi groups and call them for what they are.”

Cuomo made his remarks just before starting the march, the gaggle collected on the street which turned out to be across from Trump Tower. When a reporter pointed that out, Cuomo said, “I didn’t even notice that until you mentioned it.”

Jewish Pride march in the Celebrate Israel Parade, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Asked about the Pride flag that was burned at a downtown bar, Cuomo said, “Same thing. I call it a cancer that is spreading in this country. Why a cancer? Because cancer—one cell in the body attacks other cells and that’s what you’re seeing in this country right now. You’re seeing white versus black, Christian versus Muslim, anti-Semitism, anti-LGBTQ the other night. This is destroying America. Because America is diversity and once we start attacking each other for our diversity, that defeats America and who we are.

Burkarian Jews march in the Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

“We are a pluralistic society. Emma Lazarus, a great Jewish New Yorker who wrote the words for the Statue of Liberty. That’s the founding of this nation. George Washington visited a synagogue in Rhode Island and said, the Jewish people are here, free to celebrate their religion. It was freedom of religion. And now we are demonizing each other’s religious preferences? This is not America. This is not who we are. And we’re going to make the opposite statement in the state of New York. Let’s march, thank you.”

55th Celebrate Israel Parade

This year marks the 55th anniversary of what has become one of the largest events in New York City, known for mammoth parades and festivals, growing exponentially each year in attendance and excitement since its founding in 1965 by Ted Comet.

Ted Comet founded the Celebrate Israel Parade in 1965 © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Some 40,000 marchers representing some 250 organizations from throughout the New York metro area, Connecticut, New Jersey, Philadelphia, dignitaries and musical guests, 30 floats, 15 marching bands including the famed Mummers from Philadelphia, groups of rollerbladers, motorcyclists, dance groups, juggling clowns, marched  from 57th Street to 74th Street,  with the theme, “Only in Israel,” to highlight the positive impact the Jewish and democratic state of Israel has on people in New York and around the world.

Mummers of Philadelphia march in the Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Celebrate Israel Parade broadcast is sponsored by Friends of Maimonides Medical Center. Parade Co‐Chair Judy Kaufthal remarked, “The Celebrate Israel Parade is the world’s largest expression of support for solidarity. It’s breathtaking to see Fifth Avenue filled with people of all ages celebrating Israel and its culture.”

The Parade is produced by the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC‐NY), in cooperation with UJA‐Federation of New York and the Consulate General of Israel in New York.

Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Michael Miller, Executive Vice President & CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC‐ NY) said, “The Celebrate Israel Parade acts as a convener each year for international communities to stand together to promote unity on a global scale,” Michael Miller, Executive Vice President & CEO of the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC‐ NY) said.

Edward A. Mermelstein, Founder and CEO of One & Only Realty and President of ZAKA, the Grand Marshall of the Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Edward A. Mermelstein, Founder and CEO of One & Only Realty and President of ZAKA,  the Grand Marshall, said, “As an immigrant New Yorker and a proud Jew, walking up Fifth Avenue as the grand marshal of the Celebrate Israel Parade is the pinnacle of the American dream. I am so proud to stand with Israel.”

In addition to the Grand Marshal Edward A. Mermelstein, honorary Grand Marshals included:

  • Ted Comet, Founder of the Celebrate Israel Parade
  • Siggy Flicker, Author and TV Personality 
  • Sid Rosenberg, Co-Host of Bernie & Sid in the Morning
  • Stephanie Butnick, Host of the Unorthodox Podcast
  • Liel Leibovitz, Host of the Unorthodox Podcast
  • Elizabeth Savetsky, @ExcessoriesExpert Instagram Influencer
Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon at the Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Israeli Public Officials included: Consul General Dani Dayan; Deputy Consul General Israel Nitzan and Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon

American Public Officials included:

Andrew Cuomo, NYS Governor, Attorney General Letitia James and NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli

NYS Attorney General Letitia James at Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

US Senator Charles Schumer

US Senator Charles Schumer at Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

US Congress Members Eliot Engel, Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney

Congressman Jerrold Nadler and NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer at Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Bill de Blasio, NYC Mayor andCity Comptroller Scott Stringer

NYC Mayor Bill DeBlasio with Israel Counsel General Dani Dayan Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams

Congressman Eliot Engel Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Bronx District Attorney Darcel Clark and Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez

NYS Assembly Speaker Felix W. Ortiz and NYS Assembly Members Steven Cymbrowitz, Nicole Malliotakis, Helene Weinstein

New York City Council members at Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson and NYC Council Members Margaret Chin, Chaim Deutsch, Vanessa Gibson, Barry Grodenchik, Mark Levine, Mark Treyger, Eric Ulrich, Helen Rosenthal, Ben Kallos, Joseph Borelli, Andrew Cohen, Rafael Salamanca.

Here are more highlights from the Celebrate Israel Parade:

Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Celebrate Israel Parade 2019, NYC © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

__________

© 2019 News & Photo Features Syndicate, a division of Workstyles, Inc. All rights reserved. For editorial feature and photo information, go towww.news-photos-features.com, email editor@news-photos-features.com. Blogging atwww.dailykos.com/blogs/NewsPhotosFeatures.  ‘Like’ us onfacebook.com/NewsPhotoFeatures, Tweet @KarenBRubin

Long Island to Have First Stand-Alone Large-Scale Anaerobic Digester in NY Metro – Eliminates Waste & Generates Clean Energy

NYS Governor Andrew Cuomo with LIPA Chief Executive Officer Tom Falcone. LIPA has just approved a large-scale anaerobic digester which will will turn recycled food waste into four megawatts of clean energy. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Long Island will have the first stand-alone large-scale anaerobic digester – a type of food waste recycling center that converts waste into energy – in the New York City metropolitan area. When operational in 2020, It will produce four megawatts of clean energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions on Long Island by 85,000 metric tons a year, the equivalent to removing 18,000 cars from the road. 

The Board of Trustees of the Long Island Power Authority voted to approve the project which directly supports Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Green New Deal, a clean energy and jobs agenda that puts New York State on a path to a carbon-free economy and supports the State’s goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 40 percent below 1990 levels by 2030.

“New York State continues to lead the way with clean energy initiatives and innovative solutions that benefit both our neighborhoods and our planet,” Governor Cuomo said. “By implementing this groundbreaking technology on Long Island, we can not only produce clean energy and reduce greenhouse gases, but also spare our landfills and keep our communities cleaner and greener for decades to come.”

The project will create at least 10 full-time jobs and help retain more than 100. The facility provides a lower cost waste disposal option for food service businesses such as supermarkets, bakeries, restaurants, commercial food processers, cafeterias, catering halls, and hotels. The Town of Brookhaven will also have the capability to divert 10,000-15,000 tons per year of food waste to the project from the more expensive disposal options currently used.

The project, to be operated by American Organic Energy (AOE) at Long Island Compost in Yaphank, will process approximately 180,000 tons of local food waste per year. This waste would have otherwise been transported by gas and diesel-powered trucks to distant landfills, along with 30,000 tons of fats, oils and greases (FOG). Working with GE Water and Scott’s Miracle-Gro, AOE will collect, separate, pre-process, break down, and transform Long Island’s food waste into convertible energy, electricity, fertilizer, and nutrient-rich clean water.

Greenhouse gas emissions are expected to be reduced by 85,000 tons of CO2 per year, equivalent to removing 18,000 cars off the road. It will also reduce truck traffic on Long Island roads by 1.4 million miles per year, compared to current landfill disposal practice. In addition, Long Island Compost will convert certain stationary equipment from diesel to electricity, which is expected to reduce diesel fuel consumption by an estimated 200,000 gallons per year.

Anaerobic digestion is a biological process that occurs when organic matter is decomposed by bacteria in the absence of oxygen. During the decomposition process, the biogas released can be recovered, treated and used to generate energy in place of traditional fossil fuels.

The agreement also establishes annual and hourly limits on the delivery of energy to LIPA. The average residential bill impact would be approximately $0.10 per month, competitive with pricing of other comparable clean energy facilities under contract to LIPA. The anaerobic digester is expected to be operational by December 31, 2020.

The project is also supported by New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s (NYSERDA) Cleaner Greener Communities initiative, which provided $1.35 million and also was chosen for a $400,000 Empire State Development award by the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council.

“Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York continues to find innovative ways to produce and deliver clean energy to consumers,” Tom Falcone, LIPA’s Chief Executive Officer, said. “Turning food waste into energy here on Long Island diverts waste from Long Island landfills, reduces carbon emissions, and helps LIPA meet New York’s aggressive clean energy goals.”  

“By transforming waste into energy, digester projects like this will reduce harmful emissions and material going into landfills, while providing economic and environmental benefits to Long Island residents,” Alicia Barton, President and CEO of NYSERDA said. “NYSERDA is proud to collaborate with LIPA to advance clean energy solutions that support New York’s nation-leading clean energy goals under Governor Cuomo’s Green New Deal.” 

“This project, the largest this side of the Mississippi, has many societal benefits including creating renewable energy, reducing solid waste and reducing truck traffic,” Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of the Citizens Campaign of the Environment said. “Today the project is cutting edge, tomorrow it will be standard operating procedure. This transformational project was seven years in the making, the permits are now completed, and we are thrilled the construction can begin.” 

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “Clean energy projects like this facility aren’t just good for the environment, they’re good for the health of our communities and help build a greener economic future for our entire state.”

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said,”Governor Cuomo understands the importance of investing in renewable energy initiatives to ensure a sustainable future for our communities and communities across the state. We are focused on expanding our efforts to create a cleaner, more efficient Long Island, and I thank the Governor for his continued support in making projects like these possible.” 

“Through this partnership, Brookhaven will continue to move forward with our plans to create an energy park at our landfill as we cap and close this facility, piping methane to this anaerobic digester to produce an estimated 1.5 megawatts of energy,” Brookhaven Supervisor Ed Romaine said. “Using food scraps and other organic matter in this facility to create compost and energy is an important part of our overall strategy to reduce our waste stream on Long Island to benefit our environment. I want to thank Governor Cuomo for his support of this important an innovative clean energy project.”

Senator Todd Kaminsky said,”For a sustainable future, Long Island must stop sending excess food to landfills, and instead utilize state-of-the-art technology that turns waste into clean energy. The future is now, and the approval of this large-scale anaerobic digester is a breakthrough that marks the beginning of a new, green era.”

Sammy Chu, CEO, Edgewise Energy, and Chairman, US Green Building Council – Long Island Chapter said, “This project represents a very exciting opportunity for Long Island. It not only supports Governor Cuomo’s goal of decarbonizing our electric supply but also addresses our growing regional waste crisis. This is the type of creative solution that we need right now.”

Kevin Law, President, and CEO of the Long Island Association said, “The anaerobic digester is the most sophisticated food waste processing facility in the region. This technology will digest food waste taken from supermarkets, restaurants, and hospitals and turn this material into a source of clean energy. The LIA is in full support of this project which will benefit Long Island’s economy, environment and energy portfolio.”

Neil Lewis, Executive Director of the Molloy College Sustainability Institute said,”This project addresses the interconnection of energy, food and carbon emissions. This anaerobic digester helps with the solid waste problem on Long Island by reducing food waste, while also generating electricity. Biogas is a renewable form of energy that should be put to work for us, rather than causing emissions issues in landfills and being wasted.”

Julie Tighe, President, New York League of Conservation Voters (NYLCV) said, “We are in full support of this effort to deploy technology and solutions that can help New York State achieve its ambitious climate, clean air, and economic development goals.  We applaud LIPA and look forward to continued efforts to help Long Island develop a robust organic waste-to-fuel industry.”

New York State’s Green New Deal

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s Green New Deal, the nation’s leading clean energy and jobs agenda, will aggressively put New York State on a path to economy-wide carbon neutrality. This initiative will provide for a just transition to clean energy, spurring the growth of the green economy and mandating New York’s power be 100 percent clean and carbon-free by 2040, one of the most aggressive goals in the U.S. The cornerstone of this newly proposed mandate is a significant increase of New York’s successful Clean Energy Standard to 70 percent renewable electricity by 2030.

As part of the unprecedented ramp-up of renewable energy, New York has already invested $2.9 billion into 46 large-scale renewable projects across the state as it significantly increases its clean energy targets, such as: quadrupling New York’s offshore wind target to a nation-leading 9,000 megawatts by 2035; doubling distributed solar deployment to 6,000 megawatts by 2025; and deploying 3,000 megawatts of energy storage by 2030. To support this ambitious work, NY Green Bank intends to use its expertise in overcoming financing gaps to foster greater environmental impacts per public dollar by raising over $1 billion in third party funds to expand climate financing availability across New York and the rest of North America.

________

© 2019 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

Governor Cuomo Holds NYS Budget Hostage Without Permanent Property Tax Cap; I Object

Voting on a school bond referendum, Great Neck, Long Island. New York State’s property tax cap removes local control over spending for education and local services including parks and libraries © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News& Photo Features

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has said he won’t sign the state budget unless it makes permanent the property tax cap.

“The highest tax in the state is the property tax and it is a killer,” Governor Cuomo said.”We want to reduce economic pressure on families by making sure government is not aggravating the problem with increased expenses. We’re going to cut your state income tax and we’re going to cap your property taxes so you know it’s not going higher than 2 percent. And I will tell you this as sure as I am before you today: if we do not have the permanent property tax cap in that state budget, this hand will never sign that state budget until it’s in there.”

From the very beginning, I have objected to this trampling off local control with an arbitrary and unreasonable constraint designed to hamstring and ultimately destroy local governments. Cuomo’s original intent was to force school districts and other local governments to cannibalize their reserve funds; the second was to force consolidation and dissolution of local governments and the third was to use local taxes as the bogeyman, so politicians could appear to be on the side of taxpayers.

Of course the property tax is the largest state tax and of course school taxes are the largest component. Something has to be “largest”. What should be? But local property taxes are spent where they are used, and local people have the greatest ability to participate in spending decisions. In fact, school and library taxes are the only taxes we taxpayers directly vote.

What the property tax cap does, though, is remove local control. Communities should have the right to decide if they want to improve their schools or parks. The property tax cap which basically keeps the annual increase to 2% or the rate of inflation whichever is less says: we don’t want any growth or improvement or new investment in your community. We want the status quo, and if that means deterioration, so be it. (Little known fact: the property tax cap incentivizes bonding because the debt service isn’t counted toward the cap.)

Somehow, and fairly ingeniously I think, the Great Neck Public School district has managed to continue to be among the best in the country and still average only 1.8 percent increase in the tax levy since the property tax cap was implemented in 2012, despite increasing enrollments and unfunded state mandates. This year, though, through the complicated formula, the school district could have raised taxes by 4.09 percent and still fall within the cap, is only seeking 1.94 percent increase. .

I resent the property tax cap by which the Governor and state legislators can declare themselves champions of reducing or controlling taxes.

But here’s the thing: New York State’s property taxes are not the highest in the nation; Nassau County’s taxes are not the highest; and both of these do not take into account that Long Island and New York’s incomes and our housing values are higher.

According to a survey by Wallethub, a financial services company, New York State ranks 8th (not first) in property taxes. New York ranks 43rd in its real estate tax rate, at 1.68 percent. You know which states are higher? Nebraska (1.80), Texas (1.83), Vermont (1.83), Wisconsin (1.94), Connecticut (2.07), New Hampshire (2.20), Illinois (2.31), and New Jersey (2.44) (See the study: https://wallethub.com/edu/states-with-the-highest-and-lowest-property-taxes/11585/)

Even so, do you want to be Alabama, which is #2 on the list for lowest taxes, where the median home value is $132,000 and the tax is $558 (0.42%), or Louisiana, #3, where the median home value is $152,900 and median tax is $795 (0.52%)? Louisiana ranks 51st in health care, Alabama is 48th. New York is 17th (fourth most physicians per capita)

USA Today ranks New York’s public education 9th noting, “Between 2003 and 2015, the achievement gap between eighth graders living in poverty and their wealthier peers narrowed by the largest amount of all states…Annual public school funding totals $18,665 per pupil in New York, the third highest expenditure of all states.” (Top three are Massachusetts, New Jersey and Vermont). Alabama ranks 43rd (14th lowest in public school spending at $10,142). Louisiana is 46th, Mississippi is 48th.

Yes, total taxes are high: New Yorkers spend 17.07 percent of income on taxes, second highest after Connecticut (17.65 percent). But New York State is spending billions on a 21st century infrastructure and racing toward 50:50 clean energy by 2030. This is where I want to live. So do 20 million others, a number that is increasing, even as unemployment rates are at the lowest ever and the number of jobs is at an all-time high.

We pay a lot in taxes because our incomes are higher and our housing values are higher, what is more, we get more for our money, making for a higher quality of life.

The states that don’t charge an appropriate amount of state and local taxes – that is related to the cost of providing services and public investment – depend on federal handouts. New York is one of 11 states that send more money to the federal government than it gets back, in fact the #1 donor state, sending $36-$48 billion more to the federal government than it gets back. Alabama is 4th “most federally dependent state”; Louisiana is 10th.

New York sends the second highest amount in federal taxes, $133 billion (California sends $227 billion), and is fourth in the average amount of federal taxes per adult ($8,490), behind Connecticut $10,279), Massachusetts ($9,445), and New Jersey ($8,811).

(Here’s an idea: New York should do what tenants do in a landlord dispute and put that $36 billion into escrow until the SALT deductibility issue is fixed.)

But we shouldn’t be punishing our localities because of the criminality of Republicans to use the tax code as political weapon – according to State Comptroller Tom Dinapoli, the SALT deduction cap has driven down tax receipts by $2.3 billion, as wealthiest New Yorkers choose other places for primary residency.

But the tax cap is also a political weapon.

The larger objective is to eliminate local municipalities entirely – to force villages to consolidate into towns, towns into counties, school districts into larger school districts. But the fallacy in that is all that it saves is a few administrative positions. Villages and school districts already have cooperative purchasing, mutual aid; school districts even cooperate on transportation where feasible. Our school district spends 4 percent of its budget on administration, the lion’s share, 75 percent, on instruction (12 percent on building, grounds & capital projects, 6 percent on transportation). (To see where your schools spend every penny, come to Great Neck South High School this Saturday at 9:30 am for the line-by-line budget review.)

The state boasts that since implementation the tax cap has “saved” taxpayers $24.4 billion statewide – that works out to $1000 per capita, divided by 7 years, or $142 a year. I’m not sure that’s worth giving up local control.

But just as Cuomo and the Congressmembers decry Trump’s disparity in federal spending for blue states versus red states and the attack on state control over its ability to raise revenue and spend, it is the same thing with local spending: there is gigantic  disparity in the level of state aid to school districts, with the result that New York City only has to raise 50 percent of its school budget from property taxes, while Great Neck, which gets just 4 percent from the state, has to raise 95 percent through property taxes. Here’s another measure: Roosevelt, with 3270 enrolled students, gets $53 million in state aid; Great Neck, with 6399 enrolled students, gets $10 million – the difference made up from property taxes. That’s just the way it is.

What the property tax cap means is that virtually all Great Neck’s school spending is governed by the cap; other districts have much less that is controlled by the tax cap.

The responsibility for determining if our elected representatives are properly handling our tax appropriations is on the community, not an arbitrarily selected cap enshrined in law.

We see what our school taxes (and park and library and sewer district) pay for and I don’t want the state – or some politician looking to score points – deciding we can’t have low class size or a robotics club or a fencing team or an opera performance (Great Neck South High marks its 50th anniversary full-scale opera production, April 12). This community has decided these things are just as important to our district’s mission of helping every child fulfill their full potential as cramming the latest incarnation of ELA and math or operating school buildings as if they were prisons. Our mission has been to instill a love of life-long learning. And the investment this community has made in public education has brought solid ROI day after day.

____________________

© 2019 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

Sierra Club Applauds Cuomo Commitment to Advancing Clean, Renewable Energy in State of State

Governor Andrew Cuomo reiterated his support for offshore windpower project off Long Island in his 2019 State of the State address © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Environmentalists are hailing energy and environmental legacy initiatives in New York State  proposed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in his his annual State of the State and budget address.

“Governor Cuomo made historic commitments today supporting the advancement of clean energy throughout the state,” stated Lisa Dix, Senior New York Campaign Manager for the Sierra Club. “With a mandate to source 70 percent of the state’s energy through renewables by 2030, doubling New York’s distributed solar target and quadrupling the current offshore wind targets, the Governor has proven that he is a national leader determined to make New York a 21st century, renewable energy, economic powerhouse. Through massive investments in offshore wind ports and clean energy job training centers, New York will be the regional hub for the offshore wind industry. Working with the administration, climate-affected communities and labor, we will create long-term, family-wage jobs, while supporting a robust supply chain and multiplying economic development opportunities for New Yorkers.”

The initiatives include commitments to:

New York’s “Green New Deal”: The Governor restated his December goal of making New York 100 percent carbon neutral by 2040. The Administration will map how New York will achieve carbon neutrality, while providing a just and fair transition for communities and workers. This initiative includes a $10 billion “Green Future Fund” that supports climate priorities and emissions reduction goals and $70 million to provide initial funding for communities affected by the clean energy transition.

Increased Clean Energy Standard Target: New York is now the second state after Hawaii with the most ambitious clean energy targets in the nation, with a new goal of sourcing 70 percent of New York’s electricity from renewable energy by 2030, including the most ambitious off-shore windpower program in the country. This doubles the current targets for energy storage, distributed solar, large scale solar and wind and quadruples the offshore wind targets.

Increased Green Infrastructure and Jobs: With the Governor committing to building nearly four times more offshore wind by 2035 than he initially stated, this is the most ambitious offshore wind generation commitment in the country. New York will nearly triple the offshore wind commitment any state has made before. Additionally, about $200 million of the budget will be invested in building offshore wind ports and clean energy job training centers.

Clean Transportation and Congestion Pricing: The Governor urged the legislature to pass congestion pricing legislation to make the Metro Transit Authority (MTA) more reliable for years to come. Through congestion pricing, the state would make $15 billion to invest back into the MTA. The Governor also committed to over $3 billion in funding for clean energy and clean transportation infrastructure for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. The Governor, however, fell short in setting an enforceable commitment to reducing emissions from New York’s transportation sector, the economic sector responsible for the most climate/carbon pollution in New York State.