Tuesday, January 31, 2012
A hearing was held last week in the Article 78 proceeding and Chatfield said the judge ruled in favor of the county’s request to move the case to Oswego County.
Chatfield said he didn’t understand the move.
“It was done for the convenience of witnesses but this is an Article 78 proceeding, there won’t be a trial so there won’t be any witnesses to call,” he said.
Chatfield said while the county requested the venue change, a summary judgment was also requested.
Chatfield is representing APS Information Services, Inc., which alleges in court papers that Williams has been unlawfully charging a fee for criminal record searches that are not certified. The company further alleges that Williams denies access to the records in absence of the fee.
The Order to Show Cause references New York State Civil Practice Law and Rules, section 8021, which states a county clerk can charge “for certifying to a search of any records, other than those in an action or relating to real property, for a consecutive two year period or fraction thereof, for each name so searched, five dollars.”
As the county clerk, Williams has custody of the county’s criminal court records.
The Article 78 states, “The records that the petitioner searches are all in the public domain, albeit in the custody of the county clerks of the various counties that the petitioner covers.”
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Read Full Report
Friday, January 27, 2012
Senate Democrats are already moving to score political points off the GOP’s much-criticized redistricting plan.
In an e-mail being blasted to supporters today, the Senate Democratic Campaign Committee Chair Mike Gianaris attacks the plan and urge people to call Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos’ office to voice their concerns.
“Yesterday, Senate Republicans officially returned Albany to its status as the most dysfunctional capital in the nation, dealing a shameful blow to the cause of reform. In a brazen move stolen straight out of the playbook of convicted felon Tom DeLay, millions of New Yorkers were disenfranchised as part of a last ditch Republican attempt to cling to power,” the e-mail begins.
It goes on to cite criticisms from Gov. Cuomo, Ed Koch and NYPIRG’s Bill Mahoney. Cuomo has threatened to veto the maps produced yesterday.
Thursday, January 26, 2012
As Pat Garofalo explained for The Atlantic, a considerable portion of Romney's income comes from a retirement deal with Bain Capital that continues to pay him a small share of the firm's profits. The wonky term for this cool stream of money is "carried interest" -- the share of investor gains "carried" by the private equity or hedge fund manager.*
You might expect that Mitt's millions would be treated as earned income, because it represents gains from a service rendered by a private equity manager. Normally, that sort of money would be taxed at the top 35% marginal rate. Instead, the tax code treats Romney's retirement payout as carried interest -- investment income from a private equity firm shared among its managers. As a result, Romney pays Uncle Sam only 15% of his Bain Capital income.
In 2009, 15% was the average effective tax rate for households making between $75,000 and $100,000, in the middle quintile of U.S. families. That means Mitt Romney, a mega-millionaire, pays the tax rate as if his were a firmly middle class family, which would seem to pose a considerable political problem to a candidate fighting for middle class votes. To be clear, I don't think it's a moral problem. It's not like it's his fault, or anything. It's just the natural outcome of a tax system designed to give special treatment to investors -- and private equity managers, in particular.
Monday, January 23, 2012
The NY Senate Republicans are backing away from their promise to pass legislation that would create an Independent Redistricting Commission.
Statement from Senate Democratic Conference Spokesman Mike Murphy,
“This confirms everyone’s worst fears and proves that legislators are incapable of drawing their own districts in a fair manner. What the Senate Republicans are doing is illegal and no reading of the State Constitution would allow a new seat to be created. We are witnessing the depths that the Republicans will go to hold onto power. They are playing a dangerous game with the state constitution and the redistricting process. Unfortunately, the Senate GOP has made it clear that they care more about protecting their partisan interests than the people of New York State.”
THE LAW AND THE NUMBER OF NEW YORK STATE SENATE DISTRICTS
· The number of Senate districts is determined by a rule, dating from 1894, in Article III, §4, of the NY State Constitution. The rule applies to counties that contain more than 6% of the total state population.
o Whenever the population of such a county rises to a larger proportion of the statewide total than in 1894 – counting by increments of 1/50th (2%) of the state total, after dropping the remainders – then a district is added to the total of 50 districts that were created in 1894.
o The Court of Appeals has ruled that some pairs of counties must be combined in making the comparison with 1894. Nassau was separated from Queens in 1899, and Bronx County was created out of parts of New York and Westchester in 1914.
o The counties that have grown enough to matter are Bronx, Nassau, Queens, Richmond, Suffolk, and Westchester. (A decline in a county’s share of the state population, as compared with 1894, has no effect on the number of districts.)
· There have been two different methods of combining the counties for this comparison.
o It happens that, given the state and county population totals of the 2010 census, both formulas would produce 62 districts in 2012. Any number other than 62 would mean a departure from all constitutional precedents (and also a repudiation of the legal opinion produced by Republican Counsel Mr. Carvin in 2002)
o It would obviously be a repeat of the partisan manipulation of 2002, with new political calculations for the new decade.
o One method was used in the reapportionment law of 1972, upheld by the Court of Appeals in Schneider v. Rockefeller (1972), and used again without question in 1982 and 1992. That formula produced 60 districts in 1972 (up from the previous 58), and 61 districts in 1982 and 1992. If the same formula had been applied in 2002, there would again have been 61 districts.
o The Senate Majority decided, however, that their political calculations would be best served by creating 62 districts in 2002. The Senate Majority’s outside counsel, Mr. Michael Carvin, then produced an opinion justifying the new formula. It is still available (as of September 15, 2011) at the LATFOR website.
This is a constitutional rule. There is no constitutional basis for choosing another number of districts because it seems convenient, for whatever reason. The ambiguity of the formula, arising from changes in county boundaries, and the past exploitation of that ambiguity to serve partisan purposes, provide no license to ignore the NYS Constitution
Sunday, January 22, 2012
“I have a report that’s done,” Champagne said. “I am doing the final draft.”
A copy of the report will be submitted to Essex County officials and the New York State Attorney General, Champagne said.
Champagne was named special prosecutor in the case that began when The Valley News submitted a Freedom of Information request for the e-mail correspondence between the county clerk’s office and county officials.
Essex County Manager Daniel Palmer reviewed the requested information prior to releasing it, and based on the content, he said he referred it to Champagne.
The e-mail exchanges show IQS submitted reasons for the other bidding vendors to be denied the contract. Palmer and the Essex County purchasing director had recommended another company be awarded a contract. The Essex County Board of Supervisors subsequently awarded a contract to IQS.
IQS currently holds a contract with Oswego County on a month-to-month basis as legislators have been more than a year attempting to award a bid.
A new request for proposals is expected to be released soon following two unsuccessful attempts — both shrouded in controversy.
The county’s ethics board found Deputy County Clerk Georgiana Mansfield guilty of working for IQS and the board later released a ruling in regard to County Clerk George Williams and Deputy Clerk of Operations Matthew Bacon having drinks with IQS officials shortly after all competing vendors had made presentations to the legislature’s Community and Consumer Affairs Committee.
Last week, the St. Lawrence County Legislature voted to release a request for proposals after County Clerk Mary Lou Rupp attempted a no-bid contract with IQS, according to St. Lawrence county officials.
St. Lawrence County Legislator Fred Morrill said that Rupp’s reasoning for contracting with IQS was almost identical to the reasoning Williams gave to Oswego County legislators. Morrill said he had the minutes of the Oswego County legislature meetings to use as a comparison.
Thursday, January 19, 2012
Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Gov. Andrew Cuomo will present his 2012-13 executive budget proposal in the Egg at 2 p.m. YNN will be carrying the budget address live.
Cuomo’s $132 billion budget is expected to cut total spending by $200 million and close the $2 billion budget gap without raising taxes or fees.
Monday, January 16, 2012
In 2007, the top 1 percent share of national income peaked at 23.5 percent. The only other year since 1913 that the wealthy had claimed such a large share of national income: 1928, when the top 1 percent share was 23.9 percent. The following year, the stock market crashed, and the Great Depression began. After peaking again in 2007, the U.S. stock market crashed in 2008, leading to what some are now calling the “Great Recession.”
It is clear the GOP's desire to continue to increase the wealth of the top 1% is hurting the middle class and cause another “Great Recession.”
Sunday, January 15, 2012
Each GOP legislator is entitled to $1,000 per year for reimbursement of uninsured medical expenses. The perk can be used by either the legislator or their qualifying dependents regardless of whether they are enrolled in the county’s health insurance plan. Unused portions of the benefit can be rolled over to the following year.
Democrats have made several proposals in recent years to eliminate the perk, however, a majority of the Republican legislators have voted against its elimination.
Saturday, January 14, 2012
On the minds of residents were the fate of the U.S. Postal Service, hydrofracking, and the fate of Fort Drum with the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
When asked about the postal service’s recommendations to close many locations, particularly in rural areas, Owens said the problem may not be resolved soon.
“We did get a moratorium on closures that should go on for a couple more months,” he said. “When you talk about closing post offices in a district like ours, you’re talking about real impact.”
He added that he has co-sponsored legislation to offer solutions.
Owens said an alternative to closure is to offer hubs in various public locations that may not offer full service but could provide some of the services.
“It might not be a full panorama of services,” he said.
Owens said he writes to the Postmaster General frequently in hopes of coming to a resolve. “We’re not getting a particularly warm response from the postal service,” he noted.
Thursday, January 12, 2012
Monday, January 9, 2012
Saturday, January 7, 2012
Friday, January 6, 2012
True writes Mitt Romney in his precinct of Washington and Wells township was given credit for 22 ballots when he actually only received two.
According to the Iowa GOP web site, Mitt Romney received 22 ballots for the precinct in question. Romney is credited with beating Rick Santorum by eight votes in the Iowa caucus.
"I talked to Appanoose County officials and their numbers matched mine," True said by telephone Thursday night. "It's the state's numbers that don't match."
True said he was one of three people to count the ballots Tuesday night and said with 100 percent certainty Romney's total is off by 20.
"I hope it's an honest mistake when it was typed in," True said.
True said the 20 ballot difference changes the outcome of the Iowa caucus and believes it's something the people in New Hampshire and South Carolina should know about because their primaries are coming up.
Link to Post
Outgoing Legislature Chairman Barry Leemann filed an ethics charge against Legislator Shawn Doyle over the use of a small office in the H. Douglas Barclay Court House in Pulaski.
Doyle serves as the historian for the Town of Richland and the town rents space in the court house from the county.
Under an agreement made between former town supervisor Jim Atkinson and former Legislature Chairman Russ Johnson, the office space in question, on the upper level of the court house, was agreed upon verbally.
The ethics complaint was leaked to the press prior to Doyle receiving it or having any knowledge of it (see related story) raising another question of ethics. Complaints are confidential until the time the ethics board makes a determination.
Although he filed the complaint, Leemann said he did so based on questions raised by several legislators, none of whom he would name.
He added that he did not file the complaint personally but as the chairman.
Doyle does not blame Leemann but rather placed the blame on Legislator Fred Beardsley.
“This action is retaliation because I led the charge to fairly bid the IQS data management contract,” Doyle alleged. “The way that contract was bid was absolutely corrupt.”
Doyle said he is also one of a half dozen legislators who signed an ethics complaint against County Clerk George Williams in regard to his testimony under oath in an unemployment hearing.
The transcripts state that Williams “purposely set up” an employee of his office.
Doyle said he signed the complaint after reading the court transcripts.
“Workplace harassment should not be a partisan issue,” he said in regard to signing the complaint that is signed by both Republican and Democrat legislators.
Doyle said he uses the court house office to store historical records and to meet with residents and students performing research projects. The town nor Doyle charges for research services, he said.
The ethics complaint has the ire of legislators who are concerned that it will fracture the Republican caucus even more than it has been.