Wednesday, February 29, 2012
During Monday’s meeting, Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler said that the committee needs to review the ethics board to determine if the county is utilizing the best system available.
“It lends to conflicts when we have such a small number,” he said.
The county’s ethics board’s three members is comprised of a department head, a business owner and a retired judge.
“We need to look at the composition of the ethics board,” Kunzwiler said, adding that changes may be needed to make the system more user friendly. “I don’t think it’s been looked at in years.”
Kunzwiler suggested that other counties be looked at to learn how many members they have on their boards. Some counties, he added, have as many as seven and nine members.
Legislator Doug Malone agreed that the board needed to be looked at and possibly increase its numbers.
Legislator Shawn Doyle said he too agreed that it is a discussion that the committee should have.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
A federal judge in Brooklyn will redraw the state’s congressional boundaries by March 12, the jurist announced Monday.
Magistrate Roanne Mann is acting in the role of a special master after the chief justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals ordered a panel of judges to draw up new congressional districts in response to a lawsuit filed late last year in Brooklyn Federal Court.
With candidate petitioning slated to begin on March 20, Mann is moving quickly to have the redistricting in place based on the latest census data and input from experts — including Columbia University Law Prof. Nathaniel Persily.
“Drawing congressional lines is of the utmost urgency,” said lawyer Richard Mancino who filed the suit which contends the Legislature has been unable to put forth a reasonable plan.
“We disagree with our colleagues that there is ‘plenty of time’ to get their acts together,” Mancino said.
All the parties were said to be negotiating, though no immediate progress was reported.
An Assembly official said the Democrats’ intention is to submit a plan to Mann on Wednesday if a deal with the state Senate is not reached before then.
Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/redrawing-state-congressional-boundaries-put-hands-federal-judge-article-1.1029630#ixzz1nhyQ1rMb
Saturday, February 25, 2012
A special meeting was held Tuesday behind closed doors. Legislators said after the meeting that they were given permission to only speak about two court appeals filed against decisions rendered by Seager.
“I was sick to my stomach to hear realistically we haven’t progressed since Erin Maxwell,” Legislator Doug Malone said. Maxwell is the 11-year-old girl who, upon her death, was found to be living in “deplorable” conditions.
The county DSS came under fire in the Maxwell case but this time, it’s Seager who is under fire.
Legislators from both sides of the aisle described the situation as serious and one that will not turn political.
Minority Leader Mike Kunzwiler said he, too, felt sick to his stomach when he listened to some of the allegations made at the meeting.
Senate Democrats have been pushing the Republican majority for some time to move forward on creation of a federally mandated health insurance exchange, or pool from which consumers could compare and choose coverage.
That hasn’t yet happened and Republicans, in a relatively rare case in which they have shared an ideological platform with the more conservative national GOP, have said they don’t like the exchanges since they are part of the Obama health care overhaul.
Democrats, though are still pushing the issue as indicated by this letter from Senate Democratic leader John Sampson to GOP Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Sampson cites a deadline by which the state is supposed to move on the exchanges or risk losing federal dollars.
Friday, February 24, 2012
Gov. Cuomo Thursday unleashed a scorched-earth attack on state lawmakers, branding them hypocrites and highlighting what he sees as the inconvenient truths of their approach to redistricting.
Setting flame to turf on both sides of the political aisle, Cuomo fumed that he has had enough of what he called the “political theater” surrounding the once-a-decade redrawing of legislative district boundaries.
He ripped into Senate Democrats for a letter first reported Thursday by the Daily News in which the minority urged him to veto the redistricting proposals created by the majorities in both chambers.
Cuomo questioned why his fellow Dems didn’t manage to pass an independently crafted redistricting bill during the two years they held a majority in the chamber.
“Because they were in power,” Cuomo said, answering his own question during his tirade on Albany’s Talk 1300-AM.
“They conveniently forget that.”
He also asked why the Senate Dems have not exerted more pressure on their “buddies” in the Democrat-controlled Assembly to refrain from passing redistricting models that are not independently drawn.
“You want me to veto the bill?” Cuomo said bitterly. “Don’t pass the bill.”
But the Senate Democrats were not the only faction to incur the popular governor’s wrath.
Cuomo blasted the Senate Republican majority for going back on a campaign pledge to former Mayor Ed Koch in which they vowed to pass partisan-free redistricting this year.
“They signed a pledge to Mayor Koch and they just did a 180 on it,” Cuomo railed.
Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Gov. Cuomo still stands ready to veto the legislative district boundaries drawn by the Legislature, aides said Monday.
Cuomo aides deny growing sentiment that a deal with lawmakers has been reached — or is close — on the once-a-decade redistricting.
“He’s not backing off his position,” an administration official insisted. “Nothing has changed.”
But Cuomo raised eyebrows last week when he suggested he would set aside his veto pen if lawmakers met three criteria:
- Redraw the legislative lines more fairly than the first draft.
- Commit passing a constitutional amendment to ensure a more independent system in 10 years.
- Revamp the state law governing redistricting in case voters or legislators shoot down the amendment.
The Senate and Assembly are expected to pass a reworked redistricting plan as early as Feb. 29.
Meanwhile, lawyers for the legislative leaders filed papers asking a federal three-judge panel to hold off on appointing a special master to draw the state and congressional district lines instead of the Legislature.
Sunday, February 19, 2012
Saturday, February 18, 2012
The $143 billion payroll tax cut won by President Barack Obama may be the last significant measure he receives from a deeply divided Congress that promises to only get more polarized as Election Day approaches.
Obama's coveted renewal of the payroll tax cut for 160 million workers and jobless benefits for millions more caps a five-month campaign-style drive against reluctant Republicans.
Under the bill Congress approved Friday, workers would continue to receive a 2 percentage point increase in their paychecks, and people out of work for more than six months would keep jobless benefits averaging about $300 a week, steps that Obama says will help support a fragile recovery from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
It would also head off a steep cut in reimbursements for physicians who treat Medicare patients.
The tax cuts, jobless coverage and higher doctors' payments would all continue through 2012.
Passage of the legislation hands Obama a victory over objections from many GOP lawmakers who oppose it but were eager to wipe the issue from the election-year agenda.
"People are working. They're spending more money. Customers seem to be happier," she said.
In 2009, the restaurant struggled to stay open as Chrysler and GM teetered on the brink of collapse.
"Our business went down 40percent," says Dedvuka, the daughter of a retired auto worker. "Driving to work, you would see these big (auto) plants completely empty. It would give you chills."
Now customers who once feared losing their jobs are complaining about working too much overtime.
As Santorum and Gingrich scramble to overtake native son Willard in the Michigan primary, the state's economy appears to be climbing out of a deep, dark hole. mostly due to Barack Obama.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Cuomo Announces Agreement on Evaluation Guidelines That Will Make N.Y. State a National Leader on Teacher Accountability
The agreement gives significant guidance to local school districts for the implementation of a teacher evaluation system that is based on multiple measures of performance including student achievement and rigorous classroom observations. The agreement follows through on the state's commitment to put in place a real and effective teacher evaluation system as a condition of the $700 million granted through the federal Race to the Top program.
"Today's agreement puts in place a groundbreaking new statewide teacher evaluation system that will put students first and make New York a national leader in holding teachers accountable for student achievement," Governor Cuomo said. "This agreement is exactly what is needed to transform our state's public education system, and I am pleased that by working together and putting the needs of students ahead of politics we were able to reach this agreement."
State Education Commissioner John B. King, Jr., said, "The goal is and always has been to help students - to give them every opportunity to succeed in college and careers. To make that happen, we need to improve teaching and learning. We owe it to our students to make sure every classroom is led by an effective teacher and every school is led by an effective principal. Today, the Governor's leadership and his commitment to our students has helped us take a strong step toward that goal."
New York State United Teachers President Richard C. Iannuzzi, said, "Teachers support high standards and accountability for our profession. We believe today's agreement is good for students and fair to teachers. It includes two principles we believe are essential. First, a child is more than a standardized test score. While there is a place for standardized testing in measuring teacher effectiveness, tests must be used appropriately. Secondly, the purpose of evaluations must be to help all teachers improve and to advance excellence in our profession. This agreement acknowledges those key principles. The settlement also reinforces how important it is for teachers to have a voice in establishing standards of professional effectiveness and in developing evaluations that meet the needs of local communities."
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said, "This is very good news for the 1.1 million school children of New York City – and it will benefit students for generations to come. It will help us to create a rigorous and comprehensive evaluation system that will ensure that teachers who are rated 'ineffective' can be given the support they need to grow -- or be moved out of the classroom. I want to thank the Governor for his leadership on this issue, as well as Merryl Tisch, John King, and Mike Mulgrew, who were all instrumental in this process."
United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew said, "The UFT and the Governor have reached an agreement on an appeal process for New York City teachers that includes the kind of independent, third party component that the UFT has been seeking. The appeal process will not go into effect unless and until Mayor Bloomberg negotiates agreement s with the UFT for an overall teacher evaluation deal and for schools eligible for School Improvement Grants (SIGs). I want to congratulate Governor Cuomo and NYSUT for their hard work in finding common ground on the statewide issues that separated them. Their agreement recognizes that students are more than a test score. I want to thank the Governor for his efforts to find a similar resolution for the issues that separate the UFT and Mayor Bloomberg. Chancellor Walcott's asserted that the city needed to close 33 SIG schools because there was no agreement possible on an appeals process for teachers. That process has now been laid out for the SIG schools. Despite this agreement, Mayor Bloomberg still seems determined to close those schools."
Details of the plan are as follows:
Teacher Performance – 60 points
Under the agreement, 60 percent of a teacher's evaluation will be based on rigorous and nationally recognized measures of teacher performance. The agreement requires that a majority of the teacher performance points will be based on classroom observations by an administrator or principal, and at least one observation will be unannounced. The remaining points will be based upon defined standards including observations by independent trained evaluators, peer classroom observations, student and parent feedback from evaluators, and evidence of performance through student portfolios.
Student Achievement in State and Local Assessments– 40 points
Under the agreement, 40 percent of a teacher's evaluation will be based on student academic achievement, with 20 percent from state testing and 20 percent from a list of three testing options including state tests, third party assessments/tests approved by the SED and locally developed tests that will be subject to SED review and approval. Under the plan, school districts will also have the option of using state tests to measure up to 40 percent of a teacher's rating.
The agreement significantly tightens the scoring system to ensure student achievement and teacher performance are both properly taken into account for teacher ratings. Teachers or principals that are rated ineffective in the 40 points could not receive a developing score overall.
Ineffective: 0 – 64
Developing: 65 – 74
Effective: 75 – 90
Highly Effective: 91 – 100
Assigning a Curve for the Ratings
The agreement sets forth, for the first time, a standard for school districts and teacher unions to set the allocation of points or the "curve" for the teacher ratings. The curve must be allocated in a manner that a teacher can receive one of the four ratings, and the SED Commissioner will be able to reject insufficiently set curves.
SED Commissioner Final Review
The agreement also, for the first time, gives the SED Commissioner the authority to approve or disapprove local evaluation plans that are deemed insufficient. This will add rigor to the process and ensure evaluation plans comply with the law.
New York City Expedited Appeals Process
Today's announcement also includes an expedited and streamlined appeals process for the New York City School District that becomes effective on January 17, 2013 if New York City and the UFT agree to an overall evaluation system.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Kunzwiler asked the question during Thursday’s session of the legislature.
The indexing is currently being done by the county clerk’s data imaging vendor, Info Quick Solutions, Inc. (IQS) of Liverpool. It was stated late last year that as of the first of the year, the indexing would return in-house.
For that reason, County Clerk George Williams requested the reinstatement of a senior index clerk position that he had asked last spring to eliminate to allow for Matthew Bacon to become the deputy clerk of operations, a newly created position.
During the discussion of the deputy clerk of operations position, Williams stated that the job duties are the same as the senior index clerk, however, the deputy title was a better fit.
Kunzwiler also asked when a new request for proposals for data imaging services will be released.
County Administrator Phil Church is handling the entire RFP process due to problems surrounding the prior two RFP’s that were never awarded. Story Post
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
Noting that Congressional primaries are scheduled for June, the judge, Dora L. Irizarry of Federal District Court in Brooklyn, said it was time for the federal courts to take charge of ensuring that New York has an election process that complies with state and federal law.
Judge Irizarry’s ruling came in response to a lawsuit filed in November by a group of civic leaders who asserted that the redistricting process for the state Assembly and Senate, as well as the state’s Congressional delegation, had stalled.
Complicating matters, a federal judge in Albany last month ordered the state to move up primary elections for Congressional seats to June from September in order to allow sufficient time for military voters to receive absentee ballots for the general election. The state’s legislative primary is currently scheduled for September.
In her ruling, Judge Irizarry noted, “in 1992 and 2002, the New York State Legislature acted only after there was judicial intervention.”
The plaintiffs’ lawyers, Richard Mancino and Daniel M. Burstein, described the ruling as “a major step forward” for their cause.
“We are gratified that the court recognized the danger legislative inaction poses to the fair conduct of New York’s elections and is taking steps to protect the voters of our state,” the lawyers said in a statement.
The legislative task force that drew up proposed redistricting maps for the State Senate and State Assembly is currently holding hearings across the state. Their proposed maps have been widely criticized by good-government groups and civil rights leaders, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has vowed to veto them. The task force has yet to release a proposal for the state’s Congressional districts. FULL POST
Traverse City, Mich. -- President Barack Obama is requesting $300 million to continue funding a wide-ranging Great Lakes environmental cleanup program in the 2013 fiscal year.
Congress has appropriated more than $1 billion for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative during the first three years of Obama’s presidency. His budget plan released Monday seeks $300 million more.
The program is based on a wish list developed by environmental groups, scientists, state officials and others in the region. It seeks to make progress on some of the Great Lakes’ most pressing problems, including invasive species, toxic pollution, farm and urban runoff and loss of wildlife habitat.
The program also has helped pay for the fight to prevent Asian carp from slipping into the Great Lakes, where scientists say they could out-compete native fish for food.
Saturday, February 11, 2012
Barry Leemann, at the conclusion of his term as Oswego County legislature chairman, filed an ethics complaint against Legislator Shawn Doyle in regard to Doyle’s use of office space in the H. Douglas Barclay Courthouse that the county rents to the Town of Richland.
Doyle serves as the town historian and utilizes a small office that is sometimes used by other town officials as well.
Leemann said he filed the complaint with County Attorney Richard Mitchell Tuesday, December 27. The following day, Doyle received a telephone call from an area reporter asking him to comment on the ethics charge. At the time of the call, Doyle had not been served with the complaint and had no knowledge of it.
Doyle received the complaint Friday, December 30 — two days after he received the call from the reporter.
At the time of the reporter’s telephone call to Doyle, the only persons known to possess the written complaint were the three members of the county’s Ethics Board, Mitchell and Leemann.
Leemann had said at that time that he “absolutely did not” contact the press in regard to the complaint, nor did he receive the copy back from the county attorney until the day after the media contact.
-Look for the full story in the Saturday edition of the Valley News...
Monday, February 6, 2012
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Friday, February 3, 2012
Gallup found that in January, 33 percent of workers said their employers were expanding the size of their workforce, while only 17 percent said the opposite--for a job-creation index of +16, the highest since the economic crisis began. Gallup also said that "the job situation usually deteriorates at this time of year, making the improvement last month even more impressive."
It's too soon to say whether voters will be as impressed as Gallup, or agree with Romney's attack on President Obama ("more job losses and more home foreclosures than under any president in modern history"). After all, the Congressional Budget Office says that unemployment could return to 9 percent by November. And, of course, a European implosion, an oil-price explosion, and other disruptions are always possible.
But if indicators continue to improve, Romney may have to tweak his argument from "Obama has failed" to "things would be a lot better by now" if someone else had been president. That sounds a lot like Obama's case--that without his policies, things would have been much worse--and may be just as hard to sell.