Citizens Union Endorsement

Below is a press release from Citizens Union announcing their 2014 general election endorsements, and you can find my full candidate questionnaire here.
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Citizens Union Chair Peter Sherwin and Executive Director Dick Dadey today announce Citizens Union’s candidate endorsements in 12 races for the November 4th General Election, and its support for two of the three ballot proposals.

In the statewide races, Citizens Union endorses Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General and Tom DiNapoli for Comptroller:

  • Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is an effective and active player in the effort to bring reform and accountability to Albany, who has championed election and campaign finance reform. CU supports his re-election because of his record, commitment to public integrity, and constructive use of the powers of his office.
  • Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is a dedicated public servant who has demonstrated his personal integrity and restored credibility to the Office of State Comptroller. DiNapoli deserves re-election because of his effort to create greater transparency through the Open Book New York platform and his support for a viable public funding system. CU is confident he will be an active voice for comprehensive campaign finance reform for all state offices if re-elected.

Citizens Union also appreciates Schneiderman and DiNapoli’s collaborative efforts to create the Joint Task Force on Public Integrity in which the Comptroller conferred jurisdiction on the Attorney General to review the misuse of state funds, resulting in dozens of cases being brought against state and local public officers.

Citizens Union has not concluded the evaluation process for gubernatorial candidates, and has thus far received questionnaires from Governor Andrew Cuomo, Rob Astorino, and Howie Hawkins, and has interviewed the latter two candidates. Our decision will be announced in the coming days.

In three state senate contests, Citizens Union endorses: Brad Hoylman, who has led the charge on major ethics legislation in the Senate since he began his current freshman term; Martin Golden, a partner in seeking to improve the design of the ballot and reform the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey; and Joseph Addabbo, Jr., who is pragmatic about implementing change in Albany and a leader on election reform.

In six assembly districts, Citizens Union evaluated two open seats, two districts with recently indicted assemblymembers and two with long-standing incumbents. Citizens Union endorses Rebecca Seawright in District 76, who will be a fresh voice in Albany for reform and bring new leadership to a district which has not yet had a female assemblymember.

In District 59, Citizens Union issued “no endorsement” between Republican Jeffrey Ferretti and Democrat Roxanne Persaud. Citizens Union also endorses Ron Kim (AD 40) and Nicole Malliotakis (AD 64), new incumbents who first began serving as assemblymembers in 2013 and 2011, respectively, and who bring a passion for transparency and accountability to their work.

Citizens Union also endorses incumbents James Brennan (AD 44) and Richard Gottfried (AD 75), who continue to be diligent and thoughtful stewards of reform, and models of elected officials serving the public with integrity and wisdom.

Not surprisingly, but still notable, one-third or 33% of all state legislative seats in NYC are uncontested in the November general election. 29 incumbents out of 91 total seats from NYC are not facing any challenger on election day. In each house, the number is 23% (6 of 26) for the Senate, and 35% (23 of 65) in the Assembly. In Queens, only 2 incumbents in the Assembly are being challenged, out of a total of 18 seats, which are all held by incumbents. Beyond incumbents, Leroy Comrie, Jr. is unopposed in his bid for Senate District 14, after having defeated Malcolm Smith in the primary.

“With voter turnout at only 10% in the 2014 primary election and New Yorkers losing trust in state government, it is so important that we educate voters on where candidates stand on good government issues,” said Dick Dadey, Executive Director of Citizens Union. “Beyond supporting reform-minded candidates for office, Citizens Union also educates candidates on the ballot proposals, recommending they vote yes on measures that will improve state government. Proposals 1 and 2 will both bring long-overdue reform to Albany, creating a fair redistricting process, and ensuring that the legislative process is efficient in utilizing modern technology to save taxpayers money.”

In order to be eligible to receive an endorsement, candidates are required to fill out questionnaires and attend interviews; all candidates in each race evaluated were given the opportunity to participate. A full list of our endorsements is at the end of this release.

As part of Citizens Union’s mission as a nonpartisan good government organization dedicated to making democracy work for all New Yorkers, we evaluate candidates based on their commitment to our reform agenda and their effectiveness in advancing these issues, as well as other issues affecting their communities. In alignment with Citizens Union’s top priorities, candidates were asked about their commitment to the redistricting reform ballot proposal, campaign finance reform, and how they would address the rise in corruption in Albany.

In our soon to be published 2014 general election voters directory, Citizens Union will share candidate information along with our endorsements and evaluations of ballot proposals, disseminating copies to our members prior to the November 4th election. In addition to the hard copy, there will be an online version available to the public on the Citizens Union website, which includes candidate responses to our questionnaire.

Assembly to Hold 6 Public Hearings on Single Payer Healthcare

ASSEMBLY STANDING COMMITTEE ON HEALTH
NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARINGS

SUBJECT:  “New York Health” bill to create state single payer health coverage

PURPOSE: Receive testimony concerning the “New York Health” bill

BUFFALO                                 ROCHESTER
Wednesday, Nov. 12,10AM      Thursday, Nov. 13, 10AM
Roswell Park Cancer Institute   Rochester Regional Joint Board
Hohn Auditorium                       1st Floor Union Hall
Research Studies Center         750 East Avenue
Elm & Carlton Street

SYRACUSE                         MINEOLA
Thursday, Dec.4, 10 AM      Monday, December 8, 10 AM
Medical Alumni Auditorium   Nassau County Legislative Chambers
Weiskotten Hall                    Theodore Roosevelt Exec&Leg. Bldng
Upstate Medical University   1550 Franklin Avenue
766 Irving Avenue

NEW YORK CITY                           ALBANY
Tuesday, Dec. 16,10 AM               Tuesday, January 13, 10 AM
New York University                       Hearing Room B
Grand Hall, 5th Floor                     Legislative Office Building
Global Center for Academic & Spiritual Life
238 Thompson Street

Legislative Gazette: 72% of Airbnb rentals in NYC are illegal, AG says

By Jessica Piccinni, October 17

A report released by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman last Thursday revealed widespread illegal activity from the online hotel company Aribnb.

The report, titled “Airbnb in the City,” analyzed bookings of short-term rentals in New York City between Jan. 1, 2010 and Jun. 2, 2014, and found that 72 percent of those transactions violated New York zoning laws.

As a result of the findings, Schneiderman announced a new joint initiative between the AG’s Internet and Taxpayer Protection Bureaus and the city of New York to investigate and eradicate illegal hotel activity in the five boroughs.

Times-Union: State, Jail Health Care Providers Settle for $200,000

By James Odato, September 24

A corporate health care provider used by three Capital Region county jails entered into an agreement with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman that requires it to pay $200,000 in restitution and penalties and submit to monitoring in 13 upstate counties.

According to terms obtained by the Times Union, the settlement between the attorney general and Correctional Medical Care resolves claims of dangerous practices as well as unsatisfactory and unqualified staffing that arose after six deaths of inmates in CMC’s care at five county lockups from 2009 to 2011. A probe found serious deficiencies that included unlicensed and inexperienced staff, understaffing, lack of medical oversight and failure to adhere to medical and administrative protocols.

People’s Climate March

I participated in the historic People’s Climate March in Manhattan on Sunday, September 21, 2014.  An estimated 300,000 participants made history by taking part in the largest climate march ever held. With President Obama and other world leaders meeting at the U.N. summit on climate change in New York the following week, we took to the streets to demand action to action to preserve the environment and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It was a day to show the world the people power of the international movement to promote policies to keep fossil fuels in the ground, create meaningful “green” jobs, and put our communities back to work building the infrastructure we really need to address the climate crisis.

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With Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez of New York, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

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The People’s Climate March was the largest pro-environment demonstration in history, with its estimated 300,000 participants far exceeding a previous climate march held in Oslo, Norway, that numbered 100,000 participants.

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With NYS Assembly Member Deborah Glick, Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, and Jo Anne Simon, Democratic nominee for Assembly in Brooklyn’s 52nd District.

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Interview with reporter before the start of the People’s Climate March.

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With NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman before the start of the People’s Climate March.

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With NYC Public Advocate Tish James before the start of the People’s Climate March.

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With U.S. Representative Nydia Velazquez of New York, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, and Manhattan Borough President in the People’s Climate March.

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With NYS Senator Liz Krueger, NYS Assembly Member Deborah Glick, and State Senator Brad Hoylman before the People’s Climate March.

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Signing up for a “climate ribbon” on Central Park West before the start of the People’s Climate March.

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The participants in the historic People’s Climate March stretched down Central Park West for as far as the eye could see. More than 300,000 people are estimated to have participated in the largest environmental demonstration in history.

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The Villager: Dozens of Pols Join Coalition, Look to Burst Airbnb’s Balloon

By Zach Williams, September 18, 2014

Elected officials last week announced a new coalition to promote affordable housing and put Airbnb under increased scrutiny.

They said at a Sept. 12 City Hall steps press conference that Airbnb promotes illegal hotels and enables unscrupulous building owners to flout a 2010 law banning apartment sublets of less than 30 days. The new organization, Share Better, will also advertise extensively to counter Airbnb’s own recent ad blitz. The San Francisco-based “home-sharing” company meanwhile denied wrongdoing and dismissed the new organization as beholden to city hotel interests.

The new group did not specify how many affordable housing units have been lost due to Airbnb’s activities. Councilmember Corey Johnson said, though, that action must be taken to protect the city’s remaining rent-regulated units.

“We all are in favor of the share economy, but what about the fair economy?” he said. “It’s got to be fair to rent-stabilized tenants. Rent-stabilized tenants are becoming an endangered species and if we don’t step up as elected officials — as advocates — we are going to lose them.”

Assemblymember Dick Gottfried — who co-sponsored the 2010 law with state Senator Liz Krueger, who was also at the event — said Airbnb ads present an image far from the reality of its roughly 20,000 New York City listings.

NY Post: Lawmaker Targets Pharmacy That Fleeced 9/11 Responders

By Susan Edelman, September 14

A bill aimed at stopping an Upper East Side pharmacy from fleecing 9/11 responders by charging them $150 for a simple printout of records is in the works.

Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, chairman of the health committee, will introduce an amendment to “close a gap in state law” that requires medical facilities to provide copies of medical records at minimal copying cost, but does not mention pharmacies.

Gottfried announced a measure to include drugstores after The Post reported that Madison Avenue Pharmacy was demanding $150 for a couple of pages of prescription records.

“No one should have to pay anything like $150,”Gottfried said.

The pharmacy backed down, saying “Our policy going forward will be to process all Victim Compensation Fund claims free of charge.”

New York Observer: With Fast Food Strikes, Some See Momentum for Minimum Wage Hike

By Jillian Jorgensen, New York Observer, September 3, 2014

Eyes nationwide will be on fast food workers tomorrow as they strike in search of a $15-an-hour wage. But in the state’s capital, many are hoping that ongoing movement will translate into the city’s ability to set its own higher minimum wage — even if it’s not as much as $15 an hour.

“Momentum is building in New York and around the country. I think the fast food workers are really are a powerful example of the unconscionable low wages that many very hard-working New Yorkers are subject to,” Assemblyman Richard Gottfried told the Observer. “And people are coming to understand that this is not about teenagers getting jobs after school — these are adults who are in many cases supporting or trying to support families, and the employers are not the mom-and-pop candy stores, these are multi-billion dollar international corporations.”

Thoughts on the North Shore-LIJ / Cleveland Clinic Partnership

North Shore-LIJ and the Cleveland Clinic recently announced a partnership in cardiac care.  The networking of North Shore-L.I.J. and the Cleveland Clinic sounds like a good arrangement, and NS-L.I.J. is a quality network. But if employers or insurance companies play a hand in forming integrated provider networks, remember that they are legally obligated (as if they needed any encouragement) to maximize return to their shareholders; that’s why they exist.

Forming integrated networks with care coordinating is, I believe, necessary for advancing quality care in this era. But just as a bulldozer can build or destroy, a network can be a fine thing or can be a tool for restricting care to second-rate (or poorer) providers.

The history of large combinations of heavy-hitting economic powerhouses promoting the interests of consumers is not at all encouraging. If some big systems brag about having one or two big-name providers (“We have the Cleveland Clinic; what more could you ask for!”), there is the danger that it becomes a cover for a restricted network with a lot of low-grade providers. (I’m not suggesting that this is what North Shore-LIJ is doing here. I’m discussing a broader situation.)

What’s the answer? Yes, integrated systems should go forward. But to protect the public, there should be strong regulation. Perhaps more important: since the one who pays the piper calls the tune, we need a system in which the payer is accountable to the public, with rich and poor consumers in the same boat – single-payer health coverage, funded by broad-based revenue based on ability to pay. That’s not going to come from Washington. But New York and some other states that have more progressive politics can enact single-payer at the state level. My “New York Health” bill, A.5389-A, would do that.

NY Post: Pharmacy Charges 9/11 Responders $150 for Medication Records

Ordinarily if medical records are needed for a medical purpose, doctors provide them as a courtesy for no cost, although technically they may charge.  It is especially inexcusable in this case, where all the pharmacy has to do is print out computer data.  Seeing this case, I’m planning to introduce a bill to broaden the definition of health facilities to cover pharmacies.  I would hope that common decency and public attention would get this pharmacy to provide these records for free.

By Susan Edelman, New York Post, August 24

A pharmacy near Mount Sinai Hospital is gouging sick 9/11 responders by charging $150 for a simple printout of the medications they take, advocates told The Post.