Monday, March 31, 2014

Toss Is Good, Then Mayor Becomes Target of Boos

Bill de Blasio was a good sport despite being booed by Mets fans, where he paid homage to his favorite Boston Red Sox.

Political Memo

De Blasio Betting on Pre-K to Succeed

The mayor has placed an increasingly large wager that his early missteps will be forgotten, so long as his centerpiece plan proves a success.
The former mayors John Purroy Mitchel, Michael R. Bloomberg and Edward I. Koch.
George Grantham Bain Collection/Library of Congress, Barton Silverman/The New York Times; and Paul Burnett/Associated Press
The former mayors John Purroy Mitchel, Michael R. Bloomberg and Edward I. Koch.
What you need to know for Monday: De Blasio plays ball, the rain continues, and it’s the last day to enroll in health insurance.

9/11 Memorial Museum Faces the Latest Hurdle: Its Opening

Organizers of the National September 11 Memorial Museum’s unveiling have had to handle the expectations and sensitivities of various groups who all feel a special connection to Sept. 11.

State Protections for Charter Schools Threaten de Blasio’s Education Goals

Albany’s mandate that New York City find space for the schools may hamper Mayor Bill de Blasio’s agenda of invigorating traditional public schools.

2 Killed in Shootings in Brooklyn and Queens

Khalil Bowlin, 17, and Qasim Mitchell, 24, died after they were shot in the head, and two others were hospitalized, police and fire officials said.

Harlem Housing Relic From the 1800s Is Set for a Long-Promised Overhaul

The city plans to announce on Monday a construction project that will transform A. Philip Randolph Houses into a mixed-income development of public and private housing.

New York Curbs Medical Bills Containing Surprises

A provision in the state budget agreement will protect consumers by requiring that they be given notice when an out-of-network doctor is involved in their care.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Gov. Chris Christie’s polluting belch

The New Jersey governor’s curious support for a dirty power plant.

Saturday, March 29, 2014, 3:45 PM

 Editorial cartoon featuring Chris Christie and B.L. England Power Plant
Drew Dzwonkowski/New York Daily News Daily News editorial cartoon featuring embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
I own a summer house in Beesley’s Point, New Jersey. Chris Christie haunts it.
Beesley is a speck on Route 9, just off the bay opposite Ocean City. It’s a cozy enclave of a few hundred year-round residents and a handful of getaway homeowners like us. The cedar siding gives our house more of a country aura than a beach look, bordered by thick foliage and wind-bent trees.
This is a story about a power plant just beyond the trees: the 450-megawatt B. L. England generating station, owned by a firm called Rockland Capital, the only coal-fired polluter in the state still firing away without a full complement of scrubbers to catch sulfur and other emissions before they hit the air. Its property line runs within 30 feet of our back porch.
The fact that the plant keeps on churning speaks volumes about the way Christie makes decisions, especially when friends like just-resigned Port Authority chair David Samson and Christie mentor Rudy Giuliani — both of whose law firms represent Rockland — are pitted against the residents of Beesley and Ocean City.
Wolf Skacel, the recently retired head of compliance and enforcement for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, told me that B.L. England is the state’s “dirtiest” plant. That’s why Skacel forced its owners to sign a preliminary agreement to upgrade in 2004 and an administrative consent order in 2006, both imposed by the Democratic governors that preceded Christie.
Though the original agreement gave the plant until December 31, 2007 to begin to either retrofit or convert to natural gas, in 2012 the Christie administration’s Department of Environmental Protection signed an amendment giving Rockland until May 2015 to start the conversion or upgrade.
The Christie reprieve occurred despite a 2010 Clean Air Task Force per capita mortality report that ranked Ocean City the 14th most-contaminated metropolitan area of the 500 across America that still host coal-fired plants, trailing only cities in coal-worshipping Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and Virginia.
The fact that the plant keeps on churning speaks volumes about the way Christie makes decisions, especially when friends like just-resigned Port Authority chair David Samson and Christie mentor Rudy Giuliani — both of whose law firms represent Rockland — are pitted against the residents of Beesley and Ocean City.
Over the past year-and-a-half, the Christie administration has converted the plant’s abysmal record into an argument to build a 22-mile, 24-inch pipeline to supply the plant with Marcellus shale oil and facilitate its conversion from coal to cleaner-burning fracked gas.
Quite a change in strategy: Instead of the punishing, pre-Christie promise to shutter the plant if it didn’t clean up, the Christie team would reward it with a $400 million pipeline by pointing out how bad it still is.
The amendment was executed within weeks of the plant’s retention of Wolff & Samson, the lobbying firm at the center of many recent Christie scandals. Samson is now a headlined name in his own right, having apparently championed and even voted for Authority projects that benefit his clients, as if what’s good for his booming law firm must be good for Jersey. Prosecutors recently subpoenaed firm records.
Partners at Samson’s firm were the ones who lobbied for the extensions that gave the plant more breathing room than the people who live near it. One of the partners was the ex chief of staff at the agency he now lobbies. Another was selected by Christie’s DEP enforcement division to act as a “stakeholder” in their internal policy discussions. The third is vice-chair of the nonprofit led by Christie’s wife that maintains the state mansion.
It’s not only Samson, however, who looms just beyond the Anderson windows of our A-frame house. The Manhattan office of Bracewell Giuliani, run by the former mayor, handles Rockland’s mergers and acquisitions. Giuliani has been the governor’s public face, making the national appearances Christie mostly stopped doing after his January, two-hour Bridgegate press conference.
A Giuliani friend and former deputy mayor, Randy Mastro, just finished a million-dollar, Christie-induced probe of Bridgegate and cleared him of all charges. Bridget Kelly and Bill Stepien, the two Christie aides dismissed by the governor because of the scandal, used to work for Rudy. Giuliani threw a Hamptons fundraiser for Christie last summer, and his law firm is representing another top Christie campaign operative in the current investigations.
But our backyard is, like Samson’s two-state Port Authority, overrun not only with Christie underbrush, but with connections to that other master of the multi-billion-dollar Authority, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Rockland’s chairman is Michael Del Giudice. He oversaw Andrew Cuomo’s transition committee in 2010, just as Samson chaired Christie’s in 2009.
Del Giudice, the lead independent director at Con Ed, was chief-of-staff to Andrew’s father, former governor Mario Cuomo, and more recently, the elder Cuomo has been an investor in and chairman of a Del Giudice banking company. Rockland is run out of the same Carnegie Hall Tower office as a state scholarship fund that Andrew Cuomo named Del Giudice to lead. Rockland’s vice-chair is Jerry Crotty, who once was counsel and secretary to Mario Cuomo and is now the president of an investment firm that owns more of Rockland than any other investor.
When Rockland acquired the plant for a $12 million pittance in 2006, it promised DEP it would complete the mandated expensive, pollution-reducing retrofitting that prompted the prior owners to sell.
It also hired Tony Burgos as its lobbyist. Burgos is another former top Mario Cuomo assistant whose installation years ago as Port Authority vice-chair positioned him to become the connected bi-state lobbyist he is today. Burgos, Crotty and Del Giudice are major Andrew Cuomo donors and fundraisers, accounting for hundreds of thousands in contributions over the years (they do not give to Christie). There is no indication that the Cuomo administration has done anything to benefit Rockland, which does have New York operations.
Christie, on the other hand, was so eager to help Rockland that his DEP and Board of Public Utilities (BPU) decided to support the pipeline, paid for by rate increases, despite that the fact that between its Cape May starting point and Beesley destination, it would run underground through 15 miles of the million-acre Pinelands, the country’s first natural preserve and a United Nations Biosphere Reserve.
Four prior Jersey governors, including Republicans Tom Kean and Christie Whitman, signed a letter opposing the pipeline because of its threat to the Pinelands, a stretch of pine-oak forests, dark tea-colored streams, a 17-trillion-gallon aquifer, large farms and small towns that cuts across a quarter of the state.
An interesting side-note: Christie, in his usual swashbuckling style, was extending Rockland’s deadlines, and exempting them from taxes paid by most Jersey energy companies, at the same as he was suing Pennsylvania and other states for allowing coal-fired soot to infect Jersey air.
But, even after DEP and BPU approvals in 2013, the pipeline still faced one more hurdle: the 15-member Pinelands Commission, which was established decades ago to safeguard the preserve.
BPU made itself the pipeline applicant at the commission, rather than Rockland or South Jersey Gas, the company that was to build and operate it. That unusual substitution, with one state body petitioning another, gave the project an unmistakable edge. The commission vote was scheduled for Jan. 10, but that turned out to be two days after Bridgegate’s “time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” emails surfaced, making it the first implicit test of Christie’s post-scandal powers.
Four days before the slated vote, the Christie-appointed Pinelands Commission executive director had already issued a 42-page report recommending approval, and, in December, its counsel had pushed a likely board opponent of the pipeline — a Columbia professor named Ed Lloyd — into recusing himself.
The counsel cited an alleged conflict of interest so inconsequential it wouldn’t even register on a Samson meter. The attorney, Lloyd claimed, told him that she’d contacted the State Ethics Commission “on orders from the governor’s office,” and that ethics officials had “ordered you to recuse yourself,” a charge the counsel denies.
The Pinelands reserve covers seven counties. Each county government appoints a member of the commission, matching the seven appointed by the governor (the U.S. Department of Interior names one). One of the county appointees died just before the scheduled pipeline vote, prompting Christie allies to fill the vacancy in such a rush that a new pro-pipeline member was named before the departed one was buried.

 Beesley's Point Power Generating Plant near Beesley's Point New Jersey (far north of Cape May County). Burns coal in 2 generators, fuel oil in the third
Wikimedia Commons Beesley's Point Power Generating Plant near Beesley's Point, New Jersey.
Despite the forced recusal and rushed replacement, four Christie appointees joined two county-selected members and the Interior appointee to deadlock the vote and stall the project.
The local state senator, Jeffrey Van Drew, a Democrat long allied with Christie and the recipient of thousands in Rockland donations, is trying now to find a way to circumvent or redo the vote. Christie announced that he is supporting the Van Drew efforts, and the three-year terms of some of the commission opponents end this summer, giving the governor an opportunity to change its vote.
So, what now for this plant and my town?
Both sides agree that the plant is unnecessary most of the time, but its champions argue that it’s a vital emergency backup. Opponents point out that it’s virtually at sea level and is as likely to crash in a storm as it is to fill a gap.
I’ve spent a lifetime investigating just these kinds of deals, yet missed one so close to me I ran by the plant’s 175-foot smokestack whenever I jogged across the Beesley’s Point Bridge. We were often awakened by the 90-car trains hauling in the coal associated with 13 premature deaths a year, according to the Clean Air Task Force national study. We swam in the bay so contaminated by 360-degree water discharged by the plant that the Sierra Club sued to block it from killing “billions” of fish.
I live with questions about whether its fine-particle soot — high in sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxides — has anything to do with why a lifelong nonsmoker and runner like me wound up with a lung affliction that has me on oxygen today, after making it through lung-cancer surgery last year.
But it’s the deal, not the plant, that makes me sick. Connections compromised public safety once again — this time where I live and, unfortunately, breathe.
Barrett is an investigative reporter who has covered New York and national politics for four decades, mostly at the Village Voice. His wife is a special adviser to Gov. Cuomo.

State Budget Deal Reached; $300 Million for New York City Pre-K

The agreement will finance the expansion of prekindergarten in New York City without the tax increase on high-earning residents sought by Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Holistic Approach to Asthma Treatment

Dr. David Brownstein, M.D., is a board-certified family physician and one of the nation’s foremost practitioners of holistic medicine. He is editor of Dr. David Brownstein’s Natural Way to Health newsletter. Dr. Brownstein has lectured internationally to physicians and others about his success with natural hormones and nutritional therapies in his practice. His books include Drugs That Don’t Work and Natural Therapies That Do!; Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It; Salt Your Way To Health; The Miracle of Natural Hormones; Overcoming Arthritis, Overcoming Thyroid Disorders; The Guide to a Gluten-Free Diet; and The Guide to Healthy Eating. He is the medical director of the Center for Holistic Medicine in West Bloomfield, Mich., where he lives with his wife, Allison, and their teenage daughters, Hailey and Jessica.

Dr. David Brownstein, M.D.

Wednesday, 26 Mar 2014 03:36 PM
There is no doubt in my mind that good hydration can have very positive effects for those with asthma. One of the hallmarks of asthma is mucous production that clogs the airways. What is the best known mucolytic agent, something that breaks down mucous? The answer is easy — water. At the first sign of wheezing, I tell my patients to drink an eight-ounce glass of water mixed with ¼ teaspoon of unrefined salt.
This combination of water and salt helps break down mucous and relax the airways. Water helps break down and thin the mucous of the airways. Salt (and only unrefined salt) contains minerals such as magnesium that are very relaxing to the smooth muscles of the airways. When I start wheezing the first thing I do is reach for the water-salt combination. I have found that, if I ingest this combination early, I often overcome the wheezing.
It is very important, too, to be hydrated before participating in sporting events. Many people with asthma experience wheezing with exertion. My patients have had success drinking the saltwater mixture before beginning an exercise regimen. Those who have to use an inhaler before exercise often find they don’t need to use their inhaler as long as they maintain good hydration. I play tennis every week and drinking the saltwater mixture has removed my need for using an inhaler before I play. In fact, I don’t even carry an inhaler with me.
Jay is a 12-year-old soccer player. His mother started to notice that he was having trouble keeping up during games. When she asked him what was wrong, he told her his chest felt heavy. Jay went to an allergist, who performed a pulmonary function test that diagnosed Jay with asthma. He was prescribed a combination of inhalers and medications to help control the symptoms. When Jay used the inhalers they caused his heart rate to increase.
When I saw Jay, I asked him how much water he drank, and he replied, “I don’t like water. Maybe I drink one glass per day.”
I told Jay that he would not get better unless drank more water. Since Jay was interested in soccer, he agreed to try to drink more water. I had him drink half his body weight (in ounces) of water per day and put ¼ teaspoon of unrefined salt in the bottle of water he took to soccer practice.
The first day, Jay felt the difference. “My chest did not hurt and I felt like I could run all day,” he said. Jay now uses a rescue inhaler infrequently and is doing well.Children are notoriously dehydrated. They drink too much soda and juices and not enough water. I encourage all of my pediatric patients to drink water as their primary source of liquids.
Soda and juices dehydrate the body, and drinking them can promote asthma symptoms in those predisposed to it.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

Irate Friends See Sexism in Report on Former Christie Aide

A report that held Gov. Chris Christie blameless for the Fort Lee bridge lane scandal depicted the ex-aide, Bridget Anne Kelly, as duplicitous, weepy and dependent on men for approval and stability.

Rudy Giuliani on Mayor de Blasio: He's 'moving the city in the wrong direction'

The former two-term mayor told WNYM radio host John Catsimatidis Bill de Blasio has created an 'emphasis on dependency' and on 'big city government,' while putting 'less emphasis on very well-managed government.' He also slammed de Blasio on charter schools.

Published: Sunday, March 23, 2014, 12:25 PM
Updated: Sunday, March 23, 2014, 9:38 PM
Jacquelyn Martin/AP Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani (pictured) criticized the job current Mayor Bill de Blasio is doing running New York City. He’s ‘moving it in the wrong direction,’ he said.
After holding his tongue for months, Rudy Giuliani made clear Sunday that he's no fan of Mayor de Blasio, declaring that in many ways the city is moving "in the wrong direction."

"The city was on a very good course, and that needs to be maintained and improved on, and he's kind of turned it around," Giuliani complained.

As recently as last week, Giuliani declined to comment on de Blasio's performance in office, but the two-term former mayor, a Republican, held little back during an interview on WNYM-AM.

De Blasio, a liberal Democrat who took office Jan. 1, is "going in the direction of emphasis on dependency, emphasis on big city government, less emphasis on a very well and very efficiently managed city," Giuliani said.

"All of that seems to be moving the city in the wrong direction," Giuliani told host John Catsimatidis, the grocery store magnate who waged an unsuccessful campaign for mayor last year.

Giuliani dismissed as "foolishness" the proposed ban on carriage horses championed by de Blasio, saying the horse-drawn rides are "one of the reasons" why tourists visit the city.
"I passed the horses the other day. I stopped and waved to them and wished them luck," Giuliani said.
The former mayor said that when he was in office he looked into the issue and found that the horses were well-treated. And, he added, "I hate to get into the psychology of horses, but the horses like to work."
Giuliani also took aim at de Blasio's emphasis on embracing public schools over charter schools.
"I helped to start the (charter) movement and then Mike Bloomberg really expanded it," Giuliani said.
The city was on a very good course ... and he's kind of turned it around.
"What I support are alternatives to a public education system in New York City that is failing our children," he added.
"The idea that the mayor is at war with the charter schools ... he should be expanding charter schools, not trying to close them down."
Asked about Giuliani's blast, de Blasio spokesman Wiley Norvell said "we're proud of the agenda we’ve set on public safety, education and income inequality. Those are priorities that will benefit everyone, Rudy Giuliani included."
Giuliani and de Blasio have been on opposite sides of the fence for more than two decades, beginning when de Blasio was a staffer in Mayor David Dinkins' administration and Giuliani won office with a fierce attack on Dinkins' policies.
Mayor  de Blasio emphasizes ‘dependency’ and ‘big city government,’ according to former Mayor Rudy Guiliani. BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS Mayor de Blasio emphasizes ‘dependency’ and ‘big city government,’ according to former Mayor Rudy Guiliani.
In last year's mayoral campaign, de Blasio repeatedly denounced Giuliani as divisive.
In Sunday's interview, Giuliani declared common ground with de Blasio on one point — de Blasio's selection of William Bratton as police commissioner.
Giuliani named Bratton his first police commissioner, but eventually forced him out in a dispute over who deserved credit for the dramatic decline in crime.
"I think he made a very good choice," Giuliani said of de Blasio. "He's an excellent commissioner."

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Report Details Ally’s Claim of Telling Christie of Lane Closing

An inquiry by lawyers for Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey found that he did not recall the conversation with the Port Authority official who oversaw the lane closings at the George Washington Bridge and found no evidence that he was involved in the scheme.

The Irish Routes of Success for a few Italian American Politician

Jerry Krase (March 22, 2014)
 Photo: Jerry Krase
Last year I was invited to march with friends who are members of the Brooklyn's Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. We started here at the family mass at St. Saviours R.C. Church.
There is an excess of successful Italian American politicians in the New York Metropolitan Area and as I’ve spent too much time on NYC Mayor Bill De Blasio, I shall turn my attention to the personal qualities and ethnic ties of Westchester County Executive and Empire State Gubernatorial wannabe, Robert Astorino, Empire State Governor and Presidential wannabe, Andrew Cuomo, and Garden State Governor and Presidential wannabe, Chris Christie.
Everyone seems to agree that there is an excess of successful Italian American politicians in the New York Metropolitan Area.
Since I’ve already spent too much time on Big Apple Mayor Bill De Blasio, I shall turn my attention to the personal qualities and ethnic ties of Westchester County Executive and Empire State Gubernatorial wannabe, Robert Astorino, Empire State Governor and Presidential wannabe, Andrew Cuomo, and Garden State Governor and Presidential wannabe, Chris Christie.

Astorino, Christie, and Cuomo have recently garnered much good and, even more, bad press. Their antics are best explained by comedian David Steinberg’s “Three Stooges Theory of Politics,” which he presented in 1976 on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show. Of the three (Moe, Larry, and Curly) the leader Moe and second-in-command Larry are most relevant because Moe is in charge and Larry wants his job. Christie and Cuomo want to be President and Astorino wants to be governor. According to Men’s Health Senior Editor Ron Geraci, psychologists think all men are variations of Moe, Larry or Curly. “If you're a Moe, you're a hot-tempered guy who intimidates people with "verbal slaps and managerial eye pokes." Temperamental, bossy, paternalistic and hard-driving at work, Moes aren't any smarter than other folks but bang through life being furious at everyone, Geraci writes. But it's good to be Moe, at least in the office; many Moes end up as bosses.” Larry’s (Rob, Chris and Andy) are Moe wannabes.

It would be unkind to connect specific Three Stooges traits to individuals, but some more and less unkind direct comparisons can be made between the Italian American Moes and Larrys as to their positions on issues that are important to me.

Affordable Care Act: Astorino and Christie (Obamacare) no;
Cuomo Si.The Dream Act: Christie no; Cuomo si; Astorino si and no.
Living Wages: Christie no; Cuomo no; Astorino no.
Women’s Right to Choose and Gay Marriage: Christie no, no; Cuomo yes, yes; Astorino hell no, hell no.

On most issues, such as fracking, Andrew Cuomo is on the right wing of the Democratic Party, just to the left of Christie who, after hugging Obama after Hurricane Sandy, has positioned himself in the middle of the Republican Party. Astorino is on the right of the middle wing of the Republican Party on most of the few issues he is willing to talk about. As to public appearances Astorino has the best voice, is fluent in Spanish and has the least hair. Cuomo is the sexiest but screeches nasally whereas Christie tends to snarl, and despite bariatric surgery, is the heaviest. As a Catholic radio host and program director, Astorino is the most Catholic and Cuomo is the least. Sometimes Christie is a better Catholic than Cuomo but not often. As to mental problems, Christie suffers from a rare form of amnesia, and even though he and Andy are co-equals as heads of the Port Authority, Andy remembers even less about who caused the George Washington Bridge traffic jams and, according to the Nation,  “The two governors allowed aides to float a proposal for a much higher toll increase, after which the governors stepped in like knights on white horses to propose a smaller increase—even though that had been the original level they wanted all along.”

It is important to consider what it is about Italian Americans that appeals to non-Italian Americans as they don’t seem to appeal to Italian Americans, at least for their Italianita.
Leading Italian American scholars have agreed on several accounts. Richard Gambino (author of Blood of My Blood) remarked that beyond the extended family and close friends “all other social institutions were seen within a spectrum of attitudes ranging from indifference to scorn.” Fred Gardaphe’s “Signs of Italianita” are omerta (secrecy) and bella figura (good appearance). Combining their insights it seems that Italian Americans don’t trust much but want to look good at it. Although Italian American politicians run the gamut of ideologies they fall increasingly on the right -- like Italian American voters. When I asked people why people vote for Italian Americans, one non-Italian woman, seeing the good side of bullying, said she likes Chris Christie because “he tells people where to get off.” The most common of Astorino’s, Christie’s, and Cuomo’s  “positive” qualities were being down to earth, tough, and passionate.  Finally, both tactically, and because none are the sharpest tacks in the box, neither Astorino, Christie, nor Cuomo are perceived as fuzzy-headed intellectuals or policy wonks.

I wrote this piece on Saint Patrick’s Day; or should I say Il Giorno di San Patrizio given that Paddy was a Roman monk. Last week MSNBC’s Chris Matthews was kwelling about the phenomenal climb of the Irish from peasantry to aristocracy in American politics. For Daniel Patrick Moynihan the keys to their success were “indifference to Yankee proprieties,” “regarding the formal government as illegitimate,” and “alive to the possibilities of politics” and “effective technique(s) of political bureaucracy.” Italian Americans have done pretty well with only the first two. The third, which translates as “working together for the common good,” is as Italian as Irish soda bread.

According to Azi Paybarah in Capital New York at the Society of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick’s annual bash Cardinal Timothy Dolan joked:

“…I’m happy to see Rob Astorino, the county executive. Rob, you think the odds are against you? You should have been in my place in the conclave in the Sistine Chapel this time last year, when folks thought I had a chance. You think you have trouble with name recognition? When I was going through the entrance way coming here somebody yelled out ‘Look honey, Governor Christie!”

He also quipped:
“You got to admit a little nostalgia, don’tcha? Remember when the Irish ran all the politics in New York City, remember that? What do we got now? We got Astorino. We got Cuomo. We got de Blasio. We’ve gone from Tammany Hall to Mama Leone’s. Good lord, we Irish used to argue about jobs and rent and immigration and these three guys argue about whose mom’s lasagna recipe is the best.”

The Cardinal neglected to mention Astorino, Christie and Cuomo’s Irish connections. Both Astorino and Christie claim Irish heritage on their father’s side, and all three of them married Irish women. Chris married Mary Pat Foster.  Rob married Sheila McCloskey, and Andy’s ex-wife is Kerry Kennedy. Even De Blasio’s wife Chirlane McCray could have distant Irish roots. Given their rather unremarkable personal attributes and charisma, perhaps part of their success is due to “marrying up.”

Cuomo: I will help de Blasio fix homeless problem

By Carl Campanile
Gov. Cuomo vowed Wednesday to reach a deal with Mayor de Blasio that would let the city use state funds to move more homeless New Yorkers from shelters into apartments.
“The governor is trying to actively resolve the homeless issue,” a Cuomo administration source said.
Current law bars the city from using state funds to revive a rent-subsidy program to help homeless adults pay for housing. Those homeless people held jobs but didn’t make enough to afford their own place.
De Blasio asked the governor to give the city flexibility to create the program from existing state funds. He did not ask for additional state aid.
Cuomo initially said that de Blasio made the request too late to insert into the state budget. The mayor and the governor previously have clashed over pre-K funding and charter schools.

New York Today: De Blasio’s Diversity

Welcome, Health Commissioner.
Todd Heisler/The New York Times
Welcome, Health Commissioner.
What you need to know for Thursday: the mayor’s diversity record, another cold morning, and the habits of thrifty state legislators
The lobby of a Comfort Inn in Glenmont, N.Y. Many legislators stay at this hotel, taking advantage of a special lawmaker rate of $64.95 per night.
Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times
The lobby of a Comfort Inn in Glenmont, N.Y. Many legislators stay at this hotel, taking advantage of a special lawmaker rate of $64.95 per night.

While in Albany, Lawmakers Squeeze Their Stipends

Some New York legislators, now negotiating the state budget, have been accused of taking advantage of their per diem to pad their paychecks and fund extracurricular activities.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Cuomo and de Blasio Clash Again, This Time Over Homelessness

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo told Mayor Bill de Blasio it is “too late” to restore a rent subsidy to the state budget to help homeless families stay out of shelters.
Did You Go to the World’s Fair?
As the 50th anniversary of the opening of the 1964 World’s Fair approaches, The New York Times is looking for stories and memories from the fair.

News from A.P. & Reuters »
Puerto Rican Wants Same-Sex Marriages Recognized
18 minutes ago

Monday, March 24, 2014

Defending Joe McCarthy

Sen. Joe McCarthy makes a point, circa 1950. (photo: Corbis)
Sen. Joe McCarthy makes a point, circa 1950. (photo: Corbis)
By Charles Pierce, Esquire
23 March 14
elcome back to our weekly survey of what's goin' down in the several states where, as we know, the real work of governmentin' gets done, and where they say sing while you slave and I just get bored.
Let's begin in Alabama, where the fish are very big, the barrels very small, and one brave man has stood up to defend Joe McCarthy against the depredations of Arthur Miller, even though they're both dead. Miller and McCarthy, that is, not the brave soul from Alabama.
The Crucible is one of many texts included in a high school literature textbook, "American Experience 1900 to Present," that Beason and others have pilloried in their fight against Common Core standards in Alabama schools. Beason, who is running for Congress in Alabama's 6th District, has said that Common Core attempts to infuse the minds of school children with socialism, and he believes that Alabama curriculum should emphasize traditional conservative values. He has sponsored a bill in the Alabama Legislature to repeal the standards in Alabama schools. "I want a conservative, honest, traditional, American values worldview, yes," he said in an interview in January. "Education has always been about worldview. I don't think anyone can disagree with that. Always has been. I think the left understands the power of education far more than the right."
As for Mr. Beason's honest, traditional, American worldview, well, let's just say it's not About Race, because nothing is ever About Race.
Beason first gained national attention when, while cooperating with a federal corruption investigation in Montgomery, hea [sic] recorded himself joking about African-Americans in Greene County with another lawmaker and referring to them as "aborigines."
And, luckily, he has smart friends to join him in his battle.
Talladega County Republican Party Chairman Danny Hubbard, also said McCarthy was right. While Hubbard objected to many texts offered as "exemplars" by Common Core, he did not take issue with one written by an Alabama native. "I don't think anybody's opposed to 'To Kill a Mockingbird,'" Hubbard said. "It's a classic. I believe it's written by a fellow from Montgomery." In fact, the book was written by Nelle Harper Lee. She's from Monroeville.
(Earlier this week, my pal Dave Weigel tut-tutted a little about the media's nutpicking as regards "GOP lawmakers." The reason we've made the Labs a semi-regular weekly survey are twofold: one, because it is at the state level where most of the real mischief is being done at the moment, and b) because these people represent the farm team. This is your next generation in the gerrymandered House. Beason is running for Congress now, and he's got something of a shot. Conclusion of the foregoing.)
Let us take a hop, skip, and an airplane out to Wyoming, where a guy named Troy Mader is standing by something he wrote a few years back, because changing your mind requires that you possess one in the first place.
Mader said in an interview with the Star-Tribune the research featured in the book may be a little outdated, since it was written when HIV and AIDS were still relatively new to the medical community. But he still maintains gays are more likely to be promiscuous that heterosexuals, contributing to the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. "If you want to participate in that particular lifestyle, that's your choice," he said during a telephone interview. "But I reserve the right to say, ‘Hey, there's risk involved.'"
Mader has other political hobbies as well, such as defending you and your home against wolves and mountain lions, as well as against Teh Gay.
Mader, 58, published the book when he was in his early 30s. He now ranches in an area north of Gillette, recorded a CD of country rock and gospel music, and is research director of the Abundant Wildlife Society of North America, which criticizes the Endangered Species Act and details wolf and mountain lion attacks on humans.
Thank you, Troy. Especially for your dedication to making wildlife less abundant.
Oh, look, over there in South Dakota. Someone has successfull dodged Teh Gay and the wolves and the mountain lions to stick up for the rights of the owners of the Nathan Bedford Forrest Bar, Grille, and Playhouse.
"It's a bill that protects the constitutional right to free association, the right to free speech and private property rights," he said. Jensen goes so far as to say that businesses should have the right to deny service based on a customer's race or religion - whether that's right or wrong, he says, can be fairly addressed by the free market, not the government. "If someone was a member of the Ku Klux Klan, and they were running a little bakery for instance, the majority of us would find it detestable that they refuse to serve blacks, and guess what? In a matter of weeks or so that business would shut down because no one is going to patronize them," he said.
Someone should explain the meaning of "public accommodations" to ol' Phil here, although the concept of a KKK bakery is an intriguing one, especially the mysterious eyeholes cut in all the napkins.
As long as we're cruising the byways of the Deeply Caucasian Belt, something was stirring in Idaho, where the legislature declined to go the full Calhoun on the Environmental Protection Agency.
Rep. Paul Shepherd, R-Riggins, proposed the bill after hearing concerns from suction dredge miners in his area who have been required to get a new EPA permit since last spring. The agency said it didn't want to ban the practice in Idaho, as has happened in Oregon and California, and instead sought to regulate it to comply with the federal Clean Water Act. More than 80 of the new five-year permits have been issued. But the new EPA permit system doesn't allow suction dredge mining in areas that include critical habitat for endangered fish, including formerly popular stretches of the Salmon River near Riggins. Shepherd told the House on Tuesday, "I was warned I better be prepared about the legal problems with this bill, because if we're going to try and have state authority over federal authority, we've run into problems with that before."
Can't stay here for long, though. (Look out for wolves and mountain lions on the way out of town. Troy Mader can't be everywhere.) The Georgia legislature had its final session last night, and it differed from the Saturday night hooley at Murphy' Select Bar only in the conspicuous Christian charity that marked the elevated level of debate. There was anti-choice wingnuttery, and there was gun-fondling wingnuttery.
According to language added by the Senate, someone caught with a gun in a church that didn't allow it would face the equivalent of a jaywalking ticket: a misdemeanor and a $100 fine. The changes to HB 60 also seek to tighten permission to carry a gun at unsecured areas of Georgia airports, including Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. They do not address language in the House version that would appear to allow convicted felons to avoid prosecution for the use of deadly force by invoking Georgia's "stand your ground" self-defense laws.
Me? I think I'd "address" that language. Hello, language. (pace Ed Norton). You're really bad there, language. You should stop being so damn silly. But that's nothing compared to the language dropped by Georgia state rep Jason Spencer earlier in the debate over the anti-choice bill.
"That eleventh hour betrayal effectively killed the bill, but it could still be brought back to life by amendment of companion legislation," said Rep. Spencer. "Tomorrow, I will identify the Republican Benedict Arnolds, the King George the Third and his myrmidons who ship wrecked my path breaking, patriotic bill (HB 707) to prevent the federal Leviathan from commandeering the machinery of state government or resources to enforce ill-conceived federal health insurance mandates. A patriot saves his country from his government. HB 707 would have been the first occasion in a century to draw a constitutional line against state complicity in endless federal encroachments."
OK, first of all, George III didn't have myrmidons. (He had Hessians, who are not the same thing.) Achilles had myrmidons, and they were not traitors. They were, in fact, fanatically loyal.
(Forget it. He's rolling.)
Let us leave Rep. Spencer, his pile of Classics Illustrated comics on the floor around his feet, and move along to Iowa, which again will play a vital role in selecting our next president despite being something of a political fruitcake.
An investigation by The Des Moines Register found that the state of Iowa has paid more than $282,000 over the past three years in secret settlement deals with the six former employees. All were asked to sign confidentiality agreements that would have kept the settlements out of public view, according to documents obtained by the Register and interviews with the ex-state workers. The state denies that the workers' positions were cut as political moves, saying the jobs were eliminated as part of a reorganization that saves the state about $730,000 a year. But in grievance complaints filed before the Iowa Public Employment Relations Board and interviews with the Register, the former employees say their complaints and settlements show evidence of systematic efforts by Branstad's administration to embrace Republican cronyism.
Maybe Chris Christie has a shot out there after all.
And we conclude our tour, as we always do, in Oklahoma, where Blog Special Prairie Chicken neuterer Friedman Of The Plains reports that Governor Mary (We Built Oklahoma, If You Don't Count The Homestead Act And All The Indians The Army Killed For Us.) Fallin got a new andiron for the mansion's mantelpiece.
The Tulsa World reportedly waited 15 months for the governor's office to release more than 8,000 records related to prison reforms. This is the second year in a row that Gov. Fallin has received the recognition for failing to release records to the public. Two new lawsuits have been filed because of her office's slow relase [sic] of public records, and today another organization joined the list. The American Civil Liberties Union of Oklahoma Foundation filed a motion for summary judgement and a supporting legal brief today in Oklahoma County District Court on behalf of Vandelay Entertainment, the publisher of, in its suit against Gov. Fallin. According to a release, the suit seeks a court order compelling Gov. Fallin to release 100 pages of public records she has refused to turn over regarding her decision to reject medicaid expansion.
I'd say this woman needs some myrmidons.
This is your democracy, America. Cherish it.

Putin Announces Historic G-1 Summit

The Borowitz Report
March 24, 2014

MOSCOW (The Borowitz Report) — Russian President Vladimir Putin made history today by scheduling the first-ever summit of the newly formed group of nations called the G-1.
The summit, which Putin has set for June in Sochi, is expected to be attended by the G-1 member nation Russia.
Putin pronounced himself delighted by Russia’s attendance, telling reporters, “It is an auspicious start for the G-1 to have the participation of all its member nations.”
In addition to what he called “a free exchange of ideas on issues of importance to the G-1,” the summit is expected to elect the first president of the G-1, a position for which Putin is widely considered the frontrunner.
Putin denied he was a candidate for the post, but added, “It’s an honor just to be in the mix.”
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Photograph by Sasha Mordovets/Getty.

César Chávez A Movie About a Cause and a Legend

lume 12, Number 15
March 24, 2014

This week we all have a great opportunity to help impact the future of films about Latinos. When César Chávez: An American Hero opens on March 28th, done merely attend, please take several friends and family with you. You will not be disappointed - and with the right success we will guarantee more Latino biopics and Latino themed movies will get made. Make history & see this film. See the articles below for more information. 

Today's quote - for your inspiration comes to us from Demi Lovato's very interesting new book: Staying Strong 365 days a year: 
"The simple things are the most extraordinary things, and only the wise can see them." ~ Paulo Coelho

If you find a quote you like let me know. I will be happy to send to our 10,200 plus Hispanic advertising and media executives and give you a plug for sending it!

Our Goal  Latino Print Network's goal with each issue is for you to say at least once "Glad I learned that".      
Kirk's signature
Kirk Whisler
Executive Editor

Another Great Event   

César Chávez
A Movie About a Cause and a Legend
By Katharine A. Díaz

Labor leader César E. Chávez passed away in 1993 after a life's work of fighting for farmworkers' rights. Not only is César Chávez Day commemorated in several states and the César E. Chávez National Monument stands in his honor, now there comes a film about this legendary activist, Cesar Chavez, scheduled to hit movie screens on March 28.
Directed by Diego Luna, actor (Y tu mama también and Milk), director and producer (The Well), the movie stars Michael Peña (Walkout and American Hustle) in the leading role as Chávez; America Ferrera (Real Women Have Curves, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and TV's Ugly Betty) as Helen Chávez, the leader's wife; and Rosario Dawson (Alexander, Rent and Men in Black II) as Dolores Huerta, who co-founded the United Farm Workers union (UFW).
Filmmakers focused on crucial periods of his life during the 1960's that included the Delano march, the grape boycott, his first hunger strike and the coming to the bargaining table with landowners. Peña brings those moments to life with a sensitive portrayal of the labor leader that allows us to feel the personal sacrifices he made in his life. Peña shows us that Chávez had a quiet resolve and respect for all, even the bad-guy growers.
He also brings to life less-known incidences in the labor leader's fight. One such episode takes place during the grape boycott when Chavez travels to Europe to gain support for his cause and to block grape shipments sanctioned by the U.S. government intended for the European market. The scene in which he empties crate after crate of grapes off a bridge is all about sweet victory.
Dolores Huerta, as portrayed by Dawson, is ever present. Her important role in the struggle may not be clearly defined in the movie, but it's clear that she was by Chavez's side every step of the way. Dawson captures her inner strength.
Ferrera's portrayal of Chavez's wife gives us more insights into Chavez's character. Through her we see how he struggled to be a good husband and father and understand how his struggles were hers too.
Actual footage and news clips of the time are seamlessly woven into the movie. Even when paired with the scenery, costuming, props, and casting from the film production, you believe you are back in the 1960's.
Yet, the biggest sigh of relief comes not from the moment that news breaks that growers are willing to meet with the UFW, but for a production that is respectful of the great labor leader. That said, this dramatic biopic of one great Latino leader reinforces the urgency for many more. We need to all get out and support this movie because with its success there will be more. And perhaps the next one will be about Dolores Huerta, who continues the good fight.

Katharine A. Díaz is a freelance writer and author of the award-winning cookbook Sabores Yucatecos: A Culinary Tour of the Yucatán (WPR Books: Comida, 2012).

 Click the image below to learn more about Cesar Chavez
Click the Poster below to see the Cesar Chavez movie trailer for the exciting movie that will be opening on March 28th


THE PRESIDENT:  Welcome to the White House.  We are here to celebrate the life of an American hero.  Cesar Chavez was a man who devoted this brief time that we have on Earth to making sure that this country lived up to some of its lofty ideals, the words of our founding, the idea that all of us are created equal -- a man who organized others to widen the circle of opportunity not just for the people he knew, but for future generations. 

And some of those future generations are here today.  Cesar's son, Paul, is here.  (Applause.)  There he is.  I was looking for him.  Some of his children -- some of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren are here.  I did not have the honor of knowing Mr. Chavez, but I'd imagine that he'd be pretty proud to know that his granddaughter works in the White House.  (Applause.)  And not only does she know how to deliver an outstanding introduction -- (laughter) -- but she also does just an extraordinary job carrying on his work organizing people, but now all across the country, to engage on issues that are of importance to all Americans.  And Julie just does an extraordinary job.  We're so proud of her.  So, thank you, Julie, for the great introduction.  (Applause.)  

A couple of other acknowledgements -- I want to acknowledge an outstanding Democratic leader in the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi.  (Applause.)  The great Dolores Huerta, our dear friend who co-founded the United Farm Workers along with Cesar.  (Applause.)  Rosario told me she was playing Dolores, and I thought I can see that -- there's the same fire.  I did have to say Rosario is a little taller.  Just a little bit.  (Laughter.) 
I want to thank the UFW's current president, Arturo Rodriguez, a great friend of ours.  Thank you. (Applause.)  And I want to thank Diego Luna and the entire cast of "Cesar Chavez."  (Applause.)  I told him I loved "Y Tu Mamá, También."  But we can't screen that at the White House.  (Laughter.)  It's a great movie, but this is a little more family-friendly here.  (Laughter.)   
This movie, this film tells the story of a man guided by an enormous faith -- faith in a righteous cause and a loving God, and the dignity of every human being.  And it reminds us how throughout our history that faith has been tested, and that it falls to ordinary Americans, ordinary people, to fight and restore that faith. 

Cesar himself said that he spent his first 20 years working as an organizer without a single major victory.  But he never gave up.  He kept on going, and the world is a better place because he did.  And that's one of the great lessons of his life. You don't give up the fight no matter how long it takes.  No matter how long the odds, you keep going, fueled by a simple creed -- sí, se puede. 

Sometimes people ask me -- in fact, while we were backstage, somebody said, oh, you look pretty good.  You look better than I expected.  (Laughter.)  The implication being that there might be reason for me not to look good.  (Laughter.)  But part of what sustains me and part of what I've said in the past -- and some of you who have been in meetings with me when we've experienced setbacks or frustrations on particular issues -- I've tried to remind people change is hard.  It doesn't happen easily.  It doesn't happen smoothly or painlessly.  It happens because you put your shoulder behind the wheel and you keep on pushing.  And then, sometimes it's going to roll back a little bit on you.  And then, you got to dig in and you've got to push some more. 

And Cesar Chavez understood that.  You have to push and you create this space.  And sometimes you won't even see all the victories that are achieved, but you've invested that time and that effort, and you've inspired others.  And, eventually, things change, and you pass the baton and future generations then continue this process.

So we've got a lot of causes that are worth fighting for.  We've got to keep fighting to make sure that every American has access to quality, affordable health care.  We were very persistent about getting that website fixed.  It's fixed now.  (Laughter and applause.)  And we've got more than 5 million people signed up.  But we've got two more weeks to sign them up. (Applause.)  So -- (laughter) -- get on the website, spread the word.

We've got to keep fighting to make sure that our economy rewards the hard work of every American with a fair and living wage and equal pay for equal work.  We've got to keep working to fix our broken immigration system.  This is an example of where this is hard, but we've made progress and we are going to get this done.  This is going to happen.  It's not a matter of if, just a matter of when.  And I want it to happen now, so we are going to keep on pushing.  (Applause.) 

Mr. Chavez once said, "When you have people together who believe in something very strongly -- whether it's religion or politics or unions -- things happen."  And today, we've got labor leaders and CEOs and faith leaders and law enforcement, and they've come together and they've said it's time to fix this broken immigration system.  We've got Democrats and Republicans who have now passed in the Senate a comprehensive bill.  And if we stay united, things will happen, things will get done. 

None of us can claim to know exactly what Cesar would have said about this fight, or any other.  But I do think he would want us to remember that the debates we have are less about policy than they are about people.  They're about the lives of men and women, the young and not so young, who want nothing more than the chance to work hard, support their families, provide a future for their kids and their grandkids, earn their place in our American story.  That's what this is all about.  They're about our highest hopes and aspirations for this country that we love -- and the country that we leave for future generations.

As this film reminds us, that was the cause of Cesar Chavez's life, and I hope this afternoon it's going to inspire all of us in the causes that we have to fight as well. 

The point is I'm going to watch it this weekend.  (Applause.)  Michelle and the girls are on their way to China.  It's very lonely at home, so nothing better than to see an inspiring film. And I'm really looking forward to seeing a chronicled life of one of my heroes and one of the people who inspired me to get into the work that I've gotten into.  So thank you for sharing it with us.  (Applause.)  God bless.  (Applause.)
For Everyone Who Loves To Read   

By Kirk Whisler

Twenty years ago there was barely any book publishers in the USA targeting topics of interest to the Latino market in either Spanish or English. A lot has happened since then and now hundreds of publishers are targeting books at and about Latinos. The Int'l Latino Book Awards have grown along with the market and this year's 231 Award Honorees are a reflection of that strength. Please see the article below on the growth of this industry segment.     
    2014 is an amazing year for books for Latinos - and the market's rapid growth is merely one reflection of how solid the market is. Latinos in the USA will purchase over $500 million in books in both English and Spanish. The bottom line is that books targeting Latinos are a growing segment because of the rapid growth of the market and the current gaps in relevant topics being presented.
    The 2014 Finalists for the 16th Annual Int'l Latino Book Awards are another reflection of the growing quality of books by and about Latinos. This year's number of entries was 41% more than the previous record year. In order to handle this large number of books, the Awards had 123 judges, nearly double the number from 2013. The vast majority of the judges glowed about the quality of the entries. The Awards celebrates books in English, Spanish and Portuguese.
    Amongst the 231 finalists are well known writers like Isabel Allende, Alma Flor Ada, Edna Iturralde, and Rick Najera. Other honorees include Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, and celebrities like TV chef Pati Jinich, the late singer and actress Jenni Rivera, singer Linda Ronstadt and TV personality Lilliana Vasquez. Finalists are from across the USA and from 18 countries outside the USA.
    In recognition of the quality and variety of books now available, Latino Literacy Now, the organization that oversees the Awards, is carrying out the 2014 Award Winning Author Tour. Displays of the Finalists books and Award Winning Authors will be  presented at events like American Library Association Convention; CABE, the largest Latino teacher conference in the USA; the Chicago Latino Book & Family Festival; the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books; the NCLR Annual Conference; the San Bernardino Latino Book & Family Festival; and other key events.
    The Awards themselves will be held June 28th in Las Vegas as part of the ALA Conference. The Awards are produced by Latino Literacy Now, an organization co-founded by Edward James Olmos and Kirk Whisler, and co-presented by Las Comadres de las Americas and Reforma, the National Association to Promote Library and Information Services to Latinos. Here's a complete list of the finalists.