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Post by thelivyjr » Mon Aug 10, 2020 1:40 p

"Albany nears 100 people being hit by bullets in 2020 - Four people shot Saturday night in continuing plague of violence"

Massarah Mikati, Staff writer, Albany, New York Times Union

Updated: Aug. 9, 2020 6:14 p.m.

ALBANY — It was just before 8 p.m. Saturday when the sound of gunshots split the air in West Hill at least 20 times in a row.

Four people were shot.

One of them, an 18-year-old, died.

Saturday’s shooting, which Albany police say was a drive-by with more than one shooter in the vehicle, brings the city’s total number of gunshot victims this year to 91.

The victim is the 11th person to be killed in Albany so far in 2020, as part of a wave of violence and gun incidents that have hit the city.

“This one is still very preliminary, but what we’ve learned through a lot of our investigations is that the incidents of violence — specifically the shootings — involve people who know each other that are settling disputes or conflicts they have with one another, and that it is a small group of people who are responsible for a majority of the violence in the city,” said Steve Smith, Albany police spokesman.

Two of Saturday’s victims — including the 18-year-old who later died at Albany Medical Center Hospital — were shot in the torso.

Another sustained a gunshot wound in his hand, and the fourth in his leg.

The three survivors, who are 22, 28 and 29 years old, have non-life-threatening injuries, Smith said.

The last homicide happened July 11.

In that case Jose Moreno, 31, of Schenectady was shot and killed around 3:15 a.m. near Grand Street and Ash Grove Place.

So far, 2020 marks the second most violent year Albany has seen in recent history.

In 2018, there were 15 homicides.

However, there is a slight glimmer of hope, city officials say.

“What we are seeing is a reduction in the pace of the violence."

"So the rates of shootings we were seeing a month ago have slowed down,” Mayor Kathy Sheehan said Sunday.

“It’s still too high, we still have a long road ahead of us, but we are seeing a reduction in the rate of these violent crimes.”

According to Sheehan, there has been a 15 percent increase in all violent crime cases — which includes more than just shootings — in 2020 compared to 2019.

But there has been a 12 percent decrease over the past 28 days.

“That is an indicator to me and to those in law enforcement that by reinstating the strategies that we were engaging in prior to COVID-19, we’ve been able to slow the pace, but it’s still too high,” Sheehan said.

One of those critical strategies is 518SNUG, a violence intervention group.

Members of the group typically visit gun violence victims in the hospital to urge families and friends not to retaliate against the aggressor.

During the pandemic, the group didn’t have access to the hospital, but now they do.

Law enforcement has also had a heavier presence in neighborhoods than during the height of the pandemic.

New York suddenly closed schools and businesses in mid-March in an effort to try and stop the coronavirus.

Most businesses have since reopened, and as of now school is scheduled to begin again after Labor Day.

Sheehan said there has also been an increase in outreach from the faith-based community and other community-based organizations.

Sheehan also stressed that while the perpetrators of violence are typically a circle of known individuals, the reason for the high number of victims thus far is because many weren’t intended targets, but rather “in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong person who was being targeted for whatever reason.”

Those connections span other Capital Region cities as well, such as Schenectady and Troy, Sheehan said.

Schenectady has been hit particularly hard by violence since July as two innocent female bystanders - one pregnant, the other a young mother - were killed by gunfire.

“The strategies for crime prevention are things that I feel very passionately about, and I know that we could be doing more to prevent crime,” Sheehan said.

“I also believe we need to make sure we are aggressively prosecuting violent offenders who pick up a gun and fire at a group of people and place everyone in our community in danger,” she continued.

“That type of brazen act and disregard for human life is something that is not acceptable in any community.”

At this time the investigation into Saturday night's shooting remains ongoing and anyone with information is asked to call the Albany Police Detective Division at 518-462-8039.

Written By Massarah Mikati

Massarah Mikati covers communities of color and breaking news for the Times Union. She was previously a state reporter for Johnson Newspaper Corp., covering the New York State Legislature for 10 counties in the Hudson Valley, Western New York and North Country. From 2017-2019, Massarah was a Hearst Fellow reporting on immigrants and refugees for the Times Union, then communities of color for the Houston Chronicle. Massarah graduated from The Ohio State University in 2017 with a B.A. in journalism, Middle East studies and Francophone studies. Follow her on Twitter and send tips to ... ief&stn=nf

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Post by thelivyjr » Mon Aug 10, 2020 1:40 p

"As shootings rise, young offenders in Albany 'run ragged' - Albany joins other cities across NY seeing surge in gun violence, much of it caused by teenagers"

Brendan J. Lyons, Albany, New York Times Union

July 11, 2020

Updated: July 12, 2020 9:39 a.m.

ALBANY — Tears streamed down the faces of the two mothers as they embraced in a hallway outside a second-floor courtroom at the Albany County Judicial Center earlier this month.

Both women had sons who had been shot in broad daylight, nearly a year apart and allegedly by the same 17-year-old boy from Albany.

The first victim, a 3-year-old toddler, was struck in the arm by a stray bullet in July 2019 as he took a nap in a South End day care center.

He needed surgery to repair the broken arm; the bullet had come within inches of his heart.

The other victim, 21-year-old Nyjawaun Thomas of Troy, was gunned down late last month, just steps from an Albany police station.

Thomas was killed after he climbed from the wreckage of a rented U-Haul truck following a brief car chase that ended with the 17-year-old brazenly firing from his driver's-side window as he drove past Thomas.

He circled back and fired again, but law enforcement officials said Thomas was already dead.

The mothers of the victims were in the courtroom on July 1 as the 17-year-old and an adult co-defendant, 19-year-old Bahkee Green, were sentenced to prison terms of 15 and 10 years, respectively, for the shooting that injured the 3-year-old.

The two teens pleaded guilty to weapons charges, admitting they had driven with two others to the South End last summer and fired a hail of bullets at a group of young men they viewed as their enemies.

The 17-year-old had been arrested for the day care shooting a year ago and was initially charged with attempted murder, reckless endangerment, assault and tampering with evidence.

But his arrest kept him in custody at a juvenile facility only briefly, in part due to New York's bail-reform statutes and a "Raise the Age" law that went into effect over the past two years — creating a new "adolescent offender" category that ensures 16- and 17-year-olds are not automatically prosecuted in adult courts or placed in adult jails, even for crimes of violence.

The statute was intended to ensure young offenders are not unfairly punished, and to provide them with services needed to rehabilitate and reintegrate them into their communities rather than throwing them in prison.

Pressing for those reforms, advocates noted that New York was one of the last states to automatically treat offenders as young as 16 as adults in criminal prosecutions.

The state passed the legislation with reimbursable funding intended to help expand local programs to aid the troubled youths.

But a fallout of the statute has been a veritable revolving door in the youth justice system that has been evident in the city of Albany, which has been rocked by gun violence this year.

Some of that violence has involved cases in which juvenile offenders were placed under the supervision of probation officials rather than incarcerated — with many being re-arrested, often on gun charges, only to be released again.

Although a large number of Albany's shootings this year — which are up nearly 400 percent from 2019 — have involved victims and suspects age 18 or older, there have also been dozens of violent crimes attributed to youthful offenders in the past two years.

Interviews with law enforcement officials and crime victims, and a months-long review of criminal cases handled in Family Court and the Youth Part of Criminal Court in Albany County, reveal numerous instances in which offenders whose release on supervision was fostered under the new statutes were subsequently arrested for committing new crimes, including murder.

Over roughly the past two years, Albany County has handled more than 100 youth and adolescent criminal cases: 31 involving weapons possession charges; 45 robberies; 16 assaults; and seven charges of murder or attempted murder.

In addition, at least a dozen teenage boys and young men involved in Albany shootings and gun cases over the past two years were not incarcerated after their arrests due to the Raise the Age statutes and the more recent bail reform changes, according to police and court records, as well as interviews with law enforcement officials.

Many of the youthful offenders, law enforcement officials said, also have been keenly aware of the relative leniency of the new statutes, and are exploiting them by failing to charge or simply cutting off GPS ankle-monitoring bracelets so that probation officers can't monitor their whereabouts.

Even when they are hauled in front of a judge, they often are put back on house arrest, where parents often struggle to control them.

Daylight shootings

The "critical provisions" of Raise the Age, which was cast in law in the April 2017 state budget by the Legislature and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, took effect in two stages: for 16-year-olds on Oct. 1, 2018, and for 17-year-olds last October.

The statute also mandated that those who commit "non-violent crimes" would receive intervention and evidence-based treatment.

Last summer, after the 17-year-old boy was arrested for the shooting that injured the toddler, the Times Union began tracking his case, and also those of numerous other youthful offenders implicated in crimes in Albany County ranging from gun trafficking to robbery, rape and murder.

The cases all are being handled either in the Youth Part of Criminal Court or in Family Court. Under the new rules, a judge is required by statute to use the least restrictive means of assuring the defendant's return to court; judges cannot consider "dangerousness to the community" in determining whether to set bail.

Most of the defendants have lived in Albany their whole lives, have no documented criminal history and therefore don’t pose a flight risk under the rules.

As a result, most end up under the supervision of probation officers with a GPS monitoring bracelet locked on their ankle.

Although there has been no formal studies on the statutes' impact on criminal statistics, part of Albany's explosion in shootings this year has been at the hands of teenagers released under the supervision of probation officers rather than jailed as adults.

A Family Court judge, after hearing prosecutors' evidence against the 17-year-old boy last summer, determined there was strong evidence that the teenager was one of the two shooters in the car that drove into the South End that afternoon.

The boy's case therefore remained in the Youth Part of Criminal Court, and he was initially held on $50,000 bond.

But after 45 days, prosecutors declined to indict the teen, in part due to what they saw as the likely need to disclose the identity of a witness if they had moved forward.

Instead, Albany detectives continued the shooting investigation, using wiretaps to build a wider case that snared the second gunman involved in the toddler's shooting and implicating several others in other shootings, and also on gun possession and gun-trafficking charges.

The 17-year-old was finally indicted for the toddler's shooting in December — and also for a second shooting that had occurred 16 days earlier, on July 2, 2019, where he and several other teenagers fired guns wildly in a public housing complex in the city's South End.

One of the weapons in that earlier shooting, a 9mm Smith & Wesson handgun, was also used in the shooting that injured the toddler, according to court records.

In addition, the boy and some of his friends who were implicated in the pair of shootings were charged with tampering with evidence for returning to the car they had driven into the South End on the afternoon of the day care shooting, then removing weapons from the vehicle and wiping it down.

The evidence implicating the 17-year-old in the two daytime shootings in crowded neighborhoods included eyewitness accounts, Facebook posts, text messages, surveillance footage and even cell phone videos showing him holding the 9mm handgun.

Assistant District Attorney Michael Shanley, when he argued seven months ago for the teenager's bail to be set at $100,000, noted that the teen had been caught tampering with his ankle-monitoring bracelet, stopped attending school and broken his curfew.

"I don't think incarceration pending this matter is necessary to secure his appearance here, nor will it secure the safety of the community, as the electronic monitor certainly deters any potential criminal conduct," the teenager's court-appointed attorney, Eric Schillinger, argued at the Dec. 19 arraignment.

Judge William A. Carter, who handles Youth Part criminal cases in Albany County, agreed and allowed the teenager to remain free under the supervision of probation officers.

"If you mess up once, you will stay in jail until your trial," the judge told him.

"Do you understand that?"

Both Carter and Richard Rivera, the Family Court judge who issued the decision to keep the 17-year-old's case in youth criminal court — and handles many of the cases involving juvenile offenders — declined comment for this story.


Another boy, a 16-year-old boy who was with Green and the 17-year-old boy when the toddler was shot, has been in and out of secure detention after being charged with tampering with evidence.

The 16-year-old was later shot but remained uncooperative, and was charged with falsely reporting an incident.

He was arrested again, for possession of a handgun, and in the wiretap investigation had been caught on his way to sell a gun.

In addition, he was involved in a shooting incident at his mother’s house.

The 16-year-old's case is pending in Youth Part of Criminal Court, and he is currently released under the supervision of probation.

Bahkee Green, who initially faced a seven-year prison term in connection with the toddler's shooting, was released on a $50,000 "unsecured" bond following his indictment — a new provision of the bail reform statutes that prosecutors contend allows defendants in violent incidents to go free after signing what is the equivalent of a promissory note.

But after pleading guilty and prior to being sentenced, Green was re-arrested for weapons possession in connection with another shooting.

His 17-year-old co-defendant also pleaded guilty earlier this year in front of Judge Thomas A. Breslin to weapons possession in connection with the shooting of the toddler, but he remained on house arrest.

He was supposed to be sentenced in April to 10 years in prison — a term that would have begun in a juvenile detention facility — but the proceeding was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Under the supervision of probation officers, he continued to violate his house arrest conditions.

He became an Uber driver, which was prohibited and had not been approved.

He failed to properly charge his GPS monitoring bracelet at least six times in April and May, prompting his probation officer to order him to report to the office in early May to get a new bracelet.

But the boy didn't show up and also left home after arguing with his mother, according to court records.

He stayed out until 3 a.m. one night, and on May 11 was located in Schenectady in the middle of the night.

On May 17, he appeared in a video posted on YouTube that showed him smoking marijuana and showing off large bundles of cash; a man in a medical mask sat next to him brandishing a handgun.

On May 21, Albany County prosecutors filed a motion seeking to revoke the 17-year-old's release conditions.

The boy failed to show up in court for the hearing, and a judge issued a warrant for his arrest.

But he remained at large after cutting off his new ankle bracelet.

Seventeen days later, he allegedly shot two men along Central Avenue, striking one of them six times in the torso and the other victim once in the foot.

Both men survived, but the 17-year-old boy was still on the run.

On June 24, he allegedly drove to the South End looking for a man he believed had fired shots at him earlier that month.

He ended up killing Nyjawaun Thomas, possibly in a case of mistaken identity, according to police and prosecutors.

'Fed up'

The victim's mother, Shinequa Thomas, noted that her son had been sentenced to prison for robbery in 2015 when he was just 16 years old.

She cannot understand how the 17-year-old charged with killing him wasn't jailed after being indicted for shooting the toddler.

"All this stuff this boy did, he shouldn’t have been on the street, period," Thomas said.

"If they had done their job properly, my son would still be alive today."

"... I’m so so fed up with the way that this is going on. ... It doesn't make sense how he was still walking the street after all this."

The 17-year-old was arrested in Schenectady two days after Thomas was killed.

On July 1, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for shooting the toddler — an increase of five years due to his additional arrests — and is currently negotiating a plea to resolve the June 9 shooting and the June 24 homicide, according to statements prosecutors made in court.

"There’s nothing that fell through the cracks, but there is a chasm that was created by Raise the Age … and the (new) bail laws," Albany County District Attorney David Soares said.

"The (state) district attorneys association continued to provide warnings as to what would occur."

"… We warned about the fact that young people are carrying weapons and shooting each other, that the process in Family Court was not adequate … and at the time we were told we were fear-mongering."

Soares said for 16 years his office had a program — Operation Speeding Bullet — in which they would seek to have people arrested for shootings or weapons possession incarcerated and only pursue plea agreements that included prison terms.

But that program fell apart when bail reform measures went into effect earlier this year that struck illegal gun possession off the the list of alleged offenses that allow judges to set bail.

Although there have been no formal studies of the spiking crime rates across New York this year — the state's overall crime rate is up 10 percent — statistics show the increase in gun violence in Albany is being mirrored in other cities that have seen explosions in the number of shootings and homicides.

"Because of reform, the new rule becomes: If you have a gun, we have to actually wait for you to kill someone," Soares said.

"Judges can't consider dangerousness."

"Judges can't use their discretion."

"What you have in Albany — and you have it in Syracuse and you have it in Buffalo and you have it in Rochester — this is not a coincidence."

When there are cycles of shootings, Soares said, police and prosecutors had previously used other tactics to lock up shooting suspects or individuals likely to engage in a retaliatory gun violence, including arresting them for drug charges or other criminal activity.

If they were in jail for a few months, he said, the violence would sometimes calm down.

Alice Green, executive director of the Center for Law and Justice in Albany, chairs a Zero Youth Detention committee created by Albany County last year — and modeled after a successful juvenile intervention program in Seattle, Wash. — that is examining how the programs and resources available to the area's youth are functioning.

"Certainly Raise the Age cannot be blamed for whatever cases have happened in this period of time, but we haven’t looked at bail reform in terms of understanding the cases and what the impact is."

"We haven’t really looked at Raise the Age as well," Green said.

"What we have been in a habit of doing is blaming certain crimes in certain times on these reforms over this short period of time."

Prior studies have shown that locking up teenage offenders in prisons and juvenile detention facilities does not solve the problem, Green added, noting that racial disparity is at the heart of the reforms, as black juveniles tend to be locked up more than white, middle-class youth.

"This is a community issue," she said.

"When I hear prosecutors say, ‘Oh, we knew this was going to happen,’ they’re basing it on a few cases."

The motivation for the shootings in Albany and other cities is also no longer tied to drug battles or turf wars, as had been the case in much of the 1980s and '90s.

Now, law enforcement officials said, many of the shootings are simply the result of feuds prompted by social media posts or homemade videos.

"It used to be you might not see your 'enemy' for a month or two on the street."

"Now, they are in each others' faces constantly due to social media and text messages," a law enforcement official said.

Erie County District Attorney John J. Flynn said that it is too early to gauge whether the increase in violence — Buffalo has had an increase in shootings of more than 50 percent this year — can be attributed to bail-reform statutes.

He also said that Raise the Age statutes have not contributed, as far as he can tell, to the increase in gun violence in that region.

But there is a measurable increase in the severity of the crimes being committed by youthful offenders, he added.

"They’re going to Family Court on stolen car cases and on robbery cases, and they're graduating now to grand larceny and to gun possession cases," Flynn said.

"I’m not seeing, here, the graduation to shootings and homicides yet, but I am seeing a graduation to higher crimes."

Syracuse also has seen a spike in crime, with shootings up 55 percent from a year ago and incidents in which people are injured by gunfire up 100 percent.

Onondaga County District Attorney William J. Fitzpatrick noted that a little more than two years ago, New York was "the safest large state in America, and at the same time had reduced its state prison population by a remarkable 30 percent."

"That’s an outstanding accomplishment."

"Our crime rates in Syracuse are through the roof as they are in New York City," Fitzpatrick said.

"We wait until the people can’t enjoy a neighborhood, until kids get shot on their way to school, where a kid is more likely to be in a gang than he is to be able to read his diploma."

"And then we try to legislate our way out of it with ridiculous laws."

"... I wish the geniuses in Albany would spend a day at a shelter, at a drug rehab center, at a funeral, at a community meeting listening to people of color begging me to get back their streets."

'Run ragged'

The 17-year-old's mother spoke to the Times Union on July 1 when her son appeared in Family Court on the murder charge, about two hours after he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for shooting the toddler.

She said that she had sought help for her son, including pursuing a Persons in Need of Supervision petition, which places a habitually disobedient juvenile under the supervision of probation officials with treatment programs to help them correct their behavior.

But she said the programs and services offered through Family Court and probation had provided little, if any, benefit.

She said the boy was always different from his six siblings, and that she struggled to control him.

"If he had gotten the therapy and services that he needed, like a lot of these young people ...." Her voice trailed off.

"They just let them run out here and run ragged."

She said that she did not allow her son's friends to come into her home; the first time she met with officials associated with the Family Court case, they cautioned her that she could face a Child Protective Services investigation if she refused to allow him into her residence when he came home after hours, against her wishes.

She said they spoke to her son about attending night school and he went to a therapy program, "but they're not doing nothing in the program."

"They give them crackers and juice, and that's it."

Albany County officials said funding from the state has increased the past two years, including nearly $1.5 million for probation services and staffing.

The state also reimburses the county an additional $454,000 through the county's Department for Children, Youth and Families for supervision and treatment services for juveniles.

"Funding from the state has only increased over the last two years, and the county has not cut any funding from our own programs during that time," said Cameron Sagan, a spokesman for the county executive's office.

Those programs include Project Growth, which focuses on juveniles who owe restitution for crimes.

Sagan said there are also additional programs that help with employment training and job-retention skills, as well as courses to help youths obtain their driver's licenses so they get can to jobs easier.

But the programs and intervention efforts do not appear to be turning back crime, at least not over the past two years in New York.

In 2017, Cuomo hailed the legislation as a "legacy accomplishment."

His office referred comment for this story to the Division of Criminal Justice Services, which issued a statement Saturday noting New York has allocated $300 million to implement the Raise the Age law, including state and local funding for comprehensive diversion, probation, detention and programming services for youth.

"While New York provides support to assist localities with Raise the Age implementation, it's local judges who set conditions of probation and county probation departments that are responsible for ensuring those on probation are complying with those conditions," said Janine Kava, a spokeswoman for DCJS.

Alice Green, who has been involved in Albany's criminal justice initiatives for decades, said the work of the Zero Youth Detention committee has been hobbled by the coronavirus pandemic; its members have been unable to meet for months.

But she cautioned against blaming bail reform or the Raise the Age statute for the state's spike in violence, especially as that relates to youthful offenders.

"Once you take one of these kids and give them long (prison) terms, the research shows that they come back in worse condition then they went in, and it’s a real threat to public safety," she said.

"I don’t see how going backwards helps with this problem."

"This problem of youth violence is certainly much more of a problem in terms of understanding what’s happening with these kids, what’s happening in our communities, and why are there more guns."

Written By Brendan J. Lyons

Brendan J. Lyons is a senior editor for the Times Union overseeing the Capitol Bureau and Investigations. Lyons joined the Times Union in 1998 as a crime reporter before being assigned to the investigations team. He became editor of the investigations team in 2013 and joined the Capitol Bureau in 2017. You can reach him at or (518) 454-5547. ... 395150.php

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Post by thelivyjr » Tue Aug 11, 2020 1:40 p

"Cuomo: Independent probe of nursing home deaths unneeded"

Chris Bragg, Amanda Fries, Albany, New York Times Union

Aug. 10, 2020

Updated: Aug. 11, 2020 9:26 a.m.

ALBANY — An independent investigation of the state’s nursing home policies during the COVID-19 pandemic is not needed, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Monday, asserting that no one can even agree “who an independent expert is.”

“There is no person trusted by all Democrats and all Republicans,” Cuomo said in response to a question about calls for New York to face an independent investigation of its policies governing nursing homes during the coronavirus pandemic.

In addition, Cuomo argued that a recent review by the state Department of Health found the cause of more than 6,000 nursing home deaths in New York since COVID-19 began was attributed to infections spread by staff members and not by residents who were, under his advisory order, returned to the facilities from hospitals while still infected but recovering.

Cuomo said that report had been reviewed by “credible industry experts.”

As the Times Union reported, however, those health care industry leaders have close ties with Cuomo’s administration and have benefited from its policies and contracts.

Cuomo also has targeted certain media organizations, including the New York Post, as having a political agenda in blaming his policies for the high number of deaths.

“I think you'd be blind have to have to realize it's not political,” Cuomo said of the criticism.

Many media outlets have reported on the matter, with perhaps the most extensive single examination of the nursing home policies coming from ProPublica.

Cuomo’s comments came as state health Commissioner Howard Zucker declined to testify at a state legislative hearing on nursing home policy held Monday morning.

Multiple legislators commented on Zucker's absence, expressing disappointment that the health department did not have anyone take part in the hearing.

That decision came as Cuomo's secretary, Melissa DeRosa, on Monday pointed to the Legislature's hearings on New York's COVID-19 response as part of the reason an independent investigation is unwarranted.

"Like many of my colleagues, I was deeply discouraged — although not surprised — that the state health department commissioner was not on the list of people to speak," said Assemblyman Kevin Byrne, a Republican representing parts of Putnam and Westchester counties.

He said legislators on both sides of the aisle were "underserved by his testimony last week."

Zucker testified at the first legislative hearing, although he was criticized by lawmakers for refusing to give a definitive number of how many nursing home residents died in hospitals during the crisis.

Republican leaders in the state Senate and Assembly blasted the health department's report and contend the blame for the high number of deaths was a March 25 executive order issued by Cuomo which disallowed nursing homes from refusing to admit or readmit a patient solely on the basis of a positive COVID-19 test.

Long term care providers do not point to the March 25 order, or any one aspect for the high number of deaths in the residential facilities.

Much like providers testified last week, facility representatives say the top issues they had to contend with were access to personal protective equipment and COVID-19 diagnostic tests as well as staffing shortages - the latter of which has been an issue across the industry for years.

"COVID-19 has laid bare many of the challenges, bottlenecks and funding inequities that have been festering for years," said Stephen Knight, CEO of United Helpers, which provides a continuum of care in St. Lawrence and Jefferson counties.

"It's time for all to take responsibility, come together and fix the problems instead of blaming operators for systemic issues."

The state health department was ordered to study staffing shortages in residential care facilities last year and issue a report to the Legislature by the end of 2019.

That report has yet to be released, but Zucker said it will be released Friday.

Cuomo and his administration have defended the governor's advisory order, which was later withdrawn, contending it followed federal guidance and that nursing homes that weren't equipped to safely handle those residents — including quarantining them — should not have done so.

The state's analysis also dismissed any connections between the policy and the number of deaths.

The health department has instead blamed the deaths on infected staff members, noting some of those workers had brought the disease into the facilities before the spread of coronavirus within the state was documented.

Yet, multiple people with family members in long term care facilities — and advocates for residents in the facilities — described systemic breakdowns when they sought status updates for loved ones.

There were also times that family members reported seeing staff members or other residents without personal protective equipment on when they were videoconferencing with their relatives in nursing homes.

California resident Mikko Cook testified Monday that she and other family members had to "beg" for contact with her father, who is a resident of a nursing home in the Capital Region.

Mary Jo Botinardi of Syracuse described her experience asking about testing for a family member at a nursing home: "They didn't know how to get a resident tested."

Botinardi said she feels the long term care facility avoided testing patients because the results would make the facility look bad.

"If we're going to fix the problem, you have to own the problem," she said.

Vincent Pierce, a resident at Coler Specialty Hospital - a rehabilitation and chronic care facility on Roosevelt Island in New York City — described similar frustrations as a resident at the facility.

Despite him and other residents voicing concern for their safety, Pierce said the facility didn't start separating COVID-positive patients from the rest of the residents until after a critical story ran in the New York Post.

"We can't even sit in front of the building without being threatened with quarantine for two weeks," he said.

"We're not given any information about what's going on."

"I feel like they put everybody in the same category as if everybody can't think for themselves or make the right decisions for themselves."

An earlier version of this story incorrectly characterized the New York Department of Health's March 25 advisory order as an executive order.

Written By Chris Bragg

Chris Bragg is a political and investigative reporter for the Capitol bureau and contributor to Capitol Confidential. You can reach him at or (518) 454-5303.

Written By Amanda Fries

Amanda Fries covers the Capitol in Albany and state government for the Times Union, focusing on the state workforce, housing, budget issues, malfeasance and other forms of corruption. She first started in June 2016 covering the city and county of Albany for the Times Union. Got a tip? Contact her at 518-454-5353 or ... nfidential

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Post by thelivyjr » Fri Aug 14, 2020 1:40 p

"Churchill: The number Andrew Cuomo doesn't want you to know - The Cuomo administration refuses to say how many New York nursing home residents died of COVID-19.

Chris Churchill, Albany, New York Times Union

Aug. 12, 2020

Updated: Aug. 13, 2020 9:51 a.m.

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has earned praise during the pandemic for his skill at discussing coronavirus numbers and details.

Yet there is one statistic the governor and state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker refuse to disclose: The number of New York nursing home residents who died from COVID-19.

It's an important statistic, obviously.

We can't fully understand the pandemic's devastating toll on the state's nursing homes without it.

We can't know the scope of the tragedy that befell some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers.

But Cuomo and Zucker are keeping us in the dark.

According to the state's official count, roughly 6,600 nursing home residents died from COVID-19 — the highest total of any state.

Everybody knows that's an undercount, however, because the number doesn't include nursing home residents who were transferred to hospitals before they died.

Other states don't tally COVID-19 deaths that way, and neither did New York - at first.

But in April, just as the number of nursing home fatalities from COVID-19 started to spike, the state suddenly decided not to count residents who died in hospitals as nursing home deaths.

The state said it feared some deaths would be counted twice.

That's the official explanation, anyway.

But you don't have to be a wild-eyed conspiracy theorist to suspect the change had something to do with the state's controversial mandate requiring nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients.

If the number of deaths tied to nursing homes is artificially low, the mandate might not look so bad.

Provide New Yorkers with the truthful number, however, and the policy would be revealed as disastrous.

Meanwhile, as a ProPublica investigation published in Wednesday's Times Union detailed, there's evidence New York's unusual method of counting COVID-19 deaths led at least one nursing home to "dump" dying residents into hospitals, sometimes with do-not-resuscitate orders.

While the Department of Health said it "will hold accountable to the fullest extent of the law any nursing home that engaged in wrongdoing," it's horrifying that dying New Yorkers would be treated that way.

So again, how many nursing home residents died of COVID-19 in hospitals?

We don't know.

Cuomo and Zucker won't tell us.

Reporters and state lawmakers have asked for the number repeatedly.

There's always an excuse for why it isn't available.

On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that it filed a public records request for the data three months ago, but the health department has refused to release it.

The AP story, which estimates that an accurate count would add thousands of deaths to the official total, is headlined, "New York's true nursing home death toll cloaked in secrecy."

Indeed, it is.

Last week, lawmakers pressed Zucker for the number when he testified at a legislative hearing on nursing homes.

While Zucker acknowledged the state counts nursing home residents who die of COVID-19 at hospitals, he declined to provide lawmakers with even an estimate of the total tally.

“It seems to me that the definition that you are insisting on keeping on the books is one that no other state utilizes and it makes you look better than what y’all did," said state Sen. Gustavo Rivera, a Democrat from the Bronx who chairs the Health Committee.

"That's a problem, bro."

On Wednesday, a full eight days later, Zucker again testified before the committee — and still didn't have an answer.

The hubris is stunning.

"We continue to work on it," Department of Health spokesperson Jill Montag told me later in the day.

I emailed Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi to ask how it is possible that the administration has not provided the number, given the importance of the statistic and the state's ability to determine it.

I mean, it's not like we're asking for the number of pebbles on Pluto.

This is data that, by Zucker's own admission, the state can access.

And yet we haven't been allowed to see it.

Azzopardi didn't respond.

Instead, I received a canned statement from Montag saying "New York was an early leader in providing daily facility-specific information" and no state "has been clearer in personalizing the human cost of the pandemic."

That's not entirely wrong.

New York has been good about releasing COVID-19 data, which makes the secrecy around nursing home deaths all the more confounding.

It leads to an obvious conclusion: Cuomo doesn't want the data released because it would look terrible.

It would reveal the calamitous cost of the mandate forcing nursing homes to accept COVID-19 patients.

It would show that the Cuomo administration made a costly and tragic decision.

As the Associated Press noted, Cuomo has often used New York's flawed undercount to defend the mandate, contending the state's percentage of nursing home fatalities out of its overall COVID-19 death toll is low compared to other states.

The undercount was also the basis of a health department study that claimed the mandate wasn't responsible for nursing home deaths and instead blamed employees of the facilities.

But that report was a sham.

And the truth about nursing homes and COVID-19, I'm sorry to say, isn't what Cuomo wants us to know. ■ 518-454-5442 ■ @chris_churchill ... 478807.php

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Post by thelivyjr » Mon Aug 17, 2020 1:40 p


"Empire State manufacturing index slows in August"

By Greg Robb

Published: Aug. 17, 2020 at 10:46 a.m. ET

The numbers:

The New York Fed’s Empire State business conditions index fell 13.5 points to 3.7 in August, signaling a slower pace of growth, the regional Fed bank said Monday.

Economists had expected a reading of 17, according to a survey by Econoday.

The index had surged in July after being in negative territory since the pandemic began.

Any reading above zero indicates deteriorating conditions.

What happened:

The new-orders index fell 15.6 points to negative 1.7 in August while shipments fell 11.8 points to 6.7.

Unfilled orders fell sharply and inventories slipped.

The employee index inched up 2.4 points to 2.

The prices received index climbed above zero for the first time since March.

Optimism about the six-month outlook moved lower in July.

The future capital expenditures index slipped 3.1 points to 6.

Big picture:

The data fit with expectations of a moderation in the economy in August.

Manufacturing has reported strong growth in recent months but has yet to recover to pre-pandemic levels.

Employment is lagging behind.

What are they saying?

“Looking ahead, the manufacturing recovery will settle into a slower path than the immediate partial snap back that was spurred by re-openings."

"Soft demand, supply chain disruptions, and elevated uncertainty are set to persistently constrain the manufacturing rebound until a health solution for the virus is found."

"Our baseline forecast foresees manufacturing taking until 2022 to return to pre-virus levels of activity,” said Oren Klachkin, economist at Oxford Economics.

Market reaction:

U.S. stocks were mixed in Monday trading with the Dow Jones Industrial Average slightly lower while the S&P 500 index rose near record territory. ... cle_inline

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Post by thelivyjr » Wed Aug 26, 2020 1:40 p

"Editorial: ESD's reckless spending"

The Albany, New York Times Union editorial board

Aug. 25, 2020

Updated: Aug. 25, 2020 8:33 p.m.


A scathing comptroller's report says New York recklessly spent on economic development projects.


The investments failed to deliver the jobs upstate New York so desperately needs.

Under Gov. Andrew Cuomo, state government has invested billions of dollars in high-technology projects across upstate New York.

The stated goal of the spending is laudable: creating jobs in a region that has been lagging economically for decades and is losing population as a result.

Certainly, upstate needed the help — and still does.

But a stinging audit from state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli found that investments made by Empire State Development, the state's economic development arm, were often reckless, lacked proper oversight and did not deliver the jobs they promised.

The audit focuses on $2.2 billion the state spent through SUNY Polytechnic Institute, which was run by Alain Kaloyeros until he was charged and ultimately convicted in a federal bid-rigging case, which left him facing years in prison.

Before the corruption scandal, SUNY Poly was considered an Albany high-tech success story for its ability to spin public investments into private jobs.

That led Mr. Cuomo to push the school to replicate its model in Rochester, Buffalo and elsewhere.

The effort has not succeeded, Mr. DiNapoli's brutally honest report found.

It takes particular aim at the decision by SUNY Poly and ESD to invest nearly $800 million in a solar-panel factory built in Buffalo for Tesla, the electric car company owned by eccentric billionaire Elon Musk.

The massive investment was made despite Mr. Musk openly conceding that his company had "limited experience" in solar-panel manufacturing.

Unsurprisingly, the Tesla project fell well short of the promised return.

The failure was part of a pattern.

Mr. DiNapoli's review of four major projects that attracted ESD investment, including new facilities for IBM and Albany Molecular Research, met only 40 percent of their goal of 2,710 jobs.

The audit concluded that a "lack of due diligence" at ESD provided "no real scrutiny" of its investments.

The effort, then, seems more about generating positive headlines than the hard work of creating the jobs that upstate New York so desperately needs.

Also lacking, the audit said, was transparency, with ESD often dragging its feet on the release of job updates and other data.

Such secrecy, we're sorry to say, has been the norm under Mr. Cuomo.

ESD contested the findings, describing the report as unfair and saying reforms instituted after Mr. Kaloyeros' 2016 ouster "have yielded increased transparency, oversight and accountability."


But it's difficult to argue with the numbers in Mr. DiNapoli's detailed audit or its conclusions.

The unavoidable truth is that New York spent billions of dollars on economic development and has too little to show for it.

What a missed opportunity for upstate New York.

And what a reminder of how so much of the $4 billion, give or take, that the state throws at economic development is wasted.

It leaves much for the governor and lawmakers to consider as they ponder, with the state facing years of multi-billion dollar deficits, where New York might save some serious money.

To comment: ... 09a3f12c1f

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Post by thelivyjr » Wed Aug 26, 2020 1:40 p

"Albany hiring firm to study racial bias in police department"

Steve Hughes, Albany, New York Times Union

Aug. 24, 2020

Updated: Aug. 24, 2020 4:33 p.m.

ALBANY — The city is hiring a Virginia-based firm to conduct a study of racial bias in the Albany Police Department.

Chief City Auditor Dorcey Applyrs said the city will pay CNA, a nonprofit research and analysis organization that got its start tracking Nazi U-boat attacks, $80,000 to do the audit along with members of her staff.

At a brief news conference in front of City Hall, Applyrs said that in order for the city to make the right decisions about its police department, it needed to understand the extent of any implicit or racial basis in the department.

"We must use all of our platforms to promote racial justice and begin the healing we so desperately need in cities all across our nation," she said.

Applyrs' decision to hire a firm was made in part by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's executive order requiring municipalities do comprehensive reviews of their police departments and develop plans to reform them.

Cuomo's order came in the wake of protests in New York and around the nation after the May 25 killing of George Floyd, who died after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes.

The killing, captured on video, prompted anti-police brutality demonstrations that continue to this day.

The audit will examine the department's internal operations, policies and procedures, looking for evidence of implicit and racial biases and how they impact city residents.

Auditors will be looking at data related to traffic stops, use of force and other department interactions with the public over a five-year period.

The firm's findings will provide the city with a "baseline of information" to help drive decision making about reforms.

Greg McGee, president of the police officers' union, criticized the decision, noting the department's existing emphasis on community policing.

"Instead of highlighting the good work these men and women do or highlight the fact that we have accreditations that other agencies simply do not have, the city would rather frivolously spend money," he said.

Applyrs hinted at other audits to come, saying her office was adopting an "equity lens" for all city audits, using a toolkit developed by the city of Seattle's audit office.

Over the next year, her office will also examine the city's equity agenda and legislation.

Mayor Kathy Sheehan appointed Appyrs, previously the Common Council representative for the First Ward, to the chief auditor role in January after former City Auditor Susan Rizzo was elected as Albany County's comptroller.

Applyrs is running to fill the remaining year on the four-year term of office this November.

CNA was chosen among seven firms that submitted proposals, Applyrs said.

CNA did a similar audit in Charleston, S.C. and is working on one in Chicago.

"We were looking for a firm who could balance the understanding of communities of color...but also a firm who understands law enforcement culture," she said.

Its examination of Charleston's police department found racial disparities in traffic stops, poor data-collection practices, lack of clarity in policies on use of force, failures to fully engage parts of the city's community as well as issues around accountability, according to the firm's summary of the report.

CNA was founded by a group of MIT scientists to examine the U.S. Navy's response to U-boat attacks in World War II.

The firm's working on policing reform is done through its Center for Justice Research and Innovation.

Applyrs said she expects the audit to be done by early October so that the city's working group has time to consider its findings.

The process will also include presentations to the Common Council and residents.

Chief Eric Hawkins has indicated that he is supportive of the audit, she said.

In a statement, Hawkins said a review of the department's data and operations would help it meet community needs.

"I look forward to working with Chief City Auditor Dorcey Applyrs and the review team as we improve on the many successes the police department has achieved over the years," he said.

Earlier this month, Mayor Kathy Sheehan created a 37-member working group that is expected to develop a plan to reform the city's police department.

The reform plan must include public input and must be approved by the Common Council before being submitted to the state.

Sheehan said she had discussed the planned audit with Applyrs and the city recognized that it needed outside help to do a in-depth examination.

"I think this is a great opportunity to bring in a third party to really help us understand what our data tells us, what's missing, how to collect data we're not collecting and most importantly — how do we report that out to the community on a regular basis in a transparent way."

Written By Steve Hughes

Steve is the Times Union's morning cop reporter. He's previously reported for papers in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Utica and Cortland. Originally from Syracuse, he's a 2010 graduate from SUNY Geneseo. Reach him at (518) 454-5438. ... 09a3f12c1f

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Post by thelivyjr » Mon Aug 31, 2020 1:40 p

"Seven-year-old shot in Albany's South End on Sunday"

Massarah Mikati, Staff writer, Albany, New York Times Union

Updated: Aug. 30, 2020 9 p.m.

ALBANY — A 7-year-old child was shot in the knee Sunday afternoon when gunman in a vehicle opened fire on a crowd of people gathered outside to enjoy the late summer weather, police said.

Caught in the crossfire that left a man injured too, the youngster is at least the third child 10 or younger shot in Albany in 2020 and the 100th shooting victim this year.

Albany police responded to Clinton Street and Second Avenue around 3:20 p.m., where they found the boy with a gunshot wound to the knee.

The boy was grazed by a stray bullet, police said, and is expected to survive.

Shortly after arriving at the scene in the South End, police said staff at Albany Medical Center called to say a 30-year-old man arrived at the hospital with gunshot wounds to the leg and buttocks.

Police said the two victims were injured in the same incident.

Chief Eric Hawkins said preliminary investigations have found the shooting was a drive-by with multiple people involved.

He is unsure how many of those people fired weapons, and there are no suspect or vehicle descriptions being released yet.

"It's very unsettling to have something like this happen in a vibrant, family-oriented neighborhood in broad daylight," he said near the scene of the shooting.

"These are individuals who have no regard for life, and it's important that we find out who they are and bring those individuals to justice."

Mayor Kathy Sheehan said she spoke with the child’s mother and grandmother Sunday.

"The depraved indifference involved in shooting a gun in the presence of a child is difficult to fathom, and callous acts like these will not be tolerated in our city," Sheehan said in a written statement released by her office.

"Our residents deserve better, and our city deserves better."

Families were out and about when police were on the scene, sitting in front of their homes and talking, or standing near the crime scene to watch the investigation.

Brenda Warner lives a few houses down from where the shooting took place, and saw the gunfire herself while sitting on her front deck.

It's not the first shooting she's seen, she said, but it never gets any easier to witness the tragedies.

"You don't ever forget," she said.

Broken glass was pooled on the street in front of her.

Warner has been a resident of the Clinton Street block for a total of eight years.

The neighborhood, she said, has changed, and she doesn't feel safe living alone anymore.

"I said to the cop today, 'You only come when somebody gets hurt or if there's a shooting.'"

"'It's like you're afraid to come on this block, but why?'" she said.

"We're citizens, too, and we have rights just like everybody else."

"One right is you're supposed to be protected."

Down and across the street from Warner, a large family was gathered on the sidewalk, listening to music and chatting, one young man getting his hair cut.

"This is where I'm born and raised, right here in downtown South End, Albany."

"This is nothing new," said one man, who did not give the Times Union his name.

"This is something that's going to keep happening until we change it."

Like many others, the man pointed to a lack of resources, opportunities and activities as a major contributor to gun violence.

Two 10-year-old children have been shot in Albany this year.

Both survived.

On June 4, a 10-year-old child was hit with a stray bullet when two men began shooting at each other on New Hope Terrace.

The boy was shot while he was sitting on his bed playing with an iPad.

The father of a 10-year-old girl was arrested June 13 after he accidentally shot his daughter in the back, police said.

She was treated at Albany Medical Center for non-life threatening injuries.

The girl's father, 54-year-old Gregorie Smith, was found to be in illegal possession of a handgun which he accidently discharged, police said.

He has been charged with criminal possession of a weapon and assault.

Written By Massarah Mikati

Massarah Mikati covers communities of color and breaking news for the Times Union. She was previously a state reporter for Johnson Newspaper Corp., covering the New York State Legislature for 10 counties in the Hudson Valley, Western New York and North Country. From 2017-2019, Massarah was a Hearst Fellow reporting on immigrants and refugees for the Times Union, then communities of color for the Houston Chronicle. Massarah graduated from The Ohio State University in 2017 with a B.A. in journalism, Middle East studies and Francophone studies. Follow her on Twitter and send tips to ... 09a3f12c1f

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Post by thelivyjr » Sat Nov 07, 2020 1:40 p

THE CAPE CHARLES MIRROR November 6, 2020 at 10:01 pm

Paul Plante says:

And while we are on the subject of in the wake of the George Floyd death in Minneapolis, the idea of defunding police departments has gained momentum in the national conversation about law enforcement and race while keeping very much in mind which party is antagonistic towards law enforcement, for a more in-depth look at the subject, for it is indeed gaining momentum in the corrupt Democrat-controlled ****-hole of New York under Democrat Andy Cuomo, as anti-police and anti-law and order a Democrat as you will ever find, let’s go to the Albany, New York Times Union article “Black Albany residents arrested at higher rates, audit finds - City-commissioned study suggests racial bias in policing, and possible solutions” by Steve Hughes on Nov. 5, 2020, to see how the defunding game is being played by first attacking the police as being “biased” against the Black folks to discredit them, to wit:

ALBANY — An external audit focused on potential racial bias within the city police department found that Black residents are disproportionately arrested compared to other city residents.

end quotes

Now, of course, that can have absolutely nothing to do with the fact that in Albany, it is the Black folks who are the lawless, violent criminals; to the contrary, notwithstanding that in Albany it is the Black folks who are the lawless, violent criminals, it really is the fault of the police that they are arresting more Black folks, because they are biased against Black folks, which is why their funding should be yanked, which takes us back to that article, as follows:

A draft of the audit, obtained by the Times Union, also showed that Black residents are more likely to be charged with resisting arrest, have force used against them and file civil rights complaints against the city.

end quotes

Again, could it be possible that more Black folks are likely to be arrested for resisting arrest because more Black folks resist arrest than do any other skin color?

Getting back to that article, it goes on as follows:

But the audit stopped short of blaming the discrepancies on bias within the department or among individual officers, noting that a combination how the department collects information and the lack of information on individual police stops made it impossible to determine the exact cause of the disparities.

Instead, the report concludes the city should investigate further.

“Without details about the circumstances of the arrests, we cannot say with certainty that this difference is entirely the result of race or bias, but these results are suggestive of those possibilities,” the draft states.

end quotes

Suggestive of those possibilities?

Okay, but how about also suggestive of the fact that Black folks are more likely to be criminals than people of other skin colors?

But wait, we’re trying to defund the police here, which means we have to interpret the data to show that the police are in the wrong, not the Black folks, because Albany, New York, a Democrat-controlled city, is also a BLACK LIVES MATTER city, and BLACK LIVES MATTER does not like the police and wants them gone, and this is how it is done:

The audit by CNA, a nonprofit research and analysis organization, also examined issues around officer training, community policing and other internal operations.

City Auditor Dorcey Appylrs hired the firm in August for $80,000 as part of a larger city review of its police department and its policies.

That review is required by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s executive order that says municipalities must do comprehensive reviews of their police departments and develop plans to reform them.

Cuomo issued the order amid the protests that followed the killing of George Floyd of Minneapolis by police officers.

end quotes

Now, check out that sentence which says that Democrat Andy Cuomo of New York, as anti-law and order a Democrat as they come, issued an executive order that says municipalities must do comprehensive reviews of their police departments and develop plans to reform them amid the protests that followed the killing of George Floyd of Minneapolis by police officers, and ask yourself why Democrat Cuomo, a “Willy Horton Democrat,” is demanding reform of police departments in New York state when George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, Minnesota, some 1,224.3 miles west of Albany.

Why is Cuomo, whose heart bleeds for the criminals in society, demanding a reform of the Albany Police Department because of something that happened in Minnesota?

And that answer is because for Cuomo, who is virulently anti-police, the George Floyd killing was simply a handy excuse for him to issue his executive order which nobody can challenge, because Cuomo owns the courts.

There is no evidence that the Albany Police Department needed reform prior to George Floyd being killed, and there has been plenty of evidence that the Black folks are violent criminals, but Cuomo doesn’t need evidence that the police are in the wrong – all it takes is for him to hold that belief, and that is it – now the data has to be arranged in such a fashion as to hang the cops while assuring the criminals get the full protection of Cuomo’s office, which takes us back to that article as follows:

The audit’s 62 findings and accompanying recommendations are expected to provide the city with a baseline of information as part of the reform process.

end quotes

Whether it is needed or not, clearly the “Reform the Police” train has left the station and is proceeding down the track full speed ahead.

Getting back to the article:

About 30 percent of city residents are Black, 50 percent are white, 10 percent are Hispanic and 7 percent are Asian.

Black residents also made up 64 percent of all arrests in the city during the 2015-2019 timeframe, compared to 27 percent for white residents and roughly 6 percent for Hispanic residents.

During the 2015-1019 time frame, the department filed 124 resisting arrest charges, with more than 79 percent of those filed against Black people.

White residents made up 16.9 percent of resisting arrest charges and Hispanics just 2.4 percent.

But again, the auditors said they could not prove that was the result of bias — though the results suggested that it was — and recommended the city examine the issue further.

end quotes

Though the results suggested something?

What kind of bull**** is that?

Why don’t the data suggest that Black folks are more likely to be criminals than Hispanics or Asians?

Oh, right, it is the Era of BLACK LIVES MATTER, so it is all about the Black folks and how they are being treated as criminals by white cops using WHITE MAN’S LAW against them to hold them down.

So let’s cripple the police, and then, the Black folks won’t be criminals anymore.

See how simple that is! ... ent-297887

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Post by thelivyjr » Sat Nov 07, 2020 1:40 p

"New York Legislature leans further left with socialist-backed candidates"

Amanda Fries, Albany, New York Times Union

Nov. 5, 2020

ALBANY — Multiple state Legislature candidates who received or sought endorsement from the Democratic Socialists of America are poised to take office next year, and could shift New York policymaking further to the left.

Four legislative candidates and one incumbent, Sen. Julia Salazar, received the progressive group’s endorsement and are poised to win their respective district races, furthering a shift in the make-up of the state Legislature.

Zohran K. Mamdani, who successfully defeated incumbent Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas in the Democratic primary for the 36th District in June and received the DSA endorsement, said the progressive group of incoming legislators hope to push for a socialist framework for policies and governing that they believe will protect and lift up working and middle-class families.

That agenda includes pushing for health care for all, raising taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers, pushing for a state “Green New Deal” and overall policy decisions focused on the constituency rather than corporate interests.

“The reality is we have a popular agenda, and now it’s up to us to explain it and spread the word about it across the state,” Mamdani said.

“I think there has definitely been a shift and this electoral result is evidence of that."

"Two years ago ... there was a shift of the culture and make-up of the state Senate, and I would argue that this is something that is comparative in the Assembly.”

Sumathy Kumar, co-chair of the New York City Democratic Socialists of America, said their platform is simple: put people’s needs first.

“So that’s why our priorities are health care for all, cancelling rent and making sure people aren’t going to be evicted in the middle of a global pandemic and flu season,” she said of the legislative wins.

“I think it’s really simple and people really respond to it.”

Another four legislative candidates who sought the Democratic Socialists endorsement also are set to take seats in the state Assembly, including Jessica González-Rojas, who is a member of the DSA.

González-Rojas, who defeated Democratic incumbent Assemblyman Michael G. DenDekker for the 34th District in June, described the need for new voices in the Legislature as a “mandate,” with socialists seeking policies and governing that works for everyone.

“To me, the idea of Democratic socialism is about that universality, and a vision that everyone has an opportunity to live, work and thrive in this country and be able to raise their families with dignity,” she said.

She also noted that her election marks the first woman and person of color to represent the district, which covers the Jackson Heights neighborhood in Queens.

González-Rojas said that area is 88 percent people of color.

Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay expressed concern over the incoming progressive legislators pursuing “extreme governing,” the likes of which he described to be support of criminal justice reforms and higher taxes.

“I think it puts the speaker and other Democratic leaders in a very difficult spot,” he said.

“It’s going to be harder to govern when you have these radical policies.”

Speculation that the wave of progressive legislators taking seats in the Assembly could prompt a shakeup in the body’s leadership has been ruminating for months, but incumbent members do not expect this to come to fruition.

“I think there might be eight DSA members, with a lot of our allies for them among incumbent members, so the conference will be quite different, but I think the speaker’s leadership is solid,” Albany Democratic Assemblywoman Pat Fahy said.

A spokesman for Speaker Carl E. Heastie said in an emailed statement Thursday that Heastie is happy to welcome all new members.

“We have always had the most diverse and progressive legislative conference in the nation, so nothing really changes,” spokesman Mike Whyland said.

“As always, we make decisions as a 100-plus member Assembly Democratic conference.” ... 09a3f12c1f

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