Frustrated by ‘glaring’ lack of action, Schneiderman will introduce ethics bill

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State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will introduce a bill containing his proposals to clean up Albany’s endemic public corruption woes — including a ban on all outside income and a counterbalancing pay raise for what would become a full-time legislature.

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The attorney general announced the measure in an op-ed to be published in Wednesday’s Times Union.

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After reviewing the events of the year so far, especially the toppling of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos after corruption arrests, Schneiderman strikes a frustrated tone as he refers to the most recent Capitol meeting between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and new-minted legislative leaders, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Republican Majority Leader John Flanagan.

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“Remarkably, after the Governor and the new leaders of the legislature met on May 13, it became clear that ethics and campaign finance reform are not even on the agenda as the legislative session draws to a close,” Schneiderman writes. “This glaring omission — if not corrected – would do a disservice to the lion’s share of elected officials who are honorable public servants, tainted by the misconduct of the few.”

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Schneiderman, a Democrat, writes that his End New York Corruption Now Act would lower contribution limits, restrict contributions by lobbyists, close donation loopholes “so big you can drive a Mack truck through them,” and create an opt-in public matching system for campaigns. He’s also seeking a constitutional amendment that would lengthen lawmakers’ terms from two years to four years to prevent what critics see as an endless cycle of campaign fundraising at the expense of governing.

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Many of the concepts were laid out by Schneiderman in a March speech. Versions of several of these ideas — including loophole closure and the creation of a public financing system — were introduced by Cuomo in his executive budget proposal, though they fell off the negotiating table in favor of a more modest package of reforms.

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“No one can claim the ideas in this bill are radical or partisan, or that they require exploration and inquiry that exceeds the time remaining before legislators leave Albany for the year,” Schneiderman writes.

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Lawmakers and the governor might have other ideas.

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Flanagan said two weeks ago he “would be surprised if there were further (ethics) changes before the end of session.” And neither the governor nor Heastie have placed additional reforms on their lists of agenda items for the rest of the legislative session, which closes June 17.

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Cuomo’s Secretary Bill Mulrow announced last week that the governor would introduce his own program bill before the end of the session, one that would extend state Freedom of Information Law to the Legislature in the same way it currently applies to every other state entity. That measure is not expected to be eagerly received in either chamber.

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Ethics bills, which tend to be pushed by the executive branch, don’t usually fare well in the waning days of the legislative session, where the governor’s power is relatively weaker than during the budget negotiation that is supposed to conclude at the end of March. In 2013, Cuomo responded to another outbreak of scandal at the Capitol by introducing sweeping ethics legislation, which was completely ignored by both houses.

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In response, Cuomo convened a Moreland Commission panel to investigate public corruption. Schneiderman appointed many of its members as deputy attorneys general to amplify their subpoena powers.

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Cuomo scrapped the panel midway through its planned 18-month existence.

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Prospect of Time Warner Merger Raises Issues of Impact Locally

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

After failed Comcast deal, new questions about Charter

The region’s Time Warner Cable subscribers may be paying their bills to a new provider before long.

As Charter Communications plans to acquire Time Warner Cable, answers to the usual questions on consumers’ minds – whether prices will go up, what the customer service will be like – will have to wait until Charter actually completes the deal. That could happen by year’s end.
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The Big Guns: Who’s Who Among Buffalo Developers

Randy Benderson  Carl Montante Sr. Paul  Ciminelli KennethM. Franasiak Benjamin N. Obletz Carl Paladino James R. Swiezy

It’s a great time to be a developer in Western New York.  That was the opening of a Buffalo News article on January 26, 2014.  In the past 18 months nothing has changed.  Developers rule.

After a long period of relative stagnation, the region’s commercial real estate market has surged in the past couple of years, spurred by billions of dollars of investment in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, Canalside, the Outer Harbor and other initiatives.

From the downtown core to the suburbs, developers are investing private dollars into projects to build new office, hotel, retail and other commercial facilities, or to convert aging industrial warehouses and plants into modern, new complexes. More than four dozen projects of various size and scope are now under way.

Who is behind all this development?
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Floods of Biblical Proportions

The Fischer Store Road bridge over the Blanco River near Wimberley, Texas is destroyed after a flood on Sunday, May 24, 2015. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP) AUSTIN CHRONICLE OUT, COMMUNITY IMPACT OUT, INTERNET AND TV MUST CREDIT PHOTOGRAPHER AND STATESMAN.COM, MAGS OUT

The Fischer Store Road bridge over the Blanco River near Wimberley, Texas is destroyed after a flood on Sunday, May 24, 2015.

Our prayers go out to all those living in the heavily flooded areas of our nation.  The reporters said the flooding was of “Biblical proportions” this morning.

May those who lost loved ones feel God’s grace and find comfort in his love.

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The Village Board Meets Tonight

Village of Williamsville 3

The Village Board meets tonight (Tuesday) at 6 p.m. (work session) and 7:30 p.m. (meeting) at Village Hall, 5565 Main St. Visit www.walkablewilliamsville.com to read the meeting agendas

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May Your Summer Be Filled With Good Health and Peace

Jim Tricoli,
Editor of the Amhersttimes.com

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Supervior Weinstein And Councilmembers Come To The Corner Of Niagara Falls Blvd. And Kenmore To View Blight

Supervisor Weinstein and Councilmembers:
      If you have not been in the neighborhood lately, I would encourage you , in your travels, to view the premises at the northeast corner of Niagara Falls Blvd (159) and Kenmore Avenue. This intersection is important because it is heavily travelled , abuts two (2) other municipal jurisdictions, the City of Buffalo and the Town of Tonawanda, and is the southwest gateway to our great town. It is also the southwest boundary of Eggertsville.
     The premises were last the site of a convenience store of some sort, long since demolished. Since then it has just sat there , an ugly, unaesthetic failure of  the market to build a new structure, or the town to force remediation or rehabilitation, or both.  In short, its a horrible eyesore, made worse by the recalcitrant owner’s abject refusal to adequately police and maintain the premises in a clean and orderly manner. Circumscribed by what appear to be huge truncated  columns of stone, presumeably to prevent vehicular access, the corner just screams decay and desolation. As a town , we may post welcome signage to our great town on the entrances, but the condition of this “gateway” belies the effort.
     Since we do not have district councilman, and none of you lives in Eggertsville, you may not be aware of the condition of these premises like those of us who have to pass them daily. On the invitation of the building department ,
I have written the owners directly, the United Refining Company, and even offered to help it market it, if necessary, as concerned neighbors. However I have not even received the courtesy of a response of any kind.
      Therefore I would request you as the Town board authorize and direct the Town Attorney to commence a civil public nuisance action against the corporate owner, in an attempt to secure compliance with some sort of neighborhood standard of aesthetics, as well as our code, to insure the protection of the public  health, safety and welfare, and the tax base. This situation requires immediate attention. Urban decay does not resolve itself; it does not get better, and it only spreads. Thank you.
Very truly yours,
Dan Ward.

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Louisiana Breaks Off Trade Relations with Ireland

Andy Borowitz
LOUISIANA – One day after Irish voters legalized gay marriage, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal has used his emergency powers to ban all Irish products from the state.
The sweeping trade sanctions will prevent popular Irish products, such as Guinness beverages, from being sold in Louisiana.
Jindal explained that breaking off trade with Ireland was necessary to protect the sanctity of marriage in Louisiana.
“Every time someone takes a sip of Guinness, a part of straight marriage dies,” he said.

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Village Hall Closed Today (Monday) in Observance of Memorial Day

Village of Williamsville

Village Hall will be closed today (Monday) in observance of Memorial Day. A memorial service will be held at the Williamsville Cemetery, 5402 Main St., at 11 a.m. The Main Street parade begins at 2 p.m. (Rain or shine). Main Street will be closed at 1 p.m. from Youngs Road to Union Road.

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John Nash, ‘A Beautiful Mind’ Subject and Nobel Winner, Dies at 86

 John F. Nash Jr. receiving an honorary doctorate in Hong Kong in 2011.
John F. Nash Jr., a mathematician who shared a Nobel Prize in 1994 for work that greatly extended the reach and power of modern economic theory and whose decades-long descent into severe mental illness and eventual recovery were the subject of a book and a 2001 film, both titled “A Beautiful Mind,” was killed, along with his wife, in a car crash on Saturday in New Jersey. He was 86.

Dr. Nash was probably best known for his life story, a tale of dazzling achievement, devastating loss and almost miraculous redemption. The narrative of Dr. Nash’s brilliant rise, the lost years when his world dissolved in schizophrenia, his return to rationality and the awarding of the Nobel, retold in a biography by Sylvia Nasar and in the Oscar-winning film, starring Mr. Crowe and Jennifer Connelly as John and Alicia Nash, captured the public mind and became a symbol of the destructive force of mental illness and the stigma that often hounds those who suffer from it.
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