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Journal Archives

Oyster Bay legal bills related to Singh cases top $3.3M

Oyster Bay’s legal bills over disputed loan guarantees with former concessionaire Harendra Singh have topped $3.3 million and continue to climb.

The total represents payments authorized by the town to three outside law firms since 2015.

On Tuesday the Town Board approved paying $676,716 for a nearly year-old bill from the Manhattan law firm of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP for work on the issue. Since 2015, the town has paid or approved more than $1 million in payments to the firm for Singh-related work from February 2015 through October 2016.

The disputed loan guarantees are at the heart of federal charges brought against Singh, former Town Supervisor John Venditto and Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano. Federal prosecutors allege that Mangano pressured Venditto to execute guarantees on Singh’s behalf in return for bribes and kickbacks. The three have pleaded not guilty. Mangano and Venditto’s trial is scheduled to begin in January. The multimillion dollar loans were supposed to pay for capital improvements to town-owned facilities that prosecutors alleged weren’t done.

Read more: https://www.newsday.com/long-island/nassau/oyster-bay-legal-fees-singh-1.14991866

New York Attorney General investigating fraud on net neutrality comment site

New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says that his office is investigating a scheme to corrupt the Federal Communications Commission's online public-comment process on net neutrality via the use of thousands of false identities — but the FCC is not cooperating.

In a statement posted on Medium Tuesday, Schneiderman said the investigation has been going on since May when his office noticed "enormous numbers of fake comments" about the FCC's proposal to abolish net neutrality. "In doing so, the perpetrator or perpetrators attacked what is supposed to be an open public process by attempting to drown out and negate the views of the real people, businesses, and others who honestly commented on this important issue," he said, noting that many misused real names and addresses. "That’s akin to identity theft, and it happened on a massive scale."

In June, Schneiderman's office contacted the FCC for records related to the public comment system to determine who was behind the fraud, then followed up nine times over five months. "Yet we have received no substantive response to our investigative requests," he said. "None."

Trump's pick to head the FCC, Ajit Pai, has been outspoken in his plans to overturn net neutrality, an Obama-era initiative that regulates the internet as a public utility, preventing internet-service providers for charging more for access to certain kinds of content or creating "fast lanes" to content by companies who pay. Net neutrality proponents say it protects consumers and small businesses from corporate control. Pai opened a public-comment period earlier this year, and this week scheduled a vote for Dec. 12.

Read more: https://www.metro.us/news/local-news/new-york/net-neutrality-investigating-fraud-fcc-comment-site

State buys Niagara Falls waterfront property it wants developed

A one-acre lot across the Niagara River from Goat Island has become the first acquisition under Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's plan to buy vacant properties in Niagara Falls and open them to redevelopment.

USA Niagara Development Corp. intends to seek proposals from developers and does not plan to hold onto the lot at 305 Buffalo Ave. for more than two years.

USA Niagara, the local arm of Empire State Development, obtained money from the state's Buffalo Billion II fund to pay $850,000 for the lot. The fund includes $24 million to buy Niagara Falls properties.

"The purchase of 305 Buffalo Ave. is our first acquisition and is a unique parcel of land with its adjacency to Niagara Falls State Park and the upper Niagara River," according to a USA Niagara statement. "It is our goal to catalyze a development that is consistent with the current zoning regulations as well as physical and visual public access to the overlook and down to the river in perpetuity."

Read more: http://buffalonews.com/2017/11/22/state-buys-niagara-falls-waterfront-property-it-wants-developed/

400 professors boycott University of Rochester, urging students not to attend

Hundreds of professors are urging their students not to apply to the University of Rochester, a private research university in western New York. The boycott comes after allegations that Florian Jaeger, a professor in the brain and cognitive science department, preyed on female students. Eight current and former Rochester researchers filed an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against the university in September for what they viewed as the administration's failure to adequately protect its students.

Signatories of the boycott letter, posted online last week, said they “cannot in good conscience encourage our students to pursue educational or employment opportunities at the University of Rochester.” More than 400 professors and instructors from around the world have signed the document. The letter's authors delivered it to two board of trustees members Monday.

“We, as academics, engage in ongoing promotion of other institutions all the time. It's part of our jobs,” said Robin Panneton, a psychology professor at Virginia Tech and one of the letter's four co-authors. Professors often write letters of recommendation and suggest which graduate or postdoctoral programs their students might apply to.

Educators also advise students to steer clear of certain institutions. “There's nothing about this letter that isn't already ongoing all the time,” Panneton said.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/11/22/400-professors-boycott-university-of-rochester-urging-students-not-to-attend/

Western New York library selling off valuable art collection to pay bills

JAMESTOWN, N.Y. (AP) -- A western New York library plans to put more of its valuable art collection up for auction, a move that has drawn opposition from some of the organization's supporters.

The New York Times reports the James Prendergast Library in Jamestown is selling nine paintings at Sotheby's European art sale on Tuesday. The paintings being auctioned include 19th-century works that the auction house estimates could sell for a total of up to $1.2 million.

Library officials say the local landmark named for the grandson of Jamestown's founder needs to sell most of its art collection in order to pay the bills.

Six other paintings from the library's collection were sold by Sotheby's last month, bringing in more than $300,000.

Read more: http://www.syracuse.com/state/index.ssf/2017/11/western_ny_library_selling_off_valuable_art_collection_to_pay_bills.html

Schumer pushes legislation to protect thousands of CNYers facing pension cuts

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is fighting for Teamsters from Central New York and thousands more across the state and country who have suffered pension cuts and are at a risk of losing more of their retirements savings.

The New York State Teamsters Conference Pension Fund was supposed to pay out an average of $5,000 per month for a retiree with 30 years of service, but earlier this year retirees found that their pension payments would be cut by about 30 percent.

Schumer, D-N.Y., spoke with dozens of members of Teamster Local 317 in Syracuse Wednesday afternoon about proposed legislation that would avoid additional pension cuts in the future and possible reverse past cuts.

Al and Carol Meagley, of Syracuse, are just one of the 7,000 Local 317 retirees that has been hit hard by the cut. They have lost $1,000 a month since the cut went through in September.

Read more: http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2017/11/schumer_seeks_legisltation_to_help_thousands_of_cnyers_facing_pension_cuts.html

Upper Hudson River still too contaminated with PCBs to be declared clean

Albany, N.Y. -- New York state says the Upper Hudson River is still contaminated with PCBs and that General Electric should remove more contaminated sediment.

General Electric has asked the federal Environmental Protection Agency to rule that the cleanup is done. The state's Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos this week asked the EPA to deny that request and to force GE to do more cleanup.

"The Hudson River is a national historic treasure and we cannot let the PCB contamination persist any longer," Seggos said in a news release. "It's clear from the state's ongoing research that EPA's job is not done and they cannot declare that this remediation is complete."

Seggos said the state will "explore all legal options" if the EPA declares the cleanup complete.

Read more: http://www.syracuse.com/news/index.ssf/2017/11/upper_hudson_river_cleanup_pcb_contamination_new_york_dec_epa_cuomo.html

New York's top court spurns strip club's latest bid for sales-tax exemption

The state’s top court apparently cannot “bare” to hear another legal argument from a Latham strip joint on the state taxing its admission fees.

At least not yet.

The Court of Appeals, which includes the seven most powerful robes in New York, rejected the bid from Nite Moves – a club on Route 9 that features dancers who are decidedly disrobed.

But an attorney for Nite Moves explained the rejection by the Court of Appeals appeared to be procedural.

Call it naked ambition, but he remained optimistic.

Read more: http://blog.timesunion.com/capitol/archives/278879/new-yorks-top-court-spurns-strip-clubs-latest-bid-for-sales-tax-exemption/

Despite no vote, DCCC aims tax bill ads at Faso

U.S. Rep. John Faso voted no on the House Republican tax reform bill last week, but that isn’t stopping the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee from targeting him with a series of new ads.

The social media ads, part of a nationwide campaign in a number of Republican districts, call out “John Faso’s Republican Congress” for approving the controversial GOP tax bill. They will feature local news coverage about the bill.

The ads will appear on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Also targeted in New York are Reps. Dan Donovan of Staten Island (who like Faso voted against the bill), Claudia Tenney, John Katko and Chris Collins (all of whom voted yes), according to Roll Call.

Read more: http://blog.timesunion.com/capitol/archives/278889/despite-no-vote-dccc-aims-tax-bill-ads-at-faso/

Federal court ruling expected on Texas abortion law

A ruling is expected Wednesday on a federal court challenge to a new Texas law that would limit second-trimester abortions.

A temporary restraining order blocking Texas from enforcing the law expires Wednesday evening.

U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel of Austin presided over a five-day trial earlier this month on the law, which requires fetal demise before an abortion doctor can begin a dilation and evacuation procedure, the most common form of abortion after the 15th week of pregnancy.

Lawyers for abortion providers say the law requires patients to receive untested, invasive and risky procedures to attempt fetal demise by injecting toxins into the fetus via a 4-inch needle inserted through the abdomen or vagina.

Read more: http://www.statesman.com/news/happening-today-federal-court-ruling-expected-texas-abortion-law/asyOjiaXJ9UQZXBlyIhe3L/
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