A candidate for alderman is keeping silent on her motivations for a freedom of information request she submitted last week to the City of Hornell.
Amy Mikolajczyk, an alderman candidate in Hornell’s 1st Ward, foiled city hall twice last week, chasing financial information from the past five years and the billing records for the Hornell ambulance.
In her first foil request, Mikolajczyk asked for copies of the city’s check registers, cash receipts, cash disbursements, and billing records for the Hornell ambulance over the past five years, and a copy of the bank signature cards.
“No comment. I have questions. I’m not going to say,” said Mikolajczyk when asked why she was foiling for the information.
The city responded with a letter, quoting Mikolajczyk with a price of $.25 per page, which the city is allowed to charge, according to Robert Freeman, executive director for the State Committee on Open Government. The combined requests would equal a minimum of 16,000 pages. The city requested a check of $4,375 to pay for the copies before work started on her request.
The letter also said answering the request would take six months. Freeman said larger requests of smaller municipalities can lead to a self-imposed deadline of longer than 20 days for the information to be provided.
Freeman also pointed out that the need to redact the identification of patients in all medical forms would put an added burden on the city in terms of time devoted to fulfilling Mikolajczyk’s request.
Read the entire article
Lawmakers get a base salary of $79,500 plus stipends of $165 for every day they spend at the Capitol, but some have done more legislating from Albany than others this year, a review of state records shows.
In the Assembly, seven legislators were absent for 10 or more of the 60 session days held between January and June. Two of them tied for being out the most — 22 days: Gary Finch, R-Union Springs, Cayuga County, and Thomas Kirwan, R-Newburgh, Orange County. Assemblyman William Boyland, D-Brooklyn, missed 20 days.
The senator with the most absences, out 14 of the 64 session days, or 22 percent, was Sen. Thomas Duane, D-Manhattan, because of hip-replacement surgery. Three other senators were out for 10 or more days. Of the 11 senators who had four or more absences, only two were Republicans — Patrick Gallivan of Depew, Erie County, and Owen Johnson of Suffolk County, who had four each.
While there are valid reasons not to attend a session, such as illness, family emergencies and an occasional outside work commitment, people who elect lawmakers anticipate they will be in Albany to represent constituents, said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause/NY.
Read the entire article
Fremont, N.Y. — A former Fremont Town Court justice was arrested Wednesday on charges he embezzled money from the court.
Bret J. Carver, 53, of Hornell, was charged Wednesday with a single count of first-degree falsifying business records, a class E felony. He was arraigned in Bath Village Court and jailed on $5,000 cash bail.
The single charge is related to an incident in August 2010 when an unidentified person pleaded guilty to a traffic ticket in Fremont Town Court and paid a $190 fine. Carver allegedly pocketed the money and filed a report stating the ticket had been dismissed.
An investigation by the Steuben County Sheriff’s Office found several other similar instances when Carver allegedly stole money from the court, primarily from traffic fines. The evidence has been forwarded to the Steuben County District Attorney’s Office, and additional charges and arrests are expected.
Carver was elected town justice in 2006 and was re-elected in 2010. In January, he announced his resignation after admitting he sometimes failed to send fines to the state in a timely manner. His resignation was effective Feb. 8.
The sheriff’s office initiated its investigation three weeks ago. The district attorney’s office, the Office of Court Administration, the state Comptroller’s Office and the new Fremont town justice assisted in the investigation.
Lost in the commotion over Dan Maffei’s announcement the other night that he would be seeking to retake his old seat in NY-25, was the fact that there already is an announced Dem candidate, one that looks to be a far more progressive option than Maffei. Her name is Brianne Murphy and Howie Klein spoke to her recently. He had this to say:
Dan Maffei Wants To Take On Teabagger Ann Marie Buerkle Again… But First He Has To Persuade Democrats He Deserves Their Nomination
The other Democrat hoping for the nomination is Brianne Murphy, a 30 year old Syracuse labor attorney. Tom Buckel, who is considerably more progressive than Maffei, was thinking of running for the seat but decided to run for the state Supreme Court instead. Tom told me that Brianne has a compelling personal story. He was right. She’s an amazing, passionate candidate who is so lively, intellectually curious and animated that she makes Maffei seem like Mr. Potatohead. I spoke with her last night and my first impression was that she would make an incredible candidate against Buerkle. She told me that people across central New York are looking for “an advocate for their interests in Washington; and a fresh voice that isn’t beholden to any special interests.”
“Growing up in Syracuse, raised by a single mother who supported our family with a good, union job and with some help from the government, and now as an employment attorney, I know firsthand the challenges that working families in Central New York are facing.
Read the entire article
The state’s property tax cap will limit the growth in taxes to 2 percent for schools and local governments in 2012, the state Comptroller Office’s confirmed today.
The cap, signed into law in June, restricts the growth in the tax levy to 2 percent a year or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower. But according to Consumer Price Index figures used by the Comptroller’s Office, the rate of inflation is slightly more than 2 percent—so the cap amount will, in fact, be 2 percent.
This year, according to CPI estimates, the growth in property taxes would have been limited to about 1.6 percent.
The specific percentage has been eagerly anticipated by schools and local governments. They haven’t been sure how the state would calculate the rate of inflation and whether it would fall below 2 percent, making that cap even that much more restrictive.
The cap takes effect Jan. 1 for local governments and July 1 for schools, which is the start of the next school year.
A state panel today recommended phasing in a 27 percent pay raise for state judges over the next three years, which would give them their first salary increase in 12 years.
Under the state Special Commission on Judicial Pay’s plan, which will formally be released Monday, state Supreme Court judges will have their annual pay bumped up to $160,000 in April 2012, with $7,000 raises to follow in each of the following two years.
That salary would put them in line in 2014 with federal district court judges, who make $174,000 annually. State Supreme Court judges currently earn $136,700.
Other judges in the state courts system, such as county court judges, whose salaries range from $119,800 to $136,700, would see their salaries rise by the same percentage increase over the three years.
The commission approved the proposal by a 4-3 vote in a meeting in New York City today. The recommendations will be law unless the state Legislature decides to overturn the raises.
The new salaries would take effect April 1.
Read the entire article
A group of approximately 15 protesters gathered outside the office of Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-Syracuse) Thursday to call for an end to Tea Party Politics.
“What we need in this country are more jobs and we can have them with politics that cut spending for the lower 90 percent of people,” said Grania Marcus of Brighton.
She said that Buerkle has a reputation for her conservative voting record although she is not a registered member of the Tea Party, her vote against raising the debt ceiling earlier this month aligns her with their politics.
“Demand is what we need in the economy to expand job creation and not cuts,” said Marcus.
The group stood along Titus Avenue in Irondequoit holding signs and singing new lyrics to “The Tea Party’s Over,” a spoof of the popular Broadway showtune, “The Party’s Over.”
Buerkle was not in her office, but when the group moved inside to perform the song while a spokesperson stood listening.
On of the protesters was Dick Bolt of Brighton. When asked why he thought it was important to participate in the demonstration, his answer was simple.
“I oppose the Republican Tea Party agenda and I think its important to demonstrate how you feel.”
“If we want to change some things in Washington, we have to change some of the people,” said Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos.
Maragos is doing his part to change Washington by shaking hands at county fairs across the state and talking to political leaders as part of a run for the U.S. Senate.
The former businessman is seeking the seat currently occupied by two-term Sentator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who is up for re-election 2012 after being named by then Gov. David Patterson to take Hillary Clinton’s place when Clinton was named Secretary of State.
A primary could pit the first term comptroller against longtime conservative political consultant Jay Townsend of Cornwall-on-Hudson, according to Federal Election Commission filings. Townsend managed his first statewide political campaign more than 30 years ago, and has worked in four presidential campaigns.
Maragos counts himself as one of the people who could get the job done as a U.S. Senator, touting his business experience and ability to compromise.
“Washington is more dysfunctional now than it was four years ago,” he said. “I think I could be very instrumental in convincing people to take the right position.”
Read the entire article
The conservative DC-based group Heritage Action for America has released it’s scorecards for all members of Congress – and the top scoring member from New York is CNY Congresswoman Ann Marie Buerkle.
The House score is determined by 30 specific votes taken by members of Congress. They also looked at whether the member co-sponsored one of 5 bills. According to the press release, Heritage Action says the “votes cover the full spectrum of conservatism, and include legislative action on issues both large and small.”
“With each vote cast in Congress, freedom either advances or recedes,” Heritage Action’s CEO Michael A. Needham said. “Heritage Action’s scorecard will empower Americans to hold their Members of Congress accountable to conservative principles.”
Here is the list of how GOP House members from NY fared: (No Democrat scored better than 17%)
Rep. Buerkle – 80%
Rep. Hayworth – 61%
Rep. Reed – 60%
Rep. Gibson – 48%
Rep. Grimm – 44%
Rep. King – 44%
Democrat Dan Maffei, who lost re-election after one term in Congress by a margin of less than 700 votes, will again seek a seat in Congress in the Syracuse area.
Maffei was defeated in the 25th District in 2010 by Republican Ann Marie Buerkle, a former lawyer and nurse who is supported by the Tea Party.
The 25th District is based in Syracuse and includes Wayne County, Webster and parts of Irondequoit and Penfield, but it might not include Monroe County after the New York state Legislature draws new district lines in time for the 2012 election.
Maffei’s decision was expected — he had been emailing supporters since at least May to tell them he was considering the move. However, there is much uncertainty about what the current 25th District will turn into once new lines are established. Dramatic changes could be in the works, including the removal of an entire district from upstate New York.
Read the entire article