February, 2016
The Constitution cuts both ways

The Constitution cuts both ways

I am not a legal philosopher  but I love the expression that “the law is either a sword or a shield.”

It really applies to the current presidential primary contests and how the candidates pick and choose which parts of the U.S. Constitution they think applies to their argument and which sections should be ignored.

The hands-down winner of the most recited  section of the Constitution is the Second Amendment which guarantees that every citizen shall have the” right to bear arms.”

Any voter who suggests any form of gun control is met with a condemnation that they are infringing on the Second Amendment.

Even though opinion polls show that eight-five percent of Americans favor restrictions on giving gun permits to people who have mental illnesses, the pro- gun candidates say not.


Bernie Sanders: the second coming of George McGovern?

Bernie Sanders: the second coming of George McGovern?

There’s no doubt that the 2016 campaign for president has turned into a classic brawl, and neither major political party may ever be the same after Election Day. The Republicans are saddled with a few candidates who, if chosen, could lead to the splintering of the party for many years to come. And the Democratic contest, reminiscent of past struggles between the left and the right, has the potential to weaken the party indefinitely.

There aren’t too many people still around who remember the campaigns of Republican Barry Goldwater and Democrat George McGovern, both of which caused long-term harm to their respective parties. Goldwater’s campaign succeeded in breaking up a Republican party that had been strong and unified for years. That led, in 1964, to the election of Democrat Lyndon Johnson, which rocked the Republican establishment.

Goldwater was chosen by the party’s right wing, which controlled the convention that year. Goldwater was very much like today’s Ted Cruz and Donald Trump, whose agendas are too extreme for moderates to swallow. Running under the slogan “In your heart, you know he’s right,” Goldwater was determined to ramp up America’s military machine and be ready for war at the drop of a hat. One of the classic political commercials of all time was the one put together by the Democrats, with a little girl picking daisy petals until the end, when a nuclear bomb detonated. The theme was simple: Goldwater was on the verge of destroying the country.

The current Republican campaign is a battle for the soul of the party, with almost all of the candidates trying to win the label “most conservative.” Because primary contests have little connection to reality, the party could wind up with a nominee who would drag the party down to another epic defeat.


Click to Read the Full Article @ LI Herald

Kremer Meets with Speaker Heastie

Kremer Meets with Speaker Heastie

Former New York State Assemblyman, Jerry Kremer on a recent Albany visit, connected with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie in the Assembly Chamber.

New York State Budget Hearings – Economic Development

New York State Budget Hearings – Economic Development

On Tuesday, February 2, 2016, the Senate Finance Committee and the Assembly Ways and Means Committee held the eighth of 13 Joint Legislative Budget Hearings.

Senate Finance Committee Chair Catharine M. Young and Assembly Ways and Means Committee Chair Herman D. Farrell, Jr. opened the hearing to discuss portions of the 2016-2017 proposed executive budget concerning economic development.

The following members of the Assembly were in attendance: Robert C. Oaks, Robin L. Schimminger, Raymond Walker, Fred W. Thiele, J. Gary Pretlow, Michael P. Kearns, Steve McLaughlin, Walter Mosley, Rodneyse Bichotte, and Diane Richardson.

Members of the Senate in attendance were as follows: Liz Krueger, Diane J. Savino, Timothy M. Kennedy, Martin J. Golden, and John J. Bonacic.

Howard Zemsky, Commissioner for the New York State Department of Economic Development and President and CEO of Empire State Development

He highlighted several initiatives outlined in the Governor’s proposal including:

  • $200 million for upstate revitalization projects;
  • $100 million for downtown revitalization projects; and
  • $50 million for tourism projects.

During his testimony, several issues were covered by the legislators such as RESTORE NY; I Love NY; START-UP NY; the Buffalo Billion; and the minimum wage.

Sen. Bonacic wanted to know why RESTORE NY funding had been eliminated when it had previously been allocated $25 million. Zemsky stated that most of the funding went unused since a majority of the projects involved did not get off the ground. He wanted to ensure that the money would be .put to good use in other programs.

Assemblymen Schimminger and Thiele both inquired about the status of START-UP NY and the number of jobs and businesses it had supported. Zemsky did say that approximately 157 businesses were involved in the program, but could not provide additional data. He did praise the program for focusing on innovation and .planting the seeds for the future economy.

Senator Kennedy asked for an update pertaining to the Buffalo Billion and Zemsky stated that about $900 million had been used or guaranteed for future projects.

Assemblyman Pretlow asked how the Regional Economic Development Councils’ spending of $3 billion had helped create jobs and retain them. Zemsky believed that the council had created 200,000 jobs since its birth and would get back to the Assemblyman with further data. Pretlow also inquired about I Love NY, asking whether the ESDC was exploring ways to advertise in states such as California. Zemsky answered by saying that the state’s tourism is the envy of many other states and that they would look into expanding advertising in other locations.

Senator Young wanted clarification on how the $85 million for various economic development program costs would be spent. Zemsky said that the main focus will be on business opportunities, attraction, and retention. Senator Young and Zemsky both agreed that these funds would be used as a contingency fund to be used when necessary. She also asked about the number of MWBE applications and how many were rejected. Zemsky stated that thousands of applications are submitted while 40%-60% are refused for numerous reasons. He promised to provide the legislature with the proper statistics on how funds were being utilized.

Senator Krueger urged the department to become more transparent and provide detailed statistics and data about programs, the number of jobs created, and costs. Zemsky argued that most of this data was available to be viewed on the department’s website, but would look into providing more information for interested parties.

Assemblyman Walker asked Zemsky if he had reached out to small businesses to discuss the impact of the minimum wage increase. Zemsky said he had not done so at this point in time, but believed small businesses would be able to handle the increase since it would be implemented gradually and those who receive an increase in their wages would spend more, bolstering the local economy. Walker disagreed.

Vice President of Government Affairs for the Business Council of New York State, Inc. Ken Pokalsky

Mr. Pokalsky argued that the minimum wage increase would cost small business $15.7 billion at full implementation in 2021.

Brian McMahon, executive director for the NYS Economic Development Council, and Michael Stamm, president and CEO for Tompkins County Area Development

Both men argued against the competitive downtown revitalization project that would award $100 million to 10 municipalities. They argued that this would be wiser to do away with the competition and spread the funds across the state. Stamm also voiced concern about the raise in the minimum wage and the impact it would have on small companies who have to pay salaries along with the costs of training employees due to the absence of a skilled workforce.

VP of Government and Community Affairs for the Associated Medical Schools of NY Ross A. Frommer

Mr. Frommer asked that the legislature consider allocating $50 million for the NY First program that helps to fund the Faculty Development Program. These funds would allow scientific researchers to stay in NY and perform their research in local communities rather than in other states.

Jan Chesterson, president of the NYS Hospitality and Tourism Association

Ms. Chesterson requested that I Love NY, Market NY, and Taste NY all be maintained in this year’s budget. She also voiced her opposition to the minimum wage initiative.

New York State Director of the Council for a Stronger America Jean O’Connor

Ms. O’Connor requested that the budget include funding for background checks for childcare workers. She argued that if this provision is not included in the budget, these workers would have to pay the $100 cost themselves despite the fact that many do not earn over $16,000 a year. When asked about the minimum wage initiative, she stated that she supported raising the minimum wage, but found it more important to provide a ladder for childcare workers enabling them to have a means of promotion instead of remaining stagnant.

Scott Wexler, executive Director for the Empire State Restaurant and Tavern Association

Mr. Wexler followed Ms. O’Connor’s theme on the minimum wage increase and asked that the legislature focus on reforming and updating the Alcohol Beverage Control Law.