More Bad News at the Federal Level – Separation Policy, Supreme Court & More

June 29, 2018

This rapid-fire news this week has left many of us with political whiplash. Tuesday’s primary results, more disturbing revelations on the Trump Administration’s separation policy, along with the Janus decision and a new vacancy on the US Supreme Court made this a week that will have a lasting impact for New Yorkers. On Thursday, too, we were painfully reminded of the deadly consequence of the continued inaction on gun control at the federal level after the horrific mass shooting at the Capital Gazette in Annapolis - an attack on our free press.

New Bike Lanes in Guilderland. I commend the New York State Department of Transportation for their leadership in constructing new bike lanes and pedestrian infrastructure along Western Avenue in Guilderland. The $730,000 project began construction earlier this week and will be completed over the next month. The bike lanes will connect the area between the University at Albany, SUNY and Crossgates Mall and will make Stuyvesant Plaza more accessible to cyclists and pedestrians.

Supreme Court Vacancy. I joined WTEN’s Morgan McKay to discuss the new vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court after the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy was announced this week. I’m deeply concerned about what this vacancy and a potential Trump Administration appointee means for New York and much of the progress that has been made by the court over the past 40 years.

Janus Decision. I was also concerned this week about the Supreme Court’s Janus decision, which waives dues requirements for many public employees represented by unions. Unions raise the standard of living for all workers whether they are members or not, and requiring them to represent workers who refuse to pay dues serves to seriously undermine their major benefit to the working class if not threaten the very existence of public employee unions. I will continue to stand with my colleagues in the state legislature to defend labor rights at the state level wherever possible.

WAMC Story on Immigrants Held in Albany County Jail. I’ve been closely following the story of immigrants being detained in Albany Countywide Jail. These detainees are considered “low-levels offenders” and not members of separated families and I believe that in Albany they will be treated well particularly with receiving critical legal services; however, I would be remiss if I did not voice my overall concerns about any participation in the President’s immigration crackdown at all.

Governor Announces New FOIL Rules. Governor Cuomo on Tuesday announced the launch of Open FOIL NY, a new website that provides easy and unparalleled access to public records in New York. Open FOIL NY is a convenient and centralized online location to file Freedom of Information Law requests with 59 New York State agencies and public authorities. For the first time in New York, the public has a uniform method to submit requests for government records through a single website. In addition, New York is the first state in the nation to provide an open-access records request webform that allows the requester to select multiple state agencies for a single records request. I’m glad to see the Governor extend this commitment to transparency.

Community Updates

Summer Celebration and Safety Day. Join me for the Albany City School District’s Summer Celebration and Safety Day on Saturday, July 21 at Krank Park in Albany’s South End. The event – held in partnership with Mohawk Ambulance Service will be held from 11AM until 3 PM, rain or shine.

This will be the eighth year the school district has sponsored Summer Celebration. The event is free and open to the public. It features a picnic-style cookout, music, fun, face painting, the Krank Park water park and much more.

In addition, they expect more than two dozen community organizations will attend the event and provide information and giveaways to families.

Refugee Voices Symposium. RISSE will be holding a Refugee Voices Symposium on Monday, July 2nd at 7:00 PM at the Community Hall at Albany Unitarian Universalist Society located at 405 Washington Avenue in Albany.

Featured panelists will include Rifat Filkins (Pakistan), Francis Sengabo (Rwanda), Muthana Alkhazraji (Iraq), Ali Amjadi (Sudan), Larissa Temofeevaand (Russia) and Lily Htoo (Mammary, via Thailand). The panel will be moderated by Seth Leach from Whiteman Osterman & Hanna. Reserve your free seat here.

Register Voters with the League of Women Voters. The League of Women Voters of NYS has once again secured an exhibit space at the New York State Fair to register voters and provide voting information! In 2016 they registered nearly 1,000 voters and assisted thousands more by distributing voter education materials and absentee ballot applications. This year this great nonpartisan organization wants to beat that record and help even more voters get registered! The State Fair is held in Syracuse from August 27 through September 3 and is open every day from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm, and the LWV will provide entrance for the days you’re willing to help.

Invasive Species Awareness Week. The Albany Pine Bush Preserve will host a series of programs as part of New York State’s Invasive Species Awareness Week, July 8 - 14, 2018. Invasive Species Awareness Week is an annual educational campaign coordinated by the Invasive Species Council, the Invasive Species Advisory Committee, the eight PRISMs (Partnerships for Regional Invasive Species Management), and their partner organizations. The Commission will kick off the week with the Pine Bush Invasive Species Awareness hike on Sunday July 8, 2018 1:00pm at the Discovery Center. This program will be a chance to learn about some of the invasive species here in the Albany Pine Bush Preserve and how to report them. For more information and to make reservations for a program visit the Albany Pine Bush Web site. Reservations are required.

TU Jobs Fair! The Times Union will be hosting their annual job fair on Tuesday, July 10th from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. at the Albany Marriot, 189 Wolf Road, Albany, NY. Bring a hard copy of your resume to have it scanned for free. All participating companies will receive a copy of resumes within a week. To register for the job fair visit the Times Union Job Fair Web site.

As always, for the latest news or for upcoming events, please visit my office online, on Facebook, on Twitter, or my Times Union blog. If you would like to reach my office, please feel free to send us a note, or give us a call at (518) 455-4178.