The Journal News: "Nonprofits heap praise on legislature's budget adds"
Nonprofits heap praise on legislature's budget adds (The Journal News)
...Monday, during adds day, legislators also moved to add back parks curators and positions in the department of public works and the county executive's office. Many of the social program adds were small in the context of the larger budget — $1.7 million for health services for children with special needs, $400,000 for senior programs, $132,000 for youth bureau staffing, $145,000 for the Invest in Kids program, among others.
David Sachs, a professor at Pace University, works on the Telehealth Intervention Program for Seniors, which screens seniors for health issues and forwards any issues to caregivers and physicians. He said the program was on the verge of expanding into other states. The legislature added $220,000 in funding for the program.
"It could be a national model and I think that's good for Westchester," Sachs said. “I think you should be proud of what you’ve done so far. I think you should continue to do it.”
The legislature has until the end of the year to approve a new budget. Tuesday, Astorino said he would not support a budget with any tax hikes.
Should he veto the budget, and the legislature does not have the 12 votes to overturn his veto, County Executive Elect George Latimer would enter office with the 2017 budget rolled over into 2018.
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The Hudson Independent: "Local Experts Outline Challenges Associated with Indian Point Shutdown"
Local Experts Outline Challenges Associated with Indian Point Shutdown (The Hudson Independent)
The title of the November 8th panel discussion at the Pace University School of Law was clearly worded to get the public’s attention—as well as to draw an audience: “How will all the lights stay on when Indian Point closes?”
As it turned out, that question was relatively easy to answer. More difficult were questions about the economic and environmental hurdles that must be overcome between now and April 2021, when the second of the two nuclear reactors is scheduled to shut down for good. Under the agreement announced last January and signed by New York State, the environmental group Riverkeeper and Entergy, the energy giant that owns the facility in Buchanan, NY, the first reactor will go dormant a year earlier, in 2020.
Leading off the panel was Michael DuLong, Riverkeeper’s principal negotiator for the agreement. He recapped the rationale for closing the two reactors, which were built in the mid-1970s and have produced some 2,000 megawatts of power annually since. Over the years, however, the plant site has accumulated 1,500 tons of spent fuel rods. Leaked radioactive tritium and strontium have formed plumes out into the Hudson. Each year, an estimated one billion fish have been killed either by being sucked into the plant’s huge water filters or by the water heat generated by the plant.
Mechanical failures have plagued the reactors over the years as well. Inspections have uncovered corroded baffle bolts that keep the reactor vessels pressurized. A transformer exploded in 2015. Critics say the plant’s security plan is inadequate, leaving it vulnerable to attack by air or from the river, and, as DuLong repeated, “there is no credible plan to evacuate the 20 million people who live within a 50-mile radius.” Moreover, said DuLong, Entergy “did not want to do what was needed to make it safe.”
As for replacing the 2,000 megawatts of power lost due to the closing, DuLong and other panelists were in agreement that New York State has the wherewithal to bring in more than enough electricity through a combination of transmission upgrades, greater use of renewable energy sources and increased efficiency.
Fully half of the replacement mega-wattage is expected to come via the Champlain Hudson Extension, a transmission link that will bring power generated by dams in Quebec down the Hudson Valley to the New York metropolitan area. The anticipated start date for the construction of that linkage, which is now fully permitted, is 2019. Pending negotiations with suppliers and utilities, it could begin providing power to this area in 2022. New York State claims that, all told, it has 4,600 megawatts poised to come on line, though DuLong cautioned that a significant piece of that comes from anticipated natural gas production.
To help put Indian Point’s capacity in perspective, panelist Karl D. Rabago, Executive Director of Pace’s Energy and Climate Center, noted that the two reactors represent a small percentage of the state’s overall capacity, albeit the equivalent of 25% of the demand by New York City and Westchester County. “But if it shut down now,” he observed, “we would not have to unscrew one out of four light bulbs.”
The key, said Rabago, with agreement from other panelists, is not just in adding capacity but also in increasing efficiency. Currently, New York State is improving its energy efficiency by only half a percent a year, where the goal is two percent. By contrast, Massachusetts has been improving by three percent annually.
One way efficiency is being achieved is through Combined Heat and Power systems which bring together the production of building heat with that of building electricity, where they have traditionally been generated separately. According to Rabago, New York State has the potential to realize nearly 7,000 megawatts of savings by combining heat and power, mostly in large buildings like hospitals, factories and office buildings.
The legislature in Albany is currently fashioning a bill that would mandate 0.4% annual energy savings by utilities across the state. Separately, New York City has legislation pending that would require old buildings to retrofit their heating and power systems as well as meet higher efficiency standards for all new buildings.
Most of the savings, Rabago emphasized, will come from individuals and communities adopting energy-saving practices. Savings will be achieved, he says, “one window, one furnace, one house at a time.”
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Patch: "Sustainable Development Conference Targets Local Governments"
Sustainable Development Conference Targets Local Governments (Patch)
The Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University is pleased to announce the 16th annual Alfred B. DelBello Land Use and Sustainable Development Conference. The theme of this year's event will focus on the ways in which local governments are overcoming challenges and finding solutions that target new ways to plan, regulate, and design communities. The conference will be held on Thursday, December 7that Pace Law starting at 9 a.m..
"The Land Use Law Center leads the nation in educating local land use leaders– providing research, training and strategic planning to communities around the region," said David Yassky, Dean of Pace Law. "The Alfred B. DelBello Land Use and Sustainable Development Conference allows this important work to reach an even broader audience of policy makers and officials as tackle issues of smart growth, zoning and urban planning."
"This year's conference will bring together more than 200 attorneys, business professionals, and local leaders to learn about national, regional, and local innovations and best practices," said Professor John Nolon, Distinguished Professor of Law and Of Counsel for the Land Use Law Center. "We are proud that the Land Use Law Center annually convenes thought leaders, policy makers and attorneys to confront the challenges we face as we work to create more sustainable communities."
The Land Use Law Center has worked with its Conference Board of Advisors—comprising local and national leaders in the field—to develop a conference program that will showcase innovative best practices in land use and sustainable development. The morning keynote speaker is Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America. Named by Partners for Livable Communities as "One of the 100 Most Influential Leaders in Sustainable Community Planning and Development," Mr. Anderson helped to found the smart growth movement as one of the authors of the foundational 10 smart growth principles. Also joining the conference this year as the luncheon keynote presenter will be Barry Svigals, FAIA, Partner Emeritus, Svigals + Partners, a Connecticut-based architect whose approach brings to life architecture that is uniquely connected to the purpose, place and people for whom it is created and who recognizes that the built environment is the end result of a collaborative process of creative engagement..
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Daily Voice: "Cybersecurity Dog Shows Off Skills At Pace"
Cybersecurity Dog Shows Off Skills At Pace (Daily Voice)
PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. -- Cybercriminals beware. Harley the Cybersecurity Dog is on the case.
Harley, a 2-year-old labrador retriever, was at Pace University on Thursday with handler Brett Hochran from the FBI New York Field Office to show off her sleuthing skills.
Harley, who graduated from the police academy in August after 12 weeks of training, is trained to sniff out devices like chip cards, USB devices, sim cards, flash drives, and hard drives that cybercriminals might try to hide as evidence. The scent from those devices has been imprinted on Harley and when it's time to work, she goes around the room with her nose to the ground. When she finds a device, she sits and looks at Hochran, who rewards her with food.
"She did a great job," Hochran said. "We've really bonded. We've done eight searches, ranging from the FB to the Secret Service."
Harley, who was given to the FBI by Guiding Eyes, is one of nine dogs with the ability to sniff out cyber devices. A cybercrime dog was able to find the hard drive that sent Subway's Jared Fogle to prison for possession of child pornography.
"These are not small crimes," Hochran said. "They are often crimes in the millions of dollars."
Hochran said Harley can also find parts of a device even it's blown up or burnt.
"A lot of these crimes would go unsolved without these dogs," Hochran said.
When she's not on the case, Hochran said Harley enjoys cuddling. He joked he has not yet used her to find his cell phone.
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Crain's New York Business: "Is college worth it? The numbers say yes—especially in New York"
Is college worth it? The numbers say yes—especially in New York (Crain's New York Business)
President Krislov published an op-ed in "Crain's New York Business" on higher education as the best path forward and New York as the best place to earn a college degree.
"Is college worth it? The numbers say yes—especially in New York"
At a time when some leading voices are questioning the very purpose of college, and a recent Gallup poll found that nearly 60% of American adults have little confidence in higher education, it is more important than ever to look at the data—which prove that education is the best path forward.
A recent list of top colleges in the Chronicle of Higher Education provides vivid evidence that higher education is the ticket to economic mobility and that New York could easily be dubbed the higher education capital of the nation, as it is clearly the place to be for a college education that catapults one to a better life. The list is based on data from the Equality of Opportunity Project’s study “Mobility Report Cards: The Role of Colleges in Intergenerational Mobility” (Chetty, Friedman, Saez, Turner, and Yagan, 2017). The study compared the median parent household income for students at colleges and universities across the country with the earnings these same students achieved years after graduation.
New York is a national leader in this arena. An impressive six of the top 10 private four-year institutions for economic mobility are located in the state, while seven CUNY campuses rank in the top 10 four-year public colleges. All New Yorkers can be proud of living in an area that delivers high-quality education that results in lucrative jobs after graduation, creating real economic opportunity. And I am deeply proud that among four-year private institutions, Pace University ranked first in the nation for creating upward economic mobility—and thus a brighter future— for its students, many of whom hail from underrepresented communities or are the first in their families to go to college.
The study’s findings did not come as a surprise to those of us who know the New York institutions on the list, where core values include keeping the doors of opportunity open for all and preparing graduates to succeed in their careers and make a difference in their communities.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, median annual earnings for Americans lacking a high-school degree amounts to $25,636 while the unemployment rate for the same population is 8%, the highest of any of the educational categories. Workers with a high-school diploma achieve a median income of $35,256 per year and an unemployment rate of 5.4%. Americans with a bachelor’s degree have a median annual income of $59,124 and 2.8% unemployment.
Median annual earnings continue to rise with advanced and professional degrees. In 2012, New York residents with a bachelor's or post-graduate degree earned a median annual income of approximately $70,700, which ranks among the highest in the nation, the New York Building Congress reported in 2014.
While these statistics paint a clear picture of the economic benefits of a college education, the full value of that education goes well beyond dollars and cents. College prepares students to succeed with not only the vocational skills to earn a good living but with the curiosity, adaptability and inclination to respond effectively to the changes and challenges they will face throughout their lives.
The economy of New York is driven by natives and newcomers alike. Many have come here to realize the American Dream and found much success. Many of those who come to New York to set themselves on a path to success are college students. With close to 600,000 university students in the five boroughs attending 105 colleges and universities, New York is a college town.
Higher education in New York is a driving force—an economic engine of opportunity for businesses, students, employers and graduates who stay and work in the city. New York's higher education institutions contributed an estimated $7.5 billion to gross city product in 2012. Investments of colleges and universities in New York have greatly contributed to the city's ability to attract, develop and retain a more educated population and workforce than the nation as a whole. And few states do more to support students seeking college degrees than New York, the Building Congress also found.
But more can be done to solidify New York's lofty status. The city and state should promote and leverage New York City’s strength in this area to attract more students and future leaders to New York. There also needs to be robust dialogue between leaders in higher education and employers so that colleges and universities consistently meet the changing needs of today’s workforce. And we need to reshape the conversation around higher education, starting with key voices in government and business, recognizing the proven transformative power of education and of a college degree.
The Chronicle study is a vital reminder that a college degree remains the most powerful means of achieving the American Dream and that New York is the best place to do so.
Marvin Krislov is president of Pace University.
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WalletHub: "2017’s Best Charities to Donate to – Holidays & Beyond"
2017’s Best Charities to Donate to – Holidays & Beyond (WalletHub)
Roughly 77% of Americans plan to make a charitable donation by the end of 2017. That’s up from 74% in 2016, when the average household doled out nearly $3,000 for a total of $390 billion in U.S. giving, according to Charity Navigator. And since a significant portion of all charitable donations are made in the month of December, this holiday season looks particularly promising for the countless noble causes in need of support.
’Tis the season for generosity, indeed. But no one wants their money to go to waste. So it’s fair to wonder which charity will make the best use of your donation.
To help you maximize your impact without jeopardizing your financial health, WalletHub’s editors compared more than 100 of the most prominent U.S. charities based on their financial performance, transparency and popularity. And we identified the best organization to donate to for each of the most popular causes.
Here are the best charities:
|Best For…||Charity Name||WalletHub Score (out of 100)|
|Veterans||Fisher House Foundation||98|
|Human Services||Rotary Foundation of Rotary International||95|
|Community Development||The Y (National Office)||94|
|Health||Partners in Health||93|
|Child-Abuse Prevention||Prevent Child Abuse America (National Office)||93|
|International Affairs||Direct Relief||93|
|The Environment||Waterkeeper Alliance||91|
|Homelessness||National Alliance to End Homelessness||90|
|Religion||United Methodist Committee on Relief||87|
|Hunger||Action Against Hunger-USA||86|
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Encyclopedia Britannnica Advocacy for Animals: "Illinois and New York Pass First Statewide Bans on the Use of Elephants in Entertainment"
Illinois and New York Pass First Statewide Bans on the Use of Elephants in Entertainment (Encyclopedia Britannnica Advocacy for Animals)
As public sentiment continues to turn against forcing wild animals to perform in entertainment acts, a flurry of new legislation has been enacted across the U.S. that reflects this attitude change. Although several cities and counties have passed legislation prohibiting wild animal performances, Illinois recently enacted the first statewide ban on the use of elephants in traveling acts. New York soon followed suit, becoming the second state to prohibit the use of elephants in entertainment acts.
Illinois’s SB 1342, signed by Governor Bruce Rauner in August 2017 and effective January 1, 2018, amends the state’s Criminal Code to make it unlawful to use an elephant in a traveling act, defined as any “undertaking where animals are require to perform tricks, give rides, or act as accompaniments for entertainment, amusement , or benefit of a live audience.” The new section reads:
A person commits unlawful use of an elephant in a traveling animal act when he or she knowingly allows for the participation of an African elephant (Loxodonta Africana) or Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) protected under the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 in a traveling animal act. (c) This Section does not apply to an exhibition of elephants at a non-mobile, permanent institution, or other facility. (d) Sentence. Unlawful use of an elephant in a traveling animal act is a Class A misdemeanor.
Soon after, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo signed New York’s SB 2098B, also known as the “Elephant Protection Act,” into law on October 19, 2017. It amends the state’s Agriculture and Markets Law and its Environmental Conservation Law to prohibit the use of elephants in entertainment acts. The New York law does not specifying “traveling” acts but expressly exempts accredited zoos and aquariums. It takes effect in two years. In contrast to the Illinois law, which makes violation a Class A misdemeanor, the New York law provides a civil penalty of up to $1,000 for each violation because offenses against animals are not part of New York’s Penal Code.
The legislation was drafted by undergraduate students in Pace University’s Environmental Policy Clinic, who also lobbied for its passage and collected student signatures in support of the bill. Several New York chapters of the Student Animal Legal Defense Fund submitted letters in support of the bill to Governor Cuomo over the summer.
New York’s law contains a strongly worded “legislative findings” section that clearly enumerates the many problems faced by elephants used in entertainment performances, concluding not only that New York should use its authority to help protect elephants but also that prohibiting their use in entertainment is in the state’s best interest. It reads:
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The Wall Street Journal: "When Private Property Rights Collide With Public Goals in New York"
When Private Property Rights Collide With Public Goals in New York (The Wall Street Journal)
Bobby and Tamar Ben-Simon thought they had found the perfect site to build a new family home.
The couple had planned to tear down the sprawling but dilapidated stucco house in White Plains, N.Y., and build a home that would be a gathering point for their children, most of whom are grown, and future grandchildren, said Mr. Ben-Simon. The 4.3-acre property at 283 Soundview Ave. is next door to a synagogue, a convenient walk for family members during the holidays, he said.
But for the last two years, those plans have been on hold as the Ben-Simons have grappled with a new government body standing in their way.
When the couple signed the contract to buy the home in January 2015, Mr. Ben-Simon said, their research turned up no obstacles. But after closing on the house in August 2015 they learned the city had enacted a preservation law three months earlier and launched a commission. Almost two months after they closed the deal, the ramshackle house they had purchased to knock down and replace was on a swift path to being designated a historic landmark.
The White Plains Historic Preservation Commission sees the 1920 house as a significant, intact example of a beaux-arts architectural style and one of the few buildings in the city some 30 miles north of Manhattan that embodies the characteristics of a classic manor house built for the wealthy.
The homeowners disagree.
“It’s a basic stucco house with no special features, not even nice stone work,” said Mr. Ben-Simon, a builder of luxury single-family homes. “It’s just a plain stucco house.”
Now the couple is petitioning in state supreme court in White Plains to overturn the designation. They allege the city has disregarded their property rights and carried out the landmark law in a way that was at times secretive and confrontational and was always headed toward a predetermined outcome.
Requests for comment from members of the city’s Historic Preservation Commission as well as the mayor were referred to the city attorney, who declined to comment on pending litigation. In court documents, the city has asserted that the commission followed a preservation law crafted over several years that was based on the New York State Historic Preservation Office’s model ordinance.
The legal fight highlights the tensions that can flare between property owners and landmarking bodies. It also underscores the broad criteria preservation committees can call on to designate properties as landmarks. To some neighbors the house has been an eyesore; to the city’s preservation commission it is a local treasure.
“This scenario is one in which there is the ever-present contest between historic preservation law and the owners being able to control their property,” said Shelby D. Green, a professor of law at the Elisabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University.
Mr. Ben-Simon said he didn’t realize there was any local historic preservation until his request for a demolition permit was held up and he received a stop-work order around Oct. 16, 2015. On Oct. 19, the city’s historic preservation commission proposed the house be considered for landmark designation.
The property has been listed on the state register of historic places since 2008 and on the national register since 2009. Neither of the listings restricts owners from demolishing or altering a property but brings with it an extensive study conducted by a state researcher to support its historic significance.
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The New York Times: "Amazon Sellers Brood as States Come Calling for Taxes"
Amazon Sellers Brood as States Come Calling for Taxes (The New York Times)
...In its early days, Amazon took advantage of that law by keeping its warehouses out of populous states like California. But as the company has grown and focused more on reducing delivery times, it reached deals with many states to set up warehouses inside their borders. As part of those agreements, Amazon typically agreed to begin charging sales taxes after a delay of a few years.
Sellers who sign up for Fulfillment by Amazon are probably the most exposed to the state income tax laws. As part of the program, their merchandise gets distributed to numerous Amazon warehouses. Most states take the position that having their inventory in a warehouse, even if the facility belongs to Amazon, creates a duty to charge sales tax on marketplace sales in those states.
Not all advisers agree. One electronics seller, who has millions of dollars in annual sales on Amazon, said he only collected sales taxes for orders delivered in his state, on the advice of his accountant.
Accountants are not in agreement on the issue either. Michael Fleming, an accountant of Peisner Johnson in Texas, said his firm’s business was booming with Amazon marketplace sellers. He advises them, he said, to charge sales tax wherever a state can argue it has a “nexus” — the term most used for a physical presence.
He said he believed the reason Amazon has been reluctant to step in and charge sales tax on marketplace orders is that it could assume a large additional liability for any mistakes the sellers make.
“Maybe the seller mislabels something, and tax that should be collected isn’t,” Mr. Fleming said. “Then Amazon gets audited. Amazon is paying tax out of their pocket when it’s really a mistake by an individual seller.”
Mr. Fleming said he has heard from clients that the states of Washington and California have been particularly aggressive in going after them for back taxes on Amazon marketplace sales.
But it could be that the states are simply focusing on a fast-growing part of retail.
“Given the volume of businesses that make retail sales through Amazon’s marketplace platform, it is likely that some of these businesses may have been contacted through the normal course of our tax discovery efforts,” said Beverly Crichfield, a spokeswoman for Washington’s Department of Revenue.
With concerns mounting among sellers, the Multistate Tax Commission, an intergovernmental state tax agency, recently offered an amnesty program that frees marketplace sellers from back tax liabilities when they take steps to collect them on current sales. But some states, including New York, California and Washington, did not participate in the program. Only 852 sellers out of the hundreds of thousands estimated to be selling on Amazon applied for the program.
Paul Rafelson, an adjunct professor at Pace University’s law school and a lawyer who works with Amazon sellers, said he believed that some states were going after sellers for back taxes to avoid a face-off with the company.
He said the scramble by states and cities to woo Amazon as it seeks a place for its second headquarters — bidding has set off a huge competition — has made state governments even less inclined to go after Amazon.
“A lot of states,” he said, “have told me it’s too political to go after Amazon.”
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El Semana: ‘We Will Not Be Silenced’
‘We Will Not Be Silenced’ (El Semana)
...On the morning of November 9, protesters gathered in the atrium of the Hart Senate office building, silently at first, glancing up at level-upon-level of protesters who had made their way to every floor, patiently waiting for the go-ahead from organizers. At exactly 11:30am, the room suddenly erupted into an overwhelming, boisterous chant of “undocumented, unafraid,” as activists unfurled large banners into the chamber demanding a DREAM Act, denouncing deportation, and bringing forward the December deadline.
The building was packed with protesters wearing identical orange “Clean DREAM Act Now” shirts. Joining them were students participating in a mass walkout from nine Washington-area schools, including universities, as well as hundreds of youth from across the country in what United We Dream said was part of a nationwide campaign in solidarity with DREAMers.
Not everyone there was a DREAMer. Alik Schir, a student in the Washington, D.C. area, said he was sympathetic to the cause while gleefully waving the orange shirt he had been handed. “I know what it’s like to be the odd one out,” Schir said, “so I’m standing here to make sure that DREAMers and immigrants know that we stand with them and that we’re fighting for them so they won’t be deported.”
After about ten minutes of chanting in the building, a signal came to stop, to prevent the risk of arrest due to strict Capitol rules against disruptive protest. In a pre-planned act of civil disobedience, a small number of protesters kept chanting around a banner before being detained by Capitol Police. Rally-goers later announced their names via megaphone, praising them as heroes.
Flowing out from the Hart building, their call for a DREAM Act continued with a march to the Capitol in the hopes of coming face-to-face with Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) himself. They crowded onto the sidewalk on Independence Avenue, demanding Ryan show himself. “Show your face, show your face,” they chanted as they passed the Rayburn building, rising into thunderous cheers and applause whenever they spotted a staffer waving or taking photos from their offices.
Ryan, who has sent mixed messages regarding a vote on a replacement for DACA, was the subject of frustration and anger among many attendees — some who jeered, shouting “coward” while below the Speaker’s balcony on the west end of the Capitol, where youth and DREAMers linked arms in a circle and held a speakout for DACA recipients before wrapping up.
“I am here because I have an expiration date, because I have a mother that works three jobs to support our family, because at one point I worked six jobs to pay for my education,” said one DREAMer. “I want to graduate, I want to make America great, I want to give back to my community, I want to give back to the country I love, to the country that I call home.”
“DACA, the DREAM Act, this is a human issue,” said another DREAMer, a student who had joined the Washington event from Pace University in New York. “We’re dealing with real lives. This is not about one, this is about all. Paul Ryan, pass the Dream Act.”
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