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Law360: "Trump's Proposed DOJ Budget Cuts Would Gut Civil Rights"

03/17/2017

Law360: "Trump's Proposed DOJ Budget Cuts Would Gut Civil Rights"

Law360, New York (March 16, 2017, 9:14 PM EDT) -- The Trump administration's Thursday proposal to cut the U.S. Department of Justice’s budget even as spending on immigration enforcement and other areas increases is another indication that the new administration will put less emphasis on civil rights, fair lending, antitrust and other areas, experts say.

While President Donald Trump's budget proposal is almost certainly not expected to become law, the document does set out the administration’s priorities and main areas of focus. Immigration enforcement and violent crime reduction have clearly taken the lead, and, based on the budget outline released by Trump's Office of Management and Budget, it appears that other areas within the Justice Department's purview will have to face less funding.

"There's only so much money to go around," said Michael Weinstein, a partner at Cole Schotz PC and a former federal prosecutor.

The Trump administration's budget blueprint requests $27.7 billion for the Justice Department for 2018, a $1.1 billion, or 3.8 percent, drop from the 2017 allocation to the department under the continuing resolution that expires in April.

However, even with that drop, the administration is seeking to increase funding for the FBI by $249 million, or 3 percent, over the current continuing resolution and an additional $175 million to go after what the document calls "the worst of the worst criminal organizations and drug traffickers in order to address violent crime, gun-related deaths and the opioid epidemic."

Funding for immigration judge teams, to deal with illegal entry and unlawful presence cases, will see a jump of nearly $80 million from the existing continuing resolution and increases the number of Justice Department officials that will work on immigration cases.

The proposed budget also provides an additional $171 million for short-term detention space for federal detainees, including undocumented immigrants, over existing levels.

Those funding increases, coming with the broader cuts that the Trump administration wants to see inside the Justice Department, means that certain areas are going to have to take a backseat to immigration and other priorities, said Randolph McLaughlin, a professor at Pace University Law School.

"Clearly the areas that will be cut are the areas that are of interest to civil rights litigators," he said.

Read more here.

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New York Law Journal: "Pace Recognizes DiFiore"

03/16/2017

New York Law Journal: "Pace Recognizes DiFiore"

Courtesy photo/Mark Liflander

Chief Judge Janet DiFiore, second from right, was recognized by the Elizabeth Haub School of Law at Pace University Wednesday at its 22nd annual Leadership Awards event. Joining DiFiore, from left, is law professor Jay Carlisle, dean David Yassky, and university president Stephen Friedman.

http://www.newyorklawjournal.com/id=1202781207463/Pace-Recognizes-DiFiore

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amNewYork: "Trump’s EPA cuts could have drastic effect on NYC, experts say"

03/16/2017

amNewYork: "Trump’s EPA cuts could have drastic effect on NYC, experts say"

President Donald Trump's planned cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency could negatively impact New York City, experts say. Above, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt addresses employees at the agency's headquarters on Feb. 21, 2017, in Washington, D.C. (Credit: Aaron P. Bernstein / Getty Images)

. . . Among the “potentially serious implications” for NYC, according to the recently departed regional EPA administrator for the city (and elsewhere) Judith Enck, would be a risk to the safety of drinking water.

“New York (City) is unique in that not all our drinking water is filtered. It’s a real wonder,” explained Enck, a Barack Obama appointee who resigned her post on Jan. 18 and is now a visiting scholar at Pace University’s Haub Law School.

The reason New Yorkers can drink unfiltered water from the Catskills is “because there is a real effort to protect it at the source. EPA staff are very diligent about looking at (water) test results” to make sure parasites such as cryptosporidium and harmful bacteria and pathogens do not raise to unsafe levels and sicken the people who drink it.

Cutting staff that performs such jobs — as well as EPA police who patrol reservoirs in Westchester and the Catskills — will reduce protections, she said.

Congress appropriates money for upgrades that flows to the state and then the city to beef up water infrastructure that, in NYC, “is really old and really vulnerable to problems,” she said.

Our metropolis “has a massive problem with sewage discharges into its waterways,” such as the Hudson and East rivers, the Gowanus Canal and New York Harbor, after rainfalls, Enck continued.

EPA staff typically responds — as hundreds of employees did after Superstorm Sandy — to help damaged sewer plants get back online, but the cuts “would affect the EPA’s ability to respond to emergencies,” she said.

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Journal News: "Micro-apartments offer big style in Yonkers"

03/16/2017

Journal News: "Micro-apartments offer big style in Yonkers"

. . . "It’s one of the hot trends in planning and housing," said Justin Woods, an urban planner and professor at Pace University. "It started in the tech hub in Silicon Valley and spread to Seattle. You’re starting to see them pop up in places throughout the country."

Woods said the tiny housing is mostly built for millennials, adults who are between 20 and 36 years old.

"A lot of research has shown that millennials aren’t as concerned with space like for entertaining, they’re much more concerned with amenities and location," Woods said.

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Associated Press: "Test meant to screen teachers instead weeded out minorities"

03/13/2017

Associated Press: "Test meant to screen teachers instead weeded out minorities"

This March 8, 2017 photo shows the front page of a document explaining a certification exam known as the Academic Literacy Skills Test, designed to measure the reading and writing skills of aspiring teachers, in New York. New York state education officials are poised to scrap the test which critics say is racially biased, redundant and a poor predictor of who will succeed as teacher. But backers of the test say eliminating it could put weak teachers in classrooms. (AP Photo/Barbara Woike)

NEW YORK (AP) — New York education officials are poised to scrap a test designed to measure the reading and writing skills of people trying to become teachers, in part because an outsized percentage of black and Hispanic candidates were failing it.

The state Board of Regents on Monday is expected Monday to adopt a task force's recommendation of eliminating the literacy exam, known as the Academic Literacy Skills Test.

Backers of the test say eliminating it could put weak teachers in classrooms. Critics of the examination said it is redundant and a poor predictor of who will succeed as a teacher.

"We want high standards, without a doubt. Not every given test is going to get us there," said Leslie Soodak, a professor of education at Pace University who served on the task force that examined the state's teacher certification tests.

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FiOS1 News: "Apps built for the elderly compete at Pace"

03/06/2017

FiOS1 News: "Apps built for the elderly compete at Pace"

Watch the video.

From an app that translates texting acronyms like 'BRB' and ‘G2G', to an app that scans menus at restaurants and enlarges them on a screen to better see the type, students at Pace are harnessing technology to improve the lives of others.

The Westchester Smart Mobile App Development Bowl challenges young people to create mobile apps to improve an aspect of daily life for people ages 65 and older.

"The students need to be aware that they are not developing apps for people their age. They need to develop apps for older adults who need services that they don’t have access to without these apps," said associate professor at Pace, Jean Coppola.

The contest involves more than 250 participants from nearly 50 teams presenting their apps to folks from the likes of Google and Apple.

One team includes two Pace university students who live in Mahopac and Harrison: George Samuels and Arton Mirakaj. They’ve developed a virtual reality app to help older stroke victims.

"We created like a space environment where we immerse you in this world where you have asteroids coming at you and you blow them up so it’s essentially a game," said the pair.

The game requires a slight movement of the head to gaze at asteroids and destroy them. They say it prevents geriatrics from not being able to move around and becoming lonely.

"What we're trying to do is distract them from the outside world of no one really talking to them, them being by themselves, and give them something to do," Samuels and Mirakaj continued.

The judging and awards ceremony takes place at Pace University's Kessel Student Center on April 28th.

Watch the video.

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Daily Beast: "It’s Not Just Jeff Sessions: The FBI Must Investigate Scott Pruitt for Lying to Congress"

03/03/2017

Daily Beast: "It’s Not Just Jeff Sessions: The FBI Must Investigate Scott Pruitt for Lying to Congress"

. . . When it comes to statements to Congress, Section 1001 is limited to “any investigation or review, conducted pursuant to the authority of any committee, subcommittee, commission or office of the Congress.”

This most likely includes a confirmation hearing, according to Pace Law School professor Bennett Gershman.

“Section 1001 clearly covers false statements made knowingly and willfully to congressional committees,” the expert on criminal law told The Daily Beast when asked about Pruitt’s hearing. “This is precisely the argument that some Republicans made in demanding an FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton’s testimony before Congress.”

Read more here.

 

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USA Today: "Did Attorney General Jeff Sessions misspeak, lie — or commit perjury?"

03/03/2017

USA Today: "Did Attorney General Jeff Sessions misspeak, lie — or commit perjury?"

Protestors gather outside the Justice Department on March 2, 2017, during a demonstration against Attorney General Jeff Sessions. (Photo: Susan Walsh, AP)

. . . Pace Law School professor Bennett Gershman, a former prosecutor in the Manhattan District Attorney's office, said perjury can be difficult to prove. What's important is the context surrounding a false statement, he said — in Sessions' case, swirling allegations of Russian involvement in the presidential campaign.

"You always have to prove intent by the circumstances," Gershman said. Session's "blanket denial ... really does raise serious questions about whether he was trying to mislead and deceive the committee."

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Newsday: "Donald Trump gives himself high marks so far"

03/01/2017

Newsday: "Donald Trump gives himself high marks so far"

President Donald Trump on Tuesday gave himself high marks for his first five weeks in office, saying he earned an A-plus for effort and an A for his achievements — but also a C or C plus for “messaging.”

Despite his view that he hasn’t gotten his message across adequately, Trump boasted in a taped interview with “Fox & Friends” on Fox News that he had done more than just about any other president during his first month.

On the day he was to deliver the most important speech in his young presidency before a joint-session of Congress, Trump also pushed ahead with his agenda, signing an executive order aimed at rolling back an Obama-era Clean Water Act regulation.

“EPA’s so-called Waters of the United States Rule is one of the worst examples of federal regulation and it has truly run amok and is one of the rules most strongly opposed by farmers, ranchers and agricultural workers all across our land,” Trump said.

The rule has been tied up in court, though if implemented it would provide protection for Long Island’s wetlands, said former EPA official Judith Enck, a visiting scholar at Pace University’s Haub Law School.

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NPR Ed: "Which Colleges Might Give You The Best Bang For Your Buck?"

02/27/2017

NPR Ed: "Which Colleges Might Give You The Best Bang For Your Buck?"

. . . A recent study took a look at each college in America and calculated the number of low-income graduates who wound up being top income earners. We call that mobility. The study comes from the Equality of Opportunity Project and is paired with an interactive tool from the New York Times.

How did schools do? It may surprise you to hear that the schools with the lowest mobility rates are Ivy League and elite colleges, where less than two percent of the student population comes from a family earning less than $25,000 a year.

Read more here.

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