Why is Vito Lopez still in the State Assembly?
It has been two weeks since word leaked out that we the taxpayers paid off, er, compensated two women who claimed that Mr. Lopez, a veteran legislator and chairman of Brooklyn’s Democratic county committee, harassed them in the workplace. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver approved a secret $103,000 payment each—and never saw fit to refer the case to the Assembly’s Ethics Committee.
But that very committee did look into other allegations against Mr. Lopez and found an appalling record of intimidation, inappropriate conduct and harassment. Subsequent news accounts reported that Mr. Lopez, who is 71 years old, frequently commented on the appearance of female staff members, and sometimes made inappropriate advances. Women interviewed by The New York Times said that they felt threatened by Mr. Lopez’s boorish behavior. The assemblyman brusquely told one staff member to remain quiet after she complained about unwanted and aggressive advances from an aide to one of Mr. Lopez’s allies.
In a better world, Mr. Lopez would be thoroughly ashamed and would already be in self-imposed exile. His Assembly seat would be vacant. He would not still be the leader of Brooklyn’s Democrats.
But, of course, we are not talking about a perfect world, or even a decent one.
Governor Andrew Cuomo says that if the teachers union continues to obstruct the implementation of a new, robust evaluation system for teachers and principals by Thursday, he’ll act on his own and impose a system. That’s precisely what he ought to do.
The showdown still was underway at press time, but regardless of whether or not the governor and the union reach an agreement, a larger point remains: Once again, the teachers union, emboldened by its allies in the Democratic-controlled State Assembly, has resisted efforts to bring accountability into the classroom.
Unlike his fellow Democrats in the Assembly, Mr. Cuomo has shown that he understands the reactionary role the teachers union continues to play against the effort to bring much-needed reform to poor-performing school districts. Mr. Cuomo is acting on behalf of poorly served students and their parents. The union, of course, is simply trying to protect incompetent teachers.
Democrats in the State Assembly want to raise New York’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $8.50. At 17 percent, it would be the biggest one-time increase in the minimum wage in state history.
It would also be the wrong move at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons.
ALBANY—State Assemblyman Dov Hikind has revived his proposal for racial profiling by security personnel, in light of the attempted bombing of a passenger jet landing in Detroit.
“I think this is a unique situation,” said Hikind, who introduced a similar bill in 2005 after the London subways were attacked and NYPD Read More
ALBANY—The path is now truly clear for the State Senate to consider a bill legalizing same-sex marriage today.
The legislature is still in extraordinary session, so the measure had to be re-passed by the State Assembly to become law. That chamber has previously approved the bill twice, and affirmed it once again Read More
ALBANY—Here’s some early morning reading: a $2.8 billion deficit reduction package.
The Assembly passed two bills containing this these measures last night. Here are links to the main bill, and another.
The highlights, as distilled by the Associated Press:
-$1.6 billion in cuts and temporary cash transfers Read More
ALBANY—It was midnight in the Capitol, and according to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, the bills on a deficit reduction plan were still “somewhere in the printing process.”
“I mean, it’s the same base bill that’s been drafted and distributed for weeks. What’s printing is working on another version of that,” Silver said in Read More
ALBANY—Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell just said his chamber will pass a bill legalizing same-sex marriage tonight. Again.
“It’s my understanding we’re doing it again today, I believe the Senate will be doing it as well,” said Danny O’Donnell, who is openly gay and sponsors the bill in that chamber.
The Assembly has passed the Read More
ALBANY—David Paterson said he was disappointed with reports that a vote on a bill legalizing same-sex marriage was a carrot in negotiations over a budget deficit that concluded today.
“The fact that marriage equality, somehow, was manipulated into being part of the DRP negotiation, is something that I think is reprehensible,” Paterson said during Read More
ALBANY—Several members of the Assembly Democratic conference let their frustrations with what they see as State Senate’s inability to coalesce around a deficit-reduction agreement boil over in a closed-door conference this afternoon, sources said. Some members suggested cutting an agreement with David Paterson and leaving it on the Senate’s desk. That chamber is at Read More