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News from BALCONY

Health care: Rigged against working people

January 16th, 2017

By Richard Gottfried

There’s almost nothing more rigged against working people – or hits them harder in the wallet – than health care. And it’s a life-or-death issue. To make government more responsive to the needs of working- and middle-class people, and treat them with respect and fairness, health care is the place for New York to start.

January 16th, 2017


Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. dreamed of a nation free of prejudice and bias, and of a land offering peace, justice, and opportunity to all of its children. He envisioned America at its best, as a country that reflects the simple, self-evident truth that all people are created equal.

The extraordinary contributions of Dr. King to America's fight for freedom transformed the country for the better. Reflecting on his monumental legacy, we must acknowledge that he waged two equally important battles: one against oppression and one for economic justice. This year, as we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. day, both the man and his message have taken on a greater significance as our country once again feels divided into factions.

Now, more than ever, it is imperative to draw the strength and inspiration from Dr. King's message to bravely stand up for our values and protect the access of all Americans to the American dream.

The greatness of America cannot be realized when the state of our union is divided. So together, let us march bravely forward towards the promised land Dr. King viewed from his mountaintop.


Letitia James
New York City Public Advocate

How Betsy DeVos Used God and Amway to Take Over Michigan Politics

January 16th, 2017

By Zack Stanton

n election night 2006, Dick DeVos, the bronzed, starched 51-year-old scion of Michigan’s wealthiest family, paced to a lectern in the dim ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel in Lansing to deliver the speech that every candidate dreads.

Hard hat hombres: Trump follows Cuomo’s lead with rhetoric around reviving the Rust Belt

January 15th, 2017

By Justin Sondel

Kellyanne Conway, the political adviser credited with bringing President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign across the finish line, was in Buffalo this month to deliver a speech at a $5,000-a-plate fundraiser for the transition team.

3rd 2017 Common Ground Radio Show airs Sun., Jan. 15 at 5 PM

January 12th, 2017

Gov. Cuomo says pot possession shouldn’t land New Yorkers in jail as he wraps up State of the State tour

January 12th, 2017

Cuomo hadn't mentioned decriminalizing weed in any of his State of the State addresses, but stated on Wednesday recreational pot users pose "little to no threat to public safety."

By Glenn BlainKenneth Lovett

ALBANY — Gov. Cuomo on Wednesday quietly called for the decriminalization of pot possession. Cuomo tucked the proposal on page 192 of a 383-page book outlining his legislative agenda for the year. “The illegal sale of marijuana cannot and will not be tolerated in New York State, but data consistently show that recreational users of marijuana pose little to no threat to public safety,” Cuomo wrote.

In Syracuse speech, Cuomo revives I-81 tunnel and promises more subsidies

January 11th, 2017

By Jimmy Vielkind

ALBANY — Apparently overruling officials at the state Department of Transportation, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday revived the possibility that an elevated stretch of Interstate 81 in Syracuse would be replaced by a tunnel.

Following the announcement Monday that Indian Point Energy Center will close in 2020-2021

January 11th, 2017

A Change for Indian Point

Buchanan, N.Y. – On Monday, we announced that after more than four decades of Indian Point providing New York State with clean, safe and reliable electricity, we have reached a settlement with New York State. Under the settlement, the State will end its legal challenges, issue the necessary permits and certifications and support the renewal of the operating licenses for the Indian Point Energy Center.
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News From and About Our Members

Carlo Scissura Named President and CEO of New York Building Congress

November 18th, 2016

Succeeds Richard T. Anderson Who Expertly Guided the Building Congress for More Than Two Decades

Carlo A. Scissura, a lifelong New Yorker and veteran of Brooklyn politics, business, and economic development, has been named President and CEO of the New York Building Congress.

He will succeed Richard T. Anderson, who has served as President of the New York Building Congress for the past 23 years. Mr. Scissura, who has served as President and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce since 2012, will take over on January 1, 2017. At that time, Mr. Anderson will assume the title of President Emeritus and continue to serve the Building Congress as a consultant.

President-elect Trump needs a partner in Congress

November 13th, 2016

by Jeffrey Lewis

Given the historic election of Donald Trump, it’s easy to miss the true message sent by the electorate. With Republicans winning control of the presidency and Congress, voters signaled a desire for leaders to work together to solve the nation’s most difficult domestic policy problems. That requires Republican leadership in Congress that is serious, focused on action not rhetoric, and understands this historical moment. The first step: the re-election of Paul Ryan as Speaker.

At Trader Joe’s, Good Cheer May Hide Complaints

November 4th, 2016


To explain their infatuation with Trader Joe’s, fans of the offbeat grocery chain typically cite three factors: low prices, an appealing selection of high-end products and, perhaps above all, irrepressibly friendly employees.

Teachers union says new federal regulations are not a 'real partnership'

July 20th, 2016

By Keshia Clukey

ALBANY - Federal regulations tied to the new Every Student Succeeds Act are a "top-down, federally driven" approach, not a "real partnership," as was intended, the state's largest teachers union says.

On Tuesday, New York State United Teachers submitted comments to the U.S. Education Department on the draft regulations in the hope that the department will make changes. The submission deadline is Aug. 1.

ESSA, passed in December, replaced the broad federal No Child Left Behind Act and was initially seen as providing states more flexibility regarding assessments and accountability.

New York Public Hospitals Use Emojis to Reach Young People About Sex

July 18th, 2016


The birds and the bees are no longer confined to uncomfortable living-room conversations. They will start popping up as emojis in teenagers’ Facebook feeds on Monday.
News from our Members Archives
BALCONY Issues in the News (Related Articles)

New Union Contract for New York City Area Airports Does Not Cover Wages

December 16th, 2016


After seven months of negotiations, thousands of airport workers in New York and New Jersey have come to terms on their first union contract. But it does not address an impending anomaly that will leave workers on opposite sides of the Hudson River earning different pay for doing the same work.

A pro-music coalition calls for state to pass industry tax credit

November 24th, 2016

Governor has until Nov. 28 to sign the Empire State Music Production Tax Credit into law

by Addie Morfoot

A coalition of music businesses called for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a music tax credit into law before a Nov. 28 deadline. Its effort was partly a response to a letter to Cuomo from a policy watchdog a week earlier questioning the benefit to the state of the tax break.

DC37 membership ratifies CUNY contract

July 18th, 2016

By Conor Skelding

The City University of New York employees represented by District Council 37 have voted to approve a contract deal with the university, the union announced Monday.

Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association et al.

July 1st, 2016

Supreme Court Denies Friedrichs Petition for Rehearing

On June 28th, the U.S. Supreme Court denied the petition from nine California public school teachers to rehear their First Amendment challenge to mandatory union fees. The plaintiffs petitioned the Court to rehear their case after a 4-4 decision was issued in the wake of Justice Scalia’s death. When the split decision was issued, it was not accompanied by an opinion on the merits of the argument. All that was issued was a one-line statement that the decision was split 4-4. Terry Pell, president of the Center for Individual Rights, the non-profit public interest law firm representing the teachers issued the following statement about today’s decision:

“We are greatly disappointed in today’s decision denying our petition for rehearing in Friedrichs v. California Teacher’s Association. Today’s decision was not a decision on the merits of our case nor was it accompanied by an opinion. We continue to believe that forcing individuals to subsidize political speech with which they disagree violates the First Amendment. We will look for opportunities to challenge compulsory union dues laws in other cases and continue our efforts to stand up for the rights of of teachers and public sector workers across the country.”

Housing activists ramp up campaign against affordable housing developers

June 24th, 2016

By Sally Goldenberg

An activist group that has long criticized Mayor Bill de Blasio's housing plan is targeting an affordable housing association with a barrage of attacks and a call for all elected officials not to accept campaign contributions from the association.
BALCONY Issues in the News Archives