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In NYC, Affordable Housing and Good Jobs Must Go Together

May 26th, 2015

By Matt Ryan

This time last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced his ambitious 10-year plan for affordable housing. He rolled it out at a Fort Greene housing development that will have 50 percent of units at affordable rents and be built by union labor and contractors. It’s proof that we do not have to sacrifice good, middle-class jobs to build the affordable housing we need. However, this is too often the exception, not the norm. As Albany reconsiders the 421-a affordable housing tax break, we should not accept the false choice that it’s either affordable housing or good jobs—they can and must go together.

Mayor Bill de Blasio's 2016 Budget Promises Robust Investment in Infrastructure

May 21st, 2015

According to a Building Congress analysis of its Fiscal Year 2016 Executive Budget, the de Blasio administration commits $42 billion to new infrastructure investments over the next four years, a significant increase over recent capital plans. The budget reflects administration priorities in housing and neighborhood development, as well as strong investment in core functions including transportation, education, and the water and sewer system.

Why We Should Spend Billions More On Trains

May 20th, 2015
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by Andrew Breiner

After last week’s train derailment that killed 8 people and injured over 200, everyone is thinking about how to make trains safer. That’s a worthwhile goal, but trains are already a remarkably safe way to get around, especially when compared with America’s true love: cars. If Americans drove less and took trains more, it could mean thousands or even tens of thousands fewer sudden, violent deaths every year. Getting cars off the roads would help combat climate change and improve air quality as well. Government policy could make this happen.

Cars are really dangerous. If a highly-trained conductor can commit a fatal error guiding a train down a track, driver error among millions of untrained amateurs operating on a variety of roads with complex traffic patterns and no tracks is guaranteed. Car accidents kill around 30,000 Americans each year, enough to place them among the leading causes of death alongside flu, pneumonia, liver disease and suicide.

The data bear that out. According to a report from Research in Transportation Economics, for every billion passenger miles traveled, cars killed 7.3 people. Trains killed only 0.43 people. Buses and planes were even better at 0.11 and 0.07 fatalities per billion miles traveled. To make things worse, car exhaust has been shown to contribute to leading health problems like heart disease, cancer, asthma, and diabetes. Add in 2.5 million non-fatal injuries a year from car crashes and their huge contribution to climate change, and it’s a wonder we’re not racing to get cars out of American life.

The federal government gives Amtrak about $1.4 billion dollars each year to keep it running and in good repair — just .003 percent of the federal budget. That’s on top of the $2.18 billion Amtrak makes in ticket revenue. Train travel opponents point to the government subsidy to say that most train travel is too inefficient – that private companies should take over, shut down most lines, and just keep the most lucrative Northeast corridor routes running.

Public education supporters slam Cuomo's tax credit proposal

May 19th, 2015

Barbara Bartoletti, League of Women Voters legislative director, right, adjusts a visual aid at the start of a press conference where opponents of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's education tax credit proposal gathered to express their concerns Monday afternoon, May 18, 2015, at the Legislative Office Building in Albany, N.Y. (Will Waldron/Times Union)

"Mr. Moneybags" is fictional star of NYSUT attack ad
By Matthew Hamilton
Published 8:21 pm, Monday, May 18, 2015


The bruising battle between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and public education advocates is going another round as the end of the legislative session nears.

AUDIO: NYSUT ad takes aim at tax credit

May 19th, 2015

ALBANY, NY, May 18, 2015 - New York State United Teachers today launched a radio advertising campaign that exposes Gov. Cuomo's proposed education tax credit for what it really is: "a shell game allowing corporations and the super rich to divert tax dollars to elite private schools."

Officials discuss lack of infrastructure funding

May 19th, 2015

By Leonard Sparks
Times Herald-Record

Posted May. 18, 2015 at 8:41 PM
Updated at 12:44 AM

Cars have to slow to 10 miles per hour as they cross a temporary span erected over the Lake Street Bridge, one of two bridges in Newburgh that are in need of major repairs. LEONARD SPARKS/TIMES HERALD-RECORD

NEW WINDSOR – Buses, cars and trucks slow to 10 mph over the moaning portable span temporarily filling in for the city of Newburgh's deteriorating Lake Street Bridge.

That is not all that is deteriorating. “Every time you turn around another water main collapses, another sewer collapses,” Newburgh Mayor Judy Kennedy said Monday.

BALCONY Joins Parents, Religious, Labor Groups, and Education Advocates in Fighting Cuomo’s Tax Credit Proposal

May 18th, 2015
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"Cuomo's tuition tax credit plan is a dagger in the heart of public education.  As a coalition, BALCONY believes it is critical to support our public schools."

-Alan Lubin - Founder of BALCONY


Parent, Religious, Labor Groups and Education Advocates Fight 

ALBANY (May, 18, 2015) – Education advocates, religious and labor organizations and parent groups have joined forces to block Gov. Cuomo’s education tax credit proposal that he has deceitfully dubbed Parental Choice in Education Act.Disguised as a way to provide needy children with a private school education, the act is a tax credit designed to reimburse wealthy donors who want to contribute large sums of money to private schools. Under the act, state taxpayers will reimburse 75 percent of the donor’s contributions.  In the first year alone, the act will cost the state $150 million.

LaHood: Amtrak derailment won’t be the last unless Congress acts on America’s crumbling infrastructure

May 14th, 2015

By Ray LaHood

It will take days, maybe weeks, to uncover all the details behind the cause of the fatal Amtrak accident in Philadelphia on Tuesday night.

What we know for certain is that a tragedy occurred and lives were unnecessarily lost. We also know for certain that this country’s transportation and highway systems are chronically underfunded, putting safety at risk.

When critical maintenance of roads and bridges goes unfunded, drivers and passengers are left to navigate dangerous terrain. At this point, America is basically one big pothole.

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NYSUT TV ad campaign swipes at Gov. Cuomo and his billionaire supporters

April 22nd, 2015
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ALBANY, N.Y. April 22, 2015 — New York State United Teachers today launched a statewide television ad campaign criticizing Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his hedge fund billionaire backers for trying to "rewrite history" and push high-stakes testing and a corporate privatization agenda ahead of what's best for New York students.

The Sidney Hillman Foundation announced today the winners of the 2015 Hillman Prizes in Journalism

April 21st, 2015
The Sidney Hillman Foundation Announces 2015 Hillman Prizes for Excellence in Journalism in Service of the Common Good Ceremony Is Tuesday May 5 in New York City

NEW YORK – The Sidney Hillman Foundation announced today the winners of the 2015 Hillman Prizes in Journalism, the only major all-media journalism awards dedicated to reporting in service of social justice.

The Hillman Foundation will present its distinguished annual journalism prizes, awarded every year since 1950, at a ceremony and reception at The Times Center in New York City on Tuesday May 5, 2015

PEF Contract Talks Are Underway

April 17th, 2015

Albany – Formal negotiations for the PS&T contract between PEF and the Governor’s Office of Employee Relations (GOER) took off Wednesday, April 15 in Colonie. PEF’s 19 member team, plus staff advisors, sat across a full team from GOER, headed by Joseph Bress, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s labor negotiator.

Maureen Kellman, chair of the contract team, shook hands with Bress as a sign of good faith bargaining before the team started their discussion. Both teams came well-prepared and enthusiastic to tackle the contract proposals.

PEF has been preparing for this meeting since October, and is focused on getting a fair contract that includes economic gain, re-professionalism of PEF, and a work life/home life balance.

As negotiations continue, PEF will keep members informed without compromising the integrity of the negotiations.


April 6th, 2015

Pact comes weeks after union and elected officials and community leaders arrested for civil disobedience

NEW YORK (April 2, 2015) – After a more than four-month strike during the coldest winter in recent memory, ‘carwasheros’ at Vegas Auto Spa in Park Slope have won a landmark contract agreement that includes wage hikes, strong worker protections and a $1,500-per-person signing bonus.

The owner also agreed to settle a suit the workers filed for wage and hour violations. The men will return to work Monday.

“This is a perfect example of what can happen when courageous workers stick together in the face of adversity,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). “These brave carwasheros spent four months on the picket line, without an income, in a very cold winter. They understand the difference being in a union can make, and I am proud they are part of the RWDSU.”

Leaked Investor Chapter of TPP Worse than Imagined

March 26th, 2015
Washington, D.C. -- Following is a statement by Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen:

“The 56 pages of the Investor chapter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership are worse than imagined and must be a wake up call for our nation. Amazingly, this chapter is sealed for four years after either adoption or rejection of the TPP. Everything we read and learn makes “Fast Track” authority unimaginable. It’s secrecy on top of secrecy.
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BALCONY Issues in the News (Related Articles)

From Concrete to Chips: Bringing the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act Into the Digital Age

May 26th, 2015

Stephen Ezell and Robert D. Atkinson
May 19, 2015

Congress should make investment in and deployment of intelligent transportation systems a principle focus of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act.


Next-generation information and communications technologies (IT) are set to revolutionize America’s transportation system. Whether it is the emergence of innovative connected vehicles or intelligent infrastructure, the future of transportation lies not just in building new roads but in bringing intelligence to every asset in the U.S. transportation network—from roadways and private vehicles to commercial truck fleets and public transit systems—thereby making transportation safer, more accessible, and more efficient. Accordingly, it is time for U.S. transportation policy—principally enshrined through the Surface Transportation Reauthorization Act—to reflect this shift from “concrete” to “chips”: in other words, to comprehensively integrate IT into America’s surface transportation system.

Amtrak Calls on City Leaders to Speak Up for Gateway Project

May 26th, 2015

May 22, 2015
By Marc Bussanich

New York, NY—Anthony Coscia, Chairman of the Board at Amtrak, said at the recent Trans-Hudson Summit that to start construction on the Gateway Project New York’s political leaders and opinion makers need to start making some noise to make the project a priority.

Coscia’s colleague at Amtrak, Drew Galloway, chief of planning and performance for the Northeast Corridor, opened his presentation at the summit on May 7 by going back in history to November 27, 1910—the day that Penn Station opened on Manhattan’s West Side, but noted also that it was on that day when the construction of a trans-Hudson rail crossing concluded.

“That’s 104 years and 161 days from today,” said Galloway.

America has a long-term care crisis

May 6th, 2015

By Jeffrey Lewis

The crisis is compounded by the singular focus of Congress and many state legislators across the country on caring for the uninsured.

Modern healthcare has changed the way we eat, exercise, and live. It consumes approximately 18 percent of our gross domestic product and continues to be one of the most divisive issues in politics, changing the electoral landscape from Arkansas to Alaska.

Fix Water Mains, Improve Transit

May 4th, 2015

by Peter Peyser

Mayor Bill de Blasio's executive budget is expected soon and one of the issues attracting attention is the size of the city's contribution to the MTA. While the mayor rightly urges Albany to come up with sustainable, long-term capital support for the regional transit network, the city's contribution to the MTA Capital Plan is today less than half of its peak in 1989, during the Koch Administration. Certainly, there should be a way for the mayor to find significantly more city money to support the bus and subway system that is the lifeblood of our city. But there's another way the mayor can support the MTA: increase funding to keep damaging water out of the subway.

Danny Schechter, ‘News Dissector’ and Human Rights Activist, Dies at 72

April 23rd, 2015
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Danny Schechter, whose media criticism became a staple of Boston radio and who went on to champion human rights as an author, filmmaker and television producer, died on Thursday in Manhattan. He was 72.

The cause was pancreatic cancer, his brother, Bill, said.

Mr. Schechter infused almost all his work — whether it was for alternative or mainstream media — with his deep-rooted advocacy of human rights. He was a producer of an award-winning public television series, “South Africa Now,” and of the ABC News magazine “20/20.”
BALCONY Issues in the News Archives