Monthly Archives: May 2019

Plan adds language expunging certain criminal records

ALBANY — State lawmakers in Albany aren’t giving up on approving recreational marijuana this year.

Legislation legalizing adult-use of marijuana was amended Friday afternoon to address concerns raised during state budget negotiations this spring, as Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo try to get on the same page before the legislative session ends next month.

The proposal from Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, was tweaked to bring the legislative language in line with the concept of creating an Office of Cannabis Management floated by Cuomo in his budget proposal. Medical marijuana, hemp and cannabidiol would also be regulated by the office.

The plan also adds expungement language nullifying marijuana convictions for activities that are decriminalized by the legislation and commits money to law enforcement agencies to address driving issues.

“We have amended this bill to reflect the ideas and concerns that came up through the budget process, and we have a stronger bill as a result,”Krueger said. “There is still time left in the session to see this bill pass, and see adult-use cannabis legalized with a strong commitment to restorative justice for the communities hit hardest by the war on drugs.”

While the governor initially planned on approving marijuana legalization in the first 100 days of his administration, negotiations with state lawmakers stalled and it was dropped from the final budget.

The amended legislation from Democratic lawmakers reflects an attempt to “mirror” the proposal from the governor.

The legislation still allows for New Yorkers to grow up to six marijuana plants in their homes, which was prohibited in Cuomo’s plan, and maintains language that 50 percent of government revenue is invested into communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs.

Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, D-Buffalo, who is sponsoring the legislation, said earlier in the week that the amended language preserved the core principles advanced by proponents in the Legislature.

“It is my hope that this legislation will be approved by the Legislature, and there will not be a need to take up separate legislation that updates the medical marijuana program, and regulates hemp/CBD,” Peoples-Stokes said.

The Minnesota Vikings tight end could be player the Buffalo Bills are interested in acquiring after recently losing one of their own tight ends to an injury.

Each and every offseason for the Minnesota Vikings seems to have a few intriguing storylines that take place. This year has been all about the Vikings improving their offensive line and figuring out ways to create more salary cap space.

Often appearing in the cap space discussions has been Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph. Given that he’s currently costing Minnesota more than $7.6 million in salary cap space, Rudolph has been frequenting the NFL rumor mill this offseason.

After being included in a variety of different trade rumors this year, it appears as though the tight end is now closer to remaining with the Vikings for the 2019 season. Minnesota has even offered Rudolph a five-year extension, but the two sides have yet to agree on any sort of new deal.

Since no new contract has yet to be signed, the tight end could technically still be available in a trade if the Vikings get an offer they like.

One team that may now be interested in Rudolph’s services is the Buffalo Bills. The Bills recently lost tight end Tyler Kroft for at least three months thanks to a broken foot and the Buffalo News’ Jay Skurski thinks that Rudolph could possibly end up as his replacement on their roster.

“Given Kroft’s injury, a case could be made the Bills would possibly be interested (in Rudolph). In my mind, a lot of that depends on what they think is going to happen with Kroft.
If he can get back early in the 2019 season, acquiring Rudolph would be unlikely. If the Bills think Kroft is going to miss a significant chunk of the season, though, maybe they make a move.”
The Bills have the cap space to afford the acquisition of the Minnesota tight end in a trade, but the dealbreaker would likely have to do with what they’re willing to give up to land him.

The Vikings are reportedly looking for a third-round draft pick in return for trading Rudolph and that may be too big of an asset that Buffalo is willing to part with.

The veteran tight end staying in Minnesota is still what seems to be the most likely scenario for 2019. But there’s no reason the Vikings shouldn’t still consider trading Rudolph until he at least agrees to an extension.

    ERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel moved closer towards a new election on Monday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s efforts to form a government after last month’s national ballot remained deadlocked.

    In a preliminary vote, parliament decided to dissolve itself. In order to disperse and set an election date, legislators would still have to hold a final vote, likely to take place on Wednesday.

    Netanyahu, who heads the right-wing Likud party, has until 2100 GMT on Wednesday to put a government together, after being delegated the task by President Reuven Rivlin following the April 9 poll.

    In a televised address following the initial vote in parliament, Netanyahu pledged to continue pursuing coalition talks and said a new vote would be unnecessary and costly.

    “A lot can be done in 48 hours,” he said. “The voters’ wishes can be respected, a strong right-wing government can be formed.”

    In power for the past decade and facing potential corruption indictments, Netanyahu has struggled to seal an agreement with a clutch of right-wing, far-right and ultra-Orthodox Jewish parties that would ensure him a fifth term.

      Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez slammed the New York Times on Sunday, describing the newspaper’s treatment of whether former Trump administration staffer Hope Hicks would comply with a subpoena as “Hope’s Choice.”

      “What gets me is news breaks that this woman is weighing committing a crime before Congress & it’s getting framed by the NYT as some Lifetime drama called ‘Hope’s Choice,’ ” the New York Democrat wrote on Twitter. “This is a fmr admin official considering participating in a coverup led by the President. Treat her equally.”

      The story published Thursday described Hicks, the former communications director, as one of the “best-known but least visible” members of the White House and said she faced an “existential question” about whether to obey the subpoena.

      The House Judiciary Committee last Tuesday issued subpoenas for Hicks and Anne Donaldson, the ex-chief of staff for former White House counsel Don McGahn, to turn over documents and testify next month.

      Ocasio-Cortez also joined with Soledad O’Brien, the former CNN anchor and current CEO of Starfish Media Group, to question the photo of Hicks published by the Times.

      “This is a good example of bias in the @nytimes: a picture of a person who is considering not complying with a subpoena is basically a glam shot, and it’s framed as a thoughtful, perfectly equal choice,” O’Brien wrote on Twitter Sunday.

      “Yup. Where’s the ‘no angel’ take now?” Ocasio-Cortez wrote in response to O’Brien’s tweet.

      “In the immediate aftermath of shootings, media routinely post menacing photos of people-of-color victims + dredge up any questionable thing they’d ever done,” Ocasio-Cortez continued. “But when Hope Hicks considers not complying w a subpoena, it’s glamour shot time.”

      The article comes as the White House has been defying subpoenas from congressional committees investigating the Trump administration.

      McGahn blew off a subpoena to testify before the House Judiciary Committee last week after the Trump administration said he had “immunity.”

      House Democrats are also considering dates for when the full House chamber would vote to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt for not turning over to Congress a full, unredacted version of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report.

      The New York Times did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

      The WNY School Application System (A consortium of schools in Western New York) is now accepting educationally certified applications for potential openings. Through one online application site, apply to any or all of the 107 schools:

      Addison, Akron, Alden, Alexander, Alfred Almond, Allegany-Limestone, Aloma D Johnson CS, Amherst,  Arkport, Autism Services Inc., Baker Victory Services, Barker, Bemus Point, Brocton, Buffalo Academy of Science CS, Buffalo Academy of the Sacred Heart, Buffalo Collegiate CS, Buffalo Hearing & Speech Center, Buffalo United CS, Canisteo Greenwood, Cassadaga Valley, Catalician Center, Cattaraugus Little Valley, Charter School for Applied Technologies, Charter School for Inquiry, Chautauqua Lake, Cheektowaga Central, Cheektowaga Sloan, Clarence, Cleveland Hill, Depew, Dunkirk City, Eden, Elba, Enterprise CS, Erie 1 BOCES, Erie 2 CC BOCES, Falconer, Forestville, Franklinville, Fredonia, Frewsburg, Frontier, Gateway Longview, Genesee Valley BOCES, Global Concepts CS, Gowanda, Grand Island, Gustavus Adolphus Learning Center, Hamburg, Hammondsport, Health Sciences CS, Henrietta G. Lewis Campus School @ Wyndham Lawn, Holland, Jamestown, Ken-Ton, King Center CS, Lackawanna, Lake Shore, Lancaster, Letchworth, Lewiston Porter, Lockport, Lyndonville, Maryvale, Medina, Mount Morris, Newfane, Niagara CS, Niagara Falls, North Collins, North Tonawanda City, Niagara Wheatfield, Oakfield Alabama, Orchard Park, Orleans Niagara BOCES, Pavilion, Pembroke, Perry, Persistence Preparatory Academy CS, Pine Valley, Pioneer, Reach Academy CS, Royalton Hartland, Salamanca, Silver Creek, St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute, St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, Stanley G. Falk School,  Starpoint, South Buffalo CS, Southwestern, Springville GI, Sweet Home, Tapestry CS, The ARC of Erie County New York, The Summit Center, Tonawanda City, Warsaw, Wayland Cohocton, West Seneca, West Valley, Westminster Community CS, Westfield, Williamsville, Wilson, and Wyoming.

      APPLY TODAY: www.wnyric.org/application

       

       

      Part of a $1 billion settlement received by New York from the mortgage crisis will come back to mission-based organizations to create affordable housing.

      The state announced a new program May 20 to award $1.4 million over two years through its Mission-Based Affordable Housing Partnership to help mission-based institutions, including faith-based religious institutions and nonprofit civic and charitable organizations to repurpose property for affordable housing development.

      Funding for the grants comes from a $1 billion settlement received by New York through the 2013 Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities Working Group’s $13 billion settlement with JPMorgan Chase for its role in the mortgage crisis.

      The program, open to organizations in Erie County and 10 other New York counties, will provide funds to connect institutions, especially those with limited resources, to development experts to guide them through the development process.

      The program is intended to address what state Attorney General Letitia James calls “a crisis” in affordable housing.

      “We must use every tool at our disposal to protect and expand our housing stock,” she said.

      Participants will get help in three specific areas: outreach support and regional education events; consultation services on regulatory issues and site specific market studies; and predevelopment technical assistance. They’ll also get legal assistance to review deeds and contracts.

      Applications through the request for applications will be acceptedthrough June 28, with awards to be announced in mid-July.

        Trader Peter Tuchman gestures as he talks on the phone following the resumption of trading following a several hour long stoppage on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange in New York, U.S., July 8, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson/File Photo

        (Reuters) – U.S. stocks opened lower on Friday, following a three-day run of gains, as trade worries returned after Chinese media took a hard stance on the tariff dispute between the United States and China.

        The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 142.73 points, or 0.55%, at the open to 25,719.95. The S&P 500 opened lower by 17.72 points, or 0.62%, at 2,858.60. The Nasdaq Composite dropped 69.01 points, or 0.87%, to 7,829.03 at the opening bell.

         

          WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has shown surprising strength in the first three weeks of his campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, prompting a persistent question: Can anyone stop him?

          Biden holds a significant lead in opinion polls over the 23 other Democratic contenders. Republican President Donald Trump is treating him like his top threat in 2020.

          Ahead of his formal campaign kickoff on Saturday at an outdoor rally in Philadelphia, Biden, 76, has seemingly put to rest doubts about his age and his ability to raise money as well as questions over whether he is out of step with the Democratic Party.

          “The rest of the race now revolves around Joe Biden,” said Joe Trippi, a longtime Democratic operative who is not aligned with the campaign.

          But traps may lie ahead. The first major opportunity for Biden’s competitors to dent his lead comes next month in the first of a dozen Democratic presidential debates.

          Biden could find himself as the leading target of attacks, particularly from progressives. He also has a history of gaffes, something that could be problematic in the national spotlight.

          “I’ve long said Joe Biden’s best days will be the beginning of this campaign,” said Charles Chamberlain, executive director of the progressive advocacy group Democracy for America.

          According to Real Clear Politics, Biden is backed by about 40% of the Democratic electorate on average in opinion polls, giving him more than a 20 percentage-point lead over his nearest challenger, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

          Experienced presidential strategists told Reuters that while they expect some other Democrats to eventually become top contenders, Biden’s strength is likely sustainable.

          They cited two main factors: The massive Democratic field makes it difficult for any one candidate to stand out, and voters tend to be risk-averse when seeking a candidate to topple a sitting president.

          FAR AFIELD

          In recent elections, early front-runners such as Democrat Al Gore, himself a former vice president, in 2000 and Republican Mitt Romney in 2012 largely kept a lock on the nomination, despite some bumps along the way.

          In 2008, Democratic favorite Hillary Clinton was overtaken by Barack Obama to secure the nomination, but Obama took advantage of a relatively small field to steadily amass support as the top alternative to Clinton. When Clinton ran again in 2016, Sanders tried to do the same thing with a similarly small field and almost succeeded.

          That becomes exponentially harder with the 2020 scrum, with its 20-plus candidates all vying for attention and money. Trippi said more than a dozen Democrats trying to challenge Biden have consulted Trippi on strategy.

          “I’ve told every single one of them that Joe Biden is going to be more formidable than they thought, and it was going to be tough for anyone to emerge from this field,” he said.

          Biden also is aided by the perception among some voters that he may be a safer choice to take on Trump than a less-known politician.

          In the 2004 primary, Democrat John Kerry, a longtime party fixture with a strong national-security background, used that argument to wrest the nomination from Howard Dean, like Sanders an upstart progressive from Vermont.

          Robert Shrum, Kerry’s top strategist at the time, said Democrats began to panic at the thought of running Dean against Republican President George W. Bush.

          Which candidate could beat Bush became “the defining question,” Shrum said.

          AVOIDING LANDMINES

          Shrum cautioned, however, the 2020 race could still shift. Biden would be the oldest president ever elected, and he will need to “seem vigorous and energetic” at the debates, Shrum said.

          “This is a dynamic process,” Shrum said. “It is not frozen in amber. A lot depends on his conduct.”

          Biden, who spent 40 years in the U.S. Senate and two terms as Obama’s vice president, must also defend his record to progressive voters who view him as too moderate.

          In the past week alone, Biden has been challenged over his stance on combating climate change and his support for the 1990s crime bill, which is viewed by critics as leading to mass incarceration of African-Americans.

          “When we get to that whites-of-their-eyes stage of the campaign and candidates realize the only way to improve their market share is to take Biden head-on, that’s when the real test begins,” said Kevin Madden, a former top aide to Romney.

          Those tensions within the party could lead to some tough stretches for Biden, despite his current position. In 2012, Romney was the early front-runner, only to yield to challengers such as Rick Perry and Rick Santorum at different times before finally re-asserting himself as the favorite.

          Madden said Romney’s campaign made hats with the slogan “The Long Slog” for a reason.

          “No one is going to give you the nomination,” he said, “and every other candidate has a plan to take it away from you.”

          Reporting by James Oliphant; Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Cynthia Osterman

            WILMINGTON, Del (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump’s national emergency declaration to divert more than $6 billion to build a wall on the border with Mexico will face its first test in court on Friday, when states and advocacy groups are expected to ask a federal judge to block the funding.

            At the center of Friday’s hearing is the question of the president’s authority to construct a wall using funds that Congress declined to approve for the amount he requested.

            In February, Congress approved $1.375 billion for construction of “primary pedestrian fencing” along the border in southeast Texas, well short of Trump’s demand for $5.7 billion to build border walls in Arizona and New Mexico as well as Texas.

            To obtain the additional money, Trump declared a national emergency and diverted $601 million from a Treasury forfeiture fund, $3.6 billion from military construction and $2.5 billion earmarked for Department of Defense counterdrug programs.

            “Congress’s refusal to fund President Trump’s wall isn’t an emergency, it’s democracy,” said a statement from Dror Ladin, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents plaintiffs in the case.

            The Trump administration argues the plaintiffs have not shown any injury caused by the funding decisions and that existing law gives it the leeway to redirect the money for such purposes as “an unforeseen military requirement” or a “law enforcement activity.”

            Trump made a border wall the center of his 2016 campaign for president, when he said Mexico would pay for construction. That pledge went nowhere, and Trump also hit resistance in Congress even as apprehensions of migrants by border agents hit a decade high as of April.

            The plaintiffs in Friday’s hearing include 20 states, the Sierra Club environmental group and the Southern Border Communities Coalition, which advocates for immigrants. They argued in court papers that the administration has violated the separation of power principle of the U.S. Constitution, among other claims.

            The plaintiffs also said wall construction would harm the environment and the wildlife habitats for such creatures as Gila monsters and the Mexican wolf.

            The diversion of Treasury forfeiture funds would undermine state law enforcement, they argued. New York state, for example, has used forfeiture funds to buy bullet-proof vests and naloxone, a drug that counters opioid overdoses.

            Although it is not a plaintiff, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives plans to argue in support of the plaintiffs at the hearing. The House called the diversion of funds a “flagrant disregard for the bedrock principle” that Congress controls federal spending.

            The hearing comes the same week that Trump has outlined proposals to beef up security along the southwest border and shift immigration policy to favor well-educated English speakers over a system that emphasizes uniting families.

            Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien

            Buffalo, NY– Erie County Department of Health, Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society, Medaille Veterinary Technology, and the S.P.C.A. Encourages residents to take advantage of an upcoming Erie County Health Department Free Rabies Clinic. The Rabies Clinic will be held at the Broadway Market, 999 Broadway, Buffalo NY 14212 on Wednesday May 29, 2019 from 4 pm-7 pm.  The clinic will be conducted on the first floor of the parking ramp and will offer free rabies shots for dogs, cats and ferrets. Please bring pets on a leash or in a carrier, and if possible, please bring a copy of your pet’s vaccination record. The City of Buffalo Clerk’s Office will also be on site conducting Dog Licensing.

            Please be advised that:

            • Pets must be at least three months of age to receive a rabies vaccination
            • Proof of previous rabies vaccination must be provided to receive a three-year shot; otherwise a one year shot will be issued
            • No person shall be allowed to have more than three pets in line at one time
            • Pets must be on a leash or in a carrier

            Free Rabies Clinics are offered in association with the Erie County Department of Health, Niagara Frontier Veterinary Society, Medaille Veterinary Technology, and the S.P.C.A. Serving Erie County.

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