Daily Archives: Apr 29, 2020

The City of Buffalo has currently a $35 million year-to-date budget deficit and could run out of money by next week, according to a report released Tuesday to the Buffalo Common Council and Mayor Brown.

City Comptroller Barbara Miller-Williams provided a year-to-date budget report for the city, which has been submitted to the Common Council and Mayor, revealing a reduction in general revenues and sales tax receipts that City Comptroller attributed to the Covid-19 pandemic. Although, filings in March with the Buffalo Common Council and Mayor indicated a budget deficit of over $ 13 million dollars, which indicates, the deficit was a problem long before COVID 19.

“We are confronting a challenging time as a city. However the Department of Audit and Control continues to make it a priority to report and strengthen the City of Buffalo’s financial operations,”  said City Comptroller.

The report noted that as of April 22, year-to-date revenues were $341 million, while year-to-date expenses for the city were $376.4 million, a deficit of $35.4 million and could increase further.

The city’s Comptroller, further noted that the city’s cash funds are projected to land in the negative by the end of the month and that cash disbursements are trending lower than projected. However, the city and the Buffalo Board of Education are still expected to receive their state aid, which should result in a positive combined cash flow to the city through June.

Governor Andrew Cuomo has indicated that the State faces a $ 6 billion dollars budget deficit that could grow to $10 to $15 Billions dollars depending on COVID 19 and that local governments should expect reductions in state aid.  Likewise, Governor Andrew Cuomo, almost jokingly, said the state is so broke it barely has two nickels to rub together.

With nine weeks of revenues and expenses still remaining to be recorded in the 2020 fiscal year, Miller-Williams said her office and the Department of Audit and Control Personnel will continue to collaborate with their partners in government during the current fiscally challenging times.

The City of Buffalo is expected to have debt payments of $168,954,495.65 by 2030 to pay for City projects and operations from borrowed funds.

 

Popular Lifelong Learning Program Offers Free Online Content 

ERIE COUNTY, NY— The Erie County Department of Senior Services’ Health and Wellness program has announced that the Spring 2020 semester of the University Express lifelong learning program will be taking place exclusively online.  The University Express program is a collaboration of the Erie County Department of Senior Services, BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, Excelsior Orthopaedics, and Wegmans. Classes are designed to stimulate the mind and provide opportunities to build social networks while reducing social isolation. No homework or tests, just exciting discussions alongside peers with similar interests!

“University Express is an exciting program that provides opportunities for learning and socializing for older adults, bringing topics they are interested in right to them,” said Erie County Commissioner of Senior Services David J. Shenk. “By taking the program online we can help to combat social isolation during these times, which is something we take very seriously. Even though we are apart right now, we can still learn together!”

Participants will be able to access online content and sign up to receive email updates through the University Express website and can join in to learn about and discuss local history, wellness, humanities, and more from a distance!  The University Express program will be adding new content to the website weekly starting April 27, 2020 and running through July 31, 2020.

The mission of the Erie County Department of Senior Services is to promote the well-being of all older adults through coordinated and cost-effective services which enhance their independence, dignity, and quality of life.

NEW YORK — New York State is seeing new COVID-19 daily hospitalizations below 1,000 for the first time since March.

As the numbers continue to drop, the state is beginning to move forward to reopen the economy beginning May 15th.

Tuesday while speaking in Syracuse, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the creation of the New York Forward Reopening Advisory Board

“Today we are announcing an advisory board of statewide business leaders, academic leaders, civic leaders who are advising us on just this and they have been for weeks and I want to thank them very much” said Cuomo.

The list includes more than 100 business, community and civic leaders from industries across the state.

On that list are eight representatives from Western New York. They include officials from:

  • Service Employees International Union
  • Buffalo State College
  • Delaware North
  • M&T Bank
  • Pegula Sports and Entertainment
  • Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo
  • Wegmans
  • Buffalo Urban League
  • Community Foundation

“I am honored to be able to serve as one of the representatives from this area” said Buffalo Urban League President Brenda McDuffie. “Because I am also serving on the county task force that is doing very similar type work.”

McDuffie said the board meets through video conferencing trying to answer some of the tough questions about the states economic recovery.

“We are looking at again, how do we protect the state, the people of New York State” said McDuffie.”How do we stop the spread of this devastating virus? And how do we begin to reopen and have economic recovery?”

M&T Bank Chair and CEO Rene Jones is also on the board.

“As a community-focused financial institution — the largest in Upstate New York — we have unique insights about how the pandemic is affecting local families, nonprofits and businesses, including their employees and customers,” Jones said. “I’ll be bringing those diverse insights and perspectives, from both inside and outside the bank, on the best ways to return to a new normal.”

You can view the full list of members on the reopening advisory board in the document below:

MEMBERS OF NEW YORK FORWARD RE-OPENING ADVISORY BOARD:
Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker President/CEO, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo
 Quenia Abreu – President New York Women’s Chamber of Commerce
 Elizabeth Alexander – President, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
 Vincent Alvare: President, NYC Central Labor Council
 Ajay Banga
 CEO, MasterCard
 Kathy Behrens President, Social Responsibility & Player Programs, National Basketball Association
 Bill Berkley
 Chair, NYU
 Albert Bourla
 CEO, Pfizer
 Elizabeth Bradley – President, Vassar College
 Kyle Bragg
 President, SEIU 32BJ
 Heather Briccetti
 President & CEO, The Business Council
 Tory Burch Executive Chair, Tory Burch LLC
 Gerrard P. Bushell – former President and CEO of the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY)
 James Cahill
 President, NYS Building and Construction Trades
 Wellington Chen Executive Director of Chinatown Business Improvement District
 Mario Cilento
 President, NYS AFL-CIO
 Henry Cisneros
 Siebert, Brandford, Shank & Co.
 Dr. Katherine Conway-Turner – President, SUNY Buffalo State College
 Steven M. Cohen – Former Secretary to the Governor
 Stacey Cunningham – President, NYSE
 Vijay Dandapani
 President & CEO, Hotel Association of NYC
 Sonya Del Peral
 Nine Pin Ciderworks
 Mylan Denerstein Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
 Alicia Fernandez Dicks President/CEO, Community Foundation of Oneida and Herkimer
 James Dolan CEO, Madison Square Garden
 Stacey Duncan Executive Director, The Agency
 Leecia Eve – Vice President of State Government Affairs, Verizon
 Bill Ford
 CEO, General Atlantic LLC
 Jane Fraser
 President, Citigroup
 Adena Friedman President & CEO, Nasdaq
 Bea Grause
 President, Healthcare Association of New York State
 Jonathan Gray
 President & COO, Blackstone Group
 George Gresham
 President, 1199SEIU
 Horacio Gutierrez General Counsel, Spotify
 Sabrina HoSang Jordan – CEO, Caribbean Food Delights, Inc.
 Maria Imperial
 CEO, YWCA White Plains & Central Westchester
 Shirley Ann Jackson President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
 Dr. Amarilis Jacobo President, National Hispanic Dental Association
 Jeremy Jacobs Jr – Co-Chief Executive Officer, Delaware North
 Michele Johnson
 YWCAs of Elmira
 –
 President of YWCAs NYS
 René Jones
 Chair & CEO, M&T Bank
 
Michel Khalaf
President & CEO, MetLife
 Pat Kane
 Executive Director, New York State Nurses Association
 Gary LaBarbera
 President, Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York
 Mary Beth Labate President, Commission on Independent Colleges and Universities
 Kevin Law
 President & CEO, Long Island Association, Inc.
 Jon Ledecky
 Co-Owner, NY Islanders
 Kewsong Lee Co-CEO, Carlyle Group
 Randy Levine – President, NY Yankees
 Mayra Linares-Garcia – VP of Public Affairs and Communications at Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages
 Melanie Littlejohn – Chair, Board of Directors, CenterState CEO
 Joanie Mahoney Chief Operating Officer, SUNY ESF
 Carl McCall – Former Chair, SUNY Board of Trustees; Former NYS Comptroller
 Brenda McDuffie – President & CEO at Buffalo Urban League
 Cheryl McKissack Daniel President & CEO, McKissack & McKissack
 Father Joseph McShane – President, Fordham University
 Elizabeth Moore General Counsel, Con Edison
 Wes Moore
 CEO, Robin Hood
 Marc Morial
 President & CEO, National Urban League
 William J. Mulrow
 Former Secretary to the Governor
 John McAvoy
 Chairman, President & CEO, Con Edison
 Danny Meyer
 CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group
 Dr. Belinda S. Miles President, SUNY Westchester Community College
 Frankie Miranda
 President & CEO, Hispanic Federation
 Orinthia T. Montague – President, Tompkins Cortland Community College
 Candice Niu – Executive Director, China General Chamber of Commerce
Ana Oliveira –
President & CEO, The New York Women’s Foundation
 
 Kim Pegula
 President and CEO, Pegula Sports and Entertainment
 Elizabeth Peralta Executive Director, National Supermarket Association
 Clotilde Perez-Bode Dedecker President/CEO, Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo
 Charles Phillips – Chair, Infor
 Martha Pollack President, Cornell University
 Ted Potrikus – President & CEO, Retail Council of New York State
 Ken Raske
 President, Greater NY Hospital Association
 Scott Rechler
 CEO & Chairman, RXR Realty
 Andrew Rigie
 President, NYC Hospitality Alliance
 Linda Brown-Robinson
 President, Syracuse Onondaga NAACP
 Lisa Rosenblum
 Vice Chair, Altice
 Jane Rosenthal
 Co-Founder & CEO, Tribeca Enterprises
 Steven Rubenstein
 –
 Chairman, Association for a Better New York
 Bill Rudin
 –
 Rudin Management Company
 Kevin Ryan
 –
 Co-Founder, MongoDB
 Julie Samuels – President, Tech:NYC
 Rob Sands Chairman, Constellation Brands
 Theresa Sanders President of the Urban League of Long Island
 Jaime Saunders
 –
 CEO, United Way of Greater Rochester
 Diane Serratore – Executive Director, Help From People to People
 Carlo Scissura – President & CEO, NY Building Congress
 Leonard Schleifer
 –
 CEO, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals
 Josh Silverman
 –
 CEO, Etsy
 Lisa Sorin President, Bronx Chamber of Commerce
 Rob Speyer
 –
 President & CEO, Tishman Speyer
 Ty Stone – President, Jefferson County Community College
 Ken Sunshine – President, Sunshine Sachs
 Steve Swartz
 –
 President & CEO, Hearst; Co- Chair, Partnership for NYC
 Chandrika Tandon
 –
 Chair, Tandon Capital Associates
 Elinor Tatum – Publisher and Editor in Chief, New York Amsterdam News
 Crickett Thomas-
O’Dell
 – Regional Director, Workforce Development Institute
 Bill Thompson
 –
 Chairman, CUNY
 Merryl Tisch
 –
 Chairman, SUNY
 Erin Tolefree – Executive Vice President, Baldwin Richardson Foods
 Elizabeth Velez
 –
 CEO Velez Organization & Chair, NY Building Congress
 Fanny Villarreal – Executive Director, YWCA Syracuse Onondaga County
 Dennis Walcott
 –
 Former NYC School Chancellor
 John Waldron
 –
 President and COO, Goldman Sachs
 Darren Walker
 –
 President, Ford Foundation
 Peter Ward
 –
 President, NY Hotel & Motel Trades Council, AFL-CIO
 Nicole Wegman Senior Vice President, Wegmans
 Anthony Welters – Executive Chairman, BlackIvy Group, LLC
 Jim Whelan
 –
 President, Real Estate Board of New York
 Jeff Wilpon COO, NY Mets
 Tren’ness Woods-Black
 –
 
Sylvia’s Restaurant
 
 Sheena Wright
 –
 President & CEO, United Way of New York City
 Kathy Wylde
 –
 President & CEO, Partnership for NYC
 Jo-Ann Yoo Executive Director, Asian American Federation
 Kristine M. Young President, Orange County Community College
 Lourdes Zapata – President & CEO at South Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation

 

Rollout process would begin after May 3
Construction and various manufacturing sectors would be among the first to re-establish their operations

The task force devised by Gov. Wanda Vázquez to advise her administration on economic affairs throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic released a series of recommendations on how to reopen Puerto Rico’s economy, as well as a guidance of best practices for companies.

These standards, revealed over the weekend, propose a gradual restoration divided into three phases, with each of these encompassing select sectors of the island’s economy. Each phase would have two weeks between them to ensure that companies are taking the appropriate mitigation risks while safeguarding the population throughout the peak of infection.

“As more sectors continue to open, we can measure what has been the increase, if any, in contagion. Depending on how the increases have continued, that will dictate whether we can move to a subsequent phase or whether we have to regress,” said Emilio Colón Zavala, leader of the economic task force.

The process would begin after May 3, which is expected to be the last effective date of the government emergency measures that have kept Puerto Rico under lockdown since March 15.

“We are trying to balance the risk of increased contagion based on metrics that we can easily measure with the need to open up the economy after seven weeks,” Colón Zavala

Mirroring the health counterpart’s suggestions, the economic task force suggested prioritizing during Phase 1 manufacturing and its sub-sectors, such as biosciences and aerospace, as well as construction and all their respective supply chains. In an index compiled by the task force, construction, mining, and information were identified as the sectors with the lowest risk of contagion.

If the first phase goes down smoothly, Phase 2 would launch the reinstatement of financial activities and their supply chains. This includes professional and business services such as firms and offices currently not exempt from the executive order that mandates the quarantine.

According to the economic task force’s final draft, more than 300,000 people should be back at work by the end of Phase 2, provided that these businesses adopt guidelines to curtail the spread of COVID-19.

Meanwhile, Phase 3 would center on the vast majority of non-essential services, excluding educational services, which are deemed as posing the highest risk of contagion, followed by health and social services. The businesses that are not included in Phase 3 would thus reopen subsequently as the coronavirus threat is contained. These would be, for example, movie theaters, gyms, beauty salons, and others.

Despite these efforts, Colón Zavala affirmed that the economic plan does not intend to lift the curfew that has been in place since the first executive order was enacted, keeping residents indoors from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.

“[The curfew] would not be removed at first. Maybe a change could be made if the governor deems it fitting,” he said.

Guidelines for Businesses

Before they can open, businesses must submit documentation on social distancing measures to be enforced in the workplace and what other measures will be taken to diminish risk. To achieve these means, the economic task force announced re-activation guidelines for the private sector.

The 37-page document contains recommendations and descriptions of mandatory safety and health standards but is not in itself a regulation, nor does it create new legal obligations.

Among other principles, the re-activation plan contends that the company’s highest-ranking official based in Puerto Rico must ensure the mechanisms and protocols to maintain a list of the all the active workforce and their working schedule, that all employees are properly trained in the company’s COVID-19 mitigation strategy, that the company is following guidelines established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other relevant entities, and to submit a COVID-19 Self-Certification Notification to the P.R. Department of Labor and the P.R. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The guidelines have not been released to the public at the time of this writing but, reportedly, are expected to be made available through the Department of Economic Development and Commerce (DDEC by its Spanish acronym).

 

 

March 13, 2020, Washington, DC, United States: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the media at a news conference to declare National Emergency on COVID-19 coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington on March 13, 2020. (Credit Image: © Gripas Yuri/Abaca via ZUMA Press)

Traditional journalism is under siege, NBC News chief Andy Lack wrote this week: President Trump continues to “put the bully in bully pulpit,” and the coronavirus crisis has taken a toll.

“But we’re winning,” proclaimed the headline of Lack’s piece published on NBCNews.com, which argues that news organizations, because they are still able to tell citizens the truth of what’s going on in the country, are victorious.

I wish I could agree.

Even if you get past the objectionable notions of “winning” and “losing,” I very much doubt that history will judge mainstream journalism to have done a terrific job covering this president — including in this difficult moment.

On the contrary, the coverage, overall, has been deeply flawed.

Those flaws were on full display over the past few days, just as they have been every day since a real estate mogul/reality TV star grandly descended a goldtone escalator into the marble atrium of Trump Tower on June 16, 2015, to announce his presidential campaign

For nearly five years, the story has been Trump. And, in all that time, the press is still — mostly — covering him on the terms he dictates.

We remain mesmerized, providing far too much attention to the daily circus he provides.

We normalize far too much, offering deference to the office he occupies and a benefit of the doubt that is a vestige of the dignified norms of presidencies past.

And day after day, we allow him to beat us up. And then we come back for more.

Front Row at the Trump Show,” is the name of ABC News White House correspondent Jonathan Karl’s best-selling new book. The current president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, Karl is well-respected, smart and experienced. But if there was ever a self-own, it’s right there in that title: president as vaudeville performer, journalist as rapt audience.

“Trump has been able to make it all about him, and the press — with some notable exceptions — too often allows him to turn the coverage into a carnival,” said Tim O’Brien, a Trump biographer, former New York Times business reporter and columnist at Bloomberg Opinion.

“You can’t let the person you’re covering set the terms of the coverage, but that’s exactly what he has done.”

Every day — sometimes every hour — there’s some new craziness to distract us.

Here is Trump suggesting that ingesting disinfectants may cure the coronavirus. Here he is trashing reporters on Twitter who won Pulitzer Prizes by talking about revoking their Nobel Prizes — but misspelling it as “Noble.” Here he is claiming he will somehow punish reporters by not having his near-daily briefings — and then changing his mind, as a press aide quips that reporters should be kept on their toes.

Journalists are whipsawed. The public tunes out in disgust or regrettable credulity. And meanwhile, a nation has become inured to the fact that U.S. cases of coronavirus are about to pass 1 million, and that at least 56,000 Americans have died of covid-19.

And then we come back for more, writing headlines that somehow combine the words “Trump” and “strategy.” Or ponder in cable-news panels whether he’s turned the corner and started acting more presidential. Or downplay the sheer madness of the disinfectant idea with a news alert and related story politely stating that “some experts” call it dangerous.

Is this winning? Only in the sense that a verbally abused spouse is winning if she manages to get the kids off to school after another sleepless night.

Granted, there has been great journalism over the past five years. There have been outstanding investigations, trenchant analyses, important day-to-day coverage.

In recent weeks, both The Washington Post and the New York Times published investigative reports about the failures of the Trump administration to heed early warnings and act quickly enough to protect the nation against the virus’s ravages. Both news organizations also undertook deep analyses of his recent briefings, showing how Trump dominates the discussion, instead of the medical experts, presidential monologues chock full of bragging and misinformation and precious little empathy.

There has been plenty of other good work, too, providing valuable insight, such as Michael Kruse’s recent Politico article “Donald Trump’s Greatest Escape,” which looks back at the real estate developer’s near financial collapse in 1995. Kruse persuasively suggests that Trump is a political Houdini who has been training his whole life to survive today’s political challenges, no matter how much it may appear that he’s finally met his match.

And the best news organizations have become more blunt, when warranted, about calling out Trump’s lies, racism and failures of leadership.

But in the big picture and as a whole, we’ve never quite figured out how to cover Trump for the good of citizens. We’ve never really fully changed gears despite Trump’s constant, norm-busting behavior. Determined to do our jobs — dutifully covering the most powerful person in the world — we keep coming back for more:

Beat reporters file into the briefing room, sometimes to be publicly insulted and disparaged as “fake news” or “a terrible reporter.”

Television’s live coverage of briefings continues at many news organizations — allowing Trump to dominate the late-afternoon airwaves, day after day, with torrents of misinformation and narcissistic bragging.

As Fintan O’Toole recently summed it up in the Irish Times: “It is not just that Trump has treated the crisis merely as a way to feed tribal hatreds but that this behavior has become normalized. When the freak show is live on TV every evening, and the star is boasting about his ratings, it is not really a freak show anymore.”

He added, pointedly: “For a very large and solid bloc of Americans, it is reality.”

Someday, we’ll get some perspective on how the press has contributed to this mess — just as we can now look back on the news coverage of the run-up to the Iraq War and clearly see the sins committed then by most of Big Journalism: the shameful lack of skepticism, the foolish granting of anonymity to deceptive and self-interested sources.

When we have that distance, what I suspect we’ll see is a candidate and a president who played the media like a puppet while deeply damaging the public’s trust in the press as a democratic institution. Someone who dazzled us with his show, while acting constantly in his own self-interest as we willingly — almost helplessly — magnified his message.

We’ll figure out what happened and why. And we’ll know what to call it. But it won’t be “winning.”

By: Margaret Sullivan

 

 

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