Daily Archives: Jul 8, 2020

The city of Rochester will post all police disciplinary files into an online database before the end of the year, City Hall officials announced Tuesday.

In June, state lawmakers repealed section 50a of the civil service law, which kept police and firefighter personnel records confidential. Those records will generally be available via a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request.

City spokesperson Justin Roj said the online database was the easiest method to meet the demand for records.

“We have already received a number of FOILs asking for such records, including one for all RPD disciplinary records,” Roj said, in a statement. “This new database will allow everyone to access these records without the delay of processing a FOIL request.”

Roj said the city plans to have the database up and running by the end of the year.

Rochester has joined a growing roster of cities taking a proactive approach of posting police personnel records online.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, for instance, announced all of his city’s 1,100 active police misconduct cases, as well as past cases and judgements, would be uploaded into a public online database.

Utica pledged a similar plan and has already begun posting files. So far on the city’s website, the records of Chief Mark Williams, Deputy Chief Ed Noonan and four officers are available.

Rochester City Council Member Mary Lupien and Monroe County Legislator Rachel Barnhart had called for the Rochester Police Department and Monroe County Sheriff’s Office to take a similar tack to the police departments in New York City and Utica.

“Posting disciplinary records online makes them accessible to the public,” Lupien said Tuesday. “This proactive step would go a long way in holding law enforcement accountable and building trust with the community.”

Requests for police personnel files under FOIL can be made by anybody. But waiting for them can be time consuming, and a request containing vague language could plausibly be denied. Barnhart said putting the burden on the people to file FOILs is a barrier to transparency.

“Telling people to file a FOIL isn’t the right approach,” Barnhart said. “The open records law allows governments to drag their feet for weeks or months. The process can be hard for people to navigate.”

President of the Rochester Police Locust Michael Mazzeo had not learned of the planned public database until reading news reports Tuesday morning. He said he has concerns about privacy, and that he would like to have a hand in determining what potentially sensitive information is made available.

“I really think there’s some out there that think we have, like, serial killers, and it’s going to come out,” Mazzeo said, at a news conference Tuesday afternoon. “It’s not going to come out, so let’s not be afraid of it, let’s engage in it, but let’s protect certain parts of privacy.”

Mazzeo also referred to making complete personnel files available to the public “very dangerous.”

“Would you want all of your personnel files out there so your next door neighbor could look at them? Or have them just posted on social media for whatever reason?” Mazzeo said. “How does someone get a fair due process when you’re involved in a certain incident that no one has the full facts of? They just paint a certain picture.”

The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office is creating a system for handling the demand for 50a files, according to a statement released by the agency Tuesday. But the office did not specify whether that meant putting all files into an online database.

“While we are reviewing those requests, MCSO is in the process of building the most efficient business model, to include technologies, that will allow our agency to comply with the law in the most efficient manner possible,” the statement reads.

Rochester City Council on Monday discussed a series of proposals meant to stem a wave of evictions that could come as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has halted evictions until Aug. 20 for people directly impacted by the pandemic. Council is concerned that a surge of evictions could follow.

Among the ideas that Council discussed is helping the Catholic Family Center devise a plan to use the $900,000 that the city already committed to spend on eviction prevention. Another measure would pay for counsel for those involved in eviction proceedings. That would also cost about $900,000.

They’re also considering the potential of using grant funds to help tenants buy their houses from their landlords.

Council members were generally supportive of the ideas, including Vice President Willie Lightfoot, but he expressed concerns about landlords who could be affected by the changes.

“I wouldn’t want to sign onto anything that could have unintended consequences on Black and brown businesses that are already suffering significantly,” said Lightfoot.

Councilmember Malik Evans said he likes the ideas but only if they come with an effort to get to the root cause of evictions. He said evictions are symptoms of other issues.

“They have to go hand in hand,” Evans said. ”The triage, the immediate thing. You stop the bleeding, you help. But then you say, ‘Here’s the resources if you think you’ll be in this situation again. We’ve got to be able to help you so you don’t end up back here again.’ ”

Another idea discussed is potential good or just cause eviction laws. Among other protections, good cause laws limit how much landlords can increase rents, and also prevents an eviction without a court hearing.

One of the biggest proponents of the idea is Councilmember Mary Lupien, who argues that some landlords use month-to-month leases for bad intentions.

“They keep them on month-to-month leases specifically so that they can get them out, whether or not they want to sell the property or they want to do major renovations. It keeps people in unstable housing conditions,” said Lupien.

Councilmember Michael Patterson also expressed some concerns. He said problem tenants exist, and landlords should have some mechanism to remove them.

“I understand the concern. I have it, too,” said Patterson. “If we’re going to restrict rent, in my mind, we have to see that there’s an actual housing emergency because it is the private market — and I’m sorry, I’m going to sound like the bad guy here, but it’s a business, and businesses are in business to make a profit.”

A vacancy study was approved by Council last year. Based on rent reforms passed at the state level last year, if less than 5 percent of apartments are vacant, Council can declare a housing emergency and create its own rent laws.

The measures that Council discussed will likely not be voted on until at least August. Council President Loretta Scott said they need more time to flesh the ideas out.

Scott said Council has spoken to local tenants rights groups a number of times and they need to have discussions with landlords, too.

 

BUFFALO, N.Y. –Buffalo Police now say 60 people have been shot since early June, but Mayor Brown says it should not be a reflection on the work of the department.

We asked the mayor about some very candid statements made yesterday by the head of the police union.

“I think proactive policing is being done. Police officers are working hard doing a good job in very difficult circumstances.”

Mayor Brown says he disagrees with the assessment of the Buffalo Police Benevolent Association President.

John Evans said yesterday that in light of recent events where officers were charged or suspended, many officers are now reluctant to do any proactive policing and are simply reacting to calls instead.

“Any type of proactive policing is no longer. It’s just not worth it. The current atmosphere doesn’t support it. You’re not gonna get any support from the administration doing that type of work so to see all that spike in shootings, it’s not a surprise,” Evans said.

“Well, I don’t think one person can speak for over 700 officers. I’m out every single day and what I see is great dedication from our police officers,” Mayor Brown said.

The mayor says other large cities are seeing a spike in violent crime too as we endure what he calls a pandemic involving health, economics, and racial justice.

“People are frustrated, people are angry, people are fearful and many people are doing things they would not normally do and that’s why I’ve been saying love is the message. People need to show more live for each other, people need to show more concern for each other and we need to support each other more during this difficult time when every single person is going through more than people usually go through right now,” Brown added.

The Akron native President of the NFLPA sounded off on the NFL’s COVID-19 safety protocolsNEW YORK (AP) –

The NFL and the NFLPA haven’t come to an agreement on all protocols for training camp and the preseason as the report date for teams draws closer. The two sides finalized the protocols regarding team travel, media, and treatment response, and have also updated the facilities protocol to specifically address training camp based on recommendations from a joint committee of doctors, trainers and strength coaches formed by the league and players’ union. The league sent a 42-page memo to teams last Friday outlining those proposals. But testing and the number of preseason games remain unresolved.

NFLPA President JC Tretter, who is a native of nearby Akron and plays center for the Cleveland Browns, blogged on the NFLPA site accusing the league of being “unwilling to prioritize player safety.”

The players want no preseason games, while the NFL still wants two.  Players also wanted a 48-day training camp to try to reduce the number of injuries given the shortened offseason.  With the July 28th start to camps, the NFL  has fallen short of that.

 

 

México/Washington, 6 jul (EFE).- Uno dice ser defensor de los derechos de los migrantes y el otro quiere expulsarlos. Uno es hijo de tenderos y el otro es el rico heredero del negocio familiar. Uno es de izquierdas y el otro de derechas. Mucho separa a Andrés Manuel López Obrador y Donald Trump, pero también les une su populismo, mesianismo y tozudez, que se refleja en asuntos como la gestión de la pandemia

Pese a tener unos perfiles muy distintos, los presidentes de México y de EE.UU., que por fin se verán cara a cara en Washington DC esta semana, comparten numerosos rasgos en común.

DESCONFIANZA HACIA LOS EXPERTOS Y LA CIENCIA

“Ninguno de los dos tiene mucha consideración hacia los expertos o se preocupa mucho sobre la ciencia o que haya pruebas de algo. Tienen sus propias ideas de lo que es lo mejor y persiguen esas ideas cualesquiera que sean. Creo que sobrestiman sus talentos y conocimiento”, opina en declaraciones a Efe el presidente del centro de pensamiento Diálogo Interamericano, Michael Shifter.

Esta despreocupación por lo que puedan decir los expertos se refleja en su manejo de los asuntos diarios y en la relación con los miembros de sus respectivos gabinetes. “Creo que escuchan a sus asesores, pero a menudo cambian de opinión o no tienen la mente abierta a ideas diferentes”, puntualiza el experto.

Un ejemplo de esta forma de gobernar es la gestión de la pandemia de coronavirus, en la que no siempre han seguido el consejo de científicos y expertos sanitarios.

MALA GESTIÓN DE LA PANDEMIA

Aunque la pandemia de COVID-19 ha tomado por sorpresa a todos los Gobiernos del mundo, si algo han tenido en común México y EE.UU. ha sido que tanto Trump como López Obrador se han negado a aceptar la gravedad del problema.

“Al principio se negó, sobre todo, porque querían cuidar la economía y descuidaron las medidas para evitar la propagación del virus”, reflexiona Roberto Zepeda Martínez, miembro del Centro de Investigaciones sobre América del Norte (Cisan) de la Universidad Autónoma de México.

El especialista destaca, sin embargo, que a ambos la pandemia les rebasó por diferentes motivos, pues en EE.UU. el problema radicó en que la emergencia sanitaria evidenció que la atención sanitaria es muy cara “y eso hizo que muchos murieran por falta de atención”.

En tanto, en México, las deficiencias arrastradas desde sexenios pasados, aunadas a los recortes en el presupuesto, han llevado a un sistema de salud deficiente “lo que también ha provocado muchas muertes”.

UNA RELACIÓN COMPLICADA CON LOS MEDIOS

Pese a posibles errores cometidos, Shifter considera que los dos gobernantes están imbuidos de “un cierto mesianismo, como si estuvieran en la Tierra para servir una misión especial”, que está acompañado de una gran capacidad de comunicación con sus seguidores, lo que no evita que su relación con la prensa a veces sea tensa.

Para Zepeda Martínez, el paralelismo que tienen los mandatarios en este tema se debe a que ambos “vinieron a romper el establishment” que existía entre los anteriores Gobiernos y los medios de comunicación.

Sin embargo, López Obrador, dice el experto, espera que los periodistas lo apoyen; mientras que Trump es consciente de que la prensa es crítica y, aun así, mantiene enfrentamientos.

La Sociedad Interamericana de Prensa (SIP) señalaba en mayo pasado los ataques que López Obrador vierte de forma “periódica, constante y sistemática” contra los medios y los periodistas.

Y lamentaba que el mandatario mexicano aproveche sus conferencias de prensa matutinas para estigmatizar a los medios, en especial a los diarios El Universal y Reforma, a los que califica cotidianamente de amarillistas, corruptos, alarmistas, calumniosos y opositores.

Trump tampoco se queda corto en sus ataques a la prensa, que suele ser blanco de su furia en Twitter y a la que denomina “noticias falsas”, al tiempo que ha protagonizado numerosos encontronazos con periodistas.

El grupo Reporteros Sin Fronteras (RSF) se quejaba hace poco más de una semana del acoso de Trump a los medios durante la pandemia y de que “la haya tomado con al menos con ocho periodistas durante sus conferencias de prensa”.

Estos ataques a la prensa se enmarcan dentro de la estrategia de ambos para venderse ante sus bases como figuras fuera del aparato político y desacreditar a la élite intelectual.

UNA POLÍTICA EXTERIOR AL SERVICIO DE SUS BASES

Ese afán por contentar a sus bases también explica el motivo por el que ambos estén volcados en temas políticos internos y muestren menos interés por los asuntos exteriores.

“En el caso de Trump, emplea la política exterior para temas domésticos. El gran ejemplo es China, sobre la que está tratando de mantener una postura dura”, remarca el presidente del Diálogo Interamericano.

En contraposición, subraya Shifter, “a AMLO (siglas de Andrés Manuel López Obrador) realmente no le importa mucho la política exterior, excepto aquello que le sirve para mantener contento a Trump y evitar el conflicto o la confrontación con EE.UU.”

LA INMIGRACIÓN, MOTIVO DE DISPUTAS Y DE UNIÓN

Precisamente el principal motivo de confrontación entre México y EE.UU. es el que más les une, la inmigración.

El mandatario mexicano siempre se ha erigido a favor de los derechos de los migrantes, aunque al final ha tenido que plegarse a las exigencias de su homólogo estadounidense, que se opone abiertamente a la inmigración.

Shifter ve que López Obrador “básicamente se ha acomodado a Trump en inmigración. Su papel esencial es no meterse en una batalla contra Trump”.

Al respecto, Zepeda Martínez asegura que la postura de López Obrador se ha vuelto más pragmática, ya que el presidente estadounidense ha dado muestras de apoyo a México como en el caso del petróleo y los ventiladores necesarios para tratar la COVID-19.

Para Trump, la repulsa a la inmigración es una de sus banderas electorales y, en consecuencia, una de sus máximas prioridades. Y López Obrador lo sabe.

“No creo que haya habido mucho rechazo por parte de AMLO (a las peticiones de Trump sobre inmigración) -indica Shifter- Es interesante porque mucha gente lo describe como de ideología izquierdista, pero no te esperas que un presidente de izquierdas se comporte así”.

No obstante, el analista concede que ideológicamente López Obrador es alguien a quien “realmente le preocupan los mexicanos pobres, no solo se preocupa por sí mismo, y eso es importante. No lanza amenazas. Trump siempre está amenazando”.

Del mismo modo, otra de las diferencias es que gran parte de las políticas de Trump son aplaudidas por los empresarios, como los recortes de impuestos, mientras que, según Shifter, la relación de López Obrador con la clase empresarial es “corta”.

CRÍTICOS DEL LIBRE COMERCIO

Zepeda Martínez destaca que el nuevo tratado comercial entre México, EE.UU. y Canadá, conocido como T-MEC, es la muestra de los paralelismos que existen entre los dos mandatarios, porque “ambos son críticos del libre comercio”.

Pero su aprobación, asegura, beneficia a ambos políticamente, pues “cada uno lo venderá como un éxito de su programa de Gobierno” y, mientras que en México se espera que beneficie en el nivel de vida de su población, en EE.UU. podría llevar a que la inversión de las empresas se quede en casa.

 

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — Conservationists have captured the first images of a group of rare Cross River gorillas with multiple babies in Nigeria’s Mbe mountains, proof that the subspecies once feared to be extinct is reproducing amid protection efforts.

Only around 300 Cross River gorillas were known to be alive at one point in the isolated mountainous region in Nigeria and Cameroon, according to the Wildlife Conservation Society, which captured the camera trap images in May. More color images were recovered last month.

John Oates, professor emeritus at the City University of New York and a primatologist who helped establish conservation efforts for the gorillas more than two decades ago, was excited about the new images

“It was great to see … evidence that these gorillas in these mountains are reproducing successfully because there have been so few images in the past,” he told The Associated Press. “We know very little about what is going on with reproduction with this subspecies, so to see many young animals is a positive sign.”

Experts don’t know how many Cross River gorillas remain in the mountain cluster and have been trying to track the subspecies for some time.

About 50 cameras were set up in 2012 and multiple images have been captured in Cameroon’s Kagwene Gorilla Sanctuary and in Nigeria’s Mbe Mountains community forest and Afi Mountain Wildlife Sanctuary. But Cross River gorillas are notoriously difficult to capture together on camera and no images had captured multiple infants.

An alliance of nine local communities, the Conservation Association of the Mbe Mountains, has been working with the Wildlife Conservation Society since the mid-1990s to help protect the Cross River gorillas. Since that time, there have been no recorded deaths in Nigeria, the society said.

The gorillas at one point had been thought to be extinct, according to the society’s Nigeria country director, Andrew Dunn.

“It’s a big success story that shows communities can protect their wildlife,” he told the AP.

Cross River gorillas have been threatened for decades primarily by hunting but also by loss of habitat as residents cut down forests to make way for agriculture. The subspecies was “rediscovered” in the late 1980s.

About 100 Cross River gorillas have since been recorded in Nigeria’s Cross River State and about 200 in Cameroon in a transborder region of about 12,000 square kilometers (4,633 square miles). The Mbe mountains forest is home to about a third of the Nigeria population.

The gorillas are extremely shy of humans and their presence is detected mostly by their nests, dung and feeding trails, experts say.

A team of about 16 eco-guards have been recruited from surrounding communities to patrol and protect the gorillas and other wildlife, Dunn said.

Inaoyom Imong, director of WCS Nigeria’s Cross River Landscape project, said that seeing a few young gorillas in a group is promising.

The new photos were taken in a community forest without any formal protection status, Imong said, “an indication we can have strong community support in conservation.”

Hunting was always the main threat, he said, but “we do believe that hunting has reduced drastically.” The conservation groups also are working to reduce illegal cutting of forests, he said.

But other dangers remain.

“Although hunters no longer target gorillas, snares set for other game pose a threat to the gorillas as infants can be caught in them and potentially die from injuries,” Imong said. Disease is also a potential threat, along with conflict and insecurity in Cameroon.

“Refugees from the ongoing insecurity in Cameroon are also moving into the area, and they will likely increase hunting pressure and the need for more farmland,” Dunn said.

For now, they must rely on the work of Nigerian communities.

“I feel honored to be part of the efforts that are producing these results,” said Chief Damian Aria, the head of the village of Wula.

He told the AP his community and others have worked hard to help preserve the natural habitat for the gorillas, and they are proud of their efforts.

“We are so happy they are reproducing,” he said. While the gorillas’ livelihood is important for nature, Aria also hopes that mountain communities in due time will benefit from the tourism they might bring.

By CARLEY PETESCH

 

 

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