Willie Colon

Willie Colon


Willie Colon, Bronx-born of Puerto Rican grandparents, has fused his musical talent, his passion for humanity, and his community and political activism into an extraordinary, multifaceted career.

His achievements in all his activities are widely recognized. As musician, composer, arranger, singer, and trombonist, as well as producer and director, Colon still holds the all time record for sales, he has created 40 productions that have sold more than thirty million records worldwide.

Willie Colon



Archive for the ‘News’ Category


Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

The Cuomo plan against Astorino is to use his hefty war-chest to throw anything he can think of, making ridiculous threats and allegations to see if one of them will stick.

His goal is to scare voters into thinking that Astorino will stop Medicaid and ban abortions, knowing that it would be just about impossible.

Even if he wanted to, and he doesn’t, Astorino would have to overpower the New York state Legislature and overturn Federal laws and Supreme court decisions. Andrew Cuomo knows this is practically a mute issue. 

Astorino on abortion: “I will not expand abortion into third trimester, which is what the governor was trying to do. And I think the vast majority of New Yorkers believe in my position as opposed to the governor’s radical position,”

New York has had legal abortion for 44 years. It has been legal through the Supreme Court decision 41 years ago.

43 Missing Students, 1 Missing Mayor: Of Crime And Collusion In Mexico

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014



43 Missing Students, 1 Missing Mayor: Of Crime And Collusion In Mexico


Groups of rural and community police arrive in the city of Iguala on Tuesday to help in the search for 43 students who disappeared after a confrontation with local police on Sept. 26.i i
Groups of rural and community police arrive in the city of Iguala on Tuesday to help in the search for 43 students who disappeared after a confrontation with local police on Sept. 26. Miguel Tovar/STF/LatinContent/Getty Images hide caption

itoggle caption Miguel Tovar/STF/LatinContent/Getty Images

Groups of rural and community police arrive in the city of Iguala on Tuesday to help in the search for 43 students who disappeared after a confrontation with local police on Sept. 26.

Miguel Tovar/STF/LatinContent/Getty Images

On the second story of the municipal palace in Iguala, Mexico, Mayor Jose Luis Abarca occupied the large corner office. His wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, head of the city’s family welfare department, occupied the one right next door. From there, residents say, the two ruthlessly ruled over this city of 150,000 in the southern state of Guerrero. A national newspaper dubbed the duo the “imperial couple.”

But on Sept. 30, their reign ended. The mayor, with his wife by his side, asked the city council for a leave of absence. Neither has been seen since.

That happened four days after 43 university students disappeared after a confrontation with police in Iguala. Twenty-eight bodies — thought to be some of the missing students — were discovered in a nearby mass grave a week ago. More mass graves were discovered Friday.

Dubbed the “imperial couple” by a Mexican newspaper, the mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, and his wife Maria de los Angeles Pineda are wanted for questioning in the case of the missing students and the mass graves found near Iguala. They are shown here in a photo taken in May.                                                                     


The case highlights the corruption and collusion between politicians and drug traffickers in many parts of rural Mexico today.

Residents say Iguala changed under the current Mayor Abarca’s tenure.

“Crime has been terrible since Jose Luis Abarca took over,” says Claudia Guitierrez, a 20-year-old law student. “Iguala was never like this before.”
These days Mexico’s new paramilitary gendarmerie patrols Iguala’s streets. Twenty-two local cops are under arrest, four are fugitives, and the remainder of the force was relieved of duty.

Authorities say that on Sept. 26, officers shot at three buses of students from a poor, rural teaching college who had come into town soliciting donations. After the shooting, with six people dead, the local cops were seen corralling the surviving students into patrol cars. Reportedly some of the officers confessed to turning the students over to a local drug gang, which later killed them.

Authorities say they don’t have a motive yet, but focus has centered on Iguala’s mayor and his wife, who have well-known connections to traffickers.
Iguala’s First Family’s Open Secret
Sergio Fajardo Carillo owns a local radio station in Iguala. He says the mayoral family’s connection to drug traffickers was an open secret in the town — and throughout the state.
Three brothers of Pineda, the mayor’s wife, were lieutenants in the ruthless Beltran-Leyva organized crime gang, according to prosecutors and the family’s own statements. Two were killed in a shootout with rivals five years ago, according to news reports.

A third, Alberto “The Eraser” Pineda, was released from prison last year and is allegedly the head of the Guerreros Unidos gang — an offshoot from the once-powerful Beltran organization — that is attempting to take over Iguala. National Security Commissioner Monte Alejandro Rubido says the cartel, which has been implicated in the students’ disappearance, specializes in the transport of marijuana and heroin to Chicago.

Clandestine graves are seen near Iguala on Monday. State officials have been unable so far to determine whether the 28 bodies found in the graves are of the students who were attacked by local police. Eduardo Verdugo/AP hide caption

itoggle caption Eduardo Verdugo/AP

Clandestine graves are seen near Iguala on Monday. State officials have been unable so far to determine whether the 28 bodies found in the graves are of the students who were attacked by local police.

Eduardo Verdugo/AP

In a video released this week, the mayor’s own mother-in-law says he was on the drug gang’s payroll, receiving $155,000 a month, to give the crime organization carte blanche over the city.
Few appeared to complain — Iguala’s streets were paved and the budget was in the black for the first time in years.
The mayor, as in many towns throughout this troubled region of Mexico, was able to enrich himself and family members, collude with gangs and use the local police force to maintain control, according to prosecutors, rivals and even members of his own political party — including one who publicly accused the mayor of murdering her husband.
Iguala City Councilwoman Sofia Mendoza says it was the mayor who shot her husband, Arturo Hernandez, a local community organizer, last year. He and the mayor had been longtime political rivals and argued publicly at a city council meeting the day before Hernandez was killed.
She says a witness, who saw the mayor shoot her husband in the head, even gave a statement to state prosecutors, but they did nothing.

Drug Cartel Boss Dies A Second Time


“This man had so much power, there was little I could do, I just had to take it,” says Mendoza. “I couldn’t bear to look at him anymore.”
Abarca, the mayor, took away Mendoza’s office. She holds meetings with local constituents at a plastic table on the street behind city hall.
‘Embarrassment For The President’


The revelations of local corruption and crime in Guerrero have embarrassed the administration of President Enrique Pena Nieto.
His attorney general called international journalists to a meeting earlier this week at his office to discuss the case. Jesus Murillo Karam defended his decision not to investigate Iguala’s leaders earlier.
“Look, if your cousin commits a crime, that doesn’t mean I can investigate you, even if it’s your brother,” Murillo said. “I need evidence, not suspicions.”
Murillo said he knew about the murder accusations against the mayor, but homicides, he said, fall under state jurisdiction, not federal officials.
Mendoza, the Iguala city councilwoman, says authorities should have done more.
“If they had paid attention to me and what happened to my husband,” she says, “this all could have been avoided.”
Authorities are searching for the mayor, his wife and Iguala’s police chief — who are all wanted for questioning — and for the still-missing students.

México: siguen desaparecidos los 43 estudiantes

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014


  México: siguen desaparecidos los 43 estudiantes

 México: siguen desaparecidos los 43 estudiantes

Hace tres semanas se llevó a cabo en México lo que ya es conocido como la “Masacre de Guerrero”. Decenas de estudiantes fueron asesinados y heridos por sicarios en connivencia con la policía. 43 personas aún permanecen desaparecidas.
El 26 de septiembre 80 estudiantes de la Escuela Normal “Raúl Isidro Burgos” de Ayotzinapa se dirigían de Iguala a Chilpacingo, en el Estado Guerrero, México. Patrullas de la policía municipal los persiguieron y al interceptarlos, los policías -acompañados de sicarios- los obligaron a bajar y dispararon contra ellos indiscriminadamente durante veinte minutos. Un estudiante murió y la policía se llevó detenidos a quienes aun hoy permanecen desaparecidos.

A la espera de que algún funcionario se hiciera presente y poder denunciar los hechos, el resto del contingente se quedó en el lugar de la masacre. Sin embargo fueron nuevamente atacados por la noche, resultando muertos otros dos estudiantes.
Ante la denuncia, realizada por los familiares y amigos de los detenidos, la policía aseguró que no había registro de que se hubiera trasladado a ningún estudiante a la comisaría. Un día después, el 27 de septiembre, fue encontrado el cuerpo del desaparecido estudiante Julio César Fuentes Mondragón con huellas visibles de tortura, sin ojos y desollado. Casi tres semanas después 43 jóvenes que viajaban en aquellos micros permanecen desaparecidos.

Daniel Arellano Chávez, periodista mexicano, dialogó con Radio Sur FM 88.3 y comentó cual es la situación actual. “Vemos este tema con preocupación porque el asesinato y desaparición de estos compañeros el 26 de septiembre se inscribe en una serie de reformas estructurales que se están dando en el país en función de los intereses de empresas transnacionales”, comenzó su relato.

Sin embargo Chávez explicó que “desde que han desaparecido los compañeros” México se encuentra atravesado por “una especie de indignación nacional”.

El 8 de octubre pasado, se realizó una jornada nacional e internacional por los estudiantes desaparecidos. Fue “una gran manifestación en 28 Estados de la república. Mencionar que incluso Estados que han sido sometidos por la violencia y el narcotráfico participaron de esa manifestación.

Lugares como Ciudad Juárez”, subrayó el periodista.
Consultado sobre la responsabilidad de los hechos, Chávez fue directo: “El gobierno Federal y Estatal son señalados por los familiares como los responsables. Esto hay que mencionarlo porque en los medios de comunicación comercial mexicanos se quiere decir que fue una ocurrencia de un sicario y aquí hay que señalar que es un crimen de Estado”.

Ante la falta de respuesta por parte de las autoridades el día lunes 13 de octubre se realizó una movilización hasta la sede del poder Ejecutivo del Estado de Guerrero. Es ahí donde “los padres de los compañeros normalistas y algunos maestros de Guerrero llegan al Palacio de Gobierno local y son recibidos por granaderos, es decir policías anti motines. Comienza una trifulca y desemboca en el incendio del Edificio Público del Palacio de Gobierno de Guerrero”.

México movilizado por los estudiantes
El entrevistado dio cuenta que, si bien el gobierno federal se ha desligado de la responsabilidad inculpando al gobernador “hay mucha presión tanto dentro como fuera del país” hacia el presidente Enrique Peña Nieto. “El 10 de octubre, parlamentarios europeos emitieron un comunicado hablando de la insatisfacción que siente la Unión Europea por la falta de Derechos Humanos, la falta de información a la gente en México y sobre todo la falta de respuesta” ante los hechos.

“Satisfactoriamente si ha habido una respuesta de la población”, sostuvo Chávez y agregó: “Ahora la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México ha ido a paro al conocerse los acontecimientos del día lunes y otras universidades han decidido parar durante 48 horas”.

Para el periodista mexicano el incendio del Palacio de Gobierno de Guerrero “provocado por la represión enviada por el gobierno” representa “la punta de algo muy grande que está emergiendo aquí en el país”.

“El 8 de octubre, que fue la manifestación más grande, realmente era un mar de mujeres y hombres que salieron a la calle. Sobre todo por una empatía que tiene que ver con la edad, de reconocerse en esos jóvenes desaparecidos y realmente es una agitación nacional”, remarcó Chávez.

Finalmente, el entrevistado pidió por la solidaridad internacional para esclarecer esta masacre: “Cartas al consulado, alguna manifestación si es posible, labores informativas en los centros de trabajo, las escuelas, los barrios. En este momento vemos que es crucial. La represión vendrá si no hay una movilización fuerte pero, sobre todo, si no es atendida en otras partes del mundo”.

Roja Rojita | Informe21.com

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Roja Rojita | Informe21.com

Principal Para formar parte de la información
Roja Rojita

Autor: David Bonyuet el Mar, 14/10/2014 – 20:33.

Imagen de David Bonyuet

Estamos sumergidos en la maldición de Maracapana: el socialismo rojo rojito está dejando muertos y muerticos. Venezuela supera todas las estadísticas fatales inclusive de los países en guerra pero peor aun es el salvajismo de los asesinatos. El despiadado sangrero deja muestras de quien gobierna el país: la matanza es roja rojita y el incompetente de Maduro solo dice: “… y tu que quieres que haga yo”.

El colectivo 5 de Marzo reconoció que el Gobierno nacional es la principal fuente de suministro del armamento que poseen los grupos civiles que se autodefinen como “combatientes de la revolución”. Esta confesión es bien clara y el desinterés de la fiscalía en investigar la sitúa como cómplice y encubridora de todos estos crímenes. Rodríguez Torres, sin embargo, insiste en que los colectivos trabajan por y para la paz. Existe infinidad de fotos y vídeos en donde sale Nicolás Maduro y otros personeros del régimen tratando a colectivos como Juancho Montoya (QEPD) y José Odreman (QEPD). Amen de Eliecer Otaiza (QEPD), Robert Serra (QEPD) y dos de sus guardaespaldas (QEPD). Cuando la revolución hace limpieza deja un rastro rojo rojito.

Un enfrentamiento entre colectivos y régimen solo recuerda a una batalla entre gánster: lo único bueno es que se reducen los asesinos, pero quedara el peor de ellos. Según dicen “Robert Serra organizaba la sustitución de Diosdado como Presidente de la Asamblea Nacional y ya tenía 89 votos”, la madre de uno de los escoltas asesinados aseguró “el asesino esta en la AN”, es decir, el principal sospechoso del crimen esta por aquellos lados rojo rojitos. El resto de los venezolanos tenemos que defendernos de ladrones, asesinos, policías y GNB. Pero Cabello está chorreado y dice que “se siente amenazado” ¿será de la conciencia? No han podido desenredar el caso Serra, pues no saben cómo acusarse sin incriminarse. La sangre fue roja rojita así como los culpables.

El salvajismo gubernamental tiene al estudiante Carlos Villamizar en condiciones críticas despues de un arresto irregular. En este mes también secuestraron a Victor Ugas e Inés Gonzáles (@inesitaterrible) quien junto al valiente Leonel Sánchez Camero (@anonymuswar) son una prueba que no hay libertad de expresión. Es evidente que la prioridad del régimen es destruir las críticas mientras se omiten con total impunidad revolucionaria a los colectivos armados que se pasearon por la capital sin el más mínimo inconveniente. Amigo lector ¿quién mata?

Rafael Ramírez dijo hace tiempo que “la Nueva PDVSA es roja, rojita de arriba abajo” y por supuesto: el monumental fracaso, la insólita corrupción y la patética ruina son un logro revolucionario. Han quebrado a la principal industria de Venezuela y con ello arruinan el futuro de millones de venezolanos. Hay más de una docena de demandas contra PDVSA y ya se observa que está perdiendo los arbitrajes, pero Rafael esta contentó porque “pagar US$1.600 millones a Exxon Mobil” es una victoria.

La ceguera chavista hace que Tania Díaz diga: “en 15 años de revolución, en el país no ha habido censura a los medios de comunicación”. Los trabajadores de RCTV le deben mandar muchos cariños y mensajes de amor. El resultado de esta maldición chavista roja rojita es un país quebrado al cual le cambiaron la constitución, crearon leyes persecutorias, cambiaron todas las instituciones, el nombre, la hora, la bandera, el escudo, la moneda pero más grave aun, la quiebra moral y ética. Han convertido a un bravo pueblo en un pueblo resignado, manso y sumiso. Los salvajes ataques y asesinatos de estudiantes habrían tumbado cualquier otra dictadura, pero gracias a unos traidores hay perspectivas de otro “monologo”. Jesucristo expulsó a los sacrílegos que osaron ofender a la iglesia, pero en Venezuela una pila de conspiradores pretende ser más arriechi y quieren convertir a los tiranos ateos en ángeles cristianos.

La segregación, discriminación y retaliación son políticas de Estado contra la población venezolana. Los municipios opositores no reciben recursos, se les penaliza con mayor escasez de agua, mayor cortes de luz, amen de reducir al máximo la distribución de los productos en escasez. Puedes ir a un barrio y conseguir lo que escasez en Chacao o Las Mercedes o en La Candelaria o muchas otras parroquias opositoras. La triste realidad es que la violencia, la delincuencia, el robo, el asesinato o incluso los mosquitos del dengue o del chikungunya no diferencian partidos políticos ni distinguen pobres de ricos.

El plan de Maduro es dejar el país lo suficientemente destruido para que no puedan perseguirlo después. La ONU puso al régimen contra las cuerdas: exigen la liberación inmediata de Leopoldo López y de Daniel Ceballos. La dictadura esta desnuda y el mundo sabe que en Venezuela el gobierno promueve las violaciones de derechos humanos.

Con la revolución: la matanza roja rojita avanza a paso de campeones y el linchamiento sigue. Como dice Maduro (pero para él): “eres un vago, no cumples tu responsabilidad”; usando sus palabras: “yo llamo a una rebelión constitucionalista y pacífica”, hay que rescatar al país “… de estos vagos, insensibles, que la han destruido”.

The pressure to denounce ISIL

Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Should Muslims be expected to speak up against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant?

With violence being committed in the name of Islam making headlines, many Muslims are responding with social media campaigns to make clear ISIL’s actions do not represent the faith.

Others, however, reject requests to speak out against the group or their ideology. They argue Muslims are unfairly singled out to prove they’re “moderate”.

So what’s the appropriate response? We discuss Wednesday at 1930GMT.


Wednesday, October 15th, 2014



Oct 14 2014

Editor-in-Chief at NY Analysis of Policy & Government


The United States has dropped in the ratings of economically free nations, losing a half point since last year’s survey.

According to a Wall Street Journal/Heritage Foundation survey, America lost ground due to deterioration in property rights, fiscal freedom, and business freedom. The U.S. doesn’t even score as the top nation in North America—that rank went to Canada.

Overall, America comes in at a dismal 12th place, behind Hong Kong (although that may soon change due to Beijing’s increased involvement in political affairs), Singapore, Australia, Switzerland, New Zealand, Canada, Chile, Mauritius, Ireland, Denmark, and Estonia. According to the survey the United States has experienced a dramatic decline since 2006. The principle reasons for the drop are diminished property rights, increased corruption, and higher government spending. The authors note that America is “The only country to have recorded a loss of economic freedom each of the past seven years. The overall U.S. score decline from 1995 to 2014 is 1.2 points, the fourth worst drop among advanced economies.”

In terms of economic performance, the survey notes that “Substantial expansion in the size and scope of government, along with new and costly regulations in areas like finance and health care, has contributed significantly to the erosion of U.S. freedom. The growth of government has been accompanied by increasing cronyism that has undermined the rule of law and perception of fairness.”

A particular burden that is worrisome is not just the high rates of taxation, but the increasingly vast array of regulations and the cost of compliance with them. Since 2009, more than 130 new regulations have been imposed, imposing an additional $60 billion expense.


Tuesday, October 14th, 2014







3 deaths may be tied to synthetic marijuana in Colorado

By Jacque Wilson, CNN
updated 11:50 AM EDT, Sat September 7, 2013

Outbreak linked to synthetic pot

  • 75 people in Colorado may have become sickened after smoking synthetic marijuana
  • Health officials are looking into whether these are linked to one product or several
  • Fake pot is a blend of plant and herbal materials that have been sprayed with chemicals

(CNN) — Three people in Colorado may have died after smoking synthetic marijuana, state health officials fear. The Colorado Department of Public Health has launched an investigation into an outbreak of illnesses at hospitals that may be tied to the dangerous substance.

“Initial reports show approximately 75 people who reported smoking a form of synthetic marijuana may have been seen at hospitals in the Denver metro area and Colorado Springs beginning in late August,” said Dr. Tista Ghosh, interim chief medical officer for the state, in a written statement. “Several individuals were in intensive care and three deaths are being investigated as possibly associated.”
The Colorado Department of Health, with help from local health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will attempt to figure out if the synthetic marijuana is to blame, and if so, whether all the patients were sickened by the same product or different ones.
But “don’t wait for the results of this investigation,” Ghosh urged. “If you have synthetic marijuana, stop using it and destroy it.”
Known as K2, Spice, Black Mamba, Mr. Smiley and Blaze, among other things, synthetic marijuana can have more serious consequences than regular marijuana, which is legal in Colorado. These synthetic cannabinoids are a blend of plant and herbal materials that have been sprayed with chemicals, producing an extra toxicity, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.

Teen nearly dies smoking fake pot

Sold most often on the Internet, synthetic marijuana produces euphoric and psychoactive effects similar to those associated with marijuana. But doctors say there are additional side effects that may be particularly dangerous. The drug can leave patients catatonic and listless. And what makes matters worse, very little is known about synthetic marijuana or how to treat an adverse reaction or overdose.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, the number of calls to poison centers related to synthetic drugs soared from about 3,200 in 2010 to more than 13,000 in 2011.
“Easy access and the misperception that Spice products are ‘natural’ and therefore harmless have likely contributed to their popularity,” the NIDA website states. “Another selling point is that the chemicals used in Spice are not easily detected in standard drug tests.”
Because the chemicals used in these products have a high potential for abuse and no medical benefit, the DEA has designated five of the most common active chemicals frequently found in synthetic marijuana as Schedule I controlled substances, making it illegal to sell, buy, or possess them. But manufacturers seem to be changing the chemical compounds as fast as lawmakers enact legislation to ban them.
The CDC was sending a team of four to assist the investigation.



Tuesday, October 14th, 2014


Monday, October 13th, 2014

Photos: The Best Costumes From NY Comic Con 2014

NY Comic Con 2014 comes to an end today, but you can relive all the Jacob Javits Center magic from the comfort of your apartment with the photo bonanza above. The costumes were fantastic as ever, and included everyone from No Face from Spirited Away to Napolean Dynamite, from groups of Robins to Kiss aficionados, from Barbie to The Hound & Arya. Check out 120 (or so) of our favorite costumes above—you can peruse some other galleries from the weekend as well.


Sunday, October 12th, 2014
When Cuomo talks about Astorino cutting Medicaid he knows that Congressional investigators have urged the Obama administration to block Gov. Cuomo’s request to reallocate $10 billion in federal Medicaid funds until New York pledges to pay back billions of dollars it over-billed in prior years.

The investigations panel issued a report last year that claimed New York overcharged the feds $15 billion in Medicaid reimbursements between 1991 and 2011.
“However, New York’s Medicaid program has fostered a system that over the past two decades has wasted vast sums of our nation’s limited resources.

Powerful special interest groups, cronyism and political corruption in the state have largely contributed to the New York Medicaid program’s unchecked growth and have made program reform exceedingly difficult.”

The feds reduced Medicaid payments to New York by $1.2 billion last year to begin addressing the issue.

As de Blasio Aids Bid for Democratic Senate, Cuomo Is a Nearly Invisible Man

Friday, October 10th, 2014

N.Y. / Region

As de Blasio Aids Bid for Democratic Senate, Cuomo Is a Nearly Invisible Man

“He didn’t say Cuomo’s name once.”
By and
Inside        Photo    
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo has done little publicly beyond promising to campaign for some State Senate candidates. Credit Michael Nagle for The New York Times

Three years before his own name is likely to appear on the ballot again, Mayor Bill de Blasio had returned to full campaign mode, gesticulating in a church basement, sleeves rolled up slightly, imploring about 1,000 people to turn out in November.
“We are so close to victory I can taste it,” Mr. de Blasio said of the bid to return a Democratic majority to the State Senate, rousing an audience from the Working Families Party, which hosted the event on Wednesday night. “I can taste it.”
But the man perhaps best positioned to effect that change, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, was not in the room. In fact, through a lineup of speakers including politicians, union leaders, a poet and a McDonald’s worker, Mr. Cuomo’s name was barely mentioned.

The top priority was an effort to tilt the balance of power in the State Senate, where Republicans currently share leadership with a group of breakaway Democrats.
Less than a month before Election Day, with polls showing some key Senate races leaning in Republicans’ favor, the arrangement with the governor appears increasingly fraught. Despite his pledge to push for Democratic control of the Senate, Mr. Cuomo has at times seemed not to have a strong opinion about the outcome of the November elections.
“You can’t say, ‘Well, I can work well if they elect this party,’ ” he told reporters last month. “They elect a legislature: Democratic, Republican, whatever they elect. I think the job of the governor is to figure out how to make it work.”
Some of the governor’s grudging supporters say he has already faltered on his promise: Mr. Cuomo has not ruled out endorsing a Republican incumbent from Buffalo, Mark J. Grisanti, calling the decision “personally difficult.” Mr. Grisanti, who lost the Republican primary to a right-leaning challenger but is staying in the race as the candidate of the Independence Party, backed the governor’s push to legalize same-sex marriage.
The race in Buffalo is of particular interest to women’s groups because Mr. Grisanti opposes a proposal from the governor regarding abortion rights. His Democratic opponent, Marc C. Panepinto, supports it.
“Clearly this race isn’t complicated for us or for the women of New York,” said Andrea Miller, the president of Naral Pro-Choice New York. “We would hope that it would not be complicated for the governor.”
Democrats hoped that with the support of Mr. de Blasio and Mr. Cuomo, they would be able to win enough seats this year to take control of the Senate. But those efforts are not going so well. A promising candidate running on Long Island ended his candidacy in September after his former law firm accused him of fraud, and a series of polls conducted last week offered a bleak outlook in several other contests.
The polls, by Siena College, found three incumbent Democrats trailing Republican challengers by double-digit margins. And in two Republican-controlled districts on Long Island that Democrats had hoped to capture, the polls showed the Republican candidates holding wide leads.
City officials have framed the fate of the State Senate as crucial to their agenda. A shift in the balance of power, they say, could help advance legislation related to the minimum wage, campaign-finance reform and immigration, among other issues.
Mr. de Blasio has dispatched a top political aide, Emma Wolfe, to help the Democrats. And the mayor’s wife, Chirlane McCray, is headlining a fund-raiser for two Senate candidates next week.
Mr. Cuomo’s role has been less evident. He has done little publicly beyond promising to campaign for some Senate candidates as the Nov. 4 election approaches.
Matt Wing, a spokesman for the governor’s re-election campaign, said the state Democratic Party — which Mr. Cuomo controls — had spent about $1 million helping Democratic Senate candidates.
Members of the Working Families Party, a fusion of liberal activism and union muscle, have long been suspicious of Mr. Cuomo, who is promoting an alternate ballot line, the Women’s Equality Party, that seems likely to compete for votes.
But leaders of the Working Families Party, who recruited but then declined to endorse Mr. Cuomo’s eventual challenger in the Democratic primary, Zephyr Teachout, have cast their endorsement of the governor as a farsighted, pragmatic choice.
“The W.F.P. gets stuff done,” the group’s state director, Bill Lipton, said from the stage during the event on Wednesday, at St. Vartan Armenian Cathedral in Manhattan. “We make it real.”
Other politicians at the event, including Senator Charles E. Schumer and Melissa Mark-Viverito, the City Council speaker, trumpeted their progressive credentials while exhorting voters to cast ballots on the party’s line.
And Mr. de Blasio reminded the audience that he was their “poster child.” As he left the stage, New York’s public advocate, Letitia James, who served as the M.C. for much of the night, urged the crowd to cheer louder.“A round of applause for Mayor Bill de Blasio!” she said. “Come on, you can do better than that! Promises made, promises kept!”
Amid the roars for the mayor, some in the crowd said that Mr. Cuomo still had much to prove.
As Mr. de Blasio left the stage, Stan Williams, 32, offered a pithy review: “He didn’t say Cuomo’s name once.”

De Blasio’s Transparency Is Turning Opaque Under Fire

Friday, October 10th, 2014


N.Y. / Region | City Hall Memo |​NYT Now


De Blasio’s Transparency Is Turning Opaque Under Fire

Mayor Bill de Blasio with Deputy Mayor Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, at a meeting on the Ebola threat on Thursday. On some other issues, the mayor has been increasingly curt.
Credit Ashley Gilbertson for The New York Times        
To Mayor Bill de Blasio, the recent commotion over Rachel Noerdlinger, his wife’s top aide — who failed to disclose during a background check that she lives with a boyfriend who has a serious criminal history — is a tabloid-fueled personal attack that merits no further discussion.
“Case closed,” the mayor said this week, adopting the move-it-along-folks attitude that has quickly become a de Blasio signature during his first nine months in office.
It is not unusual for mayors to want irritating story lines to go away. But the Noerdlinger episode has fueled a broader question about Mr. de Blasio and the values of his young administration: how a onetime champion of transparency and accountability can square those ideals with the newfound power — and frustrations — of his office.

As a candidate, Mr. de Blasio pledged an ask-me-anything era at City Hall, promoting himself as a different, friendlier breed of political leader. And as public advocate, he frequently assailed former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg for standing by senior aides, such as the former schools chief Cathleen P. Black, who had found themselves under fire.
Rachel Noerdlinger, facing camera, and Chirlane McCray in January, when Ms. Noerdlinger was named her chief of staff. Credit Rob Bennett/NYC Mayor’s Office
Now, experiencing some of the same difficulties faced by his predecessors, Mr. de Blasio is responding with the same sort of peevishness and obfuscation he once bemoaned.
The mayor has shut down questions about why he phoned a high-ranking police official after the arrest of a campaign supporter, telling reporters, “That’s the end of the story.” Told by a television reporter that New Yorkers wanted to know why his police-issued S.U.V. was speeding on residential streets in Queens, the mayor replied, “I’m not interested in the construct of what you as an individual think many New Yorkers think.”
Even lighthearted queries can prompt a stony response. Last month, Mr. de Blasio refused to say how he felt after learning of the death of Staten Island Chuck, the groundhog who fell from his arms in a ceremonial mishap. “Talk to the Staten Island Zoo,” the mayor said, mirthlessly.
Determined not to let critics or news coverage set their agenda, Mr. de Blasio and his City Hall advisers have taken to ignoring inquiries on matters that displease them. His communications team believes strongly that most negative stories will disappear, or at least be forgotten by the time Mr. de Blasio’s re-election effort rolls around in 2017.
That approach is being tested again by the episode involving Ms. Noerdlinger, a former adviser to the Rev. Al Sharpton, who is paid $170,000 a year predominantly to shape the image of the mayor’s wife, Chirlane McCray.
The facts of the matter are not in dispute. Ms. Noerdlinger lives with a boyfriend, Hassaun McFarlan, who went to prison for manslaughter as a teenager and has been arrested several times since, including last fall when he nearly struck a New Jersey police officer while driving Ms. Noerdlinger’s car.
When she applied for her job, Ms. Noerdlinger informed the mayor’s team about her relationship. But she did not list Mr. McFarlan as a resident of her home on a formal background questionnaire used by the city’s Department of Investigation to vet candidates for high-ranking city positions
If there is a simple explanation for the discrepancy, Mr. de Blasio and his team are not providing it. For a week, the mayor’s office has not answered questions about why Ms. Noerdlinger left out her boyfriend’s name, an omission that can be punished by dismissal.
Mr. de Blasio’s aides have also declined to release or discuss the contents of a letter sent to the mayor last week by Mark G. Peters, the commissioner of the Investigation Department, which conducted an inquiry into Ms. Noerdlinger’s actions.
The letter summarizes the findings of the inquiry, but Phil Walzak, the mayor’s press secretary, said in an email that he could not discuss those findings “because this document is subject to privacy protections.” The mayor’s office has not provided a legal basis for those protections.
Instead, the mayor’s office issued a statement saying simply that the Investigation Department had found no “intent to deceive the mayor or City Hall” on the part of Ms. Noerdlinger, whom Mr. de Blasio chose not to discipline beyond a note in her personnel file.
Ms. Noerdlinger’s actions, by themselves, do not amount to a Watergate-size scandal. But the mayor’s response has troubled some who believe she is being afforded special protection.
“I would have expected at the very least a slap on the wrist,” said Kenneth Sherrill, who taught political science at Hunter College for 41 years. “I find it hard to believe that a rank-and-file public employee who even mistakenly filled out a form like that would not be punished.”
“I enthusiastically support the right of anyone to have a personal life,” Mr. Sherrill added. “The disclosure thing, obviously, is troubling.”
For the mayor, the political dynamics at play are complex.
Ms. Noerdlinger is black, and Mr. de Blasio’s team believes privately that the criticism of her has been racially charged. Police unions, angered by the influential role given to Mr. Sharpton in the de Blasio administration, have seized on reports about Ms. Noerdlinger’s boyfriend — including claims that he referred to law enforcement officers as “pigs” in online postings — to say she should not occupy a high-ranking place in City Hall.
Mr. de Blasio is also reluctant to acquiesce to pressure, believing that to punish Ms. Noerdlinger would amount to ceding personnel decisions to outsiders, advisers who are familiar with his thinking say.
“She is a good public servant, and that’s what I respect,” Mr. de Blasio said at a news conference on Staten Island this week, where he was repeatedly questioned about Ms. Noerdlinger’s omission (and where he made his “case closed” remarks).
To combat questions of transparency, the mayor’s press office often notes that it distributes a near-verbatim transcript of every mayoral news conference just hours after it has occurred.
But this week brought an unusual exception. Mr. de Blasio made his comments about Ms. Noerdlinger on Monday afternoon. By Thursday evening, the transcript from that event had still not been sent.
William K. Rashbaum contributed reporting.

Why does Governor Andrew Cuomo love charter schools?

Friday, October 10th, 2014

The simple answer is because charter school operators and their supporters are big campaign contributors.

In March 2014, Cuomo spoke at a charter school rally in Albany that attacked plans by New York City Mayor de Blasio to charge charters for space in New York City public schools. The charter schools were backed by wealthy and powerful Wall Street hedge fund brokers who paid $5 million for television advertisements supporting their positions. Cuomo responded by forcing New York City to provide charter schools with some of the most sweeping benefits in the country. They include free space in public school buildings or else the city must contribute to the cost of renting private buildings, increased per-pupil funding for charter schools, and allowing charters to operate prekindergarten programs.

Coincidently, Cuomo’s re-election campaign received hundreds of thousands of dollars from charter school supporters, including William A. Ackman, Carl C. Icahn, Bruce Kovner and Daniel Nir. Kenneth G. Langone, a founder of Home Depot who is on the Board of Directors of a charter school gave Cuomo’s campaign $50,000 last year. According to an article in the New York Times, Langone claimed Cuomo asked him to lead a group of Republicans supporting his re-election. Just before the Democratic primary on September , 2014, Cuomo received $41,000 from Daniel Loeb, a hedge-fund manager who is chairman of Success Academy charter schools as well as $10,000 from a political action committee controlled by Tom Gulotta, a former Republican Nassau County Executive.

Cuomo’s reelection bid has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from wealthy supporters of Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy Charter School network, although as a not-for-profit organization the network itself is barred from making political donations. At least ten Success board members and two of their two spouses donated to Cuomo’s reelection campaign fund. In addition, Cuomo received about $65,000 from Moskowitz’s own political action committee.

By one estimate based on 2014 campaign filings, Cuomo received at least $800,000 in donations from “27 bankers, real estate executives, business executives, philanthropists and advocacy groups who have flocked to charter schools and other education causes in recent years.” According to Chalkbeat New York, this far exceeds “what the same group gave him for his first run in 2010: $136,000.”

The Cuomo reelection campaign has also received major contributions from Charter school advocates with ties to the board of JerseyCan, Say Yes to Education, Democrats for Education Reform, Turnaround for Children chair, Speyer Legacy School, KIPP, RELAY, ConnCan, New Schools Leadership Council, Harlem Children’s Zone, Achievement First, NewSchools Venture Fund, Civic Builders, Bronx Preparatory Charter School, Icahn Charter Schools, StudentsFirstNY, National Alliance for Public Charter Schools, Public Prep, and Coalition for Public Charter Schools.

Astorino a wiser choice for N.Y.

Friday, October 10th, 2014
Astorino a wiser choice for N.Y.
Posted on October 8, 2014 | By


Back when Gov. Andrew Cuomo was running for the 2010 gubernatorial election, he promised us he would clean up government. He said he would reform campaign finance so the people of New York would know who their government is representing.

He pledged to close a loophole that allowed large donations from corporations and businesses.

Then, he took millions of dollars in campaign donations from corporations and businesses.

He said he was doing it to get into the position to make change. Well, he got the position and, now, four years later, there’s been no change in campaign finance.

Mr. Cuomo even interfered with and canceled the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption that was supposed to look into campaign financing.

And Mr. Cuomo is taking even more money from corporations and businesses in his re-election bid.
He had the position to make the change, and he only dirtied things up more.

Clearly, Mr. Cuomo does not represent us, and we can’t trust that he ever will. Now you can all see why it is wise to vote for Republican candidate Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive, and he can make the changes we need.

Peter J. Domin

CONGA ROOM: Willie Colón One night only in Los Angeles

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Senator Rev. Ruben Diaz and Fellow Ministers to Welcome Gubernatorial Candidate Rob Astorino to the Bronx

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

For Immediate Release
October 9, 2014

TODAY, October 9, 2014, Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx) and the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization will welcome New York State Gubernatorial Candidate Rob Astorino to a morning breakfast at Maestro’s Restaurant located at 1703 Bronxdale Avenue, Bronx, New York. This breakfast meeting will start at 9:00 AM and it is expected that Mr. Astorino will arrive at approximately 10:00 AM.

Senator Rev. Diaz stated: “My fellow ministers and I are honored that Rob Astorino will join us at this breakfast to break bread together and share the various concerns that face our community with him. These issues include help for senior citizens, affordable housing, job opportunities, education, and family values. In our rich tradition, my fellow pastors and I will continue to welcome candidates to the Bronx to hear how they intend to serve us when they are elected to public office.”

The New York Hispanic Clergy Organization was created in 1988 and since then, it conducts a weekly meeting every Thursday, and has a membership of close to 150 Evangelical pastors and ministers in the City of New York.  Senator Rev. Diaz serves as President. Candidates are welcome to come to anyone of our meetings and should be willing to answer all the questions with which the ministers are concerned.

The press is welcome.

For more information please contact Senator Rev. Diaz at (718) 991-3161.

The governor’s meddling – The Observation Deck

Tuesday, October 7th, 2014

Andrew Cuomo has consistently used the levers of government to intimidate his
opponents and further his own political ends.

The governor’s meddling – The Observation Deck

Our opinion: The supposed independence of a new enforcement counsel at the state Board of Elections is compromised by her communications with the Cuomo administration.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo may think he has good reasons to be kept in the loop about what’s going on with the new, supposedly independent, counsel that he fought to install at the state Board of Elections. He should take a step back, though, and consider how much damage he is doing with this kind of meddling.

Just as his interference with the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption cast a pall over his ethics agenda – and drew a federal investigation – the revelations of a pipeline from the Board of Elections to the governor’s office creates suspicion that the only thing that’s changed is who is pulling the political strings.

There’s a disturbing thread that runs through both the Moreland scandal and the latest flap at the Board of Elections.

First came the governor’s creation of the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption, Mr. Cuomo’s answer to the Legislature’s failure to pass stronger campaign finance laws. Mr. Cuomo publicly stated the commission would be independent and could investigate even him. But as The New York Times painstakingly detailed in July, the governor’s office was kept constantly apprised of the commission’s work by its executive director, and the Executive Chamber forced the commission to back off when it issued subpoenas or otherwise got too close to Mr. Cuomo’s own political allies – including a firm he uses for political ads, a powerful group of real estate agents, an advocacy group promoting the governor’s agenda and a retailer that benefited from a tax credit Mr. Cuomo proposed.

The governor abruptly shut down the commission when the Legislature agreed to a so-called reform package that didn’t qualify as even half-baked.

The centerpiece of it was an “enforcement counsel” at the state Board of Elections, who could initiate investigations of campaign finance abuses and other matters without the partisan election board’s consent.

Now it turns out that the attorney, Risa Sugarman, a former aide to Mr. Cuomo, was copying one of the governor’s press aides on correspondence about board business, the Daily News reports. The official explanation is that Ms. Sugarman doesn’t have her own press operation and needs a little help.

True enough on both points, clearly, but this relationship fosters the perception that Mr. Cuomo’s office is calling the shots on who Ms. Sugarman investigates. It’s fear of such selective enforcement in the hands of one politician or political party that brought New York the ineffective Board of Elections, hobbled by its partisan split, that Mr. Cuomo and the Legislature supposedly fixed.

The governor’s response? “I

 haven’t looked into the matter, and I don’t see any reason why I should.”

Well, of course he doesn’t. If Mr. Cuomo’s track record with Moreland is any indication, it’s a safe bet he already knows what’s going on, and that it’s exactly the way he wants it.

What he needs to do is stop this meddling, and push for true reform, as he promised four years ago.

Categories: Editorials

Is Cuomo’s tax cap working for the people of New York State?

Monday, October 6th, 2014

Long Island’s Newsday is a strong supporter of Andrew Cuomo. It endorsed him for reelection in the recent Democratic Party primary calling a challenge from the left “folly” and praising his stance against “big-government and “big spending.”

But Newsday is fed up with the Cuomo school tax cap: “Three years after the State Legislature and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo enacted a tax cap, school districts are running out of ways to soften the blow. Pressure to control spending is rising, and the state hasn’t done enough to help.” The Cuomo tax cap limits school districts to annual tax hikes of two percent or the rate of inflation – whichever is lower. Overriding the Cuomo cap requires a 60% approval rate, something so difficult to achieve that only five of 124 Long Island school districts did it successfully in 2014. Meanwhile, pension and health care costs have dramatically increased, teachers move up the salary steps, forcing districts to make significant cuts and drain financial reserves.

One district, North Shore in Nassau County, is in a particular bind because the local power company, LIPA, is closing an antiquated plant that was a major source of the school district’s tax revenue. The district’s school budget is millions of dollars a year in the red, but this affluent community is hard pressed to make up the difference because of Cuomo tax cap restrictions.

According to Newsday, the state keeps mandating requirements without providing resources and blocking the ability of localities to raise the money that they need. Older voters, especially older White voters, may not want to pay to educate the children of minority and immigrant families that are moving into their towns, but New York State has the responsibility to educate its children. So the answer is “NO,” the tax cap does not work for the people, especially the children, of New York State.

Excerpt from Huffington Post

In Your State: Prison Costs

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

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Week of 5.9.08

In Your State: Prison Costs

The number of people behind bars in the United States continued to climb in 2007 with more than one in every 100 adults either in jail or prison for the first time, according to a study by the Pew Public Safety Performance Project.

Use the map below to find your state’s prison population, how much corrections cost your state, and the ratio of corrections to higher education spending. Information about each state selected is located beneath the map.

Map of the United States of America

Click on a state to view its information

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Friday, October 3rd, 2014
You see iBlownat some smoke shops and bodegas. It’s got a cute package that mimics an iPhone. Spice isn’t illegal (Because nobody knows what the hell it is) the packages usually warn that it’s “not for human consumption” (winkety wink wink).
But iBlown is no joke. We have seen smokers who have tried to stop using this withdraw for 3 or 4 days. iBlown can cause brain damage, iBlown smokers lose the ability to think or respond in a timely or even logical manner. 
At $25 a bag you’re buying what could be you’re total downfall. We’ve seen people lose their jobs and family and not give a damn about it. Instant addiction is what we have here. Make marijuana legal, we have to stop people from smoking this poison. ISIS couldn’t have come up with a better weapon against our youth.

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