Cuomo Makes Negligent Landlords Responsible for Crime

Andrew Cuomo is cracking down on neighborhood crime by targeting landlords who allow persistently troublesome tenants stay at their properties.  This plan has a lot of points for it, and a lot of points against it, but the coalitions of landlords across the state are just complaining as usual about the harsh treatment of their constituencies irrespective of the plan’s merits.  I suppose that is their role:

Cuomo plan makes landlords responsible for crime at their properties || Democrat & Chronicle: Local News

Paul Palmieri, president of the Long Island-based Coalition of Landlords, Homeowners and Merchants, said government should focus on helping landlords keep properties safe, not taking punitive action against them.

“We believe in responsible ownership,” he said, adding that “we don’t believe the government is always true in their motives. We believe they are trying to shut down landlords because they don’t like the people landlords are renting to.”

The curious difficultly here is that, of course, New York has spent decades and even centuries fighting against discriminatory landlords who refused people homes based on arbitrary and prejudiced opinions.  Hence, evicting a tenant is an exceedingly difficult, expensive and time-consuming process in which the tenant arguably has more rights than the landlord.  Now, the same state that makes the laws that make it difficult to evict are making it equally difficult to deal with troublesome tenants.

I’m not defending slum-lords, and I do understand that this new policy is designed to target “landlords who allow persistent illegal activity at their properties.”  But housing policy in this state needs a serious overhaul, not just another papering over with yet another set of contradictory laws.  In fact, what is most surprising about this new policy is that I’d always understood that landlords were responsible for criminal activity on their property.  Perhaps that’s just a Rochester law?

I think all of us who rent are sensitive to “that house” where all the trouble constantly happens in the neighborhood.  Invariably, the landlord in question is AWOL, allowing not just trouble tenants but leaky faucets and broken windows to persist.  It’s a good idea to pressure these people.  However, it’s not in anyone’s interest to make owning property in high-crime neighborhoods prohibitive.  That will only exacerbate the issue.

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If it Wasn’t for New York Politics. . .

. . .  New York might actually be a pretty OK place to live.  Alas, we may find ourselves sporting RealID cards – a thing which I would have thought neither Right nor Left would have wanted – because Spitzer made an attempt to try to solve the dissonance between Federal immigration law and State need for highway safety.  Rottenchester at F29 does a good job of summing up the situation:

Drivers’ Licenses Will Still Be An Issue – The Fighting 29th

I didn’t have an objection to Spitzer’s earlier plan, because I don’t think that it’s the state’s business to become immigration police. But his endorsement of the intrusive and pointless RealID program now has turned me against it. Since nobody is happy with issuing illegals second-class licenses, I’ll bet that the final outcome will probably be no license for illegals, and RealIDs for the rest of us. Our highways won’t be any safer, but we’ll all be packing a big-brother identity card.

Fie and a pox on the ReadID card! An unnecessary thing for an unproven crisis of identification.  But then, the entire illegal immigration debate, the license debate, the voter registration debate, the RealID and the War on Terror are all rooted in the same garbage.  It’s the exact same xenophobia that compels housewives to buy antibacterial soap where humans have existed for hundreds of thousands of years without it.  It is the fear – and the intentional amplification of the fear – of the unknown.

Because it benefits someone, you are expected to believe that dangerous bugs crawl on your skin; that terrorists lurk in the back rooms of every 7-11; that people are driving in droves from one polling station to another, voting four and five times for the same candidate; that Mexican illegals are carting canisters of Sarin gas with them as they creep across the border.  Even if Americans are slowly waking up to the fact that they’ve been getting gamed all along, the Republicans are even up for playing the fear card on local issues as banal as driver’s licenses because they still think fear is a winning issue.

And, I fear, they’re right.

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Bally’s Total Fitness Scam in Rochester

Well, this is fun.  It seems my wife and I are victims of Bally Total Fitness’ unethical sales practices, which they were supposed to have settled in 2004, after the Attorney General’s office sued them.  I guess nothing has changed.

I don’t remember reading about any of this.  But apparently, the AG got enough complaints back then to reach a settlement with Bally.  You would have thought that they would have stopped their practices, but I guess old habits die hard:


Bally Total Fitness Corporation, which operates nearly 40 health clubs throughout the state, settled an investigation by Spitzer’s office after hundreds of consumers complained that deceptive ads and high pressure sales tactics tricked them into signing long-term contracts and misrepresented the total price of the memberships.

The Big Guns are Fired Up and Pointing at Maggie Brooks

Hat tip to Exile on for this piece of news.  Here at DFE, attribution is important:

“Monroe County locals stand up for students.” October 15, 2007. NYSUT: A Union of Professionals.

A coalition of NYSUT local unions is fighting a Monroe County plan to strip up to $29 million in county aid from school districts. “If this ill-conceived plan goes forward, our students will be short-changed,” said Beverly Engel, president of the Monroe County Federation of Teachers.

This is not good news for local Republican Legislators eager to win reelection. Not good news at all, because local teachers and schools might not have the money to put this issue out there along side the evening news, but you can bet NYSUT does.  This issue will likely be front-and-center for the forseeable future unless the Repubs cave.

I for one am utterly heartbroken by this development. . . . /snark

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Elliot Spitzer’s Lack of Nuance

I’ve been a supporter of Elliot Spitzer, but at the same time, have always been a bit concerned by his lack of diplomatic skills.  Once again, in the license argument, Spitzer is showing 0 diplomacy, preferring instead to demand change where there is little to no popular or political support.

DKos writer Samuel Wilson has a great writeup about the destructive path that our governor is taking on this issue.  Elliot Spitzer has left himself and all Progressives open to attack by failing to even acknowledge legitimate concerns about safety.

There is little doubt but that, on the political level at least, opposition to the new license rules is entirely partisan.  But Republican partisans get their strength from being on the popular side of the issue: there seems to be a majority of the population who either don’t trust or flat-out don’t support the plan.  The governor could do himself a lot of favours by simply addressing the issues publicly and sitting down in private sessions with county clerks to try to come to some sort of resolution.  But he looks like he will refuse every attempt.

You can’t bitch about politics if you won’t at least try to play the game.

Daily Kos: Has Eliot Spitzer Jumped the Shark?

Spitzer has remained defensive about his policy, refusing to take seriously people’s concerns about allegedly rewarding illegal immigrants. The governor wants people to think of this exclusively in public safety terms, but without thinking about terrorism. He’s right to condemn some definitely overblown rhetoric from opponents, but his refusal to address, even if only to refute, complaints against “rewarding” makes him look arrogant to many people. His comment from the weekendthat “The fact that when you crossed the border you didn’t have a visa, you didn’t come in properly, that is not the purpose of the driver’s license” sounds alarming coming from a former attorney general. His assertion that “you do things that you believe are right and don’t govern based on polls,” given the present context, sounds almost Bush-like in its stubborn certitude. Principle should trump polls on some occasions, but a politician shouldn’t make it sound like he happily ignores the opinions of his constituents on important matters.

The “Security Candidate” Called Out for Inaccuracies

It would be one thing if Annenberg was talking about his exaggerations of tax cuts or his supposed adoption boom he fostered in NYC. But as the supposed tough guy, security candidate, Giuliani needs to appear tough on crime, and these facts seem to take a bit of the starch out of his collar: Cop-Counting Cop-Out

On his Web site, Rudy Giuliani claims that he grew New York City’s police force by 12,000 officers between his inauguration as mayor in January 1994 and mid-2000. That’s just not true. Most of the cops he’s counting – 7,100 to be exact – were already housing or transit police who were simply folded into the New York Police Department. The merger of the departments didn’t increase the number of police in the city at all. The actual increase in the size of the force was about 3,660, or about 10 percent, during the period Giuliani pinpoints. And Giuliani doesn’t mention that the cost of hiring about 3,500 of the officers was partially covered by the federal government under President Bill Clinton.

Oh! And here he’s been talking tough about “beating” Bill Clinton:


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JoAnn Wilder: a County Clerk Who Gets It

In the whole manufactured crisis over state-issued driver’s licenses, the shrill squeaking of clenched butt-cheeks is utterly deafening.  So deafening, in fact, that you might have missed out on this stunningly obvious bit of logic:

Jefferson County Clerk: licenses for undocumented aliens ok –

“The purpose of your driver’s license is not to prove your citizenship. You have a passport for that. And if you don’t have one, then you should go get one if you’re going to be traveling or do anything that you need to prove citizenship for,” Wilder said. She said that under the Pataki administration and in the wake of 9/11 the state began collecting social security numbers during license applications to enhance security. No longer requiring proof of citizenship on license applications merely returns to the status quo before those changes, Wilder said.

Try going to Paris with your driver’s license and see how far into France you get with it. Of course it’s not proof of citizenship, nor is it really proof of much of anything. Requiring an SS number for licenses was, in the final summation, a hasty attempt at security which never really did anything in the first place.  We make do with what we have, and I’m sure the requirement was a legitimate attempt to respond to the 911 attacks, but it was never really effective in the first place. As I’ve discussed earlier, there are and have always been many ways to bypass even this relatively innocuous security measure.

Maybe all these Republicans so up in arms over the license requirement should suggest a National ID Card.  I’ll bet we can get that done some time mid-term in the Clinton Administration.  I’m sure they’ll be all for it, then.

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County Clerks and Licenses: If its not Politics, What is It?

I think the following nugget from the bottom of the Buffalo News article on the driver’s license hub-bub just about says it all:

The Buffalo News: Home: County clerks rebel over driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants

The county clerks believe they will be violating federal laws by knowingly providing government identification to illegal aliens. Several said the state should let counties opt out of the program. They said they also are being asked by Albany to serve as immigration officers in checking the validity of passports, something they are not qualified to do.

Wait. . .  So what the governor is doing is wrong; what he’s doing is illegal; what he’s doing is unsafe; what he’s doing is going to cause terrorists to flock to NY in numbers even greater than they already are. . . .  But if your not going to get rid of the policy, then just let us opt out of the program?

That sounds to me like the Republicans who are raising this stink simply want to go on record saying they’re tough on immigration.  It certainly does not sound like they have any altruistic motives for security’s sake.  Because of course, you could get a license in Steuben County and use it to plot dastardly deeds in NYC as easily as you could with a license from Nassau County.  If you were really concerned about our safety, you’d fight the policy straight into court, not stop short at getting a free pass.

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Driver’s Licenses as Proof of Identification

It seems the Republicans just can’t wait for another crap excuse to pinch their buttocks in false indignation.  Monroe County Clerk Cheryl Dinolfo is staging a revolution, refusing to honor the governor’s new policy.  The governor’s new policy makes a passport, not proof of residency, the legal requirement for getting a driver’s license.  The indignation is that this might pave the way for millions of illegal immigrants to flock here for the sake of having a license, and apparently, the local media is willing to play ball with this:

Fight Over Driver Licenses for Illegal Immigrants –

Starting in the end of the year, the new state policy will allow immigrants to use a passport or birth certificate–not proof of legal residency–to get a license.

Some Republican State Assembly members joined Dinolfo in denouncing the plan and promising action against it. They fear the new policy will attract more illegal immigrants to the state and devalue the license as a form of identification. They also said it would leave New York more vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

The shrilling of both the media and local Republicans ignores some basic facts that beg for attention.  

The Fight Against Lead Poisoning Continues

I ran across this article whilst searching my feeds for something completely different.  Rochester passed legislation last year requiring the issuing of a Certificate of Occupancy for residential property be contingent upon that property’s passing a lead test.  Moreover, we passed a number of other rules that make the cleanup of lead paint in our city much, much more feasible.

But things are not so rosy elsewhere in New York State.  We passed our legislation specifically because the state law is woefully inadequate.  How inadequate do they have to be in order to qualify for my stamp of “woefully?”  Probably a few steps short of where NYS is, as you can read from this passage: – The Observer-Dispatch – N.Y. lacks mandate to test for lead

In New York state, a dwelling’s lead levels must be checked only after a doctor diagnoses a child with lead poisoning.

“In most of the state of New York, including Utica in my view, it’s a very barbaric method of public health,” said Matthew Chachere, who represents the New York City Coalition to End Lead Poisoning. “You are using children as biological Geiger counters to look for lead. The effects are permanent brain damage. It’s absurd to do things this way.”

Wow.  So you first have to poison a kid, then we’ll try to do something about it.  This just in: the canary in the coalmine is demanding the new Harry Potter book. . .

Wire New York: The Truth About Broadband

Are you happy with your Internet connection speed? Glad to have that zippy broadband access and always carping at your cheap-ass dad to finally make the upgrade? Yep. You’ve got Road Runner, so you should be proud.

Or should you? While you’re mulling over your support for the Brodsky Telecom Bill (aka, Wire New York), consider this: of the top 18 most expensive broadband countries, Americans rank 17th, paying $36 compared to an average $43. Good so far, but what about quality of service? Well, we only get about 1.9mbps (megabits per second) download speed, as opposed to Japan’s fifth most expensive market, where the speed is around 61mbps. You don’t need to be a computer whiz, a mathematician or even Exile on Ericsson St. to see that $49 for Japanese broadband is a far-and-away better deal.

And if that makes you sick, read about the latest record-setter in broadband speed, once again, not in the US:

The Local – Sigbritt, 75, has world’s fastest broadband

A 75 year old woman from Karlstad in central Sweden has been thrust into the IT history books – with the world’s fastest internet connection.{{snip}}

Sigbritt will now be able to enjoy 1,500 high definition HDTV channels simultaneously. Or, if there is nothing worth watching there, she will be able to download a full high definition DVD in just two seconds.

No word on what that will cost, but can you even imagine such speeds without paying for some commercial-grade service like a shared T1? Of course not.

Does it get worse? Oh, yes. Much, much worse below the fold:

Rudy Giuliani: Urban Legend

Well, this is going to do the Giuliani campaign no good whatsoever.

The IAFF, the International Association of Fire Fighters, has released a new website called The site is dedicated to revealing some of the more ugly truths of September 11th and Mayor Giuliani’s unfortunate role in the events of that day. Broken radios, an emergency center in the only building in the entire state to have ever been hit by terrorists (twice), dumping debris before firefighters were able to collect the remains of the fallen. . . . the list goes on. Those of us on the Liberal blog circuit, especially in New York, will be unsurprised by all of this. But, as the phrase goes in politics, how does this play in Iowa?