The New York-based hotel investment firm MCR, yesterday broke ground on the legendary TWA Flight Center at JFK International Airport. The much-lauded conversion plan will transform the storied Saarinen terminal into the centerpiece of a world-class 505-room hotel serving millions of travelers each year. The Landmark facility that has been closed to the public since 2001. The intention now is to preserve Eero Saarinen’s Midcentury Modern design. JFK is one of the few airports without an on-site hotel and this $265 million construction project, completely funded by the private sector, will change all that. The project will generate 3,700 jobs, including union construction and hotel jobs. The project is expected to open in 2018.
(Source: Governor’s Site)
New York State is participating in the “Drive Sober or get Pulled Over” enforcement campaign to crackdown on impaired driving this holiday season. Drivers can expect sobriety checkpoints and an increased number of State Troopers and local police officers patrolling New York roadways. State and local officers will enforce the national campaign starting today through Sunday, January 1, 2017. Law enforcement are watching for distracted drivers, vehicle occupants who are not properly buckled up, and drivers violating the “Move Over Law”, which requires motorists to exercise extreme caution when passing emergency vehicles that are stopped in or on the side of the road.
(Source: The Patch, The Journal News)
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced yesterday that Kenneth Nakdimen of Monsey, Shalom Lamm of Bloomingburg and Volvy Smilowitz of Monroe all face charges of conspiracy to corrupt the electoral process to advance their real estate development project in Bloomingburg called Chestnut ridge, a planned 396-unit Hasidic community, where the men anticipated making hundreds of millions of dollars. They are accused of an elaborate scheme to add phony voters to the rolls. On Thursday, the three Hudson Valley real estate developers were arrested and accused of rigging a local election that included putting toothbrushes into empty apartments to make them look occupied so they could pack the voter rolls with false registrations. According to Bharara, a fourth man, Harold Baird, a former town supervisor of Mamakating, entered a guilty plea to a charge of conspiracy to submit false voter registrations. Bharara said, “Profit-driven corruption of democracy cannot be allowed to stand no matter who does it or where it happens.”
(Soure: The Patch, Journal News, AP)
The health insurance marketplace in New York has been extended. The original deadline was yesterday but has now been extended to Saturday for coverage beginning January 1. If you are looking to enroll in a health insurance program or renew coverage you already have through NY State of Health, the state’s marketplace for insurance plans offered under the federal Affordable Care Act. Donna Frescatore, executive director of the state’s marketplace said in a statement, “NY State of Health is having the busiest open enrollment period yet and we want consumers to have a little more time to select a health plan for January 1, 2017.”
Reclaim New York has announced that they have surpassed 100,000 Facebook followers showing the rising tide of New Yorkers ready to engage at every level of government to demand a more affordable, transparent state. The organizations social media presence has grown exponentially since it started, hitting this landmark figure in under two years. Reclaim now has more Facebook support than the official accounts of Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and state legislative leaders, among others. Reclaim New York Executive Director Brandon Muir said, “We’ll continue to grow this wonderful, passionate voice, making it heard from Village Hall to the Governor’s office.” The intention of Reclaim is to drive “more active and direct conversation between New Yorkers and public officials. Online interaction is key to creating a more transparent future where public information is easily accessible, and pulled out of the shadows by consistent citizen-driven oversight.
Paul Galley and the Riverkeeper team have announced that their 50th year has been one to remember. They believe their success has been people showing up, taking action and volunteering to support their work. This year’s highlights included fighting back against crude oil coming down the Hudson River with the designation of 2,400 acres on the Hudson as new long-term berths for barges that store and transport crude oil for export. Expanding water quality programs that show where and when the river is safe for swimming. This year for the first time, they went as far as the source of the Hudson River and several tributaries to check that water is clean and safe. And they held the biggest shoreline cleanup ever. Thousands of volunteers removed 49 tons of trash and planted hundreds of trees. If you would like to be part of the Riverkeeper team in 2017 checkout riverkeeper.org
The Journal News is reporting that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board on Wednesday voted unanimously to approved its 2017 budget and a four-year financial plan – one that counts on a 4 percent fare hike to keep it on solid financial footing. The board has not yet had public hearings on the fare hike in Rockland and Westchester or Brooklyn counties. The MTA Chairman and CEO Thomas Prendergast said, “Together we’ve cut costs, found better, more efficient ways of doing things and even found ways to significantly improve our services.” Without the fare hike, driving approximately $242 million into the agency in 2017 if implemented, the MTA would run a deficit of $1 billion by 2020. If you would like to attend a hearing there will be one in Suffern on Thursday at the Crowne Plaza on Executive Boulevard and on December 20 at New York Power Authority headquarters at 123 Main Street in White Plains. Both hearings begin at 5 p.m. doors open at 4pm.
On Wednesday, Rockland County Executive Ed Day returned to the Legislature its amended Rockland County budget for 2017. The County Executive said in a release that he looks forward to working with the Legislature to sell the county-owned Sain Building, which a buyer wants to purchase for $4.5 million. Day said, “As soon as the sale is realized I will work with the Legislature to amend the 2017 budget to reflect that revenue.” In the meantime, Day will not allow that $4.5 million in revenue to be counted in the 2017 budget until the sale is realized. Day feels this cautious approach is necessary because some in the Legislative majority have been blocking the sale of the Sain Building for 14 months. Once sold, Day, will work with the Legislature to put the money to use funding some non-profit agencies as well as funding contract settlements, primarily if back pay is awarded. Day’s intention is that the majority of revenue be used to fund deficit reduction. In a release from Legislative Chairman Alden H. Wolfe and Budget and Finance Chairman Legislator Michael Grant they are “blasting the County Executive for failing to approve an amended 2017 budget” that they believe “brought a tax decrease for property owners.” Grant said in regards to the Sain Building, “If the sale is completed, we can use the funds for deficit reduction” he added, “This is in contrast to the County Executive’s 2016 plan, which devoted the proceeds to operating expenses – a one-shot solution at best.” Day said, “While I respect the Legislature’s input, I cannot in good conscience allow amendments from the Democratic majority, which are funded by phantom revenue, to go forward,” he added, “We have worked too hard to climb out of a fiscal hole to travel down the same road that led this county to a staggering $138 million deficit and near insolvency.” The County Executive vetoed all but four of the remaining amendments proposed by the legislature. Day said his budget “cuts spending, maintains top-quality services and stays within the state-mandated 1.17 percent property tax cap.” The legislature will do a final review and must have 12 votes to override each line-item veto by the County Executive. The final budget must be completed by December 20th. The Legislature will meet again 7:00 p.m. on December 19th to consider any overrides. Wolfe and Grant are urging the public to contact Legislators Carey, Falciglia, Hofstein, Moroney, Santulli, and Tyer – who voted against the legislature’s amended budget – to join them in overriding the vetoes. You can call 845-634-5100 or visit: Rockland.gov
(County Executive, Ed Day)
(Legislature Chairman, Alden H. Wolfe)
The state has announced that General Motors, a global automotive company, will invest $334 million in new machinery and equipment at its Tonawanda, Lockport and Rochester plants to produce future engine and component products. The project will support 67 new jobs in Tonawanda and retain 1,194 positions at the three plants. Empire State Development will provide up to $7 million in capital grants and Excelsior Tax Credits in return for job and investment commitments to move the project forward. General Motors maintains 4,200 total manufacturing jobs in New York State.