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Editorial Roundup: New York

April 21, 2021 GMT

Adirondack Daily Enterprise. April 15, 2021.

Editorial: Water is still cold; wear a PFD

We have been surprised to see a whole lot of canoes on the tops of cars driving through Saranac Lake.

It’s not just us. Erin Hanczyk, spokesperson for Region 5 of the state Department of Environmental Conservation, said she’s been surprised to see so many, too.

Early to mid April is very early to be out paddling in the Adirondacks. Usually it’s only a handful of hardcores out on the water at this time.

Maybe most of these boats are being bought or sold, and aren’t actually out on the water yet. If so, we salute the buyers. Now is great time to pick up a boat to enjoy over the next six months, and for many years to come.

Nevertheless, a warning is in order: The water is still very cold. It hasn’t warmed up anywhere near as much as the air has. Much of it was snow or ice quite recently — and there still is ice on some ponds, according to DEC.

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Mind you, cold water can make it a great time for fishing, since trout and other cold-water fish are more likely to swim up from the bottom.

But it also means that if you fall in, your body is likely to go into shock quickly. As your body uses all its energy to fight the cold, it leaves you with less energy to tread water or swim. If you aren’t wearing a personal flotation device, you can sink quickly. Hypothermia can set in fast. So can drowning.

If you go out in a boat, dress properly, with non-cotton clothing, and wear a PFD. Don’t just have a life jacket in the boat with you — wear it.

In fact, the law requires that. New York state makes every person in a boat shorter than 21 feet (including canoes, kayaks, rowboats and guideboats) not just possess but wear a PFD between Nov. 1 and May 1. The DEC also urges people in bigger boats to wear PFDs at this time of year.

Children under 12 years old are required to wear (not just possess) a PFD year-round while on any boat less than 65 feet long. And the law requires a person must wear a PFD sized for them; one that’s too big or too small won’t do.

Hanczyk pointed out that water levels are also high and fast-flowing right now (despite the lack of recent rain) because of snowmelt coming down from the mountains. Deeper, faster water is yet another reason to wear a PFD.

“Falling in to swift currents can easily result in being pulled and kept under water and collisions with rocks, logs and other objects causing injury,” DEC says.

With the sun shining and the air warm, Hanczyk said, “Everyone is eager to get out and enjoy the nice weather, but winter only just behind us.”

As much as we love canoeing, we’re staying off the water for the rest of this month at least. But that doesn’t mean you have to. There are dangers and risks with all outdoor recreation at any time of year. Know what those risks are, show up prepared for them, and then have a great time.

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Just know it’s not summer yet. It’s spring, which has its own challenges and wonders.

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Dunkirk Evening Observer. April 19, 2021.

Editorial: NEW YORK STATE Painful proposal looms at pumps

Can we get a show of hands for anyone who wants to see gas prices increase 55 cents a gallon in New York state? How many of us either want to or can afford to spent 26% more on natural gas to heat our homes in the winter?

If you answered no, then email every legislative Democrat in the state Legislature and make your displeasure about the Climate and Community Investment Act (A.6967/S.4264A) known. Rest assured, you don’t need to bother Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, or state Sen. George Borrello, R-Sunset Bay, with your complaint — there is no way they would vote for the act. They’ve got too much sense to vote for such a harmful bill.

Seeing as how Democrats forced through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act a couple of years ago with unattainable goals for emissions reductions, we have no such faith in the common sense of Democrats in the state Legislature.

For those who missed a story last week on the Climate and Community Investment Act, the state Legislature is discussing raising $15 billion a year to pay for clean energy projects. Much of the environmental lobby’s argument in favor of the bill is that it would raise the $15 billion on the backs of corporate polluters with deep enough pockets not to notice a billion dollars here or a billion dollars there.

That’s a stretch, to put it mildly.

Thank goodness for Ken Pokalsky, vice president of the Business Council of New York State, who testified in a public hearing earlier this week that $6.5 billion of the $15 billion would not be raised on the backs of the big, bad corporate polluters that Democrats love to vilify, but on the backs of those big, bad state residents who dare to drive their car to and from work or turn on their furnace to keep their families warm in the winter.

One environmental lobbyist had the nerve to suggest that fossil fuel companies may not pass the gas tax on to consumers and instead choose to cut executive salaries. How utterly naive can one be? Other lobbyists pointed to rebates in the legislation as a way to protect low- and moderate-income New Yorkers — but nowhere in the 70-page bill is a rebate on gasoline purchases mentioned. Does anyone else trust New York state to hold those people harmless? We sure don’t.

We’re not saying New York and its residents doesn’t need to be concerned with the state’s environmental future.

But we are saying the Climate and Community Investment Act is a flawed bill that shouldn’t be passed in its current form. The fact it is considered for passage this year is just the latest indication of the danger of one-party rule in Albany.

Democrats used to take a few nickles and dimes from our paychecks in the name of progressive causes. That was a bearable annoyance. An extra 55 cents per gallon of gas works out to roughly $400 year for someone driving a four-cylinder vehicle with a 14 gallon gas tank that gets filled once a week. It will be more expensive for those who drive heavier minivans or trucks that have bigger engines. In our view, state government proposing taking several hundred dollars more from our wallets each year is an annoyance that many state residents can’t afford to bear.

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Newsday. April 18, 2021.

Editorial: Housing bias is put to the test

For years, fair housing advocates said the best way to root out discriminatory treatment toward those searching for housing is testing for it. Send people of different races posing as buyers or renters with similar economic backgrounds to the same real estate agents, the advocates said, and see whether they are treated the same. Nationwide results — including a few examples from New York — proved the advocates right:

Testing exposed bias.

Now Long Island is seeing that truth play out in distressingly spectacular fashion. State authorities are cracking down on such bias, with more than 80 investigations of Long Island real estate agents, brokers and instructors. The license of one local agent was revoked — the first time that’s happened in New York in more than 20 years — and the state Department of State is moving to suspend or terminate the licenses of 18 other Long Island agents or brokers.

The spur was the recent Newsday investigation called Long Island Divided. The project used pairs of undercover testers — one who was white paired with one who was either Black, Hispanic or Asian — and videotaped their homebuying interactions with 93 Long Island real estate agents and brokers. The results were striking but, sadly, not surprising. The three-year probe found evidence of disparate treatment of 49% of Black testers, 39% of Hispanic testers, and 19% of Asian testers.

More powerful than the numbers were the anecdotes of animus uncovered by Newsday’s testers and confirmed by state officials. Derogatory comments made to whites about the Wyandanch and East Hampton school districts. Warnings to a white tester about gang activity in Brentwood, but reassuring comments to a Black tester that “the nicest people” live there. Requiring mortgage prequalification for minority homebuyers but not whites. Many would-be homebuyers did not realize they had received discriminatory treatment until they viewed the recordings, further proving the need for comparative testing.

Also in the state’s sights: three instructors whose state-mandated fair-housing lessons for real estate agents were woefully brief in length and inappropriate in subject matter, including offensive statements like “Jewish lightning,” a term referring to arson.

The discipline being exacted by state officials is essential to stamp out this pernicious problem, and long overdue. The Department of State and the Division of Human Rights, the two state agencies empowered to discipline real estate agents for discriminatory behavior, told Newsday they have no records of either agency conducting undercover bias testing from 2007 to 2018. Their previous unwillingness or inability to fund or conduct testing programs has been displaced, at least for now, with public eagerness and increased funding from the federal government, Attorney General Letitia James, and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration. And the state legislature also is poised to increase agent and broker fees to bring in more than $1 million yearly for testing.

Sustained action is the only way to rid the region of its deeply rooted housing bias. The first steps are underway.

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New York Post. April 19, 2021.

Editorial: Andrew Cuomo just keeps the lies coming

“New York’s success in dealing with COVID is inarguable,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo claimed Monday at another one of his highly controlled press conferences, even as a new study suggests the Empire State failed worst in the nation when you consider both the health and employment consequences of the pandemic and the lockdowns.

The report from Hamilton Place Strategies notes that New York lost more jobs, per capita, than any other state except Hawaii (55,000 per million population) and saw among the worst death tolls (about 3,300 “excess deaths” per million residents, with only Mississippi clearly worse, at 3,800).

OK: Part of New York’s suffering was bad luck. Since New York City is a global hub, we got hit hard early, before anyone realized how much the bug had spread. And any state with a strong tourism industry took a big jobs hit, too.

But the fact is that Cuomo was pooh-poohing virus fears well into last March, even slapping down Mayor Bill de Blasio’s concerns.

Then he changed course in the worse way possible — shutting everything down in a stringent lockdown that pummeled businesses, even as he forced nursing homes to take COVID-positive patients. So he failed to protect the most vulnerable and locked down the people who were the least in danger.

The governor has long insisted his leadership saved New York from a far worse fate. About 45,000 suckers bought the book where he explains that at length. Now he’s facing an investigation by the state attorney general over whether he illegally forced staff to do work on the book — which reportedly earned him a $4 million advance — at the height of the crisis last year.

Yet Cuomo now says, “I’m going to focus on my job. That’s what I’ve always done” — time out for his book aside?

Even when he’s severely limiting press access, the gov resorts to nonstop lies and deceptions: The Monday event also saw him pretending it’s become impossible to do in-person press conferences (though he routinely did them at the pandemic’s height) and also ignoring the state’s bevy of mandates on local governments as he insisted that property taxes are the real problem for New York taxpayers, not the taxes he just agreed to hike by $4.3 billion.

He’s a real peach.

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Advance Media New York. April 18, 2021.

Editorial: Military, Hancock were wrong to keep Reaper drone crash a secret

The 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Field routinely flies remote-controlled MQ-9 Reaper drones over our homes, schools, businesses, roads and lakes. When a drone crashes, it’s more than an embarrassment to the military. It’s a matter of public concern.

It’s dismaying that we’re only learning now about a Reaper that crashed June 25, 2020, on takeoff from Hancock Airport. Neither the 174th nor the Syracuse Regional Airport Authority, which operates the airport on the public’s behalf, saw fit to alert the public about the accident. That’s wrong.

Syracuse.com Washington reporter Mark Weiner found out about the accident from a recently completed Air Force crash investigation. The report blamed the crash on pilot error and a poorly designed control panel that led the pilot to pull the wrong lever.

The New York Air National Guard saw no reason to inform the public, since the crash was on airport property. Jason Terreri, who runs the airport, left it up to the Air National Guard to put out the news. He should not have been so deferential.

In fact, both organizations need to show maximum transparency if they want to keep the trust of airport neighbors and commercial passengers who share the runways with the military.

Hancock Airport is one of the only airports in the country — if not the only one — that has a waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration allowing drones from the 174th to take off and land alongside commercial jets. Before the waiver, drones had to be trucked to Fort Drum for training missions. The FAA also used to require a chase plane accompany the drones, but dropped that rule in 2019, freeing the 174th to conduct more training missions.

The military enjoys the freedom and convenience of using a public airport. That comes with a responsibility to the well-populated communities their drones fly over. The airport’s neighbors got lucky this time. Had this aircraft gone another quarter mile before crashing, it would have landed on a busy commercial area on Taft Road.

The incident raises further questions:

— Were there other drone crashes out of Hancock that we don’t know about? We know the MQ-9 was accident-prone. In November 2013, one of the 174th’s drones crashed into Lake Ontario. (That time, the public was told about it). A 2012 investigation by Bloomberg News found Air Force drones had a high accident rate compared to the rest of the service.

— Was the design flaw in the control panel fixed? If not, it’s another accident waiting to happen.

The Defense Department does not have a legal duty to inform the public when an MQ-9 drone crashes. But we believe it has a moral one.

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