Gibson bill would roll back school testing mandate

In the midst of a ballooning boycott of standardized school tests in the Mid-Hudson and across New York, Rep. Chris Gibson announced Thursday that a bill he co-sponsored last year to reduce the frequency of such tests now has a Senate sponsor to carry the bill in that chamber: Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat.

The Kinderhook Republican, whose 19th Congressional District includes Ulster and Sullivan counties, re-introduced legislation in January with Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona that would require tests be given just once over each of three grade spans, as the federal government required before the passage of the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. That initiative by the administration of George W. Bush required students be tested every year from grades three to eight, a requirement that has spawned an anti-testing movement that gained serious traction in New York when coupled this month with new teacher evaluations that Gov. Andrew Cuomo wanted.

Under Gibson’s bill, H.R. 452, which has 32 Republican and Democratic co-sponsors, math and reading tests would be required once in grades 3-5, once in grades 6-9 and once in grades 10-12. The bill argues that increased testing under No Child Left Behind has failed to improve student achievement, and that restoring the lower test frequency would have a variety of educational benefits, including the argument that “moving away from the practice of annually ‘teaching to the test’ will empower educators to provide instruction in a way that best inspires and prepares our country’s next generation of leaders.”

Tester announced Wednesday that he has introduced the same bill in the Senate. The House of Representatives took no action on it last year and has yet to take it up this year.

Gibson, who plans to leave the House at the end of next year and is considering a run for governor in 2018, touted the Senate bill in a press release:

“Families and educators across the nation agree the federal government’s testing regime is onerous and unfair, shifting classroom focus away from teaching and learning to testing. As thousands of New York parents opt to have their children sit out of these assessments, and as the Senate prepares to vote on updating our main federal education law, I am extremely grateful to Senator Tester for taking action. Our bill in the House continues to gain bipartisan support, and I am hopeful our efforts will finally put an end to the one-size-fits-all approach to testing.”


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Boards meet Thursday to pick county legislator

Republicans hold a huge advantage in weighted voting on Thursday when three municipal boards meet to fill an Orange County legislative seat representing Port Jervis, Deerpark and part of Mount Hope.

The boards for those three municipalities will appoint someone to replace Dennis Simmons in the District 13 seat until the end of the year, with an election held in November for the remaining two years of Simmons’ unexpired, four-year term. Simmons, a Port Jervis Republican, resigned from the Legislature in March after being appointed county commissioner of jurors.

Two candidates, Democrat Dick Roberts (a former county legislator) and Republican Tom Faggione, are seeking the seat. Both plan to be interviewed by members of the Port Jervis City Council and the Mount Hope and Deerpark town boards at 6 p.m. on Thursday, prior to the 7 p.m. meeting at which the combined boards will make their selection. The meeting is open to the public and will take place at the Deerpark Senior Center.

The appointment is unlikely to shift the party split on the Legislature, which had 11 Republicans, nine Democrats and an Independence Party member before Simmons resigned. Republicans outnumber Democrats on the three boards and hold an advantage of more than 2-to-1 in weighted voting. Votes are weighted by the number of residents of each municipality that live in the district. The five members of Deerpark’s all-Republican board — which appointed Faggione to the town Planning Board in February — have the most clout of all.

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Maloney campaign raises $610,000 in three months

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney reported raising an impressive $610,000 in the first three months of his second term in Congress, a big haul compared to any of his previous fundraising totals and more than any other House Democrat currently in office collected during that same period, according to an analysis published by Capital New York on Friday.

The Cold Spring Democrat, who won a close rematch race in November against his 2012 Republican rival, the former Rep. Nan Hayworth, had almost $590,000 on hand after expenses as of March 31, according the financial report his campaign filed on Wednesday.

In a statement announcing his contribution total, Maloney said, “We went right to work to fight for hardworking Hudson Valley families on issues like rail safety, human trafficking and stopping trade deals that ship jobs overseas, and I’m grateful for the support from my friends and neighbors who believe in our bipartisan work.”

Some notable donors during the first quarter — each of whom gave Maloney the maximum $5,400 — include: recent congressional candidate Sean Eldridge, who lost his race last year in the neighboring 19th District; Eldridge’s husband Chris Hughes, who is the New Republic’s publisher; former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, for whom Maloney once worked; Crystal Run Healthcare CEO Hal Teitelbaum; and Teitelbaum’s wife, Jennifer.

Capital New York reported that Maloney had outraised every other Democrat serving in the House of Representatives who had filed their first-quarter reports by Thursday night, one day after the deadline. He ranked 10th in fundraising among all congressional candidates for that period.

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Dems promote legislation to combat wage discrimination

Democratic lawmakers in Washington and Albany used the occasion of national Equal Pay Day on Tuesday to promote state and federal bills intended to reduce the wage gap between men and women.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, whose 18th Congressional District has the lowest ratio of women’s pay to men’s pay out of New York’s 27 district, according to a recent study, issued a statement calling on Congress to pass the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Family and Medical Insurance Leave Act. (The Paycheck Fairness Act, a Democratic priority since 2009, had come up in the 2014 campaign during a joint editorial board interview with him and his Republican opponent, Nan Hayworth, at the Times Herald-Record.)

“More than 50 years after President Kennedy signed the Equal Pay Act, the wage gap in the Hudson Valley is growing for hardworking women – we have to reverse this trend,” Maloney, D-Cold Spring, said in his statement. “Women in the Hudson Valley are more likely to be the breadwinners and caretakers; our families and economy suffer when women are paid less than men.”

In remarks released by her press office, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said: “Most of our laws and most of our protections were really set in the Mad Men era- when dad went to work and mom stayed at home. We’ll that is just not a reflection of today’s workplace. Today, 8 out 10 moms are working. This is going to overwhelmingly affect the majority of American families. We should have equal pay for equal work. If we did, we would raise the U.S. GDP by up to 4%. There is no greater economic engine than just allowing women to earn what they should for the work that they’re doing.”

And from Albany, New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie issued a statement that declared: “Equal pay for equal work must be the rule, not the exception. Women are heads of companies, heads of households and heads of state and it is time they are compensated fairly. I commend my colleges in the Assembly for continuing to support the New York State Fair Pay Act, which makes it illegal for employers to discriminate by gender or national origin by paying different wages. Later this month, the Assembly will once again be considering a number of bills to ensure equal pay for our citizens. I urge the members in the Senate to do the same.”

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Gallo and Noble trade barbs over allocation of federal funding; job performance

Kingston Mayor Shayne Gallo has scolded Kingston city employee and Democratic mayoral opponent Steve Noble, accusing him via memo of going around the back of his immediate boss to recommend federal funds.

But in a response letter sent out Sunday, Noble, 32, says Gallo “fabricated information” in the memo and that it’s being used to discredit his reputation. The letter was sent via Noble’s campaign email personal email to his immediate boss, Jim Noble his wife/fellow city employee Julie Noble and campaign treasurer and Brenna Robinson, director of the city Office of Community Development.

The letter sets up an interesting dynamic between the two. Noble defends himself against his own boss in the letter, who’s he’s trying to unseat.

The genesis of Gallo’s memo against his employee and competition comes over the allocation of about $690,000 in “Community Development Block Grants,” U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development money dolled out to poorer communities every year. Non-profits in the city compete over the money to help run their organizations every year.

Kingston’s Common Council has last say on where the money goes. For many organizations, the money is a lifeline to keep running and providing a myriad of services. The Common Council is expected to vote on where the money will go on May 5.

In an undated letter that Gallo, 55, sent to Noble’s uncle and Alderman-at-large James Noble and to Kingston’s Common Council, the Democratic mayor who’s running for re-election this year makes several accusations against Noble. He accuses him of going above the head of his boss , Kevin Gilfeather, without his knowledge or consent to make recommendations the Community Development Advisory Board about where funding should go.

“Mr. Noble is only responsible for coordinating and scheduling activities under auspicious of Recreation Department, CDBG programs, at (the) Hodge Center,” Gallo writes.

But Noble says Gilfeather was fully aware and supported Noble going to the meeting to address the funding proposals.

“Not only did he (Gilfeather) know of that particular meeting, but he himself and Brenna Robinson were included in emails I had sent to all of our department’s Community Development grant partners,” Noble says.

Gallo then goes on to say Noble’s “actions polarized and alienated CDBG from (not-for-profits) such as Center for Creative Education, Ulster County Community Action Committee and the Boys/Girls Club from CDBG and Hidge Center employees from Rondout Center employees, CDBG staff and Rec Department employees,” Gallo says.

Noble denies that charge too.

Gallo says the bulk of Noble’s recommendations at the meeting were intended to shift funding from the Center of Creative Education, Ulster County Community Action Committee, the Rondout Center and other non-profits to Family of Woodstock “for tired old programs rather than proposals for new programs, job internships (and) BEAT initiative programs.”

Again, Noble denies that, saying the city’s Parks and Recreation department, where he works, never tried to shift funding to Family of Woodstock.

But Noble does say that calling the program “tired” is “disappointing.”  He says the Kingston Cares/Family of Woodstock Program, which he says is the program Gallo is referring to, has “operated out of the Hodge Center for the past 10 years, serving hundreds of midtown families, receiving little or no city funding during that time,” Noble says.

The Everett Hodge Center, on Franklin Street, is owned by the City of Kingston and operated through a cooperative arrangement with the City of Kingston Parks and Recreation Department’s Environmental Education Program and Family of Woodstock’s Kingston Cares initiative. Funding is provided by the City of Kingston Office of Community Development.

Gallo has focused in on his “BEAT initiative” to prioritize business, education, art and technology initiatives in the city in general as well as for the CDBG funding this year. Family of Woodstock, a non-profit, provides everything from operating shelters and emergency food pantries to providing court advocates, counseling and case management services to the needy.

In the past Gallo has criticized the administration of the CDBG federal funds for waste and inefficiency.  Ultimately, Gallo offers up in his letter different funding proposals, through his Community Development office, than those from the the Community Development Advisory Board, a separate body.

Gallo will go up against fellow Democrat Noble, an environmental educator who works for the city, this November f0r a second four-year term. The job pays $75,000 a year plus benefits, though there’s been suggestions from some Common Council members to give the position a raise next year.

I’ve attached links to both letters below.

Gallo Letter

CDBG Memo Response – 4-12-15

CORRECTION: Noble reached out to me and said that the email wasn’t from his campaign address but his personal one. I’ve corrected it in the story by striking “campaign email” and putting “personal email” in the sentence. Also, the email was to his uncle, Jim Noble, not his wife, Julie. They have similar addresses.

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Maloney says Clinton fights “for all Americans”

U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, a Cold Spring Democrat who worked as a White House aide under Bill Clinton in the 1990s, issued a short statement in support of Hillary Clinton on Sunday after she launched her 2016 presidential campaign, saying he looked “forward to hearing her plans to help hardworking families get ahead and stay ahead.”

Here’s the full statement: ”Too many of our hard-working neighbors are still struggling in this economy; we need to elect a tenacious leader focused on moving our country forward, for everyone. For almost 25 years, I’ve watched Hillary go to bat for all Americans — no matter who they are or who they love. I’m looking forward to hearing her plans to help hardworking families get ahead and stay ahead.”

The former first lady, senator and secretary of state lives in the tony Westchester County hamlet of Chappaqua, which is just outside Maloney’s 18th Congressional District.  She participated in a “Women for Maloney” campaign rally in Westchester in October, shortly before Maloney’s re-election victory over Republican Nan Hayworth in a rematch of their 2012 race.

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Two candidates seek vacant Legislature seat

The governing boards of Port Jervis, Deerpark and Mount Hope are scheduled to meet April 23 to appoint a temporary replacement for former Orange County Legislator Dennis Simmons, a Port Jervis Republican who vacated his seat in March after being appointed county comissioner of jurors.

Deerpark Supervisor Gary Spears said Friday that three candidates had submitted letters of interest: Tom Faggione, a Republican who was appointed to the Deerpark Planning Board in February; Dick Roberts, a Democrat from Port Jervis and a former county legislator; and Maria Mann. Mann said later that she has withdrawn her name from consideration.

Under the county charter, elected officials in the three municipalities that District 13 crosses vote to appoint a successor until the next election, with their votes weighted according to the population of each municipality that falls within the district. Because District 13 encompasses all of Deerpark and Port Jervis and a single election district in Mount Hope, that puts the decision largely in the hands of the Port Jervis City Council and Deerpark Town Board.

The charter requires the appointment be made with 45 days of Simmons’ resignation on March 12, or else the Legislature chairman — Steve Brescia, a Montgomery Republican — makes the decision. The April 23 meeting falls just within that deadline.

The joint board meeting and vote will take place at 7 p.m. at the Deerpark Senior Center and is open to the public. Spears said the candidates may be asked to come in at 6 p.m. to either be interviewed by the boards or make presentations.

Whoever is appointed to the seat will serve until the end of the year. An election will be held in November to fill the remaining two years of Simmons’ four-year term.

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Newburgh supervisor announces campaign launch

Town of Newburgh Supervisor Gil Piaquadio is launching his re-election campaign at the Ramada Inn on April 21.

Piaquadio will be seeking his first full two-year term as supervisor since winning a special election in November to replace Wayne Booth after the former supervisor was named deputy county executive.

Before replacing Booth, Piaquadio sat on the Town Board after first winning a Councilman seat in 2003. He is also a former member of Newburgh’s Planning Board.

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Petitions are in for Village of New Paltz

Petitions are in for elected offices in the Village of New Paltz and one current official not in the running this year is Trustee Ariana Basco.

Two out of five trustee seats and the mayor’s position are all up for grabs for the May 5 election.

According to the village, four people have submitted petitions to run for Village of New Paltz mayor while another four are looking to capture two open trustee seats.

Current Mayor Jason West, Deputy Mayor Sally Rhoads, school board member Tim Rogers and Groovy Blueberry owner Amy Cohen have all submitted petitions to run for mayor.

One person has submitted an intent to challenge all those candidates petitions except Cohen’s, according to the village. Those petitions are due by the end of the business day Monday.

Four others have submitted petitions to run for the two trustee seats open this year, currently occupied by Basco and Rhoads. They are Dennis Young, former New Paltz school board president Don Kerr, former village mayor Terry Dungan and Jack Murphy. The two with the most votes win trustee seats.

Basco did not return calls for comment Thursday afternoon.

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Amedore is co-chairman of new “workforce” panel

State Senate Republicans have appointed nearly half their members to a new, all-GOP Senate panel that will seek ways to improve New York’s employment and training programs.

Among the 15 Republicans on the Task Force on Workforce Development are three whose districts cross Orange and Ulster counties: George Amedore, a new senator who was made co-chairman of the task force and represents part of Ulster; Bill Larkin, whose district includes about half of Orange and a piece of Ulster; and James Seward, who’s got another slice of Ulster.

Here’s an excerpt from Amedore’s press release:

The Task Force will: examine the barriers and the incentives for institutions and businesses to assist students and existing employees in the acquisition of new skills; review state education policies to maximize opportunities for high school and college students to obtain industry certifications and take career-themed courses for jobs that are most in demand; discuss how to improve the sharing of information about regional and statewide workforce trends to ensure job training programs are targeting the skills needed by employers; explore the job training resources available to unemployed and under-employed New Yorkers to help them achieve self-sufficiency; and identify potential opportunities for additional collaboration between education and business communities.

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