Faso and Maloney react to short-term spending deal

Both Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and Rep. John Faso were disappointed that Congress passed a short-term spending bill on Thursday without resolving thorny issues that must now be hashed out in January, particularly the fate of the so-called Dreamers – people whose parents brought them to the country illegally when they were children and who now face deportation.

But Maloney, a Cold Spring Democrat, opposed the stop-gap bill, and Faso, a Kinderhook Republican, voted for it. And each lobbed criticism at the other’s party for its votes and stance on the negotiations.

Maloney called the short-term measure, which passed in a party-line vote of 231- 188 and keeps the government operating until Jan. 19,  “just another example of Congress failing to do its job.”

“We have a lot of work left to do this year – not least of which is working out a long-term solution for 800,000 Dreamers who may be celebrating their last Christmas in the only country they’ve ever known,” Maloney said in a statement. “Republican leaders in Congress should push back the holiday recess and hammer this stuff out now.”

“People in the Hudson Valley know that sometimes you have to work long hours to meet deadlines around the holidays. Congress shouldn’t be any different.”

Faso argued the measure was “necessary, but disappointing in that critical issues that should have been completed by the end of the year are being delayed until January.”

Faso went on to note that the House passed all 12 appropriations bills to fund the government for a full year before the Oct. 1 deadline, but that Senate Democrats have blocked debate on the same bills and stalled them.

“Of particular concern is failure of Democrats to adopt a defense appropriations bill, which has a pay raise for the troops and increased funding for training and readiness,” Faso said. “This latter issue is particularly important given the serious accidents occurring among Navy ships in Asia over the last few months.”

He also accused Senate Democrats of blocking reauthorization of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and funding for community health centers. But he said he was optimistic that a bipartisan agreement on restoring protection for Dreamers while increasing border security will be reached in January.


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DuBois plans to seek fifth term in 2018

Orange County Sheriff Carl DuBois, a Republican and former Middletown police detective who has held office for 15 years and has had no election opponent since 2006, says he plans to run next year for another four-year term, the only county office at stake in 2018.

DuBois, the only elected county official whose seat wasn’t on the ballot last month, readily acknowledged to the Times Herald-Record on Friday that he plans to seek a fifth term, and said he plans to make a formal re-election announcement around the end of January. He spoke about the progress the Sheriff’s Office has made on his watch, including the three professional accreditations it holds, and potential projects he wants to undertake, such as building new classrooms at the firing range and “constant watch unit” at the county jail.

What a re-election bid rules out, however, is a campaign for Congress. DuBois said he had been encouraged by someone in outgoing Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino’s office to run for New York’s 18th Congressional District, the seat Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney has held since 2013. He said he’s too attached to his job, law enforcement work and his life in Orange County to consider running for Congress.

“I really want to stay where I am,” DuBois said.

DuBois beat longtime Republican Sheriff Frank Bigger – a scandal-weakened incumbent – in a primary and then a Democrat in a general election in 2002 to become sheriff. He had a primary opponent in 2006, but no other candidate – Republican or Democrat – has challenged him since.


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Rush to pay 2018 taxes in Orange and Sullivan starts Wednesday

Several towns in Orange and Sullivan counties have issued instructions for homeowners to follow next week if they want to pay their 2018 property taxes before Jan. 1 to beat a new, $10,000 deduction limit for property and state income taxes that Congress just imposed in its revision of the federal tax code.

Both counties had set their warrant dates for 2018 taxes at Dec. 27, which enables property owners to begin paying their bills for county and town or city taxes on Wednesday and apply them to their 2017 tax returns.

Thompson Supervisor Bill Reiber announced that his town’s tax bills will be posted online on Thursday and can be found at www.taxlookup.net. Homeowners can write a check to the Town of Thompson Tax Collector and mail the printed bill and payment to 4052 Route 42, P.O. Box 240, Monticello, N.Y. 12701. Payments must be received or postmarked by Dec. 31 to be recorded as paid in 2017.

Thompson taxpayers also can pay in person at Town Hall from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday and Friday.

Monroe Town Clerk Mary Ellen Beams said Monroe bills will be online by noon on Wednesday and can be viewed and paid by credit card on the town website, www.monroeny.org. Monroe homeowners also can pay in person at her office at 1465 Orange Turnpike from noon to 4 p.m. on Wednesday and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday and Friday. Payments mailed to Beams should be postmarked no later than Dec. 31 to be applied to 2017 federal taxes.

Town of Fallsburg bills also will be online on Thursday at www.taxlookup.net. Town Clerk Donna Akerley will accept tax payments at Town Hall in South Fallsburg from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday. Checks made out to the Town of Fallsburg Tax Collector also can be mailed to Town Hall at 19 Railroad Plaza, P.O. Box 2019, South Fallsburg, N.Y. 12779.

Middletown Treasurer Donald Paris says that city residents looking to beat the Jan. 1 deadline can pay their 2018 city and county taxes at his office in City Hall at 16 James St. on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday. Collection hours are between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.

All Sullivan County towns post their tax bills online at www.taxlookup.net. Every Orange County town but one releases its bills on egov.basgov.com (the Town of Newburgh posts its bills on its own website, www.townofnewburgh.org).

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Cuomo blasts “double taxation” for New York in GOP tax bill

Gov. Andrew Cuomo used his speech at an annual grants ceremony in Albany on Wednesday to uncork another scorching criticism of the Republican tax bill headed to a final vote next week and the new burden it would place on New York and other high-tax states.

Cuomo, there to announce the latest distribution of state funding for economic development projects, devoted much of his talk to the federal tax bill and the harm that he said its capping of the deduction for state and local taxes could cause New Yorkers and New York’s economy. He called that provision “an arrow designed at the heart of the State of New York” – and 12 other Democratic-leaning states for which the SALT deduction is vital. It also would expose New Yorkers to “double taxation,” with the federal government taxing them on income they already spent on property taxes and state income taxes.

“I’m going to fight it every step of the way,” Cuomo told the audience. “If they do it, I believe it is illegal. It will be the first time this nation has ever taxed taxes. It literally will be double taxation, and put this state at a structural disadvantage. You have done too much, and this state has come too far, to be set back now by a knee jerk political partisan movement. I will fight this economic civil war every day I am Governor of the State of New York, and any person who believes in New York and believes in fairness, and believes in representative government and believes in democracy should fight the plan with us.”

Cuomo also challenged the Republicans’ rationale for their sweeping revision of the tax code.

“It was a tax plan that was marketed to help the middle class and the working families,” he said. “That is not what it is. Fact, 60 percent of the benefit of the tax benefit goes to the top one percent.”

He then questioned the argument that businesses will use their tax cuts to raise workers’ wages.

“How do you know the corporation will pay the workers higher wages?” he asked. “Is there a provision in the tax code that says they must take those monies and pay the workers? No. But we assume the corporation will take the tax cuts and give it to the workers. Or they could pay the CEO a higher salary, or they could do a dividend, or they could go buy a summer house in the south of France.”

House Republicans are expected to pass the final tax bill on Tuesday, followed by Senate Republicans. Rep. John Faso, a Kinderhook Republican whose district includes Ulster and Sullivan counties, voted against an earlier version of the legislation because of its $10,000 limit on the SALT deduction, and seems likely to vote “no” next week for the same reason. He supported a bipartisan set of proposed bill changes this week that included restoring the full SALT deduction, but to no avail.


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GOP assemblyman rips Cuomo for annual grant awards

A Republican assemblyman from Dutchess County unloaded on Gov. Andrew Cuomo in an op-ed column on Friday, following a ceremony in Albany in which the Democratic governor celebrated the latest winners of an annual competition for state economic development funding.

Kieran Michael Lalor, whose district is directly across the Hudson River from Newburgh, gave a withering assessment of the regional economic development councils Cuomo created in 2011 and the impact of the $4.4 billion in state funding they have helped channel. Lalor compared Cuomo to a CEO on the “Shark Tank” TV show, except that he’s “using taxpayer money to reward the entities of his choosing.” That was a new pop-culture analogy for the state’s funding competition, which previously had been dubbed the “upstate Hunger Games.”

Writing in the New York Post, Lalor cited job figures that the Times Herald-Record obtained and reported last Sunday, indicating that the 180 projects completed so far with state funding since 2011 had created 546 net new jobs in the seven-county mid-Hudson region. Even if the region eventually gains all 5,871 new jobs the state currently projects, Lalor argued, the $475.9 million awarded in the mid-Hudson over six years was too high a price – “more than $81,000 per job.” He took aim at the state’s grants for the planned Legoland theme park in Goshen, saying they amount to subsidizing “minimum-wage, low-wage, part-time and seasonal jobs.”

“Nor is it at all clear those jobs weren’t coming anyway,” Lalor wrote. “Sophisticated corporations often make the decision where to locate based on a myriad of factors and then see what they can get out of taxpayers by pretending that they are still deciding where to locate.”

On Wednesday, state officials announced $51.8 million in grants for 116 projects in the mid-Hudson and another $33 million in lump sums for tax credits and bonds for future, unspecified projects in the region. The awards included more than $3 million for Middletown to protect its reservoir watershed, $2 million for a mixed-use development in Kingston and $1 million to help build a 3D medical printing plant in Orange County.

State officials argue the regional-council system has spurred coherent growth strategies in each region, made it easier for businesses and governments to tap state resources and created both construction and permanent jobs. “New York State now has the highest number of private sector jobs in the history of the state of New York – over 8 million jobs,” Cuomo told the audience at the awards ceremony on Wednesday. “So it is working, and we have to keep it going.”

Lalor countered: “The REDC awards merely allow Cuomo & Co. to give the appearance of economic growth and prosperity when in reality there’s stagnation and contraction. We should end this program and use the billions going to handpicked entities to reduce the tax burden on all New York workers and businesses.”

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Maloney waged last-ditch push to preserve net neutrality

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney was on the front lines of a partisan fight over internet control on Wednesday, making a final pitch on the House floor for a bill that would have stopped the Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission from quashing “net neutrality” the next day.

“They’re about to ‘fix’ something that is not broken,” the Cold Spring Democrat told his colleagues. He called the internet “one of the last places where equality really reigns in our society,” and scoffed at the rationale that letting internet providers control content would spur more innovation. He countered that net neutrality – the mandate that telecommunications companies deliver all internet content the same way – is what allows innovation to flourish today, not an impediment.

“Net neutrality is not a bug, Mr. Speaker,” Maloney argued. “Net neutrality is a feature.”

Maloney’s bill, cosponsored by 24 Democrats, would have blocked the scheduled FCC vote and forced a reconsideration of the proposal. But an effort to bring it to the floor failed in a party-line vote. And the FCC voted as expected on Thursday – also along party lines – to lift net neutrality, giving the telecommunications companies the ability to control internet content and make money by charging content providers for faster speeds.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced afterward that he will lead a multi-state lawsuit to challenge the FCC’s action. He argues the FCC’s review was flawed by the submission of what he said were at least 2 million fake public comments.

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Renewed push for Child Victims Act will target Larkin, Bonacic

Advocates for legislation to extend New York’s unusually short time limit for adults who were sexually abused as children to sue and seek criminal charges announced a renewed push to enact the stalled Child Victims Act in 2018 and listed senators John Bonacic and Bill Larkin among their upcoming campaign targets.

Senate Republican leaders have resisted the legislation and refused again last year to let their chamber vote on it. But advocates, energized by the recent surge in public awareness about sexual abuse and harassment, have formed a new organization called New Yorkers Against Hidden Predators and announced an advertising campaign aimed at 11 Republican senators in competitive districts in the Hudson Valley and on Long Island, including Larkin and Bonacic. The group also plans to hold press conferences and public events in the districts of those senators.

“We made substantial progress last year, but progress isn’t enough – we need to change the law in New York,” Kathryn Robb, a sex-abuse survivor and founding member of New Yorkers Against Hidden Predators, said in a press release on Thursday. “Legislators should expect to see a lot of us in the coming weeks. We intend to be at your ribbon cuttings, your offices, and your community events to let your constituents know where you stand on this bill. Your passivity will be noted.”

“New York and Roy Moore’s Alabama have the dubious honor of being the worst states in the nation when it comes to providing due process to sex abuse victims,” Steve Jimenez, another abuse survivor and founding member of the new group said. “It’s time that New York was no longer in the same category as Roy Moore.”

Under current law in New York, abuse victims must seek criminal charges or sue before they turn 23 — much too early, advocates say, for many traumatized abuse survivors to come forward. A bill that the Assembly passed in a 139-7 vote in June would give victims until age 28 to seek prosecution and until age 50 to sue culpable institutions. It also would have given previously time-barred victims one year to bring cases.

Both Larkin and Bonacic were noncommittal when the Times Herald-Record asked them for their positions on that bill in June.

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Final push nearly emptied Neuhaus’ campaign account

Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus had less than $20,000 left in his campaign account for a short period after a torrent of spending in the final weeks of his successful re-election race last month against Democratic challenger Patrick Davis.

The financial report his campaign filed on Monday shows $163,492 in expenses since Oct. 23, including a bunch of big bills that came due after the Nov. 7 election. Very few contributions came in during the last two weeks of the election, putting his balance below $20,000 until various donors kicked in around $10,000 altogether on Nov. 27. That left Neuhaus with $23,985 on hand by the time his report was filed.

His campaign’s biggest expense during that reporting period was the $47,338 it paid Majority Strategies, a Republican consulting firm in Jacksonville, Fla., for Internet ads.

Davis, a political newcomer who had much less money to work with, spent $49,933 in the last weeks of the campaign. He reported raising $19,827 – including $5,000 he loaned his campaign – and winding up with a $4,824 balance.

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Maloney blasts GOP for hypocrisy on tax bill and Roy Moore

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney delivered a short, fiery speech on the floor of the House of Representatives this week to accuse his Republican colleagues of hypocrisy for supporting both a deficit-expanding tax bill and Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, who’s accused of sexually harassing and assaulting teenagers.

The Cold Spring Democrat called the tax bill, which is projected to add at least $1 trillion to the federal budget deficit over a decade, even with economic growth factored in, a reversal of Republicans’ past sermons about “fiscal discipline.” And backing the candidacy of a “credibly accused pedophile” in the Alabama election on Tuesday seemed to Maloney a betrayal of the GOP’s “family values” mantle.

“So, I’ll tell you what, Mr. Speaker,” Maloney told his colleagues in a rising voice. “New rule: after today, the Republican Party can choose to support massive new debts and it can choose to support politicians who abuse kids, but it cannot lecture the rest of us about it! The rest of us have listened to our last lecture from Republicans about family values or fiscal discipline. From now on, that party has no credibility on either issue.”

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Ryan highlights military background in campaign video

Congressional candidate Pat Ryan has released a campaign video in which he describes his service as an Army officer in Iraq and how his experience with antiquated Army technology inspired him to design better equipment when he returned to civilian life in the U.S.

Ryan, one of six Democrats vying to challenge Republican Rep. John Faso for New York’s 19th Congressional District seat next year, says in the video that he was first deployed to Iraq in 2005 as the intelligence officer for an infantry unit of 1,000 soldiers. Those troops were stationed in a dangerous and chaotic area with 30 to 40 major attacks a day, including car bombs and suicide bombers, as Ryan recalls it.

“We were using very outdated technology technology and software, and the people who were paying the price for this were our soldiers in harm’s way at that moment. That was just unacceptable to me. We started this company to fix that – to go out and find the best software and get it out to our troops on the front lines.”

Ryan was co-founder and president of Praescient Analytics, a technology firm in Alexandria, Va. According to his campaign web site, that company “deployed cutting-edge data analytics software to our troops on the front lines to ensure every patrol going into harm’s way had the best possible information about threats and risks.” The business grew in a few years from five employees to 150 employees, over half of whom were veterans.

Ryan grew up in Kingston, attended West Point and served a total of 27 months in Iraq in two combat tours between 2005 and 2009. He left the Army with the rank of captain, and now lives in Gardiner with his wife, Rebecca.

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