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Gov Cuomo; What are you doing about Argentina owing $2 Billion to NY Taxpayers? Why do you want to close down NY’s most important power plant? And this pesky Cost of Flights dogging you, don’t you think you should reform?

August 16, 2011

Argentina’s Illegal Antics

By on 8.16.11 @ 6:07AM

When the financial crisis first hit, the U.S. government bailed out major banks in part so the banks’ foreign government clients would not suffer huge losses on their U.S. loan exposures. So where are U.S. policymakers when a foreign government bilks Americans out of billions of dollars? It’s been nearly a decade since Argentina perpetrated the largest sovereign default in history, and the South American country still owes roughly $15 billion to international creditors, including $2 billion to New York taxpayers and to U.S. investors ranging from university endowments to pension funds.

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Special Report

Crooked Cuomo?

Patrick Howley | 8.11.11 @ 6:08AM

Why does the New York governor want to close down his state’s most important power plant?

Crooked Cuomo? By on 8.11.11 @ 6:08AM

National security mascot Rudy Giuliani​ is back in the headlines this week for his latest project with private consulting firm Giuliani Partners. America’s mayor is considering taking a spokesman job with the Entergy Corporation, which operates two reactors at the Indian Point nuclear plant in Buchanan, New York, just 35 miles outside New York City. Giuliani Partners has done some P.R. work for Entergy in the past — during safety controversies in early 2003 and again in 2006 — but this is an entirely different situation. Though it generates 25 to 30 percent of the city’s energy and pumps $126 million a year in labor wages into the local economy, the Indian Point plant is now facing extinction.

In late June, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo sent “one of his top advisers” to meet with Entergy officials and inform them that he is planning to close the Indian Point site. The original 40-year operating permits for the reactors are set to expire in 2013 and 2015, respectively. Though Entergy is applying for a permit renewal from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Cuomo can effectively terminate that application. All he has to do is withhold a certain water permit that is necessary for Entergy to win the renewal. According to the New York Times, Cuomo’s plan — supposedly based on fear of a meltdown or terrorism — is shortsighted. It “would take years and require a long-term energy strategy” to wean New York off Indian Point’s private-sector 2,000 megawatts of energy, which currently light up schools and businesses across New York City and Westchester County.

Mayor Bloomberg​ strongly opposes Indian Point’s closure and predicts profound economic consequences. According to a leaked preliminary draft of a report by New York City’s Department of Environmental Conservation, Indian Point’s closure would result in the city’s energy costs rising up to 10 percent, with 1,100 layoffs at Indian Point and citywide reliability problems beginning within a year of the second reactor’s expiration.

So why is Cuomo so determined to close the site now? After all, he’s always maintained that he’s “not against nuclear power.”

Cuomo, of course, took $100,000 in  campaign contributions in 2010 from his top individual donor Dan Tishman — chairman of the Board of the National Resources Defense Council, which ranks as one of the most active anti-nuclear special interest groups.

He also took $50,000 from the New York law firm Kaplan Fox and Kilsheimer — one of his top ten organizational donors. That firm’s veteran counsel Charles J. Moxley sits on the board of the anti-nuclear Lawyers’ Committee for Nuclear Policy and also wrote an anti-nuclear book.

Leveraged-buyout guru Fred Iseman, meanwhile, got to Cuomo early, handing him  $55,900 on July 7, 2009. Iseman serves on the Advisory Board of Ted Turner and Sam Nunn’s Nuclear Threat Initiative.

And let’s not forget about all of Cuomo’s real estate developer donors, like Stephen Garofalo ($62,800 in individual contributions) of the Millbrook Ventures commercial real estate firm in Dover Plains, New York. Since 2000, his company has been developing a 670-acre five-star destination spa with its own private residential community in Amenia, New York — just a stone’s throw from Indian Point, with all its tourist-deflecting danger.

Now here’s where it gets good.

Cuomo accepted $55,588 in campaign contributions from the law firm Nixon Peabody. As recently as October 12, 2010 (a month before Cuomo’s election) Nixon Peabody represented an energy company called Competitive Power Ventures (CPV). At the time, CPV was  petitioning the State of New York Public Service Commission for allowance to build a 650-megawatt natural gas-powered plant called the CPV Valley Energy Center in Wawayanda, New York — 50 miles from Manhattan and directly competitive with Indian Point.

The previous month, Nixon Peabody lawyer Ruth E. Leistensnider — a partner in the firm’s Albany energy practice and the sole lawyer representing CPV — had been named to the New York Solar Energy Industries Association board of directors just as that board, coincidentally, announced its support for Cuomo’s solar energy platform.

If Giuliani is getting paid to protect Indian Point, then he has no reason to be defensive. He needs to start questioning Cuomo’s motives and looking into the governor’s relationship with Nixon Peabody and CPV. The results could be explosive.

(So is this just an ethics issue with Cuomo’s not so transparent dealings with regards to his campaign donors, or perhaps Agenda 21 (see our previous post) is driving this, or more likely – both!)

Letter to the Editor

 

Cost of Flights Dog N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Monday, 15 Aug 2011 06:21 PM

ALBANY, N.Y— New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s use of state aircraft to or from his Westchester home and the required flights by state police to return to the Albany hangar likely cost over $1,300 an hour to operate, according to an aviation industry analysis.

Most of the 16 trips touching down in Westchester were added legs of tours to public events statewide to promote and discuss his cost-cutting budget and other initiatives. The three other trips were directly between Albany and Westchester.

The estimated cost of $13,000 over six months is a fraction of the state’s $132 billion budget, in which Cuomo, a Democrat, forced billions of dollars in rare spending cuts and addressed an inherited $10 billion deficit.

But the use of state aircraft has dogged several governors. Rules that one government group criticized as unclear require a state official to reimburse the state for “mixed use.” However, any dispute over whether Cuomo’s trips to or from Westchester would be prohibited or require reimbursement would be up to the state Commission on Public Integrity.

The commission continued to have no comment Monday, one day after The Associated Press detailed the flights based on records obtained through the Freedom of Information Law.

Cuomo spokesman Josh Vlasto said the state’s cost for the aircraft is lower because the state maintains a full-time staff and other factors. He wouldn’t provide another estimate.

Vlasto said Cuomo’s use of the aircraft is prudent.

He said from Jan. 1 to July 15, Cuomo spent 91 nights in Albany and traveled by car with state police drivers 50 times to and from Westchester.

“During that period, on rare occasions, use of the plane or helicopter was approved because the governor was required to stay in Albany to deal with urgent state business, but had a pressing engagement in Westchester that could not be moved,” Vlasto said. He wouldn’t describe Cuomo’s pressing issues back home.

“On three occasions he had urgent circumstances requiring the plane to allow him to do his job — in Albany — shows a major reform from past practices and obsessive concern for tax dollars,” Vlasto said.

One of the flights to return aircraft to Albany — known as “dead-head” trips — required because of Cuomo’s stops in Westchester was on May 18.

According to state records, one of the state’s turboprop airplanes left Albany at 10:40 a.m. for a press event in Saranac Lake with Cuomo and Vlasto aboard. At the stop on his “Peoples First Campaign,” the Democrat called for reining in school spending and a higher ethical standard in Albany. At 1:30 p.m., he and Vlasto departed, flying south past Albany to Westchester. State police then flew the plane back to its Albany hangar.

The Cuomo administration refused to provide a cost estimate of his air travel to The Associated Press in its Freedom of Information Law request.

The AP, however, matched the tail wing numbers of aircraft and a state police list of aircraft designed for passenger travel to identify the aircraft models used by Cuomo. Aviation consultant Bill deDecker of Conklin & deDecker, based in Orleans, Mass., said the model of the state’s helicopters cost $1,515 an hour to operate and the model of state planes cost about $1,332 per hour to operate, according to a database his company operates.

The estimate doesn’t include salaries or the cost of the aircraft.

The trip between Albany and Westchester takes about an hour by helicopter, 45 minutes by plane and about two hours by car.

In all, state records show Cuomo took three trips between Albany and Westchester. Vlasto said the trips don’t constitute commuting by state aircraft — which is prohibited — because it is rare, usually done as part of a statewide tour, and better serves the state.

According to state records:

On Jan. 19, Cuomo departed from the Albany helicopter pad at 2 p.m. to Westchester. He was the only passenger aside from state police.

March 22, Cuomo left Albany at 4:30 p.m. by helicopter for Westchester.

On Feb. 14, he took a state plane at 8 a.m. from Westchester to Albany for what Vlasto said was an important legislative meeting to revise the budget proposal and meet with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

A fourth trip, on April 2, was a Saturday. Cuomo spoke at the Somos El Futuro event in Albany organized annually by Latino legislators. Cuomo and several staffers left Westchester at 2:45 p.m. for Albany by helicopter. Cuomo and the staffers left Albany at 8:30 p.m. to return to Westchester.

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