Here’s a look at opinion content published Wednesday, Dec. 22 and today, Thursday, Dec. 23:
Wednesday, Dec. 22
Lame Duck Congress: Editorial
We comment on the remarkable lame-duck session of the 111th Congress. We write:
… Just weeks after the November voting, the Congress is poised to deliver one of the most productive legislative sessions since the start of the Obama presidency. Enjoy it while the “lame-duck” session lasts; the landscape changes in January.
With GOP backing, the Senate on Tuesday moved forward on a New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with the Russians. The progress on START came days after the Senate voted to repeal the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy against gays and lesbians in the military. The Senate also overwhelmingly passed a bill to continue funding the federal government through March 4 — no routine vote in the current climate. Last week, of course, a badly divided Congress passed an $858 billion package of new and old tax cuts — essentially an unexpected economic stimulus package. …
Cornell Cooperative Extension: Community View
Anthony Dalto, president of the board of Westchester’s Cornell Cooperative Extension, argues against Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino’s decision to veto funding for his organization. Dalto argues that services provided by CCE are essential to the county’s economic development efforts.
Thursday, Dec. 23
Westchester and fair housing: Editorial
We comment on news that the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development rejected an analysis from the administration of Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino on impediments to affordable housing in the county. The rebuke, we write, “is the freshest evidence that the county still struggles to honor and understand its binding commitment to be a for fair housing throughout Westchester — bligations tied in part to funding agreements with Washington and further memorialized in a controversial 2009 court settlement.” We continue:
… The county’s fair housing duties are made more difficult by the Astorino team’s own obstinance — or maybe a better word is denial . For example, in its analysis to HUD, the county continues to bemoan the complex approval processes and zoning ordinances that stand in the way of building affordable housing. The HUD letter, however, chides the county for setting forth only “vague steps [that] do not commit the County to take concrete action that will address those jurisdictions’ exclusionary zoning practices.” Westchester pledged in the 2009 settlement to confront local communities whose policies impede fair housing choice. Nonetheless, Astorino told the Editorial Board earlier this year he would not challenge noncompliant jurisdictions in court — another tool at the county’s disposal.
Commenting on the county’s assertion that it is “extremely limited” in its ability to challenge exclusionary zoning, the HUD officials wrote: “This statement is inconsistent with both the County’s obligations under the Settlement to take appropriate actions to gain municipal cooperation and the County’s clear acknowledgment of a number of tools already at its disposal to overcome municipal resistance, including providing financial incentives … and initiating legal action if necessary.”
The HUD officials also took note of the county executive’s veto this summer of legislation banning discrimination against housing applicants based on the source of their income, such as Section 8 housing vouchers. Fair housing advocates have long maintained that such protection is needed to improve housing mobility and choice; the protection was deemed so important that it was specifically called for in the housing settlement. The HUD officials, in their correspondence this week, wrote that the “County’s conduct here [in vetoing the protections] clearly conflicts with the terms of the settlement.” Much of the HUD letter, like other assessments of Westchester’s efforts under the housing settlement, continues in that vein — taking note of promises made by Westchester that have been ignored or given short-shrift. That is a blueprint for more court action, not for furthering fair housing.
Adam Bradley: Commentary
Jane Aoyama-Martin, an Irvington resident and executive director of the Pace Women’s Justice Center in White Plains, and Barbara Ginsbreg, a New York city resident and pro-bono attorney for the center, argue that White Plains Mayor Adam Bradley should step down. Bradley was convicted Dec. 9 on five charges related to a domestic abuse case involving his wife, Fumiko.
Sweet victory for Zadroga Act: New York Daily News
Zadroga Act: Newsday
Lame Ducks are getting it done: Rochester Democrat and Chronicle
Empire State, in all its decline: Albany Times Union
New York’s decline: The Buffalo News