Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Bazzo Says: Cuomo's Real Fiscal Record

Bazzo Says:
BY ANTHONY J. BAZZO

OF YORKTOWN NEWS & MAHOPAC NEWS


Since Gov. Cuomo has been in charge, 194,000 people have moved out of the 50 counties north of us. Even though we are being told that unemployment upstate has dropped, it is NOT because more people are finding work; it is because they have stopped looking for work, according to studies(http://nypost.com/2017/08/09/unemployed-new-yorkers-are-giving-up-on-finding-jobs-survey/) .
 
So, as on the national level, they are not counted. The governor has touted that the real truth is unemployment in New York has been cut in half and private sector jobs are at an all-time high. The truth is that these so-called record job levels are confined to New York City and its surrounding suburbs.
 
Part of the upstate exodus is by political design. Gov. Cuomo won his primary and general election by carrying both New York City and its suburbs (except for Putnam). He lost nearly all counties north of us. However, as that population has dwindled, there were not enough votes to offset downstate. So, the model that George Pataki used to defeat the governor’s father is now obsolete. As this governor has shown, to win a statewide election, you can write off 95 percent of the state as long as you carry downstate by 60 percent.
 
• According to a story in the New York Torch(https://www.empirecenter.org/publications/states-retiree-health-liability-grows/ ): “New York State’s unfunded liability for other post-employment benefits (OPEB) grew to $87.3 billion in fiscal 2017, a $9.4 billion increase over the previous year…The state government accounts for $72.83 billion of the total all by itself. The State University of New York (SUNY) accounts for the remaining total.”
All this comes out of our pocket. 
 
Where is that money going? New York government retirees, at almost every level in New York, are entitled to continuing healthcare coverage at a heavily discounted rate, or even for free. Try finding that at the private level. The reality is: Current taxpayers must lay out cash to cover the cost of a health benefit earned in the past by current retirees.
 
 Fact is: By 2019, it is calculated New York will be in a state of what is called in accounting parlance, “balance sheet insolvency( https://definitions.uslegal.com/b/balance-sheet-insolvency/).” What this means is that the total amount owed by the state government will exceed the value of all that it is owed plus the value of its assets. Most New York counties, cities and school districts, as well as larger towns, will find themselves in the same category by then, also.
 
To show you the power of public sector unions, public employee unions have blocked the last several New York governors, including Cuomo, from attempting to restructure retiree benefits. The dirty little secret is that retiree health coverage, unlike the pension obligations, can be broken without violating the constitution or defaulting on a legal obligation. All it takes is the will to do so.
 
• So where else are your tax dollars going? Well, one place was the notorious Empire Zones program. This was the governor’s program that was supposed to attract new businesses to depressed areas and create new jobs.
 
In the name of creating jobs, New York State spent more than $190 million to subsidize two old, pollution-spewing coal plants near Buffalo. The money was paid out over 13 years. However, both plants closed, laying off 136 people in 2016.
The Huntley and Dunkirk power plants were among the biggest beneficiaries of New York’s notorious Empire Zones program.
 
A third plant, owned by the Oswego Harbor Power plant in Oswego, collected millions in Empire Zone tax breaks. To be fair, the Oswego plant has not been closed, however, it rarely runs.
 
Remember, this program was meant to fund new businesses. Yet these power plants were allowed to claim millions of dollars. They were not new and created few, if any, new jobs. By the time its last tax credit is claimed, Empire Zones are going to cost state taxpayers at least $3 billion with negligible results. 
 
We are told that the governor has at least $26 million in his re-election war chest. Who are these idiots and why are they giving him money?
 
This is what I say. What say you?
 
Volpe/Bazzo Report - July 10, 2017
With Special Guest David Paganelli Yorktown Highway Superintendent

Political Commentators
Darren Rigger and Bryan Fumagalli 

Wednesday 9:30 p.m.

Peekskill:    channel 15
Yorktown: channel 74
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08/15/17:

Trump’s Full, Heated Press Conference on Race and Violence in Charlottesville (Full) | NBC News

 
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The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation For Justice

I am emailing you because I would like you to interview myself and Lorenzo Johnson, who is the most recent The Jeffrey Deskovic Foundation For Justice client whom we helped free, in a collaborative effort with attorney Michael Wiseman; Capital Habeas Unit, the Pennsylvania Innocence Project, and wrongful conviction public relations specialist Lonnie Soury. Decarcerate Pennsylvania’s Thomas Dichter was also heavily involved on the public relational level.
 
Lorenzo Johnson was wrongfully convicted of murder in PA, where it was alleged that, in conspiracy with Corey Walker [who remains wrongfully imprisoned, alleged to be the shooter], murdered Taraja Williams. It was alleged that Walker, with the victim in the middle, followed by Lorenzo, walked the victim to an alley where Walker shot and killed him, with Lorenzo as the combination lookout man as well as preventor of Williams from exiting the alleyway. The sole quasi-witness to this was Carla Brown, who claims that she followed the three of them from the bar, and then she saw Walker and the victim in the alley, walked passed Lorenzo standing guard on the sidewalk, and then heard a gunshot. The prosecution's theory as to motive was that Williams owed Walker money, and that when Walker asked for it a fight broke out in the Kentucky Fried Chicken parking lot, and that Williams beat Walker with a wisp broom. This murder was supposed to be in revenge for this beating.
 
Lorenzo was released following 16 1/2 years of imprisonment by the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals, on the grounds of legally insufficient evidence. At the tail end of his incarceration Lorenzo and I were writing each other, though at that time The Foundation was not involved with him or his case more than that. [On the human interest side: When Lorenzo won that ruling, The Foundation expedited making copies of articles that I had previously written while I was weekly columnist with The Westchester Guardian to then send them to him before he was released. The idea was for Lorenzo could make copies in the prison's law library to then distribute throughout the prison, so that they could make their way throughout the PA prison system, with the aim of spreading hope to the wrongfully convicted whose hands they wound up it in.]
 
The Foundation helped Lorenzo reintegrate, assisting him with emergency funding, taking him shopping, helping him re-orient to technology, assisted him in obtaining housing, regular contact which was a stabilizing factor; and we even got him a full time job. Lorenzo obtained a drivers license and found a fiancée. 4 months later, the U S Supreme Court granted the PA Attorney General's office permission to appeal to them while also reinstating his conviction all in one shot- without his attorneys having the chance to fully brief and argue the issues. Rather than going on the run, Lorenzo decided to stay and fight to clear his name. That resulted in my having to drive Lorenzo back to prison to resume a life without parole sentence. [see way below in italics for my account of that trip]
 
The Foundation then joined the effort to exonerate Lorenzo, with the Foundation doing some investigative work but mainly assisting on the public relational end, while attorney Michael Wiseman and Capital Habeas Unit of Pennsylvania did bulk of the investigative and legal work. Later when the Habeas Unit had to exit because Lorenzo’s challenges to his conviction were not in federal court anymore but instead was being fought in state court, the Pennsylvania Innocence Project entered the picture. The Foundation assisted Lorenzo in generating news coverage of his case; repeatedly rented buses to transport his supporters, many of them Lorenzo's family members from NY, to hold rallies/protests/press conferences in Pennsylvania; speaking at his rallies/press conferences;  bringing in other exonerees to also speak, including the Foundation’s first exoneree, the deceased William Lopez (23 ½ years). On the day of the evidentiary hearing, The Foundation rented 2 vans to transport people. I drove one of the vans, assisted by one of the Foundation's interns, Max Gould. Here are examples of some of the news coverage that our rallies, protests and press conferences generated:
 
 
The Foundation promoted his articles on social media, and additionally obtained a paid intern who managed his website, sent out email blasts, and related tasks. The Foundation persuaded Lonnie Soury, of Soury Communications, who specializes in public relations work around wrongful convictions (cases that ended in exoneration that he played a p.r. role include: Marty Tankleff; Derrick Hamilton (21 yrs); and he also assisted in the West Memphis 3 case). Soury assisted in obtaining news coverage in collaboration with The Foundation, organizing rallies, media coverage etc. The Foundation also assisted Lorenzo on a morale level, speaking with him several times a month on the phone, sending him money each month, ordering food packages, visiting him, and connecting with other people.
 
When the paid intern could no longer assist with Lorenzo’s website, Thomas Dichter of Decarcerate Pennsylvania [Decarerate’s  goal is reducing the prison population in PA.] stepped in, handling matters pertaining to the website; email blasts; assisting Lorenzo by editing, posting, and email blasting Lorenzo’s articles. https://freelorenzojohnson.org/. Lorenzo’s petition, which is on his website, attracted thousands of signatures around the world. Here is an article about the time that myself, along with other advocates, delivered over 1000 petition signatures to the then Pennsylvanian Attorney General Kathleen Kane’s office: http://abolitionistlawcenter.org/2013/12/24/campaign-to-free-lorenzo-johnson-delivers-over-1000-petition-signatures-demanding-dismissal/
 
While Lorenzo expected to be back in prison for 3 or 4 months pending the investigation to turn up new evidence which he could then base a new effort to get his wrongful conviction overturned again, he actually ended up remaining incarcerated for 5 years. Simultaneous to the investigation going on, Wiseman filed several challenges to Lorenzo’s conviction on other legal grounds, losing several legal proceedings. Ultimately the investigation was completed (hence the PCRA petition’s and supplements) and an evidentiary hearing was finally scheduled- after he waited for a year and a half to get to a hearing on this new evidence.  The grounds that were going to be litigated included Brady violations (favorable evidence to him had not been turned over). Specifically, that the PA Attorney General’s Office had not disclosed evidence favorable to the defense that: Carla Brown [the sole eyewitness] had been an alternative suspect; that the motive witness Victoria Daubs had a familial relationship with the main detective, Detective Duffin's mother; and that nearly 200 pages had been withheld from the defense.
 
On July 10, 2017 the night before the evidentiary hearing on July 11th, the PA Attorney General's office offered Lorenzo a deal in which if he plead guilty via a nolo contender plea to 3rd degree murder he would be released immediately, and be placed on the least restrictive form of parole while not needing permission to travel. A nolo contender plea is a type of guilty plea in which the defendant says that he/she is innocent but believes they recognize that they may be convicted/may lose the legal proceeding and so they are pleading in a type of damage control, pragmatic decision.
 
This is where the unfair, dirty, and disgusting tactics of the Pennsylvanian Attorney General’s office came in: The AG’s office argued that the judge might take anywhere from a few weeks to 6 months to make a decision; they were threatening to appeal the decision a couple of times if they lost- which might have either taken months or possibly up to 2 years- and they were threatening that if they lost the appeals they were going to retry him. Although an acquittal would become almost certain at a trial, that too would result in him likely remaining incarcerated pending the trial. So all together, he might have been in prison anywhere from 3-6 months more to up to two or more years. The dirtiness of the tactic is that they were only offering this deal because they knew they were likely to lose the hearing, and that being the case the appeals would not have been in good faith, and that they knew the case was no longer winnable for them at a trial. Yet they were willing to drag things out, trying to get as much time out of him as possible, all in an effort to get him to plead guilty.
 
 Lorenzo felt pressure to take the deal.  He felt that it had already been 22 years, and who knew long the case would continue to drag out? He was worried about being wronged by the court system again after having had that happen twice before (being wrongfully convicted and that taking 16 ½ years to straighten out, and then having the wrongful conviction being reinstated). He was concerned with his elderly mother, who was 81 years old.
 
I was and still am opposed to the deal, wanting him to continue fighting so that he could clear his name and be fee as an exonerated man. This way he would not suffer any of the collateral after-effects, such as having a criminal record; not being able to vote; not having the added difficulty in getting a job and renting an apartment. I also wanted him to be compensated. The other entities: attorney Michael Wiseman and the Pennsylvania Innocence Project urged him to take the deal.  Though he almost certainly would have won the hearing, there was a slight chance he could lose, and that would mean possibly remaining in prison forever unless he won a future hearing. He took the deal and was released that afternoon.
 
Here is a link to an article pertaining to when Lorenzo was released :  links: http://www.pennlive.com/news/2017/07/lorenzo_will_be_going_home_dea.html#incart_river_mobile_home 
 
 
Here are some articles about Lorenzo’s case while the injustice was still going on:
 
 
I recommend going to Lorenzo's website, to not only read the articles that Lorenzo wrote, but blog postings throughout the years. In my opinion, they are fascinating, and they offer insight into his thinking as time went on. https://freelorenzojohnson.org/ 
 
Here is a link to the last article he wrote while he was in prison http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/22-years-later-still-chasing-justice_us_595fca3ce4b0cf3c8e8d584d
 
Here is an op-ed that Lorenzo wrote that was published on the Lohud website, which is the website for The Journal News: http://www.lohud.com/story/opinion/contributors/2016/12/29/ex-yonkers-man-fights-wrongful-convictions-including-his-own/95870510/
 
One time he interviewed me for an article that he wrote!! Here is the interview: http://statement-analysis.blogspot.com/2014/10/jeffrey-deskovic-interivew-with-lorenzo.html
 
  Here is my recounting of the trip in which I had to drive Lorenzo back to prison to resume the life without parole sentence. This can also be found on his website.
 
“I remember when I got the phone call from Lorenzo saying that the US Supreme Court had not only agreed to hear the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s appeal, but that they’d reinstated his conviction. It was a very surreal moment. I almost couldn’t believe my own ears. Having a conviction reinstated after being released is every exoneree’s nightmare, and being so close to Lorenzo, I reacted very strongly. I remember the feeling of powerlessness. Then, Lorenzo called on me to do one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do in my life – drive him back to prison. Though we tried to reach out to the media and politicians to intervene, hoping for a miracle, we couldn’t stop the judge’s order from being issued. I picked him up around 5:30 AM in a parking lot in Yonkers. He came outside, and I could see the disturbed look on his face. We both started crying, even though we were grown men. Neither of us could believe that such an injustice had taken place, or that we were really going to do this: drive him back to prison for a crime he was clearly innocent of. Every ounce of me wanted him to run. But clearing his name was paramount for him, and that path dictated that he not run away. We took turns driving back to the prison in Pennsylvania. Our heads were spinning. At times we made small talk because reality was too painful to keep at the forefront of our minds. We thought about the absurdity of what we were doing. We tried to buoy our spirits and tell each other that this was all only a temporary setback. Despite our own horrible experiences with the criminal justice system, we were both a little naïve. I thought that this would be finished within a few months – that an investigation could be completed quickly and Lorenzo would be back out again soon. I couldn’t imagine that he would still be in prison four years later. At the same time, Lorenzo was fielding a lot of phone calls. People were calling him and he had to explain what was going on. In the last hour of the trip, he focused on making, rather than receiving, calls. He was saying his goodbyes to people who were important to him. I think that made the last leg of his difficult journey more difficult, because everybody he talked to said that if it were them, then they would run. We had a final meal on the outside. We were joined by La Tasha Williams, who is an ardent supporter of Lorenzo’s. We did the best we could in a terrible situation. We tried to enjoy the meal. We took photographs. The meal seemed like a weird parallel to the Last Supper.
Lorenzo chose to drive the last five minutes of the trip. I told him he was so much stronger than I could ever be in that I couldn’t have done what he was doing. He got out of the car and went over to where the COs were waiting for him. I saw them put him in handcuffs and bring him inside the building. As I pulled out of the parking lot, I thought about how useless the money I’d given him to orient/set himself up in prison, such as buying a typewriter, clothing items, and commissary, seemed in the overall scheme of things. I left the prison grounds and was on a public road right outside the prison. I could feel his absence. I had to stop the car to get my emotions together for about ten minutes.
In hindsight, it just seems so clear to me—as clear as the Southern sky—that only an innocent man would have done what Lorenzo did.”
 
I have sent photos of Lorenzo and I as attachments, along with commentary. I had posted these on my personal Facebook page shortly after Lorenzo was re-wrongfully imprisoned.  In case you would like to verify that these were posted previously, here is the link to many of them: https://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.deskovic/media_set?set=a.10151536565161835.1073741827.574011834&type=3
The other photos were posted elsewhere in the photos section on my FB page:
 
Photo 1 (attachment 7):  The Last Supper
The hardest thing I ever did since my release nearly 7 years ago was driving Lorenzo back to prison to be reincarcerated for a crime he is innocent of. I personally had the horrific and traumatic task of driving him back to prison when he was reincarcerated, and leaving him there. Though difficult, I had to support him in his darkest hour, his time of need. Being reimprisoned for a crime one is innocent of after release is every exoneree's nightmare. Being powerless to do anything else, I tried to equip him the best I could to do time until his release could again be secured, just like I would want to be assisted, if God forbid, that happened to me: giving him money to purchase clothing items, a typewriter, and television.
                                
 
Following the reinstatement of Lorenzo's wrongful conviction, I did everything I could to bring attention to his case, hoping against hope that maybe even we could forestall his reincarceration. Alas, it was not to be.

I was scheduled to appear in a major press conference in Albany designed to promote passage of wrongful conviction prevention legislation in NY, in collaboration with The Innocence Project and the New York State Bar Association, various elected Senators and Assemblymen, and numerous exonerees. I decided to bring Lorenzo with me, and during the Q and A portion of the press conference, I called Lorenzo up unexpectedly, to try to take advantage of the media already being present, hoping that we could get Lorenzo some media attention. On the way back, we stopped at a diner to eat. We did get some attention though not everybody was happy about what I did.  Here is an article about the press conference http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/A-matter-of-innocence-debated-3597316.php
  
What do you think? Some story, eh? Would you be up for interviewing us?
 
Best,
 
Jeff Deskovic
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www.peekskillpost.net/
2) The Empire Report: For the hottest news stories this morning from around New York State:
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3) Check Out Yorktown News:
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4) Check Out The Somers Record: 
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5)  Check Out Mahopac News:
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6) Check Out North Salem News: 
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Bazzo 08/16/17