Recommendations from Law Enforcement Leaders on New Police Standards...

By Richard E. Rising – Since the recent rash of highly publicized police-citizen confrontations, there has been increasing attention given to evaluating the effectiveness of current police policies and procedures that guide the police response in these cases. One organization, the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), unveiled what could be a landmark set of…

Bills on Zombie Properties Held Up Again In New York State Legislature...

By Richard E. Rising
In 2015 and for the second year in a row, bills were introduced in the New York State Senate and Assembly to address the growing problem of so called zombie properties.

States and Counties Looking at Options to Finance Increasing Debt...

By David M. Rothman

A lot of attention has been paid, including by those of us at the NY MuniBlog, on the financial difficulties of Detroit and Chicago. More recently, attention has been paid to the ongoing financial difficulties in Puerto Rico where that government recently clawed back funds to make payments of nearly $329 million to holders of general obligations debt which has triggered lawsuits from Ambac Financial Group and Assured Guaranty.

Impacts of Federal Laws upon Municipalities’ Daily Operations  ...

By Joseph V. Frateschi

We have previously discussed the impacts of federal laws and the United States Constitution upon the daily operations of local municipalities in such articles as “Concern Over Drones: Air Rights, Privacy, Health and Safety are Among the Issues” and “Lesson Learned in Arizona Sign Code Case – Municipal Ordinances Should be Content Neutral.”

Recent New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Enforcement Action Demonstrates Value of Environmental Audits...

By Gene Kelly
…an article published in On Board, the official publication of the New York State School Boards Association, I explored the various ways that school districts, health care institutions and municipal governments can benefit, in both tangible and intangible ways, by conducting proactive, environmental regulatory compliance audits. A recent enforcement action undertaken by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) illustrates this point in a very compelling way.

Update on the New York State Public Authorities Law Requirements Affecting Industrial Development Agencies (IDA) and Land Banks...

By Robert J. Ryan

As the NYMuniBlog reported in July 2015 in the article, “Summary of 2015 Reform Legislation for Industrial Development Agencies (IDAs),” legislation demands IDAs adopt certain standardized policies and procedures.

Implementing Municipal Camera Programs for Public Safety...

By The Editorial Team In this post 9/11 era, municipalities are increasingly using camera programs in a support of public safety. These video surveillance systems could take many forms from downtown surveillance cameras to police dash cams and police body-worn cameras. An article in the International City/County Management Association’s (ICMA) Public Management magazine, “Getting the Picture: Addressing The Surveillance Revolution,” focuses on a range of issues to consider when implementing these surveillance programs. See below. Co-authored by Mark Ryckman, ICMA-CM and city manager of Corning, New York and Don Zoufal, JD, CPP and an advisor for SDI Solutions, LLC of Chicago, the article urges municipal leaders to not only recognize quickly changing technology and the costs to purchase and maintain these systems, but the need to develop written policies and procedures related to all aspects of operating these systems, including the storage, retrieval, and maintenance of video records; security issues; privacy concerns and transparency requirements; and the needs of the criminal justice system. Get the...

San Francisco’s Yellow Cab Expected to File for Bankruptcy Protection According to Reports...

By David M. Rothman

As we have previously posted, Uber has been pushing for expansion in New York state claiming to potentially create up to 13,000 full and part time jobs.

New York State Infrastructure Initiative is Step in Right Direction...

By David M. Rothman Leading up to next week’s State of the State address, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has announced a series of infrastructure initiatives including the study of a tunnel to connect Long Island to Westchester County, the Bronx or Connecticut. As part of this initiative, the governor has suggested spending approximately $22 billion over the next five years toward upstate roads and bridges. In addition, the governor announced expansion projects for mass transit (railroad and local airports) as well as sewer infrastructure improvements. The construction of the new Tappan Zee Bridge, along with the proposed improvements outlined in the State of the State are certainly steps in the right direction. As readers may know, it has been more than 50 years since this country last saw an “infrastructure boom” and that infrastructure has mostly reached the end of its useful life. As bridges and roads age, repairs become more time consuming and costs increase. However, funding repairs, let alone replacements, are very costly. For the period 1986 through 2014, spending on transportation and water infrastructure in the United States has hovered around 2.5 percent as a percentage of gross domestic product while costs of labor and materials have climbed nearly 10 percent since 2003 according to the Congressional Budget Office. A 2009 research brief published by the Office of the State Comptroller stated 33 percent of local bridges were “structurally deficient or functionally obsolete” and that there was an underfunding of approximately $80 billion for water, sewer and transportation infrastructure. A follow up from 2012 stated the gap had risen by $9 billion and an additional study in 2014 concluded that annual spending statewide was $2 billion below the annual need. A 2015 report of the American Society of Civil Engineers’ New York State Council stated that over 50 percent of bridges statewide are more than 75 years old (400 are 100 years old; 100 are closed) and 33 percent of “major highways” were in “poor or fair condition.” In light of this information, the infrastructure initiative is certainly a step in the right...

Common Core Task Force Report and the Response of the Board of Regents...

By: Anne M. McGinnis, Ph.D.

The Common Core State Standards have been a frequent subject of conversation for both the media and individuals involved in public education since they were first introduced in 2009.

2015: A Year in Review

This year, NYMuniblog has provided cutting edge commentary on a wide range of topics affecting New York agencies, New York municipalities, and even municipalities and agencies nationwide.

New York’s Appellate Division Clarifies the Line between Negligent Investigation and Egregious Deviation from Police Procedures...

By Andrew J. Orenstein and Bradley M. Wanner

The Appellate Division, Second Department, has sided with the City of New York and four former police officers (the “City”) in a case that stood on the line between a negligent police investigation and conduct that could be deemed an egregious deviation from police procedures.

Drones: FAA Registration to be Required

In an effort to meet the September 30, 2015 deadline, the FAA proposed rules regarding “non-recreational operations” of drones weighing less than 55 pounds.

What the Every Student Succeeds Act Means for New York Educators in 2016...

By Howard J. Goldsmith Everything old is new again – well at least to some degree. Educators across the country are talking about the Every Student Succeeds Act as it overwhelmingly passed in the House of Representatives (359 to 64). The bill is likely to be approved by the Senate later this week. President Obama indicated he plans to sign it when it reaches his desk. Congressional action on this latest reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is long overdue as No Child Left Behind (NCLB) officially expired in 2007. The Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) will mark a huge change in the federal government’s role in influencing education policy at the state level. The ESSA rolls back many of the high profile federal mandates set forth in NCLB and Race to the Top (RTTT), and replaces the NCLB waiver provisions granted to 43 states (including New York) by the United States Department of Education since 2012. As reported by The New York Times, states will still be required to use test scores and other academic measures to rate schools, but can also include other components like student surveys. The bill retains the annual grades 3 – 8 testing requirements in math and English language arts and mandates states take action to improve schools in the bottom five percent of all schools in the state as well as high schools that graduate less than two-thirds of students. However, the ESSA provides flexibility for states to determine standards and appropriate corrective action for their respective education systems and does not impose any specific action if goals are not met. Most relevant for the current political climate, the bill specifically prevents the federal government from requiring states to evaluate teachers at all, much less use test scores to rate them. The U.S. education secretary cannot dictate any specific academic standards upon states. Focus Remains on Helping to Close the Achievement Gap The ESSA does, however, ensure that the priorities of NCLB – addressing the need to close the achievement gaps for underserved student populations – is not lost in this move away from strict federal control. According to U.S. News & World Report, the ESSA maintains the requirement that schools annually report the achievement scores of students and breakdown the data by race, economic status, disability, and English language learners. In addition, the law preserves the mandates that school districts test no less than 95 percent of its students, but it gives states leeway in deciding how to handle school districts where large numbers of students opt out of annual testing. As added efforts to continue moving towards closing the achievement gap, the ESSA addresses the importance of early childhood education. The law would make permanent an Obama administration competitive grant that awards funds to sates to enhance their preschool offerings to low-income students. Over $250 million would be authorized for early education programs run out of the Department of Health and Human Services, in which programs like Head Start are housed, in partnership with the Department of Education. Impact on Education Policy and Politics in New York The ESSA will have a large impact on the revisions, development and implementation of education policy in New York state in 2016 and beyond. As a matter of fact, as the debate over the final content of the ESSA was taking form in Washington over the past few months, political leaders in New York released upcoming changes in their respective education...

House Votes to Authorize the Nation’s Premier Cybercrime Training Center...

By Jaime L. Regan and Jacqueline Cavallaro

In light of the growing national concern about cyberattacks and in an effort to ensure that state and local governments receive increased training in combating cybercrime, on November 30, 2015, the House passed H.R. 3490…

Number of Zombie Properties Decreased in 2015...

By David M. Rothman

In a previous blog post, we commented on properties which are vacant or underwater financially, so-called “zombie” properties.

Pension Burden Challenges Facing Chicago

By David M. Rothman

In a June blog post, we commented on challenges facing municipalities, including the city of Chicago, in making debt service and pension payments and the applicability to municipalities in the State of New York.

Hotel Tax, Non-Hotel Rentals and the Emergence of the Sharing Company...

By David M. Rothman

In an August blog post, we commented on the use of non-hotel rental service providers such as Airbnb.

New Rule Requires Carbon Monoxide Detection in Commercial Buildings...

By Gene Kelly, David Crowe and Lauren Baron

The Department of State recently adopted an emergency rule adding section 1228.4 to the Uniform Fire Prevention and Building Code (the “Uniform Code”). Section 1228.4 creates installation and maintenance requirements for carbon monoxide alarms in commercial buildings.

Uber – Balancing New Service and Old Revenue...

By David M. Rothman

Considered by many a trendy vacation spot or an enclave for only the most privileged, East Hampton, New York was at the center of conversation between new services and old revenue sources.