‘It was not optional’: Cuomo staffers say work on governor’s pandemic book was not voluntary

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is once again in hot water as several staffers came forward to say their work on his COVID-19 response book was not voluntary, despite the office saying it was.

According to Fox News, several staffers have come forward to say their work was not voluntary, which would then be illegal and an ethics violation.

The Governor’s office had previously claimed the work was not forced or a part of anyones’ jobs.

“As is permissible and consistent with ethical requirements, people who volunteered on this project did so on their own time,” Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said last week.

Local newspaper The Times Union of Albany repoted that staffers came forward to the paper.

There was a “clear expectation that we would do political work to help with his campaign and run the governor’s personal errands in the Executive Chamber,” one staffer told the paper.

It is illegal in New York for the governor or any staff to use government resources for personal gain.

Another staffer said “it was not optional.”

“It was considered a part of your job. Everyone knew that you did what was asked of you and opting out was never really an option,” a former staffer told the Times Union.

The news comes as New York representative Lee Zeldin announced his candidacy for New York governor last week.

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Florida Reports Fewer Coronavirus Cases Per Capita Than New York, Pennsylvania, Michigan

Florida continues to report fewer new cases of the Chinese coronavirus per capita than pro-lockdown blue states such as New York, Pennsylvania, and Michigan.

While the establishment media frequently criticized Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) for prioritizing individual liberty throughout the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, Florida is continuing to fare better than certain blue states in terms of reporting new cases of the virus.

Florida, which has no mask mandate in place, has reported 176.3 cases per 100,000 in the last seven days, or 37,859 cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) April 9 data.

But three blue states — Michigan, Pennsylvania, and New York — have reported more cases per capita in the same time frame, despite leaving certain restrictions in place, including statewide mask mandates.

Michigan, for example, has reported 492.1 cases per 100,000 in the last seven days, or 49,141 cases. Pennsylvania has reported 230 cases per 100,000, or 29,441, in the last week as well.

As Breitbart News has continued to note, CDC data separates New York City’s data from the remainder of the state. Even so, New York, excluding the city, has reported 239.9 cases per 100,000 in the last seven days, or 26,525 cases. New York City specifically reported 289.4 cases per 100,000, or 24,303 in the same time frame. Combined, the Empire State has reported 50,828 cases in the last seven days.

Texas, which lifted coronavirus-related restrictions last month, including the statewide mask mandate which had remained in effect since last summer, is also faring far better than those blue states, reporting 64.6 new cases of the virus per 100,000 in the last seven days, or 18,731 cases total.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House’s chief medical advisor on the coronavirus, has failed to explain why red states are experiencing a drop in cases despite relaxing restrictions against the advice of Democrats.

“It can be confusing because you may see a lag and a delay because often, you have to wait a few weeks before you see the effect of what you’re doing right now,” Fauci said during a Tuesday appearance on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

He continued:

You know, there are a lot of things that go into that. I mean, when you say that they’ve had a lot of the activity on the outside like ball games, I’m not really quite sure. It could be they’re doing things outdoor. You know, it’s very difficult to just one-on-one compare that. You have to see in the long-range. I hope they continue to tick down. If they do, that would be great, but there’s always the concern when you pull back on methods, particularly things like indoor dining and bars that are crowded, you can see a delay, and then all of a sudden tick right back up. We’ve been fooled before by situations where people begin to open up, nothing happens, and then all of a sudden several weeks later, things start exploding on you. So, we’ve got to be careful we don’t prematurely judge that.

While Fauci believes it may be too early to judge Texas’s trend, Gov. DeSantis lifted restrictions in the Sunshine State months ago.

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Want Lower Rent? Build More Housing And Scrap Zoning Restrictions

The average rent in America is about $1,700 — an expensive monthly rate for the typical family. Yet, in some states, rents can be much higher, harming the poor and created de facto segregation within cities. For instance, the average rents in New York and California are $2,500 and $2,800 respectively. Why? One of the largest culprits is zoning laws.

In New York, California, and many other cities and states, it’s illegal to construct a building of a certain height unless it’s in a particular area, or sometimes not at all. Ultimately, such policies prevent the creation of high-density buildings as well as the increased availability that leads to more housing and thereby lower rents for everyone.

One pertinent study from economist Andreas Mense of the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg found that a 1 percent increase in the amount of housing led to a between 0.4 percent to 0.7 percent decrease in rents for people in the area. Under these numbers, a theoretical doubling of the amount of housing in places like California and New York would lead to rent reductions of between 40 percent and 70 percent. California’s average rent would go from $2,800 to between $1,680 to $840 — a reduction of between $1,120 to $1,960. For its part, in such a scenario, New York would see a decrease of between $1,000 and $1,750.

Furthermore, such effects would likely stimulate the economy via newfound disposable income. Using New York City as an example, where 2.1 million homes are rented, the scenario envisioned above would create between $2.1 and $3.68 billion in disposable income, leading to thousands of new jobs as people spend money while leading to more products being made to meet increased demand in return.

A paper by Xiaodi Li at New York University offers different numbers but still points to decreases. Based in New York City, it shows that for every 10 percent increase in the housing stock, rents decrease by 1 percent within the 500 feet vicinity. New York zoning regulations, however, mandate certain areas a building can be and certain heights that building can be. New York City has a limited amount of space and zoning laws like this prevent that space from being fully realized.

San Francisco is perhaps one of the worst places when it comes to rents because of its zoning laws. The average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $3,500 and $4,300 for the median across all homes. Its NIMBYs (pro-zoning law advocates often half-affectionately shorthanded as “Not In My Backyard”) are winning elections, securing appointments, and halting high-density developments, keeping out San Francisco’s poor—a sizable share of whom are black Americans.

High rents as a result of these zoning laws lead to segregation. Indeed, a Berkeley study found that while now more than 50 years removed after the Civil Rights Act, the San Francisco Bay Area is still segregated. Worse, most counties in the region are more segregated now than in 1980. The study’s findings also revealed that zoning laws like single-family zoning are explicitly classist and are often used for racist reasons.

Some, especially modern leftists like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., back rent controls that set a price-ceiling on rents, foolhardily believing this will lower costs. The unavoidable problem, however, is that rent controls reduce the amount of housing instead of the rent. Under rent-controlled environments, landlords simply exit markets, builders cease new apartment construction or turn rentals into condos, while owners will defer maintenance. In the end, as Forbes notes, this leads to fewer housing units and lower quality apartments.

The way to reduce high rental rates is not through artificial rent controls that lead to deteriorating apartments, fewer apartments, and rentals becoming condos. It is not through zoning laws that keep out the poor and minorities and lead to modern-day segregation. The way to reduce rents is to build more housing, abolish exclusionary zoning laws like single-family zoning, and allow the principles of the free enterprise system to provide the necessary solution to the rent plague.

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Report: New York’s Pilot Program Vaccine Passports Are Easy To Fake

Attorney and privacy advocate Albert Fox Cahn, executive director of the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, took only 11 minutes to obtain someone else’s vaccine passport in New York, according to the Washington Post.

The state of New York launched the country’s first vaccine passport program in early April, formally called an Excelsior Pass. The pilot program forces New Yorkers to demonstrate proof of a vaccine or a negative COVID-19 test within six hours to gain access to entertainment and arts venues, such as Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center. In order to register for the pass, residents must provide their full name, address, date of birth, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccination card. Then the individual is assigned a scannable QR code.

Cahn noted, however, that he “experienced glitches” when he received a QR code. Worse, all information above can be obtained through a vaccination card. Since this is the case, the report says fraud could be a major issue. With people posting videos and pictures online of themselves receiving the vaccine and their vaccine cards, it is conceivable that any posted data can easily be extracted and forged for someone else to obtain a vaccine passport.

Cahn obtained a fraudulent vaccine passport by merely using Twitter and searching for public information. He noted that the passes are the “worst of both worlds,” because the legitimacy problem makes the passes less effective in facilitating public health.

“We need to pay attention to what the private sector is doing as well as what governments are doing and make sure that we regulate if we have to and make sure that they’re fair to everybody,” Nicole Hassoun, a professor at Binghamton University who specializes in public health and ethics told CNBC in March regarding vaccine passports.

The development of the Excelsior Pass in New York was led by IBM, which created the program, through its Digital Health Pass Program. In September, the company received about $23 million in funding from the National Institutes of Health to “develop digital health solutions that help address the COVID-19 pandemic.” The other groups awarded contracts include Vibrent Health in Virginia; the University of California, San Francisco; Shee Atiká Enterprises LLC in Alaska; PhysIQ in Chicago; iCrypto Inc. in California; and Evidation Health Inc. in California.

Empire State Development spokeswoman Kristin Devoe told the Daily Caller News Foundation on Thursday that the “Excelsior Pass is a voluntary system that creates a digital copy of a preexisting paper record — it is not a standalone identification document.” That being said, there clearly remain heavy privacy implications, in addition to the blurred lines between how the government will interact with the private sector on the issue of vaccine passports.

On Tuesday, the Biden administration said there will be “no federal mandate” for vaccine passports. In March, the Washington Post reported that the White House is working with private corporations to develop vaccine passports — with coronavirus coordinator Jeff Zients playing a major role.

Despite the words from press secretary Jen Psaki, states across the country have taken executive action against vaccine passports or are currently putting forth legislation. Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis led the charge on April 2, with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott doing the same on April 7.

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New York Will Offer Illegal Aliens COVID Payments Up To $15,600 Each

New York is reportedly going to spend $2.1 Billion on a fund to give illegal aliens COVID relief payments up to $15,600 per person.   Beyond all the initial reactions to illegal aliens gaining seven times as much covid relief as citizen taxpayers, or even getting them at all, one little aspect remains undiscussed.

The only reason New York can afford to do this is because they received a massive amount of bailout support from within the Pelosi-Biden blue state relief effort.

In essence, U.S. taxpayers are subsidizing New York’s ability to pay illegal aliens $15,000 each.  Let that sink in…

New York Times – […] after a sweeping move by lawmakers this week, New York will now offer one-time payments of up to $15,600 to undocumented immigrants who lost work during the pandemic. The effort — a $2.1 billion fund in the state budget — is by far the biggest of its kind in the country and a sign of the state’s shift toward policies championed by progressive Democrats.

[…] Most Democrats would not speak publicly about fault lines in their party, but internal clashes emerged on social media on Tuesday as lawmakers squabbled about eligibility and traded personal insults.

New York’s fund dwarfs a similar relief program enacted in California, where officials set up a $75 million cash assistance program last year that gave undocumented immigrants a $500 one-time payment on a first-come, first-served basis.

[…] Undocumented workers could receive up to $15,600, the equivalent of $300 per week for the last year, if they can verify that they were state residents, ineligible for federal unemployment benefits and lost income as a result of the pandemic.

Others who can prove at least their residency and identity, and provide some work documentation, could be eligible for a lower sum up to $3,200. (read more)

New York cannot put the kids back in school… can’t take care of the citizen homeless…. cannot pay its own bills without a federal bailout, and now takes $2.1 billion and gives it to illegal aliens.  Good grief.

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Democrat-Run New York And Pennsylvania Lead US In Shuttering The Most Small Businesses Through Lockdown

New data from tech giant Facebook reveals that New York and Pennsylvania, both Democratic strongholds run by Govs. Andrew Cuomo and Tom Wolf respectively, have had the greatest number of small businesses in the nation crumble during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Facebook study makes an effort to skirt the issue of lockdowns and claims that “strictness of [non-pharmaceutical interventions, such as lockdowns] did not seem to be correlated with higher rates of closed [small and medium-sized businesses].” The rational follow-up is, given the extensive data that points otherwise, how is this hypothesis even drawn?

Facebook published its first “Global State of Small Business Report,” which collected data from more than 35,000 small businesses in 27 countries affected by the pandemic and, evidently, government responses. The report found that New York and Pennsylvania maintained the highest rate of small business closure in the United States, tied at 31 percent.

The new information comes days before Cuomo is set to increase state taxes as part of a $212 billion spending plan. Taxes will reportedly increase by $4.3 billion dollars. The fiscal year 2021-2022 plan supported by the governor will increase personal taxes for people making over $1 million a year and for couples earning over $2 million a year. In addition, the plan intends to increase the corporate franchise tax rate for businesses earning $5 million or more a year in profits. The New York Senate signed off on the measure on Wednesday, and four of the 10 provisions will head to the State Assembly for a vote.

Similarly, in February, Wolf proposed a $37.8 billion spending plan, which includes the first personal income tax increase in Pennsylvania since 2003, as first noted by Penn live. The state’s personal income tax rate would move from 3.07 percent to 4.49 percent and allocate about half of all funding to the public education system. In addition to this tax hike, Wolf proposed a $12 minimum wage “with a path to $15/hour,” and $145 million in reserves from the Workers Compensation Security Fund to go toward small businesses — those that have somehow survived his harsh pandemic restrictions, that is.

New York leads the pack for the most reductions in employment across the country — at 38 percent. New York is second only to Hawaii in having the highest unemployment rate in the U.S., at 8.9 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Pennsylvania ranks not much higher at 40, with an unemployment rate of 7.3 percent. Even while the state forced businesses to shutter their doors, it did not stop the death rate from climbing. In terms of COVID-19 death rates, New York ranks second in the nation with 259 per 100,000 people. Pennsylvania ranks 11th-highest in death rates, at 198 per 100,000 people, according to data from Becker’s Hospital Review.

Analytics firm TrendMacro published a report in September citing that states that instituted harsh lockdowns like New York and Pennsylvania fared worse economically and even had more severe outbreaks than freer states. “The five places with the harshest lockdowns — the District of Columbia, New York, Michigan, New Jersey and Massachusetts — had the heaviest caseloads,” the study noted.

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New York to give up to $15,600 to undocumented migrants who lost work due to Covid

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York lawmakers struck a deal Tuesday on a $2.1 billion fund for undocumented essential workers who lost their jobs because of the Covid-19 pandemic, The New York Times reported.

The “Excluded Workers Fund” could provide payments to hundreds of thousands of people excluded from other pandemic relief.

The measure passed in the New York legislature this week with a vote of 42-21, as part of a broader $212 billion state budget agreement. New York will now offer one-time payments of up to $15,600 to undocumented immigrants who lost work during the pandemic.

Undocumented workers that are able to verify that they are state residents, ineligible for federal unemployment benefits and lost income as a result of the pandemic, could receive up to $15,600, the equivalent of $300 per week for the last year, according to the Times.

Others undocumented immigrants who are unable to meet the same level of verification will be eligible for up to $3,200.

The Fiscal Policy Institute, a New York based policy group, estimated that 290,000 workers will benefit from the Excluded Worker Fund. About 92,000 workers in New York state will be eligible for the full $15,600 payment.

Fox News contributor and former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer slammed the Excluded Workers Fund, calling New York “one messed up state.”

“Many American taxpayers are struggling to make ends meet. Businesses by law are not supposed to hire people who are here illegally. So what does NY do? It takes money from taxpayers and gives it to people who are here illegally. NY is one messed up state,” Fleischer wrote on Twitter.

Follow Annaliese Levy on Twitter @AnnalieseLevy

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Zeldin Announces Run for Governor of NY — ‘We Have to Turn Things Around’

Thursday on FNC’s “Fox & Friends,” Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY) announced he is running for governor in 2022 amid a slew of scandals by current Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).

Zeldin said that “losing is not an option” and emphasized the importance of turning “things around” in New York.

“So, I have spoken to New Yorkers from all across this state, and it doesn’t matter whether you are middle income, you are from upstate, downstate, you are getting hit with new tax hikes now. It hurt about the public safety and cashless bail, so after talking to New Yorkers who feel like this is a last stand, a last great opportunity to save New York,” Zeldin outlined. “And the fact that to save our state Andrew Cuomo has got to go, I’m announcing here this morning on your show that I’m running for governor of New York in 2022. And we are going to win this race. I’m all in; we are all in. Losing is not an option, and we have to turn things around.”

In making his announcement on Twitter, Zeldin said that to save his state, “#CuomosGottaGo!”

“I’ll bring the kind of relentless, fighting spirit towards helping to save our state that Cuomo reserves for multi-million dollar self-congratulatory book deals, cover-ups, abuse & self-dealing,” he added.

Follow Trent Baker on Twitter @MagnifiTrent

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Watch: Illegal Aliens End Hunger Strike After Winning $2.1B in Taxpayer-Funded Aid from Andrew Cuomo

Illegal aliens are ending their 23-day hunger strike after successfully lobbying New York state Democrats and Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to provide them with billions in taxpayer-funded aid.

While more than a million jobs have been lost in New York and an estimated 80,000 New York businesses may not make it to the end of the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, Cuomo and state Democrats will provide $2.1 billion in stimulus checks and unemployment-style benefits to nearly 200,000 illegal aliens.

In comparison, as Breitbart News reported, small businesses devastated by the pandemic are receiving just $1 billion in tax credits and grants — $1.1 billion less than illegal aliens in the state.

Many illegal aliens who stand to benefit from the aid are ending the 23-day hunger strike they started last month, eating a meal at a victory rally on Wednesday.

Previous estimates suggested illegal aliens could receive up to $28,600 a year thanks to the taxpayer-funded benefits approved by Cuomo. Weekly, illegal aliens could receive $500. For those unemployed since March 2020, illegal aliens could receive, on average, $12,600.

New York, and particularly New York City, has been ravaged by Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s (D) economic lockdown measures that have now been in place for more than a year. Historic venues, hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, and local neighborhood spots have had to close their doors for good as a result of the lockdowns.

Those forced to close include The Roosevelt hotel in Midtown East, which opened in 1924; the Copacabana nightclub, which opened in 1940; The Paris Cafe, which opened in 1873; and Empire Coffee & Tea, which opened in 1908, among hundreds of others.

John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Email him at jbinder@breitbart.com. Follow him on Twitter here

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Did Big Government Make The Pandemic Economy Worse?

On this episode of The Federalist Radio Hour, John Tamny, author of “When Politicians Panicked: The New Coronavirus, Expert Opinion, and a Tragic Lapse of Reason” and Vice President at FreedomWorks, joins Culture Editor Emily Jashinsky to discuss how federal government’s decisions during the COVID-19 pandemic made the U.S. economy worse.

“Let’s not forget that historically, economic growth has always been the biggest enemy of death and disease whereas poverty has easily been the biggest killer mankind has ever known,” Tamny explained. “Yet, when given a choice in March of 2020, politicians chose contraction as a virus mitigation strategy.”

This “one-size-fits-all” strategy based on the decisions of a few people, Tamny argued, did nothing but destroy the economy.

“It also blinds us to the information that tells us, why is it spreading more in New York? Why does it seem to hit New York so hard? Why does it seem to hit Florida, with so many old people not as difficult? What are the answers to this? We didn’t really get that because they chose one-size-fits-all in so many instances,” Tamny said.

Listen here:



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