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Editorial Roundup: New York

Jamestown Post-Journal. March 25, 2024. Editorial: State’s Slow Marijuana Rollout Continues To Cost You It was bad enough when the state’s labored rollout of legalized recreational marijuana was only costing the state tax revenue.

Jamestown Post-Journal. March 25, 2024.

Editorial: State’s Slow Marijuana Rollout Continues To Cost You

It was bad enough when the state’s labored rollout of legalized recreational marijuana was only costing the state tax revenue.

Now, not only is the state not generating revenue to pay for programs, New York’s inability to follow the roadmap set by other states is costing you millions of dollars. The state Senate’s budget – which joins the Assembly’s budget to form the baseline for negotiations between Senate leaders, Assembly leaders and Gov. Kathy Hochul – includes a $128 million bailout for marijuana farmers. The money includes $60 million for cannabis farmer loans, $40 million for grants through a newly created Cannabis Farmer Relief Fund and $28 million for cannabis farmer refundable tax credits to help offset money lost by farmers when there was no market to sell their crops because the state hadn’t given enough licenses to marijuana dispensaries to purchase all of the crops the state asked farmers to grow.

Ugh.

What’s even worse is the bailout is defensible. It’s not the farmers’ fault they did what they were asked. It’s not the farmers’ fault that Hochul vetoed legislation last year that would have created a market on tribal nation land. They were promised a market for their goods that never materialized. The state needs to help.

Of course, a better help would have been getting the market right in the first place. Last week, Hochul announced an assessment of the state Office of Cannabis Management to get licenses approved more quickly and help retailers and marijuana businesses open quicker. That should have been the state’s focus when recreational marijuana was legalized three years ago, though the review is better late than never.

If there’s a positive, at least it’s only a $128 million mistake. For this state, it could have been a lot worse.

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Albany Times Union. March 22, 2024.

Editorial: Big Tech, foul play

An ally of major internet companies is using trusted nonprofits in its fight against legislation designed to protect children. For shame.

One of the more deceptive tools in the lobbying toolbox is the creation of supposed citizens groups to make it appear that ordinary folk support a corporate agenda. The phenomenon has a name, astroturfing, that reflects the essentially fake nature of such manufactured grassroots movements.

And so it seems to be with the so-called New York Inclusive Internet Coalition, a wholesome-sounding outfit created by Tech:NYC, a nonprofit affiliated with major players like Google and Meta with a mission to advocate “for policies that will help tech companies grow.” The coalition is part of an effort to fend off, or at least dilute, proposed legislation designed to protect children from the predations of firms that sweep up data on internet users and then use it to get them to stay online and tailor advertising to them.

As the Times Union’s Brendan J. Lyons and Joshua Solomon found, Tech:NYC sought to draw a range of advocacy groups into the coalition, organizations representing such constituencies as LGBTQ+ youth, immigrants, homeless people and minorities. In some cases, though, groups have since left the coalition, saying that their interests weren’t really aligned with its anti-regulatory agenda. Yet their names have still been appearing on lobbying communications.

A key focus of what’s been a multi-year lobbying effort are bills aimed at reining in the use of algorithms that have become increasingly proficient at addicting people to social media. Research has found this is having a deleterious effect on children, keeping them online for hours every day, exposing them to bullying, inappropriate content and solicitations, and leading, for some, to sleep deprivation and a range of emotional problems. There are also privacy concerns about storing and analyzing vast amounts of data on minors’ internet behavior and using it to manipulate them.

Tech:NYC and the coalition are already credited with helping to kill one bill last year before it even got out of committee, the New York Child Data Privacy and Protection Act. It would have more tightly regulated “digital public spaces” that use algorithms and other methods “to maximize user engagement as opposed to safeguarding user health.” But since then, lawmakers, Gov. Kathy Hochul and Attorney General Letitia James have proposed new measures on internet safety, the Stop Addictive Feeds Exploitation (SAFE) for Kids Act and the New York Child Data Protection Act.

It would be pollyannish to expect Big Tech — for all its public pledges to support a safe internet for kids — to support legislation that would protect minors at the potential expense of its bottom line. All this data and the internet traffic is at the heart of many companies’ business models. Kids – adults, too – are both consumers and commodities, and Big Tech is determined to keep us online as much as possible.

Yes, it’s a balance — how to give children access to information and digital communities while protecting them from the worst the internet has to offer. But as lawmakers fine-tune the proposals on the table, they need to be ever-mindful of the distinction between kids’ right to use the internet and the right Big Tech is really fighting to protect — to use kids, regardless of the harm that causes.

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Wall Street Journal. March 21, 2024.

Editorial: Harlem Lessons in Elementary Education

Almost all the New York school district’s improvement in scores comes from charters.

On Wednesday night Harlem parents heard some good news. New York City’s Panel for Educational Policy voted 19-0 for more classroom space for the Success Academy High School of the Liberal Arts-Harlem, which will help add a Grade 12 for its students. Getting space for charters has become a chokepoint to meet growing demand.

Harlem’s school district 5 is the only city district where more than half of elementary students attend charters. Recently Success Academy crunched the numbers for students in charters and those in traditional district schools, and then looked at their respective proficiency scores. It found that scores for district 5 are up overall, but they are being pulled up by charters.

In 2006 charters were getting started in the city and accounted for only 6% of district 5’s population. Back then only about a third—36%—of district 5’s students were proficient in math and English on state standardized tests. By 2023 the percentage of the district’s students who tested proficient in the combined scores had risen to 51%. This was almost all because of charters.

How do we know? Because over the same period of time the number of students in charters increased tenfold, to 62%. In 2023 charter students tested at 66% proficient in math and 59% in English. At the same time the performance of students in the traditional union-run schools dipped slightly. The percentage of district 5 charter students testing proficient was almost twice that of children in the same district’s traditional public schools.

Success Academy isn’t the only one doing good work in Harlem. District 5 includes other high-performing charters such as Kipp and Democracy Prep and Harlem Village Academy. The bottom line is more charters with more students has meant better performance.

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New York Post. March 24, 2024.

Editorial: Comeback kid Andrew Cuomo needs to show real contrition for his many, many sins

Ex-Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been laying the groundwork for a political comeback — most likely a run for mayor — by blasting current electeds for New York’s woes.

Yet the ex-gov himself bears great responsibility for those problems. If anyone is going to take him seriously he’ll need to atone.

Don’t hold your breath.

Last week, Cuomo joined ex-Gov. David Paterson in ripping fellow Democrats for their handling of crime, the migrant crisis and congestion pricing.

Days earlier, in a Post column, he inveighed against today’s “politics,” claiming it’s “driven by the activist extremes.”

Yet today “is a time of serious problems that require comprehensive solutions.”

Hmm: Guess when he was gov, problems mustn’t have been so serious, because he himself routinely caved to extremists. Recall:

He called himself “the students’ lobbyist,” mounting a major drive for teacher accountability — only to retreat when the teachers unions outmaneuvered him, throwing kids under the bus.

He rammed through a climate bill that’s forcing up electric bills, jeopardizing the grid and requiring hated lifestyle changes (no more gas stoves!) and expensive infrastructure changes. It’ll do little to slow global warming, but the green extremists love it.

He helped push through the congestion-pricing scheme, which likewise won’t do much for climate change or ease traffic but will squeeze money from people lacking mass-transit options to pay for transit that serves others.

He bowed to radical pro-criminal progressives in signing into law “reforms” — cashless bail, Raise the Age — that fueled a 33% spike in major felonies in the city since 2019.

He ordered devastating, overly broad lockdown rules during the pandemic and — most unforgivably — ordered nursing homes (which housed the most vulnerable) to accept COVID-positive patients, leading to hundreds of needless deaths.

Will Cuomo own up to any of this? Ha!

Sure, he now opposes congestion pricing — but only, as he put it in The Post, because this is not the “right time” for it. (Translation: Backing it now could hurt my comeback chances.)

He decries the spike in crime, but how would he undo or at least fix all those harmful reforms that bear his fingerprints?

Will he take responsibility for the damage being done by his lunatic climate law?

Restore the psychiatric beds he cut and push to make it easier to get violent mentally ill people off the streets?

How about admitting to the failure of his lockdowns and his deadly nursing-home order?

Apologies and vows to do better aren’t enough — he has to mean it.

If it he can’t visibly show he’s learned all his lessons, any Cuomo comeback would only mean more tragedy for New York.

END

The Associated Press