Commentary

At the end of the classic Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, Jimmy Stewart, as Senator Jefferson Smith, is in the midst of his filibuster against the corruption of the political machine that sent him to Capitol Hill as their lackey. Now he knows the truth and he’s taken over the floor of the Senate to tell it.

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For decades, the increasing precariousness of work has been a source of mass frustration for tens of millions of Americans. But the issue has been largely below the political radar.

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New Yorkers can view the disturbing images from Ferguson, Mo., with both horror and a sense of relief. There are certainly serious lapses in both race relations and police/community relations that surface too often in New York. The homicide of Eric Garner on Staten Island is evidence enough of that.

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In May 2013, low-wage workers in federal buildings in Washington began walking off the job in a series of one-day strikes. Employed by concessionaires and janitorial contractors at places like the Smithsonian and the Ronald Reagan Building, the workers said their rock-bottom wages weren't enough to survive on. Like the Walmart and fast-food workers also going on strike, they asked for better working conditions and a greater share of the spoils.

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There's been some, not a lot, of national attention to a New York scandal that has kept the chattering and political classes agog and aghast. Long story short, Cuomo kept hammering the legislature as corrupt, evidenced by a series of thefts and misappropriations. He created an investigative commission that lurched into the world of petty thievery, and then lurched into the more interesting question of who was giving huge dollars to who, and for what. This is the murky world of legal corruption.

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New York State once again is facing a dilemma.  This time, however, it’s a nice dilemma to have:  How should the state use the billions of dollars  it will receive in a settlement with a French bank?

The state was already headed for an estimated $2 billion surplus, but will get an additional $3.3 billion to $3.6 billion now that the French bank BNP Paribas reached a settlement deal with state and federal officials last month.  The settlement resolves charges that the bank violated U.S. trade sanctions and did business with clients in Sudan, Iran and Cuba.

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Reformers in Washington are looking for a few good scandals.

Watergate led to the biggest overhaul of campaign finance law in the past century. Outrage over donors sleeping in the Lincoln Bedroom and Enron influence peddling helped spur the 2002 McCain-Feingold overhaul. And the Jack Abramoff affair got Congress to act quickly on lobbying and ethics reform.

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Every rule of government budgeting — not to mention common sense — says using a one-time windfall to finance ongoing commitments is a very bad idea.

It’s the political equivalent of hitting the lottery for $1,000, then rushing to put a down payment on a Ferrari.

So it was disturbing that Gov. Cuomo — when asked how he would spend an unprecedented $4.2 billion in legal settlements flowing into state coffers this year — threw out the following list of options:

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One of the most unnoticed labor trends in the past few decades has been the rise of “just-in-time scheduling,” the practice of scheduling workers’ shifts with little advance notice that are subject to cancelation hours before they are due to begin.

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Citing clear evidence that numerous low-income Arizona residents have been denied the opportunity to register to vote, the League of Women Voters of Arizona and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) sent official notice today to Secretary of State Ken Bennett, as well to the heads of three Arizona public assistance agencies (the Department of Economic Security, the Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System, and the Department of Health Services), that the state is vio

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