One of the most powerful political figures in New York was arrested Thursday by the FBI on charges that he received millions of dollars in bribes and kickbacks, the New York Times, Associated Press and New York Law Journal (sub. req.) report.New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, 70, was charged with five counts, including conspiracy and bribery.“There is probable cause to believe Silver obtained about $4 million in payments characterized as attorney referral fees solely through the corrupt use of his official position,” the criminal complaint (PDF) says.“When all was said and done, he amassed nearly $4 million in illegitimate proceeds and arranged for approximately $500,000 in state funds to be used for projects that benefited his personal plans,” said Richard Frankel, the FBI special agent in charge, in a statement.As Assembly speaker, Silver is one of three top power brokers in Albany, along with the speaker of the state senate and the governor. Silver, a … [Read more...] about FBI arrests powerful NY politician, says he masked $4M in bribes as attorney referral fees
Albany city school district
The people cheered and held up large banners scrawled with the words "No frack!" and sunflower-shaped signs that read "Home rule.""We did it!" proclaimed one Dryden resident in a news release the day of the ruling.Over the past three years, the towns of Dryden, near Ithaca, and Middlefield, about 100 miles to the east, had been engaged in all-out legal warfare with the oil industry. In 2011, the two towns passed ordinances banning oil and gas development within city limits. The industry swiftly sued, saying that such bans were pre-empted by a state statute permitting oil and gas development.The towns argued that the state law shouldn't trump their constitutional "home rule" right to enact zoning ordinances that protect the "health, safety and general welfare" of their communities. Two lower courts and, finally, the New York Court of Appeals sided with the towns."The towns both studied the issue and acted within their home rule powers in determining that gas drilling would permanently … [Read more...] about Towns across the country are blocking energy companies from fracking
In the neighborhood of the also-abandoned St. Cyril Church, the tract—if not redeveloped—could someday add significantly to the acreage devoted to urban agriculture. Photo by James Griffioen.It’s a warm day in April, and Skip Wiener is showing off the crown jewel of gardens that the Urban Tree Connection has created out of 29 vacant lots in the poverty-ridden Haddington neighborhood on Philadelphia’s west side.The site, tucked away in the center of a block of 60 homes, once was used by a construction firm for storage. When Wiener, the founder and director of the UTC, was first alerted about the property by a local block captain, it was overgrown, riddled with industrial waste, and a haven for drug dealers and prostitutes.It was just what the UTC was looking for. The nonprofit organization supports renewal efforts in low-income communities by turning abandoned open spaces into various types of gardens, including some devoted to growing fruits and vegetables.The … [Read more...] about Plowing Over: Can Urban Farming Save Detroit and Other Declining Cities? Will the Law Allow It?
Note: This month’s CLE, “A Storm Brews Over Wind Power,” was on Wednesday, Feb. 17.It is a bright mid-September day. Hal and Judy Graham are sitting in the living room of their restored 19th century farmhouse, which looks out over the still-green rolling hills near Cohocton, a rural community in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York.The pastoral view is punctuated by two 420-foot-high structures. The sleek towers, almost alien in appearance, are wind turbines. One of them stands 1,000 feet from the farmhouse, on a neighbor’s property. The second is 2,000 feet away on the Grahams’ own land.On this afternoon in the late summer of 2009, the twin Goliaths are still. One was shut down last winter after a flurry of attempted repairs, and the other has unaccountably been shut down for just a couple of days. But the Grahams expect it to be only a temporary respite. When the winds are high and the turbines are spinning fast, “it sounds like a jet … [Read more...] about The War of Winds