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This Week in New York State Government

Governor:

Governor Cuomo Announces $20 Million For New Mental Health Services

Governor Cuomo announced new mental health services have been developed in communities across New York State, including cost-effective and innovative mobile mental health teams, home-like residential programs, and early intervention services. With $20 million allocated from the State Office of Mental Health, the programs are available to children and adults alike and will increase the accessibility of mental healthcare, enabling New Yorkers to find help closer to their homes and communities.

The funding is part of New York State’s $59 million plan to expand the availability and accessibility of mental health services to more New York residents, with a goal of reducing the need for costly inpatient hospitalizations. This funding also supports two OnTrackNY teams in Syracuse and Rochester, which provide early identification and treatment services for young adults experiencing their first psychotic episodes. More information about OnTrackNY is available here.

Programs include the following:

Mobile Integration Teams in Long Island, the North Country, the Southern Tier, Rochester Area and Western New York
Serving nearly 2,000 New York residents to date, the Office of Mental Health’s Mobile Integration Teams provide the clinical intervention and support necessary to successfully treat and maintain individuals with mental illness in their home or community. Through an array of services including health assessment, psychiatric rehabilitation and recovery, peer support groups, skill building, crisis assessment and intervention, legal system collaboration, community support and care and other support services, these teams aim to provide a comprehensive mobile option for New York residents in need of mental health services.

Child & Adolescent Crisis Respite Houses in Dix Hills, Elmira and Syracuse
Serving over 200 New York children and youth to date, the Office of Mental Health’s Child & Adolescent Crisis Respite Houses provide residential care to children and adolescents ages 10-17 and help families and caregivers by stabilizing crisis situations and offering “breathing space” for both youth in crisis and the caregivers who support them. Services provided by these programs include crisis stabilization, behavior support, medication education and training, family and peer support, parenting education, and more. Youth served in these programs generally transition back to their families or other guardians within a few weeks.

This funding will support additional programs currently in development across the state.

Governor Cuomo Announces $5.4 Million in Americorps Funding

Governor Cuomo announced that New York State has been awarded $5.4 million in AmeriCorps funding from the federal Corporation for National and Community Service. New York will administer this funding to 19 municipalities and non-profit organizations which help at-risk children, homebound seniors, low-income families, and struggling veterans throughout the state.

Awarded through a competitive Request for Proposals process, the grants will enable the 19 municipalities and non-profit organizations to recruit approximately 700 AmeriCorps members across the state. Each member will receive a scholarship upon completion of his or her service. Nearly $600,000 will complement the work of the Governor’s Rochester Anti-Poverty Task Force by supporting programs designed to improve academic achievement, adolescent health, and violence prevention in the city’s most impoverished neighborhoods.

The New York State Commission on National and Community Service – New Yorkers Volunteer, a Governor-appointed commission, will administer the grants. The Commission uses the power of AmeriCorps to address some of the state’s most challenging issues, and encourages citizens to make a difference in the lives of others.

Governor Cuomo Announces $2.2 Million to Improve Hospital Access to Emergency Back-Up Power During Severe Weather

Governor Cuomo announced that the New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services has successfully secured federal funding to support the installation of pre-connection points for interim power generators at Manhattan’s Metropolitan Hospital Center and Brooklyn’s Coney Island Hospital Center. These pre-connection points will allow both facilities to rent and utilize external roll up type generators to quickly restore essential services if the main equipment is rendered inoperable during extreme weather or other emergencies.

Just over $2 million in funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program will be made available to the Metropolitan Hospital Center to install pre-connection points located on the perimeter wall of the existing building above the 500 year flood plain. Coney Island Hospital Center has received $99,125 in Phase I approval for engineering, design analysis and regulatory permitting for its project. The estimated total project cost is $699,000.

This funding was approved under the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program which allows the State to establish priorities aimed at increasing the State’s resiliency, reducing hardship, and mitigating the risk of loss and damage associated with future disasters. After Superstorm Sandy devastated parts of New York, Governor Cuomo called for government and non-profit organizations across the State to submit applications for projects to help communities become more resilient and rebuild smarter and stronger in the wake of recent natural disasters.

Governor Cuomo Announces Innovative Clean Energy Project on Long Island Under Reforming the Energy Vision

Governor Cuomo announced the launch of an anaerobic digester project on Long Island that will serve as an innovative model of how clean, on-site power can significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions and support sustainable communities. By providing Long Island with a local clean energy generation resource, the project aligns with Governor Cuomo’s Reforming the Energy Vision, the State’s comprehensive energy strategy to build a clean, resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers.

“This exciting project is yet one more way we’re investing in a sustainable energy future and building a cleaner and greener New York,”: Governor Cuomo said. “This first-of-its kind project for Long Island and the greater New York metropolitan area will build upon this administration’s commitment to expand the state’s use of renewable energy and reduce our carbon footprint.”

The new anaerobic digester will be operated by American Organic Energy at Long Island Compost’s 62-acre facility in Yaphank, Suffolk County and will process over twice as much food waste as currently processed at any existing privately-owned food waste digesters accepting offsite food waste in New York State. The project will accept approximately 120,000 tons of food waste, 30,000 tons of fats, oils and greases, and 10,000 tons of grass clippings from the Long Island region annually that would otherwise have been transported and dumped into landfills, contributing to harmful greenhouse gas emissions. The digester will convert these waste streams to clean energy, clean water to be used for plant processes, and solid-based fertilizer.

Anaerobic digestion is a biological process that occurs when organic matter is decomposed by bacteria in the absence of oxygen. During the decomposition process, the biogas released can be recovered, treated and used to generate energy in place of traditional fossil fuels.

Governor Cuomo Announces Sweeping $50 Million Redesign of New York State Fairgrounds

Governor Cuomo unveiled a sweeping $50 million redesign plan to transform the New York State Fairgrounds in Onondaga County into a year-round, premier multi-use facility that can attract more events and visitors from across the nation. The plan includes a new multi-purpose exposition center with 110,000 square feet of flexible space, an expanded festival stage to bring in larger concerts, a larger Midway to accommodate more attractions and a 400-site RV Park, as well as various parking and pedestrian safety improvements.

“The State Fair is one of Central New York’s greatest economic engines, but the grounds have needed major upgrades for years. That’s why we’re redesigning the Fairgrounds from the bottom up,” said Governor Cuomo. “This plan transforms the Fairgrounds into a world-class set of facilities that can generate economic activity and jobs all year long. This is the first step towards a new Fair, a new regional economy, and it’s all part of the new Upstate New York.”

The New York State Fairgrounds have remained essentially the same for a century – no major redesign has been undertaken and investments have been for basic rehabilitation such as repairs of roofing systems, electrical systems, water and sewer mains and roadways. The current lack of green areas, storm water infrastructure and rain collection systems causes severe flooding during rainstorms.

THE PLAN
1. Remove the grandstand and motor track to make room for new facilities;
2. Construct the Expo Center – a state-of-the-art, 110,000 square foot multi-use facility to host trade shows, horse shows, mid-sized concerts and other events;
3. Construct a larger, modern Chevy Court Festival Stage and seating area;
4. Enlarge and upgrade the Midway to facilitate a more robust carnival;
5. Perform much-needed infrastructure upgrades to enhance visitor experience and better showcase a variety of attractions; and
6. Create a new, 400 site RV Park to serve the Fair, the Lakeview Amphitheater, and many large events held at the Fairgrounds year-round.

Governor Cuomo Announces $3.75 Million Federal Grant to Enhance Treatment and Prevention of Stroke

Governor Cuomo announced that New York State has been awarded a $3.75 million grant, over five years, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to enhance the treatment and prevention of stroke. Stroke remains the fourth leading cause of death in New York, accounting for more than 6,000 deaths annually.

The grant will allow the New York State Department of Health to expand upon its existing New York Coverdell program which was created in 2012 through another federal grant to improve in-hospital care for acute stroke. This includes growing the program’s components on community education, emergency medical services, and transitions of care, as well as addressing stroke risk factors such as high blood pressure, tobacco use, high cholesterol and poor medication adherence.

Additionally, the funding will be used to help identify and address gaps in care between the transition from ambulance to hospital, and then from hospital to home. Ultimately, the goal is to find ways of reducing mortality, readmission and disabilities resulting from stroke.

New York was one of nine states to receive funds from the Paul Coverdell National Acute Stroke Program for a state program and is in the midst of a five-year project that will ultimately establish comprehensive systems of care for stroke within five regions of the state. Since 2012, the program has made significant improvements in elements of hospital care for acute stroke, most notably by increasing the timely delivery of the only FDA-approved treatment, called tissue plasminogen activator, from 41.3 percent to 61.3 percent.

In 2013, New York had more than 43,000 strokes. Strokes and transient ischemic attacks, which are known as mini strokes, account for more than 49,000 hospital discharges every year. While rates of stroke mortality have declined significantly in New York over the past decade, nearly 15 percent of adults hospitalized for stroke in New York die in the hospital or within 30 days of admission. Nearly 16 percent of stroke patients are readmitted, and more than 60 percent of adults living with stroke report having a disability.

For more information about stroke, visit http://www.health.ny.gov/facilities/hospital/stroke_centers/stroke_resources.htm.

Governor Cuomo Announces End-of-Summer Underage Drinking and Fake ID Crackdown at Concerts and Events Across the State

Governor Cuomo announced a crackdown on underage drinking and fake identification documents at summer concerts and other underage hotspots, which will last through Labor Day weekend. The enforcement will occur unannounced at various concert venues and places where young adults congregate across the state, and will be carried out by theDepartment of Motor Vehicles’ Division of Field Investigation in partnership with law enforcement agencies.

“Underage drinking and the bad decisions that follow can have devastating and life-altering consequences,” Governor Cuomo said. “By targeting fake IDs and increasing enforcement at summer concerts, we will help avoid needless tragedy and will send the message that this reckless behavior just isn’t worth it.”

DMV will be checking the identity documents of people seeking to purchase alcohol at events statewide. Anyone in possession of a fraudulent ID will be arrested and their fake identity documents will be confiscated. Individuals who are arrested face administrative action that normally results in a suspension of their license for a minimum of 90 days.

Governor Cuomo Announces Over $9 Million in Federal Storm Recovery Funding Restored For the City of Long Beach

Governor Cuomo announced that the Federal Emergency Management Agency has restored over $9 million of previously denied Public Assistance program funding to reimburse the City of Long Beach for a project to rebuild its boardwalk after it sustained heavy damages during Superstorm Sandy. The New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services led the effort to overturn the initial denial of funds and ensure the city received full federal funding for its project.

“This boardwalk is the social, cultural and economic heart of Long Beach and it’s restoration after Sandy was a critically important part of Long Island’s recovery after the storm,” Governor Cuomo said. “I am pleased this funding was rightfully restored for a boardwalk that, like the community, is better, stronger and more resilient than ever before.”

Superstorm Sandy caused major damage to the City of Long Beach including extensively damaging almost 75 percent of the boardwalk and 85 percent of the structure’s support system. Following the storm, the City of Long Beach built back better by replacing the boardwalk’s decking and framing with more storm resilient materials. A mitigation feature was also added to reduce the impact of storm waves to both the boardwalk and buildings adjacent to it. The federal funding will cover 90 percent of the city’s project costs, while the state will fund the remaining 10 percent.

 Governor Cuomo Announces Opening of Bus/HOV Lane Extension on Staten Island Expressway

Governor Cuomo announced the opening of a bus/HOV lane extension on the Staten Island Expressway in both directions from Clove Road to Victory Boulevard. This milestone marks substantial completion of a $118.5 million project to improve access and mobility for the more than 157,000 motorists who use the expressway each day.

With the opening of the bus/HOV lane extension, Staten Island commuters will have a 24/7 continuous bus/HOV lane from Victory Boulevard to the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in both directions. The opening also comes with strict around-the-clock enforcement of a new regulation mandating vehicles have at least three occupants to use the improved bus/HOV lane.

Governor Cuomo Leads Delegation to Puerto Rico

Governor Cuomo announced that he will lead a delegation to Puerto Rico to meet with local officials and discuss the Puerto Rican governments’ ongoing healthcare crisis and economic challenges as well as the need for Washington to act. The Governor is leading the delegation at the invitation of Puerto Rico’s Governor, Alejandro García Padilla. The group will depart in the afternoon on September 7 and return early in the evening on September 8.

“New York and Puerto Rico have a special relationship bound in heritage, history, culture and family – and when times are tough we stand side by side and offer whatever help we can,” said Governor Cuomo. “The current situation in Puerto Rico has become unsustainable and is threatening the livelihoods of millions of people – many with strong connections to New York. This trip is about stepping up for Puerto Rico and its people, and I look forward to working together with our partners to help address this crisis.”

Comptroller:

Comptroller DiNapoli Releases Municipal Audits

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced his office completed the following audits:

Ballston Spa Public Library – Donations and Circulation Desk (Saratoga County)
The board has not established procedures for the library’s collection and disbursement of donated funds, or for cash receipts collected at the circulation desk. The treasurer has not maintained adequate records for the money received from donations and fundraising activities.

Bovina Fire District – Fund Balance (Delaware County)
The district’s available fund balance has accumulated to more than 400 percent of the 2015 budgeted appropriations as of the end of 2014. In addition, the board has not formally established capital reserves.

Brighton Memorial Library – Board Oversight (Monroe County)
The library has accumulated more than $750,000 in private funds as of the end of 2014 and it has no formal plan to use the money. The library maintains approximately $627,000 in mutual funds, fixed income securities and cash equivalents with two investment brokerage firms; these are improper investments at unauthorized financial institutions.

Village of Cape Vincent – Payroll and Claims Auditing (Jefferson County)
Payroll duties are not adequately segregated and there is no periodic management review of transactions, certification of payrolls or review of leave records. The board also did not clearly document its authorization of compensation for all village employees.

Town of Cayuta – Board Oversight and Cash Receipts and Disbursements (Schuyler County)
The board did not adopt, review, update or enforce adequate financial policies to ensure town resources were protected. The former clerk did not routinely issue duplicate receipts, record daily cash receipts properly, or make deposits intact. As a result, auditors identified a cash shortage of $465.

Commack Public Library District – Selected Financial Operations (Suffolk County)
District officials did not adopt a procurement policy as required by state law. The board did not ensure disbursements from the discretionary fund were made in accordance with district bylaws. In addition, the board appointed an independent contractor as treasurer.

Galen-Clyde Joint Fire District – Board Oversight and Information Technology (Wayne County)
The board could not appropriately monitor the district budget because it did not receive budget status reports. Auditors found the district routinely overspent its budget for the three-year period from 2011 through 2013. In addition, the board did not implement appropriate policies to protect information technology assets.

City of Geneva – Financial Management (Ontario County)
The city adopted unrealistic budgets from 2012-2014 because the manager did not use historical trends or prior year amounts when producing budgets. During this same time, fund balance was appropriated to finance operations and overall fund balance levels decreased significantly.

Town of Malone – Justice Court Operations and Highway Department Payroll (Franklin County)
The justices did not properly segregate cash receipt duties and did not provide oversight for receiving, depositing, recording and reporting cash receipts. In addition, accurate and complete bail records were not maintained and bank reconciliations and accountability analyses were not performed for all court bank accounts. The town also lacked comprehensive policies and procedures for preparing and processing payroll and maintaining leave time accruals for highway department employees.

Village of Nelliston – Department of Public Works Payroll (Montgomery County)
The board did not establish policies and procedures to provide guidance to village employees or implement sufficient controls over leave accruals and payroll timekeeping to ensure that leave time was accurately accounted for.

Town of Tuscarora – Supervisor’s Records and Reports (Steuben County)
The town supervisor signed checks and reviewed monthly reports, but did not review bank reconciliations to ensure information recorded and reported was accurate. The board has not received any monthly financial reports since February 2015.

Attorney General:

Attorney General Schneiderman Announces $4.3 Million Settlement With Former Leaders Of New York City-Based Charity Over Misuse Of Funds

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced that the former trustees of the Homeland Foundation, Inc. (“Homeland”) have agreed to the findings of the Attorney General’s investigation into the trustees’ repeated failures to properly administer millions of dollars of charitable assets entrusted to their care. The Attorney General determined that, among other breaches of their fiduciary duties, the former trustees issued at least $4.25 million dollars in grants, beyond what they were authorized to spend. In issuing the improper $4.25 million in grants, the trustees failed to follow their obligation to make grants in any one year not to exceed 5% of the total value of Homeland’s cash and investments, as required by the organization’s charter.

Many of the grants authorized by the trustees, including E. Lisk Wyckoff, Homeland’s president during most of the period of the investigation, went to organizations closely connected to Wyckoff and his wife Elizabeth, or to other trustees—for example, $1.5 million to private schools attended by the Wyckoffs’ children, and $4.5 million to schools that Wyckoff himself had attended. No allegations were made that recipients of Homeland’s donations committed any wrongdoing.

“The use of charitable assets for personal gain is both deplorable and illegal,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “When individuals charged with advancing a charitable mission instead treat a charity’s assets as a personal piggybank, my office will hold them accountable.”

Attorney General Schneiderman Announces $1 Million Settlement With Online Marketer That Deceptively Enrolled Consumers Into High Cost Pimsleur Language Courses

Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman announced that New York has entered into a $1 million multi-state settlement with Internet Order LLC, doing business as Pimsleurapproach.com, over its use of ‘negative option’ marketing in the sale of Pimsleur-branded language audio courses over the Internet. The agreement resolves an investigation concerning the company’s, and owner Dan Roitman’s, failure to clearly disclose that the purchase of a language course advertised as “only $9.95” included the shipment of additional language courses that, if not returned, could cost the consumer more than $1000.

“Consumers deserve to be treated fairly and not subjected to deceptive marketing practices that unexpectedly cost hundreds of dollars or more,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “This settlement requires Internet Order LLC to obtain express informed consent before billing consumers for products and makes it clear that my office will not tolerate any abuses of consumers’ trust.”

Retired New York State Justice Stephen G. Crane, who filed a complaint with the Attorney General’s Office after spotting what he believed was a bogus charge from Internet Order LLC on his credit card bill, said, “I consider myself a careful lawyer. I was scammed by fine print buried in a bold-type offer for wanting to learn a foreign language. I thought the program was a great introduction to Italian for $9.95. Imagine my amazement when I was billed for an additional $256, and then started to receive threatening letters from Internet Order demanding payment.”

 

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