WXXI AM News

Capitol Bureau

Capitol Bureau correspondent Karen DeWitt reports on what is happening in Albany, and how the decisions made by lawmakers affect you. Karen reports for WXXI and New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.

She is also a regular contributor to New York Now, the statewide public television program about New York State government seen on WXXI-TV Sundays at 6:30 p.m.  

The dismantling of one of the last Occupy encampments in New York ended with pepper spray and arrests, as Albany City workers moved in and took down tents at the Occupy Albany encampment.

Occupy Albany’s camping permit expired at 7 am, by mid afternoon city workers moved in and began dismantling tents. When workers tried to take down the last tent, protesters seized it and began marching up and down the city streets in the midst of the evening rush hour. They chanted “Occupy Albany all day, all week”, and “banks got bailed out, we got sold out”.

One of the biggest issues facing state lawmakers in 2012 is the redrawing of new district lines. The topic has been the elephant in the room during much of this year, with Governor Cuomo threatening to veto any lines that are gerrymandered and not drawn in a non partisan manner. 

The first public meeting of the state’s new ethics commission came on the day that another State Senator pleaded guilty to felony corruption charges. Questions were raised about the closed door portion of the commission’s meeting.

Shortly after noon, The Chair of the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, Janet DiFiore, called the meeting to order.

“We have a tremendous amount of work ahead of us,” DiFiore told the assembled commissioners.

State Comptroller  Tom DiNapoli’s office is helping municipalities comply with the complexities of the new property tax cap, but he says it’s too early to tell yet what the out come of the new law will be.

DiNapoli says so far, around one fifth of counties have taken preliminary steps to override the cap, as they are permitted to do under the law as long as they can muster a 60% majority vote from their county legislature or board of supervisors.

State lawmakers have not yet released their proposed  maps for new district lines. A government reform group has tried to fill the void by releasing its own set of maps that it says are a model for non partisan districts.   

Sue Lerner, with Common Cause, says her group has released proposed maps of legislative districts that it says are non partisan, and are based on grouping regions and neighborhoods with similar characteristics together.

“They’re built on factors that are important to people, not politicians,” said Lerner.

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