Monday, January 7, 2013

WEEK AHEAD: Tweet with the RPD, True North expansion, Cuomo and guns

Posted By on Mon, Jan 7, 2013 at 9:25 AM

click to enlarge Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard. - FILE PHOTO
  • Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard.

Rochester Police Chief James Sheppard will hold the first in a series of Twitter town halls this week. Participants can offer comments or ask Sheppard a question on any issue of concern, including bullying, gun violence, and gangs.

The first town hall is from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, January 8. You must have a Twitter account to participate. Join the discussion by following the Rochester Police Department Twitter feed at @RochesterNYPD

Other sessions are scheduled for January 15, 22, and 29. Christine Carrie Fien

The Rochester school board will hold a public hearing on expansion of the True North Rochester Preparatory Charter School at 6 p.m. on Thursday, January 10. Since charter schools are public schools in the Rochester district, openings and changes require public notice.

The hearing will be followed at 6:30 p.m. by a public hearing on Superintendent Bolgen Vargas’s new facilities modernization plan. Several public meetings have already been held on the plan, and more are scheduled.
Both meetings will be held at the district’s central office, 131 West Broad Street. Tim Louis Macaluso

Governor Andrew Cuomo will give his annual State of the State of Address at 1:30 p.m. on Wednesday, January 9. Cuomo’s office hasn’t released a link for the webcast, though is a good place to start.

Cuomo has a growing list of topics he could touch on in his speech. He’ll probably push for a minimum wage increase, and he could talk about education standards and teacher evaluations. During an interview last week, State Assembly member Joe Morelle said he expects Cuomo to talk about the state’s economy and how the recovery from Superstorm Sandy will affect the state budget.

Cuomo barely addressed fracking in his State of the State address last year, and it looks like that may be the case again this year. Fracking opponents will rally in the capital on Wednesday, including a busload of fractivists who are leaving Rochester at 6:15 a.m. that day. To join them, visit here.

But the issue that’s going to grab the most attention is guns. The governor has said he’ll lay out his proposals for new gun laws during the speech; he’s said he wants the state to adopt the toughest gun laws in the nation. His proposal is expected to focus on loopholes in the current assault weapons ban as well as high-capacity magazines.

Cuomo has support from Democrats, including the leader of the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference. The IDC and the Senate Republicans have a power-sharing agreement, though the gun debate could be the first test of the arrangement. Recent attempts to pass new gun laws have stalled in the Senate.

Over the weekend, Republican leader Dean Skelos released his own gun law proposals. They do not include any expansion or modification of the state’s existing assault weapons ban. Instead, he calls for: harsher penalties for people convicted of illegally possessing a gun, stiffer sentences for the use of a gun in committing a felony, a lifetime sentence without the possibility of parole when someone murders a first responder, registering and tracking violent felons, and more.

In response, a Cuomo spokesperson said, that any gun policy "that does not ban assault weapons ignores the reality of gun violence and insults the common sense of New Yorkers."

Other Republicans, including Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, have called for reinstatement of the death penalty.

An article published yesterday by the New York Daily News suggests that Cuomo is prepared to mount a public relations offensive against Senate Republicans if they block or delay his gun law proposals. Jeremy Moule

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