NYPIRG

Karen Dewitt / WRVO

A reform group studied votes taken by local governments across the state on whether to allow hydrofracking, and found numerous potential conflicts of interest that they say could have tainted the outcome of the votes.

The New York Public Interest Research Group studied 59 municipalities that voted to permit hydrofracking in the past few years, if New York state eventually approves the process. They found numerous questionable activities, including locally elected officials holding gas leases and town attorneys who also represented oil and gas companies.

New York State Board of Elections

Next month voters will decide whether they want to change the way redistricting is done in New York state by voting on a ballet amendment that would change the state’s constitution. But there are different opinions over whether the amendment actually gets rid of gerrymandering or not.

Columbia City Blog / Flickr

Supporters of a November ballot amendment on redistricting say it will help prevent rampant partisan Gerrymandering when the next district lines are drawn in the Senate and the Assembly. The groups Citizens Union and League of Women Voters are making voters aware of the amendment and giving them reasons why voters should approve the measure.
 

Karen DeWitt

Government reform groups are split over whether an amendment on the November ballot to change the way legislative district lines are drawn is an improvement, or will only make gerrymandering worse.

On November 4, voters in New York will decide whether they want to amend the state’s constitution to change the way Senate and Assembly lines are drawn.

Office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo

A member of a government reform group says it’s ok if Governor Cuomo uses his campaign coffers to finance this week’s trip to Israel if the visit is for political, rather than government purposes.

Blair Horner, with the New York Public Interest Research Group, says it’s preferable for Governor Cuomo to use funds from his $35 million dollar campaign fund to pay for his visit to Israel than for state taxpayers to foot the bill.  Horner says by using the campaign money, Cuomo is also signaling that the trip is more of a political event than official government business.

Karen DeWitt

Environmentalists are urging a key review board to vote no on a request from the Cuomo administration to help finance the rebuilding of a major Thruway bridge with a fund designed for municipal clean water projects.  

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration wants to use money from a revolving loan fund, designed to help local governments keep their sewer and water treatment systems up to date and their drinking water clean, to instead help pay for the massive Tappan Zee Bridge replacement project.

Karen DeWitt

Government reform groups are beginning their push early to convince voters to reject an amendment on redistricting that will be on the state’s November ballot. They say it’s a sham that does not offer the changes it promises.

TheTruthAbout / via Flickr

A public watchdog group is charging that several large auto insurance companies discriminate against minority and low-income customers.

The New York Public Interest Research Group, or NYPIRG, says it analyzed the billing practices of the five largest auto insurers in New York by getting quotes based on different customer profiles.

"Auto insurance rates should be based on how you drive, not who you are," said NYPIRG consumer advocate Andy Morrison.

-JvL- / Flickr

Government reform activists took their smartphones into Assembly Committee meetings to live stream meetings that so far have not been available online to the public.

To mark what’s known as Sunshine Week, to promote a more open government, the activists took their smartphones into several Assembly Committee meetings. Using simple software, they pressed record and streamed the proceedings live on the Internet.

Ellen Abbott / WRVO

The New York Public Information Research Group wants to remind shoppers to take safety into consideration when buying toys this holiday season. The group has released it’s 2013 list of dangerous and toxic toys that can be found on store shelves across New York state.

You can buy the cute Littlest Pet Shop toys in stores across central New York. But beware, the cute little seals and dolphins can be dangerous.

A look at the 2013 New York State Legislature's session by the numbers finds the recently concluded session resulted in the passage of fewer bills, but more constitutional amendments, as well as a wide range of participation by individual lawmakers.

Bill Mahoney, with the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG), has spent the days since the legislative session concluded analyzing streams of data. He found the Senate and Assembly passed 650 bills, which is one the lowest numbers in decades, and part of a recent trend.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, frustrated by what he says is the failure of the legislature to agree to a reform package, says he’ll follow through with a threat to investigate the legislature, using special powers given to him under the state’s Moreland Act. But there are potential limitations built into the act.

Cuomo says he did not want to compromise on a reform package that includes public campaign financing, and new prosecutorial powers for the state’s district attorneys to root out public corruption.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

As the controversy over hydrofracking drags on in New York state, opponents of the drilling method are trying to get more college students involved in the debate.  NYPIRG project coordinator Nicole Saint James is recruiting students at Syracuse University to help put more pressure on Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Ellen Abbott/WRVO

With the holiday gift buying season fully underway, advocacy groups say there are toys on store shelves across New York state that are dangerous to young children. The New York Public Interest Research Group has come up with it's yearly list of treacherous toys for the season.

According to an analysis by the New York Public Interest Research Group, the 2012 session resulted in 571 pieces of legislation approved by both houses of the New York state legislature.