<![CDATA[NBC New York - Politics]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Wed, 01 Oct 2014 02:11:04 -0400 Wed, 01 Oct 2014 02:11:04 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[CA Plastic Bag Ban Approved]]> Tue, 30 Sep 2014 18:23:45 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/212*120/Plastic+Bag+Ban+Store+Counter+copy.jpg

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed the nation's first statewide ban on single-use plastic bags Tuesday.

The measure, first proposed by Democratic Sen. Alex Padilla of Los Angeles, would prohibit single-use plastic bags at grocery stores and large pharmacies in 2015 and at convenience stores in 2016.

It includes $2 million in loans to help manufacturers shift to producing reusable bags and lets grocers charge 10 cents each for paper and reusable bags.

The bill had sparked one of the most contentious debates in the last weeks of the legislative session, with aggressive lobbying by environmentalists and bag manufacturers.

Moments after Brown signed the measure, the American Progressive Bag Alliance called it a “back room deal between grocers and union bosses to scam California consumers out of billions of dollars without providing any public benefit – all under the guise of environmentalism.”

The group plans to launch a referendum effort for the November 2016 ballot to repeal the measure.

San Diegan Laura Quinn-Stalker had mixed feelings about the news.

“Although I reuse my plastic bags constantly and will miss that,” she posted to NBC 7’s Facebook page, “I think this is important to do.”

“Won't see a dime saved in my pocket. Now, I have to buy garbage bags,” Oxnard resident Wade Wilson posted.

For years, a statewide plastic bag ban has been an elusive goal for lawmakers trying to reduce the buildup of plastic waste in oceans and waterways that costs millions of dollars to cleanup.

About 100 local jurisdictions in California already have adopted similar bans, including Los Angeles and San Francisco.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Mayoral Aide's Relationship With Convict Scrutinized]]> Sat, 27 Sep 2014 10:14:45 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/noerdlinger.jpg

Mayor Bill de Blasio and the police union reacted Friday to a published report that the boyfriend of a senior adviser to the mayor is a convicted killer and interstate drug trafficker whose also ran over a New Jersey police officer while driving her car last year.

Chief of staff to first lady Chirlane McCray, Rachel Noerdlinger, has been in a relationship with Hassaun McFarlan since 2010 and the two have lived together for nearly two years, DNAInfo.com reported Thursday.

The 36-year-old McFarlan has been arrested at least five times, and was convicted in the fatal 1993 shooting of a teenager over a down jacket, the site said.

Two of the arrests occurred after McFarlan began dating Noerdlinger, a former aide to the Rev. Al Sharpton, according to the site. 

McFarlan also allegedly referred to police officers as "pigs" on his Facebook account.

Pat Lynch, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, said Noerdlinger should never have been hired to work in the de Blasio administration. 

"New York City police officers are not allowed to associate with known criminals," he said. "If we are, we get disciplined, and we should." 

Lynch added, "The hateful language he uses on websites toward police officers, what kind of guidance is this staff member giving the mayor and the first lady?"

 

On Friday, the mayor defended Noerdlinger, saying she was in no danger of losing her job and that it would be "ludicrous" to fire someone over statements made by their boyfriend.

"I have absolute faith in her," De Blasio said. "I know what I value and she values the same thing. We need a close relationship between police and communities."

City Hall spokeswoman Rebecca Katz said in a statement earlier, "No one at City Hall condones criminal behavior or disparagement of the NYPD, including Rachel. Rachel is her own person. She is a strong, independent woman who possesses a core set of values and beliefs that align with this administration. She is not going anywhere."

Noerdlinger's attorney, Jeffrey Lichtman, said her work was in no way affected by her relationship with McFarlan.

"She doesn't share all of the opinions of Hassaun McFarlan and anyone who has ever had any contact with her knows Rachel to be an incredibly hard-working, kind, respectful professional." Lichtman said. "She stands on her own and always has."

Before working for the mayor's office, Noerdlinger worked with Sharpton's National Action Network for more than a decade.

Michael Hardy of the NAN said he fully supports Noerdlinger and McFarlan's relationship.

"He seems like a great guy, and more than that, what are we if we're not a nation of second chances and redemption?" he said. 

Follow Danielle Elias on Twitter @danielle4ny

Copyright Associated Press / NBC New York



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Cuomo Easily Leads Governor's Race ]]> Tue, 23 Sep 2014 17:59:52 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/cuomo-new-split-astorino.jpg

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is still leading the race for governor handily, in a re-election race in which his Republican opponent Rob Astorino is increasingly seen as a conservative, a Wall Street Journal/NBC 4 New York/Marist Poll released Tuesday found.

Cuomo, who is running for a second term, is ahead of Astorino 54 percent to 29 percent among likely voters, while 9 percent chose the Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins.

In a state in which Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1, Astorino, the Westchester County executive, is considered a conservative among 40 percent of registered voters, up from the 27 percent who viewed him that way in July.

"Cuomo’s winning the battle to define Astorino on terms Cuomo would like," said Lee Miringoff, the director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion. Miringoff said he was "struck by the success of the Cuomo campaign in targeting and to some degree tarnishing Astorino as he’s getting better known."

A striking 57 percent of Astorino backers said they saw their vote for Astorino as a vote against Cuomo. By contrast, 74 percent of Cuomo’s backers said they would vote for the governor because they supported him.

The race is competitive upstate, where Cuomo has 42 percent of likely voters and Astorino, 39 percent.

But Cuomo holds a two-to-one lead in the suburbs, 56 percent to 27 percent. Seventy percent of voters in heavily Democratic New York City back Cuomo, compared to 15 percent for Astorino.

Cuomo also has the support of 27 percent of registered Republicans who have crossed party lines to back him, while only 11 percent of Democrats back Astorino.

The governor’s lead comes despite a 42-percent job approval rating among registered voters, his lowest since he took office and down from a high of 59 percent two years ago. Only 43 percent think the state is headed in the right direction, and 57 percent believe the state is still in a recession.

“There’s just a general grumpiness that voters have towards government, politicians and their job performance,” Miringoff said. “This is not unique to New York but we’re seeing it also in New York.”

But at the same time, Miringoff said, voters view Cuomo as a leader and believe that he cares about them and represents most regions of the state.

Fifty-five percent of likely voters view Cuomo favorably, compared to 33 percent for Astorino. By contrast, 39 percent have an unfavorable view of Cuomo, while 37 percent look unfavorably on Astorino.

Tuesday's poll is the first in the governor’s race that surveys likely voters as opposed to registered voters, and the first since Cuomo’s Democratic primary victory over a Zephyr Teachout, a little-known liberal challenger who nonetheless garnered about a third of the vote.

Any concerns that Cuomo might hit a rough patch following the primary are not showing up, Miringoff said.

“Astorino is having difficulty getting traction at this point,” Miringoff said.

Cuomo had already been leading Astorino by a wide margin. A poll last month found that although a majority of New Yorkers thought Cuomo’s staff behaved unethically toward a panel investigating corruption in government, he continued to lead Astorino, 54 to 23 percent, among registered voters.

The poll released Tuesday surveyed 958 registered voters from Sept. 17 through Sunday. There were 517 likely voters among them.



Photo Credit: AP ]]>
<![CDATA[Cuomo, Teachout Prepare for Primary]]> Tue, 09 Sep 2014 10:18:32 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/zephyr+teachout+sept+8.jpg Decision 2014 begins Tuesday in New York with the Democratic primary for governor. Gov. Cuomo critic and Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout’s long-shot campaign is threatening to disrupt what many believed to be an easy reelection for Cuomo. Government Affairs Reporter Melissa Russo reports.]]> <![CDATA[Meet Chuck Todd of "Meet the Press"]]> Sat, 06 Sep 2014 09:22:40 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/090714_LSP_Chuck_Todd_1200x675_325741123764.jpg

Chuck Todd makes his debut as moderator of "Meet the Press" on Sunday, and has landed President Barack Obama as his first guest. On Friday, Todd took to Reddit to introduce himself.

The Miami native, who attended George Washington University, was previously NBC’s chief White House correspondent and political director. Despite his years in Washington, the sports lover remains committed to teams outside D.C.; he has been a fan of the Miami Hurricanes and the Green Bay Packers since birth.

Here, from his Reddit “Ask Me Anything,” are five things we learned about the famed political junkie.

When will he shave his facial hair?

Don’t hold your breath — even if, as suggested, it would improve his ratings. When he looks in the mirror, he sees his late father, he says. Shaving his beard would be like getting rid of that piece of his father that he carries with him

Who is one person, now dead, that he would have loved to have interviewed?

Richard Nixon, because it would have been a challenge

How does he see his role as a reporter and moderator?

His job is to push back against bloviation and talking points by being grounded in facts, and to get to the nut of the debate.

How does he feel about his name?

He hates having two one syllable names, and has given both of his children multiple-syllable first names. “I’ve been ‘ChuckTodd’ with every coach and teacher during my childhood,” he wrote on Reddit.

Does he ever get nervous interviewing high profile guests?

He's always a tad nervous. "Any moment can be a career ender," he wrote.

What did he think about the University of Louisville’s football win over Miami on Monday?

His late father-in-law was a star quarterback at Louisville, so criticism of Louisville is off-limits in his house. He’s not upset about Louisville, he says, but about the University of Miami being unprepared.
“It’s time for the ‘State of Miami’ to return, meaning that the best players in the best high school football factories in the country go to Miami,” he wrote.

]]>
<![CDATA[McDonnells Guilty on Most Charges]]> Fri, 05 Sep 2014 18:16:31 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/mcdonnell-guilty-AP977255973421.jpg

Former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell and his wife have been found guilty of most of the public corruption charges they faced in a marathon trial centered on lavish gifts and loans from a wealthy businessman.

The former governor has been found guilty of 11 of the 13 charges against him. Former Virginia first lady Maureen McDonnell has been found guilty of nine of the 13 charges against her.

It was a bombshell ending to a trial that included the dissection of the former first couple's marriage, testimony that Bob had moved out and was living with a priest, and testimony that Maureen had begun frequently texting and emailing the businessman in the case, Jonnie Williams, who wanted help promoting his dietary supplement.

Three of the McDonnells' five children clutched each others' hands and prayed before the verdict was announced, breaking into sobs as their parents' guilty counts were read aloud.

The couple's son Bobby McDonnell looked at his father with tear-glazed eyes as the former governor's head collapsed into his hands.

Bob McDonnell is "broken" and "devastated," said defense attorney Henry Asbill, who added that he would appeal the verdict.

The government had accused the McDonnells of doing special favors for Williams, the former CEO of dietary supplement maker Star Scientific, Inc., in exchange for more than $177,000 in gifts and loans.

Courtroom observers said two jurors wiped their eyes as the verdicts were read.

As co-defendants, the former first couple was separated in the courtroom, with three lawyers sitting between them. Maureen McDonnell teared up, but appeared composed compared to the emotional reactions of her husband and children.

The McDonnells didn't look at each other as the verdict was read. They left the Richmond courthouse together but got into separate cars. It was a marked difference from the rest of the trial, which verged into soap opera territory as defense lawyers suggested that the McDonnells' marriage was so broken they could not have conspired to obtain gifts, trips and loans from Williams.

Throughout the trial, Bob McDonnell had appeared confident, telling reporters repeatedly that he was sure he would be exonerated and was putting his faith in God.

"All I can say is my trust remains in the Lord," he said in a brief statement as he left the courthouse Thursday with Maureen, before they got into separate cars.

McDonnell, who was once considered a rising GOP star and potential vice presidential pick for Mitt Romney in 2012, now faces, along with his wife, up to 30 years in federal prison when they're sentenced in January.

"This is a difficult and disappointing day for the Commonwealth and its citizens," said Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. "Public service frequently requires sacrifice, and almost always requires financial sacrifice. When public officials turn to financial gain in exchange for official acts, we have no choice but to prosecute the case."

Bob McDonnell is the first former governor of Virginia to be convicted of a crime. The commonwealth had long had a reputation for clean politics, a reputation shattered in the five-week McDonnell trial.

Political analyst Bob Holsworth called it "a day of infamy in Virginia."

The Verdict, Count by Count

Bob and Maureen McDonnell were each charged with 13 counts in a 14-count indictment:

  • In the first count against them, the McDonnells were found guilty of conspiracy to commit honest-services wire fraud for accepting gifts and loans from Williams.

  • The next three charges, counts 2-4, involved accepting checks from Williams: On counts 2 and 3, the McDonnells were both found guilty of honest-services wire fraud for accepting a $15,000 check to pay a caterer for their daughter's wedding, and for accepting a $50,000 loan check for MoBo Real Estate, a company the former governor operated with his sister.

  • On count 4, Bob McDonnell was also found guilty of a count of honest-services wire fraud for a $20,000 wire transfer for MoBo. Maureen McDonnell was found not guilty on that charge.

  • On count 5, the McDonnells were found guilty of conspiracy to obtain property under color of official right for the gifts and loans they received.

  • The McDonnells also faced six charges of obtaining property under color of official right, counts 6-11: On counts 6-8, they were found guilty of three charges of obtaining property under color of official right for a $50,000 check to Maureen, for the $15,000 check to the wedding caterer, and for a $2,380 golf outing.

  • On count 9, Bob McDonnell was found guilty of obtaining property under color of official right for a $1,424 golf outing. Maureen McDonnell was found not guilty of that charge.

  • On count 10, both McDonnells were found guilty of obtaining property under color of official right for the $50,000 check to MoBo.

  • On count 11, Bob McDonnell was found guilty of obtaining property under color of official right for the $20,000 transfer to MoBo. Maureen McDonnell was found not guilty of that charge.

  • Only Bob McDonnell was charged with count 12. He was found not guilty of making false statements on a TowneBank loan application.

  • In count 13, both McDonnells were found not guilty of making false statements on a PenFed loan application.

  • Only Maureen McDonnell was charged with count 14. She was found guilty of obstruction of official proceeding for a handwritten note to Williams.

They will be sentenced Jan. 6, 2015.

Inside the Testimony

The trial centered on the testimony of the former governor and Williams, the prosecution's star witness. Maureen McDonnell did not take the stand.

Williams was granted immunity for his dealings with the McDonnells and possible securities fraud violations, which had been investigated by a separate grand jury. He testified that he spent lavishly on the McDonnells to secure their help promoting and obtaining state-backed research for Star Scientific's tobacco-derived anti-inflammatory supplement, Anatabloc. Williams intended to share the results of that research with doctors to gain their support of the product.

Prosecutors claimed the former first couple had an "unconscionable amount" of credit card debt and presented testimony that they were eager to accept gifts from Williams, including a $6,500 Rolex watch that Maureen gave Bob for Christmas, a vacation at Williams’ luxurious home on Smith Mountain Lake outside Roanoke, use of Williams' Ferrari and a shopping spree for designer clothes and accessories for Maureen.

Testimony showed Williams loaned $50,000 to Maureen McDonnell that she used to pay down credit debt in 2011. He also loaned $50,000 and $20,000 to MoBo Real Estate, a small company that Bob McDonnell and one of his sisters ran to operate two beach properties.

Prosecutors also said Williams paid $15,000 in catering expenses when one of the McDonnells' daughters got married. And they claimed Maureen had developed a close relationship with Williams, exchanging more than 1,200 texts and calls over a nearly two-year period, including 52 in one day.

In his defense, Bob McDonnell testified he did nothing more than extend routine political courtesies to Williams. Before the indictment, he had apologized for what he described as bad judgment and said he had repaid about $120,000 in gifts and loans, but denied breaking any laws.

A key part of the defense strategy was the claim that the McDonnells couldn't have conspired, because their marriage had deteriorated to the point that Bob McDonnell had moved out and was now living with a priest, who is a family friend. Maureen McDonnell's lawyers called Williams her "favorite playmate."

Both the prosecution and the defense called Maureen volatile and emotional. One prosecution witness called her a "nut bag." Bob McDonnell himself said his wife didn't take well to the role of first lady, calling her handling of behind-the-scenes matters "a disaster." Testimony revealed staff members at the governor's mansion had threatened to resign en masse.

Judge: 'Can't Take Another Second'

After lengthy days of intense testimony -- on day four, the judge in the case said he was stopping testimony because he "can't take another second" -- the jury faced the task of deciding the McDonnells' guilt or innocence.

Judge James R. Spencer issued lengthy instructions to the jury Tuesday morning, including the warning that the testimony of a witness who is granted immunity must be more closely examined than testimony of other witnesses.

The heightened scrutiny was required to determine whether the testimony of the immunized witness is "affected by self-interest," Spencer said.

To be found guilty, Spencer said, a defendant must understand the nature of the conspiracy and deliberately join it.

However, Spencer said a conspiracy does not have to achieve its goals, which could have undercut a defense claim that Williams never received anything of substance, including the research he took preliminary steps to seek.

He also said an agreement need not be stated explicitly by the conspirators and that it didn't matter whether the defendant would have done those favors absent a bribe.

Spencer also told jurors -- who heard from three character witnesses, two for Bob McDonnell and one for his wife -- that "evidence of good character alone may create a reasonable doubt as to a defendant's guilt."



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[2016 Presidential Contenders Flock to NH]]> Wed, 03 Sep 2014 12:26:49 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/rand-paul.jpg

It's still two months from the 2014 mid-term elections, and already numerous potential 2016 presidential candidates are flocking to New Hampshire.

Politico reported on Wednesday that GOP Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul will speak at a Generation Opportunity event on Sept. 11 and the NHGOP Unity Breakfast on Sept. 12. Both events will be held in Manchester.

This weekend brings two more Republican presidential hopefuls to the Granite State. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is scheduled to make appearances in Dover and Stratham on Saturday, and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will be in Concord, Manchester and Nashua on Sunday.

It was also announced last week that Donald Trump will travel to New Hampshire on Nov. 12 to speak at the Nackey S. Loeb School of Communication's 12th annual First Amendment Awards.

Paul, Jindal, Cruz and Trump have all made previous trips to New Hampshire this year.

Vice President Joe Biden, a possible 2016 contender for the Democratic presidential nomination, was scheduled to speak at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on Wednesday.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NYPD Sergeants' Union Blasts Brooklyn DNC Bid]]> Thu, 28 Aug 2014 11:13:59 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/sba+letter+anti+dnc.jpg Mayor de Blasio got blasted in print on Tuesday by the head of the NYPD’s sergeants’ union, which is urging Democrats not to choose New York City as the site of their 2016 convention. The Sergeants Benevolent Association says crime is on the rise in the city because of de Blasio’s policing policies and won’t be safe enough to host the DNC. Government Affairs Reporter Melissa Russo reports.]]> <![CDATA[Perry in NH: Charges All Politics]]> Fri, 22 Aug 2014 23:03:05 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/edtAP259994489655.jpg

New Hampshire wasn't kind to Texas Governor Rick Perry back in 2012. He's hoping voters in the granite state will give him a fresh start as he considers another presidential bid in 2016.

On Friday, Governor Perry returned to New Hampshire for a series of GOP sponsored events.

He met with business leaders in Portsmouth and focused many of his remarks on border concerns and the growing threat of ISIS, even connecting the two by speculating members of ISIS could enter the U.S. through unsecured borders.

"ISIS has said we are coming to America and they are going to attack us, I take them at their word," said Gov. Rick Perry.

Governor Perry also addressed his recent indictment on coercion charges by a Texas grand jury. He called the charges politically motivated and said he will fight them with every fiber of his being.

He also acknowledged making mistakes in New Hampshire back in 2012, saying he didn't spend enough time in the state and wasn't as prepared as he would have liked.

Governor Perry will make several more stops in New Hampshire through Saturday.



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[GOP Staffer in Chicken Suit Faces Charges After Clucking at NH Governor, Senator]]> Tue, 19 Aug 2014 11:25:01 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/zona+chicken+suit.jpg

A GOP state committee staff member has been charged with disorderly conduct after heckling New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Governor Maggie Hassan at this past Saturday's Old Home Day parade.

Michael Zona, of Manchester, was dressed in a chicken suit when he began to interfere with the parade, reports The Eagle-Tribune.

The 23-year-old allegedly ran out into the parade route toward Shaheen and Hassan, clucking at them.
"I believe Senator Jeanne Shaheen should be holding town halls and I have a First Amendment right to express that point of view. I wasn't bothering anyone. I wasn't disturbing anyone. In fact, I got a good deal of encouragement from people along the parade route," said Zona in response to the incident.
Zona was escorted from the parade after failing to comply with numerous requests to stop. 
“At one point, the governor had to take a few steps back toward her security staff,” Detective Christopher Olson told The Eagle-Tribune.
Julia McClain of the New Hampshire Democratic Party used the incident to blast the state Republicans, saying the party "wastes taxpayer resources and local law enforcement time with these juvenile antics when we should be discussing critical issues that matter--like raising the minimum wage, creating good paying jobs, and protecting social security and Medicare for our state's seniors."



Photo Credit: Twitter: John DiStaso]]>
<![CDATA[City Council Speaker Tweets She Has HPV]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 13:34:22 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/MarkViverito.jpg

City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced via Twitter Sunday that she had "high-risk HPV" in an effort to boost awareness about the most commonly sexually transmitted infection in the country and encourage women to have regular gynecological exams.

In a series of tweets, Mark-Viverito divulged that she learned Friday she had the infection, and that she hadn't been to a gynecologist in two years prior to her most recent visit.

"At recent #GYN visit alarmed to find out last one, 2yrs ago. Friday got call re: results. Told have "high risk HPV". #Biopsy needed #ASAP," she tweeted.

"Tuesday I'm there. To say I'm not wee bit worried = lie. "High risk HPV" can POTENTIALLY but NOT definitively lead to cervical #cancer."

Mark-Viverito, 45, tweeted that she is "an extremely private person," but that her position has given her a platform -- and a responsibility to use it.

"Our health should never be compromised," she tweeted. "Annual physicals have to be sacred. Yet our health care system doesn't lend itself to this for many."

Mayor de Blasio called Mark-Viverito's decision to share her experience "brave" and "exemplary."

About 79 million people in the United States have HPV, and another 14 million contract it each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Anyone can get it once they become sexually active, and nearly half of the new infections each year occur among people ages 15 to 24, according to the New York City Health Department.

Most people who get HPV have no symptoms of infection. Each year, about 12,000 women diagnosed with HPV nationwide develop cervical cancer, the most common cancer associated with the infection, and about 4,000 of them die from it.

To learn more about HPV treatment and prevention, including a vaccine, click here.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC New York



Photo Credit: McMullan/Sipa USA
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<![CDATA[Former Vt. U.S. Sen. Jeffords Dead at 80]]> Mon, 18 Aug 2014 17:57:40 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/James+Jeffords.jpg

Former Sen. Jim Jeffords, I-Vt., died Monday at Knollwood, a military retirement home in Washington, D.C., a former aide said. He was 80.

A navy veteran, Jeffords made a name in politics as a state senator and attorney general before he was elected to seven terms in the U.S. House, once splitting with his fellow Republicans in opposing a President Reagan tax cut plan. Vermonters voted him into the Senate in 1988, where he was a champion for environmental causes.

The moderate, even liberal, Republican shocked Washington in 2001 when he said the GOP had drifted too far to the right for him. He quit the party, became an independent, and caucused with democrats.

“I am confident it is the right decision,” Jeffords said upon making his famous “jump.” “I hope that the people of Vermont will understand it.”

Jeffords announced in 2005 he would not seek re-election the next year, citing declining health.

"I think we have to bring back people like Jim Jeffords, who say running for office is really a form of public service," former Vermont Governor Madeleine Kunin said Monday.

Kunin remembered Jeffords as a good-hearted guy who just wanted to do what he thought was right; not tow some party line. "The comparison is rather painful, where we now have a Congress that prides itself on doing nothing, where in those days, people really went there to get things done and to improve the lives of the public," Kunin said.

"He's going to be very sorely missed," said Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who was in the U.S. House when Jeffords was in the Senate. "He was a guy who, I think, much preferred to be around Vermonters here in Vermont than among the big shots in Washington. It wasn't who he was."

Tom Vogelmann, the University of Vermont's agriculture and life sciences dean, told New England Cable News he thinks of Jeffords as "one of the giants." The University of Vermont College of Agriculture and Life Sciences is housed in the building that bears Jeffords' name.

"He was a very strong supporter of education, a very strong supporter of environmental legislation, and that's the curriculum that's basically taught in this building," Vogelmann told NECN. "So we have thousands of young people who are training here and that's all adding to his legacy."

Reflections on the life and legacy of Jim Jeffords poured in Monday. Here are several of those:

President Barack Obama:

Michelle and I send our deepest sympathies to the family of Senator James M. Jeffords on his passing. Jim devoted his life to service - as a Naval officer, a local leader in his hometown of Shrewsbury, and eventually as a U.S. Senator representing his beloved Vermont. During his more than 30 years in Washington, Jim never lost the fiercely independent spirit that made Vermonters, and people across America, trust and respect him. Whatever the issue - whether it was protecting the environment, supporting Americans with disabilities, or whether to authorize the war in Iraq - Jim voted his principles, even if it sometimes meant taking a lonely or unpopular stance. Vermonters sent him to Washington to follow his conscience, and he did them proud.

Our prayers are with the Jeffords family, including his son Leonard and daughter Laura. And we're grateful to Jim for his legacy of service to Vermont and the United States of America.

Vice President Joe Biden:

Jim Jeffords was a personal friend, a great senator, and a good man. He was not only beloved by the people of Vermont, but by anyone who ever worked with him. For the nearly four decades I served in the United States Senate, nearly half were spent with Jim as a colleague. Jim knew that with a country as diverse as ours, there is a need for consensus to move the country forward. He was a man who dealt with his colleagues without pretext and with complete honesty. And he always knew what he was talking about—and his colleagues and constituents always knew where he stood on an issue. Jim was a reflection of Vermont—independent and non-ideological and always about solving problems. Jill and I are saddened by his passing and join his family, friends, and his former staff in remembering all that he stood for: basic fairness and principled independence.

Former President Bill Clinton:


Hillary and I are saddened by the passing of our friend Senator Jim Jeffords, who served the people of Vermont and the United States for more than 30 years. Jim was one of our strongest advocates for better health and education, a cleaner environment, and increased opportunities for people with disabilities. I will always be especially grateful for his support of the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Brady Bill, and our 1993 health care reform effort. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and his many friends across the country.

Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.:


He was a partner in our work for Vermont, and he was a friend. He was a Vermonter through and through, drawn to political life to make a difference for our state and nation. Part of his legacy will also stand as an enduring chapter of the Senate's history.

Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt.:

I know I share the view of all Vermonters today in expressing condolences to the family of Senator Jim Jeffords on his passing, and our gratitude to him for his life of service.

While Jim would certainly wave away the notion, he was indeed a legend in Vermont and the nation. With characteristic decency, humility and civility, and a dogged persistence, he made his mark in Congress. Millions of children with disabilities are better off today because he lead the charge for their equal access to education. Americans are breathing cleaner air and drinking cleaner water because of his fierce advocacy for the environment and clean energy. And budding artists across the nation receive the boost of his encouragement every year thanks to his legacy as the founder of the annual Congressional Arts Competition.

And, in 2001, the world saw what his fellow Vermonters already knew: Jim Jeffords, above all, had the courage of his convictions.

Jim and his wife, Liz Daley Jeffords, were mentors to me in my early days in the House of Representatives. I am deeply grateful to them both for their friendship, their support and their contributions to Vermont and our country.

Gov. Peter Shumlin, D-Vt.:

I join Vermonters and citizens nationwide today in celebrating the life of Jim Jeffords, a true gentleman and an independent-minded maverick in the best tradition of our state. Jim followed in the footsteps of Senators Bob Stafford and George Aiken, always putting the interests of Vermonters and the nation ahead of partisan politics. He followed his sense of right in all that he did, and was never afraid to seek compromise by reaching across the aisle for the good of our country. Jim’s contribution to Vermont spanned his service in the Vermont House, as Attorney General, and as Vermont’s Representative in the U.S. House, where he developed his passion for high quality public education that forged his policy work on behalf of our kids and continued throughout his career. The passing of Senator Jim Jeffords will be felt throughout Vermont and our country. We need more like Senator Jeffords. My heart goes out to his children and extended family.

Lt. Gov. Phil Scott, R-Vt.:

The story of Vermont politics cannot be told without Jim Jeffords. He served in the most honorable way a person can serve: Selflessly, and always with the best interests of others at heart. He did what he felt was right, not what he felt would make him popular. Whether it was during his time in the Vermont Senate, or as Attorney General, or in the United States House of Representatives, or in the United States Senate, Jim valued the voices of Vermonters and leaves a legacy we can all learn from: Respect over rhetoric, pragmatism over pandering, and love for Vermonters overall.

In our large, and largely faceless, system of government, he demonstrated the power that one person speaking for their constituents can have. His example of moderation and independence is what I’ve tried to model my own career off of. My sincere condolences go out to Laura, Leonard, and the entire Jeffords family.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Florida Ad Tries to Connect Pot With Date Rape]]> Wed, 13 Aug 2014 08:56:27 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/potdaterapead.jpg

The campaign against medical marijuana in Florida is in high gear as it tries to link easier access to pot to date rape in a new online ad campaign.

The website, "Vote no on 2," claims that if the medical marijuana bill is passed, teenagers will have easier access to pot. A Twitter picture then asks if the new face of date rape will look like a marijuana cookie.

“These are products that are very dangerous,” said Javi Correoso of Vote No on 2. “They are a lot more powerful than smoking a joint and they can lead to various serious situations and circumstances.”

Correoso said that “potentially” includes date rape. But Dr. Jorge Bordenave of Larkin Community Hospital insisted that Correoso is wrong.

"Right now, as we know, you can get pot anywhere, on the corners, kids get pot,” said Dr. Bordenave, who supports legalizing medical marijuana. "There has been no incidents of date rape with the pot they are smoking currently. So what they are saying is trying to scare the people; trying to lie to the people."

Other organizations like United for Care said there are plenty of benefits for patients with cancers, AIDS, multiple sclerosis, and other ailments. Dr. Bordenave also pointed out that other legal vices are doing major damage.

“We have more people dying of alcohol, tobacco smoke than marijuana,” Bordenave said. “I did research recently; out of the 25 FDA approved drugs most commonly sold in the United States, in one year there were 10,000 deaths. There were no deaths from marijuana.”

Still, opponents say that the medical marijuana oil recently approved by the legislature is enough and there should be no smoking of marijuana allowed, despite any medical benefits.

“What Amendment 2 is is an amendment that has so many loopholes that it allows for marijuana to be used for non-medical reasons such as pot cookies and pot smoking,” Correoso said.

Voters will have the final say in November when the state constitutional amendment is on the ballot.



Photo Credit: Vote No on 2]]>
<![CDATA[Jim McGreevey, 10 Years Later]]> Tue, 12 Aug 2014 08:20:44 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/MCGREEVEY+10+YEARS.jpg Brian Thompson sat down with former New Jersey Governor Jim McGreevey, to talk about his historic resignation and the changes he and society have gone through in the past decade.]]> <![CDATA[5 Things to Know About New House GOP Leader McCarthy]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:14:41 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/450883992.jpg

House Republicans are getting a new second-in-command this week, as Rep. Kevin McCarthy takes over for outgoing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

The California native was selected for the position in June, after Cantor was handed a surprising defeat by a little-known GOP challenger in Virgnia's primary election.

The promotion puts the 49-year-old McCarthy, who has quickly risen through the leadership ranks during his four terms in Congress, next in line to potentially succeed House Speaker John Boehner.

Here are five things you may not know about the new majority leader:

He got his (lucky) start in sandwiches.

A young McCarthy used a $5,000 lottery prize to start his own business, opening a sandwich shop called Kevin O's Deli at age 19. The shop he has descibed as "Subway before there was Subway," offered "fresh Dutch Krunch white rolls every day," and sandwiches "hot upon request," according to The Orange County Register. McCarthy says he used the profits from later selling that deli to finance his college education. The experience of building a business before hitting 21, he says, helped shape his views on limited government regulations and taxes.

He sees (some of) himself in “House of Cards.”

When Netflix’s popular political drama debuted in 2013, a few things felt a little too familiar to McCarthy, who, like the show’s fictional lead, Rep. Francis Underwood, served as majority whip. That framed whip hanging in Underwood’s office? A spitting image of the one McCarthy received as a gift from Cantor. The scene where Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, tells members “Vote your district, vote your conscience, don't surprise me"? Sounds strikingly like what McCarthy says he tells his own conference. The real-life whip believes those nods came out of a meet-and-greet he had with Spacey before the show started filming. He says the similarities between him and Underwood, a Democrat known for his duplicitous and Machiavellian ways, stop at those superficial references, though. "This one is made professionally about Washington, but it's not Washington," he said of the show during an appearance in Sacramento. "Don't believe what you see in there, but it's intriguing."

He co-starred with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In the California state Capitol, that is. McCarthy, first elected to represent his home district in Kern County in the state Legislature in 2002, rose to leader of the Assembly’s Republican caucus during his first term. That put him at the bargaining table with then-Gov. Schwarzenegger, who entered office via a 2003 recall election, on state budget negotiations and other major issues facing the Golden State. McCarthy left California's Capitol for the halls of Congress after the 2006 election, when he won the House seat vacated by his own political mentor and former boss, former Republican Rep. Bill Thomas.

He’s an all-star Instagrammer.

McCarthy’s filter-laden Instagram account has attracted more than 12,000 followers to date. While cameos from the likes of Beyonce, Ringo Star and cute dogs don’t hurt, the GOP congressman also uses the social platform to post behind-the-scenes photos from his political and personal life (including frequent “Throwback Thursday” pictures). His social media savvy led BuzzFeed to name him the “best Republican congressman on Instagram” in 2013.

 


He splits with some GOP conservatives on immigration.

McCarthy hails from one of the nation's bluest states. But the California native hasn’t strayed much from the GOP line in his own time in office, voting with his party 96 percent of the time, according to one Washington Post analysis.  Still, he's split with the more conservative factions of his caucus on at least one key issue seen as a potential factor in Cantor’s primary defeat: immigration reform. Unlike his tea party-aligned colleagues, McCarthy has expressed support for creating a path to legal status for the country’s undocumented immigrants. His campaign for majority leader drew criticism from some conservative commentators, who blasted his backing of immigration reform, Sandy relief funding and a budget compromise. Despite some differences in ideology and style, McCarthy, a skilled networker and social butterfly, has made many friends in Washington, thanks in part to his success in raising cash and building a program to train and support up-and-coming candidates.
 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Astorino Hammers Cuomo on Handling of Moreland Commission]]> Thu, 31 Jul 2014 08:31:11 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/cuomo+astorino+moreland.jpg Gov. Cuomo's handling of the Moreland Commision is becoming an election-year thorn in his side. His Republican challenger Rob Astorino is hammering him on this issue. Melissa Russo reports.]]> <![CDATA[CA Has 1st Openly Gay Governor - For Part of Day]]> Wed, 30 Jul 2014 17:39:14 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/toni+atkins+swearing+in.jpg

For eight or nine hours on Wednesday, California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins will be acting as the state's top chief executive— the first openly gay governor in state history.

That's because this week, the three above her on the state org chart are not in town.

Gov. Jerry Brown is on a trade mission in Mexico this week. As the Washington Post noted, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom filled in for a bit, but is on the East Coast for a Special Olympics event. Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg then took over for a while, but he had plans to be in Chicago on Wednesday.

"I feel so grateful," Atkins said in an email on Wednesday forwarded by her spokesman. "I wish my parents could see this. Now I know that may sound hokey to many. But honestly, this is what is going through my mind. If Governor Brown wants a few more days away I'm here for him!"

Atkins spokesman Will Shuck confirmed Atkins will "hold the role of acting governor for approximately one business day, ending this evening on the return of governor." 

Atkins, D-San Diego, is the first openly lesbian leader of either California chamber, succeeding the first openly gay Assembly speaker, John Pérez, a Democrat from Los Angeles.

She shared on her Facebook page that filling in is nothing new: during her time on the San Diego city council, the now 51-year-old Atkins served as acting mayor after other city officials stepped down. She was the first lesbian to hold that position, too.

But Atkins was not focusing on making history due to her sexual orientation on Wednesday. She took the opportunity to highlight her roots -- growing up "in poverty in Virginia" -- and her journey to becoming acting governor for a day.

Atkins, who has focused on funding state universities and advocating for victims of violence and abuse during her time at the Capitol, had a full calendar ahead of her.

But the first act, she tweeted out, was to make sure the temporary first dogs of California - Haley and Joey -  got their morning walk. She shares her pooches with wife, Jennifer LeSar, in the South Park/Golden Hill community of San Diego.



Photo Credit: CA State Assembly
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