TRUE EDUCATION STORIES THAT WORK HOLD STEPINAC FACULTY SPELLBOUND

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WHITE PLAINS PIONEER of INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY IN EDUCATION — THE STEPINAC HIGH SCHOOL  CELEBRATES  75TH ANNIVERSARY BY FORGING FACULTY MISSION OF THE FUTURE

WPCNR SCHOOL DAYS. By John F. Bailey. January 11, 2023:

George Couros author of  the acclaimed The Innovators Mindset held 70 Stepinac Faculty members listening intently through his highly personal stories of his past as educator and administrator grabbing seasoned teachers’ collective attention instantly and holding it nonstop.

Starting his talk from the floor  in the midst of the audience, not from the podium he commanded the seasoned professionals by putting himself on their level in conversation serious banter with direction that did not bore for a second. WPCNR PHOTO

His style was strategic rambling that you followed nodded and were lead along impressed as he built block by block belief in his philosophy by concrete example. He was talk show host impressive that made education sound like the most rewarding career you can do in life.

This was the most exciting 90 minutes I have listened to in years.

Every minute inspired and  came to life by his relating real life success stories from students, learners, teachers he has met around the country. He showed the Stepinac faculty how to engage every student, unlock their potential, establish a trusting relationship  with every student Wednesday morning.

Drawing often from his own family, and what his parents (Greek immigrants and restauranteurs), he painted a picture of the difficulty of teaching if the student does not believe you care about her/him.

He started off saying he was speaking down in front  because “I learn from you as well, because I have no idea what’s going on in the classes… There must be a balance between what you want for your child and what they are interested in.”

He suggested that the way he relates is by telling stories to illustrate a point. Showing pictures of his children and how they related to him in a series of personal videos he demonstrated the human interaction in the first years childhood that builds the trust and knowledge of the new child in you the parent. These were touching videos that drove home the point, as I saw it, that without a relationship that the child recognizes you really care about them, the building infrastructure is not there.

This foundation at home, he brought to his experience teaching Kindergarten. Mr. Couros said the home atmosphere has to be recreated in the classroom, “it starts in the family on strengths and in school if those strengths are recognized by their teacher(s) they are contributing to the success of the class and the school as a whole.”

He told amusing story about his first job as Principal. He was asked to have his picture taken for the wall of all the Principals of the school. He refused. He said the Principals are not what is important in the school, it is the kids. He suggested putting pictures of every child in the school alternating each week. Well management said no, the principals is a tradition. (This also brought a knowing laughter across the hall.)

Couros belives to make the child enthusiastic in class the teacher has to find out what they are really excited about and encourage it. “The innovative teacher may skip what they are usually doing to ask participation from all others.”

He introduced the concept of “co-creating” with the community using the example what happens to the class if someone “does not show up,” to show how the class dynamic is hurt.

He used his father’s restaurant as an example. He remembered his parents who ran the restaurant for 35 years as always greeting customers and being attentive to them. He said the customer (the child in your class) is so important in education because “without customers there is no restaurant.”

He shared an Ohio State study what showed that “Building relationships makes teaching better. “Social Capital” is three times more effective in improved performance than financial investment in improving math and reading scores.”

“The child that knows you know who they are, they think different.(about you as the teacher).

He said technology is not helpful for technology sake, “Technology can be more than a tool. Technology in the hands of a great teacher can be transformative!”

He showed  astounding stories of innovations by teens who through their freeform  thinking created an energy making device using sun wind and water, and another who explained a complicated biological process with a simple diagram.

He said he believed in turning our children into “Empathetic Problem Solvers.”

Mr. Couros says you get the most out of students by turning them loose on a problem, and more to the point, involving students to approach how to solve a problem collectively as a team, or identify a problem are just some of the talents every child has. (Congress should invite Mr. Couros to the Capitol and give them this presentation.)

Couros left no stone unturned.

He asked the rhetorical question, are we preparing our kids well for the future after school? No, we are not. Laughter filled the Major Bowes Auditorium when Mr. Couros asked the faculty, “Would you like to spend the whole day being  in your classroom?”

He reminded all that learning was not a straight line but a very crooked wandering path with reversals and hard work, that children had to understand.

The highlight of the talk was his suggestion that when students leave school they should have “Leverage Networks that are accessible by their first and last name by Google so they can show case themselves to any firm, school or organization across the country. This was a revelation to me. I said that’s a great idea in my head.  He was not talking about the frivolity that marks personal websites today. He was talking nuts and buts solid achievements packaging their awareness of what corporations, institutions and non-profits are looking for—writers, video experts, programmers, math savants, communicators and old-fashioned work ethic.

Mr. Couros, Adjunct  Professor with the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania, began the keynote day and is currently spending the day visiting classes, leading discussions, and workshops today.

Frank Portanova, Stepinac Class of 1993, Vice Principal for Academics and Curriculum brought Mr. Couros to Stepinac because “We are excited to welcome Mr. Couros, a globally recognized educator to our professional development program, who will inspire our faculty to take Stepinac’s commitment to create an innovation mindset of our students to the next level.”

I’ve been a reporter listening to speakers to the public for 23 years. I have never heard a talk like Mr. Couros gave today that was so timely, candid, and relevant to anyone making opinions or decisions about how to educate our children going forward. Filled with facts. Filled with solutions to common educational problems.

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GOVERNOR KATHY HOCHUL WITH HANDS CLASPED, CHALLENGES LEGISLATORS TO SOLVE STATE HOUSING SHORTAGE WITH $25 BILLION NEW YORK HOUSING COMPACT

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GOVERNOR KATHY HOCHUL DELIVERING THE 2023 STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS THIS AFTERNOON

INTRODUCES TYING NY MINIMUM WAGE TO INFLATION PACE TO SUPPORT THE HARDEST HIT

SHORTEN DEADLINES FOR ELIMINATING FOSSIL FUEL EMISSIONS FROM POWER GENERATION

FUND OLDER HOUSE INSULATION IMPROVEMENTS TO ELIMINATE HIGH BILLS FOR THEIR OWNERS

PLANS CONVERSION TO ELECTRIC HEAT ACROSS STATE

PROMISES THOUGHTFUL BAIL REFORM “TOGETHER NOT AGAINST EACH OTHER”;

MASSIVE INJECTION OF SPENDING FOR ADEQUATE MENTAL HEALTH CARE

INRODUCING NEW MENTAL HEALTH CLINICS, HOUSING TO FILL THE NEEDS OF HOMELESS PROMISING

TO MAKE HOSPITALS DO WHAT THEY SAY THEY WILL DO WITH AID.

WPCNR ALBANY ROUNDS. By John F. Bailey. January 10, 2022 UPDATED WITH COMPLETE TEXT OF THE GOVERNOR’S SPEECH:

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul in her only  gesture of her State of the State speech  today  extended the fingers of both hands, raising her elbows out  to her sides turning  both hands into fists, saying

“We and the legislature will not work as opposing forces:”

 (Showing her opposing fists  moving towards other) “but like this, together”  :

Extending her two fists  out of a fist formation she brought her now extended fingers slowly firmly together, fingers overlapping  and  clasped in unity  looking with a steady gaze— and saying,

“But together.”

— to tell how she and the two state houses would tackle and solve all of New York problems by 2028 with an agenda of new programs staggering in their sensitivity and scope that astounded and seemed to shock the legislators.

She announced The New York Housing Compact devoting $25 Billion to building 100,000 affordable homes and rental building goals for every community in the state. She promised would be flexible with communities simultaneously easing “restrictive” zoning which she said has created the lack of housing inventory in the state.

The Assembly Chamber Applauding the Governor’s tying the minimum wage to follow inflation’s rise and fall.

She announced   $10 Billion in mental health facilities and care expansion, and and a “shocker”“pegging the minimum wage to inflation and deflation,” which brought the delegation to its feet. It was the loudest reaction of the afternoon, followed by the loudest applause of all from the legislators, when she announced a $900,000 minimum expenditure dedicated to  providing aid to persons unable to afford daily child care. She also said there would strong efforts to seek out persons in need of this aid.

She introduced the “Cap and Invest” program that would help power plants  and independent plants to eliminate the fossil fuel use and convert to electric power with a timetable for doing so.

(Editor’s Note: One area she did not address was the electricity rates recently benefiting power companies using fossil fuels  while saddling green energy sources with the highest rates in the energy market, (natural gas) because of the current NYISO New York Independent System Operator) policy to set the rates of the power grid to the highest cost source of power.

She said she would continue to build up police resources throughout the state, continue her state efforts with other surrounding states to eliminate Ghost and illegal guns coming into our state. She promised to continuedevising strategies with law enforcement to interdict fentanyl   supplies being added to heroin and marijuana.

GOVERNOR HOCHUL (far right) DEPARTS TO APPLAUSE AFTER COMPLETING HER 50 MINUTE STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS.

FOR THE RECORD THE TEXT OF GOVERNOR’S SPEECH TODAY

Governor Kathy Hochul today delivered her 2023 State of the State Address outlining her plan for Achieving the New York Dream. In the address, Governor Hochul outlined key components to make a more affordable, more livable and safer New York.

The Governor’s remarks as prepared are available below:

Thank you, Lieutenant Governor Delgado. I’m proud to have you by my side as we deliver for the people of New York. And thank you Rev. Dr. W. Richardson for that beautiful invocation.

I also want to thank my partners in government: State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli. State Attorney General Tish James. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. Speaker of the Assembly Carl Heastie. Majority Leader Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes. Minority Leader Senator Rob Ortt. Minority Leader Assemblyman Will Barclay. Judges of the New York Court of Appeals. Mayor Adams and mayors and County Executives from across the State. Former Governor David Paterson. Members of my cabinet. Representatives from labor and distinguished guests. 

My fellow elected officials, it is an honor to be back in this Chamber finally with you in person. Just a year ago, Omicron forced us to be remote. Today, I speak directly not only to you but to those we have the privilege of serving.

My fellow New Yorkers, after three very difficult, tragic, painful, years I’m proud to say that the State of our State is strong, but we have work to do. 

Last year, in the face of immense hardship and uncertainty, we endured. We proved to the world that New York may get knocked down. But we always, always, get back up.

Because of that, I am optimistic about the upcoming year and the future. We still have some big challenges ahead but the fight to do what is right is always worth pursuing.

I’m steeled by the knowledge that if we come together, in this pivotal moment, and if those of us in positions of power do what needs to be done for the people of New York our shared potential is limitless.

As I said in my Inaugural Address: When we are united, there is no stopping us. And when it comes to the mountains yet to be climbed we are ready to scale them this year because of the peaks we already summitted in the past.

 In 2022, we made historic investments to strengthen and upgrade our infrastructure; build a world-class public transit system; create strong public education; confront climate change; fortify our healthcare system; help our small businesses recover from Covid; and spur economic development across the State.

We landed the largest investments in state history, including $20 billion from IBM and $100 billion from Micron, creating 50,000 new jobs. We expedited tax cuts for the middle class, gave property tax rebates, and suspended the gas tax when prices at the pump hit record levels.

You’ve passed, and I’ve signed, over 840 bills. In response to tragedy, and the spreading plague of gun violence, we’ve strengthened our gun safety laws – which were already the strongest in the nation.

When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, we took bold steps to ensure that – here in New York – access to reproductive healthcare remains a human right.

And even though we had unprecedented revenues, and were flush with one-time federal aid, thanks to our partners in Washington – Majority Leader Schumer, Senator Gillibrand and members of our Congressional Delegation.

We also put aside money for a rainy day. Looking back, that was clearly a smart thing to do given that one year later, a majority of economists are predicting a recession.

And it’s also one of the reasons why we will not be raising income taxes this year. I thank the Legislature for being partners in addressing the challenges of 2022.

When I was here last, I spoke of the New York Dream. For generations, people from all over the world have come here in pursuit of the American Dream.

I am here today because that dream was realized by my family. And I want more New Yorkers to have access to the same opportunities that my family had. That is what public service is all about.

The great Frances Perkins, FDR’s labor secretary, once said: “A government should aim to give all the people under its jurisdiction the best possible life.” That’s it.

That’s the job. That’s what we’re here to do. And we cannot say that we are done yet. Because even though we have set the table for what should be the most prosperous time in New York history.

If New Yorkers don’t feel safe in our communities, if they can’t afford to buy a home or pay the rent, then the dream stays out of reach.

We’re already seeing signs of out-migration that we cannot ignore, something that I know all too well from growing up in Western New York, at a time when jobs were so hard to find. We cannot allow that to happen again. The good news is: It doesn’t have to be this way.

What I will discuss today is a broad overview of key policies that will make New York more affordable, more livable, and safer. Let me tell you how we plan to do that.

My number one priority has always been, and will always be, to keep New Yorkers safe.

And not a day has gone by that I haven’t been laser-focused on this objective. The pandemic caused so much havoc in our State, country, and society itself. And it had a profound effect on public safety.

The pervasive unease that wormed its way into our day-to-day lives, the social isolation and the economic distress, led to a nationwide rise in crime and gun violence that we are now combatting.

To respond, we developed new strategies and invested in new programs. Strengthening our gun violence prevention laws by passing even stronger ones and closing loopholes. Banning ghost guns and expanding bail eligibility for gun crimes. Tougher prosecutions of gun trafficking. Mandating the use of Red Flag law leading to more than 5,000 cases where we kept guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them and kept innocent people from being hurt.

Raising the minimum age to 21 to purchase semi-automatic weapons. Launching a first-in-the-nation 9 state task force on illegal guns which took more than 10,000 illegal guns off our streets this past year. And tripling our investments in gun violence interruption programs.

We’ve collaborated with local governments like never before. From putting more cops on the subways, to bringing down barriers in Rochester, so that stakeholders are finally working together. And our efforts are starting to work.

Last year, we saw a double-digit decrease in both homicides and shootings. But we’re still far from pre-pandemic crime levels – and our work is still far from done. There has been no aspect of the discussion around public safety more controversial than bail reform.

As with so much in politics today, the conversation quickly turns into a debate between two opposing camps with no common ground. But I believe there are several things most people can agree upon.

First, the size of someone’s bank account should not determine whether they sit in jail, or return home, before they have even been convicted of a crime.

That was the goal of bail reform. It was a righteous one, and I stand by it. Second, bail reform is not the primary driver of a national crime wave created by a convergence of factors, including the pandemic. And third, that the bail reform law as written now leaves room for improvement.

As leaders, we cannot ignore that, when we hear so often from New Yorkers that crime is their top concern. And so, to my partners in the legislature, let’s start with this shared understanding and have a thoughtful conversation during the budget process about improvements we can make to the law.

 Of course, we know changing our bail laws will not automatically bring down crime rates. Also, record investments we are making in education, housing and mental health, all go toward stabilizing communities and addressing historic inequalities. Those investments must continue.

I’m also proposing the largest investment ever in the State’s Gun Involved Violence Elimination initiative, known as GIVE, which saves lives in the communities that are hardest hit by gun violence. To put it simply-we’re investing in what we know works.

Shootings in Buffalo are down 32%. In Long Island, they’re down 29%. In Westchester, 27% – all GIVE jurisdictions.

I’ve also directed State Police to play a more direct role in combating violent crime in our communities. So we’re going to expand State Police Community Stabilization Units to 25 communities across the state.

When it comes to keeping people safe and protecting their well-being, fixing New York’s mental health care system is essential — and long overdue.

Even before COVID, rates of mental illness had been on the rise. And since the onset of the pandemic, more than one in three New Yorkers have sought mental health care, or know someone who has.

Too many of them can’t get it. The barriers are seemingly endless. No appointments available close to home. Insurance won’t cover care. Long waits for psychiatric beds in hospitals.

As a result, people have been forced to suffer in silence. Illness grows when it isn’t treated. And so, it is no surprise that the number of people suffering from mental illness has continued to grow.

We have underinvested in mental health care for so long, and allowed the situation to become so dire, that it has become a public safety crisis, as well.

New Yorkers are anxious on the subway and on our streets when they see individuals who appear to need help, people who are unable to care for themselves properly, people who could cause harm to others or themselves, people who are at risk of being victimized.

I’m declaring that the era of ignoring the needs of these individuals is over. Because our success as government leaders is measured by our ability to lift up and support all our constituents.

Today marks a reversal in our state’s approach to mental health care. This is a monumental shift to make sure no one falls through the cracks. The most significant change since the deinstitutionalization era of the 1970s.

I’m proud to announce we will be investing more than $1 billion dollars and making critical policy changes to finally and fully meet the mental health needs of our state.

Right now, nearly 3,200 New Yorkers struggling with severe mental illness or addiction are living on the street and subways.

At the same time, we have insufficient levels of inpatient psychiatric beds and outpatient services.

We will add 1,000 inpatient psychiatric beds, funding 150 new beds in State facilities and bringing 850 psych beds in hospitals back on line. This is more than half of the beds we have lost since 2014 and they will serve more than 10,000 New Yorkers each year. These actions are overdue.

Last year, we were asked to increase hospital reimbursement rates to enable psychiatric beds to be financially viable. We did that, and provided $27.5 million in funding and higher reimbursements. Yet, hundreds of these beds still remain offline. And that’s not acceptable.

So, we will now insist that these beds be brought online, and seek greater authority for the Office of Mental Health to ensure full cooperation in meeting these objectives. This is a moral imperative, and it is a public safety imperative.

We’ll also invest in services that allow patients to begin re-integrating in a way that is safe for them and for the community so our inpatient beds don’t get backed up, because more appropriate out-patient treatment options are unavailable.

We know that supportive housing is a tool for both prevention and recovery. That’s why my plan includes building more than 3,500 residential units, supported by intensive mental health services.

And we’ll make sure that as patients move from one kind of treatment to another, no one gets left behind. Our plan requires facilities to discharge high-risk patients into intensive wraparound services.

And I’ll propose legislation that prohibits insurance companies from denying access to critical mental health services.

Finally, we’re going to focus on our children. Because too many schools provide no mental health support. Our children need preventive services now to stop them from needing intensive services in the future.

We aim to reduce unmet mental health needs among children by at least half in the next five years.

So whether we’re talking about a child with behavioral challenges, or an adult suffering from depression no one should go without a screening or a doctor’s appointment or counseling. And cost should never be a barrier.

That includes care for those suffering from addiction, especially those struggling with opioids. There are too many families, including my own, who have endured the pain of losing a loved one.

That’s why we will do more, working with federal and local partners, to stop the flow of illicit drugs into our communities and address new deadly additives like xylazine. We’ll send resources to localities that are working to shut down fentanyl suppliers. 

We will keep expanding access to technology that can detect deadly additives before they are used, and that can reverse overdoses. And we will create a new interagency task force that examines every possible solution. Because we must meet this crisis with the urgency it demands.

At the outset, I said we must improve the quality of life for New Yorkers. But you can’t really talk about quality of life without talking about cost of living. With inflation soaring, prices are going up on everything families need to buy. And on top of that, paying the monthly rent or mortgage— it’s just overwhelming. 

So let’s talk about everyone’s largest expense: housing. I think about my own family’s story. My parents started married life in a trailer park. On my dad’s salary from the steel plant, they eventually were able to live in a tiny upstairs flat. And from there, they saved up and got a little Cape Cod house.

As we grew older and my dad changed jobs. I watched my parents’ success unfold through the progression of homes they could afford. They knew how important housing was, and they raised us to fight for change.

They were activists, and they volunteered for an organization called “Housing Opportunities Made Equal”- at a time and in a place when that was very controversial.

They understood that for a society to reach its full potential, equal access to housing is a must.

Because when there’s not sufficient housing for people at all income levels, they struggle.

If things get bad enough, they leave in search of opportunity elsewhere.

Over the last ten years, our state has created 1.2 million jobs – but only 400,000 new homes. Many forces led to this state of affairs.

But front and center are the local land use policies that are the most restrictive in the nation. Through zoning, local communities hold enormous power to block growth.

Between full-on bans of multi-family homes, and onerous zoning and approvals processes, they make it difficult – even impossible – to build new homes.

Think about that.  People want to live here, but local decisions to limit growth mean they cannot. Local governments can and should make different choices.

I spent 14 years in local government, and our community had a citizen-driven Master Plan that allowed for targeted housing and economic growth, while preserving green space. I know this can be done.

But it hasn’t been. Between 2010 and 2018, Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, and Putnam Counties, each granted fewer building permits per capita than virtually all suburban counties across: Massachusetts, Connecticut, Southern California, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Northern Virginia.

And when it comes to New York City, other metro areas are creating new housing at two to four times the rate that we are. Boston’s rate is almost double. Washington D.C., triple. Seattle, four times.

With less supply, demand drives up prices. And who gets squeezed? Middle income families and low income families.

That’s why since becoming governor, housing has been front and center in my agenda. The budget we passed together last year included a five-year, $25 billion plan to create and preserve 100,000 affordable homes, the single largest housing investment in our state’s history.

We unlocked billions for NYCHA, through the creation of the New York City Public Housing Preservation Trust. We created the $25 million Eviction Prevention Legal Assistance Program, making sure vulnerable renters have the representation they deserve in court. We invested $539 million in the Homeowner Assistance Fund and we made $100 million in rent supplements available.

Much was accomplished together, and I want to thank Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Speaker Carl Heastie for prioritizing housing.

They rightly recognize that too many of our people are struggling to find a place to call home, and they are looking to us for bold leadership. Decisive action is called for now.

Today, I’m proud to introduce the New York Housing Compact, a groundbreaking strategy to catalyze the housing development we need for our communities to thrive. For our economy to grow. And our state to prosper.

The Compact pulls together a broad menu of policy changes that will collectively achieve the ambitious goal of 800,000 new homes over the next decade.

The Compact sets clear expectations for the growth we need while at the same time, giving localities plenty of tools, flexibility, and resources to stimulate that growth.

Every single locality across the state will have a target for building new homes. Upstate, the target is for the current housing stock to grow by 1% every three years. Downstate, 3% every three years.

Many localities across the state are already hitting these goals. Many others are falling just a bit short.

And in our small towns and villages, just a handful of new homes will mean they hit their targets. But the reality is that some communities will need to effect real change to build the homes we need.

This is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Local governments can meet these targets however they want and shape the ways they expand building capacity, such as redeveloping old malls and office parks, incentivizing new housing production, or updating zoning rules to reduce barriers.

We know this is a big ask. And that’s why localities will get help from the State to accomplish this shared objective. We will offer substantial new funding for infrastructure like schools, roads, and sewers needed to support growing communities.

And we will cut red tape to allow projects to move forward quickly while still protecting the health, safety, and environment of our communities.

But when communities haven’t made good-faith efforts to grow when proposed housing projects are languishing for no legitimate reason, the State will implement a new fast-track approval process.

Because to do nothing is an abdication of our responsibility to act in times of crisis. The Housing Compact is also laser-focused on transit-oriented development. We all know that the MTA is the lifeblood of the New York City metro region, and we will continue to invest in and ensure its long-term fiscal health.

Our investments in our world-class commuter rail lines have connected more people to jobs, and created more thriving downtowns.

That’s why it makes sense to build new housing in those same areas. That’s what happens in cities across the globe.

So as part of the Compact, any municipality with a train station will rezone the area within a half-mile of the station, to allow for the creation of new housing within the next three years.

Finally, the reality is that we can’t meet the demand for housing without an incentive program like 421a in New York City. Without it, developers will only build condominiums or build elsewhere, which isn’t the outcome we need.

To meet our housing goals, we will work with the Legislature on a replacement for this critical piece of the puzzle.

Overall, this plan is ambitious. But that’s what New Yorkers expect and deserve from their leaders.

Today, we say no more delay. No more waiting for someone else to fix this problem. Housing is a human right.  Ensuring enough housing is built is how we protect that right.

There’s a saying, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” And we will not waste this opportunity. We just need everyone and every community to do their part.

Solving our housing crisis would be a huge step toward making New York more affordable. But it has to be part of a broader approach.

Homeowners and renters are worried about paying their energy bills. Because rates are at record highs, driven by geopolitical forces outside our control, but hitting our wallets right here at home.

This winter, we will face energy prices that are 20 to 30 percent more costly compared to last year. That forces too many low-income families to decide: Do we keep the thermostat turned up? Or do we put food on the table?

No one should have to make that choice. And it doesn’t help that New York has some of the oldest homes in the nation. They’re less insulated, harder to heat, and with higher greenhouse emissions.

In fact, buildings are the largest source of emissions in our state, accounting for a third of our greenhouse gas output, as well as pollution that aggravates asthma and endangers our children.

So today, I’m proposing an ambitious series of policies to insulate our most vulnerable households from exorbitant energy bills, and to clear the path forward for a more sustainable future.

We’re calling it “The EmPower Plus” program, and it will help low-income families retrofit their homes by adding insulation, upgrading appliances, and switching from fossil fuels to clean electric heating systems.

This program will reach tens of thousands of households within a year. Homes that electrify will be eligible for a first-in-the-nation Energy Affordability Guarantee, a promise that they will never spend more than 6 percent of their income on electricity.

And we also want to ease the burden on our residents struggling with high electric bills. So we’ll be providing at least $165 million in relief to more than 800,000 utility customers. We know that the key to long-term sustainability – for our wallets and our planet – is weaning ourselves from fossil fuels.

To set us on that path, I’m proposing a plan to end the sale of any new fossil-fuel-powered heating equipment by 2030.

And I’m calling for all new construction to be zero-emission, starting in 2025 for small buildings and 2028 for large buildings. We are taking these actions because climate change remains the greatest threat to our planet, and to our children and grandchildren.

In 2019, this legislature instituted aggressive mandates and deadlines for reducing emissions.

And now, we are executing on that plan. Of course, we must do so thoughtfully. In a way that prioritizes affordability, protects those who are already struggling to get by, and corrects the environmental injustices of the past.

With this in mind, we’re pursuing a nation-leading Cap-and-Invest program to cap greenhouse emissions, invest in the clean energy economy, and prioritize the health and economic well-being of our families.

Big emitters will have to purchase permits to sell polluting fuels. The dirtier the fuel – the bigger the price tag. And the “invest” part of the program will accelerate the clean energy transition and include a universal Climate Action rebate that will provide $1 billion in revenues that we’ll allocate to help cover utility bills, transportation costs, and de-carbonization efforts.

And what’s great about Cap-and-Invest is that it offers us flexibility, so we can focus our efforts on the biggest polluters and ensure families, farms and small businesses aren’t crushed by costs.

As we help families with energy costs and transitioning to the future, we know that future belongs to our children.

As the first mother to lead this state, I know first-hand the impact that the lack of affordable childcare has on families.

But as Governor, I also know the impact on the state’s economy. More than 35 years ago, I was working on Capitol Hill, for Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.

I loved my job, but there were no affordable child care options available to me. So I had to put my career on hold to raise my children.

It’s too often moms, in particular, who are forced to make this huge sacrifice. That’s why I was so proud to announce $7 billion over four years for affordable child care in last year’s budget, and we worked together to get it done.

We brought down out-of-pocket costs for more families and expanded the supply of care in areas that were severely lacking. But too many families aren’t accessing the resources that are available.

Less than 10% of families who are eligible for child care assistance are actually enrolled. This is the legacy of a system that is difficult to navigate – by design. That has to change.

Our plan will streamline and centralize the child care application process, expand access for the most vulnerable families, increase income eligibility, and lower co-pays, while also supporting the child care providers who are indispensable for working parents.

Now, if we really want to tackle the affordability crisis head-on, we must recognize that low-wage workers have been hit hardest by high inflation.

The average monthly cost of goods and energy for low-income households has jumped by more than 13% in just two years.

That pushes families on the margins to the breaking point. So, as a matter of fairness and social justice, I am proposing a plan to peg the minimum wage to inflation.

If costs go up, so will wages. Like other states that have implemented this policy, we will put guardrails in place to make increases predictable for employers, and create flexibility in the event of a recession.

But this important change will give the nearly 900,000 minimum-wage workers a lifeline. Those workers are more likely to be women, many of whom are single moms, and they are more likely to be people of color.

Putting more money in their pockets helps them and our economy overall, as it goes back to local businesses and services.

These initiatives and policies, new investments and approaches, are just the tip of the iceberg.

What you’ve heard from me are my top priorities to improve the lives of New Yorkers.

But this is in no way an exhaustive list. In fact, I know many of you are looking forward to reading our 275-page book containing 147 thoughtful policy proposals.

But to recap: My goals are straightforward and clear. We will make New York safer. We will make New York more affordable. We will create more jobs and opportunities for the New Yorkers of today and tomorrow.

We will open doors to the communities and people who’ve historically been blocked from equal chances at success.

As other States continue to slide backwards when it comes to basic and fundamental rights, we will protect and enshrine those rights. And we will continue to be nation-leading in every way.

The task ahead of us is daunting and the stakes could not be higher. But I am fortunate to live in the home once occupied by one our State’s greatest leaders and thinkers named Roosevelt. 

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “You who are going to build a new world must go forward with courage.” We will build a new world.  And we will be courageous.

We will do the hard things, the necessary things, to lift up and support New Yorkers and clear a path for them to realize the New York Dream.

That is my promise to the people of New York, and I will work with the members of the legislature to keep that promise.

May God bless the great State of New York, and may God Bless America. Thank you.

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COVID RESEARCH ROUNDUP. VACCINES BEST PREVENTIVE. OMICRON EFFECTIVE NOT KNOWN YET. PROTECTION AGAINST LONG COVID NOT AS STRONG AS ONCE THOUGHT. “A LOT” OF COVID PRESENCE ON AIRCRAFT: 28 OF 29 FLIGHTS SURVEYED IN LAST 6 MONTHS SHOW COVID PRESENCE ON THE FLIGHTS. (97%)

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Your Local Epidemiologist

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By Dr. Katelyn Jetelina. Your Local Epidemiologist. Reprinted with permission. January 10, 2022:

There are several new scientific developments regarding COVID-19 that might be useful to you for navigating the pandemic. All stem from different COVID-19 “story threads” that I’ve written before. So, here is a quick round-up.

Moderna is doing better

What we know: Even though Moderna and Pfizer are both mRNA vaccines, they have distinct micro-differences. The impact of those differences on immune defenses has been up for debate.

New info: Another study confirmed that Moderna induced a better first defense (protection against infection). In addition (and for the first time) we see that it also generated a larger T-cell response (i.e. secondary defense) than Pfizer. This likely impacts downstream outcomes, like duration and strength of protection against severe disease.

Why does this matter? Given this study and previous ones, there should be a preferential recommendation for those over age 50 to get Moderna over Pfizer. This is particularly important for older adults, as they have weaker immune systems.

Reinfections and implications for COVID-19 future

What we know: We have 30+ studies showing that hybrid immunity (vaccination + infection) is strong. However, we don’t know how durable the protection is as Omicron continues to mutate.

New info: A Lancet study assessed the probability of a BA.5 infection (U.S. “summer wave”) after a BA.1 infection (last U.S. “winter” wave). Hybrid immunity was stable up to 35 weeks (8 months). This doesn’t mean reinfections sooner aren’t possible. But, on average, there is a significant pattern.

Why does this matter? The “time” populations are susceptible to COVID-19 will determine the frequency and height of future waves in our “new normal.”

This gives hope we’ll eventually see seasonal COVID-19 patterns, like we see with other coronaviruses. This may take a decade, but reprieve is eventually coming.

(Bloom Lab)

Vaccines and infections (still) reduce transmission

What we know: Before Omicron we knew that vaccines reduced transmission. Mis/dis-information has sown doubts.

New info: A new study from Nature examined prison systems to assess transmission networks. A COVID-19 vaccine reduced infectiousness by 22% and prior infection reduced infectiousness by 23%. Hybrid immunity reduced infectiousness by 40%. The least infectious cases were those who had been recently vaccinated.

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Why does this matter? On an individual level, vaccines still help in ways other than preventing severe disease. On a policy level, timed vaccination campaigns for a variant of concern may make sense until seasonal patterns arise.

There’s a lot of airplanes with COVID-19

What we knowMany studies show the possibility of COVID-19 transmission on planes. However, we don’t know how often COVID-19, on average, is present on planes.

New info: A recent analysis found that among wastewater samples taken from 29 flights from June to Deccember 2022, 28 of the planes had COVID-19 samples. Keep in mind this is not necessarily contagious people, but this is still a lot.

Why does it matter? Keep wearing a mask while traveling if you don’t want to get sick. Especially during surges.

Mask mandates in schools work

What we know: Masks work on an individual level, but the effectiveness of population-level mandates is less understood.

New info: A study from the New England Journal of Medicine compared schools in Massachusetts that kept the mask mandate to schools that removed the mask mandate after the statewide policy was rescinded. Schools that lifted masking had an additional 44.9 COVID-19 cases per 1000 students and staff.

Why does this matter? Mask mandates in large settings, like schools, work. This is important to know now or in future pandemics to keep kids in school.

Novavax

What we know: Novavax looked good in clinical trials, but we haven’t had great evidence on how well it works against Omicron subvariants and in the “real world”.

New info: The first real-world effectiveness data of Novavax’s COVID-19 vaccine was released in a preprint. It doesn’t look great. Those with a Novavax primary series and/or booster were more likely to get an infection than those with an mRNA vaccine.

Why does this matter? As I’ve written before, Novavax is a great option against severe disease if someone doesn’t have the vaccine. But it’s not the silver bullet we are looking for.

Long COVID-19 plateauing after 3 shots?

What we know: Vaccines reduce the odds of long COVID, but we don’t know if the risk continues to decline after each shot.

New info: A JAMA study found that the risk of long COVID decreased with vaccination. But after the third shot, protection against long COVID-19 plateaued. More research is needed, as this is surprising.

Why does this matter? Don’t rely solely on vaccines to reduce your changes of long COVID. It helps, but after a while, not by much.

Bottom line

We are still learning how to live with COVID-19 every day. Yes, science can still help us make better and informed decisions.

You’re now caught up.

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POSSIBLE TAINTED MARIJUANA SUBSTANCE BEING VAPE-SMOKED OVERCOMES NEW ROCHELLE HIGH STUDENT. HIGH SCHOOL NURSES SAVE HIM MONDAY WITH NARCAN KIT. SUPERINTENDENT URGES PARENTS TO HAVE NARCAN KIT IN THEIR HOME — JUST IN CASE.

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Editor’s Note: A New Rochelle High School student Monday was overcome by marijuana he was vaping on, and high school nurses saved his life. The New Rochelle Superintendent of Schools wrote this letter to New Rochelle Students after the incident.

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An Important Message From City School District of New Rochelle
Superintendent Jonathan P. Raymond  January 9, 2023

Dear New Rochelle Community,

Today marks an ominous milestone in our schools – one we had hoped would never be necessary. For the first time, our nursing staff had to use Narcan to save a student who vaped what the student believed to be marijuana.

The vape almost cost that student their life. I implore you to speak with your children immediately about the dangers of vaping. It is urgent. This device is still in our community, potentially threatening the health or lives of any others who use it.

I commend our nurses at New Rochelle High School for their quick and effective response. Their actions may well have saved this student’s life. I pray that we can reach others in our community to prevent other incidences.

Our students, staff, and everyone in our community must understand that even one hit from a cartridge can be deadly.

While we have not confirmed the substance that harmed our student today, we know that any vaping devices or drugs purchased on the street may – and likely do – contain the synthetic opioid fentanyl, and even the smallest dose can be lethal.

I encourage all of you to speak to your physician or pharmacist about obtaining your own Narcan prescription. Everyone is eligible to receive it, and you simply never know when you might need it to save a life.

Please talk to your children. Please encourage them to share any information they may have regarding cartridges, vapes, or other banned items in or around our schools. That can be reported via the school district anonymous reporting system.

If at any time they are with a friend who has overdosed, they can call 911 without fear of repercussion. There is nothing more important than the health, safety, and well-being of our students and it takes all of us to prevent a fatal overdose.

Please review some of the resources linked below. And please, please speak with your children about the dangers of street drugs and vapes.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/pdfs/ecigarette-or-vaping-products-visual-dictionary-508.pdf https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/Quick-Facts-on-the-Risks-of-E-cigarettes-for-Kids-Teens-and-Young-Adults.html New York State Office of Addiction and Support Services:https://oasas.ny.gov/school-district-resources?utm_medium=301&utm_source=combataddiction.ny.gov
Surgeon General:https://e-cigarettes.surgeongeneral.gov/documents/SGR_ECig_ParentTipSheet_508.pdf 
Sincerely,
Jonathan P. Raymond
Superintendent of Schools
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Governor Hochul on the Nurses Hospitals DISPUTE CALLS FOR ARBITRATION BETWEEN MONTIFIORE AND MOUNT SINAI AND THE NURSES

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STATEMENT FROM GOVERNOR KATHY HOCHUL ON NEGOTIATIONS BETWEEN 
NEW YORK CITY HOSPITALS AND NURSES 

“No one puts more on the line to care for New Yorkers than our nurses, which is why my team has been pushing for a fair labor agreement for these dedicated professionals and to ensure they have safe working conditions. For weeks now, we have been working tirelessly with our partners in New York City to broker negotiations between the nurses and affected hospitals and our efforts have achieved significant progress.

Strikes have been averted at New York Presbyterian, Richmond University Medical Center, Maimonides Medical Center and Flushing Hospital Medical Center. 

“Yet there remain outstanding issues at Montefiore and Mount Sinai and I am now calling for binding arbitration so that all parties can swiftly reach a resolution.

The New York State Department of Health will continue to enforce staffing requirements under the law at these hospitals to maintain the delivery of essential health care services to the community and protect patient health and safety.

Likewise, the Health Department will continue to ensure that all providers are meeting the requirements of the law.

“We will continue to work with partners and all parties so that New York City hospitals and nurses can continue to play their critical role in caring for New Yorkers.” 

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NY CONSERVATIVE PARTY STATEMENT ON ELECTION OF McCARTHY AS HOUSE SPEAKER AFTER GAETZ AND BOEBERT BACK DOWN AND VOTE “PRESENT” ON 15TH VOTE, EASING MCCARTHY INTO THE SPEAKER POST. BACK TO BUSINESS.

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WPCNR WASHINGTON DELEGATION. January 7, 2022:

Editor’s Note: Early this morning, in a 15th vote on who will be Speaker of the House for the New 118th Congress, two key opponents of Congressman Kevin McCarthy who claimed they would never vote for him changed their votes to “present,” effectively abstaining from the vote. Those two votes of “present” were cast by Lauren Boebert of Colorado and Matt Gaetz of Florida on the 15th vote this week attempting to vote Mr. McCarthy Speaker of the House.


Statement From New York State Conservative Party 

Chairman Gerard Kassar on Speaker McCarthy’s Election 

January 7, 2023

“The New York State Conservative Party congratulates House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on his historic victory tonight. The Party is particularly proud of the 11 House Republicans from New York State who presented a strong, unified, and unwavering front for Speaker McCarthy in round after round of voting. Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, a dynamic House leader, was one of those honored to nominate Speaker McCarthy on the House floor. 

“These 11 members, each of whom was supported by the Conservative Party — the Party provided the direct margin of victory in four of those races — will play a key role in the 118th Congress, and rightly so. The Republican delegation from New York is ready and able to help lead our nation forward.” 

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WHITE PLAINS WEEK 22ND ANNIVERSARY REPORT-JANUARY 6 PROGRAM SATURDAY MORNING BLACK COFFEE AT 8:30 A.M. ON FIOS CH 45 WESTCHESTER WIDE AN ON WPOPTIUM CH 76 AND 24/7 ON WWW.WPCOMMUNITYMEDIA.ORG

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SCHOOL DISTRICT EXPRESSES CONCERN ON NOT SENDING CHILDREN TO SCHOOL SICK
FOOD EMERGENCY IN WHITE PLAINS-HELP FEED THE 150 PERSONS A DAY WHO DEPEND ON SLATER CENTER FOOD PANTRY
GREENBURGH TOWN SUPERVISOR PAUL FEINER: SPREAD BETWEEN CON ED UNFIXED RATES AND WESTCHESTER POWER FIXED RATES NARROWING AS CON ED RATES ARE PREDICTED TO BE GOING UP.
JOHN BAILEY LOOKS AT THE STATE OF PLAYLAND CONSTRUCTION TODAY WITH 5 MONTHS TO GO BEFORE POSSIBLE OPENING.
ASBESTOS REMOVAL ISSUE RISES EXPECTED TO TAKE 3 MONTHS AFFECTS SPECIFIED AREAS EFFECTS ON TIMETABLE FOR CONSTRUCTION UNCERTAIN
YOUR LOCAL EPIDEMIOLOGIST DR. KATELYN JETTELINA’S OBSERVATIONS ON XBB.1.5 THE NEW VARIENT IN THE NORTHEAST, AND SOBERING NEWS THAT MEDICATIONS USED AGAINST COVID ARE NOT WORKING. SAFETY NET IS COMPROMISED IF YOU GET COVID.

DECEMBER COVID CASES IN WESTCHESTER TOTALED 9,003 NEW CASES HIGHEST TOTAL SINCE JULY.

JOHN BAILEY AND THE NEWS THIS WEEK EVERY WEEK FOR 22 YEARS.
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