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A sampling of editorials from around New York

Published on NewsOK Modified: March 4, 2015 at 10:20 am •  Published: March 4, 2015
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ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — The New York Daily News on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's policy regarding deletion of emails.

March 2.

As state attorney general, Andrew Cuomo saw for himself how helpful emails could be in exposing truth and bringing wrongdoers to justice.

Incriminating emails written by stock analysts made Eliot Spitzer's reputation as the sheriff of Wall Street.

Scheming emails revealed the role of Gov. Christie's aides in jamming traffic on the George Washington Bridge.

Now, as governor, Cuomo wants to be rid of emails across the whole of state government with super speed. His aides say it's just a matter of efficiency.

Of what kind, we ask.

The governor's policy of having state agencies delete emails after just 90 days is a violation of the people's right to know how officials handle government business — and a recipe for cover-ups.

Cuomo must reverse the policy immediately. The government must preserve emails just as if they were old-fashioned letters on paper or printed memos. Those are not rapidly shredded. Emails should not be rapidly deleted.

The fact that the governor's executive chamber began 90-day email purges in 2007 — before Cuomo took office — is no excuse. He made the call to extend the 90-day rule to all executive agencies, a decision made public in 2013 and now being fully implemented.

Still more, emails are cheaper to store than paper records. The state's email system allots 50 gigabytes of storage for each user — enough to hold 30 years' worth of messages, according to the watchdog group Reinvent Albany.

While the governor's aides insist the 90-day rule is commonplace in the private sector, it's way out of line in the public sector.

The federal government generally holds onto routine emails for as long as seven years. When the CIA recently proposed erasing emails of ex-employees after three years, the agency took heat for being too hasty.

The policy of the New York State Archives calls for retaining correspondence related to policy developments — a category that would cover a big chunk of state emails — for at least two years.

It doesn't take a conspiracy theorist to wonder why Cuomo — knowing full well the power of email for holding government accountable — would move so aggressively to wipe it out.

What's the hurry, governor?

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Online:

http://nydn.us/1B2PSss

The Daily Gazette of Schenectady on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan for improving state parks.

March 4

It would be nice if New York was swimming in money so that it could afford to invest in extras.

But legislating is about setting priorities. And unfortunately, spending hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer money on sprucing up state parks should not be one of the state's budget priorities right now.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo this week released details of his 5-year, $900 million investment in the state's vast park system that includes infrastructure upgrades, new construction, expansion of trails and parking areas, and other improvements.

He cites the popularity of the state's parks and the growing annual attendance, as well as their potential to bring in revenue by attracting tourists.

All true. Parks are great. But have they really deteriorated to the point where major capital investment can be justified in the wake of the state's other needs?

What needs, you ask?

The 2013 Report Card for America's Infrastructure, prepared by the American Society of Civil Engineers, gave the state's roads and bridges a grade of D+, saying New York needs $3.6 trillion in upgrades by the year 2020. Not billion. Trillion.

Nearly 12 percent of the state's 17,422 bridges are considered structurally deficient and 27 percent of them are considered functionally obsolete. About 23 percent of the state's 16,311 miles of major roads are in poor condition, costing New York motorists $5.7 billion per year in extra vehicle repairs and other expenses — or more than $500 per driver. New York's school buildings need $2.1 billion in infrastructure funding, according to the report.

The report also recommends $22 billion in wastewater infrastructure upgrades over the next 20 years.

And we haven't even discussed the state's deficient dams and levees, hazardous waste sites in need of cleanup, or the aging seaports, rail system and airports. You can't get to parks if the roads and bridges are falling apart and your car is in the shop.

Have you seen all those school buses parked in front of the state capitol this week? They've been full of educators. They're not protesting the condition of parks; they're upset about underfunded schools. How high on the list of priorities should schools be? Ask the Schenectady school superintendent, for starters.

But infrastructure and education are just two key priorities.

The other day, the John Locke Foundation, a North Carolina-based conservative think-tank, ranked New York dead last in the country in terms of freedom. Half the state's score was based on tax burden and government spending, including welfare payments, food stamps, housing assistance and other grants and subsidies. Dead last.

Under the governor's plan for parks, Spa State Park will get $7 million to add a new classroom, improve picnic areas and pavilions, and to expand and improve trails. The John Boyd Thatcher Park in Albany County is getting a new visitors center.

Nice? Yes. Necessary? You judge.

There's no doubt that parks contribute to the quality of life here in New York and do serve as a tourist attraction.

But the taxpayers are not a bottomless pit of money, and the state should do what it can to maintain existing facilities as best as it can with current funding. It also should leverage private donations and grants into upkeep where possible.

A nearly $1 billion taxpayer investment into parks at a time when this state has so many other more pressing needs is a luxury we just can't afford.

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Online:

http://bit.ly/1aLfCBk

The New York Times on the Israeli prime minister's speech in Congress.

March 3

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel could not have hoped for a more rapturous welcome in Congress. With Republicans and most Democrats as his props, he entered the House of Representatives to thunderous applause on Tuesday, waving his hand like a conquering hero and being mobbed by fawning lawmakers as he made his way to the lectern.

Even Washington doesn't often see this level of exploitative political theater; it was made worse because it was so obviously intended to challenge President Obama's foreign policy.

Mr. Netanyahu's speech offered nothing of substance that was new, making it clear that this performance was all about proving his toughness on security issues ahead of the parliamentary election he faces on March 17. He offered no new insight on Iran and no new reasons to reject the agreement being negotiated with Iran by the United States and five other major powers to constrain Iran's nuclear program.

His demand that Mr. Obama push for a better deal is hollow. He clearly doesn't want negotiations and failed to suggest any reasonable alternative approach that could halt Iran's nuclear efforts.

Moreover, he appeared to impose new conditions, insisting that international sanctions not be lifted as long as Iran continues its aggressive behavior, including hostility toward Israel and support for Hezbollah, which has called for Israel's destruction.

Mr. Netanyahu has two main objections. One is that an agreement would not force Iran to dismantle its nuclear facilities and would leave it with the ability to enrich uranium and, in time, to produce enough nuclear fuel for a bomb. Two, that a deal to severely restrict Iran's ability to produce nuclear fuel for a decade or more is not long enough. He also dismisses the potential effectiveness of international inspections to deter Iran from cheating.

While an agreement would not abolish the nuclear program, which Iran says it needs for power generation and medical purposes, neither would walking away. Even repeated bombing of Iran's nuclear plants would not eliminate its capability because Iran and its scientists have acquired the nuclear know-how over the past six decades to rebuild the program in a couple of years.

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