BUFFALO, N.Y. – Senator Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo, has urged the Western New York district of the U.S. Postal Service to re-launch an important, very low-cost program that aims to protect the health and well-being of local senior citizens and people with disabilities. It’s called Carrier Alert, and it provides a daily check-in and notification system [...]
“It is my intention as a New York State senator to soon introduce a law that would actually decriminalize, regulate and tax marijuana in New York,” said State Senator Liz Krueger, an Upper East Side liberal, on Wednesday night.
The room full of marijuana enthusiasts erupted into applause.
Liz Krueger is not, as she noted, a stoner. She says she last inhaled in the 1970s.
But at the Wedneday evening forum she hosted at Baruch College about her bid to legalize pot, she emerged as the unlikely hero of New York State’s marijuana legalization movement.
Under Krueger’s draft “Marijuana, Regulation, and Taxation Act,” first released Wednesday night, New York adults would be allowed to grow up to six pot plants at home. New Yorkers could buy and sell weed just like they buy and sell alcohol. And like alcohol, the business of weed sales would be regulated by the New York State Liquor Authority.
Drivers would not be allowed to operate vehicles under its influence. And marijuana would be heavily taxed, to the tune of $50 per ounce. (In New York City, an eighth of an ounce of reasonably good weed typically costs $50.)
Eighty percent of the proceeds would go to the state’s general fund, with the rest directed to substance abuse, criminal re-entry and job training programs. Localities would be able to tack on an extra five percent, or could opt out entirely.
“It’s almost embarrasing to be a New Yorker, to look around, and Connecticut and New Jersey and Vermont and Rhode Island, and Massachusetts and Maine all have legal medical marijuana, and we don’t,” said Ethan Nadelmann, the impassioned founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.
Eighteen states and Washington D.C., have medical marijuana laws on the books. Colorado and Washington state recently legalized recreational pot smoking, much like Krueger would like to do here at home.
But Nadelmann warned, “Marijuana ain’t gonna legalize itself.”
To illustrate his point, he recalled the 1970s, when he was in college and marijuana legalization seemed a foregone conclusion.
Momentum has in fact been slowly building in New York State in the direction of weed legalization.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed decriminalizing the public possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Among the 50 or so attendees hanging on Krueger’s every word was a former High Times editor, a 22-year-old board member for New York State’s chapter of NORML, and the executive director of the American Pot Smokers Association, the guy who regularly distributes fliers near Union Square Park.
So when, following the panel, Krueger took questions from the audience, several of them were of a distinctly servicey nature.
“This one I feel is for the doctor in the house,” Krueger said at one point, reading a question from the audience off off an index card. “Is it healthier to use cannabis or not, and why?”
Panelist Julie Holland, a psychiatrist who used to run Bellevue’s psychiatric emergency room and wrote The Pot Book, said the speed of legalization would depend on public displays of support for it outside the friendly confines of events like this one.
“In the same way that Harvey Milk felt strongly that if you want rights then you have to stand up and say that you want your rights, and that you’re gay and you want your rights, and I think it’s the same way with pot smokers,” she said. “I think that people have to stand up and say … ’I’m a C.P.A. and I pay my taxes and I vote and I’m a pot smoker.”
Gawker’s Hamilton Nolan has the scoop on the latest bloodbath at The Village Voice, which has slowly but steadily been shedding veteran staffers since it was acquired in 2005 by the Phoenix-based New Times Media turned Village Voice Media turned Voice Media Group.
Today’s news involves Michael Musto, the last of the big-name, glory-days Voice writers who was still at the paper. He’s been let go, along with longtime food critic Robert Sietsema and theater critic Michael Feingold.
He told Gawker: “So many people have come out to offer their love (and opportunities). I’ll update you on all my new beginnings. My brand will be feistier than ever.”
UPDATE: A representative for Voice Media Group just sent along the following press release on today’s “restructuring” at the Voice:
Voice Media Group is making staffing changes at the Village Voice. The net effect of these changes will be to slightly reduce the number of editorial employees at the publication—by less than one full-time position—and better align the Voice with the long-term business and editorial goals of the company. This restructuring will allow the Voice to continue offering superior content and products to its New York audience – specifically film, music, restaurant, and breaking news easily accessible across both print and digital platforms – while also ensuring the sustainability of the publication.
As of next week, veteran gossip columnist Michael Musto and longtime theater critic Michael Feingold will no longer be staffers at the Voice. Voice Media Group recognizes their many achievements and honors over the years, and thanks them for their loyalty, their professionalism, and the iconic role they have played in establishing the Voice as a cultural touchstone in New York City. Feingold, named a Pulitzer finalist for criticism in 2009, has been invited to continue his association with the Voice by serving as chairman of the annual Obie Awards.
We’re also pleased to announce that two new positions have been added to the Voice writing staff, which already includes 2013 James Beard Award winner Tejal Rao, along with recently hired principal film writer Stephanie Zacharek and staff writer Sydney Brownstone.
Writer/editor Laura Shunk has joined the team as a part-time staff writer tasked with overseeing an expansion and reinvigoration of the Voice’s food and restaurant coverage, both on the blog and in print. As part of that restructuring, freelance food writer Robert Sietsema will no longer serve as a regular weekly contributor. However, the Voice is actively soliciting new freelance writers interested in reporting on New York’s dynamic dining culture.
Additionally, management is looking to hire a new, full-time staff writer to join the Voice’s exceptional reporting team. We hope to make an announcement about that hire shortly.
VMG will support the editorial staff throughout this process, and believes these changes will allow the Village Voice to grow and to continue its commitment to progressive journalism.
Some reactions on Twitter:
Re Village Voice: The drawn-out death is wrenching. Just rip the band aid off, it’ll save everyone a lot of heartache gawker.com/bloodbath-day-…
Politicians annoy me. Democrats. Republicans. Even my fellow Libertarians. People’s motives never seem to be for the betterment of humanity and always for the betterment of their kind.
This is illustrated perfectly in the current round of scandalgates that are circling the halls of Congress. Between Benghazi, the Associated Press phone records seizure and the IRS overwhelming interest in tea party activists, Republicans are having a field day at Democrats’ — and particularly President Barack Obama’s — expense.
From what I’ve seen from these scandals so far, there isn’t much to any one of them. But piled on as a perfect trifecta in Thursday’s news, it sure seems as though the president will have a hard time surviving it. If Republicans weren’t already trumping up the word “impeachment” before, they’re surely testing it out now.
The worst part of this is that Republicans — by and large — couldn’t actually care less about what happened in Libya (that’s where Benghazi is, although I saw a statistic the other day that says that while 41 percent of registered Republicans believe that saga to be the biggest scandal in American history, 39 percent of those who believed so didn’t know where Benghazi is).
I also can’t imagine they feel bad for the Associated Press reporters who had their phone records snagged by the Department of Justice. I tend to view the GOP as skipping over the 1st Amendment because it gets in the way of their favorite one.
Now the IRS thing, I’ll give them credit for that. That story is just ridiculous. We all know that Republicans hate the IRS already anyway. And that bit of absurdity went after their people. So I’m sure they are genuinely upset about it.
But aside from the IRS shenanigans, I can’t help but feel that the GOP’s primary interest in these tawdry affairs is the amount of damage that it could potentially do to the president. Basically I believe that they’re much less interested in either correcting or preventing wrongdoings than they are in pinning any wrongdoings on President Obama.
What I want to know is: Why do Republicans hate America?
This is the same question that Republicans asked whenever Democrats questioned anything George W. Bush did. It was a stupid question then and I realize that it’s a stupid question now. I ask it facetiously.
It does genuinely seem un-American to me to root against President Obama, his policies, prosperity and even peace — all in hopes of bringing down his presidency. Some people are actually rooting for chaos because they think it will make Obama look bad.
Yes. It was equally un-American for Democrats to root against President Bush. But we’re dealing with the here and now. And here and now the GOP is willing to sacrifice anything just to get at Obama.
So I guess my real question is: If you’re willing to root against America — in the name of America — how can America possibly win?
Scott Leffler is a real American. He fights for the rights of every man. He also used to watch wrestling as a child. Follow him on twitter @scottleffler.
BUFFALO, N.Y. – Senator Tim Kennedy and Assemblyman Sean Ryan today announced a major state grant award to substantially rehabilitate several vacant houses on Buffalo’s West Side. The New York State Affordable Housing Corporation (AHC) will invest $175,000 to renovate five vacant homes in the 19th Street neighborhood – which will, in turn, open up [...]
In a joint press conference with the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President Barack Obama called for an investigation into the IRS, saying, “We’ve got to make sure that it is doing its job scrupulously.”
Buffalo Employment & Training Center – The Council adopted a resolution, sponsored by Council Members Richard A. Fontana and Demone A. Smith, requesting that the Buffalo Employment & Training Center (BETC) collaborate with the Western New York Homeless Coalition by networking, attending at least one meeting per quarter, providing monthly communication regarding efforts and conducting two [...]
Leslie Zemsky, is the Director of Special Events and Projects for the Larkin Group in the City of Buffalo. Known as the company’s “Director of Fun,” Ms. Zemsky plays an integral role in the success of the Larkin Development Group, considered one of the most prestigious companies based in Buffalo’s central business district.
Ms. Zemsky is also the owner of Rockspring Designs, LLC. Using her artistic skills, she produces artwork in the mediums of watercolor, gouache and oil and provides services for custom illustrating and design and layout features for cards, invitations and other special print products.
An active member in her community, Ms. Zemsky currently serves as the president of the board for the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy. She is also a member of the advisory board for the Buffalo Arts and Technology Center and a member of the board for Visit Buffalo Niagara.
Throughout her life she has selflessly involved herself in community projects and organizations including serving as the founding chair of Advancing Arts and Culture Buffalo Niagara; past trustee for the The Erie County Cultural Resource Advisory Board; past trustee for The Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo; past trustee of Elmwood Franklin School; past trustee of Temple Beth Zion; past trustee of Nichols School; and past member of Maria Love Convalescent Fund Board.
She also tirelessly served as the past chair of many community fundraisers in Western New York, including the Junior League Show House, the Philharmonic Ball and the Nichols and Elmwood Franklin School annual auctions, to name a few.
Ms. Zemsky is also a past member of the Junior Group at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery and is a sustaining member of the Junior League of Buffalo.
A resident of Buffalo, Ms. Zemsky and her husband Howard are the proud parents of three children, Kayla, Harry and David.
We are currently celebrating National Women’s Health Week.
With this in mind, I’m pleased to report that I’ve just voted to approve two critically important bills that are designed to improve women’s health care throughout our state. These measures include the following:
Breast Cancer Mapping — Few New York families haven’t been touched in some way by the great pain, suffering and loss that can be caused by breast cancer. Fortunately, both the Senate and Assembly have now taken action on legislation allowing funds from the Breast Cancer Research and Education Fund to be used for breast cancer mapping initiatives, and to generate innovative proposals that can help identify why some areas are more prone to breast cancer than others. We’ve made great strides in identifying the incidences of breast cancer statewide, but more can and should be done to isolate clusters and areas of the state where this insidious disease is more common than others.
Promoting Awareness of Women’s Health Coverage — This legislation directs the state Department of Health (DOH) to create a new website that provides a wide array of additional information about women’s health issues, coverage for preventive services, and key health care resources that are available across New York State. By increasing public awareness of newly-covered health care services, and by encouraging more women to receive preventive services and screenings, we can and will help save lives. Having been passed by the Senate, the bill now goes to the Assembly.
I was proud to support these important measures, and will continue fighting to improve the quality and accessibility of health care for you and your family throughout the remainder of the Legislative Session. These two potentially life-saving initiatives help to achieve that goal.
NORTH TONAWANDA – Local Attorney Joshua E. Dubs, Esq., of Fairmont Avenue, has announced he will seek the position of City Attorney for the Lumberjack City. Josh Dubs graduated in 2004 from Union College with a Bachelor’s Degree in History. He graduated in 2008 with his law degree from SUNY Buffalo Law School. After passing [...]
Having had hot dogs and been to the drive-in in the last week, it is now officially summer — no matter what the calendar says. Now I just need the kids to get out of school and the real Leffler family frolicking can begin. Yes, we frolic … as should you.
I’ve been lucky enough to get out on my bike the past few weeks and see Eastern Niagara County from a slower vantage point than I usually do. I’ve made trips as short as a couple miles and as long as 22 miles. It feels good to do it and I’ve noticed that when I put a few miles on the bike, I’m more inclined to eat better, too. Maybe I’ll be healthy some day. Maybe.
Over the course of the past few years, I’ve gone from around 220 pounds to about 180. In fact, the photo that accompanies this column doesn’t even look like me, I’m told. I guess that’s a good thing. I’ll have a new one soon. The weight loss is due to a combination of a better diet and exercise. But mostly stress. Seriously, not eating will do wonders for your figure.
I was hoping to lose about another 10 pounds before next Saturday in hopes that I’d look better in my dress, but I don’t think that’s going to happen. I got donut sticks the other day … and my oldest daughter spends all her money on ice cream and then forces me to eat it. She’s such a bully.
Oh, yeah, you read that right. I said dress. I’ll be wearing a dress. Again.
For the third year in a row, I’ll be one of a couple dozen guys participating in the “Peaches and Creme Fashion Show,” a fundraiser put on by Anne Scinta LaSota, team captain of Maurice’s Relay For Life. The fundraiser, held at Lockport’s Palace Theatre at 7 p.m. on May 18, will hopefully be bigger and better and bolder than the previous ones, which were already pretty incredible events, I might add.
Tickets for the show are available from any of the guys in it — including me — for a mere $10. Or you can get them at Maurice’s. They’re also available at the door the night of the show for $15.
Please come out and watch me make a fool of myself. I usually do it for free, but since this is such a good cause, help us raise money to fight cancer? Please?
I mentioned the drive-in earlier. I saw “Oz, The Great and Powerful” and “Iron Man 3” with my girlfriend and her wonderful children. Iron Man was pretty decent, but I was really blown away at how much I like the Oz prequel. I truly appreciate unique adaptations of things that we think we already know. It’s why I’m equally excited about The Great Gatsby. Also the new Star Trek movie which comes out next week. Zachary Quinto is perfect as Spock.
I hope there will be plenty of movies in my near future. It is summer, after all. Let the frolicking begin.
Scott Leffler is a Doctor Who fan whose columns run on Fridays now. Fridays are cool. Follow him on twitter @scottleffler.
Empire State Development President & CEO Ken Adams says state wants advice from the WNY Regional Economic Development Council on Skyway removal. In urging the Regional Council to support the effort, Kennedy calls Skyway removal a transformative infrastructure project that will boost the economy, similar to Robert Moses Parkway removal. Kennedy: Razing the ‘structurally deficient’ [...]
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