New York pension official, worried about misinformation, seeks Spotify report

Link:https://wtvbam.com/2022/02/07/exclusive-new-york-pension-official-worried-about-misinformation-seeks-spotify-report/

Excerpt:

New York State’s top pension official has asked streaming music platform Spotify Technology SA for details about the effectiveness of its new content rules, citing complaints including that podcaster Joe Rogan has spread misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.

New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who oversees funds that hold Spotify shares, requested the report in a letter sent to Spotify Chief Executive Daniel Ek on Feb. 2, which was shown to Reuters.

The letter also urged Spotify to give users an easy mechanism to report content that could violate its rules, and to define how its board oversees content risks and enforcement.

DiNapoli cited reports of Spotify hosting content that has included COVID-19 misinformation, and racist and antisemitic material. Prominent rock musician Neil Young last month left the platform last month because he said Rogan has misled people about vaccines, followed by other stars.

Author(s): Ross Kerber

Publication Date: 7 Feb 2022

Publication Site: WTVB

Why Coney Island and Brighton Beach were hit so hard by omicron

Link:https://gothamist.com/news/why-coney-island-and-brighton-beach-were-hit-so-hard-omicron

Excerpt:

The two zip codes encompassing this region — 11224 and 11235 — have experienced 75 deaths per 100,000 people over the last month, a fatality rate nearly three times the citywide average. The pair of zip codes ranked only behind East New York when it came to the pace of COVID deaths between December 24th and January 20th, while their hospitalization rates were also among the highest in the city.

These two zip codes in southern Brooklyn also have lower vaccination coverage than the city as a whole, a common thread between most of the places hit hardest this winter. The area is averaging 66% full vaccination, compared with 75% citywide. In adjacent Gravesend, fewer than two-thirds of residents are fully vaccinated, and meanwhile, some parts of the city are approaching universal coverage.

….

Hospital leaders said undervaccination is having an outsized effect on these oceanside communities because the area’s demographics make residents prone to severe illness from COVID-19. In Brighton Beach and Coney Island, 26% of residents are over the age of 65, compared with about 14% in the borough as a whole. Many of those elderly residents also have underlying health conditions.

….

Citywide, 89% of New Yorkers between ages 65 to 74 are fully vaccinated, but the rate drops to 63% for people older than 85. Municipal data also show coverage varies by region and by other demographics. For instance, just 62% of white seniors in the Bronx are fully vaccinated, and only 65% of Black seniors in Brooklyn.

Author(s): Caroline Lewis

Publication Date: 7 Feb 2022

Publication Site: Gothamist

New York Is Trying To Punish Its Way to 100% Vaccine Compliance

Link: https://reason.com/2021/12/15/new-york-is-trying-to-punish-its-way-to-100-vaccine-compliance/?utm_medium=email

Excerpt:

Beginning Monday, at the order of Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul, every business in the state was required by law to have every employee and customer show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination, or make everyone inside their doors over the age of 2 wear a mask.

Violators face fines of up to $1,000. Enforcement is being left to county governments, of which an estimated one-quarter—almost all run by Republicans—have indicated they will not participate in.

….

The two-shot vaccination rate for New Yorkers ages 12 and older currently stands at 81 percent. Six months ago, when Hochul’s predecessor Andrew Cuomo lifted almost all statewide COVID restrictions, he did so because the Empire State had crossed the 70 percent threshold set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—not for full vaccination of everyone over age 12, mind you, but for single shots among adults.

….

Contra Hochul, it is far from clear that even 100 percent vaccination would have prevented a third consecutive winter surge across the northeast, which currently has the highest rates of vaccination and coronavirus cases in the United States.

Author(s): Matt Welch

Publication Date: 15 Dec 2021

Publication Site: Reason

Tiering Up – The Unfinished Business of Public Pension Reform in New York

Link:https://www.empirecenter.org/publications/tieringup/

PDF of report: https://www.empirecenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/Tiering-Up_FINAL-Copy.pdf

Graphic:

Excerpt:

The Tier 5 and Tier 6 changes combined are saving New York state and local governments outside New York City more than $1 billion this year.

After record-busting investment returns in 2021, most of the state’s public pension plans report they are fully funded—but adjusting for financial risk, their combined unfunded liabilities still total nearly $400 billion.

The traditional defined-benefit pension system remains biased in favor of career and long-term employees, to the disadvantage of those who work shorter government careers.

Author(s): E.J. McMahon

Publication Date: 14 Dec 2021

Publication Site: Empire Center

NYS Pension Fund Commits $2 Billion to Climate Transition Index

Link:https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/2021/12/nys-pension-fund-commits-2-billion-climate-transition-index?utm_source=weekly%20news&utm_medium=email&utm_term=climate%20transition%20index&utm_content=20211212&utm_campaign=pension%20fund&section=feature

Excerpt:

The New York State Common Retirement Fund (Fund) will invest $2 billion in an index focused on reducing the risks of climate change and capitalizing on the opportunities arising from the transition to a low-carbon economy, State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, trustee of the fund, announced today. This is part of the Comptroller’s Climate Action Plan announced in 2019 and his goal for the Fund of net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.

The Fund will allocate $2 billion within its internally managed public equity portfolio to FTSE Russell’s Russell 1000 TPI Climate Transition Index (CTI) in connection with the Fund’s Sustainable Investment & Climate Solutions (SICS) program.

Author(s): Thomas DiNapoli

Publication Date: 9 Dec 2021

Publication Site: Office of the NY State Comptroller

How Many People in NYC Are At Risk of Losing Their Job Over the Mayor’s Vaccine Mandate?

Link:https://mishtalk.com/economics/how-many-people-in-nyc-are-at-risk-of-losing-their-job-over-the-mayors-vaccine-mandate

Graphic:

Excerpt:

NYC Vaccination Data shows that at most, 18.3% of New Yorker residents are theoretically impacted, but not all of them work.

….

That is less than half of the population of the city. Factoring in the vaccination rate, about 9% of the entire city is at risk of losing their jobs.

Thus Borelli is wildly off on his percentages.

I am not at all defending mayor de Blasio. Indeed, I heavily blasted him in New York City Mandates Vaccinations, Please Be Ready With Your Vaccine Card.

I am just in search of more accurate numbers.

Author(s): Mike Shedlock

Publication Date: 8 Dec 2021

Publication Site: MishTalk

State Comptroller DiNapoli and Orange County District Attorney Hoovler Announce Guilty Plea in Bethel Tax Collector Pension Fraud Case

Link:https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/2021/11/state-comptroller-dinapoli-and-orange-county-district-attorney-hoovler-announce-guilty-plea-bethel

Excerpt:

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli and Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler today announced that former Town of Bethel Tax Collector Debra Gabriel, of Bethel, pleaded guilty before Judge Peter Feinberg in the Town of Rockland Justice Court to Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the Second Degree, in connection with a scheme to defraud the New York State and Local Retirement System. Gabriel, 62, had resigned her public office and retired in August 2020.

At the time that she pleaded guilty, Gabriel admitted having submitted a false “Record of Activity” with the Town of Bethel for filing with the State Comptroller. Records of Activity are documents in which certain appointed or elected officials must record a daily detail of their hours worked and duties and certify their accuracy. The information is used to calculate their service time for retirement benefits.

An investigation of Gabriel’s Records of Activity conducted by the New York State Comptroller’s Office and the New York State Police revealed that from April 1, 2009 to Aug. 31, 2019, she falsely claimed credit for full-time work for the Town of Bethel when her actual hours were far less. For example, in 2018 and 2019, she had a full-time job with a private healthcare company, while claiming to also have worked full-time as a Tax Collector for Bethel. Her false claims increased her service credit toward retirement by more than seven years, according to Comptroller DiNapoli. Gabriel turned over a certified check in the amount of $6,377.46 to prosecutors from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office as restitution to the State of New York for the amount of pension benefits that she was overpaid.

Author(s): Thomas DiNapoli

Publication Date: 5 Nov 2021

Publication Site: NY Office of the Comptroller

New York State Common Retirement Still Holds Boeing Stock, Despite Lawsuit

Link:https://www.ai-cio.com/news/new-york-state-common-retirement-still-holds-boeing-stock-despite-lawsuit/

Excerpt:

The New York State Common Retirement Fund and the Fire and Police Pension Association of Colorado (FPPA) agreed to a $237.5 million settlement with Boeing’s board after they sued the aerospace company’s board for failing to protect against safety risks related to its 737 Max jets. The money will be paid by the board director’s insurance companies to Boeing itself.

….

The exact reasons why NYS Common chose to hold the stock after suing the company are unknown, as the fund did not respond to a request for comment. However, it’s possible that the pension maintained its shares in order to play a role in restructuring Boeing. It’s taken that approach in the past with companies such as ExxonMobil. In part of the recent settlement between NYS Common and Boeing, the company has agreed to implement new safety measures, including an ombudsman program for employees.

Author(s): Anna Gordon

Publication Date: 9 Nov 2021

Publication Site: ai-CIO

COVID-19 Relief Program Tracker (NY)

Link:https://www.osc.state.ny.us/reports/covid-relief-program-tracker

Graphic:

Excerpt:

The Office of the State Comptroller has created this dashboard to track federal relief funds received during the pandemic and eight programs that offer targeted assistance to New Yorkers most severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The tracker explains when each funding stream or program was authorized, how it is designed and how much has been received and spent to date. The data will be updated monthly and will be expanded over time as more information becomes available. We hope the information presented here can be used to help New Yorkers understand how federal aid is used and to inform future conversations about budget investments.

Select a relief program to view its funding and spending, or download this month’s data for all programs.

Author(s):Thomas DiNapoli

Publication Date: accessed 17 Oct 2021

Publication Site: Office of the Comptroller of the State of New York

State comptroller launches COVID-19 relief fund tracker

Link:https://www.timesunion.com/state/article/DiNapoli-launches-tracker-of-COVID-19-relief-funds-16533107.php?IPID=Times-Union-HP-CP-Latest-News

Excerpt:

The state has received $21 billion in federal pandemic relief money and has spent $6.1 billion since the end of September, according to a new online tracker released by the state comptroller’s office.

Despite less than a third of the money being spent to date, much of the federal cash has a general spending plan ascribed to it. The state has received just over half of its expected federal aid, which is to total $39.8 billion, according to the tracker. 

“Thankfully New York is getting billions of dollars of federal funding that really has been a lifeline,” state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli told the Times Union. “When you’re seeing an infusion of funding at that magnitude, it is important to follow the money and make sure it is spent as intended.”

Author(s): Joshua Solomon

Publication Date: 14 Oct 2021

Publication Site: Times Union

Advocates want Hochul to address shuttered St. Clare’s Hospital pension crisis

Excerpt:

Advocates for restoring pension payments to retirees of shuttered Catholic healthcare facilities, including St. Clare’s Hospital, have launched another effort, now that the state is led by a new governor.

In a bipartisan move, state Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, state Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville, and Mary Hartshorne, chairwoman of the St. Clare’s Pensioners Recovery Alliance, wrote to Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday, asking for her consideration on the matter.

The legislators’ letter said the pensions of more than 1,100 New Yorkers “evaporated in the snap of a finger, through no fault of their own.” This is no way to treat healthcare workers, they said.

…..

Since federal law permits a religious exemption, the St. Clare’s pension fund has no benefit guarantee insurance because federal law permits a religious exemption, the lawmakers’ letter to the governor reads.

For reasons not yet fully identified, the lawmakers said, the state did not provide ample funding to cover the St. Clare’s pension fund’s costs.

Author(s): Brian Lee

Publication Date: 19 Sept 2021

Publication Site: The Daily Gazette

DiNapoli bolsters pension fund stability—and cuts tax-funded costs

Excerpt:

DiNapoli announced today that he’s approved a recommendation by the State Retirement System Actuary to reduce, from 6.8 percent to 5.9 percent, the assumed rate of return (RoR) on investments by the $268 billion Common Retirement Fund, which underwrites the New York State and Local Employee Retirement System (NYSLERS) and Police and Fire Retirement System (PFRS), of which the comptroller is the sole trustee.

To be sure, even at 5.9 percent, the RoR that the pension fund literally counts on to pay constitutionally guaranteed benefits will remain considerably higher than the yields from commensurate low-risk U.S. Treasury or high-quality corporate bonds, which currently range from 2.3 percent to 3.3 percent. Nonetheless, in isolation, cutting the RoR assumption is an unequivocally good and prudent thing for the comptroller to do.

Assuming lower earnings also tends to result in higher required contributions by employers—which is why politically sensitive public pension fund administrators across the country have tended to set their RoRs at much higher levels than those required for private corporate plans. To guard against volatility in investment returns, which has been especially pronounced over the past 25 years, DiNapoli and other pension fund administrators also resort to “asset smoothing” — i.e., counting average market returns over several years—as a basis for estimating the assets available to pay retirement benefits. In New York’s case, the smoothing period is five years.

Author(s): E.J. McMahon

Publication Date: 25 August 2021

Publication Site: Empire Center for Public Policy