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

NYC should bolster rainy-day fund, DiNapoli urges

Link:https://www.bondbuyer.com/news/nyc-should-bolster-rainy-day-fund-dinapoli-urges

Excerpt:

Incoming New York Mayor Eric Adams has already heard calls from watchdog groups to boost New York’s new rainy-day account and fine-tune the policies controlling deposits and withdrawals.

New York’s mechanisms are less defined than other U.S. cities’, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said in a report Wednesday. DiNapoli urged city officials to tap recent changes in state and local laws enabling accumulation and use.

Following voter approval of a charter revision in November 2019 and state legislative signoff, city officials established a rainy-day fund — formally the revenue stabilization fund — in February 2021. That made available $499 million in resources that the city could not use to balance its fiscal 2020 budget.

Author(s): Paul Burton

Publication Date: 10 Nov 101`

Publication Site: Bond Buyer

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

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

DiNapoli: Chatham Police Chief Sentenced for Pension Double-Dipping

Link: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/2021/07/dinapoli-chatham-police-chief-sentenced-pension-double-dipping

Excerpt:

Former Village of Chatham Chief of Police Peter Volkmann was sentenced to pay $92,829 in restitution and perform 200 hours of community service today for defrauding the New York State pension system by concealing his unlawful post-retirement public income and for stealing from the village through sham requests for reimbursement. His fraud was discovered during a joint investigation by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, Columbia County District Attorney Paul Czajka, and the New York State Police.

…..

Volkmann pleaded guilty in February to grand larceny in the fourth degree for circumventing New York state’s post-retirement income restrictions and cheating the New York State and Local Retirement System out of $74,222. Volkmann hid public-source income from 19 municipalities and school districts in excess of the statutory limit by funneling the earnings through a private business, PF Volkmann & Associates. He also pled to official misconduct, a misdemeanor, for stealing $18,607 from the Village of Chatham by falsifying mileage vouchers and other reimbursements to increase his income. 

Volkmann, 57, of Stuyvesant, served as a Chief of Police for the town of Stockport until 2016. He was also the Chief of Police for the Village of Chatham since the fall of 2013 and he served as unpaid Commissioner of the Hudson Police Department from January 2020, until this investigation became public.

Author(s): Thomas DiNapoli

Publication Date: 19 July 2021

Publication Site: NY State Comptroller

Report Reveals Albany’s Balanced Budget a Gimmick

Graphic:

Excerpt:

The dramatic reversal that shrank the state’s four-year budget gap from $38.7 billion in January to the current $3.4 billion occurred, incredibly, despite the Governor and legislature adopting a budget that increases state spending significantly in education and other areas. What turned the tide was a massive injection of federal aid—including $12.7 billion in no-strings federal aid awarded to the state in March under the American Rescue Plan—along with tax collections that defied earlier projections of vast, pandemic-induced revenue loss, and new tax hikes inflicted on high earners estimated to yield $2.75 billion in new revenue this year alone. As a result, the enacted budget financial plan the Governor’s budget office issued last month shows a balanced budget for this fiscal year and next. Even the red ink that starts accumulating in 2024 and 2025 looks manageable.

But looks are deceiving here. Extending the budget window—as does a chart on page nine of the Comptroller’s report, shown below—reveals large, yawning budget gaps growing from nearly $8 billion in 2026 to nearly $20 billion by the end of the decade. The dual expiration of American Rescue Plan funds in 2026 and a temporary hike in the PIT in 2027 sends the budget deep into the red.

Author(s): Peter Warren

Publication Date: 28 June 2021

Publication Site: Empire Center for Public Policy

Database: New York’s pension system hits record returns. Here’s who is getting the most

Link: https://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/story/news/politics/2021/06/01/database-nys-pension-system-gets-record-returns-who-earned-most/5254524001/

Excerpt:

A rebound in the financial markets after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic fueled record growth in the state’s pension fund for government workers.

The pension fund for 1.1 million employees and retirees grew a whopping 33.6% for the fiscal year that ended March 31, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced Wednesday.

The return on investments increased the fund’s value to nearly $255 billion, making it one of the largest public pension funds in the nation.

….

The fund’s long-term expected rate of return is 6.8%.

The health of the fund is critical to its 673,000 active workers and 447,000 retirees, and it comes as more public sector employees are retiring, a review of state records showed.

Author(s): Joseph Spector, Sean Lahman

Publication Date: 1 June 2021

Publication Site: Poughkeepsie Journal

DiNapoli Moves State Pension Fund Toward Net Zero Target, Restricts Investments in Oil Sands Companies

Link: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/2021/04/dinapoli-moves-state-pension-fund-toward-net-zero-target-restricts-investments-oil-sands-companies

Excerpt:

The New York State Common Retirement Fund (Fund) will restrict investments in oil sands companies that have not demonstrated that they are prepared for the transition to a low-carbon economy, New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli, trustee of the third largest public pension plan in the country, announced today.

This action is tied to DiNapoli’s comprehensive Climate Action Plan to lower investment risks from climate change and transition the Fund’s investment portfolio to net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2040.

“As nations around the world become increasingly serious about addressing the threat of climate change and as market forces drive a low-carbon economic transition, we need to make sure our investments line up with this reality,” said DiNapoli. “We have carefully reviewed companies in the oil sands industry and are restricting investments in those that do not have viable plans to adapt to the low-carbon future. Companies responsible for large greenhouse gas emissions like those in this industry, pose significant risks for investors.”

Publication Date: 12 April 2021

Publication Site: Office of the NY State Comptroller

DiNapoli: NYS Pension Fund Announces $400 Million in Sustainable Investments

Link: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/press/releases/2021/04/dinapoli-nys-pension-fund-announces-400-million-sustainable-investments

Excerpt:

The Fund committed approximately $300 million to Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners IV, a European investment fund that will focus on investments in renewable assets including onshore and offshore wind and solar, as well as climate infrastructure assets that support renewable power.

Additionally, the Fund committed $100 million to Excelsior Renewable Energy Investment Fund I, a North American-focused investment fund that will target investments in renewable power assets such as solar and wind.

Publication Date: 20 April 2021

Publication Site: Office of the NY State Comptroller

NY State Pension Commits to $400 Million in Sustainable Investments

Link: https://www.ai-cio.com/news/ny-state-pension-commits-400-million-sustainable-investments/

Excerpt:

The $247.7 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund has committed approximately $400 million to two funds as part of its Sustainable Investments and Climate Solutions (SICS) Program.

The commitments are part of New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli’s climate action plan to lower investment risks from climate change and help shift the pension fund to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions within the next 20 years.

Author(s): Michael Katz

Publication Date: 26 April 2021

Publication Site: ai-CIO

New York pension fund divests $7 million from Canadian oil sands firms

Link: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-new-york-pension-oil-sands/new-york-pension-fund-divests-7-million-from-canadian-oil-sands-firms-idUSKBN2BZ1UT?il=0

Excerpt:

New York’s state pension fund is restricting investment in six Canadian oil sands companies because they have not shown they are prepared for a transition to a low-carbon future, the fund’s Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli said on Monday.

The New York State Common Retirement Fund will divest more than $7 million in securities already held in the companies, and not make any further investments in them, DiNapoli said in a statement.

Canada’s oil sands hold the world’s third-largest crude reserves and have some of the highest emissions intensity per barrel, due to the carbon-intensive production process of extracting tar-like bitumen from the ground.

Author(s): Nia Williams

Publication Date: 12 April 2021

Publication Site: Reuters

Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on Subway Ridership in New York City

Link: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/reports/osdc/impact-covid-19-pandemic-subway-ridership-new-york-city

Graphic:

Excerpt:

Subway turnstile data published by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) shows a correlation between median household income and subway ridership. Neighborhoods with lower median household incomes tended to have significantly higher ridership as a share of 2019 levels compared to wealthier neighborhoods. This trend was clear not only in April, when COVID-19 had its most dramatic impact on ridership, but has continued through the recovery to date.

In high-income neighborhoods, residents are more likely to be employed in sectors that have easily adapted to remote-work models, such as financial activities and business services. In neighborhoods where residents are more likely to continue using the subway during the pandemic, common areas of employment are the health care and social assistance sector and the leisure and hospitality sector.

Author(s): Thomas DiNapoli

Date Accessed: 28 March 2021

Publication Site: Office of New York State Comptroller