As part of the plan, the Comptroller announced an aggressive schedule of divestment activity over the next four years. This year already, the Common Fund has divested from 22 coal companies. In the next few months, it will divest from companies with tar sands investments. After that, over the next several years, it will divest from these subsectors of the fossil fuel industry:
Shale oil and gas firms;
Integrated oil/gas majors like Exxon and Chevron as well as smaller integrated companies;
All oil/gas exploration and production firms;
Fossil fuel service firms, like Schlumberger;
And finally, fossil fuel transportation and pipeline companies like Kinder Morgan and Williams.
In addition, the Common Fund is moving forward with two key steps, both supported by the 2018 Decarbonization Panel that was jointly appointed by Governor Cuomo and Comptroller DiNapoli. First, the Fund will hire new staff trained in financial analysis of climate impacts and dangers. And second, the Common Fund will actively vote against board directors of non-fossil fuel companies that do not prioritize climate concerns in alignment with the Fund’s decarbonization goals.
The state Health Department intentionally “misled the public” regarding the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes under former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, according to a scathing audit from the Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli.
When the COVID-19 pandemic swept through New York, the Department of Health was not prepared to respond to the infectious disease outbreaks in nursing homes, according to the audit, which helped lead to the inaccurate virus-related death count in facilities.
Auditors found that health officials undercounted the death toll in nursing homes by at least 4,100 residents and at times more than 50 percent, despite claims from the former governor, who said the state was doing well in protecting seniors.
The New York State Common Retirement Fund, one of the nation’s largest pension funds, announced that it will vote to remove all of Twitter’s directors at this week’s annual shareholder meeting. The vote against the directors is unlikely to result in change, but it shows mounting institutional pressure for Twitter to resist Elon Musk’s vision for relaxed content moderation policies.
Thomas DiNapoli, the New York state comptroller and trustee to the estimated $279.7 billion fund, said the Twitter board of directors had repeatedly failed to enforce the company’s own content moderation policies.
“Allowing this content on social media platforms facilitates the radicalization of individuals through repeated exposure to violent rhetoric, hate speech and examples of previous violence,” DiNapoli wrote in the public letter to Twitter’s directors. DiNapoli placed particular emphasis on Twitter’s failure to remove footage from a livestreamed mass shooting that took place in Buffalo, New York, last weekend. The alleged shooter espoused white supremacy ideology and pointed to social media sites including 4chan as the source of his radicalization.
The New York State Common Retirement Fund is committing another $350 million to two investment funds through its in-state private equity investment program, fund trustee and state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli recently announced.
“The in-state program has helped hundreds of New York businesses add and retain thousands of jobs and grow while achieving solid returns for the retirement system members and their beneficiaries that rely on the pension fund for their retirement security,” DiNapoli said. “We’ve committed more than $2 billion through this program to invest in New York state companies, and I’m proud to continue building on our successful track record.”
The fund will provide $50 million in additional capital to the Hudson River co-investment fund III, which it already invests in, and another $300 million in the new Hudson River co-investment fund IV. The funds make equity co-investments (investments alongside a lead sponsor) in growing New York-based companies.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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