Praised: Paterson presided at a bill signing ceremony for The Wage Theft Prevention Act, which provides protection for low-paid workers who are cheated out of their wages by unscrupulous employers.
The measure, which was advocated for years by labor unions and activist groups such as Make the Road By Walking, imposes “a bulwark of remedies” that can now be used, including criminal penalties of up to one year in jail and a $5,000 fine, plus recovery of 100% of the wages or other benefits bosses steal from their workers, according to Paterson.
He was roundly applauded by supporters of the measure as he signed it into law. An aide said the ceremonial signing is likely to be the last in what remains of his term, which ends Dec. 31.
Panned: But while Paterson was praised for supporting that crackdown, he was panned outside his Manhattan office by environmental activists and state Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan) for his weekend veto of a bill imposing a full moratorium on “hydrofracking” (drilling with high pressure liquids) for gas in upstate areas near the city’s water reservoirs.
Instead, the governor issued an executive order imposing a similar moratorium limited only to horizontal hydrofracking, and exempting vertical hydrofracking wells.
The governor contended vertical hydrofracking has been going on in the state for 30 to 40 years, without one complaint filed with the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation: “To actually shut the industry down… would be an irresponsible act of government and an irresponsible act of the Legislature," he said.
Krueger said she was “a bit disappointed" by Paterson’s action and urged incoming governor Andrew Cuomo to remedy what critics are calling “the Paterson loophole” on gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale areas of New York.
Actor Mark Ruffalo, a leading advocate of banning hydrofracking in the state, didn’t fully realize the danger that vertical hydrofracking could cause as much environmental damage as horizontal drilling, pointing to the extensive pollution in Dimock, Pa., which was caused by vertical drilling.
He said the partial moratorium until July of next year represents on just “the first game in the playoffs,” and pledged to continue fighting for a full ban.
Lastly, Paterson also expanded on his comments from this morning that Albany might prove to be ungovernable for Andrew Cuomo, saying that he was making the case that in times of intransigent economic crisis “government structures are going to have to change.”
He urged giving the governor emergency powers, similar to what they've got in New Jersey and other states, to take needed actions when an economic emergency is declared to overcome the paralysis of legislative action.
Without such reforms, even “a dynamic and persuasive governor, such as the one we just elected with an overwhelming mandate,” might not be able to get the job done, according to Paterson.
Since the November NYC elections, MRNY members have been hard at work setting the agenda for our next mayor, City Council and citywide elected officials.
We kicked off "Talking Transition" with a low-wage worker forum and our attorneys have been staffing a Single Stop clinic around the clock at the Transition tent.
Recently, our youth joined the Transitions conversation to bring education and police reform issues into the spotlight for the new elected officials. 17-year-old youth leader Cheyanne Smith was also profiled in the New York Times for her leadership to make NYC schools more respectful, safe, and dignified places for learning.