WEOS Finger Lakes Public Radio

Karen DeWitt

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.

She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers. 

Karen previously worked for WINS Radio, New York, and has written for numerous publications, including Adirondack Life and the Albany newsweekly Metroland.

She is a past recipient of the prestigious Walter T. Brown Memorial award for excellence in journalism, from the Legislative Correspondents Association, and was named Media Person of the Year for 2009 by the Women’s Press Club of New York State.

Karen is a graduate of the State University of New York at Geneseo.

Jury convicts key players in Buffalo Billion corruption case

Jul 13, 2018

A federal jury in New York has convicted key players of corruption in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's "Buffalo Billion" economic redevelopment program.

The jury in Manhattan returned its verdict Thursday after a month-long trial put a spotlight on how lucrative contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars were awarded for redevelopment projects aimed at revitalizing upstate New York, particularly Syracuse and Buffalo.

Former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner is entering the race for governor against incumbent Andrew Cuomo. The long time Democrat is the candidate for a newly formed political movement.

Miner, coming to the race relatively late, and with little money and name recognition outside of upstate New York, says she knows she faces an uphill battle.

“The challenges are clearly there,” said Miner, who said there is also an “opportunity” for a new message in what she says is a “toxic” political atmosphere.

Governor Cuomo says he plans within the next several days to file a lawsuit against the federal government over the treatment of immigrant children separated from their parents. He says around 70 children are being held at facilities in New York.

One day before the scheduled end of the legislative session, Governor Cuomo says he’s throwing in  the towel on remaining issues, saying Democrats and Republicans, who are evenly divided in the State Senate, are too dug in right now for compromise.

“I never expected a grand bargain,” said Cuomo.

Prosecutors and lawyers for the defense gave opening statements Monday in the bid rigging trial of a former associate of Governor Cuomo and two upstate  development firms, who are accused of fraudulently obtaining  lucrative taxpayer- funded state contracts.  

Meanwhile, Cuomo’s political opponents seized on the trial as evidence of what they say is corruption in the incumbent governor’s administration, while reform groups pressed for changes in New York’s laws.

On Monday, prosecutors present the second of two corruption cases against former associates of Gov. Andrew Cuomo in federal district court in Manhattan.

Dr. Alain Kaloyeros, the former head of the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute and mastermind of the state’s high-tech development efforts, faces charges of bid-rigging and bribery. Three upstate developers are co-defendants.

  

A Siena poll finds Gov.  Andrew Cuomo is securely ahead of his challengers, Democrat Cynthia Nixon and Republican Marc Molinaro, in his re-election bid.

Meanwhile, Cuomo is using some of his $30 million campaign war chest to promote an anti-gun violence measure.

The poll finds Cuomo ahead of Nixon by about 35 points, at 61 to 26 percent, among Democrats who say they are likely to vote in the November election.

The state’s largest teachers union brought bagpipe players and a brass band to the Capitol to push for a bill to decouple teacher evaluations from the results of standardized tests.

As a brass band played the theme from the TV show “Jeopardy,” New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta said time is running out on a bill to sever the student standardized test results from teacher performance reviews.

The New York State Senate is experiencing its worst gridlock in nine years, with the two major factions tied at 31 members each. No legislation is moving through the chamber, but there’s lots of finger-pointing.

Tempers flared on the Senate floor as Democrat Michael Gianaris blamed the GOP for the stalemate.

“They don’t have the votes to pass a single thing in this chamber,” Gianaris shouted.

After two days of infighting, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan was frustrated.

The New York legislative session is due to end in three weeks, but some state lawmakers are talking about leaving a week early because they believe they will accomplish so little in that time. 

Political gridlock in the state Senate and worsening relations between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and majority-party Senate Republicans have led some lawmakers to say that perhaps they should end the session early.

But Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said his Democratic members are staying until at least June 20, the scheduled end of the session.

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