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.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke publicly for the first time since his former closest aide was convicted of running two bribery schemes while working for the governor and managing Cuomo’s re-election campaign.

Cuomo said he respects the jury’s decision, but feels personally sad over the conviction of Joe Percoco, a man he has referred to as his “brother.”

“He has two young daughters who are going to have to live with this trauma,” Cuomo said during questions from reporters at an unrelated event in New York City.

But the governor said Percoco acted on his own.

  

A federal jury found Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former top aide Joe Percoco guilty on three counts of bribery and conspiracy to commit honest service fraud in a Manhattan courtroom on Tuesday.

Percoco, who has been described as being like a “brother” to the governor, was found guilty of participating in two bribery schemes, where he netted nearly $300,000. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to impose a tax on manufacturers of prescription opioids to help pay for state programs that assist people who are addicted to them. But some say it will be patients who ultimately will have to pay the price.

Cuomo laid out the opioid tax proposal in his state budget address nearly two months ago, saying it’s only fair that the makers of the pain pills shoulder some of the financial burden of treating people who became addicted to the medicines.

The New York State Senate has approved anti-sexual harassment legislation that includes an end to secret settlements. It also no longer allows state officials who admit to sexual harassment to use taxpayer funds to settle their cases.

Senate sponsor Cathy Young, a Republican from Olean, said the bill prohibits mandatory arbitration in sexual harassment cases, a clause that she said has protected abusers.

“It’s people like Harvey Weinstein and people of that ilk,” said Young.

Things got heated on the New York State Senate floor this week over a debate on bills that majority party Republicans say will improve school safety. Meanwhile, the state Assembly on Tuesday passed its own set of gun control bills.

New York already has some of the strictest gun control measures in the nation, known as the SAFE Act. But since the shootings in Parkland, Florida, lawmakers from both major parties say there’s more to do to prevent school shootings.

Jurors in the federal corruption trial of the former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo say they’re deadlocked, but the judge told them to keep deliberating.

While Judge Valerie Caproni is giving jurors Wednesday off for a snow day, she told them they have to come back on Thursday.

The jurors in the bribery trial of Joe Percoco and three other defendants, now in its seventh week, told the judge Tuesday that they are deadlocked, and that the only thing they can agree on is that they disagree.

During a debate in the New York State Senate on enhanced school safety measures, Democrats asked the Republican majority to support a bill to ban teachers from having guns in schools.

Senator Todd Kaminksy, a Democrat from Long Island, says allowing teachers to be armed, as President Trump is proposing, would be “misguided”. Kaminksy’s bill would ban the practice from even starting in New York.

“Guns in our classrooms is dangerous, it’s a matter of time before something goes wrong,” Kaminsky said. “The answer to our gun problem is not more guns.”  

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former closest aide, Joe Percoco, is waiting to find out whether he’ll be convicted of bribery and other charges as a jury continues to deliberate in federal court.

Government reform groups say regardless of the verdict, the trial highlighted some questionable but legal practices in New York that they say taint the governor’s reputation and need to be fixed. 

Democrats in the State Senate tried to force a vote on gun control legislation in the State Senate, to put Republicans on the spot over some GOP Senators’ resistance to the bills.

Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins says  the measures include banning possession of bump stocks, the ammunition booster used in the Las Vegas shootings. They also permit a judge to limit a person’s access to guns if they are deemed likely to harm themselves or others, known as the Extreme Risk Protection Order.

Advocates who want the Child Victims Act passed in New York are stepping up pressure on Republicans in the state Senate. Some GOP senators are the final holdouts on the bill that would extend the statute of limitations and open up a one-year window for victims to file civil lawsuits.

The measure would allow someone to take court action up until the victim is the age of 50. The current age limit is 23.

Pages