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.

Disgraced former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was known as a longtime champion of women’s rights. That’s why leaders of women’s groups are still trying to make sense of the allegations that he was a serial domestic violence abuser.

Just six months ago, Judy Harris Kluger, who runs an anti-domestic violence agency, stood beside Schneiderman at a press conference where he announced an agreement with a Brooklyn hospital to no longer bill sexual assault survivors for forensic rape examinations.

A bipartisan group of state lawmakers is pushing for an anti-bullying measure that would require schools to tell parents when their child is being bullied, or if their son or daughter is behaving like a bully toward others.

The measure, Jacobe’s law, is named after Jacobe Taras, a 13-year-old from the North Country town of Fort Edward who committed suicide in 2015 after he was bullied at school.

His father, Richard Taras, said Jacobe often stuck up for other children who were bullied, and as a result, he was the target of bullying himself.

Actor Cynthia Nixon, who is running for governor in a Democratic primary against incumbent Andrew Cuomo, released her tax filings on Friday. She and her spouse earned $1.9 million last year and paid nearly $200,000 in taxes.

Nixon initially filed for a six-month extension, but a few days ago, she completed and submitted her taxes.

Marc Molinaro, the presumptive Republican candidate for governor, released his tax returns for 2017, but his opponent, incumbent Gov. Andrew Cuomo, raised the stakes, saying his GOP challenger should release 10 years of tax returns.

Meanwhile, a third candidate, Cynthia Nixon, has filed an extension and has not made any information available yet.

Molinaro and his wife, Corinne Adams, earned $174,048 last year, the bulk of it from his salary as Dutchess County executive. They paid $24,573 in taxes.

  

Teachers wouldn’t be evaluated based on their students’ standardized test scores any longer under a measure approved by the New York State Assembly.

It’s a reversal of a controversial policy that helped lead to a widespread boycott of the third- through eighth-grade tests associated with the former Common Core program.

But the measure faces an uncertain future in the state Senate.

The newly reunited Senate Democrats held their first press conference, where they focused on what they said was their No. 1 priority — a package of bills making it easier to vote.

Senate Democrats conducted a survey of eligible voters in New York on their voting patterns. Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said it confirms what she already knew: New York’s voter participation rate is abysmal. The state ranks 41st of all 50 states in the 2016 elections, with a voting rate of 57 percent.

State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said the Assembly will take up a bill Wednesday to decouple the results of standardized student test scores from teacher evaluations.

There has been growing support in the state Legislature to reverse the controversial policy that eventually would have led to the test results being used to measure teacher performance.

There already is a moratorium on using the test results for teacher evaluations, after teachers and their unions objected to the idea.

Heastie said there are better ways to measure performance.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation Tuesday that would temporarily take away the guns of people accused of domestic violence. 

Cuomo organized a signing ceremony that included a student from the Parkland, Florida, school where the Feb. 14 mass shooting occurred, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 

The governor said taking guns away from domestic violence offenders helps to diffuse potentially deadly situations.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul says she plans to stay in the race for re-election alongside Gov. Andrew Cuomo, despite remarks by the governor that Hochul might prefer to run for Congress instead.

Cuomo has said he’d support Hochul if she wanted to run for her previous seat in Congress, which is now held by western New York Republican Congressman Chris Collins.

But Hochul has made it clear that she does not want to run for that seat.

Andrew Cuomo has two main challengers in the governor’s race: Cynthia Nixon on the left and Marc Molinaro on the right.

Surprisingly, the two agree on a number of key items as they make their case against the incumbent governor, including a laser-like focus on Cuomo’s perceived weaknesses.

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