Recent editorials of statewide and national interest from New York’s newspapers:

American Intelligence Knows What Russia Is Doing

New York Times

Aug. 31

The logic offered by the director of national intelligence for restricting in-person briefings for Congress on foreign meddling in the election campaign doesn’t pass the smell test.

John Ratcliffe indicated in so many words on Friday that he was worried there would be leaks of classified information, so Congress will receive primarily written briefings instead.

But isn’t warning voters just weeks away from an election that they are potentially being manipulated by hostile foreign powers the whole point of gathering this information? What good is knowing that Russia is trying to keep President Trump around for four more years, if it’s kept secret?

Russia knows what it is doing. Russia knows the United States knows. Besides, how does relying on written rather than oral reports reduce the threat of leaks?

The Senate Intelligence Committee, in its final report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, urged the intelligence community to be more forthcoming with information for lawmakers as a way to help tame the deluge of misinformation and propaganda polluting American democracy.

The only obvious advantage to written briefings is that the information can be massaged, and it can’t be challenged under direct questioning.

So there is more than a dollop of disingenuity when Mr. Ratcliffe — a fiercely partisan former Republican congressman from Texas who was tapped by Mr. Trump for the intelligence job in May — says he is ending in-person briefings to ensure that the intelligence information “is not misunderstood nor politicized,” and to better protect “sensitive intelligence” from “disclosures or misuse.”

Mr. Trump promptly pitched in with a tweet about the end of the briefings that “Probably Shifty Schiff, but also others, LEAK information to the Fake News.” Just imagine, for a moment, how seriously the administration and the Republican Party would take foreign election interference if the Russians were helping Joe Biden.

The fact that Russia’s fingerprints are all over the 2020 campaign on Mr. Trump’s side, or that to a lesser degree China and Iran are mucking around social media against Mr. Trump, are outrages about which the American public and their representatives must have full, reliable and up-to-date information. Secret briefings for a handful of legislators, as Mr. Ratcliffe suggested, and written statements potentially vetted by Trump loyalists are insufficient.



Cuomo, de Blasio must give NYC’s restaurants a chance to survive

New York Post

Sept. 1

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have clearly decided to let the city’s restaurants die: They won’t allow indoor dining, the only way for most eateries to stay above water.

No matter that indoor dining and drinking (albeit at reduced capacity) is kosher in Westchester and Nassau, right outside the city — and literally down the block from a few restaurants in Queens. Nor that New Jersey’s now allowing it, too.

The “Dr. No” duo don’t expect indoor dining to return until next June — if a vaccine is widely available. Not many spots will be left by then — their money’s running out.

De Blasio pretends restaurants are “a very optional activity.” Not for the people whose incomes depend on them.

And it’s not just owners facing ruin. More than half of the industry’s 300,000 workers in the city are already unemployed, though city Comptroller Scott Stringer says just 1,300 of the city’s 25,000 restaurants and bars have closed permanently so far.

It’s about density, runs one excuse from Team Cuomo. But much of the city is no denser than, say, Hoboken.

Or the problem is the city’s inability to enforce: “I need local governments to do a better job on compliance,” says Cuomo. How does he know?

The city’s COVID-19 infection rate stands at 0.59 percent. Why not see if indoor dining can work? If virus cases spike, then stop indoor dining until the numbers drop.

Give the industry a shot at survival.



Instead Of Residency Requirement, City Could Give Incentives


Sept. 2

The clips in The Post-Journal’s small in-house library transported us recently back to 2001, when the City Council last seriously considered a residency requirement for city employees.

Back in 2001-02 there seemed to be momentum to require new employees to live in Jamestown before a majority of the City Council voted against a residency requirement. Brief discussions were had in 2009 but eventually went nowhere as well.

There are good arguments on both sides of the residency requirement issue. Those in favor of requiring city employees to live inside the city argue that one reason taxes are high is because of salary and benefit costs for city employees, so city employees should support the tax base of the place where they work. Those against argue that an employer has no business telling employees where they have to live, that a residency requirement would limit the pool of available employees for key positions and state law excludes two city departments from any residency requirement.

Rather than a residency requirement, more effort should go into making Jamestown the type of city where its employees and their families want to live — no strings attached. Of course, that often means lower taxes and addressing quality of life issues. Perhaps the city can create an incentive program that would accomplish the same aim as a residency requirement, but we see no reason right now for a residency requirement to be seriously discussed.



Barr has no credibility to look at NY nursing homes

The Auburn Citizen

Aug. 30

nder any other president — Republican or Democrat — going back decades, the news last week that the U.S. Justice Department was taking a look into New York state COVID-19 nursing home deaths would have been a welcomed step forward.

Despite Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration’s insistence otherwise, there remains a great need for a fully independent review of how nursing homes handled the coronavirus at the height of the outbreak in New York state — and the impact of a New York state directive that homes not deny admission to recovering COVID-19 patients as long as they had the ability to properly care for them.

As we’ve said before, and as both Democratic and Republican state legislators have said in hearings, the state needs to be more forthcoming with data on nursing home deaths, especially nursing home residents who died in hospitals.

The goal for everyone should be a better understanding of exactly what happened at a time when knowledge of the virus and how badly it would burden the hospital system was limited. Now that we have the benefit of more understanding, it’s vital to assess how policies and practices worked. Surely mistakes were made, but if we don’t learn from them, a repeat of the problems could come back with any resurgence in the fall and early winter.

With all of that said, the news from the U.S. Justice Department that it was looking into nursing home deaths in four states, including New York, run by four Democratic governors must be treated with a huge degree of skepticism.

Attorney General William Barr and President Trump have demonstrated many times and in many ways that they will use their power as a political weapon. Egregious interference in criminal cases to protect criminal cronies, fishing expeditions to dig up dirt on political opponents and gross abuse of law enforcement muscle to threaten dissenters ... they all add up to a department that has lost its credibility.

Any findings Barr’s department makes regarding coronavirus response in Democratically controlled states simply cannot be trusted.

Instead, we urge the body that is supposed to be a check on executive power, Congress, to get involved. Put together a bipartisan, joint panel to dig into nursing home care in all states that have had large breakouts.

Do it with the goal of bringing government policies and practices in line with the best scientific guidance we now have. Most importantly, do it to save lives, not score political points.



Time to show we care

Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Aug. 31

There isn’t much local people can do to prevent things like the deadly COVID-19 outbreak at Essex Center in Elizabethtown, other than expressing horror — and maybe calling on state and federal leaders to do more to protect nursing homes. But there is something we all can do for the people who live and work in our elder homes.

We can show them we’re thinking of them. We can tell them we care about them. We can bring them good cheer.

The brave and wonderful front-line workers at these residences are surely nervous and scared. The residents must be anxious, too. They’re also lonely — even more so than before, because visitation was once again stopped this past week, in light of the Essex Center outbreak. That was the right call, just as it was in March when the pandemic began, but it’s hard on these residents. It’s also hard on their family members, who miss seeing them.

Some of these residents get to socialize with their in-house neighbors, but some aren’t well enough to get up and about. They can chat with staff, but staff are often incredibly busy. They can talk with family members and friends by phone or video call, but that isn’t the same as seeing them in person. Even the lucky ones who hear from loved ones every day are left with many long hours to while away.

It would lift their spirits a great deal to see a sign that people on the outside care about them.

So let’s do that.

We are calling on all of our readers to send some kind of supportive message to at least one local elder home. It could be a letter, an image or a video. It could be to residents, workers or both. It could be to a single person or to a bunch of people. It’s up to you.

It’s better to do this digitally, to avoid spreading germs on paper.