Monthly Archives: July 2015

Panel discusses higher standards

The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce last week hosted a panel discussion on higher education standards, the value of assessments and business engagement in education at the Microsoft Technology Center in New York City. The event—sponsored by the Public Policy Institute of New York State (PPI) and the Committee for Economic Development—featured a panel of local stakeholders: Cass Conrad, executive director of School Support and Development at CUNY; Tenicka Boyd, director of organizing at StudentsFirstNY; Neal Gorka a teacher at Democracy Prep Charter Middle School; and Robert Patterson, business development manager at Progressive Computing Inc.

Since its adoption by the New York State Board of Regents in January 2011, the Common Core has been conflated with a host of unrelated issues, namely teacher evaluations, which include a student-growth component centered on state and local assessments.

Higher Education Standards panel
Courtesy: Manhattan Chamber of Commerce

Boyd, who is a strong supporter of both the standards and Common Core aligned-assessments, told the audience about her background growing up in a low-income neighborhood in Milwaukee. There, Ms. Boyd told how she was inspired by her third-grade teacher, Mr. Smith, who made a huge impact on her life and the lives of her classmates. She also noted that the opt-out movement—which has been wrought with misinformation— was not prevalent in lower-income and minority communities.

In regard to the current workforce’s preparation for 21st century careers, Patterson noted that job applicants often lacked “soft skills,” including working in groups and critical thinking.

Event attendees all received copies of PPI’s Common Core Standards: What Every New Yorker Needs to Know and Partnering with Schools for College and Career Readiness: Resources for the New York State Business Community.

We would like to thanks the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce for partnering with us on this great event.

Con Ed report highlights emissions cut

This is truly incredible news. Con Edison recently released their 2014 Sustainability Report 2014 Sustainability Report (read it here) and they are touting some eye-popping numbers. Since 2005, Con Ed has cut greenhouse gas emission by 45 percent. That’s the same as removing 500 thousand cars from the road.

Other highlights taken directly from the report include:

  • As one of the largest consumers of municipal water in New York City, we purchased over 3.6 billion gallons of water, approximately 100 million of which was used for basic water and sewage services at our facilities while the rest was used to generate steam.
  • The wise and effective use of natural resources is one of Con Edison’s five key EH&S objectives. We continue to focus on reducing, reusing, and recycling to minimize consumption. This applies to our use of materials as well as our use of energy and water and we were proud in 2014 to again have a recycling rate of 90% for our non-hazardous waste.
  • Our primary impact on habitat and biodiversity is on our overhead transmission rights-of-way (ROW) and in 2014, we continued to enact our Land and Vegetation Management program which was developed, in part, to encourage biological diversity along these passageways. We’ve also undertaken an initiative in partnership with the New York DEC to reduce the spread of invasive species in ROW.
  • Our seven climate change principles help guide our work, and in 2014 we reached the halfway mark in our four-year, $1 billion plan for storm hardening investments to adapt our system after two of our most significant storms within two years (Hurricane Irene in 2011 with over 200,000 outages and Superstorm Sandy in 2012 with over 1 million outages) and improve our resiliency.

(source: Con Edison’s 2014 Sustainability Report)

We are proud to have Con Ed as a member and congratulate them on making and keeping their commitment to improving corporate sustainability.

Soccer club shutout by comp costs

It’s one thing to say Worker’s Comp costs are out of control, they are. But what are the practical implications? Well, for one Central New York soccer club, the sky-high costs mean they simply cannot survive.

The Syracuse Post Standard has a fascinating, and disheartening story about how the Rochester Lancers, a professional indoor soccer club, will no longer be able to field a team after their Worker’s Comp costs ballooned from 20k per year to more than a quarter of a million dollars.

From the article: “Lancers owner Salvatore “Soccer Sam” Fantauzzo has posted a letter on his team’s website that explains his team is ceasing operations because of a hefty worker’s compensation bill.

Fantauzzo said the team’s premium rose from $20,000 to $277,000, an increase way beyond the team’s means.

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle reported that Fantauzzo wrote a letter to the Professional Arena Soccer League that said “we allowed players to milk the system.” He told the paper that disability payments were paid to players who in some cases were still actively competing. The state neither informed the Lancers of those claims nor fought the awards, he said.”

The Business Council of New York State has repeatedly called for reform of our bloated Worker’s Comp system. You can read more about our proposed reforms and cost-saving measures by reading Fix New York: The 2015 Legislative and Regulatory Agenda.

USA Today says yes to fracking

Less than two weeks ago New York State officially banned fracking. The decision was not unexpected. In fact, we’ve known it was coming since last December. We remain dismayed that state officials chose to ignore the evidence that fracking can be done safely, including a detailed report from the EPA.

A holiday weekend editorial in the USA Today says it best: “Any debate about banning it should take a hard look at what that would cost the nation and at facts that aren’t always part of the discussion.

Those facts are spelled out in a recent report from the Environmental Protection Agency on fracking and groundwater. One of the harshest charges against fracking, often leveled with apocalyptic intensity by its foes, is that it indiscriminately contaminates vital drinking water supplies.

The EPA’s timely report essentially said that’s overblown.”

The Business Council remains hopeful that as more and more reports come out that fracking can be done safely the state of New York will reverse its misguided ban. The residents of the Southern Tier deserve the chance to join in on the economic opportunities hydraulic fracturing has created in many communities around the country.