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Katko backs Trump's 'compromise' immigration proposal to end shutdown

U.S. Rep. John Katko is among the lawmakers who support President Donald Trump's proposal to end the government shutdown, fund the installation of a wall along the southern border and provide temporary protections to undocumented immigrants who were brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Katko, R-Camillus, released a statement Sunday endorsing Trump's plan, which he described as a "compromise." Katko attended two meetings at the White House last week to discuss how to end the nearly month-long government shutdown.

"I'm glad that, following these meetings, the president has acted to bring forward a compromise that would both secure our borders and provide status to (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) recipients," Katko said.

Trump detailed the proposal during a speech Saturday at the White House. In exchange for reopening the government and $5.7 billion to fund the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, 700,000 DACA recipients would receive three years of relief — protection from deportation, access to work permits and other benefits — and a three-year extension of temporary protected status for 300,000 more immigrants whose protected status is nearing expiration.

There are other provisions, including $805 million for drug detection technology, $800 million in humanitarian aid and 75 new immigration judges to reduce the growing backlog.

Trump, like Katko, described his proposal as a "compromise." He urged both parties to support it and defended his plan to build a barrier along a stretch of the southern border.

"Walls are not immoral," he said. "In fact, they are the opposite of immoral because they will save many lives and stop drugs from pouring into our country."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pledged to allow a vote on Trump's plan this week. But House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doesn't support the president's proposal. She believes the government should be reopened, and then there can be a discussion about immigration policy.

Not only does Pelosi oppose the wall funding, but she noted the president's plan doesn't include a permanent solution for Dreamers and temporary protected status recipients. Democrats, she added, want increased infrastructure investments at ports of entry, advanced drug detection technology, additional customs personnel and more immigration judges.

"Next week, Democrats will pass a package of six bills agreed to by House and Senate negotiators and other legislation to reopen the government so that we can fully negotiate on border security proposals," she said. "The president must sign these bills to reopen government immediately and stop holding the American people hostage with this senseless shutdown."

The shutdown began in December when Trump demanded $5.7 billion in wall funding to be included in a government spending bill. At the time, Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and couldn't advance a proposal that included the wall money.

Now, Trump is picking a fight with Pelosi and House Democrats. The Democrats have said that they will negotiate border security and immigration solutions once the government shutdown ends.

While Pelosi and most Democrats oppose Trump's plan, Katko believes it should receive consideration.

"I am hopeful that members of Congress in the House and Senate, from both sides of the aisle, will thoroughly review this offer," he said. "I urge continued bipartisan negotiation from all sides so that we can end this shutdown."

Cayuga County tries to recover after a foot of snow and sub-zero wind chills

Kevin Rivoli, The Citizen 

Paul Strohm bundles up with temperatures in the single digits in Auburn. To see more photos, go to

Kevin Rivoli, The Citizen 

Downtown Auburn is vacant of cars and people during the winter storm.


Coalition to Cuomo: Add funds for early voting to NY budget plan

Groups that have advocated for early voting are urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo to include funding for early voting in his executive budget proposal. 

Last week, Cuomo released his 2019-20 budget plan and reiterated his support for making New York the 38th state to allow early voting. However, his executive budget doesn't include direct funding for early voting. 

The exclusion seemed to surprise early voting supporters, who recalled that Cuomo added $7 million to his budget proposal last year to fund early voting. The funding wasn't included in the final budget agreement and the state Legislature didn't pass early voting before the end of session. 

With Democrats in control of both houses of the state Legislature this year, there is a greater likelihood of early voting being adopted. But questions remain about how it will be funded. 

Two members of the Let NY Vote Coalition, New York NAACP President Hazel Dukes and Rev. Dr. Robert M. Waterman, asked Cuomo to include funding for early voting. Another proponent of early voting, Onondaga County Elections Commissioner Dustin Czarny, explained why the funding is needed. 

"We urge both the Legislature and the governor to fulfill their promise to provide state funding for these reforms, especially early voting, so boards of elections will have the resources to fully enact these reforms so their maximum potential to transform New York's electoral landscape can be reached," Czarny said. 

The New York State Association of Counties, which lobbies on behalf of counties across the state, joined the coalition in its call for funding. 

After the state Legislature passed a bill last week to establish a nine-day early voting period before election days, the state Association of Counties said Cuomo and lawmakers should include funding in the state budget to "cover the cost of implementing early voting, otherwise it will be one more unfunded state mandated cost on local property taxpayers." 

Some estimates suggest it will cost counties outside New York City between $500,000 and $1 million each to implement early voting. 

The Cuomo administration released a statement last week that claimed there is already funding in the budget proposal to support early voting. Dani Lever, Cuomo's communications director, said the proposed consolidation of the federal and state primaries would save counties $25 million and "eliminating the internet tax advantage" — collecting more sales taxes on internet sales — would help fund early voting. 

Counties, though, aren't convinced that would be enough. 

"[I]t would be helpful for the state to provide appropriate resources to counties, who administer the election system," the state Association of Counties said. "NYSAC urges our state leaders to fully fund these important voting reforms in the 2019-20 state budget." 

There is a possibility Cuomo could add funding for early voting to his budget. Next month, he will release his 30-day amendments to the state budget plan. That was the method he used last year to add the $7 million for early voting to the executive budget. 

The state Assembly and Senate will likely have early voting in each of their budget proposals, but those plans won't be released until March. 

Auburn Police Department launches efforts to secure state accreditation

AUBURN — The Auburn Police Department recently announced it is working toward securing state accreditation for the department. 

Securing this status through the New York State Law Enforcement Accreditation Program has been a goal since day one for police Chief Shawn Butler and Deputy Chief Roger Anthony, who were promoted into their leadership posts in the summer of 2016, Anthony said. Preparing for accreditation will involve updating APD's policies and procedures and will give the department "higher standards to live by," he added.

"One of our main goals was to make sure our department and members operated as the most professional and transparent police agencies the City of Auburn has ever had," Butler said in an email. "Our desire is to increase our transparency and level of trust we have with the community that we serve."

Accreditation, he added, will ensure the department operates under best practice standards. The department's policy and procedural manual is constantly changing and adapting, but the document hasn't been updated in entirety for more than 25 years. Butler said accreditation comes with increased training hours for every officer and adherence to 110 required standards as outlined for the program by the state's Office of Public Safety, which operates under the state Department of Criminal Justice Services.

According to the DCJS website, about 150 agencies are accredited in New York state. Anthony said he heard from other departments that the additional training hours are the biggest hurdle to getting accredited.

"For us, the training is not going to be a problem," Anthony said. "We're in pretty good shape."

A committee of six people, including Butler, Anthony, Capt. Paul Casper, Sgt. Greg Dann, Sgt. Christine Gilfus and Lawrence Church, a civilian staff member working as the accreditation program manager now meet twice a week to move the process forward. The committee is responsible for reviewing and updating department policies and procedures with the goal of meeting or exceeding accreditation standards. Anthony said the committee has reviewed about 15 percent of the department policies, so far. He said preparing for the state accreditation evaluation could take as many as three years.

Once the committee comes up with a policy, subject matter experts will also review it before the department finalizes it, Butler said. For a policy on Tasers, for example, the department's instructors who train personnel on Tasers will be involved in the policy-creation process.

Anthony said APD is also working with Lexipol — a nationwide organization that helps law enforcement update policy and meet all accreditation requirements — during the process. This will help APD implement the nation's best practices, he added.

Butler said APD purposefully did not set a strict completion date for getting accredited because it is labor intensive and time consuming. Many agencies, he said, often assign multiple staff members to the project full-time whereas APD created a committee of people who will also maintain their primary areas of responsibility and command. 

"I believe when we achieve this goal, this will be another feather in the cap for the City of Auburn, knowing that we have the most professionally trained, trusted, and advanced police agency possible," Butler said. "We will adhere to standards of policing that are viewed as best practice all while reducing our liability because of the standards we deliver our service by."