N.Y. Assembly Blocks Pol from Showing ‘spotlight’ to Push Child-rape Law
By Kenneth Lovett
New York Daily News
April 6, 2016
|Assemblywoman Margaret Markey plans to fight her chamber's leadership for permission to show the film "Spotlight" at the Capitol complex in May.|
A state assemblywoman's desire to use the Academy Award-winning movie "Spotlight" to boost her fight to help child sexual abuse victims has run into a roadblock — her own chamber's leadership.
Assembly Democratic leaders are refusing to allow Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Queens) from holding a screening of the film at the Capitol complex during a two-day lobbying effort in May to build support for her bill to make it easier for people sexually abused as kids to bring lawsuits as adults.
Markey's office, which received a Blu-ray copy of the Best Picture winner that chronicles the Boston Globe's investigation into sexual abuse by priests, was originally told it was a copyright issue.
|"Spotlight" chronicles the Boston Globe's investigation into sexual abuse by priests.|
Since then, Markey aide Michael Armstrong says he paid $200 to the film's distributor for a license to show it one-time in a legislative hearing room.
But that is still not enough for Assembly leadership, who now say it's about precedent.
"It's just not something we do on government property," said Michael Whyland, spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. "It would open the door to showing all sorts of things that some people might find objectionable, not that "Spotlight" is. We just don't want to go down that road."
Armstrong said he will continue to push for the screening to follow a May 4 roundtable on child abuse issues.
"I guess it's a fight we're going to have," Armstrong said. "I can't imagine they're going to shut us down when we have a permit to show it."
Senate Republicans opened themselves up to potential primaries from the right after acquiescing to Gov. Cuomo's push for a $15 minimum wage and statewide paid family leave program, state Conservative Party Michael Long says.
Long said he won't necessarily encourage challenges, but expects they'll happen much like when the Senate GOP previously allowed gay marriage and gun control bills to the floor for votes.
"It's like putting a sign out offering people to challenge them," he said.
One Republican senator acknowledged the fear among his colleagues.
The senator also warned "there will be hell to pay" for Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Senate Campaign Committee Chairwoman Catharine Young if Cuomo aggressively helps the Democrats try to capture control of the chamber after the GOP gave him his top two priorities.
Cuomo's intentions will soon become clear with a crucial April 19 Senate special election in Nassau County fast approaching.
He has endorsed the Democratic candidate, Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky. But many Democrats say they, too, will be watching to see whether Cuomo and the powerful unions allied with him campaign and raise money for Kaminsky or stay on the sidelines.
Some Dems also wonder if the GOP-sanctioned minimum wage and paid family leave deals could water down the rationale for the need for a Democratic Senate.
But progressives argue that not only could the minimum wage deal have been stronger with the Democrats in charge, but a host of other issues blocked by the GOP could also move forward.
Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif argued the Republican conference has won “conservative-agenda items” like the property tax cap, middle-class income tax cut, adherence to 2% spending cap in six consecutive budgets, and funding parity for upstate transportation projects.
|Supporters of a $15 minimum wage rally at the Empire State Plaza on March 15 in Albany.|
A former top aide to disgraced ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is back at the state Capitol as a lobbyist.
Bill Collins, who resigned as Silver's counsel in 2013 after it was disclosed he covered up a sexual harassment complaint against a Democratic assemblyman, was quietly hired by the Albany-based Vandervoort Group in January 2015.
But because of a law prohibiting him from appearing before the Assembly and Senate for two years after leaving the Legislature, Collins said he did not begin lobbying until this past January.
State records show that Collins, a volunteer firefighter, is listed as representing six clients, including the Association of Fire Chiefs and the state Association of Fire Districts.
Controversial Assemblyman Charles Barron angered some Republicans last week when he sat chatting on his cellphone while the chamber gave a standing ovation to two former soldiers in attendance for Vietnam Veteran's Remembrance Day.
"It was very disrespectful," Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island) said. "It was offensive."
Barron (D-Brooklyn) insisted "it wasn't deliberate."
But the former Black Panther quickly added that "I do feel that the Vietnam War was an American imperialistic war that should not have happened."