blair horner

Blair Horner: Will Water Regulations Improve?

Oct 1, 2018

One of New York’s greatest natural resources is its abundance of water supplies.  But the state’s industrial history has resulted in serious threats to using that water for drinking. Those threats should be checked by government regulations, but in far too many cases, they are not.

The nation’s political leadership has chosen to ignore science, rip away health insurance, eviscerate environmental and public health protections, gut the most important consumer watchdog agency, and ram through judicial nominations based on raw political power instead of public accountability.

Blair Horner: Toxic Dangers In School Supplies

Sep 17, 2018

Consumers shouldn’t assume that children’s products are safe just because they are available in stores.  That’s the key finding of a shoppers’ guide released last month.  The report, Safer School Supplies: Shopping Guide, identified school supplies that contained toxic chemicals. 

Blair Horner: A Buried Health Treasure In NYS

Sep 10, 2018

The crisis in the cost of medicines in America is well-known.  Americans spend more on prescription drugs — average costs are about $1,100 per person per year — than spent anywhere else in the world.  And the prices can be staggeringly high.  For example, cancer drugs in the U.S. routinely cost $10,000 a month.  

Blair Horner: The Democrats Debate Corruption

Sep 3, 2018

Last week was a big one for Democrats in New York.  The contested primaries for Governor and Attorney General hit a peak as the candidates for those offices slugged it out in televised debates two weeks before the state primaries on Thursday September 13th.  In both debates, the issue of corruption in state government was a major topic.

It’s that time again; colleges are opening across New York and for many of the students, the campus experience will have a profound impact on their lives; their career choices, their world view, the connections that they make.  The public benefits too: more highly trained residents have a positive impact on the economic health of the state, the nation and the world.  Studies in New York have shown that every dollar invested in higher education results in multiple dollars more in tax revenues generated by students both while attending college as well as after they graduate.

Blair Horner: The President Abuses His Power

Aug 20, 2018

The President of the United States is considered the most powerful person on Earth.  That power emanates from the U.S, Constitution, the clout of being head of a political party and interest groups that helped elect him, and the nation’s economic and military might.  All combined, a President is incredibly powerful.

New York is considered a “blue” state, one in which Democrats have a significant voter enrollment advantage over Republicans.  And it’s true: New York has about 6.2 million registered Democrats and 2.8 million registered Republicans (another 3 million-plus New Yorkers are either not enrolled in a political party or registered in a minor party).  But if you look at the state outside of the City of New York, in terms of party enrollment the state is very competitive for Republicans, with 2.8 million Democrats compared to 2.3 million Republicans. 

Blair Horner: Trump Fiddles While The Earth Burns

Aug 6, 2018

The summer rolls on and the heat builds up.  But this is not like any other summer, it’s getting hotter in unprecedented ways.  July’s heat, for example, fueled ferocious wildfires, from the arctic to Greece, where more than 80 people died, to the Western states, where it feels like the entire state of California is burning.

Another week, another conviction.  The political establishment took another hit last week with the corruption conviction of former New York State economic development czar Alain Kaloyeros and key private developers of a major state-sponsored project.  Kaloyeros was Governor Cuomo’s right-hand man when it came to the state’s investments in hi-tech economic development projects, and in the case of the corruption conviction, the governor’s signature project was the so-called “Buffalo Billion.”

Summers are getting hotter as the planet heats up.  The combination of hotter summers and strong storms are not only inconvenient; they also can cause serious health problems too.

Now that the 2018 legislative session is in the rear view mirror, what should New Yorkers think? 

Blair Horner: Another NY Corruption Trial Begins

Jun 11, 2018

It started three and a half years ago with a news report from the Investigative Post, a Buffalo-based media outlet.  In its review of the so-called “Buffalo Billion” economic development programs, the Investigative Post identified an incredible clause in one of the state’s bid offerings that would allow spending on construction projects.

The science is clear:  Human activity, particularly the burning of fossil fuels – oil, coal and gas – is heating up the planet in ways that have never been seen in recorded history.  According to the third U.S. National Climate Assessment, “Global climate is changing and this is apparent across the United States in a wide range of observations.  The global warming of the past 50 years is primarily due to human activities, predominantly the burning of fossil fuels.”

Blair Horner: June In Albany

May 28, 2018

June is a big month in Albany.  After Memorial Day, lawmakers have just 13 days in their schedule to wrap up the legislative session.  In June of last year, the state Senate and the state Assembly each approved about 2/3 of all bills passed during the entire 6-month session.  When it comes to moving on legislation, June is the biggest month.

Blair Horner: Health Care In New York

May 21, 2018

None of us wants to think about this, but getting good medical care isn’t a sure thing.  While the vast majority of providers meet minimum requirements or better, many Americans are injured or killed by the medical care they receive.

Blair Horner: Scandal Rocks Albany... Again

May 14, 2018

Last week was quite a week at the state Capitol.  It started off on Monday with the shocking resignation of the Attorney General within hours of detailed allegations of sexual assaults appearing in media reports.  The week ended with the second conviction of the former Speaker of the Assembly on federal corruption charges.  And in between, an accomplice to a former top aide to Governor Cuomo pled guilty.  In that last one, the former top aide to the governor had already been convicted of corruption; the accomplice was an energy executive who admitted to lying to federal investigators about his role in giving a high-pay, “low-show” job to the former top aide’s wife.

Blair Horner: The Dangers Of Indoor Tanning

May 7, 2018

Finally, Spring has arrived.  The weather is warming up and many think of lying in the sun to get some relaxation and a tan.  Others look to a short-cut: Indoor tanning.  You can see it already, with high school prom and other big events, like graduations, looming, many high schoolers are rushing to look their best, some go to indoor tanning salons.  That decision could change their lives.

Blair Horner: Will NY Become More Energy Efficient?

Apr 30, 2018

Energy efficiency means using less energy to provide the same level of energy.  If a house is properly insulated, less energy is used in heating and cooling to achieve a satisfactory temperature.  Houses can be built facing the sun to take advantage of solar energy. 

Blair Horner: Earth Day 2018

Apr 23, 2018

This week we celebrate Earth Day.  Earth Day is an annual event that started in 1970 and is an important opportunity for our society to examine how well we are protecting the environment.  In a sense, Earth Day is the day we issue a “report card” on our stewardship of the planet’s natural resources.

Air emissions from the combustion engine cause many health problems.  When it comes to the emissions of diesel powered engines, the impacts are serious and potentially deadly.

Last week, the Trump Administration moved to roll back the nation’s auto emission and fuel economy standards.  The current regulations are aimed at cutting tailpipe emissions of carbon dioxide, a major contributor to global warming.  The Trump Administration also demanded that California, which has its own state-based, more stringent auto emission standards, must follow the federal decision or face legal challenge. 

Blair Horner: The Budget Wraps Up

Apr 2, 2018

After three months of discussions and posturing, Governor Cuomo and the legislature finalized a state budget late last week.  Lawmakers took their final votes in the hours after midnight Saturday morning and met the deadline for getting the budget completed on time.

Blair Horner: The NY State Budget Deadline Looms

Mar 26, 2018

Governor Cuomo and state lawmakers are now into the final week of the fiscal year.  New York’s fiscal year starts on April 1st.  Given the holidays this year, there is a push to get a budget agreement in place by Thursday, March 29th.

Last week was Sunshine Week; an annual celebration of the benefits of open government and how to safeguard and expand upon current transparency laws.  If the success of a representative democracy hinges on the informed consent of the governed, it is critical that the public know as much as possible about the information used and the processes by which its representatives spend tax dollars and act on policy recommendations.

 IAEA experts depart Unit 4 of TEPCO's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station on 17 April 2013 as part of a mission to review Japan's plans to decommission the facility.
Greg Webb / IAEA / IAEA Imagebank /

Last weekend was the seventh anniversary of the disaster at the Japanese nuclear power plant located in Fukushima.  On March 11, 2011, an earthquake occurred in the Pacific Ocean that spawned a huge tsunami.  The quake itself caused considerable damage to the Japanese islands near the center of the quake, but the tsunami’s impact was catastrophic.

Host Alan Chartock is joined by Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group. 

Blair Horner: New York's Ethical Failings

Mar 5, 2018

New York State’s long running corruption crisis continues to this day.  For each of the first seven months of this year, a new high-profile corruption case goes to trial.  Last week the first of those cases went to the jury for deliberations and in the second case, a trial was averted when a former legislator pleaded guilty.

New York lawmakers return to the Capitol this week to begin their push to agree on a state budget, due by April 1.  There are a number of issues on which they must agree: first the amount of money that is available and then how to spend it. 

Blair Horner: Lead Poisoning Threat Persists In NY

Feb 19, 2018

Almost 50 years after New York banned the sale of lead in paint, each year some 1,800 children are found to be lead poisoned in New York.  This epidemic affects mostly young children of color from low-income communities who live in poorly maintained housing, where windows, doors, walls and ceilings produce invisible lead dust that is ingested by infants and toddlers through hand-to-mouth behavior and inhalation.