A Political Scandal Brews Upstate; On Pot Shops, It's State vs. Feds; Note to Truckers: Get Some Rest; A Fast Reversal on Mass Memorials; The Cabbie and the Curse of No. 666
A Political Scandal Brews Upstate
Paging Thomas Nast. New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer's administration has been catching flak for a relapse into Tammany Hall-style politics since it came out last week that several of his aides had improperly used the state police to gather embarrassing information on one of Spitzer's top rivals. The Democratic governor, a former attorney general who got to Albany on a reformist platform, has accepted the findings by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, but he insists that he was not aware of any wrongdoing at the time.
The target of the apparent smear attempt is Republican State Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, who has feuded with Spitzer over legislative priorities. Bruno says Spitzer used state police to monitor his travel expenses to Manhattan fundraisers.
The accusations come as a major blow to Spitzer, who had made fighting corruption a centerpiece of his campaign, and the news is likely to get worse. While Cuomo did not have subpoena power for his investigation of the matter, a Senate panel would, possibly forcing Spitzer's aides to discuss their roleand the governor'sunder oath. Spitzer, citing executive privilege, says he will fight the probe.
On Pot Shops, It's State vs. Feds
Federal law enforcement has never been happy with the state of California, which legalized medical marijuana more than a decade ago. But its efforts to crack down on pot sales, which are prohibited under federal law, have done little to stanch new business in the Golden State. Instead, in places like Los Angeles, the number of dispensaries has grown from about 25 to an estimated 400 in just a few years. Now the Drug Enforcement Administration is upping its tactics. In recent weeks, the agency has threatened landlords who lease to medical marijuana dispensaries and raided more than 10 shops, which investigators allege are fronts for broader drug trafficking. Though marijuana activists hope that more local regulation will help separate the good dealers from the bad ones, the DEA isn't planning to stop its investigations anytime soon.
Note to Truckers: Get Some Rest
Truck drivers are known for working long and grueling shifts, but in 2005, the federal agency overseeing the industry allowed them to put in even more hours behind the wheel. Once limited to 60 hours over seven days, truckers could now work for 77. And truckers driving for eight days could drive 88 hours instead of 70. But with about 100 people dying every week in truck-related accidents, safety and insurance groups opposed the change and challenged it in court. Why, they wanted to know, did the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration change the rules when a study commissioned by the agency itself showed it would lead to a higher risk of accidents?
A Washington, D.C., Federal Appeals Court asked the same question last week when it overturned the new rules, saying the feds hadn't provided a good explanation for changing them. But truckers won't be getting shorter shifts yet. The ruling won't take effect until September, and there is still a chance for an appeal.