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Mike Stewart/AP

Will Quigg (Mike Stewart/AP)

Metro Minute

Big, bad apple

A white supremacist recruitment campaign in upstate New York brings a reminder of New York’s often unacknowledged past

A New York moment:

New York has had an ugly reminder of its white supremacist history this week, as families in several counties upstate have found flyers in their driveways with Snickers bars recruiting locals to join the Ku Klux Klan. The distributors, whoever they were, put the candy and flyers out right at the end of driveways around the time school buses dropped kids off. The website listed on the flyer says to join the KKK “to protect and preserve white Christian heritage and culture.”

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Hans Pennink/AP

Andrew Cuomo (Hans Pennink/AP)

Metro Minute

Your local charity, the state government

New York governor offers ‘protection’ from new federal tax law through donations to state government

A New York moment:

A lot of attention up here in the Northeast has focused on the (likely frivolous) lawsuit that New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Maryland recently filed against the new federal tax law. Although the federal tax reform passed last year reduces New York’s federal tax burden overall, it sets a $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions.

That means potentially higher taxes for residents of states that already have high local taxes—not a popular prospect for leaders of those high-tax states. Most New Yorkers were already taking the standard deduction, so this higher cap won’t affect them. But the state gets a lot of its revenue from bigger earners and doesn’t want them to leave.

Recently New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, got the Legislature to pass a, shall we say, creative workaround in the annual budget that has drawn less attention. The new budget allows New Yorkers to “donate” to two state charitable funds, get the federal charitable contributions deduction, and receive credit for having paid local taxes.

In response, the IRS published a notice saying it would issue regulations addressing such schemes, with all indications the agency was not happy about them. The IRS referred to such proposals as “state efforts to circumvent the new statutory limitation on state and local tax deductions.”

Worth your time:  

If you felt like the McDonald’s Monopoly game in the 1990s was rigged, you were right. Mobsters set up a system to acquire the winning pieces and controlled about $24 million in winnings. A lot of the fraud took place near my hometown of Asheville, N.C., which explains why I never won, despite many hash browns purchases. The court case began on Sept. 10, 2001, so it didn’t get a lot of media attention at the time.

This week I learned:

The excellent documentary about Fred Rogers, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, has struck a chord with audiences, and is now among the top 15 documentaries of all time in box office earnings.

A court case you might not know about:

Here’s a perfect example of how Supreme Court rulings can ripple out to seemingly unrelated issues. On Friday a federal judge ruled in favor of the city of Chicago after the Trump administration attempted to cut federal grants because of Chicago’s sanctuary city policies. Lawyer Ilya Somin noted that the judge used as one basis for his ruling a Supreme Court ruling from last term, Murphy v. NCAA.

In Murphy, the high court struck down the federal ban on sports betting, ruling that the ban coerced state and local governments to enforce federal law. That “commandeering,” which the Republican-appointed judge said the Trump administration was doing by pressuring Chicago to carry out federal immigration duties, is a violation of the 10th Amendment.

Culture I am consuming:

Mad Max: Fury Road is one of my favorite movies (alongside the 1995 film Sense & Sensibility, so it’s not all R-rated action flicks here). I rewatched Fury Road recently, along with the special features on the elaborate filmmaking process. The movie employs very little CGI, relying on incredible real-life, high-speed stunts in a story that is a road chase from start to finish.

Email me with tips, story ideas, and feedback at ebelz@wng.org.

 

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Mark Lennihan/AP

Men on the New York Subway (Mark Lennihan/AP)

Metro Minute

New York’s newspaper problem

When media companies ax local reporters, the sleaze content for web clicks seems likely to rise

A New York moment:

Today the sight of a person reading a print newspaper is an oddity—but in New York City, the subways and buses are still packed every day with people reading the local tabloids, the New York Post and the New York Daily News. These tabloids are city institutions: The Daily News once had the largest circulation of any paper in the country.

But, like many local news organizations losing ad revenue to companies like Google, the paper’s revenues have been declining. On Monday Tronc, a media conglomerate that bought the Daily News last year, laid off half of the paper’s editorial staff, including the editor in chief.

New York’s government leaders sensed public outrage toward the layoffs and responded characteristically. Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tronc’s decision was “greedy” and that the company should get out of the journalism business in New York. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tronc should have asked the state for help, adding that “these layoffs were made without notifying the state.” Cuomo has a history of handing out state money to pet industries. Most recently the state poured $15 million into a movie studio that failed and just sold for $1.

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