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Posted: Thursday, June 26, 2014 10:30 am | Updated: 11:22 am, Thu Jul 3, 2014.

PBA loses bid to halt stop-frisk law OK’ing suits targeting cops

The unions representing city police officers and sergeants last week lost their challenge to a law designed to ensure that minorities are not stopped without reason by allowing people who believe they were to sue individual cops and hold them liable for legal fees.

State Supreme Court Justice Anil Singh last Wednesday dismissed a challenge to Local Law 71 that had been brought by the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association and the Sergeants Benevolent Association.

The law was passed last year over then-Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s veto. It was designed to strengthen an existing statute banning stops based on a person’s race, ethnicity or other factors that would violate the right to equal protection under the law. Bloomberg also had sued to block the measure, but Mayor de Blasio, who supports it, later dropped the case.

The police unions had argued that officers’ ability to do their jobs is hampered by the law, that it is too vague and that the Council overstepped its bounds in passing it because criminal procedure is the purview of the state.

But Singh determined that none of that is true and noted that in a message to officers following the law’s passage, the NYPD itself said it was in line with existing policy.

PBA President Pat Lynch was undeterred, however, vowing to appeal and saying in a prepared statement, “This law sends an extremely bad message to our police officers who will see themselves in legal crosshairs with every arrest they make. Potentially, this bad law can have a very serious impact on public safety.”

Schumer fears ‘soccer fever’ of another kind

The government should issue an immediate health alert to medical professionals and declare a public emergency over a mosquito-borne virus that could spread in the United States as people return home from the World Cup soccer tournament in Brazil, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Monday.

The chikungunya virus is rarely fatal but causes high fevers that last for days, rashes, headaches and arthritis-like pain, Schumer said in a prepared statement. It is spreading in South America and the Caribbean, and health experts fear it will appear around the world when the World Cup ends next month, he said.

Schumer wants the United States to protect against the virus using methods similar to those employed in 2009 when the swine flu spread through Mexico. His full statement can be found at schumer.senate.gov by clicking the “Newsroom” and then “Press releases” tabs.

NYS credit rating boost

New York State got its second credit rating increase in a week on Monday, indicating it will be able to sell bonds at lower interest rates and therefore at less cost to taxpayers.

Fitch Ratings upgraded state general obligation bonds from AA to AA+ with a positive outlook, which Gov. Cuomo said was the highest rating ever from the firm. A week earlier, Moody’s Investor Services gave the state a similar boost, to what Cuomo said was its highest rating from that company since 1964.

Fitch said key elements driving the upgrade include better fiscal practices, the state economy’s substantial wealth and resources, and debt and pension burdens it described as moderate.

AG sets up voter hotline

Anyone who experiences trouble voting may call a new hotline at 1 (800) 771-7755 or email civil.rights@ag.ny.gov for help on primary and election days this year, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Monday. The hotline took effect Tuesday, primary day for federal elections. The hearing-impaired should call 1 (800) 788-9898. Schneiderman said he wants to help “minority-language voters, people with disabilities and all eligible voters.”

Gill bill: no web voter ID

A new bill by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) would allow people to register to vote online with no state-issued identification. Only an electronic signature would be required. Gillibrand said that would allow more young people, seniors, minorities and the poor to vote.

— compiled by Peter C. Mastrosimone

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