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Up on the Board: Vito Lopez cleared, blood-alcohol limits, and fair trade clothing

Assemb. Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn) has refused to resign

Assemb. Vito Lopez (D-Brooklyn) has refused to resign in the wake of a sexual harassment scandal. (2011) Credit: Bryan Pace

The editorial board is interested in two reports released today about Assemblyman Vito Lopez and the charges of sexual harassment chargebrought against him. Staten Island DA Dan Donavan cleared him of criminal charges but pointed to the Albany cover-up as the problem. Later the J-COPE the ethics board revealed that the powerful Brooklyn Democrat, with an authorization by Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver, paid two female staffers a total of $135,000 to settle their complaints – largely with taxpayer money. Lopez’s exoneration raises questions about holding legislators accountable, and the effectiveness of the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics.

Also, the National Transportation Safety Board wants states to consider reducing their legal blood-alcohol limits from .08 to .05 – about the level caused by a dry martini or two beers in a 160-pound person. Is this going too far? There are many other things that impair driving -- texting, prescription drug use. How much should government regulate behavior? Surprisingly, MADD – Mothers Against Drunk Driving – is staying neutral on the new NTSB standard. Perhaps it risks discrediting MADD’s movement by being overly harsh.

We think clothing should be labeled with the equivalent of a “fair trade” sticker, so that the public can know when foreign manufacturers are running safe textile factories. People might be willing to pay a little more for that peace of mind.

Finally, the Congressional Budget Office released a new figure on the federal budget deficit: $642 billion. That’s about half what it was four years ago.

We’re talking with the Cuomo administration this afternoon about the governor’s new plan for the Long Island Power Authority.  Our conversation yesterday with Rep. Steve Israel is prompting us to consider a series on Obamacare. There’s a lot of misinformation about what health care reform does, and what problems it has raised.

If you have an opinion on any of the above, simply fill in a comment in the section below, or email


Up on the Board is the editorial board's blog about what we just discussed at our weekday morning meeting. These meetings are where we talk about the news of the day and hash out our positions for the opinion sections of Newsday, Newsday Westchester and amNew York.