Saturday, April 7, 2012

'When an Angel Speaks'

Special Commentary from Bishop Terry Angel Mason 

An Urgent Open Letter to African-American and Hispanic 

Clergy Members and Leaders 
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I greet you in the name of Jesus, Savior of the world and King that is soon to come!

I realize that many of you may not know me and, since you are called to lead God’s people, I realize that the first thing you will want to know is what my credentials are. While I am tempted to go into great detail about who I am, I must be cognizant of the fact that this letter will be printed in numerous publications, both nationally and internationally, and cannot be lengthy.

I am first a born again child of God and a Bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ. I have been saved since the age of five, was called into ministry at the age of eight, and was ordained and licensed by ordained ministers in a credible, non-denominational church in San Diego, California, where I founded my first ministry. While I know that many of you will want to know more about my background, I ask that you not focus entirely on that issue. Respectfully, I request that the focus be solely placed on the urgent matter that prompted this correspondence -- a matter that literally deals with what I feel are life and death issues that will affect not only clergy members and leaders, but those we minister to.

Beloved shepherds, the apostle Paul warned us in the epistle of II Timothy, Chapter 3, that in the latter days, “perilous times shall come.” I think we all agree that the world is experiencing exactly what he prophesied in the letter written to Timothy, his protégé. Brothers and sisters, I realize that we come from many different backgrounds and that we are as diverse in our interpretation of scripture as the varieties of flowers on earth and stars in the universe. But there are fundamental truths and basic tenants of the Gospel that I feel bind us in the spirit of unity. It is in that spirit that I address you.

God has given me an international platform as a columnist and author. As a result, I am ever careful to give Him the glory for making this possible because I know that if it were not for His favor and wisdom, I could never have achieved success on any level. In gratitude and service to Him, and because of the sincere concern I have for all of God’s people, the LOVE OF CHRIST IN ME WON’T LET ME BE SILENT about the issues I am about to present.

As you know, this election year deals with many issues: contraception, the fate of Medicare and Medicaid, "Obama Care", the Citizens United decision, marriage equality, gun control, and laws (rightfully) in question like the “Stand Your Ground Laws” in Florida and many other states. This election will also serve as a referendum on whether or not the accomplishments of President Barack Obama have met the needs of the very citizens that voted him into office.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, I know without a doubt that it was the Spirit of the Lord that inspired me to write this letter to you. Moreover, I believe that if you have the Spirit of Christ in you, then the Spirit of truth will confirm this in your hearts and minds.

Given the nature of what I do in the community as an HIV/AIDS advocate, civil rights activist and pastor, I am constantly in the presence of people from every walk of life. Their concerns and needs often pain my heart in a way that I could never articulate. On many nights, I find myself prostrate in the presence of God with tears in my eyes because I see people in such dire straits on a regular basis and admittedly this is somewhat disconcerting and overwhelming!

I have lived on the earth 55 years, and I must admit that I have never seen such disregard for human beings as I have in the last few years. Jesus said that this would be, yet, admittedly, I am still amazed at how we could even consider doing things, politically speaking, that would gut and obliterate social programs that house the homeless, feed the poor, provide medical assistance to seniors, and fund education programs for our children, youth and young adults.

While I realize that many of you have been speaking out on these issues, I also know that most of us have been sinfully silent. I've come to realize this as a minister that has traveled and spoken all across the nation. Now, just so you know, I am aware of what the laws say about the separation of church and state. I am aware of the restrictions that a 501 (3c) non-profit status places on religious institutions and congregations. I know that none of us can mount the pulpit and recommend to any of our parishioners who they should or should not vote for, even though many of us do it anyway!

However, Jesus made it absolutely clear that our heavenly mandate is to lead the lost to Christ, heal the sick, clothe the naked, visit those who are in prison, teach our children the statutes and precepts in God’s word, and to lovingly care for our senior adults and widows in our congregations. Jesus also made it abundantly clear that these were mandates issued by God. I realize that many of you do a great job in many of these areas, but if we made an honest assessment of whether or not we were adhering to God's orders, on a national and international scale, we would discover that we are greatly missing the mark!

Thousands of men and women are in our nation's prisons, but few of us have effective prison ministries. Countless youth, young adults and even senior citizens are infected with the HIV/AIDS virus and only a handful of us have even taken the time to set up a ministry to tend to these people because we feel unqualified to do it or because we prejudge these individuals. Moreover, more often than not, we shrug our shoulders and purposely look the other way because, consciously or subconsciously, we feel they got what they deserved. Thus, they end up being regarded as unworthy of any assistance our ministries could provide.

I urge you to find out what institutions in your city care for and offer services to the elderly, those suffering from HIV/AIDS and other life threatening illnesses. Ask if you can come and see how they run these programs and what your congregation can do to assist them. What is going to startle many of you is how many of your parishioners’ faces you are going to see at these places. After you have visited these places, I guarantee you will not be so quick to mount your pulpit and foolishly bash these people and/or organizations, especially when you discover that many of them are doing a better job than you ever could, as they compassionately minister to the hundreds, if not thousands, in your congregation.

I would like to address a specific issue concerning senior members of our congregations. Sunday after Sunday, I watch elderly people struggle to climb the steps of buses in my city that shouldn’t even be on the road because they are old and unsuitable to serve seniors and disabled persons. In sharp contrast, more modern and streamlined buses are assigned to rich, influential areas in our cities and neighborhoods. What is even more troubling is the fact that while many of us can afford van and bus ministries that would address these needs; we do nothing to help change the situation.

The result is that our seniors, who happen to be some of our most loyal and dedicated (tithers) and members, are forced to ride substandard buses filled with violent people, youth who use foul language and engage in drug use on the buses, and have absolutely no respect for the elderly. Furthermore, it is to our shame and our misplaced priorities that after church has concluded, many of these same seniors stand on bus stops while other parishioners pass them by in their Mercedes, Cadillac’s, BMW’s, or Chrysler 300’s! To add insult to injury, the same parishioners wave at them and won’t even stop to see if they can assist them with getting home!

I challenge each one of you to do something radical! Instead of pulling up to the church grounds in your 2012 Cadillac, BMW, Mercedes or Bentley, use public transportation to come to church for one week. I guarantee you that your entire perspective will change and that most of you will respond by making much needed changes in your ministry -- changes that will finally bring that growth and transformation that many of you have been praying for so desperately.

In 2008, many right-wing, prominent, and rich evangelicals infiltrated our ranks and convinced us to vehemently oppose Proposition 8. Over $65 million was spent to prevent same-gender-loving people from getting married because it was said that this threatened the family unit and was undermining the institution of marriage. This issue galvanized pastors, bishops, priests and parishioners and the proposition was voted down by a narrow margin. Many of us flexed our spiritual muscles thinking we had done the Lord a great service after our elite, right-wing brothers and sisters quickly retreated to the safety of their culturally and religiously isolated ranks, never to worship with us again. Well, at least until they felt our support was needed when the next issue or controversial proposition came up.

I was amazed when this happened, and I will tell you why. Just think of what the body of Christ could have done with $65,000,000! If we were really concerned about saving marriages, we could have used that money to create national counseling programs where pastors could have been trained to minister to married couples and couples who are preparing to marry. Money could have been poured into already existing credible programs that are effectively providing counseling to our parishioners, creating stronger marriage relationships, and perhaps decrease the great number of divorces in the body of Christ.

Oh my brothers and sisters, I know that it is easy to blame gays for the conditions of our failed relationships, but the truth is when we stand before Christ -- and believe me when I tell you that all of us will -- there will be no one to heap the blame upon but ourselves! Incidentally, the proposition will soon be overturned and the money used to fight it will be a wasted investment!

Many of us were ecstatic when Senator Barack Obama was elected as the first African- American President of the United States, and we vowed to support him in every way. Yet, when we discovered he was a president who had purposed in his heart to ensure that all Americans would have equal rights, no matter what their religious convictions, age, gender, or sexual orientation, many of us bailed and joined the ranks of other prominent religious leaders, many of whom are used like puppets by right-wing politicians to do their bidding.

Now, here is the horrific reality, which I find amazing! Many of us, as leaders, are willing to support a political machine that will strip away social programs that meet the needs of over 70 percent of our parishioners. We do this because we don’t have a correct understanding of the office of “priest” and “king”. Barack Obama was not elected or ordained by God to operate in the office of priest/pastor, but rather the office of “king”, which biblically is synonymous with President of the United States.

Don’t misunderstand or misconstrue what I am saying, thinking I am suggesting that any elected official is to misuse his office, forget the mandate of God, disregard the needs of the people and act like a dictator. I am simply pointing these things out to you because it is evident to me that many shepherds don’t have a correct biblical understanding of these offices. All too often, they confuse the two or place expectations and demands upon the President of the United States that should never be placed on anyone who serves in this position.

Based on conversations I have had with parishioners, a substantial number of people feel that because the country now has an African-American President, many states have enacted voter suppression laws that will prevent hundreds of thousands of African-Americans from voting in the 2012 election. While we cannot immediately reverse these laws, we can begin national campaigns to make sure that everyone in our congregation has appropriate identification documents that will ensure that they can vote.

Additionally, we can creatively arrange car pools so that voters can get to polling places. Recently, I heard it announced on television that many national organizations who are responsible for getting voters registered are totally abandoning all efforts because of voter suppression laws that place them in harm's way, legally speaking, or should I say, “illegal harm’s way”.

If we are honest with ourselves, most of our church calendars are filled with annual days that never address any of the issues that I have mentioned. Just imagine how grateful our congregants will be when we initiate a plan to help them obtain the proper identification so that they can vote this year. Since the vast majority of our parishioners already possess these documents, this effort will not be financially cumbersome or burdensome and it is not illegal. Additionally, it does not place our religious institutions in legal jeopardy in any way.

Year after year we diligently plan for the Pastor’s Appreciation Day, the Annual Usher's Day, Youth day, Men’s and Women’s Day, and the list goes on. We have this down to a science, but now we must refocus our efforts and ourselves and come to understand that our very livelihoods are at stake. We cannot allow the few programs that meet our educational and medical needs, as well as other much-needed social programs, to be stripped away while the rich get richer and feel no obligation to the poor, working poor or the endangered middle class.

In conclusion, I wish to state that many of us worry about the moral decay of our nation, and because this is a concern, politicians use this as leverage to distract us. They know we think that the wrath of God will come upon our great nation because we feel that much of what the "ungodly" does is in direct opposition to the Word of God. The truth of the matter is that if our nation is destroyed and/or incurs the wrath of God, it will be because we pander to the rich, while totally disregarding those who are destitute and are in desperate need of our assistance! Tragically and ironically, even if we don’t like what is being done by those in positions of authority -- still, we remain conspicuously silent!

Before you discount what I am saying, or disregard this letter, I ask that you act with the same resolve and urgency when you thought the institution of marriage was being undermined because there is a real Goliath on the battle field! This giant looks like us, knows all of our religious terminology, knows exactly how we think and knows how to use what we think and believe against us. And if we are not careful, he will cut off our heads, desecrate our people and deny us our civil rights, all to benefit him and deceive us. It is only after he has plundered our parishioners and made a mockery of our spiritual mandate – THAT WE WILL BE THE ONES TO BLAME FOR LETTING THESE ATROCITIES HAPPEN!

The choice is yours! The onus is upon us, the men and women who were called to shepherd God's flock. Will we step up, embrace and demonstrate the qualities of Christian leadership with which we were gifted and protect our congregations, or will we stand indolently and apathetically aside while we bear witness to the politically-proposed evisceration of our poor, our youth, our seniors, and our already struggling and endangered middle class? Either way, I guarantee you that we will one day stand before our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and give an accounting for our actions or lack of actions. I cannot speak for you, but when The Prince of Peace asks me, "Did you feed and protect my flock?" I want to look Him in the eye with pride as I say, "Yes, Lord!", and not hang my head in shame!

In His Service,

Bishop Terry Angel Mason, Global Author and Intl. Columnist

Terry Angel Mason has been featured in the following publications and/or news venues: (Lee Bailey's), The East County Magazine, Five (5) Magazine, Whosoever Magazine, SGL Weekly Magazine, Outword Magazine, The NBJC Newsletter, The Advocate, Frontier Magazine, Broadway World, The Windy City Times Newspaper, New Pittsburgh Courier, New England Informer, Our Weekly Magazine, Out Impact, The San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, The San Diego Gay and Lesbian Times, The San Diego Union Tribune, ME Magazine, POZ Magazine, The New Civil Rights Online Magazine, A&U Magazine, Religious Tolerance, Marriage Equality International, Homorazzi, BN&S News Commentary, Real Health Magazine, Q Magazine, MSNBC News Vine, ILGA, Out Military Online Magazine, Proud Parenting Web Magazine, Fuse Magazine, Echelon Magazine, The Bay Area Reporter, Connextions Magazine, and in many other publications.

To purchase Mason’s books, read breaking news stories, feature articles, interviews, or obtain more information about the author, visit his website at

Weekly Address: Easter and Passover Greetings from President Obama

Vietor: 'We Stand with the Malawi People During Their Time of Mourning'

Statement by National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor on the Situation in Malawi

The United States extends its condolences to the people of Malawi and the family of President Bingu wa Mutharika following his recent passing, and we welcome today’s announcement that Vice President Joyce Banda was sworn in as President. By following constitutional procedures for this transition, the government and people of Malawi have reaffirmed their commitment to democratic principles and demonstrated the critical importance of sound democratic institutions. We stand with the people of Malawi during their time of mourning, and look forward to deepening the partnership between our nations

Information on the death of Malawi's president and the impact it will have on the country is available here: 
Voice of America: Banda Sworn In

Friday, April 6, 2012

'The United States Grieves with the Rwandan People'

Original caption states: "Deep gashes delivered by the killers are visible in the skulls that fill one room at the Murambi School." 

Statement by the President on the 18th Anniversary of the Genocide in Rwanda

Eighteen years after the Rwandan genocide, we pause to reflect with horror and sadness on the 100 days in 1994 when 800,000 people lost their lives. The specter of this slaughter of mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters haunts us still, and reminds the nations of the world of our shared responsibility to do all we can to protect civilians and to ensure that evil of this magnitude never happens again. The United States grieves with the Rwandan people, and we remember those whose lives were cut short. And as we do, we also recognize Rwanda’s progress in moving beyond this horrible tragedy, the strides it has taken to improve the lives of its people, and its contributions to protecting civilians from other nations in UN peacekeeping missions around the world. The U.S. government and the American people will continue to extend our friendship, partnership, and support to the Rwandan people as they seek to build a peaceful and prosperous future.

Photo source: US Rep. Frank Wolf
Permission: Public Domain

West Wing Week: 4/6/2012

President Obama at the White House Forum on Women and the Economy

President Obama speaks about the women who have shaped his life, and explains why his Administration has worked to consider the needs of women and girls in every decision it makes.

Easter Greeting from President Obama

Statement from the President

This Sunday, Michelle and I will join Christians across the country and around the world to celebrate Easter and give thanks for the all-important gift of grace.  Easter is a time to reflect on both Christ’s suffering and ultimate triumph, as the anguish of the cross continues to give way to the victory of resurrection.  So to all those celebrating with us, we extend our warmest Easter greetings and best wishes in the days ahead.

In Memoriam....Corporal Christopher D. Bordoni

Governor Cuomo Directs Flags to Half-Staff

Governor Andrew Cuomo has directed that flags on state government buildings be flown at half-staff on Tuesday, April 10 in honor of a New York Marine who died on April 3.

Corporal Christopher D. Bordoni died as a result of wounds sustained January 18, 2012, while conducting combat operations in Helmand province, Afghanistan. 

Bordoni was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 6th Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. Corporal Bordoni was from Ithaca.

"I join with all New Yorkers in mourning the loss of Corporal Bordoni," said Governor Cuomo. 

"We will forever honor the service and sacrifice of this New York Marine. I send my deepest condolences to his family, friends, and fellow Marines."

From The G-Man would like to take this opportunity to honor Corporal Christopher D. Bordoni, his love of country, and his service with the following video tribute. May he forever rest in peace. 

Video uploaded to YouTube by moderatepopulist

Photo courtesy of

Kruger: 'The Unemployment Rate Ticked Down to 8.2% in March'

Statement on the Employment Situation in March

WASHINGTON, DC – Alan B. Krueger, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, issued the following statement today on the employment situation in March. 

There is more work to be done, but today’s employment report provides further evidence that the economy is continuing to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. It is critical that we continue to make smart investments that strengthen our economy and lay a foundation for long-term middle class job growth so we can continue to dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began at the end of 2007.

Employer payrolls increased by 121,000 jobs in March, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ establishment survey. The unemployment rate ticked down to 8.2% in March, according to the household survey. However, employment was virtually unchanged in the household survey. 

Both surveys indicate the continuing challenges facing construction workers, as a result of the collapse in homebuilding following the bursting of the housing bubble. The unemployment rate for construction workers stands at 17.2%, more than double the national average.  Because of weak private sector demand for construction investment and the nation’s continuing need for improved infrastructure, including maintenance of existing highways, bridges, and ports, the President’s Budget proposal to increase and modernize the nation’s infrastructure is well targeted to support the economy today and in the future.

Despite adverse shocks that have created headwinds for economic growth, including weak construction investment, the economy has added private sector jobs for 25 straight months, for a total of 4.1 million jobs over that period. 

Manufacturing continues to be a bright spot and added 37,000 jobs in March. After losing millions of good manufacturing jobs in the years before and during the recession, the economy has added 466,000 manufacturing jobs in the past 25 months—the strongest growth for any 25 month period since September 1995. To continue the revival in manufacturing jobs and output, the President has proposed tax incentives for manufacturers, enhanced training for the workforce, and measures to create manufacturing hubs.

Other sectors with net job increases included leisure and hospitality (+39,000), professional and business services (+31,000), and financial activities (+15,000). Retail trade lost 33,800 jobs, construction lost 7,000 jobs, and government lost 1,000 jobs. State and local government job losses have moderated in recent months.  Almost three-quarters of the slower job growth in March relative to February was due to slower growth in temporary help services and health care and day care services.

As the Administration stresses every month, the monthly employment and unemployment figures can be volatile, and employment estimates can be subject to substantial revision. Therefore, it is important not to read too much into any one monthly report, and it is helpful to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available. 

Cuomo Extends Easter, Passover Greetings

Statement from Governor Andrew Cuomo

This weekend, New Yorkers throughout our state will join friends and family members for one of the holiest times of the year.

Today, Good Friday marks a time of solemn reflection for New Yorkers of Christian faith before the celebration of Easter Sunday. Let us impart this spirit of renewal into making our state a greater state for all New Yorkers. 

Tonight, New Yorkers of Jewish faith celebrate the first Seder of Passover, commemorating the triumph of freedom over slavery and oppression. This message of hope and endurance has lasted through the ages and lives today in the spirit of the people of the Empire State.

As we come together to feast during Holy Week and Passover, I offer my warmest wishes and sincere blessings to New Yorkers at this most special time.

Top News Headlines: Marine Dismissal in Obama Facebook Case?

More headlines: Russia condemns arms dealer's sentence; record number of refugees flee Syria; Arkansas' Petrino on paid leave following crash.

By Nathan Byrne
Anchor: Nathan Byrne
Link courtesy of

Amazon Allegedly 'Under Investigation' By UK Tax Authorities

Amazon has allegedly found loopholes in UK and EU laws, avoiding taxation on its billions in profit.

By Susana Dalul
Anchor: Nathan Byrne
Link courtesy of

Ford Will Spend $600 Million to Penetrate Chinese Market

The automaker will try to make inroads on GM in the world's largest auto market.

By Regina Wang
Anchor: Jim Flink
Link courtesy of

Berlusconi’s Ally Resigns Amid Corruption Scandal

Umberto Bossi, a strong supporter of Italy's former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, has resigned as the leader of Northern League.

By Maoling Xiong
Anchor: Lauren Zima
Link courtesy of

Security Hole Lets Hackers Steal Facebook ID

An app developer has found a serious security hole within the mobile Facebook app that could lead to identity theft.

By Meredith Baldwin
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

In China, Few Secrets About Paying for Positive Coverage

A story from The New York Times shed light on many Chinese publications' and broadcasters' open policy of accepting cash for positive coverage.

By Zach Toombs
Anchor: Zach Toombs
Link courtesy of

Latest Mac Security Threat Infects 600,000 Computers

Apple patched a hole allowing malware to steal usernames, passwords and more from Macs, but not before more than 600,000 computers were infected.


By Evan Thomas and Casey Purcella
Anchor: Lauren Zima
Link courtesy of

JOBS Act Signed Into Law With Mixed Reviews

President Barack Obama signed the bipartisan JOBS Act into law but not everyone believes it will be good for the economy.

By Alyssa Cartee
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Greek Man Commits Public Suicide in Protest

77-year-old Dimitris Christoulas to publicly took his life Wednesday. Christoulas had his pension cut because of austerity measures in Greece.

By Christine Karsten
Anchor: Christina Hartman
Link courtesy of

Thursday, April 5, 2012

President Obama Signs the JOBS Act

President Obama signs a bill that will help startups get access to a larger pool of potential investors and make it easier for businesses to become publicly traded companies.

Biden Meets with Prime Minister Thaçi of Kosovo

Stressed U.S. Support for Kosovo's Sovereignty and Territorial Integrity

Vice President Biden welcomed Republic of Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaçi to the White House today as part of the United States’ ongoing commitment to peace and stability for Kosovo and for the entire Balkan region.  

The Vice President congratulated Prime Minister Thaçi on the recent progress in the European Union-facilitated Dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia, as well as the start of the EU’s feasibility study on next steps toward Kosovo’s European integration.  

The United States strongly supports the Dialogue and looks forward to the full implementation of agreements reached between Kosovo and Serbia, which will benefit the people of both countries.  

Vice President Biden reiterated our support for Kosovo’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.  Prime Minister Thaçi reaffirmed to the Vice President his commitment to help build a region based upon good neighborly relations and to carry out further needed democratic and economic reforms.

The Power of the Pen: Bills Signed into Law

Statement by the Press Secretary on H.R. 3606

On Thursday, April 5, 2012, the President signed into law:

H.R. 3606, the "Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act," which provides for Federal securities law exemptions intended to ease access to capital and investments for emerging growth companies and through crowdfunding.

Peters to be First Woman Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division, Third Department

Has Served on the Appellate Division Since 1994

Governor Andrew Cuomo today announced the appointment of Justice Karen K. Peters to serve as the Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court for the Third Judicial Department.

Justice Peters was the first woman elected a Supreme Court Justice in the Third Department and will now be the first woman to serve as a Presiding Justice in the history of the department.

"I am proud to appoint Justice Peters to be the first woman Presiding Justice of the Third Department," Governor Cuomo said.

"Throughout her career Justice Peters has displayed incredible judgment and integrity through her public service to New York State. I have no doubt that she will continue to provide justice to New Yorkers with great distinction."

Justice Karen Peters stated, "I am honored to be appointed to serve New Yorkers as Presiding Justice of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court for the Third Judicial Department. In this new position, I look forward to continuing to ensure New York State's justice system protects all our residents so that everyone gets treated fairly, and is connected to the needs of our state's communities. I thank Governor Cuomo for this appointment."

"I am thrilled beyond words at the news of the appointment of Karen Peters as Presiding Justice of the Third Department. These are, of course, enormous shoes to fill, but Justice Peters is an outstanding jurist who has earned the esteem of the legal community and will be a terrific leader in all respects," said Former Chief Judge of New York Judith Kaye.

Congressman Maurice Hinchey added, "I have known Judge Peters for many years, and I commend Governor Cuomo for this appointment. Judge Peters is an exemplary public servant, having served New Yorkers for decades in our state's justice system. As Presiding Justice, Judge Peters will continue her advocacy and commitment to fairness and justice, and I applaud the Governor on this appointment."

In addition to performing the duties of an Appellate Division Justice, which include deciding appeals from trial courts in the 28-county Third Department, incoming Presiding Justice Peters will be responsible for serving as the Third Department's Chief Administrator. 

As Presiding Justice, she will help shape statewide judicial policy as a member of the Administrative Board and act as an ambassador for the Court through community and professional outreach. Justice Peters will also oversee the operation of the Court’s ancillary agencies, including the Office of Attorneys for Children, the Committee on Professional Standards, the Committee on Character and Fitness and Mental Hygiene Legal Services.

Justice Peters has served on the Appellate Division since 1994. She has also served as a member of the New York State Commission on Judicial Conduct since 2000. She previously was a Justice of the Supreme Court, Third Judicial District from 1991-1992 and served on the Family Court, Ulster County, from 1984-1991.

Prior to serving on the bench, Justice Peters worked for the Assembly as the Director of the Standing Committee on Governmental Operations in 1983 and prior to that was Counsel to the State Division of Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse from 1979-1983.

Prior to formerly joining public service, Justice Peters was a visiting Assistant District Attorney in Dutchess County in 1979 and in private practice concentrating on criminal defense and family law from 1973 to 1979 at the law firm Peters and Weiner.

Justice Peters received her Bachelor of Arts degree from The George Washington University in 1969 and her Juris Doctor from New York University School of Law in 1972.

The Third Department Judicial Screening Committee submitted to the Governor all of the candidates who were deemed "highly qualified." Under the New York State Constitution and Judiciary Law, the Governor has the authority to appoint the Presiding Justice of each Appellate Division from among those who have been elected as Justices of the Supreme Court. The Governor’s appointment is not subject to Senate confirmation.

Photo courtesy of  

President Obama’s Passover Message

Cuomo, Council 82's Lyman Reach Contract Agreement

Cuomo: "This is a Fair and Reasonable Contract...."

Governor Andrew Cuomo and Council 82 Executive Director James Lyman have announced a tentative contract agreement between the State and Council 82 Supervisors Unit.

The tentative contract includes zero percent wage increases for 2011-2013 and ensures protections against layoffs, and offers health benefits commensurate with other state bargaining units. 

The contract provides for a 2% general salary increase in both 2014 and 2015, 9 days of deficit reduction leave, and adjustments to the health insurance premium. 

"Shared sacrifice is needed during these difficult fiscal times and I am pleased that by working together we have been able to reach a tentative agreement with the members of Council 82’s Supervisors Unit," Governor Cuomo said. 

"This is a fair and reasonable contract that protects the jobs of the men and women that work to protect New Yorkers. I thank Executive Director Lyman and both negotiating teams for their hard work in helping reach this tentative agreement." 

"This is a good and fair contract for all involved for the state, the taxpayers and the hardworking men and women in the bargaining unit. These individuals keep New York safe and secure and this contract reflects the respect that they have earned. We praise the efforts and commitments of the Governor and both negotiating teams in reaching a deal," stated  James Lyman, Executive Director of Council 82.

The agreement follows the pattern of contracts negotiated over the past year and includes the following:

Zero percent wage increases for 2011-2013, a 2% increase in both 2014 and 2015

3% and 4% wage increases for 2009-2011; same pattern as other units. These increases were previously reserved for in the state financial plan.

A $1,000 retention bonus paid out $775 in the third year and $225 in the fourth year. 

Deficit Reduction Leave (DRL) totaling nine days, saving $2.3 million. The total deduction for the days comes from the retro pay for 2009-11.

Employees will be repaid the value of 4 DRL days in equal installments starting at the end of the contract term. 

Retroactive payments that are scheduled to be paid in one payment this fiscal year. 

A six percent increase for health insurance premiums, making the employee share 16% for individuals and 31% for family premiums. 

A health plan opt-out so officers can opt-out through a spouse/partner to a non-State health plan. 

All changes to health benefits, including premium shifts, will save $3.5 million over the contract period and $1 million annually after 2016. 

Members will receive broad layoff protection. Workforce reductions due to management decisions to close or restructure facilities authorized by legislation, SAGE recommendations or material or unanticipated changes in the state's fiscal circumstances are not covered by this limitation.