Saturday, December 8, 2012

Weekly Address: Congress Must Extend the Middle Class Tax Cuts

President Obama urges Congress to extend the middle class income tax cuts for 98 percent of Americans and 97 percent of small businesses without delay, making it clear that a balanced approach to deficit reduction means that Republicans in Congress must agree to ask the wealthiest Americans to pay higher tax rates.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Hanukkah Greeting from the President

Statement by President Obama

Michelle and I send our warmest wishes to all those celebrating Hanukkah around the world.

This Hanukkah season we remember the powerful story of the Maccabees who rose up to liberate their people from oppression. Upon discovering the desecration of their Temple, the believers found only enough oil to light the lamp for one night. And yet it lasted for eight. 

Hanukkah is a time to celebrate the faith and customs of the Jewish people, but it is also an opportunity for people of all faiths to recognize the common aspirations we share. This holiday season, let us give thanks for the blessings we enjoy, and remain mindful of those who are suffering. And let us reaffirm our commitment to building a better, more complete world for all.   

From our family to the Jewish Community around the world, Chag Sameach. 

Happy Hanukkah!

From The G-Man Wishes Jews All Over the World a Very Happy Hanukkah

President Obama Lights the National Christmas Tree

West Wing Week: 12/07/12

This week, the President visited a toy factory, hosted Kennedy Center Honorees, held the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference, welcomed the Prime Minister of Bulgaria, answered questions live on twitter, spoke on National Security achievements, visited a family who had written the White House, and lit the National Christmas Tree.

The Power of the Pen: New Bills Signed into Law

Statement by Press Secretary Jay Carney on H.R. 915, H.R. 6063, and H.R. 6634

On Friday, December 7, 2012, the President signed into law:

H.R. 915, the “Jaime Zapata Border Enforcement Security Task Force Act,” which establishes in statute the Department of Homeland Security’s Border Enforcement Security Task Force (BEST), which is comprised of multi-agency units established to address and reduce security threats and violence on the Nation’s southern and northern borders and at selected seaports;

H.R. 6063, the “Child Protection Act of 2012,” which makes changes to the Criminal Code related to child pornography and protection of child witnesses and Department of Justice programs related to prevention and interdiction of child exploitation and child pornography on the Internet; and

H.R. 6634, which delays, until April 15, 2013, the requirement in the STOCK Act that financial disclosure forms of certain employees of the Executive and Legislative Branches be made available on official websites.

In Memoriam.....Lance Cpl. Anthony J. Denier

Died While Conducting Combat Operations in Helmand Province

Governor Andrew Cuomo has directed that flags on state government buildings be flown at half-staff on Monday, December 10, 2012 in honor of a Mechanicville, NY Marine who died in Helmand Province, Afghanistan on December 2, 2012.

Lance Cpl. Anthony J. Denier died while conducting combat operations. He was assigned to 3rd Battalion, 9th Marines, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, which is based at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. 

"I join with my fellow New Yorkers in mourning the loss of Lance Cpl. Denier,” Governor Cuomo said.

“I extend my deepest sympathy to his family, friends, and fellow Marines. We will honor his service and sacrifice, and we are grateful for his dedication to our nation."

From The G-Man would like to take this opportunity to honor Lance Cpl. Anthony J. Denier,  his love of country, and his service with the following video tribute. May he forever rest in peace.

Folded flag image courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Video uploaded to YouTube by moderatepopulist

Clinton on Syria: No Easy Answers

Air date: December 7, 2012

'The U.S. Economy is Continuing to Heal...'

(Click on graph to increase size.)

Statement on the Employment Situation in November

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

While more work remains to be done, today’s employment report provides further evidence that the U.S. economy is continuing to heal from the wounds inflicted by the worst downturn since the Great Depression. It is critical that we continue the policies that are building an economy that works for the middle class as we dig our way out of the deep hole that was caused by the severe recession that began in December 2007. 

Most pressing, President Obama has proposed, and the Senate has passed, an extension of middle class income tax cuts that would prevent the typical middle class family from facing a $2,200 tax increase at the beginning of next year. In addition, the President has proposed a plan that will enable responsible homeowners to refinance their mortgage and take advantage of today’s historically low interest rates. To create more jobs in particularly hard-hit sectors, President Obama continues to urge Congress to pass elements of the American Jobs Act, including further investment in infrastructure to rebuild our Nation’s ports, roads and highways, and assistance to State and local governments to prevent layoffs and to enable them to rehire hundreds of thousands of teachers.

Today’s report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) shows that private sector businesses added 147,000 jobs last month. Total non-farm payroll employment rose by 146,000 jobs in November.  The economy has now added private sector jobs for 33 straight months, and a total of 5.6 million jobs have been added during that period, taking account of the preliminary benchmark revision.

The household survey showed that the unemployment rate declined from 7.9 percent in October to 7.7 percent in November, the lowest since December 2008.  The labor force participation rate declined by 0.2 percentage point last month.  Over the last 12 months, the unemployment rate has decreased by 1.0 percentage point as a result of growing employment, and the labor force participation rate has been essentially unchanged.

According to the establishment survey, in November employment rose notably in retail trade (+52,600), professional and business services (+43,000), and leisure and hospitality (+23,000).  Manufacturing lost 7,000 jobs, and construction was down 20,000.  However, the manufacturing sector has added jobs in 28 of the last 34 months, gaining half a million jobs over that period, the most for any such period since the mid-1990s.

Government lost 1,000 jobs, as federal government payrolls decreased by 5,000, state government payrolls increased by 6,000, and local government payrolls declined by 2,000.

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 informative to consider each report in the context of other data that are becoming available.

Unemployment Drops to 7.7 Percent, Best in Four Years

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Verizon Files Patent for 'Eavesdropping' DVR

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Fiscal Cliff Impact on Unemployment Insurance

Air date: December 7, 2012

Fiscal Times correspondent Josh Boak talked about unemployment insurance and how it could be impacted during “fiscal cliff” negotiations. Topics included how the program is funded, who qualifies for it and why it’s at risk as the Dec. 31 deadline approaches. 

Today in History: December 7th

On this date in 1941, Japanese forces attack the home base of the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii - prompting America under President Franklin D. Roosevelt to enter World War II.

Egypt's President Offers to Hold Dialogue

Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi has offered to hold dialogue with the opposition as the political crisis in the country is deepening. But addressing the nation on Thursday, he refused to give up the wide-ranging powers he awarded himself in a recent presidential decree and said he will not delay a referendum on the draft constitution. Al Jazeera's Rory Challands reports from Cairo.

Tunisia Hoping Ben Ali Assets Will Fuel Recovery

Tunisia's government is hoping to boost an ailing economy by selling the former president's assets. Over 20 years, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali accumulated wealth estimated to be in the region of $700 million. Al Jazeera's Hashem Ahelbarra was granted access to one of his main palaces in Tunis, the capital.

Argentina's Clarin Wins Reprieve on Media Law

A court in Argentina has given one of the country's biggest media companies some breathing room. Clarin had faced a Friday deadline to sell off parts of its media empire under an anti-trust law. But it says it is being targeted because of its critical stance towards President Cristina Kirchner. Al Jazeera's Teresa Bo reports from Buenos Aires.

Afghan Spy Chief Wounded in Kabul Attack

Asadullah Khalid was badly wounded when a suicide bomber posing as a peace messenger set off explosives at a guesthouse in Kabul. Khalid, a close ally of President Hamid Karzai, was appointed in September. Al Jazeera's Bernard Smith reports from Kabul.

Russia Banks on New Gas Pipeline

Construction of a major new gas pipeline to Europe has begun on Russia's Black Sea Coast. The new pipeline will run across the Black Sea and through the Balkans to central Europe. Industry experts are questioning, however, whether the $20 billion project is really necessary. Al Jazeera's Robin Forestier-Walker reports from Moscow.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

White House Briefs

Back to the Future for the FCC

Moyers & Company

The video was posted on the Moyers website on December 5, 2012.
The FCC's proposal to relax media ownership rules is eerily reminiscent of a similar effort -- and consequential public outrage -- five years ago.

Marijuana Now Legal in Washington State

Air date: December 6, 2012

Washington State's new law allowing adults to own marijuana for non-medical use is now in effect and supporters wasted no time celebrating. CBS News' John Blackstone reports.

Fiscal Cliff Compromises

Air date: December 6, 2012

Armstrong Williams talked about the latest “fiscal cliff” negotiations in Congress, what the Republicans need to be willing to compromise on, and whether he thinks a deal will be reached before the end of 2012. 

Senator Marco Rubio at Kemp Foundation Leadership Award Dinner

Air date: December 4, 2012

Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) spoke at the Jack Kemp Foundation dinner at the Mayflower Renaissance Hotel. Senator Rubio laid out several policy recommendations he believed would help all families regardless of class and keep the nation great. He said that President Obama’s tax hike proposal on high income earners was not the best way to achieve economic growth and control America’s debt. Other topics included education and health care reform. He was then presented with the 2012 Kemp Leadership Award by the widow of former Representative Jack Kemp.

Today in History: December 6th

Jefferson Davis dies in New Orleans; Four people die at a free Rolling Stones concert at the Altamont Speedway in Livermore, California; America's first attempt to put a satellite into orbit fails; Jazz pianist Dave Brubeck is born. 

Jazz Legend Dave Brubeck Passes Away

Dave Brubeck was designated a living legend by the Library of Congress. He helped define club jazz which grew in popularity in the 1950s and 1960s. Brubeck died at the age of 91, a day shy of his 92nd birthday. Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher reports from Washington.

Overnight Clashes in Cairo Turn Deadly

Protesters loyal to Egypt's President Mohammed Morsi and opposition groups have been fighting running battles outside the presidential palace overnight. Al Jazeera's Rory Challands reports from Cairo.

Chilly Meeting in Berlin for Netanyahu and Merkel

Germany has long stayed close to Israel - becoming its strongest European ally. But Berlin pointedly refused to vote with Israel to block Palestinian efforts for United Nations recognition. so the atmosphere was perhaps a little frosty as the leaders of the two countries met in Berlin just a couple of hours ago. Nick Spicer reports from the German capital.

Hong Kong Chokes on Own Success

The approximate death toll due to polluted air in Asia's cities are at more than 800 thousand. Pollution in cities like Hong Kong are making it increasingly unpleasant and also increasingly deadly. Al Jazeera's Rob McBride looks into the impact of pollution in Hong Kong.

Uganda Oil Bill Creates Parliamentary Raucous

Uganda's parliament has seen unruly behavior in the last week as politicians debated a controversial oil bill. Critics say that the Oil Bill gives too much control to the Energy Minister and a government they say has a track record of corruption. Oil was first discovered there in 2006, but extraction has not started yet. Al Jazeera's Malcolm Webb reports from Kampala.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

From The G-Man Needs Your Help

Contributions Will Go Toward Helping Site Maintain Its Base of Operations on Many Levels

During this season of giving and goodwill, From The G-Man is seeking donations in order to continue providing news and information that you may not see in the mainstream media, like the heartfelt story "Self-Taught African Teen Wows M.I.T", which was showcased earlier in the week.  

In the nearly four years that From The G-Man has been operating, I have never received compensation, advertising revenue or anything in the way of funding for the enormous amount of work generated on a daily basis. My goal has always been to obtain major  advertisers, sponsors or substantial donations so I could manage the site as a full-time job, which I'm practically doing already. I'm still hopeful that a "Secret Santa" will materialize and help me in my quest to maintain my creation.

In 2011, I edited and published nearly 1,699 news stories. With under a month to go in 2012, I've already doubled last year's number... with no staff of any kind! I'm on pace to publish 3,650 news items, which roughly breaks down to 10 news stories/features or more a day, every day, since the beginning of 2012! 

Yes, I'm solely responsible for analyzing and editing all news content provided by numerous sources, configuring HTML codes for all news videos that are posted, writing breaking and original news stories and exclusive features, and conceiving, editing and writing all segments for "The G-Man Interviews" series.

The effort has been painstaking, but I forge ahead, despite periodic illness, because Matt Drudge and Arianna Huffington started out the same way, and look where they are today. If it happened for them, I believe it can happen for me, too. My dedication to the site and intense work ethic serve as confirmation. With your donation, which can be made by clicking on the green "Donate" button in the upper-right corner, From The G-Man will continue to grow and publish news and information that impacts your life....and the lives of your brothers and sisters all over the globe. 

Thank you, and Happy Holidays.......from "The G-Man". 

President Obama at the 2012 Tribal Nations Conference Closing Session

President Obama speaks to leaders of American Indian and Alaska Native communities in the opening session of the 2012 White House Tribal Nations Conference in Washington, DC.

President Obama Speaks to the Business Roundtable

President Obama explains that our nation’s businesses need the certainty that middle class families won’t see their taxes go up at the end of the year, and asks business leaders for their help in supporting an approach to resolving the debt limit crisis without drama or delay.

White House Briefs

Jack Brooks, Defender of Civil Rights, Dead at 89

Official Congressional Portrait of Texas Representative 
Jack Brooks

Statement by Vice President Biden on the Former Congressman's Passing

I’m deeply saddened to hear about the passing of Jack Brooks. He was a Texan through and through – tough, bold, and bigger than life. He lived by principles that were carved into his heart, and he was never afraid to fight for what he believed in. In the sixties, he was one of the few southerners to boldly support civil rights. And throughout his career, Jack was always determined to do right by the people who sent him to Congress, whether that meant investigating Iran Contra, or fighting to root out government waste. He was a great man, and one of the privileges of my Senate career was working side-by-side with Jack when I was Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and he was Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jack’s family today.

More information on the life of Jack Brooks is available by clicking here.

Obama: "Prepared to Make Some Tough Decisions" on Entitlements

In an interview with Bloomberg TV, when asked which entitlement reform ideas are on the table in "fiscal cliff" negotiations, President Obama said he was "prepared to make some tough decisions" on entitlements to ensure "those programs are there for the long haul," but downplayed the likelihood of cuts to beneficiaries.

Fmr. Pres. George W. Bush Calls for "Benevolent" Immigration Debate

At a conference sponsored by the George W. Bush Institute, former President George W. Bush said, "As our nation debates the proper course of action relating to immigration, I hope we do so with a benevolent spirit." He reminded the audience that "America can be a lawful society and a welcoming society at the same time."

Glenn Close Says Sister Inspires Mental Illness Work

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Fiscal Cliff Negotiations in Congress

Air date: December 5, 2012

Representative Peter Welch (D-VT) talked about the latest developments in “fiscal cliff” negotiations in Congress, including his opinion on the possibility of a compromise before the end of the year.

Happy 80th Birthday, Little Richard!

From The G-Man salutes the man that many consider to be the creator of rock and roll, the legendary Little Richard. Happy Birthday, and thank you for your remarkable contribution to American music. 

The video was uploaded to YouTube by  on Oct 19, 2007.

Today in History: December 5th

U.N. Head Says World is in a Race Against Time

Ban Ki-Moon, the secretary-general of the United Nations has stated that the world is in a race against time against climate change. The COP18 UN Summit in Doha will conclude on Friday, giving the delegates two more days to agree on targets for cutting carbon emissions. The UN says climate change will cost developing countries up to $67 billion each year by 2030. Tarek Bazley reports from Doha, Qatar.

Deadly Clashes Erupt in Lebanon's Tripoli

At least four people have been killed and dozens injured over the past two days in clashes in Lebanon's northern city of Tripoli between gunmen loyal to opposing sides in neighboring Syria's civil war, security officials said. The fighting on Tuesday and Wednesday in the port city have pitted Sunni Muslim districts against areas housing Alawites, from the same religious community as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. Al Jazeera's Rula Amin reports from Tripoli.

NATO Approves Missiles on Turkey-Syria Border

Among concerns of the Assad government using chemical weaponry against the Syrian people, NATO has agreed on deploying the Patriot anti-missile system along Turkey's border with Syria. This particular defense system uses radar to detect and destroy incoming threats, including missiles and aircraft. It can lock onto a target more than 80 km away and can be fired remotely within nine seconds of detecting a threat. Al Jazeera's Jonah Hull reports from Brussels, Belgium.

Typhoon Bopha Toll Jumps in the Philippines

The scale of the damage caused by Typhoon Bhopa to the southern Philippines is becoming clearer. More than 200 people have been killed; but that total is expected to rise as rescuers try and get to remote mountain villages cut off by floods and landslides. Al Jazeera's Meareana Hond has more.

Nigeria's Daunting Sanitation Problems

According to a new statistic from WaterAid, an nongovernmental organisation, 50 million women in Nigeria are directly bearing the brunt of a lack of clean water and sanitation. Access to government-provided sanitation has dropped from 37% in 1990 to 31% today in the country causing the spread of diseases and poverty. Al Jazeera's Yvonne Ndege reports from Lagos, Nigeria.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

'We Hope the Senate Will Reconsider This Treaty Soon in the Next Congress'

Statement by Press Secretary Jay Carney on the Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities

We are disappointed that the overwhelming majority of Senate Republicans today blocked the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which would enshrine American standards that have been developed through decades of bipartisan cooperation. Ratification would require no changes to U.S. law, as the United States already leads the world in promoting and protecting the rights of persons with disabilities. However, it would position the United States to support extending across the globe the rights that Americans already enjoy at home. This in turn would improve the lives of Americans with disabilities -- including our wounded service members -- who wish to live, work, and travel abroad. It would also allow our businesses to operate on a more level playing field and reaffirm American leadership on disability rights. For these reasons, and others, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate and across the country -- as well as disability advocacy groups, wounded warriors, veterans groups and business groups -- have supported this treaty. We commend former Senator Dole and the bipartisan coalition of Senators who worked to secure the treaty resolution’s passage, including Senators Reid, Kerry, Lugar and McCain.  We hope the Senate will reconsider this treaty soon in the next Congress. As President Obama declared in a written statement read in tribute to Senator Dole just before the vote, “disability rights should not stop at our nation's shores.”

Details on the rejection by the Senate are available in this Bloomberg News article.

White House Briefs

Self-Taught African Teen Wows M.I.T.

15-Year-Old Kelvin Doe is an engineering whiz living in Sierra Leone who scours the trash bins for spare parts, which he uses to build batteries, generators and transmitters. Completely self-taught, Kelvin has created his own radio station where he broadcasts news and plays music under the moniker, DJ Focus. 

Kelvin became the youngest person in history to be invited to the "Visiting Practitioner's Program" at MIT. THNKR had exclusive access to Kelvin and his life-changing journey - experiencing the US for the first time, exploring incredible opportunities, contending with homesickness, and mapping out his future. 

Video uploaded to YouTube on Nov 16, 2012 by 

Visit if you would like to support Kelvin and young innovators like him. 

Tax Loopholes and the Fiscal Cliff

Air date: December 3, 2012

Curtis Dubay and Chuck Marr talked about tax loopholes and deductions potentially on the chopping block in the so-called “fiscal cliff” negotiations and the pros and cons of eliminating specific deductions. 

Nuclear Weapons Security

Air date: December 3, 2012

President Obama visited Army post Fort McNair to mark the 20th anniversary of the Cooperative Threat Reduction U.S.-Russia program to secure nuclear weapons in former Soviet states. The agreement was initiated by Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN) and former Senate Sam Nunn (D-GA). President Obama praised the work of both senators, and told humorous stories of his first foreign trip as a senator from Illinois with Senator Lugar. He also spoke of his administration’s commitment to nuclear disarmament, among his remarks saying, “Missile by missile, warhead by warhead, shell by shell, we’re putting a bygone era behind us.” 

President Obama also addressed the civil war in Syria, warning its President Assad that “there will be consequences” if he used chemical weapons against Syrian citizens.

Obama Warns Assad Over Chemical Weapons

Barack Obama, the US president, has warned Syria's President Bashar al Assad against using chemical weapons on his own people. The U.S. president has said there would be consequences if he did so. Syrian State TV is reporting that its foreign ministry insists it would "never under any circumstances" use such weapons, "if such weapons exist". Al Jazeera's Alan Fisher reports from Washington, DC.

Nigerian Army Accused of Killing Civilians

Rights groups accuse Joint Task Force in Maiduguri of gross human rights violations in fight against Boko Haram. Human rights groups are accusing Nigeria's Joint Task Force of killing civilians in its fight against the armed group Boko Haram. The group has claimed responsibility for killing thousands of people since it was founded in 2002. Boko Haram, which means 'Western Education is Forbidden', says it wants to create an Islamic state in Muslim-dominated northern Nigeria. The U.S. has put Boko Haram and its leader Abubakar Shekau on its list of terror organisations. Al Jazeera's Yvonne Ndege reports from the northern city of Maiduguri, where local people say government forces are killing civilians.

Campaigning for General Elections Begins in Japan

Campaigning is underway in Japan ahead of general elections later this month. It comes more than a year after the tsunami that led to a nuclear meltdown at one of its power plants. But as Al Jazeera's Harry Fawcett reports from Fukushima, many of those who were affected by the disaster say they're being ignored by politicans.

Australia's Aborigines Object to Gas Project

Australia's government is due to decide within weeks whether to approve a massive gas project in country's north-west. If it gets the go-ahead, the development will be one of the biggest in the world. But it is dividing communities and critics say it will have a major impact on the environment. Al Jazeera's Andrew Thomas reports from Broome, north-western Australia.

Philippines Struck by Powerful Storm

Typhoon Bopha has killed at least four people and wounded three in the southern Philippines, in the strongest storm to hit the country this year. More than 41,000 people have fled to evacuation shelters. Al Jazeera's Marga Ortigas reported from Cagayan de Oro.

Ireland Asks Diaspora to 'Come Home'

Ireland did not escape the strain of the eurozone debt crisis. Now Irish businesses are turning to Irish people overseas to help rescue the Irish economy. Ireland has an enormous diaspora among European countries - four million living in the country, and more than 70 million living elsewhere. Al Jazeera's Laurence Lee reports from Ireland.

Monday, December 3, 2012

President Obama Speaks at the 2012 Kennedy Center Honors Reception

Cuomo: 'You Can Protect Yourself by Being on Guard and Taking Simple Precautions'

Governor Warns New Yorkers Against Home Repair Scams in the Wake of Hurricane Sandy

Governor Andrew Cuomo today warned New Yorkers to protect themselves from home repair scam artists, who will try to take advantage of unsuspecting homeowners who suffered property damage from Storm Sandy.

“Most people and businesses will be hard at work rebuilding, but sadly some dishonest people will try to take advantage of others misfortune to make a quick dishonest buck,” said Governor Cuomo.

“You don’t want to add being cheated to the damage you have already suffered from the storm. You can protect yourself by being on guard and taking simple precautions.”

Benjamin M. Lawsky, Superintendent of the Department of Financial Services, added, “Home repair fraud increases exponentially following a major storm. It is essential to protect yourself. If your property has been damaged, you are likely to be upset and want to get things back to normal as quickly as possible. Scam artists take advantage of that. That’s why it’s important to take the time to think through decisions, shop around, get a written contract and just say no to anything that sounds suspicious or too good to true.”

These are some warning signs that tell you to avoid a contractor or salesman. For example, be aware of anyone who:

Comes to your home or calls you on the phone and offers to make repairs.

Tells you that you must make repairs immediately.

Talks too fast to confuse you and pressures you to sign a contract immediately.

Tells you that they are doing work in your neighborhood and that they have extra materials left from another job.

Offers a discounted price or discounts if you refer others, but only if you buy today.

Tells you something that sounds too good to be true. It probably is not true!

Is not an established local business, but has come to the area from somewhere else to “help.”

“It is a good idea to review with your family how to handle someone coming to your door to sell a home repair. If you all know what to do, that will help prevent home repair scams,” Lawsky noted.

In addition, it is wise to:

Avoid unlicensed contractors in areas of the State where a license is required, such as New York City, Nassau, Suffolk, Putnam, Rockland, or Westchester. Unlicensed contractors are operating illegally in those areas. 

Avoid contractors who don't supply references or whose references can't be reached.

Avoid contractors who tell you there's no need for a written contract. By law, all contracts for $500 or more must be in writing, but it's a good idea to get a written contract even for smaller projects.

Avoid contractors who only have a P.O. Box address or a cell phone number

Avoid contractors who do not supply proof of insurance

Avoid contractors who ask you to get required building permits. It could mean that the contractor is unlicensed or has a bad track record, and is therefore reluctant to deal with the local building inspector. However, you should verify with your local building department that all necessary permits have been obtained by the contractor.

Be wary of contractors who ask for money to buy materials before starting the job. Reliable, established contractors can buy materials on credit

Avoid contractors who demand payment in cash or want full payment up front, before work has begun. Instead, find a contractor who will agree to a payment schedule providing for an initial down payment and subsequent incremental payments until the work is completed.

“Always withhold final payment until you have completed a final walk through, approved of all the completed work, and all required inspections and certificates of occupancy have been delivered to you,” Superintendent Lawsky said.

If you think you have been the victim of a scam, you should consult a lawyer immediately. There are time deadlines to cancel sales and pursue legal claims. You can also contact the Department of Financial Services for insurance related scams, or your district attorney or the Attorney General’s Office.

If you have a problem with a home improvement contractor and can't resolve it yourself, you can file a complaint with the New York State Department of State at or by calling 1-800-697-1220. You can also complain to your local consumer protection office.

Consumers should contact their insurance company, agent or broker to get answers to specific questions about their policies or claims. Consumers who need further help should feel free to contact the New York State Department of Financial Services’ Consumer Services Bureau at 800-342-3736 which operates from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Disaster related calls only should go to the disaster hotline at 800-339-1759, which is open 24 hours a day seven days a week.

Some suggestions for the safe way to find a contractor to repair your home:

Check out contractors. Is the company reputable? How long has it been in business? Ask for references and then check them out. Make sure the company is licensed, bonded, and insured. Ask to see its insurance policy or certificate of insurance. There are on-line resources for finding out other people’s experience with contractors.

Get at least two estimates. Many companies give free inspections and written estimates -- get two or three before choosing a contractor. Remember that the lowest price is not always the best deal. Compare costs, materials, and methods suggested by different companies to decide what materials and methods are best for your home.

Insist on a written contract that includes a detailed description of the work to be done and specifies exactly what materials will be used and their quality. The contract should include starting and estimated completion dates. The terms, including the price, finance charges and payments, should be what you agreed on. If not, do not sign it! Be sure to get a copy of everything you sign when you sign it.

Ask if there is a guarantee or warranty. If so, make sure it is in writing. If the company won't put its promises in writing, look for another company which will.

Do not sign the contract until you read it carefully. If the salesperson pressures you to sign before you read and understand the entire contract - don't sign it! Never rely on the salesperson to read or explain the contract to you.

Do not pay for work in advance.

Inspect all of the work very carefully to make sure it was done properly. If you have any doubts or questions, do NOT make your final payment or sign a "completion certificate" until the work is properly finished.