UFC To Try Again Next Year For MMA

From the Morning Memo:

Ultimate Fighting Championship CEO Lorenzo Fertitta in an email to mixed-martial arts supporters last week pledged to try again next year on legalizing the sport in New York after a measure to do so once again stalled in the Assembly.

“We will stay in touch with you over the coming months as we continue to build support for passing the bill in 2016,” he wrote in the email.

Lawmakers in the Democratic-led chamber last month declined to vote on the MMA legislation despite a re-packaged version of the bill that would add new protections for insurance in athletes pro and amateur who compete in combat-style sports.

Legalizing the sport has faced opposition from the Las Vegas culinary union, which has been in a labor dispute with Fertitta, the head of the most prominent MMA-promoting company, commonly known as UFC.

Still, some lawmakers say their concerns with legalizing MMA in New York stems from the sport being too violent. Supporters point to the potential economic impact MMA bouts would have, especially in upstate New York, where Fertitta has pledged to schedule bouts should the sport be legalized.

“While our disappointment cannot be overstated, our commitment to seeing New York legalize the fastest growing sport in the nation and the world is intact and undeterred,” Fertitta wrote in the email. “We continue to strongly believe that legalizing and regulating MMA in New York is the right thing for the state economically, the right thing for the millions of fans in New York and most importantly, the right thing for the safety and benefit of the thousands of professional and amateur MMA athletes across the state.”

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and his family remain on vacation somewhere in the Southwestern and Western US; they’re due back in town Wednesday.

Starting at 7 a.m. and ending at 9:10 a.m., NJ Gov. Chris Christie, a newly-minted GOP 2016 contender, will make appearances on CBS This Morning, MSNBC’s Morning Joe and FOX News’ America’s Newsroom with Bill Hemmer.

At 9:15 a.m., the NYC Department of Transportation, the Parks Department, and Prospect Park Alliance kick off the first day of car-free Prospect Park; Grand Army Plaza, Prospect Park entrance, Brooklyn.

At 10:30 a.m., Rep. Elise Stefanik will officially launch her NY-21 “Mobile Office”, Glens Falls City Park, Maple Street, Glens Falls.

At 11:30 a.m., Kathy Hochul tours the Anheuser-Busch Brewery to discuss the latest investments in its Baldwinsville facility, 2885 Belgium Rd., Baldwinsville. (The tour is closed to the press, but a media availability will follow at approximately 12:15 p.m.)

At noon, US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Chris Gibson announce a new push to pass legislation to ensure thousands of Navy veterans known as “Blue Water” vets from the Vietnam War exposed to the powerful toxin Agent Orange will be eligible to receive disability and health care benefits, American Legion Post, Joseph E. Zaloga Post 1520, 4 Everett Road Extension, Albany.

At 1 p.m., the New York State Gaming Commission meets, NYS Department of Labor, 4th Floor Commissioner’s Suite, 9 Bond St., Brooklyn. (Or NYS Division of Budget, Room 131, state Capitol, Albany).

Also at 1 p.m., Sens. Leroy Comrie and Diane Savino discuss passage of legislation that protects seniors and disabled New Yorkers from rent increases; The Beaver Brooke, 77-35 113th St., Apt. 6N, Forest Hills, Queens.

Headlines…

Quiet returned to Dannemora – just in time for the fourth of July weekend – after the three-week manhunt for escaped convicts Richard Matt and David Sweat came to an end.

Republicans this week will begin targeting an element of Hillary Clinton’s history that polls show to be one of her strengths as a presidential candidate: Her ability as an executive.

New election legislation in Congress that is co-sponsored by US Sen. Chuck Schumer would force New York to gain federal approval to implement photo identification laws, print bilingual voting materials and even draw fresh district boundaries.

A federal judge has ordered a city carpenters union to get back to work by today, after members walked off job sites in violation of several labor agreements. The NYC District Council of Carpenters began striking Wednesday at up to 20 sites after contract negotiations with the Cement League, a collective of unionized contractors, fell through.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent public criticism of Gov. Andrew Cuomo is part of a “new and coordinated effort” to get the governor to move further to the political left, according to Fred Dicker.

Silvercup Studios, which has hosted television productions such as HBO’s “The Sopranos” and “Girls” at its Queens studios, is moving forward with a third facility in the Port Morris section of the South Bronx.

The first city bus driver arrested for killing a pedestrian under de Blasio’s “Vision Zero” policy never should have been cuffed, according to a damning MTA report obtained by the NY Post.

U.S. Black Chambers CEO Ron Busby in a letter to de Blasio last week said the proposed one-year restriction on new black and livery cars will put up a roadblock to job opportunities for New Yorkers of color in the outer boroughs.

An anti-Airbnb group is rolling out a new TV commercial that accuses the apartment-rental site of lining the pockets of greedy fat cats who use it to destroy affordable housing.

The NYPD and NYC lawyers are engaging in a “stunning pattern” of evidence destruction in a high-stakes class-action case alleging cops have issued 850,000 bogus summonses due to a quota system, new documents charge.

The number of pregnant women seeking treatment for their addictions to opiates and other drugs has more than quadrupled in recent years at one of the WNY region’s biggest providers of drug treatment and mental health services.

A new book chronicles the long road to construction of a new Tappan Zee Bridge, the price tag for which remains an open question.

State lawmakers have passed a bill, which takes effect in 2017, that would require new smoke detectors contain 10-year non-removable batteries.

The city of Troy has won the state Legislature’s approval to sell the 5.74-acre Scolite site on the Hudson River for future development.

Port Authority officials are lawyering up — a sign the investigations into four major road projects are advancing.

NYC politicians eager to dump GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump’s contracts with the city over his recent anti-Mexican rant are likely to find their efforts thwarted by the First Amendment, according to a leading civil liberties lawyer.

On the same day one of its top sponsors called on NASCAR to take a stance against Trump, the motorsports series said it will not hold its season-ending awards ceremony at the Trump National Doral Miami resort.

NJ Gov. Chris Christie said the media owes him an apology over coverage of the Bridgegate scandal. “Three different investigations have verified exactly what I said the day after this incident happened, that I had no knowledge of it and absolutely nothing to do with it,” the GOP presidential contender said on “Fox News Sunday.”

Cuomo took his longtime girlfriend, Sandra Lee, to Richard Gere’s Westchester inn last week to celebrate her 49th birthday. She continues to recover from double mastectomy surgery.

“Today” host Matt Lauer’s plans to plant trees on his Hamptons property has angered a neighbor who likes looking at the bucolic 40-acre horse farm.

Joey “Jaws” Chestnut is no longer the top dog. For the first time in nearly a decade, a new champ has been crowned in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest in Coney Island: Matt “The Megatoad” Stonie.

The (Holiday) Weekend That Was

Greeks delivered a shocking rebuff to Europe’s leaders today, decisively rejecting a deal offered by the country’s creditors in a historic vote that could redefine Greece’s place in Europe and shake the Continent’s financial stability.

David Sweat, the New York prison escapee who was shot and taken into custody last week, was released from the hospital this morning and returned to prison, corrections officials said.

Sweat is now at the maximum-security Five Points Correctional Facility in Romulus in Seneca County. He will be evaluated in the prison’s infirmary over the first 24 hours, then housed in a Special Housing Unit in a single cell within the facility’s 150-bed, 23-hour confinement unit. He also will be placed on active suicide watch.

Her change of heart came in a Chinese restaurant, with only hours left to spare. Joyce Mitchell looked across the table at her husband and changed her mind. She decided to let him live. She no longer wanted any part of the plot to have him killed at the hands of Sweat and his fellow convicted murderer, Richard Matt, whom she had agreed to help break out of Clinton Correctional Facility.

This is the Selfie Election. And if you are running for president, you have no choice but to submit.

Fourth of July parade routes were transformed into campaign trails as presidential candidates spent the holiday shaking hands, mingling with voters, and dealing with hecklers. Early primary states celebrating Independence Day – including Iowa and New Hampshire – were particularly awash in White House wannabes.

The Clinton campaign corralled journalists at the Fourth of July parade in Gorham, New Hampshire, keeping the Fourth Estate away from the candidate and mostly out of earshot from exchanges with voters. Photos of cordoned-off journalists quickly went viral.

A tearful young man crying about the uncertainties of being gay received the ultimate affirmation by none other than Democratic presidential candidate Clinton.

Theirs might not be a marriage of true minds — but NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo should still be able to stave off a permanent split in their political union, according to professional therapists contemplating the rocky state of the 20-year relationship between the two pols.

Cuomo officiated at the marriage of rocker Billy Joel and his pregnant girlfriend, Alexis Roderick, during an annual Fourth of July bash at the Piano Man singer’s estate on Long Island. More here.

Schoolchildren across the state are enjoying summer vacation and the July weather is turning placid, but New York’s newly hired education commissioner, MaryEllen Elia, will be entering a stormy, highly charged environment when she takes office tomorrow.

New York City high school graduates who enroll at CUNY often aren’t ready for college, according to data showing the rising number of freshmen in need of remedial help.

For New York, Greek yogurt is more than just a success story. It’s a win-win tale of economic redemption, the industrial phoenix risen from the ashes of closed-down factories in small- and medium-sized towns and cities across the state.

The city Department of Education failed to tell the state that it changed Regents exam scores at Automotive HS in Brooklyn, officials say. The DOE “should have provided a full report after the fact, but failed to do so,” an SED spokesman said.

Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin is one of nine Republicans facing Democratic attacks for meeting with an extremist conservative group. Last month he addressed the Long Island chapter of Oath Keepers, a group of retired military, police and fire department employees who are committed to fighting “the tyranny we experience in our local, state and federal governments.”

A Roman Catholic shrine in upstate New York has failed in its bid to land a spot on Pope Francis’ itinerary when he visits the U.S. this September.

A Long Island prosecutor says compliance with a state law requiring schools to report incidents of bullying, harassment or intimidation is a “disaster.” Acting Nassau County DA Madeline Singas found 58 percent of all schools statewide failed to report even one incident, and 82 percent found no incidents of cyberbullying.

Marbletown officials are waiting for Cuomo to sign legislation approved last month that will allow offices to be moved into the former Rosendale Elementary School.

Actress, singer and onetime Miss America Vanessa Williams and Jim Skrip of Depew exchanged “I do”s at a private ceremony in Western New York and then later held an equally private reception. Details of the nuptials were kept secret.

Holiday Hours

Just a little note for those of you who haven’t already started your July 4th festivities.

There WILL be a Capital Tonight show this evening at 8 p.m. We’ll be chatting with Sen. George Latimer about how Yonkers ended up being the only school district that got cash in the Big Ugly deal ($25 million) after Gov. Andrew Cuomo had proposed a $100 million funded for struggling upstate schools.

Also, Latimer will talk about how the governor signed into law yesterday a pair of bills requested by Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano and fellow city leaders that allows the city to hike its sales tax and impose a separate tax on hotel rooms – both designed to assist the school district as it struggles with a major budget gap of $26 million due to a massive accounting error.

Also joining us will be Assemblyman John McDonald, who will be sharing his thoughts on the end of the session, which focused mostly on downstate issues (rent laws, mayoral control etc.) and didn’t result in much for upstate, other than the property tax cap and rebate program.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy had a wish list of issues he hoped the Legislature would address this session. Some of them got done, others did not. He’ll be joining us to discuss.

And, of course, since it’s Friday, the Reporter Roundtable will be on hand to review the week’s headlines. With us will be Gannett’s Jon Campbell, who’s prepared to talk about all things fracking now that the state has officially banned the controversial natural gas drilling practice; Matt Hamilton of the Albany TU, who will talk a little bit about prison reform in the wake of the Clinton Correctional Facility escape by Richard Matt and David Sweat (Hamilton is from the North Country and has family working in the corrections system); and, of course, CapTon’s own Nick Reisman will be with us, too.

There will be very light blogging today, in light of the holiday weekend. And nothing again until Monday morning…unless someone gets really inspired or big news breaks.

In the absence of either of those things, have a great weekend! Be safe, and be well. See you back here in a few days. – Liz

DiNapoli: Let’s All Get Along

From the Morning Memo:

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli urged both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to set aside their ongoing feud and repair their relationship.

Interviewed on Capital Tonight on Thursday, DiNapoli said that Cuomo and de Blasio need to get along, if only for the good of both the city and the state.

“I certainly hope everyone lets off some steam. The mayor of the city of New York and the governor of the state of New York — these are very important players in terms of the future of millions of people in the city and state,” DiNapoli said. “They need to have a working relationship. They’ve had one in the past. Hopefully they’ll be able to get it back on track, we’d all benefit from that.”

De Blasio this week in an unusually candid interview criticized Cuomo’s approach toward negotiations in Albany, airing grievances that the governor has sought to undermine the mayor’s administration, sided with Senate Republicans in the closed-door talks and takes revenge on perceived opponents.

In turn, Cuomo has insisted he has to work well with members of the other party in order to accomplish things, even if that requires compromise.

“Whether it was correct or wise, he said it,” DiNapoli said of the mayor’s remarks. “I think the question now is how does everyone move forward.”

De Blasio’s remarks were a startling admission that the relationship between the governor and mayor had reached such a low point after lawmakers and Cuomo only agreed to a year-long extension of mayoral control of city schools.

DiNapoli has had a turbulent relationship with Cuomo in the past. The then-gubernatorial candidate in 2010 declined to endorse DiNapoli’s bid for a full term.

In government, DiNapoli’s office has differed with Cuomo over approaches to managing state spending and the budget, which has led to searing denunciations from the governor’s team.

Calls For Tax Cap Changes Won’t End, DiNapoli Says

From the Morning Memo:

Broad changes to the state’s cap on property tax increases did not materialize this session.

That doesn’t mean calls for further changes in the future won’t go away anytime soon, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said in an interview.

Lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo did back changes to the cap, which limits levy increases at 2 percent or the rate of inflation, including allowing for growth in payments in lieu of taxes and BOCES capital expenses.

DiNapoli said the changes would likely have a “marginal” impact compared to the reforms sought by teachers unions along with local and school district leaders such as making it easier to override.

“The tax cap at least according to the polls a fair amount of popularity,” DiNapoli said. “I don’t think in Albany there’s been a big appetite to tinker with it too much.”

The cap itself was not re-approved indefinitely, but given another four years before it is due to sunset once again.

“I think over time you’ll keep hearing calls for more amendments,” DiNapoli said. “I don’t hear too many folks saying get rid of the tax cap entirely.”

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in the New York City area with no public schedule.

At 1 p.m., Brooklyn BP Eric Adams offers welcoming remarks as competitive eaters including Joey Chestnut and Miki Sudo attend an official weigh-in ceremony for Nathan’s Famous Inc.’s “International Hot Dog Eating Contest,” scheduled Saturday, July 4, on Brooklyn’s Coney Island boardwalk; rotunda, Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

At 5 p.m., Rep. Chris Gibson will help the Fort Plain community celebrate Independence Day and honor Loring Dutcher, a 46-year member of the Fort Plain Village Board.

Also at 5 p.m., Rep. Elise Stefanik speaks at the Albany Saratoga Speedway, 2671 Rte 9, Malta.

Headlines…

Authorities are now saying escaped convict Richard Matt aimed his 20-gauge shotgun at an armed federal agent late last week but was shot and killed before he could pull the trigger. Previously, they said only that he had been armed and was shot when he refused orders to put up his hands.

Three days after Matt broke out of Clinton Correctional Facility, his daughter living in a Buffalo suburb received a letter from him. “I always promised you I would see you on the outside. I’m a man of my word,” he wrote, seeming to allude to his imminent escape. He also had Joyce Mitchell, the prison employee charged with helping Matt and David Sweat break out, establish a relationship with his daughter.

Matt’s body has returned home to the City of Tonawanda, where a private funeral service is expected to be held. Arrangements were made by his son, Nicholas Harris, to claim his father’s remains. He is frustrated that prison officials are not assisting in the cost of the funeral.

Reports diving deep into potential shortcomings in the system that may have allowed Sweat and Matt to escape from the state prison at Dannemora will give way to reforms meant to prevent future breakouts from 54 state correctional facilities.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton told 822 police academy graduates they are coming onto the job at a time of “great change,” and will be looked upon to “heal wounds with communities that feel we have not done enough to keep them safe.”

Internal e-mails reveal that City Hall tried to cover up a rift with the Rev. Al Sharpton after the civil-rights preacher blasted the NYPD at a public round-table last summer with de Blasio and Bratton.

Citing his pending trial on federal corruption charges, former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver declined to disclose his outside income for 2014, according to the JCOPE, which released financial disclosure statements yesterday for every state legislator.

Jim Dwyer says there’s more than enough blame to go around when it comes to the feud between NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Sharpton is backing de Blasio in his public criticism of the governor. But Assemblyman Matt Titone, a Staten Island Democrat, thinks the mayor’s words were not smart. “This is Politics 101,” he said. “If you think someone is vindictive and you threw a grenade at him, how does that help?”

Former US Sen. Al D’Amato offered to broker a peace agreement between de Blasio and Cuomo at a “pasta summit” at Rao’s, writing on his Facebook page: “All things can be worked out over meatballs and marinara!”

De Blasio aides hoped AG Eric Schneiderman, who has had his own differences with Cuomo, would serve as a surrogate for the mayor in his tiff with the governor, but the AG declined, saying he has to work with both of them.

The DEC’s release of a findings statement that banned tracking in New York started a 120-day clock for proponents to examine whether the ban has any legal holes. If a lawsuit isn’t filed by Oct. 27, state law says the decision can no longer be challenged.

More >

Silver Shies From Disclosure, Klein Discloses To The Penny

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s financial disclosure form made public on Thursday shows he declined to answer questions on the document for his outside business interests.

“Given pending proceedings in Federal Court it is inappropriate to answer this question; however, this answer will be amended upon completion of the proceedings,” Silver’s filing states.

Silver has been under indictment since the start of the year and is accused by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office of using his power to receive bribes masked as legal referral fees.

Silver step down as speaker following his arrest on the bribery and fraud charges.

Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein, meanwhile, took the opposite track: He listed his income on the disclosure in some cases to the exact penny.

State lawmakers and elected officials filing disclosure reports are not required to provide the exact dollar amount of what they earn, but report ranges of income.

Klein’s form shows, for instance, he received $43,550 in “guaranteed payments” from the his former law firm, Klein Calderoni & Santucci, and lists the value of his various investments in stocks and funds.

Klein, a Bronx Democrat who co-led the Senate in 2013 and 2014, announced this year he was stepping away from his law firm where he had been a partner.

“Senator Klein boldly divested from his law firm earlier this year and called for a ban on outside income,” Klein spokeswoman Candice Giove said in a statement. “While Senator Klein continues to believe in a full-time legislature, he feels that in the meantime all state legislators should disclose their incomes to the penny to restore the public’s trust.”

Former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who was arrested in May, is on leave from his law firm Ruskin Moscou Faltischek as he fights corruption charges.

Extras

Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb is jumping into the race for president, becoming the latest Democrat to try for a primary upset over frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

Former NYC Council Speaker Chris Quinn, now a Cuomo administration aide, says the Women’s Equality Party will “technically exist – so to speak – in the near future.”

Quinn will be the guest of honor at a political fundraiser in Irvington in Westchester County on July 23.

Presidential hopeful Donald Trump is a charlatan, a huckster and a clown who should be universally shunned, according to NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton told 882 academy graduates that their six-month training was better than the training he received when he became a police officer in Boston in 1970.

The cost of a Big Mac likely will increase in New York if the state decides to raise the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $15 an hour or more.

An investigation by AG Eric Schneiderman has found that Per Se, an ultraexpensive NYC restaurant, violated state labor law by portraying operational charges for private dining events as gratuities destined for employees’ wallets.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie will be attending the Great NYS Fair. (But not on Governor’s Day, his spokesman tells me).

Investigators are wrapping up their interviews with convicted murder David Sweat, who continues to reveal new details about what happened after he and Richard Matt escaped Clinton Correctional Facility on June 6.

Sweat said he and Matt bickered over Matt’s drinking and lack of physical fitness, which led to them splitting up.

Also, Sweat told investigators it was Matt, not him, who had sex with Joyce Mitchell, and also insisted it was Mitchell’s idea that the duo kill her husband, Lyle, in exchange for her driving the getaway car. (She has denied that).

Matt’s estranged son believes his father was wrongfully killed by the police. State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said Matt was armed with a shotgun and refused to drop his weapon when he was shot three times in the head.

The three-week manhunt for Matt and Sweat was good for the economy in parts of the North Country.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the total economic impact of New York state’s tourism topped $100 billion last year for the first time.

Former Sen. Al D’Amato has offered to host a pasta summit at Rao’s to broker a peace agreement between Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The influence of Hillary Clinton’s right-hand woman, Huma Abedin, has grown significantly in the lead up to the 2016 campaign, and she is trying to transition away from so much time on the road as her boss’ “body woman.” She will soon start headlining events on Clinton’s behalf and speaking to donors.

Priorities USA Action, the super PAC expected to be the biggest outside force for Clinton’s campaign, pulled in $15.6 million during the first half of 2015, contributing to a pro-Clinton fundraising haul that now appears to be approaching $70 million for the year so far.

PEF President-elect Wayne Spence is now certified as the winner of the union’s recent leadership vote.

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force has set up command centers in Buffalo and at other locations around the country to deal with possible terror attacks over the Fourth of July weekend.

If New York does not build more transmission lines, it will not be able to increase its reliance on renewable energy sources, the state’s independent grid operator has determined.

The NYC CFB has unveiled a new website in time for the upcoming July 15 filing deadline.

A dog named Diamond is running for mayor of Schenectady, and is not the first animal to seek the office.

Fiala Named New Chair Of Women’s Equality Party

Former Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Barbara Fiala has been appointed the chair of the Women’s Equality Party, the ballot line formed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo during last year’s election.

Documents quietly filed last week with the state Board of Elections show Fiala, a former county executive of Broome County, had been named the organization’s chairwoman of an “interim” executive committee.

Two other slots on the panel are listed on the filing as “TBD.”

Fiala stepped down as DMV commissioner at the end of last year.

The filing lays out basic rules for the party organization to follow, including notification of meeting dates and following Robert’s Rules of Order.

The party last year was coordinated by former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and surpassed the 50,000-vote threshold in order to receive ballot status in the subsequent election cycle.

Quinn during the 2015 legislative session worked as a $1-a-year advisor to Cuomo and help coordinate efforts to pass a bill aimed at curtailing sexual assault and rape on college campuses.

In a recent interview with City & State, Quinn said the party would “technically exist so to speak in the near future.”

Cuomo formed the ballot line last year as a way to boost his 10-point Women’s Equality Agenda, an omnibus package of measures that included pay equity protections and an anti-human trafficking component.

Nine of the 10 measures this session ultimately became law, save for a bill that would have codified the Roe v. Wade ruling in state law, which was staunchly opposed by Senate Republicans.

Liberals had criticized the formation of the women-centric ballot line and accused Cuomo of creating an astro turf ballot line as a way to undermine the established and labor-backed Working Families Party.

The party in January reported $13,487 in cash on hand, according to the Board of Elections.

0012_001.pdf by Nick Reisman