Jul 2nd - 5:06 pm
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.
Jul 2nd - 5:03 pm
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.
Jul 2nd - 4:17 pm
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.
Jul 2nd - 3:23 pm
Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner on Thursday backed the comments made by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio this week that were critical of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s leadership in Albany, saying policy writ large has fallen short in recent years.
“I think any time you have a mayor talking about the interests of his city and community and where public policy is falling short, I applaud that,” Miner told reporters. “I think that’s why you heard Mayor de Blasio say. we’ve seen unfortunately in very real time Albany come up very short.”
Miner was appointed the state Democratic Committee co-chair in 2012, but had a falling out with Cuomo over her criticism of a proposal to smooth out pension costs for local governments, and later criticized him for what she saw as a lack of state investment in local infrastructure projects.
De Blasio this week sharply criticized Cuomo, accusing him of siding with Senate Republicans at the end of the legislative session at the expense of rent control regulations and extending mayoral control of New York City schools.
Cuomo in response on Wednesday touted his own ability to work in a state government with power shared by Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature.
But Miner pointed to broader issues this year in the session that included the arrests of now former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.
“Albany has become a place where you don’t look there to see good public policy coming out of there,” Miner said. “We think with this change is an opportunity to see better public policy so we can start solving problems.”
Jul 2nd - 2:29 pm
The city of Yonkers was authorized on Thursday to increase its sales tax by one half of one percent and impose a new occupancy tax for hotel rooms after Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved the home-rule legislation.
The measures were requested city officials and state lawmakers who represent the area as its school district seeks to plug yet another budget deficit.
The bill Cuomo signed today will allow Yonkers to hike its sales tax to 8.875 percent and is expected to generate $15 million in revenue for the city. Revenue from the sales tax must be spent on education by law.
The occupancy tax approved cannot be more than 3 percent.
In addition to the local tax bills, state lawmakers and Cuomo last month agreed to a $25 million package aimed at helping the district close its budget gap.
Jul 2nd - 12:58 pm
When responding to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s pointed criticism this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo sought to play up his efforts to work with Republicans in the Legislature.
Cuomo, speaking with reporters on Wednesday night, sought to draw a distinction between his brand of governing — which has angered liberal advocates for what they say is working hand-in-glove with the GOP — versus embracing ideology.
“We had gridlock for many, many years, but under my administration it’s been different,” Cuomo said. “When there’s gridlock, it means nothing happens.”
For Cuomo, the choice is a binary one: He has to work with the Legislature he has, or nothing can be accomplished.
“We had a very productive session,” Cuomo said. “Did we get everything we want? No. We have in New York state a Democratic Assembly and a Republican Senate, so everything is a compromise. It’s a compromise or you go Washington style and you go gridlock.”
Cuomo sidestepped the broader criticisms the mayor leveled at him: Namely that in his aggressive pursuit to accomplish things in Albany, Cuomo has often run roughshod over his enemies and has a tendency to exact “revenge” on those who stand in his way.
“Everything is entitled to their own comments,” Cuomo said, before pivoting back to talk of “compromise” — a word he used multiple times in a brief gaggle with reporters.
A frustrated de Blasio this week bashed Cuomo for undermining his efforts to accomplish his agenda in Albany, which included an extension of mayoral control of city schools, extending rent control for New York City and the renewal of the 421a tax abatement.
De Blasio’s frustrations voiced first to NY1 led to a barrage of fellow liberals piling on a governor who has prided himself for governing from the center.
Only it has appeared to be harder for Cuomo to strike agreements with the Legislature, especially members of his own party who don’t trust him to back bread-and-butter issues in negotiations. Assembly Democrats have said they believed Cuomo and Senate Republicans were largely aligned in the end-of-session talks, putting them at odds with Democratic Speaker Carl Heastie.
Liberals have long suspected Cuomo prefers a GOP-controlled Senate to a Democratic majority in the chamber and have even accused him of tacitly undermining candidates in his own party.
But the governor insisted on framing his work with Republicans as a virtue in order to avoid gridlock.
“Just to remain politically polarized and get nothing done — that’s Washington, that doesn’t work for New York,” Cuomo said. “We need compromise, we’ve reached compromise, the state is moving forward.”
Jul 2nd - 10:25 am
From the Morning Memo:
When he was elected by his fellow Democrats to succeed former Speaker Sheldon Silver back in February, Carl Heastie, had limited experience with upstate.
The Bronx lawmaker had only made a few forays beyond Albany, and was a stranger to much of the Western and Northern regions of New York.
Upstate Democrats had tried – without success – to win some additional clout in the downstate-dominated chamber by backing Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, of Rochester, to replace Silver after the Manhattan assemblyman was toppled by a federal corruption scandal.
The number of upstaters in the majority conference has grown steadily over the years, adding to the diversity of opinions among Assembly Democrats, though they still tend to be dominated by the largely liberal views of the New York City members.
Heastie promised he would familiarize himself with upstate – both geographically, and from a policy standpoint – pledging a tour of the region as soon as he was able to break free from Albany.
The new speaker spent the past five months negotiating his first budget and negotiating his first end-of-session Big Ugly – both of which took a lot of time and energy, limiting his travel schedule.
But now that the 2015 session is over, Heastie is planning to make good on his promise. He’ll soon launch a two-week tour of upstate, aides said, paying a visit to ever district represented by a Democratic Assembly member.
The speaker’s itinerary is still being worked out, and will be largely dictated by the members themselves, according to Heastie spokesman Mike Whyland. This is in keeping with the new bottom-up management style that the speaker has adopted, part of the pledge he made to rank-and-file members who were anxious to break free of Silver’s often dictatorial leadership.
Heastie will likely start his tour in mid-July, and will be visiting the Hudson Valley and the Albany area, as well as Central, Western and Northern New York.
Jul 2nd - 10:00 am
From the Morning Memo:
The publisher of Gannett’s Rochester Democrat and Chronicle this week wrote to Gov. Andrew Cuomo urging him to back a bill that addressing independent newspaper carriers.
The bill, sponsored by Democratic Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle (a Rochester-area lawmaker) and Republican Sen. George Amedore, is aimed at codifying state Department of Labor guidelines that exempt delivery people who are hired as independent carriers from aspects of the unemployment, the minimum wage and workers’ compensation coverage laws, according to the sponsor’s memo.
(Disclosure: I worked for Gannett’s Albany bureau from 2010 through 2011, while my father works for Gannett-own Journal News in Westchester County)
In the letter, publisher Michael Kane insisted the bill won’t impact the already existing Commercial Goods Transportation Fair Play Act and pointed out Sen. Diane Savino, a Democrat with ties to organized labor, backed the carrier bill in the Senate both in committee and on the floor.
The bill itself lays out a series of employees who would not be covered by the guidelines, such as those workers who sell subscriptions and are treated as employees for federal tax purposes.
Kane framed the legislation as one that could help preserve existing jobs.
“Preserving the affordable distribution of printed newspapers saves Teamster jobs in pressrooms, as many Pressrooms are represented by the Graphic Communications Conference of the Teamsters,” Kane wrote.
Left unmentioned in the letter is the challenging environment print media has found itself in over the last decade and falling circulation with the rise of the Internet and cheaply transmitted delivery over the Internet.
Gannett this week officially separated its broadcasting division with 46 TV stations and renamed itself TEGNA.
The newspaper division itself is left with properties in 92 U.S. markets, USA Today and the U.K.-based Newsquest.
“This bill will ensure continued deliver of important local news and information to homes throughout New York,” he added. “Failure to enact this legislation would harm newspapers, their employees and their communities.”
Jul 2nd - 5:43 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not yet released a public schedule for the day. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio remains somewhere in the Western US on a family vacation.
At 10:15 a.m., NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will be a live guest on the Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC.
At 11 a.m., New York Lottery representative Yolanda Vega presents an oversized check representing a $5 million top prize in the “Cash X100″ scratch-off ticket game to a Harriman resident who worked as a city firefighter in Queens before retiring, and participated in efforts to respond to the 9/11 terrorist attacks; 15 Beaver St., Manhattan.
Also at 11 a.m., NYC Councilman Andy King and Bronx residents criticize plans by the city Administration for Children’s Services to open a secure juvenile detention facility as part of the agency’s “Close to Home” initiative, saying the facility would violate zoning regulations; 3030 Bruner Ave., the Bronx.
Also at 11 a.m., Valley Agriceuticals unveils its Origin Health Center Medical Cannabis Dispensary, 955 Senator Keating Blvd., Building E, Rochester.
Also at 11 a.m., Rep. Chris Gibson attends Sen. George Amedore’s office open house, Suite 100, 721 Broadway, Kingston. (The two GOP officials are sharing office space).
Also at 11 a.m., Albany city officials hold news conference announcing new broadband study, rotunda, Albany City Hall, 24 Eagle St., Albany.
At 11:30 a.m., Sen. Daniel Squadron and the US National Park Service will announce this weekend’s Independence Day festivities and mark the 250th Anniversary of the Stamp Act Congress with a special presentation, Federal Hall National Memorial, Rotunda, 26 Wall St., Manhattan.
At 1 p.m., Rep. Carolyn Maloney and business professionals criticize federal lawmakers for failing to renew the charter of the Export-Import Bank of the U.S., which expired Tuesday, June 30; Maloney’s district office, suite 311, 1651 Third Ave., Manhattan.
Also at 1 p.m., Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus, Sen. Bill Larkin, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, Assemblyman James Skoufis, Orange County Legislator Chris Eachus and town of New Windsor Supervisor George Green commemorate the reopening of Forge Hill Bridge in New Windsor with a ribbon cutting ceremony, 169 Forge Hill Bridge, New Windsor.
From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams and other demonstrators criticize potential deportations of residents of the Dominican Republic of Haitian descent, during a march and protest in NYC to coincide with similar “4-City March” events planned in Atlanta, Miami, Philadelphia and Port-au-Prince, Haiti; march begins at Union Square Park, University Place and 14th Street, Manhattan.
At 5 p.m., NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission CEO and Chairwoman Meera Joshi and Council members Margaret Chin and Peter Koo distribute materials to inform riders about unlicensed van services, Confucius Plaza (intersection of Division and Bowery streets), Manhattan.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s public criticism of him: “Everybody’s entitled to their own comments and their own feelings, and I’ll leave him to speak to his…I’ve known Bill, the mayor, a long time. I consider him a friend. He says what he says, I say what I say, and I’ll let him speak for himself.”
De Blasio and Cuomo stayed far away from each other yesterday, but turned to surrogates to fan the flames of their feud. The mayor’s aides not only reached out to supporters, but also provided them printed talking points to use, mayoral spokeswoman Karen Hinton confirmed.
Hinton, who became de Blasio’s press secretary in May, first worked for Cuomo when he was HUD secretary during the Clinton administration and is married to top former Cuomo aide Howard Glaser. She hasn’t been shy about issuing zingers at her former boss.
De Blasio’s decision to publicly vent his frustrations with Cuomo was “the culmination of months of private ire and careful strategizing at City Hall,” and a belief among the mayor’s advisors that the governor was “taking pleasure in blocking the city’s priorities in Albany.” Having tried everything else, de Blasio believed criticism was the last effective option.
Liberals who have long chafed under Cuomo’s centrist approach to governing were thrilled with de Blasio’s display. “Democrats are angry with a governor whose word is not trustworthy, and who pursues Republican policies,” said Zephyr Teachout, who challenged Cuomo in the 2014 Democratic primary. “This is a big moment for de Blasio. And for the state.”
Tom Precious: “The governor has a problem – a Democratic Party problem. And it goes far deeper than (de Blasio)…Once relegated to whispers, a growing number of Democrats no longer are afraid to publicly take on Cuomo.”
Alexander Burns and Thomas Kaplan write: “The mayor’s remarks this week, accusing Mr. Cuomo of governing through vengeance and fear, are likely to further embolden Democrats who have long chafed at what they characterized as Mr. Cuomo’s ironhanded methods and imperious personality.”
Publicly, most Democratic elected officials are declining to choose sides in the Cuomo vs. de Blasio spat. But Rep. Nydia Velazquez has a message for the top leaders of her party: “They need to put their high-level testosterone aside and get to the issues that are important to our state and our city. Come on. Grow up.”
The New York Times: “The immediate analysis focused not on the truth of what the mayor said, but on whether he was a fool and a noob for saying it, or whining, or showing weakness at playing Albany chess against a grandmaster. The important point is that everything he said is true.”
Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani recalls when he was warring with then-Gov. George Pataki, a fellow Republican. He suggests de Blasio try diplomacy in dealing with Cuomo. “(S)it down and talk to him. Publicly attacking him? You’re not going to gain anything doing that. You’re going to lose that battle.”
Bob McManus: “Folks looking for a strong leader to stand up to Cuomo — and there are a lot of them, mostly from the extreme left wing of an already firm-left party — aren’t likely to be inspired by de Blasio’s blink-of-an-eye disappearance.”
“This is not about the difference between a wide-eyed idealist and a clear-eyed pragmatist. This is the difference between someone who is not a psychopath and someone who is,” an unnamed Democrat tells DN columnist Harry Siegel.
Jul 1st - 5:05 pm
Former Gov. George Pataki does not think it was “particularly smart” of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to publicly tee off on Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “There are always personal battles. You keep them behind the scenes.”
Liberal donor Bill Samuels, a frequent Cuomo critic, disagreed, saying: “It’s the only way to win, with Cuomo—is to attack.”
Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer told jurors she felt “uncomfortable” with the relationship between Sen. John Sampson and Edul Ahmad, a real-estate mogul who pled guilty to mortgage fraud and is the government’s key witness in Sampson’s federal trial in Brooklyn.
With the mass amount of road travel that typically occurs during the holiday weekend, Cuomo has paused construction to speed traffic on its way around the state.
Elected officials – including President Obama – weighed in on Twitter against the NYT suggestion that we all put peas in our guacamole.
Suzan Johnson Cook, a pastor and former Clinton Administration official, announced her candidacy to succeed outgoing Rep. Charles Rangel, adding her name to a growing field of Democrats seeking to replace the veteran Harlem congressman.
Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign raised at least $45 million during its first quarter – a figure that would mark a record start to presidential fund-raising.
A photo of escaped prisoner Richard Matt’s lifeless body was revealed last night by Buffalo TV station WIVB. The grisly image shows his bloody corpse in a wooded area near Lake Titus, where a resident reported shots fired at an RV.
The other escapee, David Sweat, who is still recovering from his gunshot wounds at Albany Med, claims to have been the mastermind of the duo’s prison break.
The short-term Big Ugly deal on 421-a has real estate developers gearing up for the next round of negotiations.
Rep. Pete King will not be seeking the 2016 GOP nomination.
De Blasio, who is on vacation with his family, released this statement: “We are reviewing Trump contracts with the City. Donald Trump’s remarks were disgusting and offensive, and this hateful language has no place in our city. Trump’s comments do not represent the values of inclusion and openness that define us as New Yorkers. Our Mexican brothers and sisters make up an essential part of this city’s vibrant and diverse community, and we will continue to celebrate and support New Yorkers of every background.”
De Blasio spent the first morning of his vacation having breakfast with Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry, talking as “dads and husbands and public servants.”
John Dunleavy, the longtime chairman of the group that organizes the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade, was ousted during a board meeting last night due to his opposition to letting gay groups participate.
Staten Island Councilman Steven Matteo was voted the NYC Council’s new Republican minority leader today.
Many residents of the New York City area were jolted awake by an emergency weather alert on their cellphones early this morning, prompting a flood of social media complaints.
Cue the selfies! The Obama administration ended the near 40-year ban on cameras and photos on the White House public tour.
Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo explain why cities will be “vital players” at the Paris climate talks.
Outgoing DEC Commissioner Joe Martens wanted to see fracking through to the end, and held out on departing the Cuomo administration until that occurred.
A young Republican activist from Great Neck who volunteered for Republican president candidates Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney in 2012 filed papers for a super PAC called “Second Chance” a week ago – from a federal prison in New Jersey.
A new audit by NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer on the troubled New York City Housing Authority reveals that more than 2,000 pubic-housing apartments remain vacant because of pending repairs.
Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer is going to China.
A fifth person has entered this year’s race for Niagara Falls mayor. Robert Pascoal, president of the Landlords Association of Greater Niagara, will be seeking the Republican line
An agreement last October for IBM to transfer its semiconductor manufacturing facilities in East Fishkill and Vermont to GlobalFoundries officially closed today, the companies announced.