Jul 29th - 5:27 pm
The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for New York City until tomorrow at 8 p.m.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo won’t make a trade visit to Iran if the Obama administration-brokered peace deal passes and economic sanctions are dropped – a departure from the trip he took to Cuba in April after the United States renewed relations with the island nation.
Hillary Clinton will call for an end of the trade embargo with Cuba during a speech Friday in Miami, home to Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, two of her Republican rivals in the race for president who oppose to the diplomatic thaw under way.
The state Rifle & Pistol Association today criticized Senate Democratic candidate Barbara Fiala over her position on gun rights, saying she has been a supporter of stronger gun control.
Rep. Grace Meng today became the first House Democrat from New York to break with her party’s national leadership and come out against the Obama administration-brokered trade deal with Iran.
Rep. Lee Zeldin compared Secretary of State John Kerry and the Iran deal to curb its nuclear weapon program to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and his 1938 nonaggression pact with Adolf Hitler.
Cuomo announced that New Yorkers now have the opportunity to print a temporary license from the DMV website when they renew or replace their driver licenses, learner permits, or non-driver identification card online.
Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani said Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy has been “refreshing”, predicting: “The debate you’re going to have next week is going to have three times the audience it would have had” without Trump.
Trump attacked former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg after his news service pegged The Donald’s worth at a mere $2.9 billion.
Carl Paladino is a Trump-for-president supporter.
The three state operated ski resorts at Belleayre, Gore and Whiteface Mountain have committed to using solar power to operate their ski lift and snowmaking operations.
Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg has been out of office for a year and a half, but his influence over New York schools is practically as strong as ever.
Giuliani says that if he were still a U.S. Attorney, former Secretary of State Clinton would be the subject of a criminal probe for five crimes.
After seven years of distant relations between President Obama and Democrats on Capitol Hill, Clinton intends to forge a closer ties with Democratic lawmakers who do not feel particularly close to the Obama White House.
Pittsford, Monroe County, is home to the world’s top lumberjack.
NYC transit advocates are not impressed with Cuomo’s plan to overhaul LaGuardia Airport.
Assemblyman David DiPietro thinks the state wage board’s recent recommendation on raising the minimum wage for fast food employees to $15 will be damaging to teens, who he predicts will be competing for fewer jobs once the higher wages take effect.
The 43North business plan competition is down to 110 semifinalists.
TripAdvisor says Juliana’s Pizza in Brooklyn has the best pizza in America.
Jul 29th - 5:03 pm
The former prison employee who aided the escape of two convicted killers will still get her public pension thanks to Assembly Democrats, Republican Minority Leader Brian Kolb in a statement on Wednesday said.
“Joyce Mitchell’s retirement will be paid for by the taxpayers of New York State – and she can thank Assembly Democrats for their ineptitude as she cashes her pension checks,” Kolb said in the statement. “Assembly Democrats walked away from an agreed-upon pension forfeiture bill that had passed the Senate and targeted public employees found guilty of abusing their positions. They later replaced it with a watered-down version that had no chance of becoming law and contained an exemption that protects the pensions of Joyce Mitchell and other convicted individuals.”
Mitchell, a former employee of Clinton Correctional Facility, this week pleaded guilty for her role in the escape of David Sweat and Richard Matt and faces up to 2-1/3 to 7 years in prison.
It’s doubtful whether Mitchell’s pension would actually be impacted the pension forfeiture measure considering that is a constitutional amendment, which would take second passage of another sitting session of the Legislature, and then go to voters in a referendum. More >
Jul 29th - 4:41 pm
That’s according to the governor himself, who today once again downplayed the feud between the two Democratic leaders that erupted this month following the conclusion of the legislative session.
“He’s a friend,” Cuomo said. “I’ve known him 30 years and I’ve worked with him for many years.”
Cuomo had previously said his relationship with de Blasio — who accused the governor in an interview with NY1 of undermining his agenda and siding with Senate Republicans — as “professional” and not “love-dovey.” More >
Jul 29th - 3:57 pm
The memorandum of understanding reached by Senate Republicans and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to not enact an ammunition purchasing database was a common-sense reform to the controversial SAFE Act gun control law.
That’s according to Sen. James Seward and Majority Leader John Flanagan, who met earlier this morning at the Otesaga Resort and Hotel, part of the downstate leader’s re-introduction to upstate New York.
“Until anything changes in the future, that section of the law under agreement is suspended,” Seward said of the two-way agreement.
The MOU has done little to assuage the concerns of some gun-rights advocates, who have pushed for a full repeal of the law — a prospect that is unlikely given the Democratic control of the Assembly as well as the governorship.
But given the political realities, Seward said the MOU was at the moment the best the GOP conference could achieve. More >
Jul 29th - 2:47 pm
At the same time, Republicans say the effort to keep Libous’s Southern Tier seat in GOP hands is key for the statewide political landscape.
Cuomo last week in an interview on The Capitol Pressroom made an early endorsement of Fiala, a former member of his cabinet and ex-Broome County executive, to replace Libous, who was ousted following a conviction on a felony charge of lying to the FBI.
“Frankly, I was very surprised,” Flanagan said. “I mean, he seemed to get out of the gate before she got out of the gate. It’s certainly his prerogative as an elected official as the state of New York.”
The move was a eyebrow-raising one by Cuomo, who has generally sought to stay out of the political fray publicly when it comes to the powder keg that can be the state Senate, narrowly controlled by Republicans.
Jul 29th - 2:23 pm
Flanagan appeared with Sen. Jim Seward at the Otesaga Hotel in Cooperstown on Wednesday, part of a tour of several upstate areas this summer for the Suffolk County lawmaker.
“Senator Seward and I continue to forge a fantastic working relationship,” Flanagan told reporters while flanked by Seward. “I haven’t dealt with any management changes. I certainly will.”
Libous, a Binghamton-area lawmaker, was ousted from his Senate seat earlier this month after he was convicted of lying to the FBI in a case stemming from his son receiving a job at a politically connected law firm in Westchester County. More >
Jul 29th - 12:50 pm
Governor Andrew Cuomo said, Wednesday, that in exchange for what could be the largest Capital Plan ever approved for the MTA, he’ll push for another significant investment in upstate roads and bridges.
Cuomo accepted MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast’s request for an $8.3 Billion commitment to the Capital Plan Monday. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has not said publicly whether he will commit $3.2 Billion to the plan for maintenance and improvements to the MTA System.
“This is a big part of the budget, it always has been,” Cuomo said on The Capital Pressroom. “This is a worthwhile investment, and I’m sure we can find the funds if we make it a priority and I’m willing to make it a priority.”
The money would come from the state’s budget, which would require approval from the legislature. Cuomo says he doesn’t expect any push-back from the downstate-dominated body.
“When you look at the MTA region, that’s by far the bulk of the New York State legislature in terms of members,” Cuomo said. “But will the upstate people say ‘what about us?’ Yes – and we have a big, robust roads and bridges program which we had last year and we’re going to propose again next year and that will be addressing the need for upstate – and the MTA’s downstate.”
This year’s state budget included a $1 Billion investment in roads and bridges across New York State, thought that wasn’t limited to upstate infrastructure. Now the investment is in the hands of Mayor Bill de Blasio, who Cuomo says he’s spoken to about the plan.
“I talk to the mayor about any relevant issues that we have to talk about.,” Cuomo said. He did not say whether they mayor was planning to commit to the investment. He did say – after a weeks-long, very public feud with the Mayor – that he now, once again, considers him a friend.
“This is not personal,” Cuomo said. “On a personal level, I consider the mayor a friend as everybody knows and he made a couple of comments because he was frustrated and from my point of view life goes on and we have a number of important issues to work through and the MTA Capital Plan is one of them.”
The commitment from Cuomo comes more than a month after the end of legislative session. The governor says they wanted to take a closer look at the plan before they committed the full amount.
“We had a couple of suggestions that, frankly, the MTA hadn’t taken into consideration,’ Cuomo said. “I believe in Design-Build. We used it on the Tappan Zee and we saved a lot of money. And I believe the MTA could have more aggressively used the Design-Build strategy. They did, and they actually saved like $3 Billion on the Capital Plan.”
The $8.3 Billion will be paid out by the state over five years, meaning a $1.6 Billion commitment each year. If the city signs on, they’ll be paying out $600 Million annually. Cuomo joked that, from his perspective, the city should be giving more.
“On this Capital Plan, the predominance of the money goes to New York City, and the predominance of the riders are New York City,” Cuomo said. “Frankly, I could argue that the MTA is asking too much from the state from my point of view.”
As for the crumbling commuter tunnels under the Hudson River, Governor Cuomo says he wants to see a fix but the money’s not there.
“The problem there is money. It’s about $12 Billion dollars – that’s a lot of money,” Cuomo said. “If the federal government – which has only offered about $3 Billion – if the federal government can make a significant contribution then let’s go.”
Cuomo says he’s spoken to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie about the issue, and that both agree repairs are needed as soon as possible.
Jul 29th - 8:33 am
From the Morning Memo:
Senate Majority Leader John Flanangan is in Sen. James Seward’s district today, part of an upstate swing that he pledged to do at the end of the legislative session.
Flanagan, a Long Islander, is potentially heading to friendly territory with a stop at the Otesaga Hotel in Cooperstown: Seward, after all, was one of several upstate Republicans to back his bid for majority leader over Senate Finance Committee Chairman John DeFrancisco, a Syracuse lawmaker.
These upstate tours for legislative leaders aren’t uncommon this summer. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat who was elected speaker at the beginning of the year, is traveling to upstate districts of his members.
On their face, the tours serve to introduce the relatively little known leaders to voters, but also check in with members on their turf (a few fundraising stops probably don’t hurt, either, though Heastie does not have any planned on his trip).
But Flanagan has some skepticism to over come among upstate Republicans as well as gun-rights advocates, having voted in favor of the SAFE Act’s passage in 2013. More >
Jul 29th - 8:15 am
After surviving a trial by fire over the past five months, during which he negotiated his first-ever budget agreement and an end-of-session Big Ugly, Heastie now has some time to reflect and plan.
He’s in the middle of a tour of upstate members’ districts (he plans to hit all of them), during which the Bronx Democrat is trying to familiarize himself with issues outside his comfort zone of New York City.
Heastie said he doesn’t believe the Legislature will be back in Albany before the start of the 2016 session in January. (He’s siding with the governor in rejecting good government advocates’ calls for a special session to pass more ethics reform, saying that despite recent corruption convictions of former senators, it’s impossible to “legislative morality”).
Before his members return to work, Heastie has some hiring to do. He has to replace Jim Yates, the counsel he inherited from former Speaker Sheldon Silver, who decided to retired at the end of this year’s session.
Heastie said he’s “very sad” to see Yates go, adding: “I wish him the best, and I appreciate everything he’s done.” The speaker does not yet have a plan when it comes to staffing.
As for wholesale changes to the chamber’s committee chairs, don’t expect that, either.
Heastie said “stability” helped his conference enormously this past session, and he relied heavily on the experience of veteran members like Assemblyman Dick Gottfried (Health Committee chair), Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan (Education Committee chair) and Assemblywoman Deborah Glick (Higher Ed Committee chair) – just to name a few. More >
Jul 29th - 8:07 am
From the Morning Memo:
Earlier this week, Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins revealed on CapTon that her conference, though still upset over the Cuomo administration’s memorandum of understanding with the GOP that appears to roll back a key provision of the SAFE Act, does not plan to challenge the document in court.
Last night, during his first extended interview on CapTon since he became speaker back in February, Carl Heastie said his conference will be following the Senate Democrats’ lead, and won’t seek a legal remedy to the MOU that seems to indefinitely delay creation of a database to be used for ammunition sale background checks.
“We’re not looking to do any, to go to court or anything like that,” the speaker said. “i’ve spoken to the governor, we’ve spoken about this a number of times. He’s assured me that when the technology is ready, the database will happen.”
This is a much different tune than the one Democrats in both chambers were singing in the wake of the Senate Republicans’ surprise announcement that they had signed the MOU with a top Cuomo aide – state Operations Director Jim Malatras – that basically said their conference had to sign off on the spending of any state cash to be used for creation of the database. More >