Former Cuomo, Assembly Aides On NYC Bar’s Constitutional Convention Panel

The New York City Bar Association’s task force on the state constitutional convention includes two former top aides to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and a former adivsor to two Assembly speakers.

The panel is set to include former Cuomo administration counsel Mylan Denerstein, along with Jeremy Creelan, a former special counsel to the governor on ethics issues.

Denerstein now serves as a partner at Gibson Dunn, while Creelan is a partner at Jenner & Block.

The task force also includes former Assembly counsel Jim Yates, a former judge who was a top advisor to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and his successor, Carl Heastie. Yates retired earlier this year.

The task force is being formed as voters will consider a referendum, automatically due to be on the ballot in 2017, to form a constitutional convention.

“What makes this so interesting is that while the Constitution hasn’t changed much in the past 20 years, so much else has,” said Bar Association President Debra Raskin. “We’ve had the Internet, a wave of ethical scandals, an unprecedented flow of money into politics, 9/11 and the war on terror, an additional one million people calling New York City home, and climate change. It is a great opportunity to weigh in and to help educate the public and I am so grateful to the members of the Task Force for taking on such a complex issue.”

Stewart-Cousins Teases Skoufis Senate Run

ascDemocratic Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins on Saturday teased the possible state Senate run of Assemblyman James Skoufis this past weekend while speaking with the Orange County Democratic Committee.

Stewart-Cousins was in Orange County to give the keynote address at the committee’s annual gala, an appearance that comes as Democrats have stepped up their criticism of Republican Sen. Bill Larkin, whose seat they consider to be a potential pickup opportunity next year.

“This is my foray up here because of my good friends, but also because of the promise of the future,” she said in her remarks. “I believe that the day where we have Democratic senators from Orange County is fast approaching.”

Stewart-Cousins then turned and nodded at Skoufis, who was sitting about a foot away in the front: “So, it’s good to be here, James. So nice to see you.”

The Hudson Valley district is due to be one of several battleground districts next year as Senate Republicans hold on to a narrow majority in the chamber.

Larkin plans to run for re-election, and the Senate GOP’s political arm has called the effort to oust him “odd and misguided.”

Watch Steve Run

The re-election campaign of Democratic Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone released a new TV ad showing the incumbent running — literally.

The 30-second commercial depicts Bellone jogging while he narrates his accomplishments.

“When you start running, it’s about a goal. One mile, then two, getting results everyday,” he says in the ad.

Bellone takes credit for balancing the county budget and closing a deficit as well.

“It’s how I’ve held the line on taxes and cut my own pay,” Bellone says. “Now I’m investing in our future, creating high paying jobs cleaning up our water.”

Bellone first won the county post in 2011, winning what has once a traditionally Republican area of the state and replacing Democrat-turned-Republican gubernatorial hopeful Steve Levy.

When Legislative Leaders Collide

From the Morning Memo:

Imagine our surprise yesterday when separate press releases indicated that Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, who haven’t made a public appearance together since the legislative session ended in June, would be visiting a prominent Hudson Valley tourist spot at exactly the same time this afternoon.

First Sen. Sue Serino announced that she and local leaders would be leading Flanagan on a 3 p.m. tour of the Walkway Over the Hudson – a former rail bridge-turned-park that spans the Hudson River, connecting the city of Poughkeepsie and the hamlet of Highland (in the town of Lloyd).

“For the past couple of years, our area has been passed over as the state sent billions of dollars to New York City and Western New York,” Serino said in a press release. “Our area has the potential to be a significant economic engine for the state, but we need partners at every level to make that vision a reality.”

“Senator Flanagan has made a real effort to travel our state and understand the issues affecting individuals and families across the board,” the freshman Republican lawmaker continued. “And it’s especially important that he gets an accurate picture of all that we have to offer, as well as our unique challenges. His visit signifies his willingness to make our area a priority, and I look forward to welcoming him.”

Joining Serino’s release was an announcement from the Assembly press office that Heastie would be continuing his summer-into-fall upstate blitz with several stops in the Hudson Valley – including a 3 p.m. tour of the Walkway Over the Hudson with Assemblyman Frank Skartados. More >

Here and Now

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

At 10 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will deliver remarks at the funeral for Department of Correction Assistant Deputy Warden Rodney Bowdenn, Central Baptist Church, 166 West 92nd St., Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie joins Assemblywoman Didi Barrett on a visit to the Greater Hudson Promise Neighborhood
6 S. 2nd St., Hudson.

Also at 10 a.m., Rep. Carolyn Maloney, NYC Public Advocate Tish James, state Sens. Brad Hoylman and Liz Krueger, gun violence prevention advocates and others hold a community forum after two recent college shootings, 47-49 65th St., Manhattan.

At 10:50 a.m., Heastie tours the Hudson Opera House, 327 Warren St., Hudson.

At 11 a.m., de Blasio speaks at a dedication ceremony for the Battery Park Police Memorial, Liberty Street and South End Avenue, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., Rep. Dan Donovan joins retired firefighter Robert Serra and his family at their home to discuss Serra’s 9/11 experience and why Congress should permanently extend the Zadroga Act, 113 Midland Rd., Staten Island.

At 11:35 a.m., Heastie has lunch at the West Taghkanic Diner, 1016 NY-82, Ancram.

At noon, Reps. Gregory Meeks, Yvette Clarke and Hakeem Jeffries hold a press conference to endorse a candidate in the race to secure the Democratic nomination for president, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at noon, Assemblywoman Sandy Galef and nuclear expert Paul Blanch deliver over 30,000 petitions calling on the governor to halt construction of the Spectra Energy Algonquin Incremental Market high-pressure gas pipeline next to the Indian Point nuclear facility, Legislative Office Building, Room 130, Albany.

At 1 p.m., IDC Leader Jeff Klein and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. announce job training for victims of domestic violence, Bronx County Building, 851 Grand Concourse, the Bronx.

At 12:50 p.m., Heastie tours the Harlem Valley Rail Trail, Harlem Valley Rail Association, 1 John St., Millerton.

At 1:30 p.m., Heastie vists the Taconic Developmental Disabilities Service Office site/Wassaic Project, 4277 NY-22, Amenia.

At 3 p.m., Sen. Sue Serino and local officials will lead Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan on a tour of the Walkway Over the Hudson to highlight importance of tourism and local economic development, meeting on the Poughkeepsie side of the bridge to take the elevator up.

Also at 3 p.m., Heastie tours the Walkway over the Hudson with Assemblyman Frank Skartados, Waryas Park Promenade, Poughkeepsie.

At 3:30 p.m., de Blasio holds a public hearing on and signs Intros 903 and 730, and also holds a public hearing on Intros 917-A, 885, and 897, Blue Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 4 p.m., LG Kathy Hochul and members of the delegation she’s leading to Puerto Rico hold a press conference with the Puerto Rican delegation, Caribe Hilton, 1 San Geronimo St., Room C, San Juan.

At 6 p.m., AG Eric Schneiderman will co-host a forum with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams to educate homeowners about deed theft and scammers in the housing market, Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

At 6:30 p.m., de Blasio and NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray attend and deliver remarks at the at UpStander Awards, Harlem Hospital – Mural Pavilion, 512 Lenox Ave., Manhattan.

At 8:30 p.m., the first Democratic presidential debate will take place at the Wynn Las Vegas casino hotel, and will be broadcast on CNN. At least five candidates – former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb, and former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee – will participate.


Democratic 2016 frontrunner Hillary Clinton stopped at a union rally outside Donald Trump’s hotel on the Las VegasStrip, taunting the Republican front-runner on the eve of the first Democratic presidential debate.

“You know, some people think Mr. Trump is entertaining,” Clinton said. “But I don’t think it’s entertaining when somebody insults immigrants, insults women. That is just unacceptable behavior.”

With separate news conferences at the same Manhattan event -the Columbus Day Parade – Gov. Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio yesterday promoted a deal struck over the weekend on funding for MTA infrastructure projects.

Aside from the obvious one of how the state would come up with the $8.3 billion it’s willing to commit to the MTA plan, there’s another matter as old as the state budget process itself: What about upstate?

The Cuomo administration is considering borrowing to cover at least some of the $8.3 billion state commitment the governor has made to the cash-strapped authority, as well as to provide money to upstate roads and bridges.

The NYS hails the MTA deal, and hopes the mayor and the governor manage to “continue working together to modernize this system and make it work for millions of New Yorkers.”

The money will mostly be spent on long-overdue repairs and upgrades, transit experts said, leaving the nation’s largest city lagging behind modern systems around the world.

Brooklyn Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a potential challenger de Blasio in 2017, is endorsing Clinton for president today as the mayor continues to say he’s not ready to back the former New York senator.

Fifty-seven Long Island educators ranked among the 100 highest-paid employees in the state’s public schools and colleges during the 2014-15 academic year, according to the latest compensation figures from the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System.

Charter school advocacy group Families for Excellent Schools is attacking de Blasio in a television ad for the second time in just a few weeks, this time by targeting his K-12 education agenda.

De Blasio said the prosecution of an indicted Long Island restaurateur and prominent benefactor to the Democrat’s campaign is “as it should be.”

Republican challenger Raymond Walter isn’t tipping his hand about tomorrow’s debate against Democratic County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz. But it’s almost a given among political experts that an underdog like Walter needs to do something, anything, to gain the attention of a voting public that so far seems not even mildly interested.

More >


RIP former NYC Council Minority Leader, mayoral candidate and LG contender Tom Ognibene, a Queens Republican.

Democratic 2016 frontrunner Hillary Clinton says women are “held to a totally different standard” in politics — and that it’s been that way since she first ran for office.

During the same interview (with BuzzFeed podcast Another Round), Clinton joked that she’s a robot “constructed in a garage in Palo Alto a very long time ago,” which, apparently, explains why she doesn’t sweat.

Republican 2016 candidate Donald Trump says this week’s Democratic presidential primary debate will be cause viewers to “fall asleep” – mostly because he’s not in it.

Former LG Bob Duffy will lead a five-member panel that will oversee the establishment of the major photonics center in Rochester.

NYC Mayor de Blasio defended his administration’s four-month-old law curtailing hotel conversions into residential space amid a legal battle with the powerful Real Estate Board of New York. “We obviously think the bill was appropriate,” the mayor said.

The Greater New York Hospital Association, along with two New York lawmakers, want the federal government to deliver on its promise to reimburse the state’s hospitals for their Ebola preparedness.

Lamar Advertising, a major national billboard company, is courting some controversy with a “Blue Lives Matter” ad campaign aimed at supporting police.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer declared himself an honorary Italian at today’s Columbus Day Parade in NYC.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and de Blasio didn’t march together in the parade. “You know, I normally march, uh, alone,” the governor explained.

New York City will receive 1,000 new subway cars and 1,400 buses as a result of a $26.1 billion infusion of capital into the MTA over the next five years, which is good news for some upstate businesses.

Coca-Cola CEO made former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg “uncomfortable,” causing him to walke out on meeting with Napster’s Sean Parker over e-cigarettes, ex-NYC Health Commissioner Tom Farley writes in a new book.

The Village Voice has been sold to a company controlled by investor Peter D. Barbey of the Reading Eagle Company.

Sen. Diane Savino is sticking with her longtime political consulting firm after The Advance Group was hit with fines last week for helping an anti-horse carriage group avoid contribution limits in supporting City Council candidates in 2013

GlobalFoundries, which employs 3,500 workers at the Fab 8 computer chip factory in Malta, is laying off a “limited” number of workers at its US sites – including the Fab 8 computer chip factory in Malta.

Central New York’s pitch for $500 million in state economic aid contains few details about development projects said to have the potential to create or retain more than 2,000 jobs.


Rebuild NY Calls For Parity In Upstate Highway Funding

Rebuild New York Now — a coalition of organizations pushing for enhanced investment in infrastructure — is praising the agreement reached on funding the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s four-year capital plan.

But now the group wants the state to turn its attention from the New York City area to the crumbling upstate infrastructure.

In a statement from Rebuild New York Now President Mike Elmendorf, the group calls for equity in how upstate taxpayers are benefiting from state investment — namely in the form of spending on improving highways and bridges in the state.

“Like the Governor, who noted last year that 6,000 of our bridges and 60 percent of our roads are in need of repair, we know upstaters and their fragile economy,” Elmendorf said in a statement. “They are even more dependent on their highway system then downstaters are on the MTA. We hope that as next year’s budget discussions begin, the Governor and Legislature will show the same leadership for millions of upstate New York drivers who are paying to support the MTA’s capital program through their gas taxes. We need to return to parity between highway and transit funding, part of an historic agreement that has been repeatedly broken since 2010.”

The comment echoes the sentiment from Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, who called for a renewed focus on upstate infrastructure needs following the agreement between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Roundtable Discussions Seek To Turn Down Temperature On Common Core

commoncoreAs Gov. Andrew Cuomo convenes a panel to potentially overhaul Common Core standards in New York, a group that backs them is holding a series of roundtable discussions on the issue.

The group, High Achievement New York, will co-host a discussion on Common Core alongside the Urban League of Rochester on Wednesday

The event is part of a series of discussions on Common Core, with events already held in Buffalo, New York City and Albany. Discussions are set to be held Rochester and Cortland this week.

In an email invitation to the Rochester event, William Clark of the Rochester Urban League writes the discussion is aimed at turning the temperature down on the heated debate over the standards.

“The goal of this event focuses upon sharing the experiences of the participants with New York’s transition to higher standards in education, without the charged rhetoric that so often affects discussions surrounding the Common Core Standards,” Clark wrote.

Future events will be held in Westchester County as well as the North Country region. More >

Cuomo On The ‘Unprecedented’ MTA Deal

cuomogunsGov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday lauded the agreement between the city and state to fund the four-year MTA capital projects budget following a lengthy back and forth between his office and Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration.

Cuomo, marching in the Columbus Day Parade in New York City, said the agreement was an “unprecedented” one given that it is pouring millions of dollars into needed upgrades for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which oversees commuter, rail, bus and subway systems in the New York City area.

“We went from not close to close,” Cuomo said of the agreement, which was first announced Saturday morning. “We announced an agreement with the city which is going to be unprecedented agreement and those is going to be the largest investment in the MTA in modern political history.”

Cuomo equated the investment with his own efforts to build a replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge between Westchester and Rockland counties, as well as the project to overhaul and upgrade LaGuardia Airport.

“There’s good news and there’s bad news,” Cuomo said. “New York City is old and it has a great history. That’s the good news. The bad news is we need to rebuild our infrastructure.”

The MTA plans to purchase 1,000 new subway cars as well as 1,400 new buses for its system.

“New York is going to have a whole different feel,” Cuomo said. More >

Sweeney Games Out Ryan For Speaker

If Republican Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan continues to hold off on announcing a run for speaker of the House of Representatives in the coming days, he’s unlikely to do so at all, former Rep. John Sweeney said in a radio interview on Monday.

“If you don’t hear from Paul Ryan in the next couple of days that he’s in, then he’s not in,” Sweeney told Fred Dicker on his Talk-1300 radio show.

Sweeney, a Clifton Park Republican who was unseated in 2006 by now-Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, has some insight into Ryan.

Both men were elected to the House the same year, 1998, and Ryan served as a vote whip for Sweeney’s bid to the influential House Steering Committee. Sweeney in the interview said he was present when Ryan first met his wife.

Sweeney cast doubt on whether Ryan wanted the job at all, saying the 2012 vice presidential nominee “legitimately has higher ambitions” such as running for president one day.

The Ryan-for-speaker push came as House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy stunned Washington by announcing he would not seek the position after all, a move that came after the California Republican failed to draw enough votes from the right-wing House Freedom Caucus in order to capture the speakership in a floor vote.

“The problem with Kevin (McCarthy) at this time is you have to be for something,” Sweeney said.

Ryan, meanwhile, has repeatedly stated that he is not interested in the job, an all-consuming post that could hamper his future as a White House contender.

Sweeney added Ryan prefers to return home on the weekends to spend time with his young family in Wisconsin and may not want to keep up a break-neck fundraising schedule around the country like outgoing Speaker John Boehner did, especially in New York battleground districts.

Should Ryan not enter the race, Sweeney said potential compromise candidates could include Illinois Rep. Peter Roskam.