Extras, Holiday Schedule Info

A programming note regarding the Thanksgiving holiday weekend:

For those of you in our viewing area, there will be no Capital Tonight show tomorrow or Friday. We will return at our regularly scheduled time (8 p.m.) on Monday. There will be no blogging and no morning memo tomorrow as we give the CapTon/SoP team some well deserved time off to celebrate with their families. An abbreviated memo will be sent out Friday morning, accompanied by some light blogging, as the news cycle dictates. There will be a weekend headline wrap on the blog sometime Sunday afternoon.

We are thankful to all of you who make what we do possible, and we hope you enjoy your holiday. Here are some headlines from today…

This year’s pardoned presidential turkeys: Honest and Abe.

Still no verdict in the federal corruption trial of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. The jury gets the holiday weekend off – no sequestering – and will reconvene Monday.

Judge Valerie Caproni has been propelling the parties forward at a brisk pace in Silver’s trial, insisting on using just about every minute of every day to keep proceedings moving.

Silver and his attorneys were smiling as they left the courthouse today.

For the first time since the HIV/AIDS epidemic began, New York State is reporting zero infections passed from mother to child for an entire year.

A ruling is expected in the next few weeks on whether fantasy sports companies DraftKings and FanDuel will remain in business in New York following a hearing today in state Supreme Court in Manhattan.

With the Paris terrorist attacks in mind, the NYPD is increasing the number of officers on duty for the event tomorrow — while assuring New Yorkers there is no specific threat.

Cuomo is urging New Yorkers to protect themselves from identity theft and beware of scams during the holidays.

There’s a dispute over why the MTA removed a set of ads promoting a new Amazon series that feature Nazi and Imperial Japanese insignia from several New York City subway cars.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said he heard reports about people cheering the 9/11 terror attacks, but didn’t – unlike 2016 Republican candidate Donald Trump (or so he claims) – see it for himself.

Citing a labor dispute between some Albany trade unions such as the painters and the operators of the city’s Hilton hotel, PEF has decided to move its upcoming Dec. 1 and Dec. 2 executive board meeting.

The Syracuse basketball team will get one scholarship back per year over the next four seasons after winning its appeal of the NCAA Committee on Infractions decision, the school announced.

No, it’s not illegal to give your kids instant lottery tickets as gifts this holiday season. But it’s probably not the best idea, either, the state Lottery said.

A Schuyler County legislator’s “deer season” Facebook comment has sparked concern and anger among foes of the plan by Crestwood Midstream to store liquefied petroleum gas at a 576-acre site on the southwest shore of Seneca Lake.

The United University Professions, the union that represents SUNY faculty, has opened the application period for $3,000 scholarships for up to four SUNY undergraduates, and one graduate or professional student.

Acting Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter, along with other law enforcement officials, spoke out against a new law meant to increase prison time hit-and-run drivers — claiming the legislation has too many exceptions.

No Decision Yet In Daily Fantasy Sports Challenge

A state Supreme Court judge on Wednesday is yet to rule on whether to impose an injunction on the operations of daily fantasy sports websites DraftKings and FanDuel.

Judge Manuel Mendez heard arguments from both Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office as well as lawyers for fantasy sports companies as the state seeks to block their activities in New York, arguing they are providing a form of illegal gambling.

“Today, we presented compelling evidence that Daily Fantasy Sports competitions are as legal now as they have been for the past seven years that New Yorkers have been playing them,” DraftKings said in a statement. “We look forward to Justice Mendez’s ruling.”

DraftKings continues to operate despite a cease-and-desist letter from Schneiderman’s office issued earlier this month. Its rival, FanDuel, has restricted use for New Yorkers amid the legal challenge.

Fantasy sports websites insist players predominantly use skill to win cash prizes in selecting players. Schneiderman’s office has argued, as have officials in other states, fantasy sports relies on the luck of the actual performances.

“We were glad to have an opportunity to make our case to the court that DraftKings and FanDuel are operating illegal gambling operations in clear violation of the law, and we await the judge’s decision,” said Schneiderman spokesman Damien LaVera.

State lawmakers have introduced legislation in recent weeks that would classify fantasy sports as games of skill, which would be allowed under state law.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has largely sidestepped the issue, saying he wants to see the legal process play itself out.

Rapfogel Approved For Work Release

Willie Rapfogel, the former head of a prominent Jewish charity and a friend of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, has been approved for work release, the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision on Wednesday confirmed.

Rapfogel, the former executive director of Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, was convicted of siphoning millions of dollars from the charity over the years. His case was closely watched in state and city political circles, given his ties to key officials, including Silver, now on trial in an unrelated corruption case.

Rapfogel on Tuesday left the Sullivan County prison facility he was assigned to and transferred to Lincoln Correctional Facility in Harlem. He must stay at that facility for 10 days before he starts hi work release, said DOCCS spokesman Patrick Bailey.

Once he starts his job, Rapfogel is allowed to leave the facility for work and come back to sleep at the prison. He is allowed one weekend visit and may in the future apply for a furlough, which would allow him to spend part of the week at home before returning to prison.

Rapfogel is due to serve at least 3 years and four months in prison and is eligible for parole in November 2017.

Astorino: Cuomo ‘Needs Some Serious Help’

Republican Rob Astorino continued his assault on Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday, comparing him to a “scorpion” and that he “needs some serious help.”

Astorino’s comments in an interview on Talk-1300 came a day after he knocked Cuomo alongside New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio at a news conference on transportation funding.

“This guy needs some serious help,” Astorino, the 2014 Republican nominee for governor, said. “He’s obsessing over me, there’s no reason to do that. He’s obsessing over Mayor de Blasio, there’s no reason to do that. He’s the governor, act like the governor.”

Cuomo on Tuesday criticized de Blasio for standing with Astorino, given his socially conservative stances on abortion and same-sex marriage as well as concerns raised over Syrian refugees and security.

The exchange was yet another escalation in the ongoing feud between de Blasio and Cuomo, which first spilled into public view over the summer when the mayor knocked the governor in a NY1 interview.

Astorino drawing himself into the dispute comes as he considers another run for governor in 2018.

“I honestly think the governor is very much like a scorpion,” he said in the interview with Fred Dicker. “Unless he is angry, unless he’s biting somebody, he can’t function.”

Updated: Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi added this response. “Happy Thanksgiving, Rob.”

Cox Criticizes Cuomo’s ‘Personal Politics’

New York Republican Chairman Ed Cox on Wednesday criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “personal politics” that has motivated his feud with New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and led him to push for policies such as the $15 minimum wage proposal.

“Governor Cuomo is desperate politically,” Cox said on Fred Dicker’s Talk-1300 radio show. “He’s doing everything that is political expedient for himself.”

The comments come amid the deepening rift between the governor and mayor, Democrats both whose hostilities are now in the open after de Blasio in July blasted Cuomo in a NY1 interview for siding with Senate Republicans at the expense of the city’s agenda in Albany.

On Tuesday, de Blasio appeared with Cuomo’s Republican opponent in his 2014 re-election bid, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

Cuomo, meanwhile, knocked de Blasio for standing with an elected official who holds conservative views on abortion, same-sex marriage and the Syrian refugee debate.

“I do recall in September he stood between the pope and Cardinal Dolan,” Cox said of Cuomo. “I believe both of them are staunchly pro-life.”

The Cuomo-de Blasio Battle Escalates

deBlasioFrom the Morning Memo:

Just in time for Thanksgiving, New York’s most prominent elected officials remain even more at odds with one another.

The feud between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio escalated on Tuesday as the governor criticized the mayor for appearing alongside his 2014 Republican opponent, while the mayor stood by and chuckled as Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino suggested mental health services were needed for Cuomo.

The fight started early with something of a pre-buttal by Cuomo who was appearing with a potential de Blasio foe in a 2017 Democratic primary, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.

Cuomo knocked de Blasio for standing with Astorino, given his stances on abortion, same-sex marriage and Syrian refugees (Never mind Cuomo has had a good public relationship with Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who holds similar views to Astorino).

“You’re talking to the wrong guy if you think I’m going to be able to decipher the mayor’s politics,” Cuomo said. “But I can tell you the Republican who I ran against, this is a man who is against a woman’s right to choose, this is a man who wants to lock refugees out of this country. It is not a person who I would want to stand next to.”

Jeffries added it “doesn’t seem to make sense to play footsie” with Astorino.

Then it was de Blasio and Astorino’s turn to tee off on the governor at a news conference on transportation funding.

“It seems like the governor has some insecurities,” Astorino said. “Since he’s a constituent of mine, I’d be more than happy to set him up with our Department of Community Health if he needs some help on this issue.”

It’s not the first time Astorino has teamed up with one of Cuomo’s liberal antagonist. During the gubernatorial campaign, Astorino appeared in a brief alliance with Zephyr Teachout, the Fordham Law School professor who challenged Cuomo in a Democratic primary.

Here and Now

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

Jury deliberations continue in the federal corruption trial of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, while proceedings continue in the corruption trial of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam.

At 5:33 a.m., 7:33 a.m. and 9:33 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray will appear on NPR’s Morning Edition to discuss ThriveNYC: The Mental Health Roadmap for All.

At 7:05 a.m., de Blasio will appear live on Fox News’ “Good Day NY” with Rosanna Scotto to discuss security and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

At 10 a.m., the New York City Coalition Against Hunger releases its annual survey on demand at soup kitchens and food pantries and new findings on food insecurity and hunger in New York City and New York State, Caldwell Temple A.M.E Zion Church, 1288 Reverend James A. Polite Ave., the Bronx.

At noon, DraftKings and FanDuel appear in court related to a proposed injunction by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Supreme Court, 60 Centre St., Manhattan.

At 3 p.m., the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons will be inflated ahead of tomorrow’s 89th Parade, 79th St and Columbus Avenue, Manhattan. (De Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton attend this event with Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren at 5 p.m., Southwest Corner of 77th Street and Central Park West).


In a dramatic about-face and as parents revolt against what they see as over-testing of their kids, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is reportedly pushing for the role of test results in establishing teacher performance evaluations to be reduced – possibly even to zero. The administration insists Cuomo is waiting for the recommendations of a task force he had set up to conduct a review of the Common Core standards and assessments.

It was clear early on in the jury’s deliberations in the federal corruption trial of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver that things were not going well, with one juror asking to be excused because she felt physically unwell due feeling “pressured.” The judge refused her request, but will speak with her this morning.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer and Cuomo announced that Alcoa has entered into a 3½-year agreement with the state to keep the smelter open and maintain 600 jobs at the Massena West facility. The agreement is retroactive to Oct. 1 and runs through March 31, 2019.

The deal to keep the Massena plant open is not coming cheaply to the Cuomo administration. It includes: $38.8 million in capital and operation expenses from the state’s economic development arm, and $30 million in energy cost assistance.

The feud between Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio took a new turn yesterday over the mayor’s decision to join a Republican – Cuomo’s election foe in 2014, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino – at a bipartisan event seeking more federal transportation funding.

“The Republican who I ran against, this is a man who is against a woman’s right to choose, this is a man who wants to lock refugees out of this country — it is not a person who I would stand next to,” said Cuomo, who was appearing with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a potential 2017 primary rival to de Blasio.

Cuomo tore into the de Blasio administration’s handling of the homeless crisis, saying that better “management” by the mayor was needed instead of just “throwing more money at the problem.”

Adam Skelos bragged to the head of AbTech Industries, which had secured a $12 million contract with Nassau County at his urging, that he had direct assurances from County Executive Edward Mangano that a storm water cleanup project would be funded after a series of delays threatened Skelos’ consulting job with the company, a wiretapped phone call revealed yesterday.

A fight over ethics reform in the state legislature helped get Adam Skelos fired from his $10,000-a-month job with AbTech.

Jurors in the Skelos trial were dismissed early yesterday after one juror complained of chest pains.

Thomas Libous, a former deputy majority leader of the state Senate who is dying of cancer, was sentenced to six months of home confinement and two years of probation for lying to federal agents who were investigating whether he used his political influence to get his son a job. Libous said he plans to appeal.

Cuomo announced as part of his “See Something, Send Something” campaign a new mobile app that allows New Yorkers to alert authorities of potential threats.

De Blasio penned a letter to congressional GOP leaders, asking House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to back a bill that would prohibit people on terror watch lists, which bar them from boarding airplanes, from buying firearms.

Cuomo will count nuclear power as renewable energy, at least temporarily, when the state issues new rules next year requiring utilities to procure half their power from renewable sources by 2030. But that plan doesn’t seem likely to convince Entergy to keep the FitzPatrick plant in Oswego County open.

After nearly two years of battling unsuccessfully to ban horse carriages from Central Park, de Blasio is now pushing a compromise that would reduce their number by two-thirds.

More >


Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries took turns kicking NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio for “playing footsie” with the governor’s 2014 Republican opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

…and then de Blasio and Astorino returned the favor.

In a highly unusual move, a juror in former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s federal corruption case sent a note to the judge shortly after noon pleading to be excused from the jury. “I have a different opinion/view so far in this case,” she wrote, “and it is making me feel very, very uncomfortable.”

…the judge rejected this request.

A second note indicated one juror was having “difficulty distinguishing” if exchanging state funds for something in return is illegal, and asked if an Assembly ethics code “clearly outlines this.”

The corruption trial of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, came to a halt late this afternoon after one juror complained of chest pains.

Abu Dhabi’s investment arm is reportedly considering a sale of all or part of chipmaker Globalfoundries Inc. as the emirate explores asset disposals amid a slump in crude oil.

A lot has changed in Western New York – so much so that The Buffalo News has published a primer for “expats” returning home to the area for the holiday.

Capital Region Assembly members Steve McLaughlin and John McDonald III sent a letter to the state Department of Labor asking Acting Commissioner Mario Musolino to launch an investigation into Wal-Mart’s firing of Thomas Smith on Nov. 6.

Cuomo kicked off the 2015-16 skiing and riding season and announced that Whiteface Mountain will open on Thursday and Gore Mountain on Friday.

The Syracuse City Council voted unanimously to override Mayor Stephanie Miner’s veto and provide $15,000 for the Citizen Review Board to hire consultants to help investigate complaints of police misconduct.

According to an internal profits and losses sheet, Onondaga County made just $2,313 from Miranda Lambert’s concert in September – the inaugural concert at the Lakeview Amphitheater.

According to BuzzFeed, daily fantasy football has better odds than Mega Millions.

State Police will crack down on impaired, distracted, and speeding drivers this Thanksgiving weekend.

The New York State Fair looks to get an early start on ticket sales with a Cyber Monday promotion next week.

Protesters planned to voice their displeasure today with Rep. Louise Slaughter’s vote for stricter vetting requirements for Syrian and Iraqi refugees who come to the U.S.

Diversity hiring goals set for the construction of the SolarCity plant in South Buffalo have not translated into a lot of jobs for African-American workers.

Amazon has reportedly asked the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to pull their controversial ads with Nazi symbols from the subways.

Alcoa gave more details about its executive structure for the previously announced split of the lightweight-metals manufacturer’s upstream and so-called value-add companies.

A new law signed by Cuomo will compensate parents who are family caregivers of adult children special needs.

Two days before he stepped down, PTA members at a school board meeting at the Saunders Trades and Technical High School asked that Superintendent Michael Yazurlo be given a contract extension.

Well, this is embarrassing.

Libous, Leaving Court, Thanks Supporters

Republican former Sen. Tom Libous left court on Tuesday after he was sentenced in his federal corruption case, thanking constituents and pledging to appeal his July guilty verdict.

“I’ve had tremendous support not only from not only my family and friends, but my constituents,” Libous said. “They’ve supported me. “It’s nice to come to this point.”

In addition to six months of home confinement, Libous is required to wear an electronic ankle bracelet and pay a $50,000 fine. He was found guilty in July of having lied to the FBI in a case stemming from his Matthew receiving a job at a politically connected law firm in Westchester County.

Libous’s sentencing by U.S. District Court Judge Vincent Briccetti avoids jail time, which both his attorneys and prosecutors in the case sought given his terminal cancer gives him less than a year to live.

The sentencing does allow Libous to make doctors appointments and visit his son in prison, who is was sentenced earlier this year in a tax evasion case.

Cuomo: Alcoa Closure Was A ‘Declaration Of War’

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in Massena earlier on Tuesday said the planned closure of an aluminum plant by Alcoa was a “declaration of war” by the company.

“This was not the negotiating table,” Cuomo told reporters. “This was a unilateral declaration of war, as far as I’m concerned. This was, ‘We’re closing the plant, period. End of discussion.’ We had to create the conversation.”

Both Cuomo and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer announced an agreement reached with the company, costing the state $68 million, to keep the factory open for the next 3-1/2 years. The plant was due to close after the worldwide aluminum market fell.

Schumer added they he, too, was taken aback by the sudden closure of the factory, which would have meant the slashing of 600 jobs.

“They were in such a frenzy because the price of aluminum was so slow, they overlooked the fact that there were things we could do to help them to keep this plant open, which I think ultimately they wanted to do,” Schumer said. “They didn’t get consult us. I was shocked they didn’t consult us.”

Cuomo and Schumer insisted that while the deal was only for the next several years, the state would continue to work to keep the factory open.

“The agreement is for 3-1/2 years, but the commitment is forever,” Cuomo said. “This plant has a major investment in it, it has had a major investment from the state for many years. This is 600 jobs that are vital.”

Meanwhile, the future of the plant could still hinge on what the aluminum market looks like several years from now.

“We hope in 3-1/2 years the price of aluminum goes up,” Cuomo said. “Hopefully the market will take care of it. If there’s a continuing issue, we’ll take care of it.”

This isn’t the first investment the state has made in Alcoa’s North Country plant.

Eight years ago, the state gave the company $5.6 billion worth of power credits for the next 30 years.

Cuomo and Schumer pointed to the energy subsidizes as one of the reasons why the company should remain open, along with the human element of the jobs lost.

“I think companies have to be a little more cognizant of the fact that — we understand bottom lines and they have to make money — but this is also about people and peoples lives,” Cuomo said. “I understand corporate profit, I also understand humanity.”