Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City.

At 8:30 a.m., AG Eric Schneiderman speaks at the Crain’s Business Breakfast Forum, New York Athletic Club, 180 Central Park W., Manhattan.

Also at 8:30 a.m., Texas Gov. Rick Perry appears on CBS’ This Morning.

At 10 a.m., retiring NY-21 Rep. Bill Owens and the Democrat running to replace him, Aaron Woolf, will kick off a jobs and small business tour, starting in St. Lawrence County, Ductman Mechanicals, 8449 New York 56, Norfolk.

Also at 10 a.m., Rep. Paul Tonko attends an event that encourages high school students to explore careers in construction, Navy Operations Center, 251 Rudy Chase Dr., Glenville.

At 10:30 a.m., Cuomo attends the opening of the Perelman Emergency Center at NYU Langone, NYU Langone Medical Center, Smilow Multi-Purpose Room, 570 First Ave., Manhattan. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will also attend, and is scheduled to speak.

At 11 a.m., Owens and Woolf will visit Potsdam Agway, 14 Market St., Potsdam.

At 11:10 a.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray speaks at the Bryant Park ‘Poem in Your Pocket Day’ celebration, Bryant Park Reading Room, 42nd Street and Avenue of the Americas, Manhattan.

At 11:30 a.m., Owens and Woolf will stop by Northern Music & Video, 29 Market St., Potsdam.

At noon, de Blasio hosts a press conference to make an announcement in the Blue Room at City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at noon, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens, Sen. Cecelia Tkaczyk, Assemblywoman Pat Fahy and others attend the announcement of $1.4 million in conservation grants to land trusts statewide, Indian Ladder Farms, 342 Altamont Rd., Altamont.

Also at noon, Real Affordability for All, the largest citywide affordable housing coalition representing thousands of tenants, will unveil a major new affordable housing plan for de Blasio, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at noon, Owens and Woolf will have lunch with business and labor leaders at Sergi’s Italian Restaurant, 10 Market St., Potsdam.

Also at noon, Tonko attends the Celebration of Independence awards luncheon honoring excellence in disability leadership, Polonaise Banquet Conference Center, 225 Washington Ave., Albany.

Also at noon, Rep. Dan Maffei speaks at the Cayuga County Economic Development Agency luncheon, Springside Inn, 6141 West Lake Rd., Auburn.

At 1 p.m., NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer presents an award at the third annual TechDay NYC, Pier 92, 711 12th Ave., Manhattan.

At 2 p.m., Owens and Woolf will tour the new 135 bed skilled nursing/30 bed assisted living facility at the Alicia Hyde Medical Center, 133 Park St., Malone.

At 3 p.m., Schneiderman presents an award to the Best Green Startup at the third annual TechDay NYC, Pier 92, 711 12th Ave., Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., Rep. Chris Gibson will attend the Klyne Esopus Museum Reception, Stone Hedge Restaurant, Route 9W, Ulster Park.

Also at 6 p.m., Sens. Greg Ball and Phil Boyle host public forum on heroin and opioid addiction, Paladin Center Tactical Training Facility, 39 Seminary Hill Rd., Carmel.

Also at 6 p.m., Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano attends his 50th birthday party, Alley 810, Empire City Casino, 810 Yonkers Ave., Yonkers.

At 6:05 p.m., McCray speaks at Tribeca Film Institute’s ‘Our City, My Story’, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, 199 Chambers St., Manhattan.

At 5:30 p.m., GOP gubernatorial candidate and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino will attend the Hudson Valley Construction Industry Partnership Dinner, DoubleTree, 455 S. Broadway, Tarrytown.

At 7 p.m., Astorino will attend and deliver the keynote address at the Bronx-Manhattan North Association of Realtors Dinner, Marina del Rey, 1 Marina Dr., Throgs Neck.

At 7:30 p.m., Vice President Joe Biden will attend an event for DCCC Chairman Steve Israel at the Crest Hollow Country Club on Long Island.

Headlines…

Gov. Andrew Cuomo threw his support behind a proposal to provide a property tax break to New York City victims of superstorm Sandy who have rebuilt their homes, backing a key request by Mayor Bill de Blasio to the state Legislature.

“Like many couples, Mr. de Blasio and Mr. Cuomo do seem to enjoy each other’s company, at least when they are not fighting.”

Asked about the unrest on his left, Cuomo blamed the state Senate for failing to pass most of the progressive legislation he purports to support.

After his longtime friend, Willie Rapfogel, pleaded guilty to defrauding the charity he once ran, the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said he is “deeply saddened by this entire episode.”

The source of U.S. paper currency stamped “Cuomo Must Go! Your Vote Counts” is is a stamp sold by Jim Arendt, a Spencerport retailer who specializes in gun rights and outdoors paraphernalia.

Cuomo won’t be debating his fellow potential 2016 presidential hopeful Texas Gov. Rick Perry any time soon.

The de Blasio administration is reportedly negotiating a sweetheart deal with horse- carriage owners that would give them recession-proof yellow taxi medallions worth about $1 million each to compensate them for a ban on their business.

An engineering firm hired by Auburn to clear the way for the city to accept wastewater from gas drilling has concluded the city’s wastewater treatment plant can’t handle it.

A day after a NYPD effort to engage the public on Twitter seemingly backfired, Commissioner William Bratton defended the campaign and said it would continue.

More >

Extras

The US Supreme Court’s decision upholding Michigan’s affirmative-action ban was far from a shock, but it generated considerable strife on the high court.

The recently fired head of Westchester’s Solid Waste commission has written to GOP donors, asking them not to give money to Rob Astorino.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 1975 Corvette and 2011 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Classic are on display at the New York auto show.

The MTA estimates the price tag of a tentative contract agreement with its largest union, the TWU, at $411 million.

NYSUT is planning a “picket in the pines” of an exclusive Adirondack education reform conference next month.

Someone stamped an anti-Cuomo slogan on a ten dollar bill.

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer endorsed “proven fighter” Sen. Adriano Espaillat’s primary challenge to Rep. Charlie Rangel.

Even though NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the lowest water and sewer rate increase since 2006, Queens Councilman Rory Lancman still thinks he’s breaking a campaign promise.

Espaillat slammed the Clintons for backing Rangel over him, saying they are “not on the side of change.” (He would also prefer the president’s endorsement).

Cuomo stepped on de Blasio’s Albany press conference by holding a competing press conference of his own.

This summer, the Republican Party is rolling out the first-ever political website suffix: .gop.

The DCCC “sent” NY-21 GOP candidates Elise Stefanik and Matt Dohney a “Republican Budget for Dummies” primer so they can stop evading questions.

A federal judge has ordered former Village Voice reporter Graham Rayman to turn over documents he gathered while reporting on police misconduct in the NYPD.

Texas Gov. Rick Perry thinks the START-UP NY ads are good, but wonders why they’re being run in New York City.

Former LG Richard Ravitch warned that the fiscal crisis facing state and local governments nationwide isn’t over, despite calls for tax breaks by many governors.

A discussion over the future of the 3 World Trade Center tower has exposed deep rifts among board members of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

De Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton rejected the NYC Council’s call to hire another 1,000 police officers.

Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson no longer plans to criminally prosecute potheads without previous criminal records who are busted for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The Cicero Town Board will vote on whether to conduct an ethics investigation into Supervisor Jessica Zambrano’s relationship with a member of the town’s engineering firm.

Astorino: Cuomo Ended Moreland For ‘Political Purposes’

Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino on Wednesday told reporters that Gov. Andrew Cuomo ended the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption for “political purposes”

However, he did not reiterate the unsubstantiated charge he leveled on Tuesday in an online video that Cuomo’s office was being investigated by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara for reportedly involving itself in the panel’s work.

Astorino, the Westchester County executive, clarified that it was a “powerful statement” that Bharara believes the commission ended too early, somewhat clarified his criticism of Cuomo when it comes to the commission.

“There’s a major cloud that is hanging above Andrew Cuomo’s head…for political purposes he stopped what should’ve been an investigation that continued to see where corruption and ethics violations and where that was leading,” Astorino said according to our NY1 colleagues. “He stopped that abruptly. The US Attorney made a very, I think, powerful statement that that shouldn’t have happened. And that he’s looking into it. As he should. And that’s all I’m saying. We should see where this goes. Because we are the most corrupt state in America and if it was leading to the governor’s office, we should have answers why he abruptly stopped that.”

Cuomo, speaking with reporters in Albany, said it was the plan “all along” to end the commission once an ethics agreement was struck with the state Legislature.

“I said once they passed ethics reform, that we would disband the Moreland Commission. They did pass ethics reform… and when they passed we disbanded the commission as we said.”

Cuomo Defends His Liberal Credentials

He’s liberal enough.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave a defense of his progressive credentials on Wednesday after he was asked about a potential challenge from a liberal gubernatorial candidate this fall.

“I don’t know if there’s a lot of space to my left,” Cuomo said.

He cited the legalization of same-sex marriage, along with the 2013 gun control law known as the SAFE Act as examples of Democratic base-friendly measures he has successfully pushed through the Legislature which both times was partly controlled by Republicans.

“I think we’ve accomplished more progressive measures than this state has accomplished in decades and decades and decades,” he said while adding, “We have a phenomenal record of accomplishment.”

A Siena College poll this week found a candidate running on the union-backed Working Families Party ballot would receive up to 24 percent of the vote, with Cuomo scoring only 39 percent.

The same poll, however, showed the governor remains popular among liberals, New York City residents and black voters.

Cuomo with reporters on Wednesday suggested the noise that the WFP may not grant him the ballot line this year is more than just political philosophy.

“Politics is politics and people do what they do in politics for a lot of different reasons beyond just ideology,” he said.

Support for gun control and same-sex marriage aside, liberal advocates have been upset that Cuomo’s fiscal agenda doesn’t necessarily line up with the liberal faction of the Democratic Party.

Cuomo has sought and successfully won a cap on local property taxes as well as tax cuts aimed at businesses, most recently a reduction in the corporate tax rate in last month’s budget.

Liberals continue to push for a statewide system of public financing as well as the DREAM Act, which provides state tuition assistance to the children of undocumented immigrants.

The budget included a public financing program with a small-dollar match for the state comptroller’s race only, while the DREAM Act vote failed in the Senate, which is under a coalition of Democrats and Republicans.

Cuomo insisted it’s the Senate that remains an impediment to those measures.

“The problem is not that I don’t support, the problem is I can’t get it passed because we don’t have a Senate who supports it,” he said. “So that answer would be elect people to the legislative body that support the initiatives you want passed.”

Public financing, he added, was a not a “slam dunk” even with voters across the state and remains controversial.

In sum, Cuomo said those goals failing wasn’t for a lack of trying.

“You know me, I punch until I hear the bell,” Cuomo said. “I’m still working on these issues, but it’s not for want of my support or effort. I have worked harder on these issues than I have on many of the issues were we actually succeeded.”

Cuomo On Perry Debate: ‘I Don’t Think So’

Don’t expect the great Perry-Cuomo debate on jobs and the economy any time soon.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday declined an offer made by Texas Gov. Rick Perry to a debate on their approaches to economic development.

“I don’t think so,” Cuomo said with a smile when asked about the proposal made by Perry.

The Texas Republican is in New York this week to meet with business leaders in order to draw them into setting up their businesses in his state — the second such trip Perry has made to the Empire State, which is part of an economic development campaign.

The push from Perry comes as Cuomo and state lawmakers approved a package of tax cuts aimed at businesses, including a reduction of the corporate tax rate and a property tax rebate program.

Cuomo and state lawmakers last year approved a plan that would set up tax-free zones around state land and public college campuses for new businesses.

“I think I’m going to let the numbers speak for the state of New York,” Cuomo told reporters. “We have start up zones that are zero tax zones — zero taxes for 10 years. I believe it makes it the least expensive state to site a business.”

Perry derided the latest tax efforts in New York as “small ball.”

“I will say, in New York’s credit, they’ve moved in the right direction,” Perry said in a radio interview. “Of course there was only one direction you could go in New York.”

Cuomo brushed this off, suggesting Perry was envious.

“I understand if other states are jealous about what we are doing, but that’s what it is,” he said.

So will he go to Texas and try to bring jobs to New York?

“I’m staying here,” he said.

Senate GOP Happy To Tout Siena Poll (Updated)

Most voters don’t want the Senate Republican conference to take over the chamber.

Then again, most voters are thrilled with the idea of a Democratic takeover.

And given the option, yesterday’s Siena poll found voters preferred the idea of the majority coalition — a mix of Republicans and five independent Democrats who control the chamber.

Of course, the composition and nuances of the Senate majority coalition are lot more complex than the question might suggest.

Mainline Democrats have charged the coalition essentially bottles up or waters down measures that could pass if they had majority control — an argument they say is bolster by the fact that Democrats are in a numerical majority in the chamber (Senate IDC and GOP officials scoff at this notion).

Nevertheless, Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos said in a statement released on Tuesday the poll shows the coalition is working.

“Today’s Siena poll proves that New Yorkers want Democrats and Republicans to work together to achieve bipartisan results, which is exactly what we’ve been doing over the last four years. By partnering with the Governor and members of the Independent Democratic Conference, we’ve reduced income and property taxes, brought spending under control and made real progress in creating a climate where businesses can create new jobs for hardworking people,” Skelos said.

Touting this poll comes after NY1′s Zack Fink reported IDC Leader Jeff Klein and Sen. Mike Gianaris, a Queens Democrat, had planned to meet to discuss a potential reconciliation of the two factions. The meeting was ultimately called off after it became public.

Update: Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy responded in a statement.

“Any question that simply asks if people want bipartisanship will always yield a positive response. What we have in the Senate, however, is not bipartisan but the empowerment of a Republican minority that stymies progressive ideals for which the people voted. Among the list of failures due to this backroom deal is the Women’s Equality Act, the DREAM Act, a higher minimum wage and real ethics reform including public financing. Had the poll question made that clear, the result would have been much different.”

Demos Radio Ad: Zeldin Is Being ‘Weird’

The battle for the Republican primary in the NY-1 in Suffolk County is taking yet another turn with a 60-second radio ad from George Demos.

The spot was deployed this morning to push back against Zeldin’s own TV spot knocking Demos for his father-in-laws ties to Democratic contributors and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

“If George’s in-laws are Democrats, so what? Lee, you won’t win by being weird. And you won’t win attacking his in-laws. Seriously, Lee? George Demos would never attack your family. You shouldn’t be attacking his.”

Demos and Zeldin have traded a variety of barbs and questionable claims during the primary campaign for Rep. Tim Bishop’s seat.

Demos has charged Zeldin supports the Affordable Care Act, given that he has approved state budget bills that included funding for the law in New York.

Zeldin, meanwhile, has charged Demos has taken money from Pelosi-backing contributors.

Astorino To Headline PAC Fundraiser

From the morning memo:

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino will headline a fundraiser for the Maverick PAC, a political action committee that has aided rising GOP stars across the country.

Maverick PAC’s chairman emeritus is George P. Bush, the nephew of Bush 43 and grandson of Bush 41.

The event, to be held April 29, will take place at the Union League Club in New York City. Tickets are $25 to the event.

Bush is not expected to appear at the event, according to an invitation released by the New York GOP on Tuesday afternoon.

In other gubernatorial campaign related news, Astorino on Tuesday released his latest online video that claimed Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo’s reported interference in the Moreland Commission is under investigation by the U. S. Attorney’s office.

At best, this is an unsubtantiated claim that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is formally probing any gubernatorial meddling in the commission’s proceedings (In a much discussed radio interview with Brian Lehrer, Bharara was not definitive in the least as to whether Cuomo’s office was under investigation).

“I’m not going to pre-judge what we are looking at, what we will be investigating and where the facts will lead,” Bharara said.

At the very least, the episode is a sure sign that Astorino will continue to press the Moreland Commission situation in his case against Cuomo — and it’s more evidence that Bharara isn’t doing the governor any favors in assuming control of the panel’s documents.

Rapfogel Enters Guilty Plea, Faces Up To 12 Years In Prison

Willie Rapfogel, the once influential and politically connected former head of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, enter a guilty plea on slew of felony charges for siphoning funds from the charity.

He faces up to 10 years in prison, and a dozen if he fails to pay $3 million in restitution by his sentencing date.

Rapfogel was arrested last year and cahrged with siphoning $9 million in a sweeping, 20-year kick-back scheme.

Rapfogel has admitted that between 1993 and August 2013, he received more than $1 million in illicit payments from the Met Council while working a Long Island-based insurance broker, Century Coverage Corporation.

Among the charges the 59-year-old Rapfogel pleaded guilty to in state Supreme Court: first-degree grand larceny, second-degree money laundering, third-degree criminal tax fraud and first-degree offering a false instrument for filing.

“These defendants abused positions of trust to steal millions of dollars from a taxpayer-funded charitable organization — one that is dedicated to serving New York City’s poor,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement. “Those who rip off taxpayers and charitable organizations will be prosecuted. While New York has the greatest nonprofit sector in the country, this case reminds us that we must vigilantly protect it. I want to thank Comptroller DiNapoli for his continued partnership in our mission to root out public corruption and ensure that taxpayer money is protected. I also thank the Met Council board of directors for bringing this activity to light and cooperating with our investigation.”

Rapfogel’s arrest was an intriguing one for New York political circles, given his status as an influential power broker in city and state politics.

Rapfogel was considered a longtime ally of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, whose wife Judy works as one of the speaker’s top aides.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany and New York City.

From 7 a.m. to 9 a.m., the Auburn Theological Seminary honors Chelsea Clinton and Linda G. Mills, Ph.D., Patricia Fili-Krushel, Sapreet Kaur, the Rev. Dr. Jacqueline J. Lewis, and Rabbi Jennie Rosenn at the 18th annual Lives of Commitment Benefit Breakfast, Cipriani 42nd Street, 110 East 42nd St., Manhattan.

From 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., ABNY presents a breakfast panel discussion about the Center for an Urban Future’s March report titled “Caution Ahead: Overdue Investments for New York’s Aging Infrastructure”; auditorium, first floor, New York Genome Center, 101 Sixth Ave., Manhattan.

At 9:05 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio hosts an immigrant heritage breakfast at Gracie Mansion, 88th Street and East End Ave., Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., GOP gubernatorial candidate and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino will attend the Archdiocese of New York Conversation with former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Union League Club, 38 E. 37th St., Manhattan.

From 9 a.m. to noon, Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, Sen. Kathy Marchione and others host a forum on heroin and opioid addiction throughout the community, Hudson Valley Community College’s Bulmer Telecommunications Center Auditorium, Troy.

At 10 a.m., the governor attends the NY Rising Conference, Convention Center, Empire State Plaza, Albany.

Also at 10 a.m., Brooklyn BP Eric Adams will will speak out against rape and sexual assault in observance of Denim Day, an event where people are encouraged to wear denim in order to raise awareness of sexual violence, Brooklyn Borough Hall rotunda, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

Also at 10 a.m., airport workers attend press conference for higher wages and benefits at the Port Authority Headquarters, 225 Park Ave. South, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., US Sen. Charles Schumer launches a tech conference featuring CEO’s from Brooklyn-based tech firms and Brooklyn colleges, National Grid Auditorium at 1 Metro Tech Center, Brooklyn.

At 11 a.m., NYC City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Finance Committee Chair Julissa Ferreras and fellow Council members will deliver the FY 2015 budget response, Red Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 11:30 a.m., Rep. Michael Grimm kick off a petition drive calling on HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan not to move forward with plans to divert upwards of $1 billion in disaster relief funding away from Sandy recovery, 274 Coloney St., Staten Island.

At noon, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and Assemblyman Felix Ortiz publicize passage of legislation to award state contracts to businesses owned by disabled veterans; outside of U.S. Army Garrison Fort Hamilton, Fort Hamilton Parkway and 101st Street, Brooklyn.

At 12:30 p.m., de Blasio speaks at Cuomo’s NY Rising Conference, Empire State PLaza Convention Center, Albany. (The mayor will hold a press availability after his remarks in Meeting Room 5).

At 1 p.m., Sen. Adriano Espaillat receives a “major” endorsement for his primary challenge to Rep. Charlie Rangel, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 1 p.m., former LG Richard Ravitch speaks about his career in state government, Rockefeller Institute of Government, 411 State St., Albany.

At 1:30 p.m., Texas Gov. Rick Perry holds an event to discuss his “business recruitment trip” to NYC, Hill Country BBQ, 30 West 26th St., Manhattan.

At 2 p.m., the Port Authority Board of Commissioners meets, 15th floor of Port Authority headquarters, 225 Park Ave. South, Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., NYCHA and Assemblyman Keith Wright co-host a tenant workshop, Manhattanville Community Center, 530 W 133rd St., Manhattan.

Also at 6 p.m., Astorino will attend the Hispanic Federation Gala, Waldorf Astoria, 301 Park Avenue, Manhattan.

Also at 6 p.m., NY-21 GOP candidate Matt Doheny attends the Italian-American Civic Association Dinner, 192 Bellew Ave. S, Watertown.

At 7 p.m., de Blasio attends the Hispanic Federation Gala cocktail reception,
Basildon Room, Jade Room and Astor Room, Waldorf Astoria, 301 Park Ave., Manhattan.

At 8:15 p.m., Astorino will attend and deliver remarks at the Westchester Business Council Hall of Fame Dinner, Glen Island Harbor Club, 299 Weyman Ave., New Rochelle.

Headlines…

William Rapfogel, the former head of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty, is expected to accept a plea deal in Mahattan Supreme Court with the state Attorney General’s Office that will put him behind bars for three to 10 years.

Another defendant charged in the Met Council scheme, David Cohen, who was Rapfogel’s predecessor at the council, is also scheduled to plead guilty before Judge Michael J. Obus.

The Cuomo administration did not immediately respond to Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s debate challenge, but the Democratic Governors Association did, recalling his poor performance in a 2011 presidential debate.

“A little free advice for Rick Perry: the fewer debates with anyone, the better,” said DGA spokesman Danny Kanner. “Oops!”

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