Monroe County Clerk: DMV To Issue Refunds To Vets

Veterans who received a special distinction on their license or non-driver’s identification card are eligible for a $12.50 refund, Monroe County Clerk Cheryl Dinolfo announced on Friday.

Dinolfo, the president of the New York State Association of County Clerks, had pushed the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue the reimbursements to veterans who sought the special distinction on their state-issued cards.

“Veterans across New York State have earned the right to proudly display their service and status on their drivers’ licenses and non-driver identification cards at no additional cost. The refund of the State imposed fee is the right decision,” Dinolfo said in a statement. “I am proud that County Clerks throughout New York State worked together and I thank the State Legislature for passing and Governor Cuomo for signing this legislation into law.”

The reimbursement plan was approved at the end of the legislative session and signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this year. The measure applies to any veteran who paid the fee for the distinctive mark after October 2012.

A previous measure approved last year suspended the fee for veterans to receive the special mark on identification cards or driver’s licenses.

Rand Paul To Be Special Guest At NY GOP Event

New York Republican Chairman Ed Cox will host Kentucky senator and presidential hopeful Rand Paul at GOP fundraiser next month.

The luncheon event with Paul, to be held with The Empire Club, is scheduled for Sept. 28, according to an invitation the Republican Committee blasted out today to supporters.

Tickets to the event cost $500 for guests of Empire Club members.


DiNapoli: Settlement Funds Boost State’s Coffers

moneyThe state took in less tax revenue than projected by the Division of Budget, about $17.7 million lower, account to a report released on Friday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

Still, the July cash report from the comptroller found the tax revenue is more than $1 billion higher than initially forecasted by budget officials.

The fund balance overall remains at “historical levels” at $9.6 billion — fueled in part by the one-shot settlement funds. All-funds receipts, totaling just under $49.5 billion through July 31, were $1.6 billion higher than initially estimated due to the financial settlements.

“Personal Income Tax collections remain strong, and one-time settlement funds have temporarily boosted available funds,” DiNapoli said. “However, due to increased collections from historically volatile sources and the one-shot nature of billions of dollars in settlement proceeds, it is important to closely monitor results as the year progresses to ensure the state’s fiscal picture stays on track.” More >

Morelle Hedges On WEP

morelleFrom the Morning Memo:

LG Kathy Hochul said this week that several hundred candidates running in local elections this fall want to appear on the Women’s Equality Party line, which was created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his successful re-election bid last year.

According to Hochul and other WEP boosters, the new party, which has ballot access for four years, thanks to Cuomo, will play a key role in next year’s state legislative elections – particularly in the closely-divided state Senate, where Democrats will make yet another effort to win back the majority.

But not all Democrats are feeling quite so bullish about the WEP, which made a number of them fairly uncomfortable when it was created, and even caused some – including Sen. Liz Krueger – to suggest its existence would hurt, not help, the Senate Democrats’ cause in the 2014 elections.

Also, it was not lost on the Working Families Party (AKA the WFP), which wasn’t getting along terribly well with Cuomo last year, that the WEP had an acronym awfully similar to its own. Some political conspiracy theorists believed that was no accident, and, in fact, had been done specifically to confuse voters and keep the WFP’s own tally low. More >

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to have no public schedule, as he is taking personal time to be with his family. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is in Connecticut, where his son, Dante, is matriculating at Yale. He plans to return to the city today, and has no public schedule.

At 8:15 a.m., New York Law School hosts its CityLaw Breakfast with NYC Planning Committee Chairman Carl Weisbrod, who will give an update on Mayor de Blasio’s housing initiatives and zoning plan, New York Law School, 185 West Broadway at Leonard Street, Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie joins Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle for briefing on Rochester-Monroe anti-poverty initiative, United Way of Greater Rochester, 75 College Ave., Rochester.

At 10:10 a.m., State Sen. David Carlucci hosts his monthly radio show, the “Albany Report”, WRCR 1700AM Radio.

At 11 a.m., tennis player Victor Estrella Burgos returns to Washington Heights to speak to, host a clinic, and celebrate his birthday with the the participants of the Washington Heights Tennis Association, of which he is a graduate and former instructor, Inwood Hill Park tennis courts, Dyckman Street and Hudson River.

Also at 11 a.m., the FDNY/Uniformed Fire Officers Association will endorse Democrat Michael McMahon for Staten Island DA, in front of Rescue Co No. 5, 1850 Clove Rd., Staten Island.

At 11:30 a.m., protestors who oppose the Iran nuclear deal will show up at Rep. Elise Stefanik’s “coffee with your Congresswoman” event, Wilton Town Hall, 22 Traver Rd., Gansevoort.

At noon, AG Eric Schneiderman Schneiderman will make remarks at the Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony in recognition of Law Enforcement Day at the State Fair, Veterans Memorial in front of the Horticultural building, State Fairgrounds, Syracuse.

Also at noon, Heastie joins members of the Assembly at the Great New York State Fair, 581 State Fair Blvd., Syracuse.

At 12:45 p.m., Heastie tours the SUNY Exhibit at the fair with Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, New York State Fairgrounds, Science & Industry building, 581 State Fair Blvd., Syracuse.

At 1:15 p.m., Heastie tours the Taste of New York exhibit at State Fair, 581 State Fair Blvd., Syracuse.

At 1:30 p.m., State Sen. Tony Avella holds a press conference to announce funding for upgrades to MacNeil Park, College Place and Poppenhusen Ave., College Point, Queens.

At 2 p.m., Heastie visits Veterans & 9/11 Memorials at State Fair, 581 State Fair Blvd., Syracuse.

At 6:30 p.m., Rep. Chris Gibson attends the 4th annual MudFest, Prattsville Town Green, Prattsville.

At 9:30 p.m., the Alliance for Coney Island holds a Friday night fireworks show to cap off the end of summer, Coney Island Boardwalk, Brooklyn.


Christopher Voss, a member of an elite team of U.S. Customs and Border Patrol who killed escaped convict Richard Matt last month, said he had no choice but to fire the deadly shots because Matt leveled a shotgun at him.

The office of the United States attorney in Manhattan announced that it was joining the investigation into the death of Samuel Harrell, a prisoner at the Fishkill Correctional Facility in Beacon, who inmate witnesses say was handcuffed and beaten severely this year by a group of corrections officers.

Police say the track and SPAC, along with Travers Day parties on Saturday, could attract more than 100,000 people to Saratoga Springs – one of the largest crowds they have ever tried to manage in this small city.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said the department got the cold shoulder from Disney and Marvel when they tried to enlist them in the fight against the costumed characters preying on tourists in Times Square. “They want no part of it,” Bratton said.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney said she’ll vote against President Obama’s proposed nuclear deal with Iran, joining US Sen. Chuck Schumer and other New York Democrats in opposing the White House’s top diplomatic priority. Her opposition helps solidify the state’s congressional delegation’s status as a key front in the opposition to the deal.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, commenting publicly for the first time on Wednesday’s on-air murders of two television journalists in Virginia, said that unless action is taken to strengthen the nation’s gun control laws and mental health services, similar acts of violence are likely to occur in the future.

Since de Blasio took office, traffic deaths have dropped, bus service has expanded outside of Manhattan and there are more bicycle lanes. Yet drivers complain about more speeding tickets, residents grumble about increasingly crowded subway trains and many advocates are beginning to question the administration’s commitment to delivering on its Vision Zero initiative to reduce traffic deaths.

A citywide coalition of Latino leaders is stepping up pressure on de Blasio to hire more administration officials who look like them.

A lawsuit that could result in nearly $5 billion in funding for New York State schools is one step closer to conclusion, with the two sides agreeing to streamline the process and avoid going to trial.

Riverhead officials, faced with the arrival of Suffolk County’s first medical marijuana dispensary in January, are weighing a one-year moratorium on facilities that offer the drug.

Team Hillary Clinton’s strategy heading into a meeting of party elite today is aimed at dismissing the idea now fueling Biden supporters that her campaign is going off the rails.

More >


Assemblyman Dov Hikind compared Jewish leaders remaining on the sidelines or supporting the administration on the Iran nuclear deal to leaders who were silent when 6 millions Jews were murdered during the Holocaust.

LG Kathy Hochul ate a sausage sandwich at the New York State Fair with a teacher activist, who showed up hoping to protest the governor. (He’s spending time with family, but will attend the fair sometime later on in its 12-day run).

It’s Hochul’s birthday!

Democratic 2016 frontrunner Hillary Clinton called most of the Republican candidates Donald Trump “without the pizazz or the hair.”

…she also compared anti-abortion Republicans to terrorists and “people who don’t want to live in the modern world.” (Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and the RNC had something to say about that).

Former Gov. George Pataki is sticking to his strategy of trying to raise his profile by hammering Trump whenever possible.

A new Quinnipaic poll shows VP Joe Biden performing a little better than Clinton against the leading GOP candidates in a general election matchup, and his favorability is higher than that of any candidate – Democrat or Republican.

Democratic leaders are increasingly frustrated by Clinton’s failure to put to rest questions about her State Department email practices and ease growing doubts among voters about her honesty and trustworthiness.

GOP operative Roger Stone’s highly public breakup (assuming that’s what it was) with Trump has returned him to the spotlight, allowing him to put his “extraordinary wardrobe” on display.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan will address a Westchester County business group in White Plains next month.

Airbnb has hired Chris Lehane, a veteran Democratic operative with ties to both Cuomo and de Blasio, as it battles New York lawmakers who say the lucrative online business lets users break state and city laws and is fueling the city’s affordable-housing crisis.

Jamie Romeo is the new leader of the Monroe County Democratic party, but longtime Assemblyman David Gantt, who has clashed with the party’s leadership at times, says he doesn’t know who she is.

Douglas Lyall, who for more than 15 years kept a constant vigil for his missing daughter Suzanne, has died.

Tioga Downs, the lone bidder for a Southern Tier casino, will get an opportunity to make its case before the state Gaming Facility Location Board next month, and then the board will hold a public hearing in Binghamton on the proposal.

Rep. John Katko gave his only ticket to the Pope’s congressional address to his wife, but will conduct an on-line lottery for some of the 50 seats assigned to his office on the West Lawn of the Capitol.

NYC Council candidate Rebecca Lynch admitted that many people in the eastern Queens district she hopes to represent feel that her former employer, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, “does not care” about their issues—though she argued that sentiment predates the current mayor.

Facing increasing pressure to curb erratic scheduling practices, Gap announced that it would stop requiring employees to make themselves available for last-minute shifts.

The New York City Campaign Finance Board released its official NYC voter guide for the 2015 primary elections on Sept. 10.

The state is launching a specialized police unit to help crack down on sexual assault on college campuses, but some victims’ advocates are wary, saying law enforcement has not been effective in tackling the issue in the past.

U.S. Attorney To Investigate Death At Fishkill Correctional

prisonU.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office will investigate the April death of an inmate at Fishill Correctional Facility, his office said in a statement released on Thursday afternoon.

In the statement, Bharara said his office will be coordinating with the Dutchess County district attorney, William Grady, to investigate the death of Samuel Harrell.

Harrell’s death was ruled a homicide, allegedly at the hands of guards at the state prison.

“My Office has been in communication with the office of Dutchess County District Attorney William Grady, and we will be coordinating and working with his office to investigate the April 21, 2015 death of Samuel Harrell, an inmate at Fishkill Correctional Facility,” Bharara said in the statement.

The federal investigation comes after the Department of Corrections and Community Supervision on Tuesday named a new superintendent at the facility, Robert Cunningham, after the removal of William Connolly.

Hochul Says Opting Out Of Tests Parental Choice Issue

hochulfairLt. Gov. Kathy Hochul earlier on Thursday wouldn’t condemn parents who had their students not take the recent round of state tests, calling the question a matter of parental choice.

“Each parent can make their own choice,” Hochul said during a visit to the Star Fair in Syracuse before sitting down with a group of protesters demonstrating against Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s education policies.

Cuomo this year successfully pushed a new teacher evaluation system that links teacher performance reviews and tenure to standardized test results as well as in-classroom observation. State lawmakers begrudgling went along with the education policy changes in part because of the linkage to a boost in state aid for schools.

But Hochul told reporters in Syracuse the budget also contained provisions aimed at reducing the reliance on standardized testing in classrooms across the state, even as New York seeks to strengthen standards. More >

What Happens When You Call The Moreland Commission’s Tip Line

morelandhotlineIt still works! Well, sort of.

The defunct anti-corruption panel was shut down in April 2014 following an agreement on ethics and campaign finance reform measures in the state budget.

But the commission’s impact lingers like Albany’s very own phantom menace.

“It’s the political equivalent of the Big Bang. We’re constantly seeing its echoes over time. It for the first time underscored what the word independence meant in modern day Albany, which is not so much,” said Blair Horner, NPIRG’s legislative director.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo convened the panel of district attorneys and law professors to probe legislative wrongdoing. Its work was ended in April 2014 following a package of anti-corruption and ethics measures in the budget. But the circumstances of the commission being closed are part of an ongoing review by the U.S. Attorney’s office. More >

Heastie: Support In Assembly For Privatizing NYRA

heastiehorseFrom the Morning Memo:

There’s “broad support” in the Democratic-led Assembly to return the New York Racing Association back to the private sector, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said on Wednesday during a stop in Rochester.

State as well as federal lawmakers from upstate New York have been eager to move NYRA out of state control and back into a non-profit entity that supports thoroughbred racing.

“There seems to be broad support within our house for NYRA to go back to being a privately run institution, particularly the member who represent the Saratoga region — Carrie Woerner — has been very outspoken on this,” Heastie said. “It’s a discussion we’re having.”

NYRA has been under state control since 2012, when then-CEO Charlie Hayward was ousted after it was revealed the public-benefit corporation had improperly collected more than $7 million fees from exotic bets. More >