Well-Connected Rochester Lobbyist Charged With Harassment

A lobbyist with ties to a number of elected leaders from the Rochester area is being accused of harassing a local newspaper columnist.

According to an incident report from the Albany Police Department, Robert Scott Gaddy struck and threatened to kill a woman at the Hilton Hotel this weekend. A source said the alleged victim is Gloria Winston Al-Sarag, a columnist for Rochester weekly newspaper the Minority Reporter.

The incident happened Saturday around 8:30 p.m. at the Hilton Albany in the city’s downtown where many events for the annual caucus weekend, sponsored by the state Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators, were taking place. It is unclear, however, whether the altercation was connected in any way to caucus weekend.

According to the report, Gaddy began yelling at Winston that he was going to kill her, then struck her in the “with a closed fist” in the jaw. Friends removed Winston from the situation, and she refused medical attention. Gaddy was no longer on the scene when Winston made her complaint to local law enforcement.

Police also said the Wintson and Gaddy are familiar with each other, and have had previous incidents, though no details were immediately available.

Gaddy is charged with 2nd degree Harassment. Reached by phone this afternoon, he declined to comment or to confirm or deny the incident. The lobbyist is the president of Excelsior Advocates and has connections with Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, mayoral candidate Rachel Barnhart and longtime Assemblyman David Gantt, among others.

We reached out to the Minority Reporter as well, but nobody was immediately available to comment.

Transgender Advocates Urge GENDA Vote

LGBTQ advocates this week sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan urging him to hold a vote on the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, a measure designed to provide legal protections for transgender individuals.

The letter came before President Donald Trump’s administration moved to drop the Obama-era enforcement of an interpretation of Title IX that in essence provided protections for transgender students nationally.

“You will recall that transgender advocates from Long Island and around the state have pleaded for your support of GENDA for years,” the letter, released by Julie Grey-Owens of GENDA 2017.

“You consistently told advocates and constituents that you would support the bill if it was ever brought to the Senate floor for a vote. As Senate Majority Leader, you have the power to move this desperately needed legislation to the Senate floor. The fact that for fourteen years the New York State Senate has failed to bring GENDA to the floor for a vote is an embarrassment to all New Yorkers who value equality.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2015 through executive action announced the state would enforce protections for transgender people to curb discrimination in housing and the workplace. Cuomo’s move was criticized at the time by Flanagan, who knockd the governor for cutting the Legislature out of the process even as GENDA has stalled in the GOP-led Senate.

Advocates for the transgender community were angered when a prominent LGBTQ group, the Empire State Pride Agenda, announced it was disbanding, citing the governor’s regulatory action as a significant victory.

Flanagan Letter by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Flanagan: Anti-Bag Bills Too Broad

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan on Wednesday suggested he would be opposed to efforts to curb plastic bag usage statewide, saying proposed legislation on the local level has been written too broadly.

“​It’s not simply a ban on plastic bags,” Flanagan told reporters in Albany. “It was plastic bags, it was paper bags. It was a five cent charge and going to the retailer. It wasn’t even going to something laudable like the environment. So when someone says they want to ban plastic bags, that’s not what the legislation says, whether it’s on the county level or in New York City.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo this month approved legislation that delayed the implementation of a 5-cent fee on carry-out bags in New York City, a move that effectively killed the locally backed legislation by the city Council. But Cuomo also plans to tackle the issue of bag usage statewide through a task force, amid the expected outcry from environmental groups who had pushed for the bag fee.

Now some state lawmakers want to see a broader effort to push back against plastic bag usage in New York, though it remains unlikely to pass the Republican-led state Senate.

Rochester Reaffirms Sanctuary City Status

From the Morning Memo:

On the same day the U.S. Department of Homeland Security rolled out plans to ramp up immigration enforcement, Rochester City Council members unanimously passed a resolution reaffirming their community’s status as a sanctuary city.

The resolution was submitted earlier this month by Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren, shortly after President Donald Trump threatened to defund municipalities that did not cooperate with federal immigration authorities.

“Rochester is not a city that holds people down and kicks people out,” Warren said. “We are a city that views diversity as a strength, and by providing access to jobs, safe neighborhoods and quality educational opportunities to all, we can build even more avenues to success.”

Under the updated version of the resolution, which was first passed in 1986, city personnel will not inquire or request proof of immigration status when providing services or benefits, unless specifically required by law to do so.

How that melds with new DHS policies – including the hiring thousands of new enforcement agents as well as enlisting local law enforcement to help make arrests – is still unclear.

The council had plenty of support last night, with many speakers lining up to comment the resolution and criticize the president.

There were some people at the meeting, however, who were opposed to t he measure, and made their feelings clear.

Resident Carl Giordano said Rochester has enough of its own problems, citing a significant issue with homelessness, for example, and should not caught up worrying about immigration.

“I don’t know how many people you think can fit in a lifeboat, but it appears to me Rochester’s lifeboats (are) already full,” he said. “So, if you keep pulling on another one or two or three or four, I think it’s gonna go down.”

Gillibrand: No White House Bid, But Cuomo Would Be A ‘Great Candidate’

From the Morning Memo:

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand does not plan to run for president in 2020, but did talk up the candidacy of another New York Democrat: Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“I am entirely focused on running in 2018,” Gillibrand said in a NY1 interview.

She plans to serve the full six year term if re-elected.

“I feel honored and privileged I get to serve this state as their U.S. senator.”

As for the short list for the Democratic nomination, Gillibrand expects there to be a “a dozen candidates” and Cuomo would make a great one.

“He’d be a great candidate, he’s a great governor,” she said, citing his support for paid family leave and the push to legalize same-sex marriage in 2011. “He’s done great things in our state.”

Both Gillibrand and the governor will be on the statewide ticket next year: Cuomo has said he is seeking a third term as governor in 2018. Gillibrand worked with Cuomo in the Department of Housing and Urban Development during President Bill Clinton’s administration.

Gillibrand insisted in the interview on Tuesday she is not interested in a White House bid, even as she rises to a new level of prominence in the Senate by opposing nearly all of President Donald Trump’s cabinet nominations.

But Gillibrand, a former upstate House member who was elevated to the Senate by Gov. David Paterson in 2009 to replace Hillary Clinton upon her nomination as secretary of state.

Gillibrand has previously demurred five years ago on a White House bid ahead of 2016, when Clinton was at the time widely expected to be the frontrunner for the party’s nomination. At the time, she also suggested Cuomo would make a great candidate, then, too.

Tax-The-Rich Arguments Return

From the Morning Memo:

The latest tax-the-rich argument is coming from Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein in the state Senate, who wants to close what’s known as the carried interest loophole, which benefits wealthy hedge funds.

“What really, these hedge fund operators and these private equity operators are saying in essence, is their labor should be taxed at a different rate than any other high earner,” Klein said.

Klein’s advocacy for closing the loophole comes as he faces skepticism from liberals over his alliance with Senate Republicans in Albany. But this month, Klein’s tax stance was backed by liberal advocates.

“As the states face huge cuts from Congress in education and health care and transportation and housing, this is smart revenue that can be obtained fairly,” said Michael Kink, the executive director of Strong Economy For All.

And the tax talk from the IDC dovetails with other efforts elsewhere: Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to keep higher tax rates on millionaires due to expire at the end of the year. Assembly Democrats want to hike taxes on those who make more than five million.

But there’s also opposition.

“In general, we’re opposed to tax increases,” said Business Council spokesman Zack Hutchins. “We feel we need to be doing things to better the tax climate in New York state and lower taxes, not increase them.”

Business interests and Senate Republicans have argued the state doesn’t necessarily need the money that would come from hiking taxes on the wealthy.

“If you look at the executive’s own fiscal plan, by their own calculations, as long as you adhere to the 2 percent spending cap, you don’t need the extra revenue that would come from extending what was supposed to be a temporary millionaires tax,” Hutchins said.

The governor himself has argued, though, that he wants the money to fund education, including a proposed plan that would provide free tuition at public colleges for families that earn less than $125,000.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with one public event scheduled.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is in the city with no public events scheduled.

President Donald Trump is in Washington, D.C., where he’ll meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at 11:30 a.m., discuss the federal budget “over lunch,” (participants were not revealed by the White House), hold a discussion with senior staff about the budget, and lead a legislative affairs strategy session in the afternoon.

Vice President Mike Pence will travel to St. Louis, Missouri to participate in listening discussions with American workers and employees of the Fabick Cat equipment and engine dealer, a 100-year-old family-owned-and-operated business.

At 9 a.m., the Campaign 4 NY/NY Housing holds 29th rally outside Cuomo’s office urging the governor and legislative leaders to finalize the affordable housing memorandum of understanding, 633 Third Ave., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul unveils renovations at the Coney Island DMV office, 2875 W. 8th St., Brooklyn.

At 10:30 a.m., NYC Council members Laurie Cumbo and Jumaane Williams and Assemblyman Walter Mosley hold press conference against building privatization, Saint James Playground, Lafayette Avenue and Saint James Place, Brooklyn.

Also at 10:30 a.m., ATU 1179 call on the MTA to negotiate with the union which represents bus operators, mechanics and supervisors who work from the Far Rockaway and JFK Depots of the MTA Bus division, outside MTA NYC Transit’s Two Broadway HQs, Manhattan.

Also at 10:30 a.m., Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, Assemblyman James Skoufis and others announce the introduction of federal legislation to honor the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor with a commemorative coin, 374 Temple Hill Rd., New Windsor.

At 11 a.m., the Assembly Committee on Health, Committee on Aging, Committee on Labor and Task Force on People with Disabilities hold a public hearing on the home care workforce, Assembly Hearing Room, 250 Broadway, Room 1923, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., NYPIRG, Food & Water Watch, 350.org and others will deliver a letter to state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office in support of his ongoing investigation into Exxon Mobil Corp., 120 Broadway, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., Sen. David Carlucci and Good Samaritan Hospital will announce a new initiative designed to promote a cleaner, safer method of destroying unused opioid medications, Good Samaritan Hospital, 257 Lafayette Ave., Suffern.

Also at 11 a.m., “The Capitol Pressroom” features state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia and Hofstra University’s Executive Dean Larry Levy, WCNY.

At 11:30 a.m., Cuomo delivers remarks at an at 1199SEIU rally to protect “quality healthcare” in New York, Albert Einstein College of Medicinem Jack and Pearl Resnick Campus, Forchheimer Building – Robbins Auditorium, 1300 Morris Park Ave., the Bronx.

At 11:45 a.m., Hochul highlights New York’s biotech investment in BioBAT, Brooklyn Army Terminal, 140 58th St., 6 G, Brooklyn.

At noon, Chief Judge Janet DeFiore presents her first “State of Our Judiciary” address, Bronx Hall of Justice, 265 E. 161 St., the Bronx.

At 1 p.m., Hochul tours construction of Tech Incubator 1776, Brooklyn Navy Yard, Suite 814, Building 280, 63 Flushing Ave., Brooklyn.

Also at 1 p.m., Democratic NY-25 Rep. Louise Slaughter holds a media availability, Kenneth B. Keating Federal Building, Lower Level Conference Room B-0350, 3120 Federal Bldg. 100 State St., Rochester.

Also at 1 p.m., Federal Reserve Governor Jerome Powell speaks on the economic outlook and monetary policy at a Forecaster’s Club of New York Luncheon, The Cornell Club New York, 6 E. 44th St., Manhattan.

At 4 p.m., Assemblyman Michael Blake and Sen. Gustavo Rivera hold Black History Month celebration, honoring veterans for the services they have given, Claremont Community Center, 489 E. 169th St., the Bronx.

At 5 p.m., healthcare advocates hold a protest rally outside a fundraiser held for freshman NY-21 Republican Rep. John Faso, Fort Orange Club, 110 Washington Ave., Albany.

Also at 5 p.m., Sen. George Latimer and Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer hold a community budget hearing on the New York state budget, Grinton I. Will Library, 1500 Central Park Ave., Yonkers.

At 6 p.m., Rep. Adriano Espaillat hosts the first open house in his Bronx office, 2530 Grand Concourse, Bronx.

Also at 6 p.m., Rep. Joe Crowley hosts his 18th annual Black History Month celebration, Bruno’s on the Boulevard, 88-25 Astoria Blvd., Queens.

At 6:30 p.m., Rep. Yvette Clarke hosts a “Brooklyn Resists” town hall meeting, Union Temple, 17 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn.

At 6:30 p.m., Sen. Leroy Comrie, Assembly members Alicia Hyndman and Clyde Vanel and NYC Councilman I. Daneek Miller host a screening of the PBS documentary “Black American Since MLK: And Still I Rise,” Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning, 161-4 Jamaica Ave., Queens.

At 6:45 p.m., Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance will address the Manhattan Republican Party, Women’s National Republican Club, 3 West 51st St., Manhattan.

Headlines…

The Trump administration implemented sweeping changes to the way immigration policy is enforced, making clear that millions of people living illegally in the U.S. are now subject to deportation and pushing authorities to fast-track the removal of many of them.

Documents released by the Department of Homeland Security revealed the broad scope of the president’s ambitions: to publicize crimes by undocumented immigrants; strip such immigrants of privacy protections; enlist local police officers as enforcers; erect new detention facilities; discourage asylum seekers; and, ultimately, speed up deportations.

Trump’s tough new policies will — at least for now — leave protections in place for immigrants known as “dreamers” who entered the country illegally as children, officials said.

Immigration lawyers have already begun taking steps to challenge Trump’s sweeping new directives to step up deportations.

Activist scaled the Statue of Liberty and unfurled a red and white “Refugees Welcome” banner just hours after the Department of Homeland Security unveiled its sweeping new deportation plan.

Immigrants are driving economic growth in Syracuse and Buffalo by regenerating the population, providing employers with needed labor and starting small businesses, according to a new study.

Lawmakers from both parties are mounting efforts to bolster the federal government’s scrutiny of surging Chinese investment in the U.S., emboldened by Trump’s anti-China rhetoric on trade.

Trump said the rise of anti-Semitism in the United States since his inauguration was “horrible” and “painful,” reacting publicly for the first time to mounting threats targeting Jewish people and institutions after he drew criticism for being slow to condemn them.

The battle over the next Supreme Court justice will soon shift into a higher gear with less than a month to go before Judge Neil Gorsuch appears before a Senate panel considering his nomination.

In an interview on NY1 last night, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand departed from her fellow New Yorker and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, calling for an “up-or-down” vote on Gorsuch and admitting that he will ultimately be confirmed.

Trump has still not set foot in New York City as president, puzzling and emboldening some protesters who see his weekend visits to his Florida estate as something of a retreat to friendlier ground.

First Lady Melania Trump has revised her defamation lawsuit against the Mail Online for claiming she was a hooker — scrubbing claims that the Web site’s article ruined her “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” to cash in on the presidency.

In left-leaning New York City, stress-relief specialists – from acupuncturists to barkeepers and therapists – say the fledgling Trump administration has triggered a surge in demand.

The presidential daughter’s extravagant jewelry company, Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry, apparently owes $5,165.06 in unpaid taxes, according to a warrant issued by the New York state department on Jan. 27.

John Podesta has reiterated his theory the FBI deliberately sabotaged Hillary Clinton’s election campaign, saying there were forces within the bureau that “wanted her to lose.”

A federal judge ruled that a conservative group cannot get State Department records about Clinton’s use of a private server during her tenure as Secretary of State because those documents don’t show evidence of government “malfeasance.”

A man who destroyed Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame has been sentenced to three years of probation for vandalism.

New NYC Administration for Children’s Services Commissioner David Hansell promised a thorough review of ACS operations, continued reforms at the administration, and a new emphasis on using data to measure program effectiveness.

Immigration advocates urged New York City to impose civil rather than criminal penalties for certain nonviolent offenses to protect immigrants who could be deported if they have a criminal record.

Republican NYC mayoral candidate Paul Massey, in his first news conference, accused de Blasio of being “so distracted by corruption charges that he has no time to actually run the city.” De Blasio said Massey is out of touch.

More >

NY Advocates Alarmed By Trump Deportation Plan

Memorandums released Tuesday by President Donald Trump’s administration outlining tighter rules for the deportation of undocumented immigrants has unnerved New York advocates.

The memos outline plans by the Department of Homeland Security that would cast a wider of sphere of people who would be subject to deportation, drawing in nearly every undocumented person living in the Unite States. At the same time, federal officials may subject more people to an expedited removal process.

“Homeland Security’s sweeping deportation plan is just the latest evidence that our broken immigration system will continue to spread fear in our communities and break up hardworking families unless Congress acts to fix it,” said 32BJ SEIU President Héctor Figueroa.

“As one of the largest immigrant workers unions in the country, 32BJ SEIU has been at the forefront in the fight for comprehensive immigration reform. We believe that in order to defend the rights of all workers, millions of undocumented men and women who are already part of our communities must be brought out of the shadows and given protection under the law. The current administration’s ‘deport everyone’ approach is not only an affront to our values as a nation of immigrants but is already punishing hardworking families who are deeply rooted in our communities.”

The DHS memos dovetail with a series of executive orders issued by Trump soon after he took office last month that were aimed at tightening enforcement for undocumented immigrants living in the U.S.

But the effort to do so has led to an outcry from Democrats and immigration advocates, while some communities in New York have declared themselves “sanctuary cities” to limit coordination with federal law enforcement on immigration matters.

“The two Executive Orders on interior enforcement and border security signed by President Trump two weeks ago are an affront to America’s basic values of dignity, liberty and justice and have deep repercussions for basic civil liberties and the rights afforded by our Constitution,” said Steven Choi, the executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “The two memos signed by DHS Secretary Kelly yesterday provide the blueprint for implementing this cruel and unjust vision for the United States.”

Extras

The Department of Homeland Security released a set of documents translating Trump’s executive orders on immigration and border security into policy, bringing a major shift in the way the agency enforces the nation’s immigration laws.

NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman: “The Trump regime has dramatically expanded the number of immigrant New Yorkers who could find themselves in the crosshairs of the president’s mass deportation machine. These new rules will result in thousands of lives being ruined and families being torn apart.”

Following Trump’s initial Jan. 27 executive order banning people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the United States, the demand for travel to the United States took a nosedive, according to data from several travel companies and research firms.

After touring the newly opened National Museum of African American History and Culture, Trump denounced recent threats against Jewish community centers as “horrible…painful” and said more must be done “to root out hate and prejudice and evil.”

Prosecutors in Ukraine are investigating whether a member of Parliament committed treason by working with two associates of Trump’s to promote a plan for settling Ukraine’s conflicts with Russia.

Trump will issue “further guidance” on an Obama administrative policy aimed at protecting transgender students in public schools, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said.

Milo Yiannopoulos, the incendiary writer and commentator who helped make Breitbart News a leading organ of the “alt-right,” resigned from the news organization today after a video of him endorsing pedophilia surfaced online over the weekend.

Residents in a northwestern suburb of Stockholm predominantly inhabited by immigrants clashed with police officers yesterday – two days after Trump unleashed a vague but pointed critique of Sweden’s migration policies.

After initially saying Trump had only played a few holes in Florida this weekend, the White House reversed itself after professional golfer Rory McIlroy posted on his website that he had played 18 holes with the president.

Dr. Jill Biden, educator and wife of former Vice President Joe Biden, has been named board chair of Save the Children.

Newly elected Congressman Adriano Espaillat came under fire during a town hall over the weekend from locals angry about his chosen state senate replacement, Marisol Alcantara’s choice to join the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference.

At a time when the sports talk at the state Capitol is about making baseball the Empire State’s official sport, Queens Sen. James Sanders is looking to boost cricket.

New equipment and additional employees allowed the New York State Police’s forensic laboratory system to speed up testing for drunk driving cases, the governor announced.

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a Brooklyn Democrat, said he plans to stay in Washington — leaving one less potential challenger to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio as he faces re-election later this year. Meanwhile, Manhattan Councilman Dan Garodnick is still contemplating a run.

In his first news conference, Paul Massey, a Republican contender in the New York City mayoral race, took direct aim at de Blasio, accusing him of being “corrupt” and incompetent.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer says U.S. AG Jeff Sessions must recuse himself from any investigation into former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn’s dealings with Russia.

Schumer predicted that Republicans will split with Trump within months unless the administration changes course, explaining: “A lot of the Republicans, they’re mainstream people…They will feel they have no choice but to break with him.”

New York made Forbes’ list of the “10 worst states for higher earners.”

Republican Chairman John Antoniello has resigned as head of the Staten Island party, temporarily passing the baton to First Vice Chairman Bill D’Ambrosio, as three potential permanent chairs battle for the votes of party bosses.

The online poker community is hopeful that a bill to categorize their pastime as a game of skill in New York, thereby legalizing it, has a shot at becoming law this year.

Runaway bull in Queens! He was captured, and was supposed to be going to an animal sanctuary instead of back to the slaughterhouse from which he escaped, but unfortunately died.

IDC Continues Raise The Age Push With Lippman

The Independent Democratic Conference on Tuesday continued to press the case for raising the age of criminal responsibility in New York to 18, a measure the group’s leader, Bronx Sen. Jeff Klein, insists is a key priority in the new year.

On Tuesday, Klein, along with Sen. David Carlucci in Ossining pushed the issue alongside former Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals Jonathan Lippman.

The roundtable event was held in the Westchester County town of Ossining, home to New York’s Sing Sing prison.

“By raising the age of criminal responsibility to 18 we can reduce the rate of recidivism in young adults to give more of them the chance they deserve to succeed in the future,” Carlucci said in a statement. “Bringing together advocates and experts will give us a plan to fight for the change that will benefit the entire state because it saves lives and saves money.”

The raise the age issue is a key one for liberals and Democratic lawmakers in Albany. The IDC, which has grown to eight members in recent weeks, has come under fire from mainline Democrats and some liberal activists for their alignment with Senate Republicans. So making a strong push for a criminal justice reform measure could help alleviate some of the political pressure the IDC faces.

Still, enacting the policy has not been easy, even as Republicans have signaled sympathy with moving those under the age of 18 charged with certain crimes out of criminal courts. The proposal has stalled for several years after Gov. Andrew Cuomo first announced his support for a plan in his 2015 State of the State address.

Cuomo has since moved some juvenile inmates out of adult prisons and into separate facilities. But the issue for criminal courts — and how to expand family courts in the process — remains.

Klein, in a statement, said the IDC’s efforts of roundtable discussions and hearings makes him feel “confident we will develop thorough, well thought out legislation to finally raise the age in New York.”