DiNapoli Questions Sandy Spending On Catering Company

dinapoliA catering company contracted by the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs racked up $20,00 in costs deemed excessive by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office, according to a report released on Thursday.

The Staten Island-based Arrochar Meats, Inc., provided food to the New York Army National Guard during the emergency response for Superstorm Sandy, but also acted as “an unnecessary middleman” for 18,960 gallons of fuel, which added nearly $20,000 to purchase price.

“In times of disasters, most New Yorkers pull together to help each other, not to make a quick buck,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “Even under such circumstances, state agencies should keep watch over the public’s money and, in this case, DMNA should now recover any inappropriate fees that were charged.” More >

DeFrancisco Appointed Deputy Majority Leader

DeFranFlanSyracuse Sen. John DeFrancisco has been named the deputy majority leader of the state Senate, the GOP conference on Thursday announced.

The appointment of DeFrancisco to the number two post in the Senate brings regional balance to the Republican leadership, but it also extends an olive branch to the faction of GOP lawmakers who supported the Syracuse lawmaker over Majority Leader John Flanagan of Suffolk County on Long Island.

“John DeFrancisco is a key part of our leadership team and a staunch advocate for the needs of every region of the state, including Upstate New York,” Flanagan said in a statement. “As a colleague and a friend, I am confident he will be a strong Deputy Majority Leader whose knowledge and experience will help move our pro-growth, pro-taxpayer agenda forward in the coming months and years. We have made real progress in moving this state in a new and better direction, but we have a lot of important work left to do. I am pleased to name Senator DeFrancisco to this position and look forward to continuing to work with him in this new capacity.”

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Skelos And Son Plead Not Guilty To New Charges

skelosDean Skelos, the former Senate majority leader, and his son Adam pleaded not guilty on Thursday morning in federal court in Manhattan to new charges alleging a no-show job in a superseding indictment issue last week.

A trial is now scheduled for Nov. 16 for Skelos, who resigned from the leadership post in the Senate in May, but retains his seat in the chamber.

Both Skelos and former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was ousted following his own arrest in a separate corruption case, will be on trial in federal court that month.

Skelos, who arrived to court with his arm around his son, had no comment when he left the arraignment on Thursday. More >

Young Attacks Fiala, Insists Republicans Are United

cathyyoungThe leader of the Senate Republican’s fundraising apparatus on Thursday criticized Democrat Barbara Fiala as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “hand-picked” candidate and knocked her record as Broome County executive, signaling the first volley in the race to replace Tom Libous in the chamber.

At the same time, Sen. Cathy Young of Olean insisted Republicans were united as a conference despite lingering concerns over Suffolk County Sen. John Flanagan ascending to the majority leader post over upstate lawmaker John DeFrancisco.

Young, interviewed on The Capitol Pressroom, said Libous seat will remain in the GOP column.

“It’s a Republican seat, we fully expect to maintain that Republican seat,” she said on the WCNY radio program. “We need to have that balance in the state.” More >

Heastie: South Carolina Shooting Cooled SAFE Act Changes

carlheastieThe June 17 shooting at a Charleston, South Carolina church that left nine people dead cooled legislative talks over changes to the SAFE Act in New York, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said Thursday in a radio interview.

Heastie, interview on Binghamton radio’s WBNF, called the issue of gun control more broadly a “sensitive topic” but suggest Assembly Democrats would have been open to changes in the sweeping 2013 gun control law.

“I would say we’ll talk about it, but changes would probably be difficult,” he said. “I would say this: it depends on what the change is. But as I said, South Carolina happened.” More >

Skelos And Son Back In Court

Skelos0122Former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is back in federal court in Manhattan this morning with his son Adam, a week after a superseding indictment was issued in his corruption case.

Both men are expected to be arraigned in new charges contained in the indictment, which revealed Adam Skelos received what prosecutors allege was a no-show job at a medical malpractice firm.

In the indictment issued by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office, the younger Skelos threatened to “bash in” in the head of a supervisor when he was criticized for not coming to work.

The CEO of the unnamed medical malpractice firm — like Anthony Bonomo, a former NYRA official — was afraid that if Adam Skelos lost his job at the company he would lose access to the elder Skelos, who just ascended to the majority leader post in the chamber. More >

Despite Reformers’ Calls, A Special Ethics Session Seems Unlikely

libous1From the Morning Memo:

Add Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan to the list of state officials who do not think it is likely lawmakers will approve new ethics legislation in the wake of two convictions in the Legislature.

“I don’t think it’s tolerated right now,” Flanagan said while in Cooperstown on Wednesday. “You see people who are getting prosecuted, who are getting indicted, who are getting convicted. Frankly, it’s bad for everybody.”

Last week, both Republican Tom Libous and Democrat John Sampson were convicted in separate in corruption cases, forcing their ouster from the Senate.

Republicans are pushing to retain Libous’s seat in the Southern Tier, while Flanagan acknowledged that winning Sampson’s Brooklyn district would be a “very, very, very uphill climb.” More >

1199 Urges Cuomo To Scuttle Seneca Lake Gas Storage Facility

1199seiuFrom the Morning Memo:

A key labor union on Wednesday approved a resolution urging the Cuomo administration to not allow the storage of liquid propane gas near Seneca Lake in Schuyler County.

The union, 1199 SEIU, brings a new level of political juice to the controversial storage facility proposal.

In a statement, the labor’s group linked the issue to Gov. Andrew Cuomo moving last year to ban high-volume hydrofracking in the state.

“1199SEIU stands for addressing the crisis of climate change, and with that in mind we supported Gov. Cuomo’s decision to ban the dangerous process of fracking in New York State,” said 1199 SEIU Vice President George Kennedy. More >

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City and Connecticut with no public schedule. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is in the city with no public schedule.

At 8:30 a.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray speaks at the Black Girls Lead 2015 conference, 3009 Broadway, Manhattan.

At 9:30 a.m., members of the NYC Campaign Finance Board meet, 200 Church St., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney will announce a major investment by the Department of Homeland Security for the Newburgh Fire Department, 2 Washington St., Newburgh.

At 11 a.m., a pre-trial hearing will be held in the federal corruption case of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, 500 Pearl St., Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., the Hedge Clippers campaign protests BlueMountain Capital in light of the Puerto Rico economic crisis, in front of the BlueMountain Capital offices, 280 Park Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., Sen. Terrence Murphy will be hosting a Shed The Meds event at Carmel Town Hall, 60 McAlpin Ave., Mahopac.

At 11:15 a.m., Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie will be a guest on “Binghamton Now” with Bob Joseph, WBNF News Radio 1290, http://wnbf.com/.

At 11:30 a.m., Brooklyn BP Eric Adams will unveil his plans to allocate close to $12 million in his Fiscal Year 2016 capital budget to overhaul parks across Brooklyn, including funding to help restore the Brooklyn War Memorial, Cadman Plaza Park, downtown Brooklyn.

At noon, Heastie meets with labor representatives, Little Venice Italian Restaurant, 111 Chenango St., Binghamton.

Also at noon, City & State holds its veterans BBQ, career and services fair and awards ceremony, with keynote remarks at 2 p.m. by Mayor’s Office of Veterans Affairs Commissioner Loree Sutton, Pace University, One Pace Plaza, Manhattan.

Also at noon, wheelchair users from the Taxis for All campaign and affiliated groups protest outside Uber’s Manhattan office against a lack of wheelchair accessible taxis, 636 W. 28th St., Manhattan.

At 1 p.m., LG Kathy Hochul visits campers at Camp Good Days, 643 W. Lake Rd., Branchport.

Also at 1 p.m., McCray, Corporation for National and Community Service CEO Wendy Spencer, NYC Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett and others make an announcement, The Door, 121 Ave. of the Americas, Manhattan.

Also at 1 p.m., the Senate Committee on Social Services meets to identify gaps in delivery of social services, 80 Franklin Ave., Pearl River.

At 1:30 p.m., Heastie holds a media availability, Binghamton State Office Building, 18th Floor, 44 Hawley St., Binghamton.

At 2 p.m., Sen. Diane Savino, NYS Nurses Association’s Teresa Torsney, Staten Island Telco Retirees’ Dennis Constantino, United Federation of Teachers’ Patricia Talaszek and Joyce Magnus, and Metro New York Health Care for All’s Mark Hannay participate in a press conference calling on Congress to “protect, preserve and expand” Medicare, Staten Island Borough Hall, Richmond Terrace, Staten Island.

At 2:30 p.m., Heastie meets with with local officials and community leaders, Binghamton State Office Building, 18th Floor, 44 Hawley St., Binghamton.

At 3:15 p.m., Heastie tours the Binghamton University Innovative Technologies Complex, 85 Murray Hill Rd., Vestal.

At 4:15 p.m., Heastie tours BAE Systems, 8 Hayes Ave., Endicott.

At 6:30 p.m., Hochul speaks at the New York Wine and Culinary Center, 800 Main St., Canandaigua.

At 7 p.m., Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer and Sen. George Latimer hold a “Know Your Co-op Rights” informational event, Scotti Senior Center, 680 Bronx River Rd., Yonkers.

Headlines…

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposal to require all city chain restaurants to label high-sodium foods on their menus has drawn criticism from opposing corners. Some public-health professionals described the measure as too weak, while the restaurant industry has denounced it as too onerous.

New York City is entering what could be the biggest building boom in a generation, census figures show, as work gets under way on hundreds of residential projects in neighborhoods across the city.

Former Clinton Correctional Facility worker Joyce Mitchell, who pleaded guilty for her role in the escape of convicts David Sweat and Richard Matt, has been racked with despondency since her arrest and is “very remorseful” for what she did, according to her attorney.

Mitchell agreed to a term of 21/3 years to seven years, and a $6,000 fine, after pleading guilty in Clinton County Court in Plattsburgh to a single charge each of promoting prison contraband and criminal facilitation.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the financial resources the state and New York City will devote to closing the $11 billion deficit in the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s capital plan will earn support from upstate lawmakers.

The governors of New York and New Jersey signaled that a deal to build new rail tunnels under the Hudson River would require billions of dollars from the federal government, which has called the plan one of the most important transportation projects in the country.

After nearly a month of studied silence, and careful avoidance of one another at parades and party functions, Cuomo and de Blasio revealed yesterday that they had finally spoken on the phone. The mayor offered a hint that their feud may not quite be over, saying: “I think it was an airing of concerns, and I wouldn’t say a resolution was reached.”

Meanwhile, de Blasio has forged a friendship with the mayor of Rome, Italy.

A grand jury has found that four officers acted lawfully when they shot and killed an armed man shortly after he robbed an Upper East Side pharmacy in May 2014, the Manhattan district attorney’s office said.

The public still can’t look at transcripts from the grand jury investigation into the death of Eric Garner, a New York appeals court ruled.

AG Eric Schneiderman said investigators from his office have yet to determine whether they will intervene in Mount Vernon, where a mother of eight died in police custody earlier this week while awaiting arraignment.

More >

Extras

The National Weather Service issued a heat advisory for New York City until tomorrow at 8 p.m.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo won’t make a trade visit to Iran if the Obama administration-brokered peace deal passes and economic sanctions are dropped – a departure from the trip he took to Cuba in April after the United States renewed relations with the island nation.

Hillary Clinton will call for an end of the trade embargo with Cuba during a speech Friday in Miami, home to Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, two of her Republican rivals in the race for president who oppose to the diplomatic thaw under way.

The state Rifle & Pistol Association today criticized Senate Democratic candidate Barbara Fiala over her position on gun rights, saying she has been a supporter of stronger gun control.

Rep. Grace Meng today became the first House Democrat from New York to break with her party’s national leadership and come out against the Obama administration-brokered trade deal with Iran.

Rep. Lee Zeldin compared Secretary of State John Kerry and the Iran deal to curb its nuclear weapon program to British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain and his 1938 nonaggression pact with Adolf Hitler.

Cuomo announced that New Yorkers now have the opportunity to print a temporary license from the DMV website when they renew or replace their driver licenses, learner permits, or non-driver identification card online.

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani said Donald Trump’s presidential candidacy has been “refreshing”, predicting: “The debate you’re going to have next week is going to have three times the audience it would have had” without Trump.

Trump attacked former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg after his news service pegged The Donald’s worth at a mere $2.9 billion.

Carl Paladino is a Trump-for-president supporter.

The three state operated ski resorts at Belleayre, Gore and Whiteface Mountain have committed to using solar power to operate their ski lift and snowmaking operations.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg has been out of office for a year and a half, but his influence over New York schools is practically as strong as ever.

Giuliani says that if he were still a U.S. Attorney, former Secretary of State Clinton would be the subject of a criminal probe for five crimes.

After seven years of distant relations between President Obama and Democrats on Capitol Hill, Clinton intends to forge a closer ties with Democratic lawmakers who do not feel particularly close to the Obama White House.

Pittsford, Monroe County, is home to the world’s top lumberjack.

NYC transit advocates are not impressed with Cuomo’s plan to overhaul LaGuardia Airport.

Assemblyman David DiPietro thinks the state wage board’s recent recommendation on raising the minimum wage for fast food employees to $15 will be damaging to teens, who he predicts will be competing for fewer jobs once the higher wages take effect.

The 43North business plan competition is down to 110 semifinalists.

TripAdvisor says Juliana’s Pizza in Brooklyn has the best pizza in America.