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.”

No Jail Time For Libous

libousTom Libous, the former deputy majority leader of the state Senate, will not face jail time for his felony conviction of lying to the FBI, TWC News reporter Emily Lorsch reported.

Instead, U.S. District Court Judge Vincent Briccetti sentenced Libous, who has terminal cancer, to six months of home confinement and two years probation. He is also being fined $50,000.

Briccetti is making exceptions for Libous to visit his father, who is in a nursing home, as well as his son Matthew, who is serving prison time for tax evasion. He will also be able to leave his home for medical appointments.

Libous’s attorneys and the prosecution had sought no jail time for the former lawmaker, citing his ill health and the likelihood he had less than a year to live.

Libous was found guilty in July of lying to federal law enforcement in a case stemming from Matthew receiving a job at a politically connected law firm. The conviction on the felony charge automatically expelled Libous from the Binghamton-area seat he had held since 1988.

During his time in office, Libous wielded power in the Senate and helped bring state resources to the otherwise economically struggling area of the state.

A special election to fill the seat earlier this month was won by Republican Fred Akshar.

Updated: Libous told reporters he will appeal his conviction.

DiNapoli: Retirement Fund Posts Negative Return In Q2

The state pension fund during the second quarter of the fiscal year posted a negative 4.13 percent rate of return, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli on Tuesday announced.

In a statement, DiNapoli pointed to ongoing volatility in the market during the summer. The fund is valued at an estimated at $173.5 billion, which is reflective of benefits that were paid out during the quarter.

The second quarter ended on Sept. 30.

“Volatility in the late summer continued to seriously challenge investors across multiple markets,” DiNapoli said. “Fortunately, New York’s pension fund is built on a conservative, long-term investment strategy to weather such ups and downs and provide retirement security for generations to come. While we’ve seen some recovery in the third quarter, there is no question that this is a tough year for investors.”

Alcoa Jobs Saved After New York Intervention

A $68 million agreement with New York state will keep jobs at Alcoa’s North Country factory in Massena, state and company officials announced on Tuesday at the plant.

The announcement came several weeks after the company announced the plant would close due to macroeconomic forces being placed on the world aluminum market.

“Senator Schumer and Governor Cuomo have been tremendous allies for Alcoa’s Massena operations for many years and we thank them for their continued support,” said Alcoa Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Klaus Kleinfeld in a statement. “Today’s agreement helps better position the smelter in light of prevailing market conditions, providing this facility a bridge to a stronger commodity market and maintaining jobs in the North Country. We remain focused on ensuring our Upstream business is well-positioned to succeed throughout the cycle.”

The agreement secures 600 jobs at the plant for at least 3-1/2 years.

The plant’s announced closure came on top of an increasingly dire economic picture for upstate New York and the North Country in particular, which has lost jobs — and population — at a steady pace over the last several decades.

The announcement also comes in the wake of a state agreement that kept Heinz-Kraft from closing three plants in different areas of upstate New York, while state officials are working with the company to find a buyer for another factory that was due to close. The state is due to spent at least $20 million helping to upgrade those factories.

The news of Alcoa’s pending closure came amid more bad economic news upstate: Entergy Corp. is moving to close a nuclear plant in Oswego County, a move that state officials are fight as well.

New Ad Campaign Touts Common Core

commoncoreFrom the Morning Memo:

High Achievement New York, a group that has been supportive of Common Core, is launching a six-figure radio campaign aimed at boosting support for the education standards.

The campaign, set to run through December, is being launched as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s task force convened to study and potentially recommend changes to the standards is concluding its round of public hearings.

In the ad, two Buffalo teachers discuss their support for the standards, saying they “are working” for students.

“But opponents want to pull the rug out on teachers,” says teacher Lucy Mendola in the spot.

Teacher Heather McCarthy adds: “Help us strengthen New York Standards, not dismantle them.”

The ads will be targeted for audiences in New York City, the Capital Region, Buffalo and Rochester.

The spot will also air on Pandora stations and directs listeners to the task force’s comments page as well as the Department of Education’s feedback survey.

Cuomo’s task force is expected to recommend changes to the standards in time for his State of the State address in January.

Education policy issues are due to dominate the legislative session once again next year after lawmakers and Cuomo agreed to changes in the state’s teacher evaluation the state’s teachers unions deeply opposed in part due to the weakening of tenure and making it harder to obtain.

NY-19: Lopez Makes It Official

ny19From the Morning Memo:

Assemblyman Peter Lopez is formally entering the crowded Republican field for the 19th congressional district in the Hudson Valley, he announced late Monday night.

Lopez is joining businessman Andrew Heaney and former Assembly Minority John Faso in the Republican primary for the seat that’s currently held by Rep. Chris Gibson.

“If there is one thing the voters are saying this year, is that we need to aggressively challenge the status quo,” Lopez said in a statement. “My message is that we need to someone who is grounded in the community to represent the hard working people back home and not let Washington insiders and power brokers decide who will represent you by buying the seat.”

Lopez had previously filed the necessary paperwork to launch the campaign.

Adding a dose of intrigue to the primary is Lopez’s resume: He once worked in Fasos’s district office.

His entrance into the race comes amid a clash between the Faso and Heaney campaigns. A super PAC aligned with Heaney’s campaign has knocked Faso’s work for the last decade as a lobbyist in Albany; Faso’s campaign has shot back pointing out the video was taken from an interview in which Faso was discussing his work on behalf of autism speaks.

Gibson, a Republican who retires at the end of his current term in 2016, is considering a run for governor in 2018.

On the Democratic side, Ulster County Executive Mike Hein is being urged to run by a group of Democrats in the area.