Aug 26th - 6:45 am
From the Morning Memo:
Senate Health Committee Chairman Kemp Hannon on Thursday called on Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office to investigate the hike in the cost of EpiPens after its manufacturer boosted the price in the last year by 75 percent.
“Prescription drug costs are increasing at a rate far outpacing other health care costs,” Hannon wrote in a letter to Schneiderman.
“The costs have become a top concern amongst families and individuals in need of medications, their elected officials, health plans, health providers and the state Medicaid Program.”
The call for the review of the price hike, which has stoked nationwide anger toward manufacture Mylan, dovetails with a proposal included in the Senate’s one-house legislation that would block steep increases in prescription medications without justification. Hannon was also a sponsor of that bill.
The measure would also give the AG’s office explicit authority in prosecuting price gougers of prescription drugs.
The cost of an Epi-Pen, said to be life saving in the event of a severe allergy reaction, now can cost up to $600 after the price increase.
“When you have an allergy, EpiPens are necessary to save your life,” said Hannon. “Mylan knows they have the consumer’s hands tied. Obviously, people are going to purchase medication that can save their life, or the lives of their children, no matter what the cost.”
Aug 26th - 6:30 am
From the Morning Memo:
Friends of embattled Tea Party activist Rus Thompson are planning a fundraiser to help him with his legal bills. Thompson has been fighting election fraud charges in court since May.
“People have asked me when they were putting together this, how much money do you think you’re going to need,” Thompson said. “I said, to be honest with you I have no idea – $10,000 to $20,000, depending on how far it actually goes. It could be $30,000. It could be $40,000.”
Thompson is accused of voting in the Town of Grand Island during the last three elections, while officially living in Niagara Falls. Wednesday, he rejected an offer from the Erie County District Attorney’s office he said would’ve kept him from serving time.
“If I accepted a plea for a felony, I’d lose my 2nd amendment right and I’m one of the biggest supporters of the 2nd amendment in New York state and I’d lose my right to vote,” he said. “I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to give up my rights.”
Thompson’s long-time friends Carl Paladino and Assemblyman David DiPietro are among the people organizing the event. According to the invitation, it’s a roast of Thompson and the suggested donation is $30.
“He’s spent so much time in the best interest of the community. He’s done so much and there’s never any thank you, pat on the back, a little give back to him to help him along. He’s got a lot of kids,” Paladino said. “Instead he gets nonsensical treatment from the Erie County District Attorney.”
Former congressional candidate and radio personality David Bellavia plans to emcee.
“Rus Thompson is the victim of his belief system and ideology,” Bellavia said. “There is no other reason to target him for five felonies for the equivalent of electoral jaywalking. Every citizen who speaks their mind can have the same thing happen to them. We must take a stand.”
Thompson said he plans to let the process play out in court and believes he will be vindicated. In the meantime, he said he’s thankful for the support.
“You really find out at these points in time, who your friends are,” he said. “So many people have convicted me already just because I’m going into court.”
Aug 26th - 6:15 am
From the Morning Memo:
Democratic state Senate candidate Marisol Alcantara is being endorsed by a labor group that represents cafeteria and other service industry workers in her bid for the seat being vacated by Adriano Espaillat.
Alcantara was given nod of Unite Here Local 100, a labor union that includes workers in cafeterias, executive dining rooms, restaurants, bars, delis, airports, sports and exhibition halls.
“As an immigrant, and longtime member of the labor movement, Marisol Alcantara is a candidate that UNITE HERE Local 100 trusts to fight for our members day in and day out,” said UNITE HERE Local 100 President Bill Granfield.
“The low-wage service workers we represent need a champion in Albany who will advocate for raising workers’ standards, the DREAM Act and state-level immigration reforms, and ensure the labor movement remains a force for upward economic mobility.”
Alcantara faces former city Councilman Robert Jackson and Micah Lasher, a former aide to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in a Democratic primary next month.
Espaillat, who has endorsed Alcantara, is running for the seat being vacated by Rep. Charlie Rangel in Congress.
Aug 26th - 5:29 am
Happy National Dog Day!
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in the New York City area with no public schedule. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio remains on a family vacation in New England, and is not scheduled to return to the five boroughs until Sunday.
At 9:30 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul joins Rep. Carolyn Maloney to ring the opening bell of the New York Stock Exchange in recognition of Women’s Equality Day.
At 10 a.m., Assemblyman Ron Castorina, Jr. announces plans to introduce legislation combatting red light camera traps, corner of Huguenot Avenue and Woodrow Road, Staten Island.
Also at 10 a.m. and noon, state AG Eric Schneiderman will speak at the New York State Fair’s Rainbow Flag Raising and Fallen Officers Memorial events, 581 State Fair Blvd., Syracuse.
Also at 10 a.m., Assemblyman Ken Zebrowski will reveal his school fire safety report overhaul, 67 North Main St., 2nd floor, New City.
At 10:30 a.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina visits the Excellence Girls Uncommon Charter Elementary School, 794 Monroe St., Brooklyn.
At 11 a.m., NYC Councilman Ritchie Torres, the Belmont BID and Community Board 6 announce the Italian Disaster Relief Fund for victims of the earthquake in Italy, 610 E. 186th St., the Bronx.
Also at 11 a.m., Maloney, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, NYC Public Advocate Tish James, state Sens. Liz Krueger and Roxanne Persaud, Assemblymembers Rebecca Seawright, Linda Rosenthal, Carmen Arroyo, Annette Robinson, Nily Rozic, and Jo Anne Simon, and NYC Councilwoman Darlene Mealy, mark Women’s Equality Day, City Hall steps, Manhattan.
At 1 p.m., Hochul and other women leaders launch the NYS Women’s Suffrage 100th Anniversary Commission and celebrate Women’s Equality Day, Redbury New York, 29 East 29th St., Manhattan.
Also at 1 p.m., 31st Senate District candidate Marisol Alcántara will unveil her housing agenda, 3333 Broadway, Manhattan.
At 1:30 p.m., state Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball attends New York Showcase Day at the historic Saratoga Racecourse to celebrate the state’s thoroughbred horse racing industry and its significant benefits to New York agriculture, 267 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs.
At 5 p.m., Republican NY-21 Rep. Elise Stefanik will attend the Washington County Fair and hold a media availability, 392 Old Schuylerville Rd., Greenwich.
At 7:15 p.m., Hochul delivers remarks at the Lackawanna Community Days Celebration, Lucarelli’s, 1830 Abbott Rd., Lackawanna.
Hillary Clinton delivered a blistering denunciation of Donald Trump’s personal and political history with race, arguing in her most forceful terms yet during a speech in Reno, NV that a nationalist conservative fringe had engulfed the Republican Party.
Speaking in Manchester, NH just minutes before Clinton started her speech, Trump confronted head-on allegations that he is racist, defending his hard-line approach to immigration while trying to make the case to minority voters that Democrats have abandoned them.
Trump faced anger, confusion and disgust from across the political spectrum after indicating that he was open to letting some undocumented immigrants remain in the country legally provided that they paid “back taxes.”
A U.S. judge ordered the State Department to release by Sept. 13 any emails it finds between Clinton and the White House from the week of the 2012 attack in Benghazi, Libya, among the thousands of additional emails uncovered by federal investigators.
The NYT’s Lawrence Downes was unimpressed by Assemblywoman Alice Cancel’s performance in a recent candidate forum in the race for the Lower Manhattan seat ex-Speaker Sheldon Silver used to hold. “(I)f she has qualifications for the job, she kept them well hidden.”
Though the names of both Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, also convicted on corruption charges, appear on the federal Bureau of Prisons website, neither is in custody. And based on a court ruling yesterday, neither is now required to report to the authorities anytime soon as their convictions are appealed – a process that could take more than a year.
Two Long Island congressmen – Pete King, a Republican; and Steve Israel, a Democrat – sent a letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Veterans Affairs Department asking them to conduct a thorough inquiry into the suicide of a veteran outside the Northport Veterans Medical Center on Long Island.
The Great New York State Fair kicked off with a ribbon cutting by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who toured the newly transformed fairgrounds and then announced that IndyCar racing will be returning to Watkins Glen International.
The governor consumed the required fair food for politicians- a Gianelli sausage sandwich – insisting he had eaten the whole thing, and inviting a local reporter to do the same.
A shortage of supportive housing has helped drive homelessness for single adults to record highs, the Coalition for the Homeless says in a new report. Advocates blame the governor for failing to come through on a pledge to create 20,000 supportive housing apartments.
Cuomo called the ethics reform bill he signed this week, which has been criticized by good government groups, a “good first step,” acknowledging more must be done to address Albany’s corruption problem.
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman today will unveil a new policy that affirms the right of an employee “to openly be who you are” and maps out a process for staff and supervisors to follow in dealing with gender transition.
“You guys can reach me in the Dominican Republic if there is a Trump administration,” Schneiderman joked during an appearance before the Daily News editorial board yesterday.
Trump’s campaign co-chair in New York, Carl Paladino, took exception with Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney’s remarks on the Republican candidate, saying she has “never been” a prominent member of the GOP in the state and never will be.
Aug 25th - 8:03 pm
The New York leadership team for the Donald Trump campaign has formally submitted its plans for the state moving forward. Honorary co-chair Carl Paladino said he expects the campaign to approve the plans in the next few days.
He said the document includes the framework for the campaign committee, the budget and field offices.
“It outlines some of the things we’re going to do, some of the places we’re going to open up field offices. This is all going to be done in the next 70 days,” he said.
Paladino said it also includes a request for the candidate to make appearances in Buffalo, Albany and Nassau county between now and early-October. He said the stops will most likely consist of a fundraiser and a public rally at each location.
“Donald Trump can’t wait to get to New York, let me tell ya,” Paladino said. “He likes it here. He’s always had a warm reception here and there’s no better place to show the respect that people have for him than right here in New York state.”
The reports (most recently one in the New York Post) that Trump plans to spend a significant amount of time in New York continue to be met by skepticism from both the media and politicos. Why would Trump spend any amount of time in a Democrat-dominated state, where Clinton has consistently led by double digits in the polls?
“Because you read the polls and we don’t.” Paladino said. “This is going to be another 1984, the last time a Republican candidate won the state of New York.”
On MSNBC Wednesday, new campaign manager Kellyanne Conway was non-committal when asked about New York and said the campaign will look at moving staff to competitive states.
Aug 25th - 5:02 pm
Hillary Clinton released a web video portraying Donald Trump as the candidate of the Ku Klux Klan, neo-Nazis and white supremacists, and warning “if Trump wins, they could be running the country.”
While Gov. Andrew Cuomo ponders legislation to sharply restrict advertising of Airbnb rentals, a new study from the data-based website FiveThirtyEight shows that at least a third of rentals are commercial—meaning entire homes or apartments are rented out for much of the time.
Rev. Franklin Graham was in Albany, saying: “I want to urge Christians to go the polls and vote, and I want to encourage Christians to also run for political office.”
According to Quote.com, Clinton’s grammar and language are geared toward an approximately eighth-grade audience. Trump, meanwhile, speaks at a level about comparable with a seventh-grade comprehension.
Former NYPD detective, media personality, business owner (and Nassau County resident) Bo Dietl wants to run for NYC mayor next year, challenging incumbent Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., often mentioned as a potential de Blasio primary challenger, received nearly $100,000 in donations connected to a Queens-based construction company that was later awarded $1.4 million from Diaz’s fiscal year 2011 capital budget.
Senate Health Committee Chairman Kemp Hannon has asked the state attorney general to investigate skyrocketing prices of epinephrine auto-injectors (EpiPens) by the drug’s manufacturer, saying the hikes occurred “without any justification.”
The U.S. Army has placed a $12.5 million order for radar components with Lockheed Martin’s plant in suburban Syracuse, according to Pentagon officials.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and officials representing IndyCar and Watkins Glen announced that an agreement has been reached to bring the series back to the track for at least the next two years.
Sen. Todd Kaminsky has endorsed Long Beach City Councilman Anthony Eramo for his former Assembly seat ahead of the Sept. 13 Democratic primary against former Nassau Legislator Jeff Toback.
A trial court in Rensselaer County has thrown out a union challenge to a pair of programs started by Cuomo — the Empire and Excelsior Service fellowships — that recruits young professionals and those just getting out of school, to work at high level jobs in state government for two year periods.
Queens Rep. Joe Crowley says he has no plans to support the TPP — despite his initial praise for the pact while it was in negotiation — and believes the “onus is on the Republicans” who currently control the House if they want to push it through before the year’s end.
Renovations on more than a dozen city schools will be completed largely by minorities, women and Syracuse city residents, according to the terms of a new labor agreement.
Aug 25th - 3:50 pm
Senate Democrats on Thursday blasted the chamber’s number two Republican after he signaled his support for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in a radio interview.
Syracuse Sen. John DeFrancisco insisted he would vote for Trump in an interview with WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom and, seemingly in a moment of impishness, entertained the discredited theory promoted by Trump that President Obama wasn’t born in the U.S.
“Well, there are some people who still believe,” he said in the interview before trailing off.
Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy in a statement blasted DeFrancisco for being “extreme and out of touch” — yoking the broader conference to Trump comments.
“From passionately supporting Donald Trump’s divisive and incendiary campaign to defending dangerous and offensive conspiracy theories, the 2nd-most powerful Senate Republican showed us where his conference stands on these important issues,” Murphy said. “Senate Republicans do not share New Yorkers’ values and are more in-line with dangerous xenophobes and demagogues like Donald Trump.”
In response, Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif called the comment a “baseless political attack.”
“While the Senate Democrats launch yet another baseless political attack that only Albany insiders will truly appreciate, we’re having a conversation with hardworking taxpayers and their families about what Senate Republicans have done to improve their lives – – like cutting middle-class income taxes by 20 percent, providing record levels of support for schools, taking aim at a heroin epidemic that has torn apart families, and ensuring every region of the state has the resources they need to create jobs and grow its economy,” he said. “Senate Democrats can sit around and listen to the Albany talk shows, we’re focused on growing our majority to do even more for the people of this state.”
What’s apparent, too, is that Democrats will continue to hammer the Senate GOP over Trump’s candidacy over the course of the fight for control of the narrowly divided chamber.
Democrats expect to make gains this election season, even beyond the mere scope of a presidential election cycle, given Trump being at the top of the ticket and the expectation he will lose badly to Hillary Clinton in New York this year.
Aug 25th - 3:20 pm
This can be a very touchy subject for Senate mainline Democrats, who can get a little Al Roker on you if you dare to bring it up. But something is happening this election cycle which is a stiff departure from two years ago. Primarily labor’s involvement.
Two years ago, with an assist from Mayor De Blasio, Democrats vowed to take back control of the State Senate. They failed in their efforts ( although one could argue that numerically speaking they actually succeeded but politics prevents a sitting Democratic Majority ). They also left a trail of bitter feelings among Republicans and the Independent Democratic Conference, whose members had to fight off primaries. This time around not a single IDC member has a primary opponent. The labor unions appear to be standing down. This is not a completely hands off approach, but the endorsements this year speak volumes.
In 2014 NYSUT backed a full slate of Democratic candidates including Dave Dennenberg, Adrienne Esposito, Justin Wagner, Terry Gipson, Elaine Altman, Cecilia Tkacyk and Johnny Destino all of whom lost. In 2016 it’s much more of a mixed bag with NYSUT backing mostly incumbents including IDC members and Republicans. The outliers are Adam Haber and Todd Kaminsky on Long Island who have the union’s backing, Chris Eachus, and Terry Gipson once again in the Hudson Valley ( not sure what it is with this guy, but everyone seems to love him ).
The AFL-CIO endorsements tell a similar story. In 2014 the union backed the unsuccessful candidacies of Dave Denenberg, Justin Wagner, Ted O’Brien, Elaine Altman, Cecilia Tkacyk and ( of course ) Terry Gipson. This year, the AFL-CIO is staying neutral in some races, but mostly endorsing incumbents from both parties. The exceptions are Adam Haber and ( it kinda goes without saying ) Terry Gipson. Obviously more endorsements could come out later, but for now they feel a lot less all-Democrats-all-the-time than they did in 2014. As one GOP insider put it, the takeaway here is that “if it’s a wash, that is actually a big win for Republicans.” The lack of strong backing from unions could lead to money problems for Dems, and we already know that 1199 is giving Republicans money to maintain control of the Senate.
So what is going on here? For starters, the unions got a lot of what they wanted this year with the GOP-IDC coalition in control of the Senate. That includes a robust paid family leave program, and a path to a $15 minimum wage. These two things were unthinkable as recently as last year. For working people both of these new policies will make a huge difference in their lives. And they got it without a Democratic majority, or as one observer keenly noted, the unions “got what they wanted without having what they were told they needed.”
Secondly, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan has made a real push to court the unions. For example at the NYSUT convention at the Desmond in Albany last week, Flanagan spoke to the members first, then hung around and took their questions for roughly two and half hours. Presumably in that soft spoken, mild mannered way of his. Flanagan is a lot more in the weeds when it comes to policy than his predecessor Dean Skelos. And as the former Chair of the Education Committee, Flanagan can speak to teachers in a language they understand. Part of this is self preservation and survival. Flanagan can read the polls like anybody else which warn of an anti-Trump tsunami at the ballot box this fall. He knows that down ballot races could be impacted should the anti-Trump vote materialize in the way liberals insist that it will. And that gets us to the final point, which is Flanagan’s relationship with IDC Leader Jeff Klein. People close to both men say it’s very strong. I used to think of Klein and Skelos as something like this, but the reality was actually far different. Both known for their flaring tempers, Skelos and Klein would sometimes yell past each other. But Klein respects Flanagan’s policy knowledge and the way he handles the conference.
Democratic sources seem confident that if they win enough seats, a reconciliation between the two Democratic factions will commence. I’m told that “talks are already underway.” However, GOP sources say they too “feel as though they are in a good spot” with the IDC, meaning the coalition could continue. If recent history is any guide, Senate Democrats have always picked up seats in Presidential election years. That’s likely to happen again this year, but the IDC decision on who to work with could still be critical to who controls the Senate. Democrats are telling people to expect a Democratic majority, but some in labor at least, appear to be hedging their bets.
Aug 25th - 2:54 pm
After good-government groups criticized the ethics legislation he signed into law this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday acknowledged more work needed to be done the issue.
Speaking with reporters at the State Fairgrounds outside of Syracuse, Cuomo touted the new disclosure requirements in the measure as a major step forward in regulating shadowy money in politics.
But he also indicated he wanted to do more on the issue after approving the fourth ethics law in the more than five years he has been governor.
“The ethics bill is a major step forward,” Cuomo said. “Is it everything? No. Ethics in many ways is like other activities in life, right? That old line — you can never be too rich, you can never be too thin. Well, you can never be too ethical. So, you get everything done that you can get done. But you stay at it and you work at. More and more disclosure, more trust.”
Cuomo approved what was widely considered to be the ethics bill of the legislative session, a measure designed to address the Citizens United era of super PAC political spending, as well new requirements for lobbyists and consultants.
Good-government advocates have blasted the measure, saying it would unduly impact non-profit organizations who may have a difficult time complying with the law.
At the same time, the ethics watchdogs criticized Cuomo, who proposed the initial measure in June, for not going far enough on reform measures in Albany in the wake of a series of corruption scandals and arrests that have plagued the Legislature.
Both the former Assembly speaker and Senate majority leader were ousted in the last year following corruption convictions that rocked the Capitol.
“Albany certainly had a bad year in terms of trust,” Cuomo said. “They needed an ethics reform so people knew they could trust Albany and this is a great first step.”
Aug 25th - 2:18 pm
Disgraced former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will remain free until at least Oct. 27 as he seeks bail pending appeal of his November 2015 conviction on corruption charges.
Federal Judge Valerie Caproni on Thursday ruled that Silver, due to report to prison on Aug. 31, will have two weeks to start paying fines and other forfeiture fines as part of his conviction and later report to prison should his motion for bail be denied.
If Silver is to appeal that decision, the date he must report to prison is moved back another 14 days from when that court rules, or Oct. 27, whichever is later.
Silver in may was sentenced to 12 years in and prison and owes nearly $7 million in civil penalties stemming from his conviction late last year on corruption, fraud and self-dealing charges.
Initially scheduled to report to prison on July 1, Silver’s appeal has gained some ground in recent weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the case of ex-Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell that narrowed the definition of an official quid pro quo in public corruption cases.
That same decision is also at the heart of the appeal of Silver’s former colleague, ex-Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who is also appealing his conviction from earlier this year. Both Skelos and his son Adam are free pending their appeal.