Cuomo Nominates Westchester DA For Chief Judge

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has nominated Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore as the state’s next chief judge on the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court.

Cuomo made the announcement during remarks at a World AIDS Day event in Harlem on Tuesday and later confirmed in a news release from the governor’s office.

“Janet DiFiore is tremendously qualified to serve as Chief Judge of the State Court of Appeals,” Cuomo said in a statement. “She has served as both judge and prosecutor, and has spent her career working to ensure justice and fairness for New Yorkers.”

DiFiore is a former chairwoman of the much-maligned Joint Commission on Public Ethics and a former Republican-turned Democrat.

The nomination today comes on deadline to fill the expected vacancy for chief judge, though the Republican-led Senate is unlikely to return to Albany before the end of the year to consider her approval.

Jonathan Lippman, the chief judge since 2009, is required to step down Dec. 31 due to the state’s mandatory retirement age for judges — a measure he sought to unsuccessfully overturn through a constitutional amendment, which failed to pass on a ballot referendum.

DiFiore was among a list of seven potential replacements for Lippman forwarded to Cuomo by the state’s judicial nominating the commission. The list included prominent legal figures such as former U.S. Attorney Michael Garcia and former Chief Administrative Judge Gail Prudenti.

DiFiore has served as district attorney in Westchester County since 2006. She first served as a Westchester County Court judge from 1999 through 2002 and was later elected to the state Supreme Court.

If confirmed, DiFiore would be the second woman to hold the top judicial post in New York.

“I am humbled by the incredible honor of being nominated to serve as Chief Judge of the New York State Court of Appeals,” she said. “My professional life has been devoted to the fair administration of justice, and I would gladly continue my service to the people of New York on our state’s highest court.”

Another vacancy is expected by Jan. 1, when Judge Eugene Pigott, an appointee of Gov. George Pataki, will retire. A list of potential replacements for Piggot is due no later than Dec. 22.

Bonacic Calls For Outside Income Ban

Republican Sen. John Bonacic called for a ban on lawmakers earning income from “active employment” other than their government jobs — a call that comes a day after former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was booted from office after he was found guilty of seven counts of corruption.

Bonacic has stated in the past he supports limiting the money lawmakers can make in the private sector, but it remains to be seen whether a drumbeat will grow at all for a “professional” Legislature that would ban private-sector employment in the wake of the Silver verdict.

Previously, lawmakers have suggested linking a professionalized Legislature to a boost in the base $79,500 salary, which hasn’t been increased since 1998 (Lawmakers earn more in some cases for committee chairmanships and leadership positions).

Silver was able to amass $4 million in legal fees that prosecutors claimed were actually bribes. He was convicted on Monday of fraud, extortion and money laundering charges.

“Every legislator was shocked to hear about the questionable practices of the former Speaker, and his accumulation of ill-gotten millions while in public office,” Bonacic said. “:All of his questionable conduct was also done in a very secretive way, and I am not surprised by the jury’s guilty verdict.”

Lawmakers in leadership positions in recent months have distanced themselves from their outside businesses following the arrests of both Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. Both men were listed “of counsel” at law firms though it was unclear what, exactly, they did to earn their pay.

Sen. Jeff Klein, the leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, ended his relationship with his law firm where he was partner, as did Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan.

“I believe that if we ban outside income from active employment for elected officials, and pay them a livable wage to raise their families, it will go a long way to cure the temptation of a few to engage in this type of bad behavior,” Bonacic said.

The Aftermath Of Silver’s Conviction

capitolsummerFrom the Morning Memo:

The conviction of Sheldon Silver on all seven counts of corruption shocked Albany political observers in part because the former speaker and Manhattan Democrat had been such a fixture at the Capitol.

For the first time since Gerald Ford was in the White House, Silver won’t be in Albany for the new legislative session when it convenes in January.

Still, the reverberations from Silver’s conviction could still be felt for a long time (he plans to appeal the conviction).

Nevertheless, some conclusions can be drawn after a year of corruption arrests and convictions.

The public is fed up: U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is two for two. In addition to Silver’s conviction, former Sen. Tom Libous, the number two Republican in the chamber, was found guilty in July of lying to the FBI. Libous, a Binghamton lawmaker, was only hit with one perjury charge in a case that hinged an unrecorded FBI interview from five years ago. Silver’s guilty verdict, too, came after prosecutors sought to have jurors connect the dots for quid pro quo in a complex scheme that involved legal referrals Bharara’s team insisted were actually bribes. This should give Dean Skelos, the former majority leader of the Senate now on trial alongside his son Adam, pause. The case for Dean and Adam Skelos is seemingly more straightforward and includes embarrassing conversations caught on wiretap Bharara has been all-too-happy to introduced as evidence. As NYPIRG’s Blair Horner said in a statement on Monday, the tipping point for Albany may have been achieved. When they’re paying attention, voters tend to view Albany with a jaundiced eye. The Silver conviction only furthers that view.

A chronic headache for Cuomo: The corruption arrests and convictions in a separate branch of state government aren’t directly threatening Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s legacy, which has included legislative high points such as same-sex marriage, a controversial gun control law and taming New York’s budget process. But Cuomo, who once declared “I am the government” will continue to have corruption in the Legislature as looming and distracting issue for his time in office. Bharara, too, has shown interest in Cuomo ranging from the financing of the Committee to Save New York, the shuttering of the anti-corruption Moreland Commission and the spending in the Buffalo Billion economic development project. For now, there’s been a lot of smoke, but no fire. At the moment, Cuomo has been reduced to bystander status in the Albany corruption circus; proposing package after package of ethics, campaign finance and disclosure reform, only to have it watered down in the usual legislative sausage making process. In a statement released on Monday evening, Cuomo did hint at possible ethics reforms. But he also made clear it’s up to the Legislature to take action on the issue he’s pushed for nearly every year he’s been in office.

Behavior can change: The Bharara effect, arguably, is already in full force. As the legislative session was winding down in the spring, state lawmakers publicly stated they were concerned with conducting the usual business of horse trading in Albany, given the close tabs the U.S. attorney was keeping on Albany. A vote in exchange for support on another issue — typical Albany stuff one might say — was now being fussed over as a potential spark for a new federal probe. This presents a worrying interpretation for some lawmakers on what exactly is illegal (Don’t steal! Don’t trade money for a vote!), but the mood this year at the Capitol went from chilly in January to downright frosty in June following the parade of arrests.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City. The federal corruption trial of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, continues in Manhattan.

At 8:30 a.m., NYC Taxi and Limousine Commissioner Meera Joshi keynotes the eighth edition of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce’s Newsmaker series, NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, 6 MetroTech Center Gymnasium, Brooklyn.

At 9 a.m., Community Healthcare Network hosts free HIV screening in honor of World AIDS Day, Port Authority Bus Terminal; West 41st Street between Eighth and Ninth Avenues, Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., Sen. Rich Funke will announce legislation to establish a new state-wide, tax-free weekend for the sale of Christmas trees and evergreen products, Woody Acres Farm, 1530 Harris Rd., Penfield.

At 11 a.m., Cuomo delivers remarks and receives the World AIDS Day Leadership Award from the End AIDS NY 2020 Coalition, The Apollo Theater, 253 W 125th St., Harlem.

At 11:45 a.m., NYC First Lady Chrilane McCray will attend a groundbreaking for supportive housing unit Lynn’s Place, 1060 Reverend James Polite Ave., Brooklyn.

At noon, LG Kathy Hochul tours downtown businesses in Batavia, Genesee County Chamber of Commerce, 210 E. Main St., Batavia.

At 12:35 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will join senior members of the administration and elected officials at World AIDS Day 2015 to make an announcement, Apollo Theater, 253 West 125th St., Harlem.

At 2:30 p.m., Hochul meets with with Genesee Community College officials to highlight workforce development initiatives and STEM career path training, 1 College Rd., Batavia.

At 5:30 p.m., NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and other Council members host a Diwali celebration, Council Chambers, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., the North Bronx Democratic Club holds its holiday dinner with state Sen. Jeff Klein and Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj and honors Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Correction Officers Benevolent Association’s Norman Seabrook, and others, Maestro’s Caterers, 1703 Bronxdale Ave., the Bronx.

Also at 6 p.m., de Blasio, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability Nilda Mesa, Director of the Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency Daniel Zarrilli and climate advocates will host a Sustainability Tele-Town Hall with reporters on climate change.

At 6:30 p.m., Assemblyman Michael Blake holds a fundraiser with former Obama campaign manager David Plouffe, 40/40 Club, 6 W. 25th St., Manhattan.


Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who held a seemingly intractable grip on power for decades as one of the most feared politicians in New York, was found guilty on seven federal corruption charges, ending a trial that was the capstone of the government’s efforts to expose the seamy culture of influence-peddling in Albany.

The charges carry a maximum of 130 years behind bars, though Silver is expected to face significantly less. He remains released on bond. “I’m disappointed right now,” Silver said. His attorney Steven Molo vowed a “vigorous” appeal.

“Ultimately I believe after we file the legal challenges, we’ll have a different result,” said Silver outside the courthouse.

Arleen Phillips, AKA Juror No. 6, was one of the holdouts in convicting Silver and also tried to get excused from the case. She ended up voting to convict him after seeing he had not disclosed outside income from the Manhattan law firm, Goldberg & Iryami. “I was wondering, why wouldn’t it just be out in the open just like the other things, why was this kind of hidden?” she said.

A few hours after Silver’s conviction, Gov. Andrew Cuomo hinted at a push for bolstering the state’s ethics laws.

By law, Silver was automatically expelled from his 65th Assembly District. Moments after that, his state government website was scrubbed of any mention of his nearly 40 years in office, including 21 as speaker. Staffers also wasted no time taking down his nameplate from his office in the Legislative Office Building as Silver’s aides huddled behind closed doors.

Cuomo will likely call a special election to fill the seat Silver has held since the mid-1970s. The fate of the now former assemblyman’s remaining staffers will be in the hands of his replacement, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

Said Heastie in a post-verdict statement: “I am deeply saddened by the events that have taken place this year, culminating with today’s conviction of former Speaker Sheldon Silver. Words simply aren’t enough. We will continue to work to root out corruption and demand more of elected officials when it comes to ethical conduct.”

Government-watchdog groups expressed optimism that the conviction would serve as a spur for a more aggressive round of action, perhaps targeting legislators’ income or the so-called L.L.C. loophole, which allows large unfettered contributions to political campaigns.

“Hopefully this will be the tipping point at which New York’s political leadership will gets its heads out of the sand,” said Blair Horner, of the New York Public Research Group. “Gov. Cuomo must now call a special session devoted to ethics reform.”

The New York Times says the Silver verdict and ongoing trial of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos “should sound a loud alarm to all the players in Albany who have become so accustomed to the abuse of power that they can’t see how it infects every aspect of lawmaking,” adding: “If the lawmakers still don’t get the message, voters should take heed. It is well past time to throw out anyone who doesn’t fight for a complete change of that toxic culture.”

Skelos was sitting in his own public-corruption trial when he learned that a federal jury across the street convicted his longtime colleague, Silver, of trading his political influence for financial gain. The former majority leader was stoic upon hearing the news.

“My case is what I’m focused on, what my attorneys are focused on,” Skelos said. “As I said in the beginning, I’m very confident I’m going to be found innocent.”

The NY Post: “US Attorney Preet Bharara and his team deserve hearty congratulations for their unceasing effort to get to the bottom of Albany’s influence-peddling. Indeed, in finding him guilty — on all counts — of selling his political office for $4 million in secret deals, the jury sent a clear message: Corruption may be business as usual in Albany, but it’s also a crime.”

The guilty verdict against Silver “still casts a shadow that hangs over Albany,” Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell said in a statement. “We need to change the way things work in Albany,” the Manhattan Democrat insisted.

Casey Seiler: “For the first time since 1977, the state Assembly will convene a legislative session without Sheldon Silver. Instead, the slow-walking, low-talking owl who endured for two decades as one of Albany’s all-powerful “Three Men in a Room” could be headed for a very different kind of room.”

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Cuomo Hints At Possible Ethics Action After Silver Verdict

RegenersonGov. Andrew Cuomo in a statement Monday evening reacting to the guilty verdict in the Sheldon Silver corruption case hinted at yet another ethics legislation push, calling on state lawmakers to “take seriously the need for reform.”

“Today, justice was served,” Cuomo said. “Corruption was discovered, investigated, and prosecuted, and the jury has spoken. With the allegations proven, it is time for the Legislature to take seriously the need for reform. There will be zero tolerance for the violation of the public trust in New York.”

Silver was found guilty on all seven counts of corruption, which included fraud, extortion and money laundering.

Cuomo had previously refrained from commenting extensively on the Silver corruption case since the former speaker’s arrest in January. But the governor nevertheless did push in the wake of Silver’s arrest last year for a package of anti-corruption, ethics and disclosure measures.

In February, Cuomo outlined and proposed a reform package at New York University. Ultimately, lawmakers approved new disclosure requirements for those legislators who have legal clients as well as new campaign finance laws.

Good-government groups criticized the agreement at the time for falling short of addressing structural ethics problems in state government.

A push for ethics and other reform-related measures was virtually non-existent in the wake of the arrest of now former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos in May.

Cuomo has sought ethics and disclosure measures, as well as campaign finance reform laws virtually every year since taking office.

But major victories for good-government watchdogs such as public financing of political campaigns and ending the practice of donating unlimited funds to political campaigns through a web of limited liability companies has alluded passage so far.


Despite ongoing jury drama in the federal corruption trial of ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon, the (now former) Manhattan lawmaker was found guilty on all seven counts lodged against him by US Attorney Preet Bharara.

Exiting the court, Silver said he was “disappointed” by the verdict, but plans to “continue the legal fight.”

The DN’s Ken Lovett says Silver’s conviction “is not just a victory against the once powerful legislative leader, but a huge blow against the unseemly way Albany has conducted business for decades.”

The White House offered Gov. Andrew Cuomo detailed updates on in-state refugee resettlement amid pushback by other governors to the administration’s goal of resettling 10,000 Syrian refugees through September 2016.

New York has started a statewide toy, coat and school supplies drive for families in need. Donations can be made at various drop-off locations around the state.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, and freshman Republican Rep. John Katko agree on keeping $2 million a year worth of federal cash flowing to the Centro public bus service over the next six years.

…some members of the public made their way into the Schumer press conference, peppering the state’s senior senator with questions.

A new book from Syracuse author Hart Seely finds poetry in the sometimes rambling, often rabble-rousing campaign rhetoric of Republican 2016 front-runner Donald Trump.

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner should follow Cuomo’s lead and appoint a special prosecutor to oversee police-involved civilian deaths, the Rev. Al Sharpton said.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli departs Wednesday for Paris, where world leaders are gathering to discuss what they can do to ameliorate the effects of climate change in coming decades.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio chalked a claim by the governor’s office that de Blasio is failing to manage the city’s homeless crisis up to “political posturing.”

The National Restaurant Association plans to file a lawsuit against New York City’s health department over its requirement that chain restaurants post warning labels on foods that contain more than the recommended daily limit for sodium.

A juror who last week complained of chest pains associated with a chronic heart condition was dismissed this morning from the jury in the trial of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam.

The first public hearing of the Commission on Legislative, Judicial and Executive Compensation heard a widely supported proposal today to raise most state judges’ pay to $203,100 a year.

In a half dozen conversations with top Entergy leaders, Schumer has tried both pleading and frank warnings to convince them to keep the Fitzpatrick nuclear power plant running in Oswego.

Republican 2016 hopeful George Pataki will not be on the Florida primary ballot. (He won’t be on the Alabama ballot, either).

Investor Warren Buffett will campaign with Democratic 2016 frontrunner Hillary Clinton in his hometown of Omaha next week.

The State Department released a WikiLeaks-related email from Clinton’s personal account that official watchdogs for the intelligence community and the department flagged over the summer as appearing to contain classified information.

The New York State Board of Regents has established a committee to study the Algebra I test results to determine whether the bar for passing was set too high.

Heastie ‘Deeply Saddened’ By Silver’s Conviction

carlheastieAssembly Speaker Carl Heastie in a statement on Monday said he was “deeply saddened” by the legal troubles of his predecessor, culminating with a guilty verdict for Sheldon Silver earlier in the day.

“Words simply aren’t enough. We will continue to work to root out corruption and demand more of elected officials when it comes to ethical conduct,” he said. “The Assembly Majority remains committed to exploring ideas and implementing reforms to restore trust in our government.”

The speaker’s statement was the first to be released of the top state officials in the wake of Silver’s conviction.

Heastie did not call for specific action on ethics legislation in his statement, but did point to a pension forfeiture measure that the Assembly and Republican-led Senate have approved differing versions of earlier this year.

Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, was elected speaker in the wake of Silver’s arrest at the beginning of the year on corruption charges. Silver was convicted on all seven counts of fraud and theft of honest services on Monday.

In his statement, Heastie touted the Assembly’s ethics measures that have been approved in recent years, including measures aimed at campaign finance reform and greater oversight of ethics of state officials.

“Accountability and transparency are of the utmost importance to the Assembly Majority,” Heastie said. “It is our hope that in time, the new measures we have recently put in place to strengthen ethics compliance will have a positive impact. This includes the creation of the Assembly Office of Ethics and Compliance, enactment of more stringent disclosure requirements, enhancements to the per diem reimbursement policy, new limitations on the use of campaign funds, and access to greater resources for the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE). Several of these changes will go into effect over the coming months.”

At the same time, Heastie pledged to “continue our efforts” in restore the public’s faith in government.

“That means remaining vigilant and not losing sight of our duty to families across this state that are relying on us to deliver a stronger minimum wage, quality education that meets the needs of our students and other basic necessities like an affordable home,” he said. “With preparations for the 2016 Legislative Session underway, we look forward to a session focused on progress and continued success in our mission to put families first and strengthen our communities.”

This is unlikely to satisfy good-government advocates, who are pushing for a special session this month to take up ethics legislation in the wake of both Silver’s conviction as well as the ongoing trial of Republican former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky, a Long Island Democrat who is said to be considering a run for Skelos’s Senate next year, said the Silver case highlighted “gaps” in the law.

“To renew the public’s trust we must seriously revisit banning outside income and further increase reporting; rethink our campaign finance rules, which allow huge amounts of money to flow from special interests to candidates; strip the pensions of public officials who criminally misuse their office; and create a doing business list for all companies that are paid with public tax dollars.”

Silver Guilty On All Counts

SilverSheldon Silver, a once powerful state lawmaker who wielded unquestioned authority as the state Assembly speaker, was found guilty of a suite of corruption charges for using his influence to enrich himself.

Silver, a Manhattan Democrat who was first elected to the Assembly in 1977, ultimately surrenders his seat. Moments after the verdict was announced, Silver’s official webpage from the Assembly’s website was taken down, as was the sign from his office door in the Legislative Office Building.

Good-government advocates quickly released a statement on Silver being found guilty on all seven counts of extortion, fraud and theft of honest services, saying it was yet another sign that ethics should be better policed in Albany.

“Hopefully this will be the tipping point at which New York’s political leadership will gets its heads out of the sand,” said NYPIRG Legislative Director Blair Horner. “Governor Cuomo must now call a special session devoted to ethics reform.”

But whether the changes come to Albany’s way of doing business — entangling personal wealth with public actions — appears to be unlikely.

State lawmakers in preliminary meetings this month at the Capitol displayed little appetite for returning for a formal session before the state of the new year to take up new ethics legislation.

At the same time, the governor himself has been cool to calls for more ethics legislation, pointing to a host of new disclosure and anti-corruption measures approved since he first took office in 2011.

Lawmakers and Cuomo did agree to new disclosure requirements for legislators who have legal clients, which is due to take effect in 2017.

Nevertheless, at least one lawmaker — Democratic Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell — in a statement to constituents called for reforms, such as a ban on outside income.

“We need to change the way things work in Albany. As today’s verdict demonstrates, the ability to earn outside income creates too much potential for impropriety,” O’Donnell said. “To restore respect for the hard work that the New York State Legislature does, we need to make it more like the federal system.”

The arrest of Silver in January was the equivalent of a political earthquake, coming a day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivered his first State of the State address of his second term and upending the legislative session.

After initially standing by Silver remaining on as speaker, Assembly Democrats moved to oust him weeks after his arrest and replaced him with Bronx Assemblyman Carl Heastie, the first black lawmaker to hold the top post in the chamber.

Silver retained his seat in the Assembly, sitting in the far back of the chamber and speaking little, but nevertheless voting on bills he once had control over bringing to the floor for a vote.

But Silver’s legal troubles wouldn’t be the only time lightning was to strike the Capitol this year.

His arrest was followed only months later by the indictment of Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who faces charges that he used his official influence to aid the business interests of his son. Adam Skelos is a co-defendant alongside his father in the case, which began in November as well.

Skelos, too, retained his seat in the Senate, but resigned his majority leader post and was replaced by Suffolk County Sen. John Flanagan.

Both cases have peeled back the often unseemly business of how state lawmakers are lobbied and how business can be conducted in Albany.

In Silver’s case, he was accused by federal prosecutors of steering state money to fund research being conducted by Dr. Robert Taub, a friend of the speaker. Silver was accused of masking legal referrals he would then receive, which prosecutors said were actually bribes.

Silver had denied any wrongdoing and insisted he would be vindicated once the process is played out in court.

The trial itself included several twists, with at least two jurors wishing to be excused from deliberations, which began last week before Thanksgiving. One juror claimed she was being bullied by fellow jurors. A second earlier in the day on Monday said he had a conflict of interest in the case: As a cab driver, he purchased a medallion license from someone who knows Silver.

In both instances, the jurors were told by the judge to remain in deliberations.

Silver’s guilty verdict is the highest profile victory yet for Bharara, a hard-charging prosecutor who has tackled Albany corruption with zeal. In July, former Republican Sen. Tom Libous, the chamber’s deputy leader, was found guilty of lying to the FBI, forcing his jettison from the chamber. Bharara’s office also prosecuted former Sen. Malcolm Smith, an ex-majority leader himself, for a bribery scheme.

Bharara released a short statement released after the guilty verdict was announced.

“Today, Sheldon Silver got justice, and at long last, so did the people of New York,” he said.

TZB And Bills Stadium Spending Authorized

The state comptroller’s office has approved $96.7 million in spending toward the mutli-billion dollar Tappan Zee Bridge project, while spending nearly an additional $1 million for the Buffalo Bills to operate and maintain its Orchard Park stadium in western New York.

The items were among the contract and spending authorizations announced by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office on Monday.

The new bridge, which is due to replace the aging Tappan Zee Bridge at the Hudson River between Westchester and Rockland counties, is expected to cost more than $3 billion, though it remains unclear how much tolls over the new span will ultimately cost.

The spending was approved for the Thruway Authority, which is in charge of building the new bridge.

Meanwhile, the state Assembly was approved for spending $63,000 for legal services related to the reapportionment of state legislative and congressional districts — some $96,000.

The redistricting and reapportionment process in 2012 led to a court challenge and, ultimately, a federal judge drawing the Congressional district boundaries, with the majority party state lawmakers in the Assembly and Senate choosing their own constituents themselves.

DiNapoli’s office also signed off on a $44.9 million contract for Questar Assessments Inc. to write examinations for math and English language arts for grades three through eight. The contract was awarded to Questar earlier this year after the state Department of Education sought to distance itself from the much-maligned tests developed by Pearson.

As the state’s medical marijuana industry is due to come online next month, DiNapoli’s office gave approval to a $1.9 million contract for Bio-Tech Medical Software Inc. for a medical marijuana seed-to-sale tracking system.

The medical marijuana program is due to be operational by January, though Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved a bill that would create an expedited system for patients in need of relief.

Enviros Urge Delegation To Oppose Senate EPA Resolutions

A coalition of environmental groups and labor unions on Monday sent a letter to the state’s congressional delegation urging them to oppose a pair of resolutions in the U.S. Senate they say would under the Environmental Protection Agency’s efforts in regulating carbon emissions from power plants.

“The resolutions from Senator (Mitch) McConnell and Senator (Shelley) Capito are advanced under the Congressional Review Act, and they would put an end to the EPA’s efforts to reduce carbon dioxide pollution from power plants, an integral part of our nation’s response to the threats from climate change,” the letter states.

The resolutions are aimed at requiring congressional support for future standards on power plant carbon pollution — a move that comes amid tougher standards from the EPA.

The letter, which includes signatories like 32BJ SEIU, Citizen Action of New York, the Communications Workers of America and the Environmental Advocates of New York, is being sent as world leaders are due to convene in Paris this week for talks on climate change and the human impact of pollution.

The letter states New York has become a “national leader” in efforts to combat climate change and the Senate resolution could reverse those gains that have been made.

Several New York House Republicans have signed on to resolutions acknowledging climate change is caused by human activity, including Reps. Elise Stefanik and Chris Gibson.

Opposition to Senate Joint Resolutions 23 and 24 HOUSE by Nick Reisman