Aug 24th - 6:24 pm
A coalition of groups that backed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential bid endorsed on Wednesday Paul Newell’s campaign in the 65th Assembly district.
Newell, who previously ran for Democratic nomination in the lower Manhattan district when it was represented by disgraced former Speaker Sheldon Silver, was given the nod of a range of Sanders-supporting groups, including People for Bernie, Citizen Action New York, the New York State Nurses Association and congressional candidate Zephyr Teachout.
“This is a chance for an important district to make a significant point at a pivotal moment: the political revolution has only just begun,” said Charles Lenchner, co-founder People for Bernie.
“This district is central to the fight for economic justice and raising the voice of the people in politics. Here, we have both the financial district and the birthplace of Occupy. Paul has a proven record of bringing people together, supporting social movements, and standing up for justice.”
Yuh-Line Niou, who ran on the Working Families Party line in the April special election, is once again seeking the Assembly seat now held by Democrat Alice Cancel, who was backed by allies of Silver earlier this year.
Aug 24th - 5:07 pm
Chelsea Clinton plans to remain on the board of the Clinton Foundation if her mother, Hillary Clinton, is elected president this fall, a foundation spokesman said.
An increasing number of editorial pages say the foundation should shut down or transfer operations to another charity despite its good work to avoid perceptions of “pay-for-play”, despite plans to reorganize it should Hillary Clinton win the White House.
Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson has agreed to pay a $15,000 fine as part of a settlement with NYC’s Conflicts of Interest Board for having police and security officers fetch and pay for his meals. The officers were subsequently reimbursed with office funds.
Ed Rollins, chairman of a pro-Donald Trump super PAC, says the Republican nominee would lose badly if the election was held today.
Trump’s new campaign manager Kellyanne Conway compared Clinton’s relationship with the truth to what she called former president Bill Clinton’s “casual relationships with other women.”
Trump’s son, Eric, said it would be “foolish” for his father to release his tax returns.
A new audit from the office of state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found “significant deficiencies” in the “transformation” of information technology services at state agencies — a process that is now in its fourth year and remains ongoing.
John “Rus” Thompson refused to accept a plea offer in his voter fraud case today, opting to go to trial rather than admit to a felony.
The State Education Department has appointed the first “privacy officer” whose job it will be to make sure that student data remains confidential.
AG Eric Schneiderman said a decision by the embattled medical provider for Nassau’s jail not to bid to keep its contract is “a positive step forward” for taxpayers as his office moves ahead with its recent lawsuit against the company after a series of inmate deaths.
NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal appears on NBC’s “Running Wild with Bear Grylls” in the Adirondack Park at 10 p.m. Monday.
The Empire Center’s Kenneth Girardin: “Governor Andrew Cuomo’s new Clean Energy Standard is shaping up to be one of the largest tax hikes in state history.”
A federal judge again postponed former Town of Oyster Bay Commissioner Frederick Ippolito’s sentencing for tax evasion connected to fees received from a paving contractor, saying that information received from Ippolito and town officials about their relationship with the company was too vague and only raised more questions.
Million Dollar Beach at Lake George was closed for the second time in five days by the DEC due to elevated levels of fecal coliform in the water.
New York State’s hospitals as a whole ranked last among the 50 states, according to a report card from the federal government. New York City’s hospitals were rated even lower than the state average – and Brooklyn’s hospitals scored lower than the city as a whole.
Ramen noodles are the unofficial currency of choice inside the U.S. prison system.
Aug 24th - 4:22 pm
Seeking to address the political spending through super PACs in the wake of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday signed into law a bill that would require the disclosure for non-profit groups that engage in political activities.
The bill is also aimed at curbing the coordination between independent expenditure committees and a candidate’s campaign and require consultants and lobbyists who provide services to sitting elected officials or candidates.
Touted as the key ethics measure approved at the end of the legislative session in June, the bill has been opposed by good-government organizations for failing to address the root causes of corruption in state government and placing an overdue burden on non-profit entities.
Hours before Cuomo’s office announced he had signed the bill, a coalition of the state’s prominent ethics watchdogs called on him to veto the legislation — an unlikely move given the governor had proposed the bill. At the same time, the call to veto the legislation may have only emboldened Cuomo further, given the tensions between the governor and good-government groups in recent months.
Cuomo was pushed by ethics watchdogs this past legislative session to focus on government reform measures, many of which stood little chance of passing in the Assembly and Senate. Still, the groups insisted Cuomo could have thrown his weight behind such measures like closing the LLC loophole (Cuomo ultimately introduced multiple versions of the bill to address multiple public offices) as well as public financing of elections.
But Cuomo insists the bill is a major effort at rolling back the impact of the Citizens United decision and the influence of “dark money” in politics.
“New York is taking aggressive action to restore the people’s faith in government and increase accountability and transparency in the electoral process,” Cuomo said in a statement.
“These actions roll back the disastrous influence of Citizens United and prohibit coordination between candidates and independent expenditure committees. Through enhanced enforcement and increased penalties for political consultants who flout the law, this new legislation will root out bad actors and shine a spotlight on the sordid influence of dark money in politics. With this legislation, New York is raising the bar once again – and now it’s time for the rest of the nation to follow suit.”
The bill was proposed as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, whom Cuomo has had a hostile public relationship with over the last year, was benefiting from the non-profit Campaign for One New York. The non-profit, which backed the mayor’s agenda, had stirred controversy for de Blasio and was ultimately shuttered.
Cuomo, too, benefited from the Committee To Save New York, a group of business interests and private-sector unions that was aligned with the governor’s agenda in 2011 and 2012. The group closed down before a law that would have required its donors be disclosed took effect.
Aug 24th - 2:24 pm
Democratic congressional candidate Zephyr Teachout on Wednesday released a 2-minute video commemorating the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Irene which battered parts of the upstate region.
Her message: “We are not ready for the next Irene.”
Namely, the once-a-century storm is now happening with more frequency. And Teachout says climate change is to blame for the increase in devastating storms. She calls for a scaling back of fossil fuel usage as well as infrastructure investment, especially when it comes to water infrastructure.
“Let’s right now invest and actually repair our basic water infrastructure,” she says in the video.
Teachout is running for the Hudson Valley congressional district being vacated by Rep. Chris Gibson. She faces Republican John Faso in November.
Aug 24th - 1:35 pm
As state lawmakers in the coming weeks prepare to hold water quality hearings in Hoosick Falls, Albany and on Long Island, Democratic Senate candidate Amber Small on Wednesday called for hearings to be held in Buffalo as well.
“We are home to New York’s largest freshwater basin yet water quality problems plague us in Western New York,” Small said in a statement. “There should be hearings here to tackle this issue. It is a slap in the face to not hold a hearing—to not even give concerned residents the opportunity to have their voices heard. Shame on Albany.”
The Republican-led Senate next Tuesday plans to hold a hearing Hoosick Falls following a water contamination in the village as well as nearby Petersburgh.
Joint legislative hearings from the Senate and Assembly Health and Environmental Conservation committees will be held in September on statewide water issues as well, with plans to hold them on Long Island and in the Legislative Office Building in Albany.
But Small insists the issue shouldn’t be focused on in a handful of areas in New York.
“Water quality is not an isolated problem,” she said. “It is a regional issue that we cannot afford to ignore. Our campaign will continue to bring constant attention to this issue. Just a few weeks ago we presented a plan for regional solutions and called upon the state to provide the dedicated financing that all of our local communities need to upgrade their aging sewer and water infrastructure.”
Small is running for the Buffalo-area Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Marc Panepinto. She faces Republican Chris Jacobs.
Aug 24th - 12:15 pm
A prominent LGBT Democratic organization on Wednesday endorsed Democratic state Senate hopeful Micah Lasher, who faces a hotly contested primary for the seat being vacated by Adriano Espaillat.
The Gay & Lesbian Independent Democrats gave their nod to Lasher, a former aide to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and later Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
“Micah has been an unwavering friend of the LGBT community for over a decade, and his support for critical legislation that would ensure equal rights for all New Yorkers makes him an ideal candidate to succeed State Senator Adriano Espaillat,” said GLID President Anthony Hayes.
The group pointed to Lasher’s work in the attorney general’s office as well as the legislative affairs director for Bloomberg in their endorsement announcement, saying he’s worked on key issues for the LGBT community, such as a bill that would ban so-called gay conversion therapy.
“Micah knows the legislative process better than anyone, and he knows how to get things done to help advance LGBT rights and protect the gains we’ve made in recent years,” Hayes said in a statement.
Espaillat is running for the Senate seat held by Rep. Charlie Rangel after winning a crowded Democratic primary in June.
The race to replace him in the Senate includes Democrats Marisol Alcantara and former city Councilman Robert Jackson.
Aug 24th - 11:44 am
A super PAC controlled by a top official at the statewide teachers union received this week a $4 million contribution from a separate committee that lists the union’s headquarters as its address.
A filing on the state Board of Elections website shows the committee, New Yorkers For A Brighter Future, transferred $4 million to the independent expenditure committee Fund For Great Public Schools.
The IE’s treasurer is Andy Pallotta, the vice president of the New York State United Teachers Union.
New Yorkers For A Brighter Future lists is address as 800 Troy Schenectady Road, the same as NYUST’s headquarters in the Albany suburb of Latham.
The Brighter Future group, first formed in 2010, has been funded through donations that appear to be in the $100 range.
The group this week reported $3.9 million in cash on hand.
The bolstering of independent expenditure committee for NYSUT comes as a range of groups funded by wealthy supporters of charter schools and the education investment tax credit have spent heavily on behalf of challengers to Democratic incumbents in upcoming Assembly and Senate primaries.
Those independent expenditure groups are expected to play a role in the broader fight for control of the state Senate this November.
Aug 24th - 11:24 am
A coalition of good-government groups on Wednesday urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to veto the ethics reform package of this year’s legislative session, arguing the measure aimed at requiring greater transparency for non-profit organizations goes too far and was poorly constructed.
A letter released by the groups — including Citizens Union, Common Cause New York, the League of Women Voters and the New York Public Interest Research Group — criticized the legislation Cuomo has described as a state-level response to the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, which has ushered in a new era of campaign finance spending through super PACs.
Also signing on to the letter was the New York Immigration Coalition.
The bill, which Cuomo is expected to sign, is aimed at requiring new disclosure for lobbying by non-profit groups.
The groups take issue with the legislation, saying it could impact non-profit charities. The disclosure requirements would likely impact the good-government groups as well.
The groups also contended the legislation was written too hastily and without input from the public at large.
“While the independent expenditure spending aspect of the bill has been widely discussed across the nation and includes many recommendations that have been discussed for several years, including several provided to your administration by our organizations, little else in the bill addresses the strong public consensus that corruption is a serious problem in New York,” the letter states.
Cuomo had been sharply criticized by good-government organizations during the legislative session for not making a public push on ethics reform following the arrests and convictions of the top legislative leaders in the Assembly and Senate, Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos.
But the groups argue in their letter the legislation approved by state lawmakers in June doesn’t address the root cause of corruption in state government.
“With New York’s two previous legislative leaders convicted of corruption, and at least 33 legislators in the past 16 years having left office due to scandal, we know how bad the problem of corruption is and how poor our actions have been to combat it,” the letter states. “Yet the legislation does virtually nothing to respond to this unprecedented corruption.”
Cuomo proposed a series of campaign finance reform measures this year that have fallen flat with the Legislature, including an effort to curtail political giving through limited liability companies. Cuomo introduced a range of bills that would have addressed LLC donations for different elected offices, but lawmakers did not hold votes on any of those bills.
Aug 24th - 6:45 am
From the Morning Memo:
A pro-business group’s legislative ratings for individual state lawmakers took a hit this year after a legislative session of difficult votes for businesses in New York, ranging from a minimum wage increase to 12 weeks of paid family leave.
The ratings from the National Federation of Independent Business especially hit the Republican-led Senate, where the GOP conference out of solidarity approved a budget bill containing the minimum wage increase after a contentious internal debate.
“The scores, particularly within the State Senate, trend significantly lower when compared to past sessions,” said NFIB state director Mike Durant.
A passing grade for the NFIB is 70 percent and the highest scoring lawmaker in the Senate was Brooklyn’s Simcha Felder, a Democrat who sits with the GOP conference in the chamber. Felder scored an 83.
In the Assembly, the Republican conference generally scored best, with multiple members receiving a 100 percent score. Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, a western New York lawmaker, was the highest scoring Democrat in the chamber based on NFIB review.
In addition to the minimum wage provision, NFIB also considered bills aimed at strengthening the state’s cap on property taxes, a measure aimed at bolstering laws governing the employment of farm laborers and the bill to create universal health care among their criteria for the ratings.
But the $15 minimum wage, as pushed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo this year after he set the wage for fast-food workers through a Department of Labor board, proved to be an especially bitter pill for some business groups to swallow.
The wage increase set the minimum wage to $15 in New York City and the surrounding suburban counties, to be phased in over the next several years. North of Westchester County, the wage will hit $12.50 and then be subject to an economic review by the Division of Budget.
Both the wage hike and the paid-family leave program were included in the 2015-16 state budget.
Republicans in the state Senate were ultimately able to secure a sizable tax cut aimed at middle-income earners in the budget alongside the wage measure. Business groups opposed to the wage measure, however, insisted the tax cut did not offset the cost of the $15 minimum wage.
“When analyzing the legislative session from a macro perspective it is very clear that the high profile issues, like minimum wage and paid leave, negatively impact small business while there are limited efforts to enact real, meaningful reform,” Durant said.
“Frankly, small business in New York needs more than lip service from Albany. There needs to be a more concerted effort to not only promote Main Street, but to push for high impact legislative reforms to the cost drivers that already hamper job creators. Until then, small business in New York will only continue to tread water, at best.”
Aug 24th - 6:15 am
From the Morning Memo:
Constituents of Republican Sen. Kathy Marchione this week received a mailer from her Senate office detailing the lawmaker’s efforts on clean water following water contaminations in Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh.
“The recent public health crisis in Hoosick Falls and Petersburgh is a critical reminder of the need to be vigilant about protecting our public health and safety,” the mailer states, “and making smart investments in water quality and environmental protection.”
The mailer touts the scheduled hearing on water quality in Hoosick Falls on Tuesday in the village, which has been rocked by a contamination of the chemical PFOA in the village’s drinking water. Nearby Petersburgh, too, has discovered a chemical contamination in its municipal water supply as well.
The mailer also points to border water issues, including Marchione’s co-sponsorship of a bill that would require testing of tap water in schools for lead, as well as her supporting for increasing funding for the Environmental Protection Fund by nearly 70 percent, as proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
And she pledges to “deliver an additional $200 million over the next two years” to upgrade municipal water infrastructure.
Marchione had come under criticism for initially not pushing for hearings on water quality issues in the wake of the Hoosick Falls contamination and the subsequent fallout, including the creation of a state Superfund site by the Department of Environmental Conservation.
Ultimately, the Republican-led Senate agreed to hold the hearings following weeks of mounting public pressure. Joint Senate and Assembly hearings on statewide water concerns will also be held in September.