Flanagan Remains Hopeful For A Last-Minute Deal

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan told reporters Wednesday he’s hopeful for a last-minute deal that could be salvaged before lawmakers leave for the rest of the year.

Flanagan met with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Sen. Andrew Lanza, a Staten Island Republican, discussing a push that would delink teacher evaluations from state examinations.

Flanagan has linked the measure to an expansion of charter schools in New York City, a bill that’s been rejected by Assembly Democrats.

Nevertheless, Flanagan remained hopeful an agreement could be reached on the issue.

“I would hope so,” Flanagan said. “You know I always count on the glass being half full and that’s why we’re having these discussions.”

The New York State United Teachers union is pushing for a “clean” bill that does not include the charter expansion, which has support among Flanagan’s GOP conference members and has previously passed the Assembly.

The union on Wednesday made another public push on the issue, giving away free ice cream under the window of Flanagan’s Capitol office.

NY-19: Hinchey Family Endorses Delgado

The wife and daughter of the late former Rep. Maurice Hinchey on Wednesday endorsed Democratic congressional candidate Antonio Delgado.

Delgado was endorsed by Ilene and Michelle Hinchey, as well as Dan Ahouse, the former chief of staff of Hinchey, who represented upstate New York until 2013 and died in 2017.

“Antonio is a natural leader who has the strength and courage to not just defeat John Faso and be an outstanding Representative, but also to be the leader we need here at home and in Washington — someone who will bring people together to advance and protect our core democratic principles that are currently under assault in Washington,” said Ilene Hinchey, Michelle Hinchey and Dan Ahouse.

“Antonio has a deep personal connection to and understanding of our region and can speak to the hopes and dreams of the people who live here. He will be our voice, he will inspire action and he will stand up for our values with unbreakable determination.”

Delgado is among the crowded field of Democrats vying for the nomination in the 19th congressional district in the Hudson Valley.

“Maurice Hinchey was a great man and Representative and I could not be more proud to earn the trust of those who knew him best,” said Delgado. “He stood up for what was right and just. He understood that this job starts and ends with the people, not special interests or what’s popular in Washington. I promise to strive every day to live up to his legacy as a fierce and principled public servant.”

NY-19: HTC Endorses Rhodes

The politically influential Hotel Trades Council on Wednesday endorsed Democratic congressional candidate Gareth Rhodes in his bid for the nomination in next week’s 19th district primary.

Rhodes, a former aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, was credited by the union for appearing on a picket line during a job action at an Albany hotel down the road from the state Capitol.

“Only one candidate in this race walked the picket lines with our members, standing by their side demanding that Hilton Albany workers receive the fair wages, health benefits and pension they deserve, and that was Gareth Rhodes. He showed the courage, conviction and compassion that’s far too infrequently demonstrated by our leaders in Washington today,” said HTC President Peter Ward. “When it comes to fighting for our members’ rights, from healthcare to worker protections to pushing back against anti-immigrant discrimination, Gareth has stood up for working families, and we’re proud to stand with him now.”

Rhodes has picked up a series of high-profile labor nods in recent weeks, including the New York State Nurses Association on Tuesday.

The winner of next Tuesday’s primary will take on Republican Rep. John Faso, who is seeking a second term.

“Whether it’s fighting for fair wages or providing their members with a national model for affordable and accessible healthcare, the Hotel Trades Council is a tireless advocate for working families, and I’m honored to have their support,” Rhodes said. “I stood with hotel workers and their families on the picket lines at the Hilton Albany and was amazed at how they never lost hope and never backed down. It’s that inspiration that drives me to fight every day for working families, and I look forward to continuing to partner with HTC and their members as we fight for a better future for all working families.”

The Session Lurches To Its Conclusion

From the Morning Memo:

The legislative session in Albany is drawing to a scheduled close today, a conclusion that won’t include the passage of high profile measures.

That’s due, in large part, to the lack of high profile legislation under consideration.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, of course, pushed for the passage of a “red flag” gun control bill meant to restrict firearm possession for those considered a danger to themselves and others, but it remained unlikely the Senate would ever pass it.

A bill delinking teacher evaluations from state examinations will now almost certainly become a campaign issue for the New York State United Teachers union, which has undertaken a range of creative lobbying efforts to see a “clean” version of the bill approved, efforts that have included a brass band and bagpipers and, today, free ice cream being given away under the window of Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan’s office.

Regulations for sports betting will not be taken up by lawmakers, as its bill sponsors in both houses insisted they were close to getting the necessary votes, but the other guy was falling short.

Cuomo himself all but threw in the towel on Tuesday on the remainder of the session, saying the big ticket items he could conceivably get done were accomplished in the budget.

“The issues that are left on the table, which have been left on the table since April when we couldn’t resolved them, are fundamental philosophical differences,” Cuomo said.

Since then, the political winds have shifted, Cuomo indicated.

On his own political front, Cuomo is facing a Democratic primary challenge from Cynthia Nixon, while Republican Marc Molinaro and now Stephanie Miner have also entered the fray to criticize the governor’s record from differing angles.

In the Senate, the two conferences remained deadlocked at 31 members each due to the absence of outgoing Sen. Tom Croci who is on military leave. Lacking the 32 members necessary to stage a straight party-line vote, the Senate has been mired in slow-moving gridlock, a molasses-like state that has led the Assembly to not take seriously proposals such as expanding charter schools in exchange for the teacher evaluation reforms favored by NYSUT.

It has been an odd mix over the last month of legislative, congressional and gubernatorial politics sprinkled in with the usual policy matters debated at the end of the session — an ending that lacks a “big ugly” package and a look toward the coming elections.

Recommendations Made To Address Sexual Harassment In State Government

From the Morning Memo:

A working group comprised of women who have experienced or witnesses sexual harassment or abuse in state government on Tuesday released a package of proposals designed to address the problem.

The proposals released by the Sexual Harassment Working Group include a bolstering of workplace protections for survivors that would change the anti-discrimination clause in the state constitution to include sex and gender as protected classes.

At the same time, the definition of terms like employer and employee in the Human Rights Law would be included, explicitly including legislative staff in the law as a result.

The group also wants to see the adoption of a more reasonable burden of proof for victims and survivors of harassment or discrimination by updating language.

Another recommendation would crewe an indecent Division of Human Rights and increase protections for victims seeking a redress of damages by adding personal liability for discrimination and protections against coercion as well as a “sunshine-in-litigation” law.

Term limits to file complaints should also be increased, the group found.

The proposals come amid a societal reckoning and reorientation surrounding sexual assault and abuse which has also impacted Albany.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman resigned in May after accusations from multiple women of physical abuse and mistreatment.

Sen. Jeff Klein, the deputy minority leader in the state Senate, has been accused of forcibly kissing a former staffer in a 2015 incident. Klein has denied any wrongdoing and called for an investigation into the allegation made by Erica Vladimer, who was included in the working group’s recommendations.

Women who have made allegations against lawmakers like the late Assemblyman Vito Lopez were also included in the working group, as is Elizabeth Carruthers, who accused Michael Boxley, a former staffer to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, of rape.

“Isn’t protecting workers from assault and harassment worth discussing more than once a quarter-century? The old laws have not sufficiently protected New Yorkers for decades and recent attempts to fix that have been haphazard at best,” said the Sexual Harassment Working Group in a statement.

“A new process that takes into account the knowledge and experience of employment lawyers, advocates, and survivors themselves is crucial for creating laws that actually protect people, instead of mazes of bureaucracy where people can be dissuaded, scared off, or forgotten. New York must remedy out-of-date, rushed, and insufficient protections for survivors of workplace harassment and abuse now.”

Ortt: Sex Offenders Could Be Voting At Schools

From the Morning Memo:

Another Republican state Senator is calling out the governor for potentially putting children at risk.

Last month, Gov. Andrew Cuomo granted the first round of conditional pardons, allowing the state’s current parolees the right to vote. His critics argued the move was political and said those pardoned included violent felons, including Herman Bell, who spent four decades in prison for murdering two New York City police officers.

State Senator Rob Ortt, a Republican from North Tonawanda, said he has found dozens of sex offenders just in Western New York alone among the 24,086 parolees Cuomo pardoned. He said it’s impossible to know the exact number because the governor has not released a list of names.

Ortt found the identities of the local offenders by searching the state’s “Megan’s Law” registry, comparing it to a public database of parolees.

The problem, Ortt said, is if that if these offenders choose to exercise their new right to vote, many could be doing at school polling places, and potentially during hours when children are still present. He said because inspectors can’t ask for identification, it’s unlikely they would know the voter in question is listed on a sex offender registry.

“The governor ignored serious concerns raised by lawmakers and unilaterally pardoned 24,000 criminals last month,” Ortt said. “We’re already seeing the dangerous ramifications of these misguided, politically-motivated blanket pardons – countless Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders will soon be voting in our schools”

“With the governor making clear that he intends to pardon tens of thousands of parolees each month, we have an immediate obligation to prevent sexual predators from entering our schools and endangering our children.”

The senator said among the “high risk” sex offenders to whom the governor has granted voting rights is someone from Niagara County who was charged with having sex with a 10-year-old and an 11-year-old. Others allegedly used weapons, like guns and clubs, to subdue and attack their victims.

Ortt said he plans to continue to compile and share the data with local school officials and law enforcement. Earlier this week, Long Island Republican Sen. Elaine Phillips expressed similar concerns in a letter to the acting commissioner of the state Department of Corrections.

In issuing the executive order last month, Cuomo said it was “unconscionable” to deny a basic right of citizenship to people who had paid their debt to society. He also pointed out the law had disproportionately affected people of color.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public events scheduled.

The state Legislature is in session, and it is the last scheduled day on the 2018 legislative calendar.

The Buffalo Billion and Dean/Adam Skelos federal corruption trials continue in Manhattan.

President Donald Trump meets this morning with members of Congress, and then has lunch with the Vice President and the secretary of state.

This afternoon, Trump travels to Duluth, MN, where he will participate in a roundtable discussion at the Port of Duluth-Superior on protecting American workers, and then host a “make America great again” rally at the AMSOIL Arena before returning to D.C.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is in the city with no public events scheduled.

At 7:30 a.m., Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout, a Democratic state AG candidate, will be petitioning with Robert Jackson, an anti-IDC candidate for the state Senate (31st District), outside the 2/3 train 96th Street Subway Station, Manhattan.

At 8:10 a.m., Transportation Alternatives, NYC Department of Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, NYC Councilman Antonio Reynoso, and members of the L Train Coalition will bicycle over the Williamsburg Bridge in a group commute know as a “Bike Train,” Brooklyn to Manhattan.

At 8:20 a.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray and Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen will appear live on NY1’s “Mornings On 1.”

The 9 a.m., the MTA board meets, 2 Broadway, 20th floor, Manhattan.

Also at 9 a.m., leaders of the Assembly Democratic Conference rally to call for an immediate end to the Trump White House policy of family separation and will release a letter to federal leaders calling for an end to the practice, Million Dollar Staircase, 3rd Floor, state Capitol, Albany.

At 10 a.m., House Democrats – including NY Reps. Joe Crowley and Adriano Espaillat – will join children and immigration advocates to demand the Trump administration immediately end its inhumane policy to separate families, House Triangle (East Front), Washington, D.C.

Also at 10 a.m., GOP LG candidate Julie Killian will hold a press conference tomorrow to demand that Cuomo return $650,000 in “corrupt political donations,” 24 Aspen Park Blvd., East Syracuse.

At 11 a.m., the state Senate is in session, Senate Chambers, state Capitol, Albany.

At 11 a.m., McCray and Glen make an announcement about monuments in New York City, Bryant Park Fountain, near 6th Avenue and W. 41st Street, Manhattan.

At 1 p.m., Killian holds a second press conference on Cuomo’s political contributions, Broome County Courthouse, 92 Court St., Binghamton.

At 2 p.m., NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson gives a short speech at P.S. Art 2018: Celebrating the Creative Spirit of New York City Kids, Duffy Square, Seventh Avenue and West 47th Street, Manhattan.

At 2:15 p.m., Westchester County Executive George Latimer signs a bill into law that would end the practice of the county executive putting his or her name and likeness on signs on county properties, Cranberry Nature Preserve, 1609 Old Orchard St., West Harrison.

At 3 p.m., the state Department of Financial Services and Division of Consumer Protection hold a public listening session on how to combat abuses in the bail bond industry, Onondaga Community College, SRC Arena and Events Center, Otis Suite, 4585 W. Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse.

Also at 3 p.m., McCray will deliver remarks at the Mayor’s Fund Board of Directors meeting, Blue Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 5 p.m., the NYC Board of Education Retirement System board meets, Tweed Courthouse, 52 Chambers St., Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., the NYC Department of Education Panel for Educational Policy meets, Tweed Courthouse, second floor conference room, 52 Chambers St., Manhattan. (NYS Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza attends).

Also at 6 p.m., Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, New York City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz and others host an annual Celebrate Jerusalem Concert, MacDonald Park, Queens Boulevard and 70th Avenue, Queens.

Headlines…

President Trump visited Capitol Hill to meet with anxious Republicans who hoped he’d help them put out the firestorm he started with his decision to separate parents and children, but instead offered little concrete guidance about what to do on immigration.

Congressional Republicans moved to defuse the escalating political crisis over immigration, but failed to agree on how to end Trump’s policy of separating immigrant children from parents who cross illegally into the U.S. The Senate had one plan, the House another. The president remained defiant, refusing to act on his own.

Just last month, Kirstjen Nielsen, the homeland security secretary, drafted a resignation letter after being berated by Trump over what he saw as her tepid support for his tough immigration policies, according to two people familiar with the episode. She never sent it, and is now defending his “zero-tolerance” immigration policy.

White House deputy chief of staff for operations Joe Hagin, who played a central role in organizing Trump’s recent summit with North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un in Singapore, is stepping down from that role and exiting the government for the private sector.

FBI agent Peter Strzok, who had a central role in the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information, was escorted from the FBI building Friday as part of the ongoing internal proceedings at the bureau on his conduct, though as of yesterday, he was still an agency employee.

The Justice Department Inspector General testified that his office’s most recent report did not include a comprehensive review of agents at the FBI’s New York field office looking for evidence that they opposed Clinton and leaked damaging information about her during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani was questioned this year in an inquiry into whether he was told about the FBI reopening of the Clinton email investigation before it was disclosed to Congress and the public, he confirmed.

Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal fixer, has lined up a new lawyer: Guy Petrillo, once held a senior role in the same federal prosecutors’ office that has been investigating Cohen for months.

The US withdrew from the UN Human Rights Council, calling it an organization “that is not worthy of its name.”

Trump’s threat to impose tariffs on almost every Chinese product that comes into the U.S. intensified the possibility of a damaging trade war, sending stock markets tumbling yesterday and drawing a rebuke from retailers, tech companies and manufacturers. The administration remained unconcerned.

More than 70 migrant kids who were separated from their parents at the border are being housed in New York at 10 facilities in the Bronx, Long Island, and in Westchester and Ulster counties, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, and that numbers expected to rise.

Trump administration officials have been sending babies and other young children forcibly separated from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border to at least three “tender age” shelters in South Texas.

A federal source told the Daily News the number of separated children in New York is already even higher than what the governor said publicly, 311.

Cuomo said that the state intends to file a lawsuit against the Trump administration, insisting the federal government is violating the Constitutional rights of thousands of immigrant children and their parents being separated at the U.S.-Mexico border.

The governor said the lawsuit will be filed within two weeks and be brought by three different state agencies and focus on three areas of law, including what he says are violations of federal constitutional rights. Cuomo, a Democrat, called the policy by Trump, a Republican, “ugly.”

Migrant parents separated from their kids after crossing the border may end up losing their kids for good, according to the former head of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Staten Island Republican congressional candidate Michael Grimm that the cries of children being taken away from their parents at the border are no worse than the sobs of kids being dropped off at daycare.

A coalition of 20 Democratic state attorneys general – including New York’s Barbara Underwood – called for an end to the Trump administration’s “inhumane” zero-tolerance policy of forcibly separating children from their parents at the nation’s southern border.

At a time when one of Cuomo’s signature Buffalo Billion programs is the subject of a corruption trial, efforts to restore oversight of economic development spending were among a slew of statewide issues dying at the state Capitol as lawmakers limped along to end their 2018 session sometime today.

In place of the usual big-ticket items that define the end of a legislative session, lawmakers yesterday pushed through dozens of locally-related and smaller items, including fixing a nearly 60-year-old typo in the name of a New York City bridge – honoring Giovanni da Verrazzano – with an extra Z to set things straight.

Lawmakers spent the second-to-last day of the Legislature’s annual session focused largely on low-profile items and unable – or unwilling – to reach agreements on big ticket items such as sports gambling, gun control, the Child Victim’s Act and an expansion of New York City’s speed camera program.

More >

Extras

President Donald Trump equated migrants and refugees to the United States with vermin who will “pour into and infest our country,” as he continued to defend his zero-tolerance immigration policy.

The Trump administration is expected to pull out of the United Nations Human Rights Council amid international backlash over its policy to split up immigrant families at the country’s southern border.

A staff worker at a migrant detention facility in Arizona quit his job after being told to not allow several siblings to hug, he told BuzzFeed News.

At a steel plant in Auburn, Vice President Mike Pence insisted the White House does not want to separate immigrant children from their families, something federal authorities have authorized at the southern border.

Several hundred protesters greeted Pence and the rest of his entourage as they arrived at the Embassy Suites hotel near Destiny USA today.

Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz announced a plan to introduce comprehensive “emergency legislation” designed to end unnecessary separations of illegal immigrant children from their parents.

Among the critics of the Trump administration policy that is separating children from their parents are 600 members of the United Methodist Church — the same congregation where Attorney General Jeff Sessions worships.

A mother from Guatemala who crossed the border and was separated from her 7-year-old son is suing the Trump administration in an effort to get her child back.

Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, a Democrat, joined a growing list of governors – including Cuomo – who say they won’t deploy their respective states’ National Guard units to the U.S.-Mexico border if asked, citing Trump’s family separation policy.

The world’s two biggest economies threatened punishing tariffs in the opening shots of a trade war, with Beijing vowing to retaliate “forcefully” against Trump’s pledge to slap duties on another $200 billion in Chinese imports.

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani says FBI agents interviewed him in his room at the Trump International Hotel earlier this year regarding his 2016 remarks predicting a “surprise” in the closing days of the presidential race that would benefit then-Republican nominee Trump.

Giuliani insisted he didn’t receive leaked information from an active FBI agent that the agency would be reopening its email probe into Hillary Clinton.

Todd Howe may not testify, but jurors in the Buffalo Billion trial are learning a lot about the former Washington, D.C., lobbyist and his ties to Cuomo.

Despite the lack of major agreements, the Legislature’s leaders expressed confidence that they would indeed be done with the year’s work by tomorrow as scheduled, though some rank-and-file members are hedging their bets and are prepared to stay in town through the weekend.

A fourth former employee of the Central New York SPCA pleaded guilty after being tied to an embezzlement scandal that robbed more than $1 million from the non-profit’s coffers in the past decade.

State Senate Republicans vowed to investigate how the state is spending taxpayer dollars to address the opioid crisis, amid criticism that the state is largely shifting funds to pay for treatment services.

The late Rep. Louise Slaughter’s daughter, Emily, publicly announced her support for Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle’s bid for her mother’s House seat.

With the Cuomo administration warming up to the proposed legalization of marijuana in New York, State Police have suspended marijuana-detection training for K-9 unit dogs.

John Cusack fans in Western New York will get a chance to “Say Anything,” to the actor this fall during a live conversation in Buffalo and Rochester following the film screening.

A Harvard-educated fact-checker for the New Yorker is being excoriated by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency for “baselessly slandering” a Marine veteran — by falsely accusing him of having a Nazi tattoo.

New figures show that a minimum wage earner in New York City would have to work 132 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom home, leaving just 36 hours a week to actually sleep in the home they’re working so hard to rent.

Frontier Airline will begin flying out of Albany International Airport, with the first flights going direct to Denver and Orlando, Fla.

Schodack Town Supervisor David Harris said he was glad to finally learn last night that online retail giant Amazon is behind plans to build a one million-square-foot fulfillment center in town after months of speculation.

The New York Times wants you to get out, and re-discover the Queen City. The publication recently ranked Buffalo as one of the Top 52 Places to Go in 2018.

With Buffalo Billion Trial Underway, Transparency Bills Sputter

A bid rigging trial began this week in New York City, a trial that includes prominent upstate developers and former SUNY Polytechnic President Alain Kaloyeros, taking on pay-to-play charges from a major economic development program for upstate New York.

Kaloyeros

Two hundred miles north, the legislative session in Albany is ending without final passage of any transparency or anti-corruption measures.

“One would think that as a result of the trial now having started in Manhattan that there would be greater interest,” said Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, a Democrat from western New York who is backing the measures in his chamber. “I think there is many quarters, but there are also those who do not wish to poke the bear.”

The bills would create new transparency and oversight requirements for economic development and contract spending in New York. In an interview, Schimminger said it’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo who doesn’t want to see the measures approved.

“There is a reluctance to displease the governor,” Schimminger said. “The governor does not want these bills moved. It’s as simple as that.”

Cuomo has called for oversight changes, but the measures never gained any traction in Assembly. On Tuesday, the governor virtually threw in the towel on the remainder of the session.

“The issues that are left on the table, which have been left on the table since April when we couldn’t resolved them, are fundamental philosophical differences,” Cuomo said Tuesday in a conference call with reporters.

Meanwhile, former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner launched her independent bid for governor. A Democrat and former state committee co-chair, Miner says she is basing her campaign in large part around the corruption issues that have plagued state government in recent years.

“My path to winning is to say to voters who are dissatisfied with the status quo and people who think that corruption, the culture of corruption, is a formidable problem in Albany,” Miner said.

Ethics legislation hasn’t always died on the legislative vine in Albany. Lawmakers have approved a reform package virtually every year Cuomo has been governor.

Legislature Approves Prosecutor Oversight Panel, Heads To Cuomo’s Desk

A bill that would create a commission overseeing the conduct of local prosecutors won final passage in the Legislature on Tuesday over the objections of the state district attorneys’ association.

The bill would create a panel similar to the Judicial Conduct Commission, reviewing the actions of local district attorneys. The measure received a surprising swell of bipartisan backing in both chambers — an unusual development for a Legislature often split on criminal justice issues.

The commission would not have the superseding power of removing prosecutors from office; a power that is constitutionally vested in the governor’s office.

The bill is backed by Sen. John DeFrancisco, a Republican from Syracuse who is set to retire at the end of the year.

In an interview, he said local prosecutors should not feel threatened by the bill, but see the commission as an effort to “weed out” bad actors.

“I don’t know how many cases people have to see where an individual spends years in jail and they later find out by DNA evidence that person was wrongfully convicted because of illegally withheld evidence,” he said. “There has to be some accountability.”

Democratic Assemblyman Nick Perry, too, dismissed concerns that had been raised by the District Attorneys Association of New York, saying judges had raised similar issues when a conduct commission examining jurists’ behavior was approved.

“When we try to provide opportunities for the public to seek accountability in regards to people with a lot of power, that’s usually the response,” he said.

The measure now will go to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk for his consideration.