The Justice Department’s Office of Special Counsel has formally charged 13 Russian nationals and three Russian entities with interfering in the U.S. elections.

It was a relatively flat day for stocks after the news of the indictments.

President Trump had repeatedly insisted the assertion that Russian sought to interfere in the election was a hoax.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says that the politically-charged, revolving conversation about guns in America must be taken on, and also says New York state and its SAFE ACT can prove an effective example.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said it was contacted about suspected Parkland school shooter Nikolas Cruz in January but that its “established protocols” weren’t followed.

Mental illness has been a big focus in the wake of the shooting. Many health officials estimate it’s something that affects one in four families.

Members of a local company that provides active shooter training are headed to Florida to meet with the families of victims impacted by the recent school shooting.

The trial of Joe Percoco has yielded the release of the longtime aide’s vetting documents for the executive chamber.

For decades the Brooklyn Navy Yard sat dormant. Once a mecca for wartime ship building, it’s on a voyage to become a billion dollar technology hub.

A New York State Supreme Court judge has dismissed two breach of contract claims against developer LPCiminelli.

Ogden Police are on location at Spencerport High School Thursday morning following posts on social media.

Facing Primary Challenge, Hochul Says She’s Focused On Government

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul responded Friday to the primary challenge launched by New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams, saying she’s focused on getting a budget done with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“It’s very early,” she said during a stop in Amsterdam. “We don’t really know whose qualified to run until July 15. But until then the governor and I are focused on getting a budget done on time.”

Hochul, who joined the Democratic statewide ticket in 2014, pointed to efforts in the $168 billion proposal that include measures to bolster women’s rights and create a system of early voting.

“We have a lot on our plate governmentally and that is to continue to be my focus as I continue to travel the state and have met probably millions of people at this point,” she said.

But at the same time, Hochul pointed to 600-plus visits to New York City and her efforts on behalf of the elderly and the disadvantaged.

“They know me as a fighter, someone who stood up on issues,” she said. “I stand up for people. I’m not a stranger to a good fight to the people that I represent.”

Gounardes Pushes Golden For Gun Control Bill

Democratic state Senate candidate Andrew Gounardes on Friday pushed Republican incumbent Martin Golden to take up a package of gun control measures in the wake of a Florida school shooting earlier this week.

The measures would extend background check times from three days to 10, create a gun violence research institute and block anyone from purchasing a gun who has been convicted of a hate crime.

Another bill would create “red flag” cases that would lead to a person temporarily suspending their weapons based on behavioral issues and a ban on the possession or sale of bump stocks.

“The mass shooting in Parkland, Florida – the 18th at a school this year alone – lays bare the all-too-tragic reality that all face: we are not doing enough to keep violent weapons out of the hands of those who are a threat and danger to public safety,” said Gounardes, referring to a statistic on school shootings by the Everytown gun control group that has been disputed as inaccurate.

“I fully support the efforts of spearheaded by courageous members of the State Senate to pass common sense gun laws in New York and today I’m asking all of my supporters to call Senator Golden’s office and ask him to do the same.”

Golden, meanwhile, has called for the introduction of scanner technology in schools to prevent to detect guns being brought in to the facilities.

On Friday, Golden in a statement once again pushed for the technology to be deployed across New York City.

“Each student being educated in our schools deserves to be learning in an environment free from fear,” he said. “‘Smart’ scanners and law enforcement in every school will go a long way in giving parents and students peace of mind.”

Passage of new gun control legislation in the Republican-led Senate is unlikely given the fallout surrounding the passage of the SAFE Act in 2013.

Seeking Re-Election, Gillibrand Says She’ll Serve Full Term

New York Democrats nominated Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for another six year term in the U.S. Senate as talk swirls around her national ambitions.

Speaking with reporters after the event, Gillibrand insisted she plans to serve out her full term in the chamber.

“I’m really focused on ’18 and serving in the Senate and I think all of us should because most of the things that we need protect we protect if we flip the House and flip the Senate,” she said, “and I would like to be part of that by being able to serve in the Senate.”

Gillibrand first entered the Senate in 2009, serving out the unexpired term of Hillary Clinton. She was immediately challenged by the left and the right. Potential Democratic primary challengers, like former Rep. Harold Ford, ultimately sat out of the race.

Republicans in 2010 felt they had a chance of unseating her, but ultimately nominated former Rep. Joe DioGuardi in a race Gillibrand won handily as she ran statewide for the first time. In 2012, seeking a full term, Gillibrand defeated conservative attorney Wendy Long in a lopsided victory.

This year, she’s expected to face Republican Chelle Farley.

But over the years, critics have contended Gillibrand has liberalized her views on immigration and gun control. Again on Friday Gillibrand called for new gun laws after the deadly school shooting in Florida this week, criticizing Congress for not acting “while Americans are being slaughtered.”

“There is no excuse for doing nothing,” she said.

Gillibrand had served in the House of Representatives from an upstate district that leaned conservative, unseating incumbent Republican John Sweeney in 2006. She was appointed to the Senate by then-Gov. David Paterson, who bypassed better-known Democrats to fill Clinton’s seat in Washington.

Gillibrand said Friday her views held in the House were “wrong.”

“I was wrong,” she said. “I don’t think I spent enough time talking to families who were suffering issues of gun violence and I didn’t spend enough time talking to families suffering from horrible immigration laws.”

But Gillibrand has also been a voice on sexual harassment, even before the reckoning of the #MeToo movement across the country, highlighting sexual assault on college campuses and in the military.

She’s criticized fellow Democrats like Al Franken and Bill Clinton, drawing fire from some members of the party in the process. On Friday, she said the push to reform harassment rules in Washington is moving too slow.

“I have three bipartisan bills that could pass today if we voted on them,” she said. “

State On Increased Alert Following ‘Copycat’ School Threats

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-NY, is addressing the issue of “copycats” following the high school shooting in Florida which resulted in the deaths of 17 people this week. This morning Cuomo said there were several situations in schools including two incidents the Southern Tier in which students threatened to bring in a gun.

One involved an issue between a student from Chautauqua Lake High School and a student from Ashville BOCES. Both were taken into custody.

In the second incident, a student at Randolph Academy who threatened to use a firearm on a teacher. He was taken into custody as well.

In both situations he said the schools acted appropriately, reaching out to authorities and entering lockdown protocols.

“God forbid we have another situation actually occur in this state so we’ll see how it goes. This may be just an immediate reaction to yesterday but we’re going to watch it for the next few days,” Cuomo said. “Hopefully it simmers down.”

The governor said the state is on higher alert right now. There is increased State Police presence around schools and they’re warning administrators to be vigilant too.

Although Cuomo was hesitant to use the term “copycat,” he issued a warning to students who may be thinking about acting out. In both Southern Tier incidents the students were of high school age.

“I also want students to know this is not a joke,” he said. “Any threat, we take very seriously. Whether or not you follow up on the threat, we take it very seriously and there are serious consequences to these kinds of threats, especially in this environment.”

The governor said he was shocked this morning by the situations. He believes things can go back to normal after a few days but he won’t say anything definitively.

“One must ask what is normal in this new world,” Cuomo said. “All of these things we never saw before and we now see them with a frequency that is alarming so I’ve learned the hard way, err on the side of caution whether it’s a storm or a flood or a threat of violence and that’s what we’re doing here.”

Williams Launches LG Primary Campaign

Brooklyn City Councilman Jumaane Williams on Friday formally announced his bid for lieutenant governor, taking on incumbent Kathy Hochul in a Democratic primary.

“We need someone who operates from a progressive core,” Williams posted to Twitter. “I believe mothers shouldn’t have to worry about losing their kids to gun violence, to, from, or in school. I believe government has a moral responsibility to protect from discrimination.”

The race would put on display a stark upstate-downstate dynamic. Hochul, a former member of Congress from western New York, held moderate-to-conservative positions while in the House of Representative. As lieutenant governor, she has been a reliable supporter for Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo earlier this month affirmed his support for Hochul running with him again.

“Kathy Hochul is my lieutenant governor,” he said after an event on Long Island last week. “She has been a great lieutenant governor. I would very much like her to be on the ticket. I think she’s enjoying what she’s going. So, she’s my choice for lieutenant governor.”

Williams had been considered a potential running mate of former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, a supporter-turned-critic of the governor. Miner, who announced she would not run for a central New York House seat this November, has not ruled out running statewide this year.

Hochul is only one of two women who serve as statewide elected officials, the other being Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. She joined Cuomo’s ticket in 2014, replacing incumbent Bob Duffy and provided regional balance to the Democratic ticket. She faced Columbia Professor Tim Wu that year in a primary and won.

Collins Campaign Goes On The Attack

The reelection campaign for Congressman Chris Collins released a statement Friday laden with jabs at the front-runner to challenge him in 2018. Current Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray was endorsed by Turn 27 Blue a coalition of the eight county Democratic committees and activist groups in the district.

“Congratulations to NY-26 resident Nathan McMurray on beating out several actual NY-27 residents to win the support of the Democrat party bosses,” spokesman Bryan Piligra said. “This selection shows the Democrats learned nothing from the 2016 election and are again kicking progressives to the curb by rigging the primary to benefit an out-of-district Hillary Clinton wannabe with an email problem.”

Grand Island does sit just outside the district. McMurray said he’ll move well within the district’s borders if elected.

The rest of the Collins statement attempts to connect McMurray to the Democratic establishment at the local, state and national levels.

“While Nate McMurray was busy at his Grand Island Town Hall Campaign Headquarters currying favor with the Democrat establishment and figuring out how to sell the Cuomo/Pelosi agenda to NY-27 voters, Chris Collins was spending his time delivering historic tax cuts for working families in his district, expanding access to broadband in rural communities, defending our Lake Ontario Shoreline and protecting our Second Amendment rights,” Piligra said.

The spokesman does work in one more dig while tagging out the email.

“Sent from my iPhone – not a government computer,” he wrote.

Piligra confirmed that is not how he typically ends his emails. Last month, the Buffalo News reported McMurray sent campaign-related emails during business hours from his town email account.

There are four other Democrats who have formally announced their intentions to run for the seat. They will have to decide whether they plan to challenge McMurray in a primary.

30-Day Amendment Outlines Congestion Plan For NYC

The additions to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s budget popped online Thursday evening, with the clearest outline yet of a proposal to create a congestion pricing system in Manhattan.

The budget amendment would hand the issue to the state Department of Transportation and Department of Motor Vehicles “to jointly perform a comprehensive study and make recommendations regarding the impact on congestion in the Borough of Manhattan from the operation of commuter, intercity, charter and sightseeing buses.”

The move is meant to bolster funding for the troubled subway system in New York City, but could face stiff resistance in the Legislature, especially from lawmakers outside of Manhattan and the surrounding suburbs.

Congestion pricing has been proposed — and blocked — several times over the decades in Albany. Most recently, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg was stymied in his effort to create a plan, which was ultimately blocked in the state Assembly.

Senate Republicans have expressed reservations with the proposals, while Assembly Democrats say the matter is under discussion, but are yet to embrace it or completely reject the idea.

Voters in New York City are opposed to the measure and Mayor Bill de Blasio has backed a tax hike on the wealthy to make long-term fixes to transit. The mayor, however, has not completely ruled out backing a congestion pricing plan.

Under the proposal outlined in the 30-day amendments, New York City would install and operate cameras below 60th Street in Manhattan in order to better enforce “block the box” traffic laws. Meanwhile, the Fix NYC recommendations would be adopted to install uniform standards and equipment in for-hire vehicles in order to collect a surcharge on rides.

Affordable Housing Groups Concerned Over Tax Credit Deferral

From the Morning Memo:

The deferral of a tax credit meant to spur affordable housing development as proposed in the state budget plan is raising alarm among housing groups.

In a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the top legislative leaders in the Senate and Assembly, a coalition of organizations, including the New York Housing Conference and New York State Association for Affordable Housing are urging a reconsideration of the provision.

“The proposed tax credit deferral will lead to less private investment in affordable housing and the development of fewer affordable housing units,” the letter states. “Accordingly, we respectfully urge you to reject the tax credit deferral proposal during budget negotiations and in the 2018-19 enacted state budget.”

The letters that deferring the credits would have an immediate impact on current projects in development as well those being planned. One developer estimates that it could decrease private funds by 10 percent or more. And it would lead to $500,000 in the loss of private funding for these projects.

This in turn would set off a scramble to find additional funding.

“Notably, the value of tax credits nationally were already declining due to the recent tax liability changes pursuant to the Federal tax law,” the letter states. “The proposed tax credit deferral would exacerbate that devaluation even further, since investors would not be able to use New York’s tax credits for three years, thereby making them a less attractive investment. Investors will reasonably invest in tax credits from other states that can be used or refunded in the ensuing tax year.”

Turn 27 Blue Endorses McMurray

From the Morning Memo:

Turn 27 Blue, the coalition of grassroots activists and Democratic Party leaders in New York’s 27th Congressional District, endorsed Nate McMurray as its candidate to challenge incumbent Republican Rep. Chris Collins. Five Democrats are vying for the seat.

McMurray is the Grand Island town supervisor. He is the only potential candidate against Collins who has held elected office.

McMurray also lives near, but outside the congressional district, (residency is not a requirement for congressional candidates). The coalition said his passion and experience separated him from the others.

“I’m honored to receive the endorsement of this group of county Democratic Chairs and grassroots leaders. I’m confident we are going to turn the 27th District blue, and I’m eager to take this fight to Chris Collins,” McMurray said.

Collins, one of President Donald Trump’s most loyal supporters and a frequent surrogate on his behalf, has been a prime target for Democrats this mid-term election, despite the fact that his district his overwhelmingly Republican. Turn 27 Blue came together roughly a year ago.

Over the past several months, the coalition has hosted several forums in different parts of the district. Erie County Democratic Committe Chairman Jeremy Zellner said his biggest takeaway for this development is that voters are ready for change.

“From the pending ethics investigation against him to his decision to ignore his district in favor of his wealthy donors, people were fed up with Chris Collins and his cronies,” Zellner said. “Chris Collins’s arrogant disregard for his constituents and his support for extreme policies that directly hurt New Yorkers has remade NY-27 into a competitive district.”

It is unclear following the endorsement if the field will clear for McMurray, or if other candidates will seek a primary.