Schneiderman To Introduce Ethics Reform Package

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will introduce a package of ethics measures that range from lower caps on campaign contributions, lobbying restrictions and creates a full-time Legislature blocked from earning outside income.

Schneiderman laid out the legislative package in an op/ed to be published in The Times Union tomorrow and posted online late this afternoon.

The package, dubbed the End New York Corruption Now Act, comes after the legislative session in Albany has been rocked by the unprecedented arrests of both legislative leaders in the Democratic-led Assembly and Republican-controlled Senate.

Both Democrat Sheldon Silver and Republican Dean Skelos stepped down from their leadership posts following their arrests in separate corruption cases.

The omnibus package comes with only 12 legislative session days to go and with little stated desire from state lawmakers to take up a legislative response to the arrests.

“Remarkably, after the governor and the new leaders of the Legislature met May 13, it became clear that ethics and campaign finance reform are not even on the agenda as the legislative session draws to a close,” he wrote. “This glaring omission — if not corrected — would do a disservice to the lion’s share of elected officials who are honorable public servants, tainted by the misconduct of the few.”

In his op/ed, Schneiderman wrote “there is still time” to act on the measures.

“There are only two paths to meaningful change: fundamental reform of the system, or more investigations, arrests and prosecutions that further erode public confidence,” he wrote.

Schneiderman in March urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers to enact sweeping ethics reform in the state budget, a call that was made in the wake of Silver’s arrest on extortion and fraud charges, but before Skelos was charged with using his official position to aid his son’s business interests.

The move puts the ball in the court of Cuomo, who has in recent weeks focused on top priority issues such as curtailing rape and sexual assault on college campuses as well as the creation of a tax credit meant to spur donations to schools and scholarship programs.

The Legislature and Cuomo agreed on a budget that included new disclosure requirements for lawmakers with legal clients, which is due to take effect in 2017.

Schneiderman, however, indicated those changes don’t go far enough, writing “the parade of arrests will not stop until our leaders take bold steps toward comprehensive reforms.”

The legislative session is scheduled to end June 17.

Extras

Already, new state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia faces tumultuous times, as foreshadowed by her appointment, which came after a hastily-called Board of Regents meeting Tuesday where she was introduced for the first time to half of its members.

A federal appeals court dealt President Obama a defeat today as it declined to lift a judge’s order blocking his sweeping executive action on immigration.

AG Eric Schneiderman has hired Jonathan Werberg, former research director 1199 SEIU, as his office’s first data scientist – the first attorney general in the country to fill such a position.

A trio of art activists has filed a federal lawsuit against New York City claiming their First-Amendment rights were violated during a protest last year outside the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Lancaster School District postponed tomorrow’s student vote on a recommendation for a new mascot until June 2, school officials said.

The Independence Day fireworks show will return to Jones Beach this year after a five-year absence.

The Assembly is close to an agreement with Cuomo over his proposal to raise the age of criminal responsibility, but its prospects in the Senate remain uncertain.

Charter Communications CEO Tom Rutledge said he was “confident” on getting regulatory approval for the company’s two big planned deals for Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks.

Hillary Clinton’s online campaign merch includes a pantsuit t-shirt, a “woman’s place is in the White House” cross-stich pillow and a “shattered glass” pint glass.

Only women are invited to attend the fundraiser ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s ex-wife, Silda Wall, is co-hosting for Clinton next month.

The Fix’s Philip Bump explains why the latest effort to draft former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg into the 2016 field is doomed.

Three Republican US senators – Iowa’s Joni Ernst, Florida’s Marco Rubio, and Mark Kirk, of Illinois – have introduced legislation that would limit a former president’s annual pension and allowance each to $200,000.

Three New Yorkers – Rep. Elise Stefanik, charter school official Eva Moskowitz and NYC Council President Melissa Mark-Viverito – made The Fix’s list of the 40 most Interesting Women in Politics.

Rep. Daniel Donovan, recently elected to represent Staten Island and part of Brooklyn, is looking to staff up. The Republican is asking the “best and brightest” in NY-11 to apply to be staffers in his district offices.

A reactor that was shut down during a transformer fire two weeks ago at the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County has returned to service.

Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny, the first Russian born-American to be elected to state office, is rumored to be stepping down for a position in the private sector. But that appears contingent on whether the Assembly’s Ethics Committee will allow him to take a second part-time job.

Members of the Buffalo teachers union picketed outside School Board member Carl Paladino’s house.

Rep. Peter King has been flirting with a run for president for nearly two years now, and he says he’ll decide in a month or so whether he’ll actually take the plunge in 2016.

Next Monday, the ballots for the PEF leadership vote will be sent out by the American Arbitration Association, the firm that administers the union’s elections.

Amtrak says it will install inward-facing cameras in the engines of all Northeast Regional trains running between Washington D.C. and Boston.

More and more over the last few months, Cuomo has used the word inarguable to argue for his side on debatable issues.

New York’s economic development office has followed through on its threat to revoke tax breaks for the Medley Centre, a dead mall owned by developer Scott Congel near Rochester.

The Wahlbergs are coming to New York and they’re looking for 75 employees to join them.

Bernie Sanders says he won’t condemn Hillary and Bill Clinton for earning millions of dollars from giving speeches, but believes “that type of wealth” can isolate people from the reality of the world.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney’s reaction to the Syracuse Zoo’s new baby elephant: “Awwww.”

Board Of Regents Elect New Education Commissioner

The Board of Regents on Tuesday unanimously elected a former Florida schools superintendent the new commissioner for the state Department of Education.

MaryEllen Elia will take office as the next commissioner of education starting July 6. She will be paid $250,000.

Elia’s selection comes at a crucial time for education policy in New York: State lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved a new teacher evaluation measure in the 2015-16 state budget last month, a move that was deeply opposed by the state’s teachers unions for its weakening of tenure.

Though she spent 10 years at the Hillsborough School District in Florida as superintendent, Elia is a native western New Yorker.

She is supportive of the Common Core education standards, but at a news conference following her election as commissioner, Elia spoke in conciliatory terms when discussing teachers, whose statewide umbrella union has been especially restive over the changes.

“I’m very supportive of raising standards for students,” she said, adding, “I think it’s important for us to move forward in this nation, particularly in New York, on implementation. I think there needs to be feedback that we receive from people on the ground implementing the changes and we need to provide a lot of support for our teachers and our students.”

A former social studies teacher who taught in Amherst, Erie County, Elia said she is a former member of the teachers union in both New York and in Florida. Elia said she still considers herself a teacher.

New York education officials also continue to grapple with efforts to have students opt out of Common Core-based examinations, with districts recording high numbers during the April round of testing.

Elia said Hillsborough was a different case when it came to students opting out of the tests.

“We had very, very few opt outs, if any, in our district,” she said. “I think communication continues to be key why we have standards.”

Nevertheless, the teachers unions are far more powerful in New York than they are in Florida. Labor groups are pushing state lawmakers to adopt changes to the state’s teacher evaluation law that include slowing the implementation of the criteria.

Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch said at today’s news conference she expects to meet the June 30 deadline for developing new regulations for the evaluations.

“If I were a betting person, I would bet that part of the regulatory language that we will put forward by June 30 will include a process by which we will have an ongoing conversation across this state about how to improve evaluation,” Tisch said. “We have always said public policy is not a static process.”

More challenging still, Elia faces a governor in Cuomo who has sought broader control over the state’s education policy. A proponent of charter schools, Cuomo is in a protracted battle with teachers unions over the direction of public education — as well as spending — in the state.

At the moment, the New York State United Teachers Union and other top officials in teacher labor groups spoke highly of Elia.

“As everyone knows, our union is opposed to high-stakes testing and value-added model, but even when MaryEllen applied it as required under Florida law, she made collaboration her mantra,” said AFT President Randi Weingarten. “And as a result, even when the going got tough in Florida, she was able to work with multiple stakeholders to do what was best for Hillsborough students.”

The education reform group StudentsFirstNY offered similar praise for Elia, calling her a “strong choice.”

“She is a nationally recognized leader in education, who has a record of accomplishment in helping boost the achievement for low-income children. As a former educator herself, she knows firsthand what it takes for schools to succeed. We believe MaryEllen Elia will lead the way to give all of New York’s students the schools they deserve,” said the group’s executive director Jenny Sedlis.

Elia left her superintendent post in January after she was fired by the district’s school board in a close vote, which ultimately proved to be a controversial decision. Her contract cancellation cost the district $1.1 million.

Elia blamed the episode in part on the changing school board in Hillsborough County.

“I’m moving forward now and I’m not really concentrating on the past,” she said. “I’m excited to be in New York. I’m coming home.”

Former Emergency Management Director Fine $4K

Steven Kuhr, the former director of the state Office of Emergency Management was fined $4,000 by ethics regulators after he diverted workers responding to Hurricane Sandy remove a tree that had fallen across his driveway.

The fine was formally announced on Tuesday by the Joint Commission on Public Ethics.

Kuhr was fired from his post by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in November 2012 after it was learned he had ordered recovery workers to remove the tree from his Suffolk County home.

The workers were initially sent into the field to clear trees from public roads that were blocking or delaying emergency response response efforts throughout Long Island, which had been especially hard hit during the storm.

“The days immediately following Superstorm Sandy saw an unprecedented crisis recovery effort and extraordinary dedication from countless public servants, and for one manager to divert precious resources for his own benefit is simply unacceptable,” said Joint Commission Executive Director Letizia Tagliafierro, “Public officials who put their own interests above the public they were meant to serve will be held accountable.”

The settlement reached with JCOPE includes Kuhr acknowledging that he violated the state’s ethics laws for misusing his official position by having the tree removed.

Kuhr Settlement – Executed by Nick Reisman

SED Poised To Name New Education Commissioner

The state Department of Education is poised to nominate a new education commissioner as the Board of Regents meets in executive session this afternoon.

Meanwhile, Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch is expected to hold a news conference at 2:30 in Albany.

The Buffalo News reported this morning that the Regents will nominate western New York native MaryEllen Elia, a Florida school official.

Elia would be the first woman to serve as the state’s top education official.

SED spokesman Tom Dunn confirmed the Board of Regents is meeting in an executive session to discuss a “personnel” issue.

“They are discussing a candidate,” he said.

The commissioner post at the Department of Education has been vacant since last year, when John King left to join the Obama administration at the end of last year.

Elia stirred controversy as the Hillsborough County superintendent, where the school board voted in January voted to terminate her contract over concerns, in part, that schools were not doing enough to help special needs children.

The new education commissioner will take office as New York faces its pending education questions. Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the budget pushed through changes to the state’s education policy that weaken teacher tenure as well as create a new teacher evaluation system.

The Board of Regents is being tasked with developing criteria for how much weight to give in-classroom observation and at least one standardized test in performance reviews.

DiNapoli: In-Depth Inspections On Canal System Needed

The state Canal Corp. has not conducted in-depth inspections needed for structures along the 524-mile system of waterways throughout the state, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office found in an audit released on Tuesday.

Routine operational checks do occur along the Canal Corp’s structures, but the audit found 38 percent of the system’s critical structures, or 792 in total, have not been inspected within the last five years. Of those, 163 structures have never had an in-depth, above-water inspections as required.

The audit also determine 430 high and intermediate importance structures have not had an inspection within the last two years.

For the 1,068 structures in need of below-water inspections, 832 have not received one in the last five years, the audit found.

“There are significant canal structures that have not been inspected in many years – and some not at all, possibly elevating risks to the canal system, canal users and those who live by it,” DiNapoli said. “Because the canal system depends on aging hydraulic structures and includes many other structures that are exposed to the elements, regular inspections are essential to ensure safety. Canal officials should immediately seek all available funding for infrastructure repair, make sure all inspections are getting done and the system’s greatest repair needs are being met. It is encouraging that in response to the audit, canal officials largely concur with our recommendations.”

The Canal Corp. is a subsidiary of the state Thruway Authority that was created in order to operate and maintain the canal system. The canal system itself, once a major way of trafficking goods through the state’s ports, has since become more of an attraction for recreational boaters.

State law requires in-depth inspections of structures along the system over a two-year cycle.

The audit recommended a series of fixes for the Canal Corp’s inspection routine, including entering into a formal agreement with the Department of Transportation to handle inspections for all state-owned canal bridges.

At the same time, the Thruway Authority is being instructed to develop a long-term financial plan that’s aimed at improving the overall infrastructure along the canal system.

Updated: Canal spokesman Shane Mahar responded to the audit in a statement.

“The continued safe operation of New York’s Canal system after nearly two centuries is the best indication of the Canal Corporation’s successful inspection and maintenance programs, and we will be working closely with the Thruway Authority to further enhance the way we manage and conduct inspections and to ensure that all available resources are used to maintain our canals,” he said.

14s45 by Nick Reisman

Assembly Introduces Alternate Pension Forfeiture Amendment

From the Morning  Memo:

Democratic lawmakers in the state Assembly this weekend introduced a revised and more tightly proscribed version of a constitutional amendment that would strip pension and retiree benefits from public officials who are convicted of a crime.

The changes came after labor unions raised issues with the initial version of the amendment, which they said was far too broad in its scope and could impact lower level civil servants.

The new proposal is far longer and offers precise definitions for a public official as including state and local elected officials, judges, political appointees of the governor as well board members who sit on entities such as public benefit corporations or authorities.

Those officials would have to be convicted of a felony in order to lose their pension benefits.

Senate Republicans in March approved a shorter, more direct version of the amendment as part of a broader agreement on the $142 billion state budget.

But Assembly Democrats balked at the changes in early hours of April 1, the start of the state’s fiscal year, saying an amendment would be taken up afar they returned from the Albany break.

It was later revealed several public employee unions had come forward to raise questions about how the amendment could impact their leadership. Other lawmakers have raised issued with the original amendment’s wording as well, saying it could impact officials convicted of crimes other than corruption.

Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heasite has insisted his chamber will pass a pension forfeiture amendment before the end of the session, which is scheduled to conclude next month.

“We’ve made an agreement that we will pass a constitutional amendment resolution on pension forfeiture and we still believe we’re going to do that,” Heastie said this month. “We’re speaking with the governor. There’s a little bit of a delay and we’re starting to engage with the Senate. But we’ve made very clear we will not leave here in June without passing something with pension forfeiture.”

Real Estate Industry Joins 421a Air War

From today’s Morning Memo:

With the clock ticking in Albany and the rent laws set to expire next month, a new coalition led by downstate real estate interests is launching a multimillion dollar campaign in favor of a “revised” version of the controversial 421a tax abatement program it insists will result in more affordable housing in New York City.

The Affordable Hosing and Local Jobs Now Coalition’s campaign features a TV ad, which will start airing on broadcast and cable stations in NYC and Albany today, as well as radio and paid digital ads.

The ad, which was made by Global Strategy Group and can be viewed below, slams “special interests” pushing for a “deceptive wage proposal” to be included in 421a that would “stop builders from hiring local workers, severely restricting new affordable housing construction and denying thousands of families a place to call home.”

That’s a reference to the coalition group UP4NYC, formed by labor unions and contractors, which earlier this month launched its own multimillion dollar campaign calling for 421a to be modified to guarantee higher wages for construction workers.

The AFL-CIO recently signed on in support of the prevailing wage push, which is not part of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 421a/affordable housing plan – a fact that puts him at odds with some of his transitional allies in the organized labor movement.

In fact, the Real Estate Board of New York – or REBNY, which is the driving force behind the Affordable Housing and Local Jobs Now Coalition – supports de Blasio’s affordable housing plan, and is calling on Albany lawmakers to approve it before the session’s scheduled end next month.

Members of the new coalition also include the NYS Association for Affordable Housing, the Community Preservation Corporation and the NAACP.

The coalition maintains that the prevailing wage proposal being pushed by UP4NYC would force a 30 percent increase in construction costs, making housing projects in the city too expensive, and resulting in either a reduction of new affordable units by half or a monthly rent increase on units of $400.

“With sky-high land and construction costs, along with the disproportionate tax burden on rental properties, building multi-family rental housing in New York City has become very challenging,” said incoming REBNY President John Banks.

“A revised 421-a program will help address that challenge, leading to the creation of more multi-family affordable rental housing throughout New York City. A prevailing wage requirement for construction will send the City in the opposite direction – leading to less affordable housing and less local employment.”

UP4NYC spokesman Tom Meara responded:

“UP4NYC is committed to improving the lives of working class families. We will not retreat because wealthy special interests are going to advocate to protect their profit model. 421a must be fixed.”

“Public subsidies require public responsibilities. Increase the wage and increase the true number of affordable units anything less is Albany being run by wealthy special interests.”

The ad makes no mention of de Blasio or his plan to reform 421a.

That’s probably smart, given the fact that the mayor is no friend to the Senate GOP, which is closely allied with the real estate industry, thanks to the more than $1.3 million a REBNY-backed PAC spent to help the conference win back the majority last year.

Before leaving Albany for the Memorial Day weekend, the Assembly Democrats passed legislation to extend and strengthen the rent laws. But so far, neither house has taken up the 421a issue.

The program is a bit of a political hot potato these days, thanks to the role it played in the federal corruption scandals that cost both former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos their respective leadership posts.

The Daily News’ Ken Lovett reported yesterday that some Senate Republicans are leery of the usual horse-trading required to create the end-of-session “Big Ugly” – the yard ball of unrelated deals that traditionally closes out the season in Albany.

According to Lovett, the lawmakers don’t want to do anything that further sparks the interest of corruption-busting US Attorney Preet Bharara – and that includes cutting deals on anything to do with rent control and 421a.

Siena Poll: Voters Say Jobs And Education Trump Ethics

Virtually all voters agree that corruption remains a serious problem in state government, but ethics reform ranks behind issues like the economy and education on voters’ to-do list for the Legislature, a Siena College poll released on Tuesday found.

Forty-one percent of voters approve of the job Gov. Andrew Cuomo is doing as the state’s governor — the lowest since he has taken office. His favorability rating is 53 percent to 44 percent, down slightly from last month, the poll found.

Meanwhile, 73 percent of voters believe the state’s cap on property tax increases should be allowed to continue, and 43 percent do not want it changed. Thirty-six percent believe the cap should be altered to allow school districts and local governments more flexibility in raising taxes.

Ninety percent of voters polled said corruption remains a serious issue for Albany as the Legislature is rocked by the arrests of both legislative leaders in Democratic-led Assembly and Republican-controlled Senate on separate charges of fraud and graft.

Still, despite the pervasive attitude that corruption is widespread in state governments, voters rank ethics reform third on a list of top issues for state lawmakers.

The poll found 30 percent of voters want lawmakers and state officials to deal with jobs and the economy, while education was cited by 27 percent. Meanwhile, 15 percent of voters said corruption and ethics needed to be dealt with, while taxes and health care were named by 13 percent and 12 percent of voters respectively.

A parade of state lawmakers have been led out of office in handcuffs in recent years, a spate that has grown to include the Senate majority leader, Dean Skelos and, at the start of the year, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Both Silver and Skelos stepped down from their legislative leadership positions in the days after their arrests.

The poll found that 62 percent believe corruption among their state lawmakers is a serious problem. But despite the headlines, a majority — 57 percent — believe the level of corruption at the Capitol has stayed about the same over the last four years.

Combating corruption or strengthening the state’s campaign finance laws do not appear to be a top priority at the moment in Albany, where lawmakers and Cuomo are grappling with expiring rent control laws, potential changes to the state’s property tax cap and changes to education measures approved in April.

Lawmakers and Cuomo this year did pass new measures designed to require lawmakers who are private-sector attorneys to reveal the names of their clients. That measure does not take effect until 2017.

Good-government groups continue to press for campaign-finance changes such as curtailing how much limited liability companies can contributed to political campaigns and causes.

The poll found 78 percent of voters back limiting how much money candidates for office can raise while 21 percent said it would not have an impact.

Other ethics measures — such as creating a new ethics watchdog and increasing disclosure of outside outcome of state lawmakers — all scored above 70 percent for voters in terms of effectiveness.

Voters were most skeptical of limiting lawmakers outside pay and making the Legislature full time. Fifty-seven percent said that would effectively reduce corruption, while 38 percent said it wouldn’t have an impact.

When it comes to education policy, both the DREAM Act and the education investment tax credit remain polarizing issues for voters.

The tax credit is meant to spur donations to public schools and scholarship programs that benefit private and parochial schools

It is the subject of a major push from both Cardinal Timothy Dolan and Cuomo himself as the session winds down, but is opposed by the state’s teachers unions.

The EITC is backed by 44 percent of voters compared to 49 percent who say they oppose it.

The DREAM Act, which provides tuition assistance for undocumented immigrants, is also underwater with voters: 47 percent support it, compared to 50 percent who do not.

The gun-control law known as the SAFE Act, which newly elected Majority Leader John Flanagan says he supports changing, remains popular statewide: 62 percent of voters say they support it.

Upstate, the poll found that the SAFE Act is less popular: 50 percent of voters oppose it, compared to 46 percent of voters who back it.

The state’s START-UP NY program remains broadly popular as well: 52 percent of voters say they support the economic-development program. The program has its strongest support downstate: 59 percent of New York City residents back the program. Upstate, START-UP is underwater in its popularity — 49 percent of voters say they oppose the program.

The Siena poll of 695 registered voters was conducted from May 18 through May 21. It has a margin of error of 3.7 percentage points.

SNY0515 Crosstabs by Nick Reisman

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in the New York City area, New York City and Albany with no public schedule. State lawmakers are not scheduled to return to the Capitol until tomorrow, with 12 scheduled days remaining in the 2015 session.

At 10:30 a.m., the Audit Committee of the State University of New York Board of Trustees will meet, SUNY Global Center, 116 East 55th Street, Room 202, Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will visit a classroom in Staten Island with Mayor Bill de Blasio. The two will make an announcement at a press conference to follow the visit, Library, 1st Floor, Building B, The Michael J. Petrides School, 715 Ocean Terrace, Staten Island.

Also at 11 a.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray will participate in a live Facebook Q-and-A on the topic of mental health. This event will be livestreamed at www.facebook.com/MicMedia.

Also at 11 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul joins Broome County Executive Debbie Preston and local officials to tour small businesses in downtown Binghamton, Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena, 1 Stuart St., Binghamton.

At noon, Hochul convenes a Southern Tier Regional Economic Development Council meeting, Binghamton University, Innovative Technologies Complex, Room 2008 (directly off Murray Hill Road), Vestal.

At 1 p.m., Hochul hosts an “Enough is Enough” roundtable on combatting sexual assault on college campuses, Binghamton University, Innovative Technologies Complex, Boyer Conference Room​, Binghamton.

At 1:30 p.m., UFT President Michael Mulgrew, joined by elected officials and parent representatives, holds news conference to urge the Legislature to retain the current cap on charter schools, outside DOE Headquarters, Tweed Courthouse, 52 Chambers St., Manhattan.

At 3:15 p.m., Hochul tours the Cornell Cooperative Extension and discusses local agriculture issues, Cornell Cooperative Extension, 840 Front St., Binghamton.

At 7 p.m., Brooklyn holds its first “Hillary for America” organizational meeting, where volunteers and supporters will be joining to share in their expression of support for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 White House bid and to discuss methods for best getting involved with the campaign, 650 Washington Ave., Brooklyn.

Headlines…

Trying to succeed where Comcast failed, Charter Communications has struck a deal to buy (our parent company) Time Warner Cable, an acquisition that would create a powerhouse in the consolidating American cable and broadband industry. In 2013, Charter made a play to acquire Time Warner Cable when the stock price was between $110 and $130.

Charter plans to announce today a $55 billion deal for its larger rival and an approximately $10 billion takeover of a smaller competitor, Bright House Networks.

Food Network television star Sandra Lee was released from the hospital yesterday following breast cancer surgery. She returned to the Mount Kisco home she shares with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

On her Facebook page, Lee said she’s “so happy” to be home at “Lily Pond” with the governor and her two pet birds.

Lee is still “slow on her feet” and has not regained her appetite, a spokeswoman said. “Her sister and Andrew are encouraging her to eat more…that will make her feel better,” she said.

Lee still has to undergo a series of post-surgery tests this week, and is also facing a four-month process to have her breasts reconstructed.

“I sort of thrive on this — there’s something wrong with me,” LG Kathy Hochul said of her jam-packed schedule. “I’m energized by it. I’m energized by the stimulation of meeting new people and the adventure of each day.”

Cuomo is reportedly pushing for the Buffalo mayoral control bill to be included in the end-of-session “Big Ugly,” but time is running out for the measure, which got a late start in Albany this year.

Some state Senate Republicans are so afraid of crusading U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara that they don’t want to engage in the traditional end-of-legislative session political deal making for fear of sparking more investigations.

The governor recently sent a scouting team to Manhattan to pick a location for the new barracks, a move that sources say is clearly designed to get in NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s face and under his skin.

Big Apple kids exposed to high levels of airborne filth and economic hardship have lower IQs that will haunt them into adulthood, according to an exhaustive, first-of-its-kind study by Columbia University.

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