Funke Endorses Young For Minority Leader

Add Sen. Rich Funke to those backing Sen. Cathy Young for Republican leader in the state Senate.

Funke in a statement Monday afternoon said it was time for new leadership in the chamber after Republicans lost majority control for the first time in 10 years.

“The Senate Republican Conference is more centered in upstate New York then ever before and its time we had an upstate leader in charge,” Funke said.

“The right person to turn around our electoral fortunes is the same person who has defied the odds and lead us to victory in the past as the head of the Senate Republican Campaign Committee-Senator Cathy Young. I have enjoyed a good relationship with Senator John Flanagan and I respect him. However, Republicans believe in accountability and the buck stops with Senator Flanagan when it comes to the historic losses our conference experienced on Election Day. In that vain it is time for a change. Only one person has a plan to get us back to the majority in the long run and that person is Senator Young. I am proud to support her, and I would ask all of my colleagues to join me.”

Funke represents the Rochester area in the Senate and had supported Sen. John DeFrancisco for majority leader during the 2015 leadership vote that Flanagan ultimately won.


Trump wielded the GOP’s new catchphrase for congressional oversight — “Presidential Harassment” — to blame Democrats for the morning’s downturn on Wall Street.

More than 16 months after New York lawmakers named the $4 billion Tappan Zee Bridge replacement after his father, Gov. Andrew Cuomo came through with his end of the deal, announcing the state would spend $10 million to significantly expand the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor in Orange County.

The incoming members of the House Democratic conference is the most diverse, most female freshman class in history, which means they could have a tough time all getting on the same page when it comes to a legislative agenda. But they must remain unified to be competitive in 2020.

The 2018 elections smashed records for overall midterms spending and for spending by independent political groups. But voters won’t know the sources of a significant portion of that money, which funded TV and radio ads, mailers, phone banking and more, until December.

The NYC Council is reportedly considering introducing a bill soon to ease fundraising restrictions for politicians with government-related legal troubles in response to a push from Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Manhattan Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell has formed a campaign committee to raise money for a possible run for New York City Public Advocate, according to state Board of Elections records.

Tom Precious: “The Republicans should have lost the Senate at least 10 years ago and, in fact, probably a lot longer ago than that were it not for the state’s arcane way of determining how legislative seats are drawn.”

GOP consultant Bill O’Reilly: “With the loss of the State Senate majority, Republicans are free to be Republicans. Arrangements with public employee unions have been mercifully severed; there are no longer Republican senators to protect in the five boroughs, save State Sen. Andrew Lanza of Staten Island, who can survive on his own, and Democrats in Albany are sure to overstep their unbridled power.”

Despite calls for his resignation after New York Republicans last week lost three congressional seats and control of the state Senate, a defiant state GOP Chairman Ed Cox said he has no plans of going anywhere and even expects he will seek a new, two-year term after his current one runs out next fall.

With Democrats poised to take control of the state Senate, upstate New York secessionists, who have pushed for New York to be divided into autonomous regions, are trying to drum up support for their idea of a two- or three-part state,

A Syracuse priest has been named by the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo as a clergyman with substantiated allegations of child sex abuse against him.

Democratic insiders are wondering whether Bronx state Sen. Gustavo Rivera is ready for prime time after he boasted on Facebook that he’s going to be a “muthaf####n chairman.”

One of the losers in last Tuesday’s election is the charter school movement, which lost a big and reliable advocate when Republicans gave up control of the majority to Democrats in the State Senate, both sides said.

A student group at Syracuse University is hoping to improve sexual health on campus with a unique vending machine.

If a “community grid” is chosen to replace Interstate 81 in downtown Syracuse, what will happen to the land that’s now under the aging viaduct’s shadow? Whether it will be turned into green space or developed commercially is still an open question.

An elephant that wandered away from an animal sanctuary in Orange County was escorted home by State Police, the troopers said in a Facebook post.

Stan Lee, the man who co-created Marvel Comics, has died at the age of 95.

Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin took to Twitter late last week to lambaste fellow Republican and North Greenbush Town Supervisor Louis Desso after Desso used a town board meeting to announce his own re-election.

New York Media, the parent company of New York magazine, will become the latest publisher to institute a paywall when it starts charging for access to its websites. The paywall will not apply to The City, a soon-to-debut nonprofit site focused on coverage of New York City.

A number of stars have been forced to evacuate their homes due to the California wildfires, and several – actor Gerald Butler and singer Miley Cyrus – have lost their Malibu residences altogether.

Rifle And Pistol Association To Endorse Young For GOP Leader

The New York State Rifle And Pistol Association will throw its support to Sen. Cathy Young to become the Republican minority leader in the state Senate.

The move comes as both Young and Sen. John Flanagan, the outgoing majority leader in the chamber, are vying for the post after Republicans on Tuesday lost eight GOP-held seats to Democrats and its control of the state Senate.

Flanagan on Monday was in the Southern Tier region appearing with Sen. Fred Akshar, a Republican who was believed to be a potential candidate for the Republican leadership post.

But Akshar is backing Flanagan’s bid for the job.

Young, a Republican from Olean in western New York, served as the chairwoman of the Senate’s fundraising and campaign arm this election cycle.

The leadership election has re-opened fissures within the Republican conference. Flanagan, a Long Island lawmaker, had backed the SAFE Act, a collection of gun control measures pushed Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2013.

But Flanagan had stitched together a coalition of upstate and New York City-area lawmakers when he assumed the leadership post in 2015 after Dean Skelos stepped aside after he was charged with corruption.

Upstate Secession Group Makes Another Push

A group that wants to split New York into three autonomous states is once again pushing a resolution backing the idea.

The group, Divide NYS, is urging supporters to have the resolution taken up by state lawmakers as well as local government officials.

The proposal would use a home-rule clause for local governments in the state constitution. As envisioned by Divide NYS, the move would split New York three ways: New York City boroughs, the suburban counties around New York City and upstate New York.

Having New York split into different self-governing regions is far-fetched at best. At the very least, upstate counties without the revenue generated by New York City’s financial center would be hard pressed to grow its economy, even with its current struggles.

But the push comes once again after an election in which Republican Marc Molinaro defeated Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, in most upstate counties. Cuomo won counties north of the metropolitan region that have urban communities like Albany, Buffalo, Syracuse and Rochester.

Cuomo Blasts Potential End To Puerto Rico Relief

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a statement on Monday blasted President Donald Trump’s decision to reportedly end the disaster relief program for Puerto Rico following the devastation of Hurricane Maria on the island.

“It is unconscionable that President Trump reportedly wants to end federal disaster funding for Puerto Rico as it continues to recover from the devastation of Hurricane Maria,” Cuomo said. “After overseeing a failed response to the disaster, the President is now willing to pull the plug on critical support and once again turn his back on the people of Puerto Rico – who are American citizens.”

Axios reported Trump does not want to approve new spending for disaster relief for Puerto Rico, apparently over the claim the island’s government is using the money to pay off its debt, though no evidence exists to support this.

“Mr. President, facts are important and trafficking in conspiracy theory is no way to run a government,” Cuomo said. “Instead of cutting off funding, the federal government should immediately deliver the long-overdue full amount that Puerto Rico needs to rebuild.

“In New York, we proudly stand with Puerto Rico as we always have before. In the wake of Hurricane Maria, New Yorkers stepped up to deliver aid and support, and we will continue to walk with Puerto Rico every step of the way on the long path to a full recovery.”

Cuomo has taken several trips to Puerto Rico to provide support to the recovery effort.

Bill Would Eliminate the Office of Public Advocate

The office itself is a bit of a mystery. Created in 1993, the City’s Public Advocate is second in line to the Mayor ( which is actually quite weird, if I’m honest ). For years politicians have been trying to better understand how to utilize the office as a force for good in the City. Mostly though, it’s become a perch for local elected’s to plot their next move, which likely involves running for Mayor. In a couple of months, there is expected to be a special election to fill the unexpired term of current Public Advocate Letitia James, who was elected State Attorney General last week, and will be sworn in January 1.

But something is afoot in the City Council. As early as this Wednesday, a bill could be introduced to eliminate the office of Public Advocate which has an annual budget of more the $3 million. And while that is a rather small number compared to the $80 Billion City budget, some believe that money could be better allocated elsewhere.

The bill’s main sponsor is Councilman Kalman Yeger. But co-sponsors include Ritchie Torres and Rev. Ruben Diaz. Reached by phone at the airport in San Juan as he prepares to return home from the Somos conference, Diaz said he is inclined to support the elimination of the office. Another supporter of the bill called the Public Advocate’s office “useless.” Reached for comment, Nomiki Konst, one of the few if not only non-elected ( or previously non-elected ) candidates to seek the office early next year says,

“When politicians call to eliminate watchdog positions, their motivations should be closely examined. As our country faces despotism, I’d hope our leaders would call to strengthen the office of PA, rather than eliminate it in effort to prevent future competitors from getting a leg up in future citywide races. Alternatively, I call to bar the PA for running for or coming from the positions of Mayor, Council or BP for five years.”

This afternoon The Working Families Party is expected to meet and endorse Jumaane Williams for Public Advocate in the special election.

Eliminating the office of Public Advocate would actually require a referendum that would go directly to the voters.

Will Rubber Meet Road On Tax Pledges?

With the millionaires tax set to expire at the end of the year on upper income earners, the question for the incoming session of the Legislature won’t be an academic one.

The 8.82 percent tax rate has been renewed several times before, closing budget gaps in the process.

But hiking that tax rate further, in order to expand funding for mass transit in New York City as backed by Mayor Bill de Blasio, could prove problematic for incumbent and incoming Democrats in the state Senate.

Nine members of the coming Democratic majority in the Senate have signed a version of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pledge backing a Democratic platform that includes support for “holding the line” on taxes in the coming legislative session.

Those lawmakers are from areas of the state where a middle-class income is far higher than the median $63,000 or so statewide: Shelley Mayer and Peter Harckham of Westchester County and Long Island Democrats Todd Kaminsky, Jim Gaughran, John Brooks, Monica Martinez, Anna Kaplan and Kevin Thomas. Brooklyn Sen.-elect Andrew Gounardes also signed onto the pledge.

Meanwhile, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, citing the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions by the federal government in the 2017 tax law, has not embraced hiking taxes next year, concerned about the double impact such a move would have, especially in the metropolitan region.

New York’s budget deficit is now projected to be at $3 billion in the fiscal year that begins April 1.

Cuomo: Bridge Naming Was About Closure

From the Morning Memo:

In a eulogy on Sunday for longtime aide and counselor Drew Zambelli, Gov. Andrew Cuomo credited him with first bringing up the idea of naming the new Tappan Zee Bridge after his late father, Mario Cuomo.

The younger Cuomo said Zambelli called him about the bridge naming “before I had had any conversation about a naming with anyone, including myself” and acknowledged Mario Cuomo would probably disapprove of the idea.

But naming the bridge after his father was an emotional move — one both men agreed on was a way to gain closure following Mario Cuomo’s death.

“For us, it was closure. A great punctuation point to my father’s 1994 loss – the largest infrastructure project in the United States of America – $4 billion project – on time and on budget – and it lives, reaching for the heavens, beautiful, with Mario Cuomo’s name on it,” Cuomo said in the eulogy at a memorial service at Purchase College.

“The haters and the naysayers cannot deny it, although they always try. That is their nature, but it will stand for all time. Mario Cuomo wins, a testament to possibility wins, and Drew Zambelli and Andrew Cuomo and his good team made it happen.”

Lawmakers agreed to a bill in 2017 that named the new bridge spanning the Hudson River at Westchester and Rockland counties after the late former three-term governor, who died in 2015.

The bill also named a stretch of highway after Sen. Bill Larkin and a park after Assemblyman Denny Farrell.

Cuomo had initially said at the time that naming the bridge in Mario Cuomo’s honor was Farrell’s idea, who spoke about it at a reception at the governor’s mansion.

Farrell died earlier this year in May.

Zambelli served both Cuomo administrations as an advisor and translator of polling and public opinion.

“People will say that Drew did polling. That analysis is superficial,” Cuomo said in the eulogy. “Yes, he did polling, but we didn’t do polling the way people think of polling. We didn’t poll to determine what to do because popular opinion frankly was not all that relevant a factor in what we did.

“My father’s credo taught us a higher standard. Our code was we did the right thing – no matter what. We fought the good fight – popular or unpopular – easy or hard. Vetoing the death penalty every year for my father was not politically smart. But it was the right thing to do. Passing gun safety was not politically smart for me. But it was the right thing to do.”

Budget Report Sees Shrinking Gap

From the Morning Memo:

A mid-year budget report released at the end of last week by the Division of Budget found the projected gap for the coming April 1 fiscal year stands at $3 billion, down from the $4 billion projected three months ago.

The shrinking gap is assumes Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers will stick to a planned 2 percent cap on state spending increases as the projected revenue shortfall has fallen from $780 million to $402 million. Gaps also shrink in future fiscal years.

EJ McMahon of the Empire Center traces the reduced gap to a boost in revenue and federal grants of $303 million, as well as a $579 million decline in disbursement, mostly paying down debt.

The revised figures also come as Democrats in both the Assembly and the newly empowered Senate Democratic majority next year will push for a plan to overall mass transit in New York City. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has called for a hike in taxes on upper income earners; the likely incoming majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has said the conference does not want to raise taxes.

As McMahon noted, the Division of Budget’s report assumes the millionaires tax of 8.82 percent on upper income earners will expire at the end of December 2019. Without the higher rate in place, spending would have to be constrained in subsequent budget years.

Here and Now

It’s Veterans Day, observed, so city, county, state and federal offices are closed.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public events scheduled.

Vice President Mike Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence are in Tokyo, Japan.

At 9:10 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will deliver remarks at the Flight 587 17th Annual Memorial Service, Flight 587 Memorial Park, Beach 116th Street and Rockaway Beach Boulevard, Rockaway Park.

At 10 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul delivers remarks at the grand opening of IDEX Health & Science’s new optical center, 1180 John St., Henrietta.

At 6 p.m., Broadway Housing Communities and The Sugar Hill Children’s Museum of Art and Storytelling, will hold their annual gala titled “Community Matters,” honoring Hillary Clinton, 583 Park Ave. at E. 63rd St., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., de Blasio will appear on NY1’s “Inside City Hall.”


Trump reportedly plans to stop financial aid to millions of Americans in Puerto Rico still dealing with the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria, because he believes – without evidence – that the island’s government is using the disaster relief funds to pay off debt rather than help its citizens rebuild.

Drenched in criticism for letting rain cancel his visit to an American World War I cemetery, Trump braved Parisian showers to attend another solemn ceremony honoring veterans of what was called the Great War.

French President Emmanuel Macron is no fan of Trump’s style of Twitter diplomacy, telling CNN’s Fareed Zakaria: “I always prefer having direct discussion or answering questions than making my diplomacy through tweets.”

“Patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism,” Macron said in a speech at the Arc de Triomphe, welcoming the leaders and extolling an old system now under siege. “Nationalism is a betrayal of patriotism by saying: ‘Our interest first. Who cares about the others?'”

As relatives desperately searched shelters for missing loved ones yesterday, crews searching the smoking ruins of Paradise and outlying areas found six more bodies, raising the death toll to 29, matching the deadliest wildfire in California history.

The infernos raging at both ends of California have created a double nightmare: Many who fled fires found themselves stuck on clogged roads.

Marching bands played patriotic songs and onlookers waved American flags as the annual Veterans Day Parade made its way through New York City yesterday.

About 40 people gathered in front of a WWI monument Sunday morning in Syracuse’s Billings Park to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Armistice Day.

Top congressional Democrats demanded that Trump’s acting U.S. attorney general, Matthew Whitaker, recuse himself from overseeing the special counsel investigation, and vowed to use their newfound powers as the incoming House majority to block him from interfering with it.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who expects to maintain her title as speaker of the House, said that Democrats will be “very strategic” when it comes to subpoenaing Trump and protecting Bob Mueller’s investigation.

The recount of Florida’s razor-thin Senate and gubernatorial races got off to a bumpy start yesterday with some mishaps and litigation, bringing back memories of the 2000 presidential fiasco.

In a vivid example of how Trump’s trade tactics abroad can hurt business at home, the U.S. beer industry, which needs aluminum to make cans, is seeing costs rise.

Hillary Clinton will run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020, according to Mark Penn, a pollster and senior adviser to former President Bill Clinton and ex-Secretary of state Hillary Clinton from 1995-2008.

Howard Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks, has reportedly assembled an “elite” public relations team, prompting even more rumors that the businessman will soon be adding his name to a growing list of 2020 presidential candidates.

Michael Goodwin: “For Andrew Cuomo, running for president will not be a case of like father, like son. Sure, he will be coy and protest too much that he has no plans to run, and, like ­Mario, will take both sides of an argument in the same sentence. But when the time is right, he will get on the plane.”

Canadian teenagers use more pot than youths anywhere else. The government hopes legalization and an $83 million public education campaign will change that.

NYC teachers-union chief Michael Mulgrew accepted $8,250 in US Open tennis tickets from Stroock & Stroock & Lavan, a law firm the union uses, records show.

New York Republicans are discussing changes in leadership and strategy for both the party and the GOP conference in the state Senate, after being swept from suburban areas where they’ve long held sway. Senate Republican Leader John Flanagan will huddle in Albany with his reduced flock as early as next week.

Child sex abuse survivors are celebrating last week’s Democratic takeover of the state Senate, saying it bodes well for quick passage of the Child Victims Act.

Catholic bishops from around the country will meet today for the first time since an explosive grand jury report exposed a cover-up of hundreds of clergy abuse cases in Pennsylvania, and since several states – including New York – launched new investigations into the manner in which dioceses addressed allegations of abuse.

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