Oct 25th - 5:20 pm
Eight men charged in a federal corruption case, including Joe Percoco, a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo; and former SUNY Poly head Alain Kaloyeros, are in plea discussions with prosecutors, according to a document filed with the court.
The case brought against Percoco, Kaloyeros, Louis Ciminelli and two other executives of Buffalo’s LPCiminelli construction and development company, and several Syracuse-area developers was given a continuance until Nov. 23 as lawyers on all sides continue to negotiate.
Former New York City Mayor and top Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani said that when he looks at Hillary Clinton, he sees her “in an orange jumpsuit.”
“We got a couple of surprises left,” Giuliani said of the Trump campaign. “Surprises in the way that we’re going to campaign to get our message out there. Maybe in a little bit of a different way. You’ll see. And I think it will be enormously effective.”
Just two weeks before Election Day, at least 75 of the 4,000-plus lawsuits involving Trump and his businesses remain open, according to an ongoing, nationwide analysis of state and federal court records by USA TODAY. That’s unprecedented for a presidential candidate.
Senior staff members on Clinton’s nascent campaign were conscious about diversity in the top ranks two months before the Democratic presidential candidate formally announced her bid, according to hacked emails from the personal account of a top campaign official.
No, you can’t cast a vote in next month’s presidential election using a social media hashtag, though fliers found on SUNY New Paltz’s campus Sunday claim you can.
Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, speaking on Long Island today, said he’ll vote for Clinton, and said Trump is unqualified and “selling people a bill of goods.”
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara rang the closing bell at the NYSE today.
Leading daily fantasy sports companies DraftKings and FanDuel have reached a $12 million settlement with Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to end remaining false advertising claims in an enforcement action filed a year ago, seemingly putting an end to legal uncertainty for the industry in the state.
Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan has appointed a new commissioner to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, attorney J. Gerard McAuliffe, Jr. Meanwhile, Michael Romeo, an appointee of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has departed the panel.
Republican David Gurfein, a candidate for Congress in Nassau County’s 4th District, was charged with misdemeanor domestic battery in September 2010 after authorities said he pushed the mother of his child during a confrontation at her Henderson, Nevada, home.
This week, former New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg donated another $25 million to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative, after previously donating $100 million in 2013.
Cuomo is the fourth-highest paid governor in the nation.
Is the Time Warner/AT & T merger good or bad for NYC? Greg David opines.
A restaurateur who didn’t get the concession to run the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park — even though his offer was $19.5 million higher than the winner — is now suing, charging that he lost out to a bidder who should not have participated because he donated to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Campaign for One New York.
Federal probers in New York are “not happy” that the Justice Department in D.C. is nosing in on the chokehold death investigation of Eric Garner by replacing them with their Beltway counterparts, a federal source told The NY Post.
Schneiderman plans to introduce in the next legislative session a bill aimed at curbing the misuse of non-compete agreements, contract clauses that bar employees of one company from leaving to join or become a competitor.
A center for advanced technology to develop state-of-the-art 3D printing technology is opening at the Rochester Institute of Technology’s Henrietta campus.
An 89-year-old World War II veteran from Colonie is offering a $1,000 reward for the arrest and conviction of the person or persons who stole the “Trump for Veterans” magnetic signs off his car on Friday while he was dining at Reel Seafood Co. on Wolf Road.
Oct 25th - 12:57 pm
The state Democratic Committee is planing a “robust” operation to aid Democrats running in down-ballot state Senate races.
The committee, which is essentially controlled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, will be committing resources for the party’s Senate candidates in key and competitive districts.
The effort includes field and phone banking work as well as digital-based advertising.
“At Governor Cuomo’s direction, the state party will be undertaking a robust coordinated campaign to elect Democrats up and down the ballot, particularly in hotly contested state senate and congressional districts,” said Basil Smikle, the state Democratic Committee executive director, in a statement to Capital Tonight.
It’s unclear how much money the state committee will ultimately spend.
Liberals have been skeptical of Cuomo’s previous efforts for Senate Democrats after he has worked well with Republicans in the chamber for the past several years.
And he’s still being pushed by the labor-aligned Working Families Party to spend from some of his own campaign war chest.
“The jury’s still out on whether Cuomo will spend even $1 million of his $19 million war chest on behalf of a more progressive New York,” WFP Executive Director Bill Lipton told The New York Times.
Smikle, however, disputed Lipton’s assertion Cuomo was not helping the Senate Democrats’ cash efforts.
“The Governor has been forcefully and effectively raising money for and contributing to Senate Democrats, including the maximum amount allowed by law from his campaign account,” Smikle said.
“Bill Lipton’s comments that he should break campaign finance rules by exceeding maximum allowed campaign finance limitations is disturbing — particularly for someone who spends so much time talking about campaign finance reform.”
The state Democratic Committee last reported having $125,183 in cash on hand.
But the purse strings are being loosened at a critical time for the mainline Democratic conference in the narrowly divided chamber. Democratic challengers are pressing to win seats in Long Island districts, many of which are in Nassau County and the Hudson Valley.
On Monday, Cuomo was on Long Island to personally endorse Sen. Todd Kaminsky and Democratic candidate Adam Haber, who is running for an open Senate seat. At the same time, Cuomo pushed for the election of Democrat Jim Gaughran, who is running against incumbent Sen. Carl Marcellino.
The involvement from the statewide Democratic apparatus dovetails with the efforts from Cuomo in recent weeks to bolster Senate Democrats. The governor is appearing at a fundraiser for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee as well as incumbent Democrats in Westchester and Nassau counties.
Oct 25th - 11:16 am
The super PAC allied with House Democrats on Tuesday released its latest TV ad in the 24th congressional district that once again seeks to tie Republican Rep. John Katko to Donald Trump.
In the ad, Katko is shown saying that Trump “wants to keep the country safe” and “has a lot of good principles.”
Katko, to be clear, has not endorsed Trump and hasn’t ruled out voting for an independent candidate for president.
But the independent expenditure group, the House Majority PAC, is spending up to $370,000 in airtime in the central New York district to push the point, even as a TWC News/Siena College poll show Katko leading Democrat Colleen Deacon by a wide margin.
“For Congressman Katko, it’s all about politics before principles,” said House Majority PAC Communications Director Jeb Fain.
“While Donald Trump laid out a dangerous agenda for our country, Katko parsed words and has even offered praise to his presidential ticket-mate. Central New Yorkers deserve better than a politician who couldn’t take a principled stand against the dangerous, divisive demagogue leading his party’s ticket.”
Katko and Deacon will appear in a TWC News debate from Syracuse at 7 p.m.
Oct 25th - 10:14 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo later this evening will appear at another fundraiser for the Democratic presidential ticket, according to a copy of an invitation obtained by Capital Tonight.
Tickets to the event, to be held in New York City, range from $2,700 to $25,000.
Cuomo is appearing as a special guest with vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine as well as the actor Liam Neeson.
The email was sent out to Clinton supporters by former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn on Monday evening.
“There are just fifteen days left until Election Day — and we are all working hard to make sure Hillary Clinton is our next President,” Quinn wrote in the email.
Cuomo earlier this month held a fundraiser with Kaine in New York City, part of an overall push for Democrats running up and down the ballot this cycle.
Oct 25th - 9:13 am
The NRCC is out with yet another TV ad slamming Democrat Zephyr Teachout in the NY-19 race, which is fast becoming one of the most expensive congressional contests in the state this election cycle.
This ad perpetuates a theme that Teachout’s opponent, Republican John Faso, started early on in this race: The idea that being highly educated – and, in fact, a college professor – is somehow a negative thing linked to extreme liberalism.
That’s an idea many conservatives have been pushing for some time, that many colleges and universities are liberal hotbeds where professors are indoctrinating, perhaps even brainwashing, students in a leftist agenda.
(For the record, my father is a veteran professor of Political Science at SUNY New Paltz, and he’s a Republican).
The ad also criticizes Teachout for her support of, and subsequent endorsement by, self-professed Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator who challenged Hillary Clinton from the left during this year’s presidential primary.
It also accuses Teachout of wanting to raise a whole host of taxes, including energy taxes, which is an issue over which the candidates clashed repeatedly during the TWC News debate in Woodstock last night.
Here’s the script of the new ad:
“Announcer: Remember that zany professor…who always pushed their liberal agenda? That’s Professor Zephyr Teachout.
She supports Obama’s dangerous Iran nuclear deal. And Professor Teachout supports higher property taxes, higher energy taxes, and higher estate taxes.
That’s probably why Teachout loves Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders. He’s from Vermont, just like her. Zany Professor, Zephyr Teachout. She’s just not one of us.”
NRCC is responsible for the content of this advertising.”
Oct 25th - 6:14 am
From the Morning Memo:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a pitch for down-ballot Democratic candidates at a local fundraiser in Suffolk County last night, singling out state Senate hopeful Jim Gaughran as being particularly needed in Albany.
“We have a number of candidates running for the state Senate who are great,” Cuomo said to applause at the dinner. “We have a superstar in Jim Gaughran who has to go to the state Senate.”
The governor’s full-throated endorsement of Gaughran in a battleground Senate district held by longtime incumbent Republican Carl Marcellino comes as Democrats hope for unexpected wins on Long Island next month, helping them to retake control of the Senate.
Suffolk County is also home to Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, who is seeking a full term at the top post after succeeding the scandal-scarred former Sen. Dean Skelos as GOP leader last spring.
Cuomo for the last several weeks had rolled out plans to fundraise for Democratic incumbents like Sens. George Latimer and Todd Kaminsky, who are running in competitive suburban races in Westchester and Nassau counties, respectively. At the same time, Cuomo is maxing out his contributions to Democratic candidates.
Yesterday, Cuomo took square aim at incumbent Republican Marcellino, who was not previously thought to be on the Democrats’ top target list, but thanks largely to the controversial candidacy of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, many more seats are now believed to be in play.
“We should break our rear end for him,” Cuomo said of Gaughran. “He is what it’s about.”
Cuomo also told a lengthy and somewhat PG version of a story in which he was stranded at a rest stop and was solicited by a prostitute, whose offer he turned down. The story was related in conjunction with the governor’s effort to tout construction of a new welcome center on Long Island that includes a State Police presence.
Cuomo didn’t mention Marcellino, the Senate Education Committee chairman, by name. But he expressed a general frustration with some of the incumbents in Albany, even though he has declined in past campaigns to pull out all the stops in helping fellow Democrats challenge the GOP-controlled Senate.
“Albany has its share of political hacks, I’ll tell you the truth,” Cuomo said. “And it’s a bipartisan hackdom.”
Cuomo yesterday campaigned for state Senate Democrats in competitive races on Long Island and Nassau County in particular, where Republican County Executive Ed Mangano – a onetime Cuomo ally – is facing corruption charges. That’s a development the Seate Democrats also hope will contribute to their improved chances on Election Day.
The governor reportedly now believes that a GOP-controlled Senate is no longer a handy foil, but rather an impediment to achieving aspects of his progressive agenda – particularly additional ethics reforms, which have taken on new urgency thanks to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s most recent public corruption case that reaches into Cuomo’s own inner circle.
Senate Democrats say they are happy to have Cuomo’s support this time around. But Working Families Party members, who have been burned by the governor in the past, remain skeptical about just how helpful the governor plans to be before Nov. 8.
“The jury’s still out on whether Cuomo will spend even $1 million of his $19 million war chest on behalf of a more progressive New York,” WFP State Director Bill Lipton told the New York Times.
Oct 25th - 6:14 am
From the Memo:
When Western New York Assemblyman John Ceretto decided to switch from the GOP to the Democratic Party last year, he ticked off a lot of local Republicans. Now up for re-election, Ceretto’s former allies haven’t forgotten the perceived betrayal.
Erie County Republican Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy made that much crystal clear.
“This was one of the great sellouts of all time,” the chairman said of Ceretto. “He was elected and re-elected and re-elected by Republicans and with a lot of help.”
“He is a very unremarkable legislator, which I said the day he switched parties. I kind of said what’s been on my mind here. This is a guy who really doesn’t have it between the ears to handle what the important issues that we needed in Western New York.”
The Democrats hold an overwhelming majority in the Assembly, and under normal circumstances, the 145th district race wouldn’t be that big of a deal, since it won’t influence the balance of power in the chamber. But Langworthy said this year is different.
This is about payback, and there’s also a candidate for the GOP to get behind, as former Niagara Falls City Judge Angelo Morinello is challenging Ceretto for the seat.
“There is massive investment at this point by the state Republican campaign committee for the Assembly,” Langworthy said. “That is an absolute – it’s the number one target opportunity in the state.”
Emails and calendar items are circulating to news organizations, including Capital Tonight, that Republicans say prove Ceretto played politics with state allocations and used government time and resources to campaign.
Though Ceretto has insisted he did nothing wrong, Langworthy said voters won’t tolerate even the perception of wrongdoing.
“We have learned things in the last two weeks about John Ceretto and the way he has run his office which I think will make this race one of the most competitive in the state of New York,” the chairman predicted.
Ceretto meanwhile, said he believes the attacks are clearly a result of sour grapes over his decision to change parties. He nevertheless maintains his switch was the best choice for his constituents and is standing by the decision.
Oct 25th - 6:14 am
That’s the short version of the message former LG Bob Duffy sent to those in Rochester and Buffalo who are concerned about some of the negative attention alleged bid-rigging and corruption charges could have on two multi-million dollar local projects.
“I do understand the concern; I certainly understand the optics and perceptions,” said Duffy during a CapTon interview last night.
Now the CEO of the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the American Institute for Manufacturing Photonics Leadership Council, Duffy finds himself in a familiar role of cheerleader-in-chief. Following the resignation of head of SUNY Polytechnic, Alain Kaloyeros, the administrator of the photonics investment in the wake of charges brought by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Duffy urged calm.
“I think people should just stand by,” he said. “The criminal justice system for anything that pops up will run its course.”
Despite reports that one the companies set to make an investment may be rethinking its move to Rochester, Duffy insisted the project is full steam ahead with or without “Photonica.”
“I’m not sure how strong that deal was in the first place,” he said. “We certainly welcome Photonica to come, but they are not the foundation of the Photonics TAP facility in Rochester.”
The testing and packaging (TAP) facility is still on track to be built by summer 2017, and Duffy expressed confidence that corrective actions being taken by Empire State Development President Howard Zemsky will bring companies like Phontonica back into the fold.
“There may be some projects that were promised down the road that maybe were not well-funded,” Duffy said. “And I have confidence now that the governor’s team – and specifically Howard Zemsky, who is an accomplished private sector business leader, somebody that I have great respect for and great trust in – he’s evaluating all these contracts now to make sure the ones in place are funded, that they are appropriate, that there are no issues whatsoever.”
Duffy was on his way out the door when several Buffalo Billion related projects went out to bid. When asked specifically about Bharara’s allegations related to the awarding of contracts in the SolarCity project at Buffalo’s Riverbend, Duffy backed his former boss.
“I never at any time in my tenure saw, heard or felt anything inappropriate, illegal, anything having to do with corruption – and you know what? I have pretty good instincts,” the former LG insisted. “Quite frankly, I’ve never been involved in a scandal. I would’ve walked away in a heartbeat if that were the case. I never saw that.”
In the meantime, Duffy hopes skills that served him well during his decades in public life – his ability to read the room, and his personal skills – will buy the state and those in the private sector a little more time to work things out.
“Everybody just relax,” he said. “Have faith that the right things will be done. If things are appropriate, they’ll move on unimpeded without any question and if there are issues along the way, it gives the governor’s team a chance to step in and fix those and get back on track.”
Oct 25th - 6:13 am
From the Memo:
When it comes to polling, Western New York mega-Trump supporter Carl Paladino shares the same opinion as the candidate he backs. While Trump spent yesterday criticizing national polls, Paladino took a more local approach.
The most recent Siena Poll, which came out last week, showed Trump running 24 points behind Hillary Clinton. Paladino said he’s not buying that.
“We know that we’re a lot better off than the Siena poll,” the Buffalo businessman and School Board member said. “…the Siena poll has been right up the back end of (Gov.) Andrew Cuomo and all the Democrats.”
During an interview with TWC News anchor Casey Bortnick, Paladino also criticized Republican leaders who indicated last week the Empire State appears out of reach for Trump. He said that kind of talk only discourages people from voting.
“I think we’re going to see such a wave out of Upstate New York and Long Island that it’s going to overcome the liberal vote that’s going to come out of New York City,” Paladino insisted.
To back up his assertions, Paladino said local volunteers have been conducting polling of their own, surveying voters in the Erie County town of Cheektowaga – an area known for having, in his words, “blue-collar” and “hardworking” people.
According to Paladino, 44 percent of those surveyed from Cheektowaga favored Trump, while 42 percent said they were planning to vote for Hillary Clinton.
“Cheektowaga is 75 percent Democrat and the saying goes, like with Ohio back in 1965, the way Cheektowaga goes the nation goes with a presidential election,” Paladino predicted.
Oct 25th - 5:17 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.
At 8:30 p.m., NYC Dep Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Alicia Glen speaks at the NY Building Congress, 1335 Ave. of the Americas, Manhattan.
At 9 a.m., counsel to the governor Alphonso David keynotes a conference on immigration law, “IIRIRA & AEDPA Twenty Years Later: Legal Representation Challenges in New York and Beyond,” New York Law School, 185 W. Broadway, Manhattan.
At 10 a.m., NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito participates in a Women & Girls and civic engagement panel, 105 East 106th St., Manhattan.
Also at 10 a.m., Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino will endorse Bruce Bendish for district attorney, Westchester County Courthouse, 111 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., White Plains.
At 10:30 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul cuts the ribbon on the AMPrint Center for Advanced Technology, Rochester Institute of Technology, 160 Lomb Memorial Dr., Rochester.
Also at 10:30 a.m., state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announces a first-of-its-kind gun trafficking report, 120 Broadway, Manhattan.
At 11 a.m., NYC Public Advocate Tish James calls on NYC and the state to expand access to 3-D digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) technology, a new breast cancer screening technology proven to increase early detection of breast cancer, plaza behind the David Dinkins Municipal Bldg., 1 Centre St., Manhattan.
At 11:15 p.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina attends a Team Up! Tuesday event with NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, 730 Bryant Ave., the Bronx.
At 11:30 a.m., Rep. Carolyn Maloney releases her final report card on the MTA’s progress towards completing Phase 1 of the 2nd Avenue Subway, 63rd Street and 3rd Avenue, Manhattan.
Also at 11:30 a.m., Rep. Joe Crowley, state Sen. Jose Peralta, NYC Councilman Costa Constantinides and community members discuss renovations at Section 8 development Marine Terrace, regarding the plan to preserve 440 units of affordable housing, corner of 20th Road and Shore Boulevard, Queens.
At noon, Hochul attends another ribbon cutting ceremony at the Rochester Museum & Science Center, 657 East Ave., Rochester.
At 12:30 p.m., former Secretary of State Colin Powell will be headlining the Long Island Association’s Annual Fall Luncheon, Crest Hollow Country Club, Woodbury, Long Island.
At 2:15 p.m., Hochul launches a Community College Council Meeting in the Central NY Region, Onondaga Community College, Whitney Applied Technology Building, Room 210, 4585 West Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse.
At 3 p.m., attorney Sanford Rubenstein and Black Lives Matter members call for a grand jury to be convened in the death of Deborah Danner, 198 East 161st St., the Bronx.
At 4:30 p.m., Crowley, also Democratic Leader of Queens County, will host a phone bank with Hillary for New York, Queens County HQ, 7250 Austin St., Fl 2, Forest Hills, Queens.
At 6 p.m., Rep. Nydia Velazquez attends Williamsburg: Break The Silence-Stop The Violence candlelight vigil to shine a light on domestic violence, Continental Army Plaza Park, South 4th Street and Roebling Avenue, Brooklyn.
Also at 6 p.m., Queens Councilman Eric Ulrich holds a 2017 election fundraiser, RW Prime, 1000 Rockaway Blvd., Queens.
Also at 6 p.m., AARP unveils the results of a Siena College survey of Monroe County Gen Xers’ and Boomers’ financial condition and retirement prospects, including their preferences between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on Social Security and retirement issues, The Strathallan, 550 East Ave., Rochester.
At 6:30 p.m., James delivers opening remarks at the Brooklyn Historical Society’s “Criminal Poverty: A Dirty Truth” event, 128 Pierrepont St., Brooklyn.
Also at 6:30 p.m., Farina attends District 20 Town Hall, P.S. 204 -Vince Lombardi School, 8101-15th Ave., Brooklyn.
At 7 p.m., de Blasio and NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray will host the third annual UpStander Awards, Gracie Mansion, Manhattan.
Premiums will go up sharply next year under President Barack Obama’s health care law, and many consumers will be down to just one insurer, the administration confirmed, stoking another “Obamacare” controversy days before a presidential election.
Premiums for midlevel health plans will increase by an average of 25 percent next year, while consumers in some states will find significantly fewer insurance companies offering coverage. But the Obama administration said three-fourths of consumers would still be able to find plans for less than $100 a month with the help of federal subsidies.
Hundreds of thousands of consumers whose health insurance plans are being discontinued for 2017 will get some flexibility when signing up for a new plan during the Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment – a sign of continued turmoil.
The Justice Department has replaced the New York team of agents and lawyers investigating the 2014 chokehold death of Eric Garner, officials said, a highly unusual shake-up that could jump-start the long-stalled case and put the government back on track to seek criminal charges
Two men who used to attend the bashes told the Daily Beast Trump would regularly throw cocaine-filled and sex-crazed parties in lavish suites at the Plaza Hotel, which he owned between 1988 and 1995, inviting models as young as 15 to attend them.
Trump forced his employees on “The Apprentice” to come in to work in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, former staff members told the Daily Beast.
Trump launched his own broadcast last night with a 30-minute show directly from Trump Tower. The program, aired on Facebook Live, is hosted by advisors Cliff Sims and Boris Epshteyn and “The Blaze” commentator Tomi Lahren.
Phil Reisman: “As nutty as it might seem, word has it that Trump, either personally or through his campaign, has dangled the HUD job in front of (Westchester County Executive Rob) Astorino, contingent, of course, on the outside chance Trump pulls off an election upset to become the 45th president of the United States.”
It won’t be easy to safeguard Trump Tower if the real estate mogul is elected president, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said. “It presents a lot of challenges,” he explained. “But we are in talks with the Secret Service. We’ll develop a plan to accommodate that situation if it comes about.”
Appearing at a rally for Democratic freshman Long Island Sen. Todd Kaminsky, a former federal prosecutor; and Long Island Democratic Senate candidate Adam Haber, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that priority No. 1 when lawmakers return to Albany in January will be additional ethics reforms – specifically the limiting of outside income for state lawmakers.
In nearly six years as the state’s top Democrat, Cuomo has never headlined a fund-raiser for the campaign committee for the Senate Democrats. This time around, the left remains skeptical. “The jury’s still out on whether Cuomo will spend even $1 million of his $19 million war chest on behalf of a more progressive New York,” aid WFP State Director Bill Lipton.
Cuomo has taken an active role this year in his party’s bid for the state Senate, lending his presence to big-money fundraisers for Democratic candidates and offering himself up on the campaign trail. That’s a change from cycles past.
Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano, now facing federal corruption charges, took a $17,007 annual pay raise in July in the midst of the county’s ongoing budget crisis.
Construction across New York City this year is projected to surpass a spending peak in 2007, near the end of the last real estate boom. A new estimate by the New York Building Congress, an industry group, puts construction spending at $43.1 billion in 2016.