In Philly, de Blasio Decries ‘State Level’ Paralysis

In a panel discussion on Monday afternoon in Philadelphia, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio decried “state level” paralysis that has prevented cities from enacting liberal policies.

In his remarks, de Blasio urged local government officials to not be discouraged when state officials thwart their plans, but instead work together to build support for their issue.

“In the time of federal paralysis, and I can certainly say we’ve seen this at the state level in many, many states, too — state governments that are resistant to their cities and state governments resistant to progressive change; we’re not powerless as a result,” de Blasio said at a panel discussion at the National Museum of American Jewish History on Philadelphia.

“It doesn’t mean go home. It means do things at home and tie them together to what other cities and towns and counties are doing.”

De Blasio, like his predecessors, has seen his own agenda foiled in Albany during the course of his term in office. Most recently, a New York City-backed move to charge a 5-cent fee on plastic bags was delayed amid concerns from state lawmakers.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been feuding with mayor over the last year, has touted a state government during his administration that has enacted the broad strokes of his agenda over the last years as well as enacted on-time budgets.

The mayor has in recent months accused Cuomo of undermining his administration’s agenda in Albany and working too closely with Senate Republicans, who remain hostile to de Blasio.

A Democratic Policy Divide On Display

From the Morning Memo:

The primary battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders exposed policy fault lines within the party on issues ranging from the minimum wage, to free trade and hydrofracking. For supporters of Sanders, it’s a push to making Clinton lean further to the left.

“There are several places where we feel Hillary Clinton’s positions are inadequate,” said Joshn Fox, a Sanders supporter and a documentary filmmaker.

Fox says Democrats should focus more on what the base of the party wants: Opposition to hydrofracking and more skepticism of free-trade agreements, like the Trans Pacific Partnership.

“It makes no sense for Democrats to be pro-tracking,” Fox said. “Fracking is the number one issue on the climate change front. So you can’t be a climate change person and support tracking.”

Clinton supporters like Washington County Democratic Chair Sheila Comar argue negotiation and compromise is needed on these complex issues. Clinton herself has said she plans to stick to Democratic values, but also work to get things done.

“Things aren’t set in stone,” said Washington County Democratic Chairwoman Sheila Comar. “A lot of times, things aren’t black and white. There’s a little gray area and I think it’s time to look at things and maybe negotiate.”

New York Democratic Committee Executive Director Basil Smikle says Clinton and Sanders are already having a conversation finding ways to develop a policy platform that adhere’s to party’s principles, noting that’s something Republicans failed to do last week in Cleveland.

“Both Bernie and Hillary have had a conversation about policy that has been incredibly substantive. It’s something that we haven’t seen the Republicans promote at all,” Smikle said.

“If you look at the Democratic platform, there’s a real pathway to economic and social justice that’s really lacking in the Republican platform.”

One concession Sanders supporters want in New York is more open elections, including ending the practice of so-called closed primaries in which only party members can vote in that party’s primary.

“We have to look at everything under these conditions,” said Queens Democratic Sen. James Sanders, an endorser of the Vermont lawmaker and delegate. “If a system can be rigged, it means people won’t participate in our system after a while.”

But already the Sanders campaign has scored the victory of the Democratic Party officially backing a $15 minimum wage, a measure Clinton had been hesitant to embrace on the campaign trail.


We’re about to get things underway here at the Wells Fargo Center for Day One of the 2016 Democratic National Convention. It has been a hectic day, especially for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former DNC chair. (More on that below). While we await the day’s activities/festivities, here are some headlines for your perusal…

Addressing a roomful of thousands of military veterans, Hillary Clinton today offered a direct contrast to rival Donald Trump, presenting herself as a steady hand who as president would honor the nation’s commitment to veterans and to allies overseas.

Supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders booed today as the former Democratic presidential contender told them, “We must elect Hillary Clinton.” He was appearing for the first time this week in Philadelphia, where he is set to address the convention tonight.

“What was clear for anyone watching Sanders’s unsuccessful attempts to calm the churning among his supporters is that the revolution he started is no longer one he can totally control. Or maybe even control at all.”

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has launched a probe into the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s emails.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, soon-to-be-former DNC chair, decided against gaveling in to the convention today in the interest of making sure Day One kicks off on a “high note.”

Schultz was heckled at a breakfast of delegates from her home state of Florida, with opponents booing her and shouting “Shame!” A row of police officers stood between the stage and the protesters as the congresswoman, who is up for re-election, finished her speech.

Sanders’ campaign considered demanding a private plane staffed and funded by the DNC as part of negotiations with Clinton heading into this week’s convention, according to a Sanders memo obtained by BuzzFeed News.

According to a DNC official, Sanders will turn over his delegates to Clinton tomorrow during a roll call vote.

Former VP Al Gore, one of eight Tennessee super delegates (though he hasn’t pledged his support to Clinton), is not attending the convention in Philadelphia because he has “obligations” at home, according to a spokeswoman. She did not elaborate.

Trump apparently plans to use VP Joe Biden’s famous jab at the dilapidated state of LaGuardia Airport as part of a lengthy jeremiad against the current administration – even though the federal government has committed to help finance the $4.2 billion demolition and rebuilding of the Queens plane terminal.

Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore said he expectsTrump to be elected president and listed five reasons on his website why the GOP nominee will win in November.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Senate Republicans don’t support the interests of his city.

The Workforce Fairness Institute, which has for years fought union-backed legislation in Washington, is airing advertisements across the Democratic National Convention – targeted to mobile devices in and near the convention’s arena and conference center, delegate hotels and Philadelphia’s airport.

Brooklyn Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, considered a potential challenger to de Blasio next year, revealed in his 2016 financial disclosure report he received $1.65 million in contingency fees last year from a Manhattan personal-injury firm even though he left the firm in December 2012 after his election to the House.

Cuomo’s office says the 800,000 new jobs refers to those added in the private sector since he took office in 2011. PolitifactNY’s Dan Clark says that’s a true statement.

Here’s a list of Clinton’s biggest upstate donors.

Bill Bratton will not remain the commissioner of the NYPD past next year, he said in an interview with The New York Times, his most definitive comments to date on his future at the helm of the nation’s largest police force.

“Democrats are doing what they always do, telling themselves a story, and the story is that Donald Trump can’t win, and that’s just not true,” said veteran New York Democratic political consultant Hank Shein­kopf.

Filmmaker Josh Fox, who has spent a lot of time on the road with Sanders in recent months and is not a fan of Clinton, said the Democratic runner-up has revealed that America is more progressive than anyone previously suspected.

The United States is failing to seriously address lead poisoning in its low-income communities, a severe public health threat touching more than 535,000 children a year, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro said.

The 43North business plan competition is down to 142 semi-finalists for this year’s contest. The $5 million business plan competition released the semifinalists after narrowing its field of entries from a pool of 542 initial entrants.

The MTA plans to shut down the New York City subway L train’s East River tunnel for 18 months for repairs starting in 2019.

Astronauts Mark Kelly and Scott Kelly, former U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., actors John Cleese and James Franco and others are part of the lineup at Buffalo’s Distinguished Speakers Series.

Cuomo is reprising and re-iterating his call for energy conservation in light of an expected week of high heat and humidity, especially downstate where temps are expected to hit the 90s.

Average retail gasoline prices in New York have fallen 2.9 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.34 per gallon Sunday.

Only in New York, kids, only in New York.

Senate Dems Bask In Senate GOP’s Trump Support

Senate Democrats feel like they have been handed a gift with the endorsement of Donald Trump by Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan last week.

Democratic lawmakers who have gathered in Philadelphia for the party’s national convention this week either clucked their tongues or rolled their eyes at Flanagan’s endorsement of Trump, which was an enthusiastic one before the state Republican delegation.

“I’m going to make this unequivocally clear,” Flanagan said. “I’m supporting Donald Trump for president. I’m going to do so with grace, with diplomacy, with passion and with fervor and I’m going to do it with New York style.”

But underlying it all is the hope Trump’s campaign — with its calls to temporarily ban Muslim immigration, a tough-on-crime approach and efforts to deport undocumented immigrants — will help Democrats in swing district win crucial races this fall.

“I think it’s appalling,” said Sen. Brad Hoylman. “I think any Republican endorsing Donald Trump from New York should really have their head examined.”

Flanagan’s endorsement of Trump was not a surprise, considering he had pledged to back the Republican nominee. At the same time, the New York delegation had enthusiastically backed Trump at the convention, leading a chorus of boos and jeers for Sen. Ted Cruz when he refused to endorse Trump at the convention.

Hoylman, a Manhattan Democrat, called the situation sad, given the GOP’s history in New York.

“This is a man that believes in conspiracy theories that are so whacky that we can’t have someone like that in the White House,” he said. “I think it’s shameful for Senate Republicans who have tried to be a moderate force in New York politics to lurch to the right.”

Others were more outwardly gleeful, including Queens Sen. James Sanders, a supporting of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at the Democratic National Convention.

Trump’s insurgent campaign and takeover of the Republican Party in some ways acted on the same populist impulses that has shaken the Democrats, right up to this week.

“I think they are being driven by winds they don’t control,” Sanders said. “I think they’re more concerned about the right wing of their own party. I think we’re seeing a party in meltdown, whether it be national or at the state.”

The Working Families Party, too, is wasting little time making an issue out of the Trump endorsement, releasing a fundraising email off Flanagan’s comments.

Updated: Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif responds.

“It’s time for the Senate Democrats to get some new ideas and to start focusing on the things that really matter to the people of New York,” Reif said.

“We are going to grow our majority because New Yorkers like what we stand for and what we have done – – including passage of a $4.2 billion middle-class tax cut, record funding for education and elimination of the GEA, and new laws to combat the state’s heroin epidemic.”

Astorino ‘Absolutely’ Cooperating With Bharara Subpoena

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino in a radio interview on Monday said his office was “absolutely” cooperating with a subpoena issued by the U.S. attorney’s office in a widening corruption investigation that began with Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office.

“Absolutely, yes,” Astorino said in an interview on WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom. “We were subpoenaed and they wanted informational stuff.”

The subpoena is part of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s broader review of the business ties of two donors to de Blasio, Jona Rechnitz and Jeremy Reichberg, according to The New York Post.

Both men have linked to pay-to-play scandals in New York City and federal investigators recently questioned the businessmen’s ties to Astorino when questioning Fernando Mateo of the New York Federation of Taxi Drivers.

During the 2014 campaign for governor, Astorino had blisteringly criticized Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo for Bharara’s investigation into the closure of the Moreland Commission.

Bharara’s office has since ended the inquiry into the commission’s closure, but is investigating economic development projects backed by the Cuomo administration.

Astorino, a Republican who is considering a second run for governor in 2018, reiterated the subpoena is “informational” and that it’s being turned over in a “timely way.”

“We’ve turned that all over and they’re going to look at that and I have no concern,” he said. “But we’re obviously cooperating.”

At Breakfast, NY Dems Assess A Divided Party

They mingled among urns of coffee and plates of pastries, wearing “I’m With Her” t-shirts or sky-blue “Bernie” buttons.

New York Democrats decamped to Philadelphia on Monday morning for a coffee meet-and-greet, with backers of Hillary Clinton stressing party unity and Bernie Sanders delegates reiterating how their darkest suspicious were confirmed by the contents of an email at the Democratic National Committee.

“I don’t think anybody was surprised at all,” said Allen Roskoff, the leader of the Jim Owles Democratic Club. “We knew this was rigged from the very beginning.”

And even as elected officials backing Clinton who were attendance for morning breakfast held at a downtown Philadelphia hotel stressed the party nationally and in New York was holding together, Sanders supporters visibly stood toward the back of the room, with the line of demarcation being the coffee creamers.

“I think we need to stress all the commonality that we have,” said Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan. “We’re on the same page.”

That glue is Donald Trump, the Republican nominee for president, whose plans to place a temporary ban on Muslim immigration from certain countries and build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border are deeply opposed by both factions in the party.

“What we saw last week was assaults on black and brown people, was assaults on women, assaults on immigrants, assaults on Muslims,” Sheehan said. “This is a great, diverse country and we need a president who is going to represent all of us.”

But simply opposing Trump isn’t enough for some Democrats, who have sought to turn the party leftward with the Sanders platform. Not engaging the Sanders supporters, especially given their youth, is a mistake, said Josh Fox, a documentary filmmaker and environmentalist activist.

“That’s the future of the Democratic Party,” Fox said. “To not satisfy us now in this moment is going to have long range implications and we don’t want to see that happen.”

Complicating things for New York Democratic supporters of Sanders has been the prominent role being played by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who will speak at the convention this week and is the delegation chairman.

“He’s a very divisive figure inside in the Democratic Party,” said Sanders supporter Lawrence Wittner, a professor at the University at Albany. “I don’t think he’s the face of New York Democrats.”

Cuomo was not in Philadelphia for the first day of the convention and has grappled with the left-leaning politics first hand after he faced a stronger-than-expeted primary challenge in 2014 from Zephyr Teachout, who is now a candidate for Congress in the 19th congressional district.

Cuomo has sought over the last year to bolster his ties to the left flank of the party, pushing successfully for another minimum wage increase, which is due to hit $15 in the next several years in New York City and the suburban counties.

At the same time, Cuomo’s administration moved to ban hydrofracking in the weeks after his re-election.

And the governor has reiterated his push for stronger gun control laws nationally in the wake of a series of mass shootings.

But skepticism among liberals for Cuomo abounds, especially issues like taxing and spending.
Asked about the problems Sanders people might have with Cuomo, Albany’s Sheehan smiled and said, “We have a big tent.”

1199’s Gresham Takes Real Politik Approach On NY Senate

George Gresham, the president of the politically influential 1199/SEIU labor group, would not rule out backing Republicans retain control of the state Senate, he said in an interview on Monday in Philadelphia.

But at the same time, Gresham insisted it was vital to put “Democrats into office” given they align on key issues facing the middle class.

The comments come after the Times Union reported last week the powerful union, which helped lead the effort to boost the state’s minimum wage to $15 earlier this year, would back Senate Republicans for continued control of the chamber.

Republicans have a narrow advantage in the chamber due to the conference’s alliance with Simcha Felder, a Democrat from Brooklyn.

“Let me put it this way: 1199’s motto has always been, we didn’t create it, but we live by it, and that is we don’t have permanent friends and we don’t have permanent enemies, we have permanent interests,” Gresham said.

Gresham is attending the Democratic National Convention this week in Philadelphia as part of the New York delegation. The union has been a prominent supporter for causes backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, including the minimum wage push this year.

In the end, all Senate Republicans backed the increased, which included a lower target of $12.50 for counties north of New York City, with plans to gradually increase the floor to $15 after 2022.

The stance isn’t all that dissimilar from where the union has been before, Gresham said.

“That’s the way we’re going to make our decisions,” Gresham said. “That’s the way we’ve always made our decisions. That’s why the members elected me to do that, no matter what the position is.”

Still, electing Democrats remains important for “working people,” he added.

“As far as the Democratic ticket is concerned, in this election, there is nothing more important than putting the Democrats into office, because they are the party that puts the working people first,” Gresham said.

NY-13: Espaillat To Address DNC

Congressional candidate Adriano Espaillat is the latest New Yorker to be added to the list of Democratic National Convention this evening, according to his campaign.

Espaillat, who is in line to become the first Dominican-American to serve in either house of Congress, is also set to publicly acknowledge his former status as an undocumented immigrant.

“Senator Espaillat’s story offers a stark contrast with the anti-immigrant vision presented by Donald Trump, and the intolerant platform approved by delegates at the Republican National Convention,” his campaign said.

The remarks are scheduled to be given at 6 p.m. tonight.

A state senator who represents upper Manhattan, Espaillat was victorious in a crowded Democratic primary field last month to replace Rep. Charlie Rangel in Congress.

Given the overwhelming Democratic enrollment in the district, which includes parts of the Bronx, Espaillat is expected to win the seat in November.

NY Dems Go Heavy With The New TZB Imagery

The state Democratic Committee in Philadelphia this week prominently include a rendering the replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge.

The rendering was featured on welcome signs for the Democrats’ coffee and buffet breakfast this morning and appears on credentials for delegates, officials and reporters.

The bridge theme is potentially a potent one for Democrats as they push for new infrastructure projects as well as the natural symbolism.

The bridge’s construction remains a signature accomplishment for Gov. Andrew Cuomo and was featured on a federal budget briefing book by the Obama administration.

But the project faced a setback last week when a crane collapsed on the existing bridge, snarling traffic during a busy commute.



4 Things To Watch For In Philly

From the Morning Memo:

Democrats meet this week in Philadelphia for their national convention.

Like the Republicans, it’s a moment to show of their party unity, bold-faced names and articulate a vision for the country.

And just like the Republicans, Democrats face mounting problems toward displaying any semblance of party unity in the wake of a populist campaign.

While Republicans continue to be roiled by the nomination of Donald Trump, Democrats are dealing with the ongoing fallout of the release of national party emails showing officials there deriding and undermining Bernie Sanders’s campaign.

On the state level, Democrats have to keep it together this week as well, though the New York party’s top officials remain deeply at odds with each other.

Here are four things to watch for in Philly:

1. How will Cuomo and de Blasio get along?

It’s the obvious, if not most closely watched question for Democrats this week. For the moment, it’s unclear when Gov. Andrew Cuomo will be traveling to Philadelphia (his scheduled today has him in New York City, with nothing public planned). But as chairman of the state delegation, Cuomo role will be a prominent one for the state Democrats. De Blasio, meanwhile, will be pressing his advantage as the mayor of New York City, holding events throughout the week here around the city and, according to his office’s schedule, be in Philadelphia all week. Cuomo in 2012 held a relatively low profile, attending the DNC in Charlotte for less than a full day to take in President Obama’s speech and then leave.

2. New York at the center of it all, again.

Like in Cleveland with the Republicans, the New York delegation in Philadelphia is once again at the center of the action, with a home state nominee leading the ticket. And that means prominent speaking slots for New Yorkers, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Reps. Nita Lowey and Joe Crowley as well as Cuomo and de Blasio. Topping it all off is a former mayor of New York in Hillary Clinton’s corner: Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent Michael Bloomberg, who will be endorsing her in a convention address. Bloomberg last spoke at a Republican National Convention in 2004, when it was held in New York City at Madison Square Garden. It will be interesting to see who speaks when and what topics they are given. Does Cuomo press his victories on the $15 minimum wage or knock Donald Trump for his immigration rhetoric. Does de Blasio push his own efforts to combat income inequality. While imperfect messengers and despite the feud, Cuomo and de Blasio do offer advantages for Clinton: Mainstream Democrats touting Clinton’s bonafides on issues in which liberals have been skeptical.

3. The Bernie Brigade.

Supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders have no plans to go quietly. The email scandal at the DNC re-opened the rift between the two factions within the party. At the same time, it has confirmed for some Sanders supporters party officials were working against their candidate — reinforcing the charges of a “rigged system.” For New York, it becomes a question of whether Sanders delegates can get along with a predominantly pro-Clinton delegation, and that includes the state delegation chairman, Andrew Cuomo.

4. Drawing distinctions.

Cut through the noise of the liberal dissatisfaction and the parochial squabbling, there’s still the unifying force binding Democrats together and that’s the nomination of Republican candidate Donald Trump. Like the similar clarion call for the GOP to unify against keeping Clinton from the Oval Office, Democrats this week will almost certainly try to draw stark distinctions between their platform and the Republican agenda. For New York Democrats running competitive elections this fall, that includes linking their Republican rivals to Trump. In particular, that’s the standing order for Democrats in the state Senate, who trying to gain control of the chamber this November. Senate Democrats in Philadelphia will no doubt this week point to Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan’s full-throated backing of Trump in Cleveland.