Hochul Defends Biz Efforts In Albany

From the Morning Memo:

As the efforts to encourage job and business growth in Albany come under scrutiny from the latest ratings by the National Federation of Independent Business, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul on Wednesday defended those efforts.

Speaking with reporters in Syracuse, Hochul pointed to the heavy investment by the state in economic development projects.

“You need to look at the entirity. We have now spent over $4 billion on economic development projects,” she said. “That’s pro-business — over 4,100 positions created because of that. So, we have a lot of initiatives I woul say that are helping lift up the business community, investing in them, giving them the workforce development opportunities.”

Business groups have argued the state’s approach shouldn’t be on targeted investments or tax credits, but a broader effort to scale back the state’s regulatory environment as well as improve the tax climate.

The NFIB’s legislative scorecard this week showed most legislators received lower grades this past legislative session, too, due to the approval of measures such as 12 weeks of paid family leave and the approval a minimum wage set at $15 in the downstate region.

Upstate, the wage is due to reach $12.50, which an effort to hit $15 at some point, based on economic conditions.

Hochul cited the upstate wage provision as a sign that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is taking businesses’ concerns seriously.

“There are people who wanted a $15 minimum wage tomorrow here in upstate New York,” she said. “The governor listened to those concerns and there has been a slow ramp.”

And at the same time, Hochul defended the wage hike as well as the approval of paid family leave, saying those are measures improving New Yorkers’ lives.

“I would disagree with the premise that it’s anti-business,” she said. “It’s pro-people here in the state of New York.”

SD-58: DiNapoli To Make Senate Dem Endorsement

From the Morning Memo:

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli next Monday will throw his support behind Democratic Senate candidate Leslie Danks Burke, her campaign announced.

DiNapoli’s endorsement is expected to take place at a fundraiser in Corning at the United Steel Workers Union Hall. Danks Burke is challenging Republican Sen. Tom O’Mara this fall for the Southern Tier-area Senate seat.

“As the state’s top fiscal watchdog, Comptroller DiNapoli is expected to make the case for Danks Burke as the best choice in November to help local farms, encourage small business growth, and ensure quality, affordable education for all families,” the Danks Burke campaign said in a statement.

The endorsement of Danks Burke by DiNapoli comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signaled he would help Democrats gain majority control of the state Senate this election cycle.

Cuomo has been criticized in the past for not doing enough to aid Democratic candidates and the party in taking a full majority in the chamber, which Republicans have narrow control of in part due to their alliance with Brooklyn Democratic Sen. Simcha Felder.

Here And Now

Good morning!

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City and has nothing public planned.

Here’s your schedule:

At 11 a.m., The National Federation Of Independent Business will endorse congressional candidate John Faso, 41 Browne St., Oneonta.

At noon, local leaders will call on Rep. Elise Stefanik to oppose the Trans Pacific Trade Partnership, 136 Glen Street, Glens Falls.

At 12:30, Vassar Brothers Medical Center workers will unveil a billboard to promote staffing level concerns at the facility. 45 Reade Place, Poughkeepsie.

At 2 p.m., Assemblyman Ceretto and Mayor Dyster will discuss progress being made on Phase II of the Buffalo Avenue Rehabilitation project in Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls City Hall, 745 Main St., Niagara Falls.

Headlines:

Cuomo signed Albany’s latest iteration of an ethics bill on Wednesday, but good-government groups were deeply critical of the measure’s provisions.

The ethics watchdogs were especially upset over the provisions requiring new disclosure for non-profits, which they said would impact charities and have other intended consequences.

The good-government groups, which have been a thorn in Cuomo’s side, also panned the new law for not attacking the root causes of corruption in Albany.

Cuomo touted the legislation he signed on Wednesday as an “aggressive action” to crackdown on super PACs in the post-Citizens United era.

Cuomo himself, of course, was aided for two years by the Committee to Save New York, which folded just before new donor disclosure requirements were to take effect.

On the presidential level, Democrat Hillary Clinton is easily out raising Republican Donald Trump in western New York — an area that includes a number of prominent Trump supporters.

Speaking in Mississippi, Trump labeled Clinton a bigot, and urged black and Hispanic voters to support him.

The Trump rally included Nigel Farage, a British politician who led the so-called “Brexit” movement in the United Kingdom.

As Hilary Clinton sought a crackdown on abusive practices of a for-profit college, Bill Clinton received $17.6 million from the organization.

Clinton and her allies spent the day batting down an AP report that suggested she met with donors of the Clinton Foundation while she was secretary of state.

Republican County Executive Joanie Mahoney, a prominent supporter of New York’s Democratic governor, says she would have a hard time supporting Trump’s candidacy.

Former New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says he’s “incensed” after a report was critical of police surveillance efforts in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks.

The practice of paying for his meals with campaign funds has led to one of the largest fines in recent years for Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson.

After development at a Lower East Side site was allegedly blocked by then-Assemblyman Sheldon Silver as he sought to preserve the Jewish character of the neighborhood, a new project there is rising.

The developer behind the troubled Rivington House land deal is ditching a Brooklyn project at the Bedford-Union armory.

The seat that Silver vacated late last year following his corruption conviction is now the focus of a primary featuring a half-dozen candidates vying for the Democratic nomination.

New York’s top open government official is calling on the NYPD to reverse a policy of sealing internal disciplinary records for officers.

A report from Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office was deeply critical of the state’s information technology services transformation efforts, saying it was hobbled by a lack of basic planning.

As students are heading back to college campuses this month, New York is cracking down on underage drinking.

After a boating accident killed a young girl in Lake George, officials in Warren County are considering a measure that would require safety training for boat rentals.

A handful of business groups are urging upstate lawmakers to put aside party labels and join together in a regional-based caucus to promote upstate interests.

A Conservative Party candidate running for a North Country Assembly seat is the latest candidate this election cycle to oppose a potential pay increase for state lawmakers.

The Poughkeepsie Journal’s editorial board urges New York officials to do more to encourage participation in the organ donor program, which is among the lowest in the country.

In Harlem, advocates rallied as part of a push to pressure Cuomo to end the practice of solitary confinement in state prisons.

A proposal for a gender identity policy in Buffalo stirs passions at a school board meeting, though the policy itself was tabled.

With the Travers to get underway in Saratoga Springs on Saturday, an animal rights group is planning its fifth protest of the year the track.

An RA course at SUNY Binghamton designed to diffuse racial tensions is being decried for its name — “Stop White People.”

Rep. Brian Higgins, a Democrat who represents the Buffalo area, insists he’s not interested in the Erie County Community College president’s job following the retirement of Jack Quinn.

With announced plans to strike starting next month, officials at St. Elizabeth Medical Center in Utica will enforce a five-day lockout.

In Syracuse, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul held a forum encouraging women to get involved in politics and civic life.

Once referenced on Jeopardy! as a literal example of urban blight, a new housing development is being unveiled in Albany’s downtrodden Sheridan Hollow.

The State Fair is underway in Syracuse and yes, the butter sculpture has been officially unveiled (spoiler alter).

AD-65: Sanders Groups Back Newell

A coalition of groups that backed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential bid endorsed on Wednesday Paul Newell’s campaign in the 65th Assembly district.

Newell, who previously ran for Democratic nomination in the lower Manhattan district when it was represented by disgraced former Speaker Sheldon Silver, was given the nod of a range of Sanders-supporting groups, including People for Bernie, Citizen Action New York, the New York State Nurses Association and congressional candidate Zephyr Teachout.

“This is a chance for an important district to make a significant point at a pivotal moment: the political revolution has only just begun,” said Charles Lenchner, co-founder People for Bernie.

“This district is central to the fight for economic justice and raising the voice of the people in politics. Here, we have both the financial district and the birthplace of Occupy. Paul has a proven record of bringing people together, supporting social movements, and standing up for justice.”

Yuh-Line Niou, who ran on the Working Families Party line in the April special election, is once again seeking the Assembly seat now held by Democrat Alice Cancel, who was backed by allies of Silver earlier this year.

Extras

Chelsea Clinton plans to remain on the board of the Clinton Foundation if her mother, Hillary Clinton, is elected president this fall, a foundation spokesman said.

An increasing number of editorial pages say the foundation should shut down or transfer operations to another charity despite its good work to avoid perceptions of “pay-for-play”, despite plans to reorganize it should Hillary Clinton win the White House.

Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson has agreed to pay a $15,000 fine as part of a settlement with NYC’s Conflicts of Interest Board for having police and security officers fetch and pay for his meals. The officers were subsequently reimbursed with office funds.

Ed Rollins, chairman of a pro-Donald Trump super PAC, says the Republican nominee would lose badly if the election was held today.

Trump’s new campaign manager Kellyanne Conway compared Clinton’s relationship with the truth to what she called former president Bill Clinton’s “casual relationships with other women.”

Trump’s son, Eric, said it would be “foolish” for his father to release his tax returns.

A new audit from the office of state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found “significant deficiencies” in the “transformation” of information technology services at state agencies — a process that is now in its fourth year and remains ongoing.

John “Rus” Thompson refused to accept a plea offer in his voter fraud case today, opting to go to trial rather than admit to a felony.

The State Education Department has appointed the first “privacy officer” whose job it will be to make sure that student data remains confidential.

AG Eric Schneiderman said a decision by the embattled medical provider for Nassau’s jail not to bid to keep its contract is “a positive step forward” for taxpayers as his office moves ahead with its recent lawsuit against the company after a series of inmate deaths.

NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal appears on NBC’s “Running Wild with Bear Grylls” in the Adirondack Park at 10 p.m. Monday.

The Empire Center’s Kenneth Girardin: “Governor Andrew Cuomo’s new Clean Energy Standard is shaping up to be one of the largest tax hikes in state history.”

A federal judge again postponed former Town of Oyster Bay Commissioner Frederick Ippolito’s sentencing for tax evasion connected to fees received from a paving contractor, saying that information received from Ippolito and town officials about their relationship with the company was too vague and only raised more questions.

Million Dollar Beach at Lake George was closed for the second time in five days by the DEC due to elevated levels of fecal coliform in the water.

New York State’s hospitals as a whole ranked last among the 50 states, according to a report card from the federal government. New York City’s hospitals were rated even lower than the state average – and Brooklyn’s hospitals scored lower than the city as a whole.

Ramen noodles are the unofficial currency of choice inside the U.S. prison system.

Cuomo Approves New Disclosure Measures

Seeking to address the political spending through super PACs in the wake of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday signed into law a bill that would require the disclosure for non-profit groups that engage in political activities.

The bill is also aimed at curbing the coordination between independent expenditure committees and a candidate’s campaign and require consultants and lobbyists who provide services to sitting elected officials or candidates.

Touted as the key ethics measure approved at the end of the legislative session in June, the bill has been opposed by good-government organizations for failing to address the root causes of corruption in state government and placing an overdue burden on non-profit entities.

Hours before Cuomo’s office announced he had signed the bill, a coalition of the state’s prominent ethics watchdogs called on him to veto the legislation — an unlikely move given the governor had proposed the bill. At the same time, the call to veto the legislation may have only emboldened Cuomo further, given the tensions between the governor and good-government groups in recent months.

Cuomo was pushed by ethics watchdogs this past legislative session to focus on government reform measures, many of which stood little chance of passing in the Assembly and Senate. Still, the groups insisted Cuomo could have thrown his weight behind such measures like closing the LLC loophole (Cuomo ultimately introduced multiple versions of the bill to address multiple public offices) as well as public financing of elections.

But Cuomo insists the bill is a major effort at rolling back the impact of the Citizens United decision and the influence of “dark money” in politics.

“New York is taking aggressive action to restore the people’s faith in government and increase accountability and transparency in the electoral process,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“These actions roll back the disastrous influence of Citizens United and prohibit coordination between candidates and independent expenditure committees. Through enhanced enforcement and increased penalties for political consultants who flout the law, this new legislation will root out bad actors and shine a spotlight on the sordid influence of dark money in politics. With this legislation, New York is raising the bar once again – and now it’s time for the rest of the nation to follow suit.”

The bill was proposed as New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, whom Cuomo has had a hostile public relationship with over the last year, was benefiting from the non-profit Campaign for One New York. The non-profit, which backed the mayor’s agenda, had stirred controversy for de Blasio and was ultimately shuttered.

Cuomo, too, benefited from the Committee To Save New York, a group of business interests and private-sector unions that was aligned with the governor’s agenda in 2011 and 2012. The group closed down before a law that would have required its donors be disclosed took effect.

NY-19: Teachout Talks Climate Change On Irene Anniversary

Democratic congressional candidate Zephyr Teachout on Wednesday released a 2-minute video commemorating the five-year anniversary of Hurricane Irene which battered parts of the upstate region.

Her message: “We are not ready for the next Irene.”

Namely, the once-a-century storm is now happening with more frequency. And Teachout says climate change is to blame for the increase in devastating storms. She calls for a scaling back of fossil fuel usage as well as infrastructure investment, especially when it comes to water infrastructure.

“Let’s right now invest and actually repair our basic water infrastructure,” she says in the video.

Teachout is running for the Hudson Valley congressional district being vacated by Rep. Chris Gibson. She faces Republican John Faso in November.

SD-60: Small Wants Water Quality Hearings For Buffalo, Too

As state lawmakers in the coming weeks prepare to hold water quality hearings in Hoosick Falls, Albany and on Long Island, Democratic Senate candidate Amber Small on Wednesday called for hearings to be held in Buffalo as well.

“We are home to New York’s largest freshwater basin yet water quality problems plague us in Western New York,” Small said in a statement. “There should be hearings here to tackle this issue. It is a slap in the face to not hold a hearing—to not even give concerned residents the opportunity to have their voices heard. Shame on Albany.”

The Republican-led Senate next Tuesday plans to hold a hearing Hoosick Falls following a water contamination in the village as well as nearby Petersburgh.

Joint legislative hearings from the Senate and Assembly Health and Environmental Conservation committees will be held in September on statewide water issues as well, with plans to hold them on Long Island and in the Legislative Office Building in Albany.

But Small insists the issue shouldn’t be focused on in a handful of areas in New York.

“Water quality is not an isolated problem,” she said. “It is a regional issue that we cannot afford to ignore. Our campaign will continue to bring constant attention to this issue. Just a few weeks ago we presented a plan for regional solutions and called upon the state to provide the dedicated financing that all of our local communities need to upgrade their aging sewer and water infrastructure.”

Small is running for the Buffalo-area Senate seat being vacated by Democrat Marc Panepinto. She faces Republican Chris Jacobs.

SD-31: Gay & Lesbian Independent Democrats Endorse Lasher

A prominent LGBT Democratic organization on Wednesday endorsed Democratic state Senate hopeful Micah Lasher, who faces a hotly contested primary for the seat being vacated by Adriano Espaillat.

The Gay & Lesbian Independent Democrats gave their nod to Lasher, a former aide to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and later Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

“Micah has been an unwavering friend of the LGBT community for over a decade, and his support for critical legislation that would ensure equal rights for all New Yorkers makes him an ideal candidate to succeed State Senator Adriano Espaillat,” said GLID President Anthony Hayes.

The group pointed to Lasher’s work in the attorney general’s office as well as the legislative affairs director for Bloomberg in their endorsement announcement, saying he’s worked on key issues for the LGBT community, such as a bill that would ban so-called gay conversion therapy.

“Micah knows the legislative process better than anyone, and he knows how to get things done to help advance LGBT rights and protect the gains we’ve made in recent years,” Hayes said in a statement.

Espaillat is running for the Senate seat held by Rep. Charlie Rangel after winning a crowded Democratic primary in June.

The race to replace him in the Senate includes Democrats Marisol Alcantara and former city Councilman Robert Jackson.

NYSUT-Linked PAC Gets A $4M Boost

A super PAC controlled by a top official at the statewide teachers union received this week a $4 million contribution from a separate committee that lists the union’s headquarters as its address.

A filing on the state Board of Elections website shows the committee, New Yorkers For A Brighter Future, transferred $4 million to the independent expenditure committee Fund For Great Public Schools.

The IE’s treasurer is Andy Pallotta, the vice president of the New York State United Teachers Union.

New Yorkers For A Brighter Future lists is address as 800 Troy Schenectady Road, the same as NYUST’s headquarters in the Albany suburb of Latham.

The Brighter Future group, first formed in 2010, has been funded through donations that appear to be in the $100 range.

The group this week reported $3.9 million in cash on hand.

The bolstering of independent expenditure committee for NYSUT comes as a range of groups funded by wealthy supporters of charter schools and the education investment tax credit have spent heavily on behalf of challengers to Democratic incumbents in upcoming Assembly and Senate primaries.

Those independent expenditure groups are expected to play a role in the broader fight for control of the state Senate this November.