Cuomo: Focus On Puerto Rico, Not Feuds With Athletes

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a TV interview Saturday said President Donald Trump should be focusing on recovery and relief efforts following a devastating storm on Puerto Rico and not feuds with professional athletes.

Cuomo’s comments came in response to a question about the president on Friday criticizing NFL players who take a knee during the national anthem. At the Alabama rally, Trump said football team owners should remove those players from the field.

On Saturday morning, Trump said NBA player Steph Curry would not be welcomed at the White House after a report indicated the basketball star would not want to attend a ceremony hosted by the president.

Cuomo, interviewed on CNN, defended the right of athletes to express themselves, but called it a “secondary” concern to the issues facing Puerto Rico.

“First of all you can have your own political opinion. That’s the beauty of this country. You can have your opinion of people’s protest and about what people say. We also have something called the First Amendment, and that is the law and that is we respect and that’s what makes us special,” he said.

“That is a conversation that I think is frankly irrelevant or at least secondary to a conversation like what’s going on with Puerto Rico right now, where people are suffering, people may be dying. You want to use the power of the White House? Use the power of the White House to help Americans in need, now. Puerto Ricans are Americans.”

Cuomo was in Puerto Rico on Friday to bring storm relief supplies to the island. He had previously traveled to the Virgin Islands as part of a similar trip.

Extras

Arizona U.S. Sen. John McCain announced he cannot “in good conscience” vote for Cassidy-Graham, all but dashing GOP leaders’ chances of pushing through an eleventh-hour Obamacare reform measure.

“I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried,” McCain said.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has said he’ll oppose the bill and Maine Sen. Susan Collins says she’s leaning against it. Since Republicans control the Senate 52-48, and Democrats oppose the bill, three GOP “no” votes would doom it.

Paul, a definitive “no” on Cassidy_Graham, said after being singled out by the president on Twitter that he won’t be “bribed or bullied” into supporting it.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s office provided “technical guidance” and information about Cassidy-Graham to late night host Jimmy Kimmel.

Investigators have determined that pilot violations of several basic landing safeguards that ended with opposing commands from the captain and co-pilot caused then-VP candidate Mike Pence’s chartered jet to roll off the end of a wet New York runway last October.

North Korea has long cultivated an image of defiant belligerence, punctuating its propaganda and diplomacy with colorful threats, insults and bluster. But by addressing President Trump in a personal statement, the nation’s leader, Kim Jong-un, has pushed his government’s brinkmanship to a new, potentially more perilous level

Trump’s appointees to jobs at Agriculture Department headquarters include a long-haul truck driver, a country club cabana attendant and the owner of a scented-candle company.

Trump may replace his controversial travel ban with a more targeted list of restrictions on visitors to the U.S., administration officials said.

Former Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole, 94, has been hospitalized since last week due to low blood pressure, his spokeswoman said.

A state judge in Westchester County will decide County Executive Rob Astorino’s legal challenge to a deal brokered by the state of New York that will shut down the Indian Point nuclear power plant by 2021.

Tom Precious tweets: “A court trifecta for 2018: Percoco trial in Jan, Buffalo Billion in June and, w/ his looming trial postponed today, Maziarz starting 2/5/18.”

Asked if she had anything to say about conspiracy rumors that the teen involved in former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s sexting scandal was part of a plot by the Russians or Republicans to derail her presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton replied: “I really don’t have any comment on any of that.”

Clinton did give a glowing review to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, who ran her first U.S. Senate run in 2000, particularly singling out his efforts to expand pre-K

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office is still conducting an investigation prompted by complaints of “exorbitant” ticket prices for this tomorrow’s Paul McCartney show at the Carrier Dome.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, a potential primary challenger to Cuomo in 2018, doesn’t think he has done enough during his time in office to help upstate cities.

An experiment to control Staten Island’s booming deer population through mass vasectomies is said to be the first of its kind in the nation.

Moderate Democrats in the Blue Dog Coalition endorsed a slate of candidates – including NY-22 contender, Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi – in Republican-leaning districts, as they look to put their mark on the party’s 2018 midterm push.

Hillary Clinton insists she has no plans to contest the 2016 election results.

Former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato explains his about face on medical marijuana.

The middle of a downtown Syracuse street has become a massive canvas for local artists.

New York taxpayers could be on the hook for more than $700,000 in legal fees after the case against the late state Senate Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous was officially thrown out earlier this week.

Republican county legislators and political candidates are pushing for suspension of Suffolk County’s red light camera program, saying safety data is skewed because it doesn’t include pedestrian and bicycle accidents.

Beleaguered TRochester city court judge Leticia Astacio has stopped showing up to work, according to an administrative judge.

The Orange County Industrial Development Agency approved a 20-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes agreement for Legoland parent Merlin Entertainments.

Testing by pest control experts has determined that three insects found Thursday in Henninger High School were bed bugs.

Electeds, Advocates Push Back Against Senate Health Care Bill

The organizations that showed up Friday outside of a federal building in Albany to rally against the Senate’s latest bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act included a variety of groups that have been either kind or skeptical of Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Rallying against the bill included groups like Citizen Action, which have sought to further push Cuomo to the left on a variety of issues (Cuomo continues to enjoy a strong approval rating from self-identified liberals, even as advocates have faulted him for not doing enough).

But at the same time, and potentially underscoring the push for unity in the fractious left, two Cuomo allies attended as well: Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and Rep. Paul Tonko.

Speaking with reporters, Hochul knocked the bill as a transfer of health care spending from blue states like New York to Republican red states.

“It’s going to result in a partisan transfer of money from Democratic states to Republican states,” Hochul said. “We’re taking care of people in our state. It’s fundamentally unfair to New Yorkers.”

The measure would block grant Medicaid, ending the open-ended entitlement and, advocates fear, limiting what services New York could provide.

“I don’t want to even entertain that specter,” Hochul said when asked what state officials would have to do if the bill was approved. “There’s going to be huge hits to our hospitals, our nursing homes, our facilities.”

That’s a sentiment that was echoed by Ron Deutsch of the Fiscal Policy Institute.

“We provide the federal government with billions more than we currently get back in services,” he said. “So don’t take away our health care to give it to people in Mississippi. Let’s have health care for everybody.”

The bill’s chances of passage on Friday took a blow with the stated opposition of Sen. John McCain of Arizona, making him the second Republican to oppose the legislation.

Still, the demonstrators at the Friday rally sought to paint a picture of the bill’s strong chances. Tonko, a Democrat from the Albany area, said the opposition was united against the measure.

“I think they are,” Tonko said. “We know as a state we will be impacted very severely by this effort and it will be very difficult for us to pick up all the pieces lost from the federal perspective.”

Cuomo Appoints Water Quality Council

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday announced appointees to a 12-member Drinking Water Quality Council, formed in the wake of a series of industrial contamination problems in upstate and suburban communities over the last several years.

The governor’s appointees include Health Commissioner Howard Zucker and Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos.

“New York is once again stepping up as the federal government continues to ignore its duty to provide clear guidance to protect drinking water quality,” Cuomo said.

“Using the best available science, and tapping an array of experts, this new Council will provide science-based recommendations for the development of regulations to assure that good quality drinking water remains available to all New Yorkers. Water quality is a national issue that requires consistent national standards, but New York can no longer afford to wait.”

All told, Cuomo had eight appointees to the board, with the Legislature appointing the other four members.

Cuomo’s office said the council’s “first task” will be to recommend what should be the maximum contaminant levels for chemicals the federal government has left unregulated, including PFOA, PFOS and 1,4-dioxane.

The council is scheduled to meet for the first time on Oct. 2 on Long Island at SUNY Stony Brook. A second meeting is scheduled for the Albany area later this year.

DiNapoli: Revenue Boosted By Business Tax Collections

Tax collections from businesses helped buoy the state’s overall tax collections last month, according to a report released Friday by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office.

The August tax collections report found state revenue from taxes totaled $28.2 billion for the five months of the current fiscal year — $133 million higher than the updated projections.

This has come from a double digit increase in business tax collections.

“Business tax receipts have jumped and are up more than 30 percent from last year,” DiNapoli said. “However, that strong growth largely reflects increased collections from tax audits. Quarterly payments from both business and personal income taxes are due in September, which will provide a better indication of how current economic conditions are influencing tax collections this year.”

All-funds spending reached $62.4 billion through Aug. 31, or $4 billion higher than the same period last year.

Erie County ‘Made In America’ Author Ready To Compromise With County Executive

Emotions ran high at yesterday’s Erie County Legislature meeting after an attempt to override the county executive’s veto of a “Made in America” bill failed down party lines. The author of the legislation, Republican Ted Morton, was noticeably upset as he called the vote “pathetic” and “politics at its worst.”

Democratic County Executive Mark Poloncarz issued a statement after the meeting, once again criticizing the bill, which would require the county to purchase American-made products for contracts of $10,000 or more, for being ambiguous and, in his and the county attorney’s opinion, illegal under state procurement laws. Poloncarz though, said he would work with the legislature to draft a better law.

“I wholeheartedly believe the County has a role to play in encouraging the purchase of American-made products and materials but cannot endorse the Bill as presently drafted simply so that I can say we have passed a law. It is our responsibility to enact laws that will withstand legal scrutiny and stand the test of time beyond our tenure in government, not just pass those that are symbolic in nature,” he said.

Despite his anger over three of his Democratic colleagues seemingly changing their minds just two months after voting for the legislation, Morton said he was open to working with the county executive. Friday, he followed up, sending a letter to Poloncarz officially opening the dialogue.

“I am more than willing to work with you to make this a reality as I believe we have an opportunity to do more in the country to help our local workers and manufacturers,” Morton wrote. “Members of my staff have already had conversations with the County Attorney and your staff so we can begin to address the concerns you had with the original legislation.”

Although, the Republican appears to want to develop a new bill, Democratic Legislator Pat Burke has introduced similar legislation already. His “Invest in Erie, Invest in America” bill would not require the county to buy American-made products but would create a point system giving preference to county, local and American products, not unlike what’s already in place for minority and women-owned business and for veterans.

Catsimatidis Defends Loaning Plane To Cuomo

Businessman and prolific political donor John Catsimatidis on Friday defended making a plane available to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for a trip to visit the storm-ravaged Virgin Islands last week.

Catsimatidis, who has contributed to a variety of candidates over the years, including the governor, loaned the plane for the trip after the governor had approved legislation that would benefit a biofuels plant he owns, according to the Times Union this week.

Catsimatidis in the radio interview with Talk 1300’s Fred Dicker said he had not spoken to Cuomo about the bill and that it was his idea to contact ethics regulators at the Joint Commission on Public Ethics to receive approval for the trip. JCOPE approved the trip, which had the stated goal of providing humanitarian support in the wake of a hurricane.

“The truth? I didn’t even he was signing a bill,” he said. “Fred Dicker, you’ve known me for 20 years. I didn’t even know he was signing it.”

In the at-times pointed interview, Catsimatidis insisted repeatedly he did not have the biofuel-related legislation on his mind when the Cuomo’s office reached out to ask for the plane. He also insisted his lobbying team had not spoken to him about the issue “in months.”

He declined to say who from Cuomo’s office reached out to him about the plane, saying he “didn’t want to get anyone in trouble.”

“The truth? I didn’t even he was signing a bill,” he said. “Fred Dicker, you’ve known me for 20 years. I didn’t even know he was signing it.”

In addition to his stake in energy-related efforts, Catsimatidis also operates the Gristedes supermarket chain in New York City.

“I said to them I used to operate Grand Union stores in the Virgin Islands and I have a good feeling for those people,” he said, “but I said to them we have to seek permission from the powers that be to do that and we got the letter from JCOPE.”

Catsimatidis insisted that while he’s contributed to a variety of political candidates (and ran for mayor of New York City himself in 2013), has never received anything in return or asked for anything as a result of the contribution.

“I said the way people are these days everything has to be above board and I want to have permission,” Catsimatidis said. “Fred, you know me for a long time. I’m a straight guy. Have I ever gotten anything from anybody?”

He also noted he differs with Cuomo on several other energy-related issues, including the closure of the Indian Point nuclear power plant and the ban on hydrofracking.

Cuomo is in Puerto Rico on Friday to provide aid and assistance. He traveled there with a plan provided by Jet Blue.

Cuomo To Puerto Rico

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday is traveling to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria battered the island this week.

Cuomo is traveling with a team of New York Power Authority engineers, translators, Department of Environmental Conservation drones and drone pilots and will also deliver emergency supplies.

The New York National Guard, which has assisted with other storm responses in Texas and Florida in recent weeks, is on standby and will go to the island as well.

Cuomo said the trip comes after Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosello asked for assistance.

The trip is the second one the governor has made in the wake of devastating storms in the Atlantic.

Last week, Cuomo traveled to the U.S. Virgin Islands on the plane of businessman John Catsimatidis, a prominent donor in New York political circles who has contributed to the governor’s campaigns.

Cuomo’s office in a statement said the plane for the Puerto Rico trip was being donated by Jet Blue.

“New York is home to more Puerto Ricans than any other state in the country, and our hearts break for our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters as they begin to rebuild after the unimaginable devastation of Hurricane Maria,” Cuomo said. “We are sending requested resources and personnel to help the island rebuild, and we stand shoulder to shoulder with the Puerto Rican community in their time of need.”

Cuomo has focused New York assistance for Puerto Rico before, including offering financial help as the island’s budget and debt crisis deepened. Cuomo at the time also urged Congress to approve a bankruptcy plan for the Puerto Rican government.

Collins Won’t Predict Cassidy-Graham Future

From the Morning Memo:

Three votes is all it would take to sink the Cassidy-Graham healthcare overhaul bill.

The eleventh-hour attempt by Republicans in the U.S. Senate to repeal the Affordable Care Act once seemed like the longest of long shots, but now appears to have a chance – albeit slim – at passage, even though it has been deemed the most “radical” of all the Obamacare reform efforts the GOP has debated thus far.

Western New York Rep. Chris Collins said he would love to see the House get an opportunity to weigh in on this proposal, too, but he’s acutely aware Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell & Co. need 50 of 52 GOP senators’ support to get it through their chamber.

That’s a tall order, but so far not completely out of the question. Still, the congressman isn’t holding his breath.

“I know they’re vote counting, so I’m just going to just watch like everyone else,” Collins said. “I don’t want to be a Debby Downer and say it’s not going to pass, but I’m not overly optimistic.”

Neither would Collins make a prediction about whether Congress would restore scheduled funding cuts to Disproportionate Share Hospital (also known as “DSH” – pronounced “dish”) payments. Lawmakers need to take action before Oct. 1 to protect the funding stream, which reimburses public and safety net hospitals that treat uninsured and underinsured patients.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said New York stands to lose billions of dollars if the DSH payments get cut.

New York also would lose a massive amount of Medicaid and Medicare funding – second only to California in the nation – if the block grant plan outlined under Cassidy-Graham passes.

That has led some of Collins’ fellow GOP delegation members – including Long Island Rep. Pete King, New York’s most veteran House Republican – to already go on the record saying they’ll likely vote “no” if given a chance.

Collins said he and his colleagues tried to address the DSH problem before the recess that followed the failure of the last GOP healthcare plan. But he also said hospitals are sending mixed signals by both lobbying against that bill and asking for help.

“There’s a bit of an irony here, a little bit of hypocrisy here, and I can’t predict where it’s going to go right now,” he said. “They’re asking us to help shore up a piece of Obamacare that we had fixed in the American Health Care Act that they lobbied against.”

Here and Now

“Following Governor Ricardo Rosselló’s official Governor to Governor request, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and a delegation of emergency management officials will travel to Puerto Rico to deliver supplies and assist with recovery efforts. Governor Cuomo will return to New York in the evening.”

Cuomo holds a press briefing at 7:15 a.m. before departing from JFK Airport, Building 145, Sheltair Terminal, Jamaica, Queens.

More on the governor’s trip here, here, and here.

Late this afternoon, President Donald Trump will travel from his golf club in Bedminster, NJ to Huntsville, AL to participate in a U.S. Senate Rally for Luther Strange, after which he’ll return to New Jersey for the night.

This morning, Vice President Mike Pence participates in a meeting with Maine Gov. Paul LePage to discuss health care and tax reform.

Later in the day, Pence, joined by Gov. Eric Holcomb, Sen. Joe Donnelly, and Reps. Susan Brooks, Luke Messer, and Todd Rokita, will visit Anderson, Indiana to meet with local business leaders and Hoosier families to discuss health care and tax reform.

Pence will conclude his Indiana visit with formal remarks to the community at the Wylam Center of Flagship East.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson remains in NYC for the UN General Assembly.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is in the city with no public schedule.

At 7 a.m., and through Saturday, the Puerto Rican Family Institute is taking donations for families impacted by the Mexico earthquake and the PR hurricanes, 145 West 15th Street, 7th Floor, Manhattan.

Also at 7:15 a.m., Mayor Richard Thomas will kick of the Lincoln Avenue Road repaving project at the cross-streets of Lincoln Avenue and Magnolia Avenue in Mount Vernon.

At 11 a.m., Make the Road New York and other activists host a press conference followed by a march to call on de Blasio to end discriminatory school policing policies by eliminating the use of arrests and summons for misdemeanors and non-criminal violations in schools, 52 Chambers St., Manhattan.

At 11:30 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul will join Citizen Action of New York, 1199SEIU, SEIU Local 200 United, New York Immigration Coalition and VOCAL-NY to rally against the federal health care repeal bill, Leo O’Brien Federal Building, 1 Clinton Sq., Albany.

Also at 11:30 a.m., Brightpoint Health celebrates the renaming of their renovated clinic to be called the Matilda Raffa Cuomo Health Center in honor of New York’s former first lady and her long history of charitable and humanitarian efforts, 105-04 Sutphin Blvd., Queens.

At 3:45 p.m., members of the Culinary Craft Association, along with members of the SEIU Local 200United, rally in response to the Culinary Institute of America’s latest effort to slash workers’ wages and benefits, The Culinary Institute of America, 1946 Campus Drive, Hyde Park.

Headlines…

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in an extraordinary and direct rebuke, called President Donald Trump “deranged” and said he will “pay dearly” for his threats, a possible indication of more powerful weapons tests on the horizon.

North Korea’s foreign minister said his country may be planning to test a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean to fulfill Kim Jong Un’s vow to take the “highest-level” action against the U.S.

Trump ordered a widening of American sanctions on North Korea to further choke off its trade with the outside world, in what some experts described as perhaps the most sweeping set of punitive economic measures enacted by the United States in many years.

The Trump administration is preparing to dismantle key Obama-era limits on drone strikes and commando raids outside conventional battlefields, laying the groundwork for possible counterterrorism missions in countries where Islamic militants are active but the U.S. has not previously tried to kill or capture them.

A day after Hurricane Maria ravaged Puerto Rico, flooding towns, crushing homes and killing at least two people, millions of people on the island faced the dispiriting prospect of weeks and perhaps months without electricity.

Bronx native and Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor said she’s incredibly worried about loved ones – who she hasn’t been able to reach – in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico.

The Empire State Building put on a rotating light display last night to honor the countries affected by both Hurricane Maria and the earthquake in Mexico.

Special counsel Robert Mueller is seeking phone records connected to Donald Trump Jr.’s statement – which his father dictated aboard Air Force One – defending his meeting with a Russian lawyer in the summer of 2016.

Under growing pressure from lawmakers and the public to reveal more about the spread of covert Russian propaganda on Facebook, the company said it’s turning over more than 3,000 Russia-linked ads to congressional committees investigating the Kremlin’s influence operation during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Violence broke out at a New York hotel yesterday afternoon when protesters disrupted a speech by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.

CVS pharmacy is battling the opioid epidemic with a new prescription plan that limits new patients to a seven-day supply, the company announced. The drug store chain will also reach out to doctors about prescriptions that seem to be excessive, and put a cap on daily dosages.

Eight months ago, Rudy Giuliani was named a top adviser to Trump on cybersecurity matters. Yet, former and current U.S. officials say since that declaration, the ex-NYC mayor has contributed little to the administration and the advisory role has yet to bear anything worthwhile.

New York state would take a $52 billion beating under the latest GOP effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare — the second-largest amount lost in the US, according to a new study released yesterday.

The National Association of Medicaid Directors spoke out against the GOP-led effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Newsweek headline: “Will New York Governor Andrew Cuomo Become President One Day? Not if NYC’s Subway Crisis Continues.”

About 250 Dreamers who attend CUNY campuses and face an Oct. 5 deadline to reapply for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals protection will have the $495 fee covered under a program paid for by a non-profit, the university announced.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said she hasn’t decided yet if she’ll challenge Cuomo in a primary next year, but if she does enter the 2018 race, she would not run as a conventional candidate.

Cuomo is planning an aggressive fundraising schedule through the end of the year as potential gubernatorial candidates like Miner mull challenges to him.

Federal investigators have determined that the engineers in two recent, high-profile derailments involving the LIRR and NJ Transit suffered from a sleep disorder, according to newly released public documents.

A federal panel’s findings, made public for the first time, said that the NYPD promotions process systematically stymied black detectives in the elite Intelligence Division. But the Justice Department declined to sue.

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