Holiday Hours

Just a little note for those of you who haven’t already started your July 4th festivities.

There WILL be a Capital Tonight show this evening at 8 p.m. We’ll be chatting with Sen. George Latimer about how Yonkers ended up being the only school district that got cash in the Big Ugly deal ($25 million) after Gov. Andrew Cuomo had proposed a $100 million funded for struggling upstate schools.

Also, Latimer will talk about how the governor signed into law yesterday a pair of bills requested by Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano and fellow city leaders that allows the city to hike its sales tax and impose a separate tax on hotel rooms – both designed to assist the school district as it struggles with a major budget gap of $26 million due to a massive accounting error.

Also joining us will be Assemblyman John McDonald, who will be sharing his thoughts on the end of the session, which focused mostly on downstate issues (rent laws, mayoral control etc.) and didn’t result in much for upstate, other than the property tax cap and rebate program.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy had a wish list of issues he hoped the Legislature would address this session. Some of them got done, others did not. He’ll be joining us to discuss.

And, of course, since it’s Friday, the Reporter Roundtable will be on hand to review the week’s headlines. With us will be Gannett’s Jon Campbell, who’s prepared to talk about all things fracking now that the state has officially banned the controversial natural gas drilling practice; Matt Hamilton of the Albany TU, who will talk a little bit about prison reform in the wake of the Clinton Correctional Facility escape by Richard Matt and David Sweat (Hamilton is from the North Country and has family working in the corrections system); and, of course, CapTon’s own Nick Reisman will be with us, too.

There will be very light blogging today, in light of the holiday weekend. And nothing again until Monday morning…unless someone gets really inspired or big news breaks.

In the absence of either of those things, have a great weekend! Be safe, and be well. See you back here in a few days. – Liz

DiNapoli: Let’s All Get Along

From the Morning Memo:

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli urged both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to set aside their ongoing feud and repair their relationship.

Interviewed on Capital Tonight on Thursday, DiNapoli said that Cuomo and de Blasio need to get along, if only for the good of both the city and the state.

“I certainly hope everyone lets off some steam. The mayor of the city of New York and the governor of the state of New York — these are very important players in terms of the future of millions of people in the city and state,” DiNapoli said. “They need to have a working relationship. They’ve had one in the past. Hopefully they’ll be able to get it back on track, we’d all benefit from that.”

De Blasio this week in an unusually candid interview criticized Cuomo’s approach toward negotiations in Albany, airing grievances that the governor has sought to undermine the mayor’s administration, sided with Senate Republicans in the closed-door talks and takes revenge on perceived opponents.

In turn, Cuomo has insisted he has to work well with members of the other party in order to accomplish things, even if that requires compromise.

“Whether it was correct or wise, he said it,” DiNapoli said of the mayor’s remarks. “I think the question now is how does everyone move forward.”

De Blasio’s remarks were a startling admission that the relationship between the governor and mayor had reached such a low point after lawmakers and Cuomo only agreed to a year-long extension of mayoral control of city schools.

DiNapoli has had a turbulent relationship with Cuomo in the past. The then-gubernatorial candidate in 2010 declined to endorse DiNapoli’s bid for a full term.

In government, DiNapoli’s office has differed with Cuomo over approaches to managing state spending and the budget, which has led to searing denunciations from the governor’s team.

Calls For Tax Cap Changes Won’t End, DiNapoli Says

From the Morning Memo:

Broad changes to the state’s cap on property tax increases did not materialize this session.

That doesn’t mean calls for further changes in the future won’t go away anytime soon, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said in an interview.

Lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo did back changes to the cap, which limits levy increases at 2 percent or the rate of inflation, including allowing for growth in payments in lieu of taxes and BOCES capital expenses.

DiNapoli said the changes would likely have a “marginal” impact compared to the reforms sought by teachers unions along with local and school district leaders such as making it easier to override.

“The tax cap at least according to the polls a fair amount of popularity,” DiNapoli said. “I don’t think in Albany there’s been a big appetite to tinker with it too much.”

The cap itself was not re-approved indefinitely, but given another four years before it is due to sunset once again.

“I think over time you’ll keep hearing calls for more amendments,” DiNapoli said. “I don’t hear too many folks saying get rid of the tax cap entirely.”

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in the New York City area with no public schedule.

At 1 p.m., Brooklyn BP Eric Adams offers welcoming remarks as competitive eaters including Joey Chestnut and Miki Sudo attend an official weigh-in ceremony for Nathan’s Famous Inc.’s “International Hot Dog Eating Contest,” scheduled Saturday, July 4, on Brooklyn’s Coney Island boardwalk; rotunda, Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

At 5 p.m., Rep. Chris Gibson will help the Fort Plain community celebrate Independence Day and honor Loring Dutcher, a 46-year member of the Fort Plain Village Board.

Also at 5 p.m., Rep. Elise Stefanik speaks at the Albany Saratoga Speedway, 2671 Rte 9, Malta.


Authorities are now saying escaped convict Richard Matt aimed his 20-gauge shotgun at an armed federal agent late last week but was shot and killed before he could pull the trigger. Previously, they said only that he had been armed and was shot when he refused orders to put up his hands.

Three days after Matt broke out of Clinton Correctional Facility, his daughter living in a Buffalo suburb received a letter from him. “I always promised you I would see you on the outside. I’m a man of my word,” he wrote, seeming to allude to his imminent escape. He also had Joyce Mitchell, the prison employee charged with helping Matt and David Sweat break out, establish a relationship with his daughter.

Matt’s body has returned home to the City of Tonawanda, where a private funeral service is expected to be held. Arrangements were made by his son, Nicholas Harris, to claim his father’s remains. He is frustrated that prison officials are not assisting in the cost of the funeral.

Reports diving deep into potential shortcomings in the system that may have allowed Sweat and Matt to escape from the state prison at Dannemora will give way to reforms meant to prevent future breakouts from 54 state correctional facilities.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton told 822 police academy graduates they are coming onto the job at a time of “great change,” and will be looked upon to “heal wounds with communities that feel we have not done enough to keep them safe.”

Internal e-mails reveal that City Hall tried to cover up a rift with the Rev. Al Sharpton after the civil-rights preacher blasted the NYPD at a public round-table last summer with de Blasio and Bratton.

Citing his pending trial on federal corruption charges, former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver declined to disclose his outside income for 2014, according to the JCOPE, which released financial disclosure statements yesterday for every state legislator.

Jim Dwyer says there’s more than enough blame to go around when it comes to the feud between NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Sharpton is backing de Blasio in his public criticism of the governor. But Assemblyman Matt Titone, a Staten Island Democrat, thinks the mayor’s words were not smart. “This is Politics 101,” he said. “If you think someone is vindictive and you threw a grenade at him, how does that help?”

Former US Sen. Al D’Amato offered to broker a peace agreement between de Blasio and Cuomo at a “pasta summit” at Rao’s, writing on his Facebook page: “All things can be worked out over meatballs and marinara!”

De Blasio aides hoped AG Eric Schneiderman, who has had his own differences with Cuomo, would serve as a surrogate for the mayor in his tiff with the governor, but the AG declined, saying he has to work with both of them.

The DEC’s release of a findings statement that banned tracking in New York started a 120-day clock for proponents to examine whether the ban has any legal holes. If a lawsuit isn’t filed by Oct. 27, state law says the decision can no longer be challenged.

More >

Silver Shies From Disclosure, Klein Discloses To The Penny

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s financial disclosure form made public on Thursday shows he declined to answer questions on the document for his outside business interests.

“Given pending proceedings in Federal Court it is inappropriate to answer this question; however, this answer will be amended upon completion of the proceedings,” Silver’s filing states.

Silver has been under indictment since the start of the year and is accused by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office of using his power to receive bribes masked as legal referral fees.

Silver step down as speaker following his arrest on the bribery and fraud charges.

Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein, meanwhile, took the opposite track: He listed his income on the disclosure in some cases to the exact penny.

State lawmakers and elected officials filing disclosure reports are not required to provide the exact dollar amount of what they earn, but report ranges of income.

Klein’s form shows, for instance, he received $43,550 in “guaranteed payments” from the his former law firm, Klein Calderoni & Santucci, and lists the value of his various investments in stocks and funds.

Klein, a Bronx Democrat who co-led the Senate in 2013 and 2014, announced this year he was stepping away from his law firm where he had been a partner.

“Senator Klein boldly divested from his law firm earlier this year and called for a ban on outside income,” Klein spokeswoman Candice Giove said in a statement. “While Senator Klein continues to believe in a full-time legislature, he feels that in the meantime all state legislators should disclose their incomes to the penny to restore the public’s trust.”

Former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who was arrested in May, is on leave from his law firm Ruskin Moscou Faltischek as he fights corruption charges.


Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb is jumping into the race for president, becoming the latest Democrat to try for a primary upset over frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

Former NYC Council Speaker Chris Quinn, now a Cuomo administration aide, says the Women’s Equality Party will “technically exist – so to speak – in the near future.”

Quinn will be the guest of honor at a political fundraiser in Irvington in Westchester County on July 23.

Presidential hopeful Donald Trump is a charlatan, a huckster and a clown who should be universally shunned, according to NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton told 882 academy graduates that their six-month training was better than the training he received when he became a police officer in Boston in 1970.

The cost of a Big Mac likely will increase in New York if the state decides to raise the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $15 an hour or more.

An investigation by AG Eric Schneiderman has found that Per Se, an ultraexpensive NYC restaurant, violated state labor law by portraying operational charges for private dining events as gratuities destined for employees’ wallets.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie will be attending the Great NYS Fair. (But not on Governor’s Day, his spokesman tells me).

Investigators are wrapping up their interviews with convicted murder David Sweat, who continues to reveal new details about what happened after he and Richard Matt escaped Clinton Correctional Facility on June 6.

Sweat said he and Matt bickered over Matt’s drinking and lack of physical fitness, which led to them splitting up.

Also, Sweat told investigators it was Matt, not him, who had sex with Joyce Mitchell, and also insisted it was Mitchell’s idea that the duo kill her husband, Lyle, in exchange for her driving the getaway car. (She has denied that).

Matt’s estranged son believes his father was wrongfully killed by the police. State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said Matt was armed with a shotgun and refused to drop his weapon when he was shot three times in the head.

The three-week manhunt for Matt and Sweat was good for the economy in parts of the North Country.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the total economic impact of New York state’s tourism topped $100 billion last year for the first time.

Former Sen. Al D’Amato has offered to host a pasta summit at Rao’s to broker a peace agreement between Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The influence of Hillary Clinton’s right-hand woman, Huma Abedin, has grown significantly in the lead up to the 2016 campaign, and she is trying to transition away from so much time on the road as her boss’ “body woman.” She will soon start headlining events on Clinton’s behalf and speaking to donors.

Priorities USA Action, the super PAC expected to be the biggest outside force for Clinton’s campaign, pulled in $15.6 million during the first half of 2015, contributing to a pro-Clinton fundraising haul that now appears to be approaching $70 million for the year so far.

PEF President-elect Wayne Spence is now certified as the winner of the union’s recent leadership vote.

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force has set up command centers in Buffalo and at other locations around the country to deal with possible terror attacks over the Fourth of July weekend.

If New York does not build more transmission lines, it will not be able to increase its reliance on renewable energy sources, the state’s independent grid operator has determined.

The NYC CFB has unveiled a new website in time for the upcoming July 15 filing deadline.

A dog named Diamond is running for mayor of Schenectady, and is not the first animal to seek the office.

Fiala Named New Chair Of Women’s Equality Party

Former Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Barbara Fiala has been appointed the chair of the Women’s Equality Party, the ballot line formed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo during last year’s election.

Documents quietly filed last week with the state Board of Elections show Fiala, a former county executive of Broome County, had been named the organization’s chairwoman of an “interim” executive committee.

Two other slots on the panel are listed on the filing as “TBD.”

Fiala stepped down as DMV commissioner at the end of last year.

The filing lays out basic rules for the party organization to follow, including notification of meeting dates and following Robert’s Rules of Order.

The party last year was coordinated by former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and surpassed the 50,000-vote threshold in order to receive ballot status in the subsequent election cycle.

Quinn during the 2015 legislative session worked as a $1-a-year advisor to Cuomo and help coordinate efforts to pass a bill aimed at curtailing sexual assault and rape on college campuses.

In a recent interview with City & State, Quinn said the party would “technically exist so to speak in the near future.”

Cuomo formed the ballot line last year as a way to boost his 10-point Women’s Equality Agenda, an omnibus package of measures that included pay equity protections and an anti-human trafficking component.

Nine of the 10 measures this session ultimately became law, save for a bill that would have codified the Roe v. Wade ruling in state law, which was staunchly opposed by Senate Republicans.

Liberals had criticized the formation of the women-centric ballot line and accused Cuomo of creating an astro turf ballot line as a way to undermine the established and labor-backed Working Families Party.

The party in January reported $13,487 in cash on hand, according to the Board of Elections.

0012_001.pdf by Nick Reisman

Miner Says Policy In Albany Falling Short

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner on Thursday backed the comments made by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio this week that were critical of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s leadership in Albany, saying policy writ large has fallen short in recent years.

“I think any time you have a mayor talking about the interests of his city and community and where public policy is falling short, I applaud that,” Miner told reporters. “I think that’s why you heard Mayor de Blasio say. we’ve seen unfortunately in very real time Albany come up very short.”

Miner was appointed the state Democratic Committee co-chair in 2012, but had a falling out with Cuomo over her criticism of a proposal to smooth out pension costs for local governments, and later criticized him for what she saw as a lack of state investment in local infrastructure projects.

De Blasio this week sharply criticized Cuomo, accusing him of siding with Senate Republicans at the end of the legislative session at the expense of rent control regulations and extending mayoral control of New York City schools.

Cuomo in response on Wednesday touted his own ability to work in a state government with power shared by Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature.

But Miner pointed to broader issues this year in the session that included the arrests of now former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

“Albany has become a place where you don’t look there to see good public policy coming out of there,” Miner said. “We think with this change is an opportunity to see better public policy so we can start solving problems.”

Cuomo Approves Tax Bills For Yonkers

The city of Yonkers was authorized on Thursday to increase its sales tax by one half of one percent and impose a new occupancy tax for hotel rooms after Gov. Andrew Cuomo approved the home-rule legislation.

The measures were requested city officials and state lawmakers who represent the area as its school district seeks to plug yet another budget deficit.

The bill Cuomo signed today will allow Yonkers to hike its sales tax to 8.875 percent and is expected to generate $15 million in revenue for the city. Revenue from the sales tax must be spent on education by law.

The occupancy tax approved cannot be more than 3 percent.

In addition to the local tax bills, state lawmakers and Cuomo last month agreed to a $25 million package aimed at helping the district close its budget gap.

Countering de Blasio, Cuomo Talks Compromise

When responding to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s pointed criticism this week, Gov. Andrew Cuomo sought to play up his efforts to work with Republicans in the Legislature.

Cuomo, speaking with reporters on Wednesday night, sought to draw a distinction between his brand of governing — which has angered liberal advocates for what they say is working hand-in-glove with the GOP — versus embracing ideology.

“We had gridlock for many, many years, but under my administration it’s been different,” Cuomo said. “When there’s gridlock, it means nothing happens.”

For Cuomo, the choice is a binary one: He has to work with the Legislature he has, or nothing can be accomplished.

“We had a very productive session,” Cuomo said. “Did we get everything we want? No. We have in New York state a Democratic Assembly and a Republican Senate, so everything is a compromise. It’s a compromise or you go Washington style and you go gridlock.”

Cuomo sidestepped the broader criticisms the mayor leveled at him: Namely that in his aggressive pursuit to accomplish things in Albany, Cuomo has often run roughshod over his enemies and has a tendency to exact “revenge” on those who stand in his way.

“Everything is entitled to their own comments,” Cuomo said, before pivoting back to talk of “compromise” — a word he used multiple times in a brief gaggle with reporters.

A frustrated de Blasio this week bashed Cuomo for undermining his efforts to accomplish his agenda in Albany, which included an extension of mayoral control of city schools, extending rent control for New York City and the renewal of the 421a tax abatement.

De Blasio’s frustrations voiced first to NY1 led to a barrage of fellow liberals piling on a governor who has prided himself for governing from the center.

Only it has appeared to be harder for Cuomo to strike agreements with the Legislature, especially members of his own party who don’t trust him to back bread-and-butter issues in negotiations. Assembly Democrats have said they believed Cuomo and Senate Republicans were largely aligned in the end-of-session talks, putting them at odds with Democratic Speaker Carl Heastie.

Liberals have long suspected Cuomo prefers a GOP-controlled Senate to a Democratic majority in the chamber and have even accused him of tacitly undermining candidates in his own party.

But the governor insisted on framing his work with Republicans as a virtue in order to avoid gridlock.

“Just to remain politically polarized and get nothing done — that’s Washington, that doesn’t work for New York,” Cuomo said. “We need compromise, we’ve reached compromise, the state is moving forward.”