Cuomo Praises Hospital Staff — And 1199 — In Caring For Sandra Lee

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a statement released on Wednesday night praised the staff of Mt. Sinai’s Dubin Center in their care for his girlfriend, Sandra Lee, who underwent a double mastectomy last week following a breast cancer diagnosis.

Cuomo, in the statement, singled out 1199, a powerful and politically active health-care union, for praise, describing them as his “longtime friends.”

Lee returned home this week following the surgery, but the recovery is expected to take some time. Cuomo spent most of last week by Lee’s side in the days after her surgery.

Here is the full statement:

“I want to thank everyone for the tremendous outpouring of support for Sandra Lee over the past few weeks. Your thoughts, prayers and encouraging words helped her through an incredibly challenging situation, and my family and I are truly grateful. In particular, thank you to Mt. Sinai’s Dubin Center, especially Mt. Sinai’s great leader Dr. Ken Davis. The hospital staff was kind, compassionate and skilled. The members of 1199 – my longtime friends – outdid themselves. We are truly fortunate here in New York to have the best and the brightest healthcare professionals. Sandy has a long road ahead, but the care and support she’s been given help make it that much easier.”


Assemblyman Steve Katz may face a Republican primary next year. Carmel Town Board member Suzi McDonough today launched an exploratory campaign for the 94th Assembly District.

The Staten Island Democratic Party will nominate former Rep. Michael McMahon to run for the district attorney post vacated by now-GOP Rep. Dan Donovan.

During a visit to a school in Albany, the state’s new Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, talked with teachers about new education standards and affirmed that she will work with teachers to make the best education policies possible.

Elia, along with Board of Regents chancellor Merryl Tisch, talked with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s staff, legislative leaders and education committee chairs in a series of closed-door meetings today.

Few doubt that Chuck Schumer has the right resume to lead Senate Democrats. But some critics question whether he is the man for the job—given his reflexive cautiousness, incessant Wall Street boosterism and a lack of sweep in his political vision.”

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced new legislation to change how the state imposes sentences for felony convictions.

The New York State AFL-CIO blasted typically pro-union New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for his plan to extend the 421a tax abatement — without a prevailing wage mandate for construction workers.

A coalition of peace groups began airing TV ads in Syracuse this week urging pilots from the 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Field in Mattydale to stop flying their remotely-piloted drones over Afghanistan.

A state Supreme Court judge heard arguments today in the case of Hercules and Leo, two chimpanzees that – despite their relative well-being – have become poster animals in a highly public fight over animal rights.

Rick Santorum, the former Republican senator from Pennsylvania who lost the GOP nomination to Gov. Mitt Romney in 2012, says he’s “ready” to run for president in 2016

American Idol winner-turned-country pop icon Kelly Clarkson thinks Hillary Clinton is a “badass.”

A federal judge issued an order requiring the State Department to make public batches of the former secretary of state’s emails every 30 days starting next month.

Democrats are already banking on a “Hillary effect,” an anticipated wave that will lift the party’s fortunes up and down the ticket.

Karen Finney, Hillary Clinton’s strategic communications adviser and senior spokesperson, is the candidate’s media maven.

The co-chairs of the Senate’s Science, Technology, Incubation and Entrepreneurship Committee held a forum today regarding privacy, data breaches and appropriate criminal penalties for such crimes.

The state Public Service Commission intends to conduct a detailed evaluation of a proposed $78.7 billion merger of Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications in New York.

Sen. Tom O’Mara is sponsoring a bill that would make it legal for auto racetracks to sell alcoholic beverages in the morning on Sundays.

Hempstead has approved a plan to re-develop the 43-year-old Nassau Coliseum, renovating the coliseum and building approximately 3 million square feet worth of hotels, offices, a convention center and other uses on the parking lots around it.

This year will be the last for concerts at the New York State Fair’s grandstand. And, even with a few shows in the works, it is shaping up to be the quietest in the venue’s 38-year history.

Cuomo today announced completion of another round of targeted crude oil tank car and rail inspections, which uncovered 85 defects – including four critical safety defects that required immediate corrective action.

Tax Credit Mailers Target Assembly Dems

A SoP reader in Binghamton forwarded a copy of a mailer attacking Democratic Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo for approving a “sweet deal” to automatically raise the pay of state lawmakers but refusing to support the education investment tax credit that Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently repackaged as part of the Parental Choice in Education Act.

The mailer says Albany Assembly members make $80,000 (actually, the base pay is $79,500, plus extra for committee chairmanships and leadership positions – a stipend known at the Capitol as a “lulu”) for “part-time work,” and also make extra (per diems to cover travel and living expenses) just for showing up.

“Albany politicians need to get their priorities straight and focus on our families by passing the Education Tax Credit,” the mailer reads. “…Tell Assembly Member Lupardo, politicians don’t need our help, our schools do.”

There’s also another version of the mailer that urges recipients to join the governor in supporting the tax credit, which has been sent to constituents in Assembly Education Committee Chairwoman Cathy Nolan’s Queens district.

The mailers are being paid for by the Coalition for Opportunity in Education. The coalition – in partnership with Students First and Families for Excellent Schools – is also paying for a pair of pro-tax credit TV ads, one of which features Cuomo.

“There are a number of members who are not supporting this bill from areas where we know there is strong support within the district,” said coalition spokesman Bob Bellafiore, when asked who else is being targeted by this mail campaign. “…We’re not saying if it’s Senate, Assembly, but we are constantly evaluating whether and where more or less voter education is needed.”

State lawmakers didn’t actually vote to raise their own pay. Technically speaking, that would be illegal. There was, however, a legislative pay raise commission included in the budget deal struck by legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo this past spring.

The commission will be made up of seven members – three appointed by Cuomo, two by the chief judge of the Court of Appeals, and one each by the Assembly speaker and Senate majority leader. It will be charged with setting the salaries of judges, statewide elected officials and some top executive branch staffers. It will make its first recommendations just after the November 2016 elections, and unless the Legislature specifically votes to reject its proposal, the salary increases will take effect in January 2017.

This cycle will be repeated every four years, which means the “what should we trade for it” pre-election pay raise trade dance between the Legislature and the governor will come to an end.

Cuomo has made his Parental Choice in Education Act an end-of-session priority. He tried unsuccessfully to link the tax credit with the DREAM Act in his executive budget, but neither issue made it into the final spending deal.

The Senate Republicans are conceptually supportive of the tax credit, and have already passed a version – though it differs from what the governor is pushing.

The trouble is in the Assembly Democratic conference (hence, the mailers), where Speaker Carl Heastie – who used to be a co-sponsor of tax credit legislation until he ascended to his leadership post and took his name off all bills – has said there isn’t sufficient support among his members to pass it.

NYSUT is vehemently opposed to the tax credit, and recently launched a 10-day radio ad campaign against it.


a href=”″ title=”COE MAILER Front by CapTon2, on Flickr”>COE MAILER Front

De Blasio Leaves Albany, Sans Commitments On Key Issues (Updated)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio held a flurry of meetings with state lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo on key issues facing the city ranging from education to affordable.

He left town, by his own admission, without any commitments for agreements as the legislative session starts to wind down.

The mayor also admitted he was “frustrated” by a seeming inertia on rent control regulations and mayoral control of schools in the city, both of which are due to expire next month.

“We obviously have a number of meetings ahead, but no commitments yet today,” de Blasio said at a news conference. “I’m quite frustrated that issues of such great importance to millions of New Yorkers still have not been addressed.”

The Democratic-led Assembly approved a three-year extension for mayoral control, while Senate Republicans have held out for unspecified changes. De Blasio wants a strengthening of rent control regulations as well as changes to the 421a tax abatement program that expands affordable housing.

“I think if there isn’t action on mayoral control of education or if there isn’t action on rent regulation, people all over the city and all over the state would look at Albany and once again conclude Albany is not meeting the needs of the people,” de Blasio said.

And in a not-so-veiled swipe at Cuomo, de Blasio called for leadership at the Capitol on those issues.

“I think leadership requires taking responsibility,” he said. “I think the notion that there’s not an appetite is something I reject.”

He added: “In particular, we need the governor to act.”

De Blasio met with Cuomo for about an hour.

The governor himself also huddled in an unannounced meeting with legislative leaders in his office for more than an hour. Both Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan left the meeting in the governor’s office without addressing reporters.

De Blasio’s appearance in Albany comes at a particularly fraught time for the Capitol, which has been rocked by corruption scandals in both chambers.

Both de Blasio and Cuomo have insisted there is no rivalry between the two, even as the governor has in the past seemingly sought to attract attention from the mayor as well as outmaneuver him on policy issues.

At the same time, de Blasio has had an uneasy relationship with Senate Republicans. De Blasio made little secret of his effort to flip the state Senate to Democratic control last year, only to have the GOP gain a full majority.

After meeting with Flanagan, the newly elected majority leader in the Senate, de Blasio said the meeting was a productive one. The issue of the election was not raised.

“The tone has been collegial and substantive,” he said. “It was a very good meeting. it was a very respectful meeting. I think it was a productive conversation.”

Updated: Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif released a statement on de Blasio’s trip to Albany.

“Every outstanding issue, including those raised by the Mayor, will be considered on the merits during the remaining three weeks of the legislative session,” he said.

De Blasio Call Permanent Mayoral Control ‘Logical Solution’

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio reiterated his support for a permanent extension of mayoral control of city schools in Albany on Wednesday, but acknowledged at the same time a three-year extension is more likely.

“It’s the only logical solution — clearly it should be made permanent,” de Blasio said after meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo this morning.

The Democratic-led Assembly last week approved an extension of mayoral control that is due to expire in 2018. The legislation makes few changes to the program, though is a far shorter amount of time than given de Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg.

Senate Republicans have called for unspecified changes to mayoral control, though at least one GOP lawmaker — Brooklyn Sen. Marty Golden — backs its continuation.

“If three years is the practical possibility right now, that will at least help us try to move forward and make the changes in our schools,” de Blasio said.

Cuomo and de Blasio huddled privately for about an hour earlier this morning as the mayor seeks extensions not just for mayoral control, but also for rent control, due to sunset next month. At the same time, de Blasio wants to alter the 421a tax abatement program to include more affordable housing options.

“These are priorities for us,” de Blasio said. “They’re going to have huge impact on our people and they are things we expect Albany to be responsible on and to act on.”

Not changing 421a — as some state lawmakers said is most likely — would be “irresponsible” of the Legislature, de Blasio said.

“You can’t simply extend 421a without reforming it,” he said. “If you extend it, it just constitutes more giveaways to developers and less ability to create affordable housing.”

Counting today, there are 12 session days remaining on the calendar.

“In Albany terms,” de Blasio said, “there’s a lot of time left on the clock.”

Cuomo Outlines Raise The Age Argument

In a Daily News op/ed published this morning, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on state lawmakers to adopt a measure designed to raise the age of criminal responsibility — a push he has backed for more than a year.

Cuomo, in the piece, argues that the measure to make the reforms to the juvenile justice system has already been funded in the state budget agreement approved more than a month ago.

The governor late last year backed the changes first recommended by a panel he commissioned in 2014 to change the age of criminal responsibility for most crimes to 18.

The proposal would send 16- and 17-year-olds accused of a crime to family court while also separating them from the adult prison population.

“Based on the commission’s recommendations, we have proposed increasing the state’s age of criminal responsibility as an adult to 18 and providing more appropriate handling of young defendants’ criminal cases. A bill is now before the Legislature,” he wrote. “It is time to enact these reforms, which are already fully funded in the budget.”

Juvenile justice reform remains one of a handful of key priorities for Cuomo as Albany heads toward the final days of the 2015 legislative session, along with a push for curtailing rape and sexual assault on college campuses and the passage of the $150 million educatio investment tax credit.

It’s unclear whether the measure can be accomplished by June 17, the final scheduled day of the session as lawmakers seek to hash out expiring issues such as rent control and mayoral control for New York City schools.

Senate Dems: Rent Control Is A Statewide Issue

Senate Democrats unveiled their preferred vision for an extension and strengthening of rent control on Wednesday, saying the issue of affordable housing is a statewide one.

Rent control for New York City and the surrounding areas is due to expire next month and it is likely lawmakers will approve a “straight” extension with little to no changes to the regulations.

Democratic lawmakers in the mainline conference at a news conference said they would oppose efforts to extend rent control without strengthening the measures.

“To just get out of town and pass an extender as the laws are written now is unacceptable,” said Sen. Adriano Espaillat.

To that end, lawmakers introduced measures designed to end the practice of vacancy decontrol and place limits on improvements landlords can do to buildings they say lead to a hike in rent for a property.

“The core of this vacancy decontrol,” said Sen. Daniel Squadron, a Brooklyn Democrat. “It only exists because of the way Albany doesn’t work.”

Assembly Democrats last week approved their own version of a rent control measure, extending the laws to 2019 and ending vacancy decontrol as well.

Senate Republicans have shown little desire to strengthen the measures and are also negotiating the more nettlesome issue of the 421a tax abatement, a measure that has become a key concern in public corruption cases when it was last negotiated.

Senate Democrats for the moment are yet to take an official position on whether to back Mayor Bill de Blasio’s support for increasing the amount of affordable housing in the abatement extension or pushing for a prevailing wage measure as some housing advocates have sought.

“The conference realizes reforms need to be made,” Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said. “We will be conferencing that today and are expecting to meet with the mayor to hear his proposals.”

Meanwhile, Stewart-Cousins said both rent control and the state’s cap on property tax increases should be viewed as separate issues. The tax cap is not due to expire until next year, but is intertwined with the rent control measure (in essence, one cannot be re-approved without the other).

“I’m in Westchester, both of things are important,” Stewart-Cousins said, noting several suburban communities have rent-controlled properties. “I think each of us come with the view for the entire state. New Yorkers are obviously concerned about taxes and New Yorkers are obviously concerned about affordable housing.”

She added: “I don’t know the need to combine them because I think individually they both matter.”

Republican lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are pushing for a permanent extension of the cap.

Schneiderman Unveils Ethics Package

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman outlined a broad ethics and campaign finance overhaul proposal on Wednesday by introducing legislation that would change much of how the Legislature does business.

Schneiderman unveiled the omnibus package at the Tweed Courthouse in New York City — the same spot in which Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched his 2011 campaign for governor and promised to rid the Capitol of public corruption.

Since then, the parade of state lawmakers led out in handcuffs continues unabated.

Schneiderman’s omnibus package would:

  • Ban outside income of state lawmakers, save for payment from military service, royalties or pension income from previous employment
  • Ban per diem and switch to a reimbursement system
  • Give the attorney general’s office the jurisdiction to prosecute public corruption
  • Create new crime for undisclosed self-dealing such as using an official position to enrich oneself and strengthens anti-bribery laws
  • Shift the Legislature from a two-year term to a four-year term
  • Creates a 6-to-1 public donor matching system for political campaigns and caps matching funds for a candidate to receive in primary and general elections
  • Lowers political giving limits for candidates both in and out of the public financing system, with a statewide cap of $5,000 for the primary and general elections each.
  • Ends the practice of unlimited giving through limited liability companies and eliminates housekeeping or “soft money” accounts
  • Enacts lobbying reforms that would ban lobbyists from seeking donations for a public official or party and lowers the cap on personal contributions from a lobbyist to $250.
  • Adds clothing and tuition payments to the list of banned items that can be spent using campaign funds

Schneiderman had previously announced in an op/ed in The Times Union posted online Tuesday he would introduce the legislation this week.

At the moment, there appears to be very little appetite for passing new ethics legislation at the Capitol, despite the arrests of both legislative leaders this session in separate corruption cases (The arrest of now former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver did lead to new disclosure requirements for outside legal clients as well as curtailing some uses of campaign money).

Still, the measure is winning praise from good-government reform organizations upset that the needle does not seem to be moving much on ethics reform in the waning days of the session.

“The corruption we’re seeing in New York State government takes power from the hands of regular New Yorkers and taints the honorable work being done by the lion’s share of public officials. New Yorkers have had enough of so-called ethics reform that tinkers around the edges—what we need now is bold reform that gets to the root of corruption, equips law enforcement with the tools needed to fight it, and professionalizes our state legislature,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “It’s time to end the parade of prosecutions and restore people’s faith in their government.”

Too Much Material For This Year’s LCA Show

This year’s show promises to be jammed pack, at least according to the official trailer for the event released today (and the very eventful legislative session).

The annual Legislative Correspondents Association Show skewering state politics and government will be held June 9 at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center. A cocktail reception begins at 7 p.m.

Rebuttals feature Senate Finance Chairman John DeFrancisco and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie after the traditional song-and-dance routines from the reporters who cover the Capitol.

A free dress rehearsal, sans rebuttals, will be held June 8, though guests are encouraged to bring a canned good or non-pershiable food item for donation.

The LCA Show is the oldest political gridiron event in the country.

For more information, contact Jean Gutbrodt in the LCA Room at 518-455-2388.

Senate Democrats To Push Rent Control Measures

From the Morning Memo:

Senate Democrats today will unveil a package of measures designed to renew and strengthen rent control regulations in New York City.

The bills, about a half dozen in all, will be unveiled at a news conference scheduled for 11:45 at the Capitol.

The proposals come as lawmakers debate an extension of rent control regulations in New York City and the surrounding area, which are due to expire next month.

The measures Senate Democrats are pushing later today will not include any recommendations in the contentious battle over the 421a tax abatement, which is now the subject of a TV ad campaign by the Real Estate Board of New York (Mayor Bill de Blasio and REBNY are both supportive of making changes to the abatement, which has put the mayor crossways with prevailing wage advocates).

Last week, the Democratic-led Assembly approved their own version of a rent control regulation extension, which also included an end to the practice of vacancy decontrol, a proposal that’s unlikely to find support among Senate Republicans.

The GOP conference in the Senate, meanwhile, has been pushing a permanent extension of the state’s cap on local property tax increases. The property tax cap is not due to expire until next year, but is linked to the extension of rent control since its approval in 2011.