The Weekend That Was

When Beau Biden realized that he would not survive brain cancer, he sat down with his father, Vice President Joe Biden, and urged him to wage another campaign for the White House, according to a New York Times column by Maureen Dowd.

The vice president and his associates have begun to actively explore a possible presidential campaign, which would upend the Democratic field and deliver a direct threat to Hillary Clinton, several people who have spoken to Biden or his closest advisers say.

In advance of Thursday’s GOP presidential debate, the candidates are all preparing to deal with the top attention getter – and poll leader – Donald Trump.

Trump threatened to run as an independent candidate if the Republicans don’t treat him “fairly.”

Trump has fired a campaign adviser, Sam Nunberg, after racially-charged Facebook posts under his name emerged last week.

Bill and Hillary Clinton paid an effective federal tax rate of nearly 36 percent last year on their multi-million dollar income and other assets, according to tax returns released Friday.

The State Department inspector general has determined that Huma Abedin, the close confidant of Hillary Clinton, must return more than $9,000 for alleged overpayments made to her during her time working for the department when Clinton was secretary of state.

NYRA announced it will increase the purse for the Travers Stakes on Aug. 29 from $1.25 million to $1.6 million if American Pharoah starts the race known as the “Midsummer Derby.” If he doesn’t come, the purse will remain $1.25 million.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer is urging stricter federal oversight of stretch limousines that have been altered “in the name of opulence.” This follows the July 18 limo crash that killed four young Smithtown women leaving Vineyard 48 in Cutchogue on the North Fork of Long Island.

A New York City health official says it is likely that doctors will diagnose more cases of Legionnaires’ disease in the Bronx in the coming days, amid an outbreak that has killed four and sickened dozens.

After losing Monroe County in November, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his administration are clearly paying more attention to the Rochester area.

Four people have now died from Legionnaires disease in what is the largest outbreak in the city in at least three years, and some are concerned officials are not adequately prepared to deal with the airborne illness.

Verizon Communications Inc. missed its midnight deadline this weekend to secure a deal with more than 37,000 union employees, but the unions said employees will keep working without a contract while talks continue.

Fred LeBrun celebrates former DEC Commissioner Joe Martens.

Ground was broken Saturday on the $45 million National Commedy Center – a multifaceted project that features the renovation of two buildings and the construction of a new one.

Nassau County will offer another round of early retirement incentives to members of its largest labor union as it seeks to cut labor costs. The deal would offer full-time Civil Service Employees Association members a lump-sum payment of $1,000 for every year of service with the county.

During his 2013 NYC mayoral campaign, Bill de Blasio vowed to require developers who benefit from future city zoning changes to include large numbers of affordable apartments in their projects. Nineteen months later, he has unveiled a plan to make that happen.

Albany County is suddenly set to become an epicenter of New York’s budding medical marijuana industry, landing three of the 20 dispensaries that will be able to distribute the drug. Onondaga County also landed three, while NYC’s five boroughs got just four.

New York City slashed the total amount of fines to small businesses by more than half in fiscal 2015, focusing on warnings instead and addressing a long-standing complaint that it had taken a too-strict approach in the enforcement of consumer laws.

Casey Seiler questions the appropriateness of former JCOPE Executive Director Letizia Tagliafierro, whose old job required her to investigate the executive branch, taking a new job with the executive branch as head of the investigations unit of the state Department of Taxation and Finance.

The Anthony Bonomo Connection

Anthony Bonomo, described by one insider as “just one of those guys everyone in state government knows,” is believed by many to be cooperating with U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s case against former State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son Adam. The Skelos’ pleaded ‘not guilty’ yesterday to a superseding indictment unveiled last week that contains two new charges. Specifically, that Adam Skelos threatened his supervisor who confronted him about not showing up to work. The arrangement seemed to be that Adam got a no-show job in exchange for the elder Skelos steering state money the firm’s way. That firm ( although not named ) is believed to be Physicians Reciprocal Insurers’ or PRI, owned and operated by one Anthony Bonomo.

What is less known is just how extensive Bonomo’s ties are to state government. According to Competitive Advantage Research, Bonomo, his associates and affiliates are responsible for 126 filings over the last 15 years. The campaign contributions spread across party lines and totaling $2,719,240.93. That’s a lot of dough. Jon Reznick of Competitive Advantage explains the breakdown:

“The individual Anthony Bonomo, his friends and relations including his spouse and likely his children as well as professional associates and the businesses he operates are themselves substantial donors accounting for $2.7 million just that I’ve found in the last 15 years.”

In addition, Bonomo has hired big time lobbyists including former Senator Al D’Amato, Founder and Managing Director of Park Strategies. According to Reznick’s analysis, Bonomo and associates have spent $1,550,500 since 2007.

According to the latest indictment, Adam Skelos threatened his boss with physical violence after being challenged about his failure to show up for work. Someone then called Dean Skelos ( sitting Senate Majority Leader at the time ) to try and explain the problem and work something out. At least one GOP source believes the only person who could have made that phone call was D’Amato, who could not immediately be reached for comment.

So, here is the timeline from which you can draw your own conclusions: In March, Bonomo gives a $50,000 contribution to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s campaign committee. A few days later, Cuomo appoints Bonomo the head of the New York Racing Association or NYRA ( a job that people close to the Administration insist he was qualified for, since he was very knowledgeable of horses and racing. Fair enough ). About a month later, Skelos and his son are slapped with federal corruption charges. And in early June, just four days before the Belmont Stakes – one of the biggest days in racing – Bonomo steps down from his position at NYRA, and presumably starts cooperating with the Feds against Dean and Adam. A month after that the new indictment drops with two new charges including personal details about Adam’s behavior. This signaled to some that federal investigators were likely getting information from Bonomo which helped build the second set of charges.

In statement, Matt Cannon a spokesperson for PRI said,

“In light of the on-going criminal proceeding by the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York against Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, we have no comment on the superseding indictment and continue to cooperate with this ongoing investigation.”

What’s particularly interesting about Bonomo is the bi-partisan nature of his giving. Or as one observer put it, he gives to the “incumbency party.” In an interview earlier today, Dick Dadey of Citizens Union said,

“The big donors give to everyone. They raise money for everyone and they give to everyone. Largely because they want to make sure that the issues they have before the government receive attention.”

Bonomo also managed to make many of his donations through much maligned Limited Liability Corporations, or LLC’s. State Senator Daniel Squadron – (D) Manhattan, Brooklyn – has been a vocal critic of the State Lawmaker’s failure to close the LLC loophole, which allows individuals to sidestep ( some would say un)reasonable contribution limits. Sqauadron says,

“Today in the state if you want to give unlimited contributions and hide that fact, the LLC loophole lets you do it. Again and again we see the LLC loophole linked to the worst corruption allegations that come out of Albany.”

According to GOP source, the argument against the LLC loophole is slightly capricious, since unions are allowed to make donations then the individual locals are allowed to give even more. Also a fair point.

Finally, just to really hit home the point of what a gentleman-ly racer and horse epicurean Anthony Bonomo is, John Durso Jr., Director of Communications and Public Affairs for NYRA says,

“Anthony Bonomo is a deeply respected horseman who brought his extensive expertise and experience in horse racing to the New York Racing Association – first as a Board Member and later as Chairman.  His stable houses more than 40 thoroughbreds, and Mr. Bonomo has been integral part of the New York Racing Association’s successful efforts to offer safer, more enjoyable horse racing for horseplayers and racing fans at our three championship tracks.”

 

 

Extras

The state Department of Health released a “score card” grading the 43 companies that sought medical marijuana licenses.

Among those companies winning a medical marijuana licenses is a woman-owned business.

Two dispensaries will be located in Erie County, but western New York companies were shut out from winning licenses, as was a Broome County-based firm.

Health insurance rates in New York are due to increase 7.1 percent, though private insurers wanted to raise rates even higher.

Upstate mayors are getting involved in the talks between the Communications Workers of America and Verizon in their ongoing contract dispute.

Former DEC Commissioner Joe Martens’s dip in Onondaga Lake earlier this month highlighted a disagreement between the state and federal government over the cleanliness of the lake.

The New York Archdiocese is starting a series of church mergers and closings, effecting 74 churches altogether.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams flew the Cuban flag over borough hall on Friday, part of an International Day of Friendship.

As the U.S. starts to normalize relations, Hillary Clinton while in Miami called for a lifting of the Cuban embargo.

Charting Donald Trump’s history of making racially insensitive remarks.

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik insists she is focusing on her day job as a member of Congress and not her re-election.

Hillary Clinton versus The New York Times.

Spiedie Fest!

Labor Department Releases Fast-Food Wage Report

fastfoodThe state Department of Labor on Friday released its 25-page report outlining the wage board’s criteria for recommending a $15 minimum wage for fast-food workers.

The report lays out the rationale for increasing pay for workers in the fast-food industry as well as the chains that will be impacted by the pay increase.

All told, 137 different chains are impacted by the recommendation, ranging from McDonald’s and Burger King to more specialized outlets like Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks and Ben & Jerry’s. More >

Fiala Says She’ll Gauge Constituents On SAFE Act

fialaDemocratic state Senate hopeful Barbara Fiala plans to consult with voters on the controversial SAFE Act gun control law to determine what, if any, changes they would like to see in the measure.

“The SAFE Act — you’ve heard a lot about it, we’ve read a lot of about it,” Fiala told reporters on Thursday evening. “There’s talk that some of it needs to be tweaked. That’s why we’re going to have those conversations, talk to people, study people — find out what’s important to the constituency here, what problems they have it or not. And just take a look at it. People have expressed concerns and I’m going to talk to everybody, pros and cons.”

Previously this week, Fiala declined to take a position on the law, saying it needed to be “look at.” More >

Good-Government Groups Urge Cuomo To Approve FOIL Bills

capitoldayA coalition of government reform groups on Friday urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a letter to approve two measures that are designed to strengthen the state’s Freedom of Information Laws.

One bill is designed to reduce the time public agencies have to appeal a judicial decision in granting access to public records from nine months to two months.

Another measure is aimed at requiring agencies to pay out legal fees and court costs incurred when a member of the public has prevailed in gaining access to documents and a court has ruled there is no “reasonable basis” for not providing the records.

“Unfortunately, government agencies often deliberately delay the FOIL process, or simply do not provide the requested records. Agencies know that it is very expensive for the public to appeal a FOIL request to the courts, and are often able to effectively ignore FOIL.These two bills will help make government agencies more responsive to FOIL requests by improving the process for appealing the denial of those requests,” the groups wrote in the letter.

More >

State DOH Releases Medical Marijuana Licenses

Tmedmarhe state Department of Health on Friday announced the selection of five companies to manufacturer and dispense medical marijuana in different regions of the state.

The manufacturing facilities will be located in five counties around the state: Queens, Monroe, Fulton, Warren and Orange.

Companies selected for the medical marijuana licenses will have four dispensaries each around the state in different geographical areas, including New York City, the suburban counties and western and central New York.

The Department of Health had largely conducted the approval process behind the scenes, even has medical marijuana firms conducted public relations campaigns to tout their own proposals and potential for job creation, especially in the upstate facilities they planned to build dispensaries. More >

Kolb To Heastie: Drop By Any Time

carlheastieFrom the Morning Memo:

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is deep into his first upstate tour since he ascended to power this past February, pledging to eventually visit every single district of his Democratic members north of New York City to learn their issues and meet their constituents.

This is all part of the more inclusive and rank-and-file-driven approach the Bronx lawmaker promised when he succeeded former Speaker Sheldon Silver, whose top-down management style angered many Democrats – especially newcomers who wanted more of a say.

But so far, new leadership in the chamber hasn’t brought much change to one much-maligned group at the state Capitol: The Assembly Republicans, arguably the Legislature’s least powerful conference.

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb said during a Capital Tonight interview last night that he would like to see Heastie pay attention to all of upstate – not just the areas represented by Democrats. More >

Senate Republicans Plan Push To Keep Libous Seat

flanaganFrom the Morning Memo:

Senate Republicans plan to push hard to keep the 52nd Senate district in GOP hands — a district that favors them in enrollment, but could nevertheless alter the tenuous balance of power in the chamber.

“We’re going to win that seat,” Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said on a stop in Cooperstown this week. “Let me be clear on that.”

The special election to replace the once influential and powerful Libous is an early test for Flanagan, a Suffolk County lawmaekr who replaced scandal-scarred Dean Skelos in the chamber in May. Flanagan said he plans to be personally involved in the race.

“We will absolutely hit the ground running,” Flanagan said on Wednesday. “I expect to spend a lot of time in Binghamton. It’s a very important race. It’s critical not only to our conference, but to the people of the state of New York.” More >

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is in the city with no public schedule.

At 10 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul visits 43North 2014 Business Plan winners and observes the student business concept presentation at D!G (Design Innovation Garage) Buffalo, 640 Ellicott St., Suite 108, Buffalo.

At 11:15 a.m., Hochul tours a new women-owned business at Canalside, Red Siren, 75 Main St., Buffalo.

At 11:30 a.m., the Riders Alliance presents Assemblywoman Nily Rozic with a “Bus Champion” award in recognition of her advocacy for better bus service, Main Street and Booth Memorial Avenue southbound Q44 bus stop, Queens.

At 1:30 p.m., Hochul attends the Western New York Central Labor Council picnic, The Grove, entrance to Woodlawn Park, 3580 Lakeshore Blvd., Blasdell.

Also at 1:30 p.m., Brooklyn BP Eric Adams will raise the Cuban flag over Brooklyn Borough Hall and hail the power of global goodwill, in advance of his second annual celebration of International Day of Friendship this Sunday, Columbus Park, downtown Brooklyn.

Headlines…

Disgraced ex-state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son Adam will stand trial on corruption raps in November – the same month that former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s graft trial is scheduled to begin.

The Skeloses pleaded not guilty to new bribery and extortion charges laid out in a recent superseding indictment.

Former Broome County Executive Barbara Fiala officially announced her campaign for the 52nd district state Senate seat formerly held by Tom Libous, who was found guilty of one count of lying to the FBI on July 22. “I’m here to announce the end of my retirement,” Fiala told her supporters.

Sen. John DeFrancisco was selected as the deputy majority leader of the state Senate, making him the second in command in the chamber. More here.

All 30,000 NYC employees who drive government vehicles are being required to take a 6-hour driving-safety course as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio “Vision Zero” plan to reduce traffic deaths, officials said.

US Sen. Charles Schumer is facing some of the fiercest pressure of his career in his own backyard as pro-Israel elected officials and advocacy groups urge him to oppose the nuclear agreement President Barack Obama brokered with Iran.

Success Academy, the fast-growing network of sought-after charter schools, announced it had received an $8.5 million gift to add schools in New York City from the hedge fund manager John Paulson and his wife, Jenny.

De Blasio upset a longtime friend and ally, Bertha Lewis, a founding member of the Working Families Party, when his aides refused to let her attend a City Hall roundtable on her pet issue — the city’s use of minority and women-owned businesses.

The mayor’s summertime battle with Uber exposed vulnerabilities in his political operation and has given rise to resentment among many of the allies he will need to advance his agenda at City Hall.

Carl Paladino, a member of the Buffalo School Board overseeing a district that is 50 percent African-American, doubled down on his support of Joseph Mascia, defending his use of the “N-word” to describe several African-American politicians, including Mayor Byron Brown.

More >