Extras

The fierce contest for the Republican presidential nomination has claimed its latest casualty: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s back tooth, which he cracked while snacking on a Twix bar.

Ken Langone, the billionaire co-founder of Home Depot who was a leading supporter of Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, has thrown his support behind Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, the Kasich campaign said.

SolarCity Corp.’s stock has lost more than 60 percent of its value since the start of the year, and shares continued to dive today – two days after the Northern California solar company reported disappointing fourth-quarter results.

The Congressional Black Caucus PAC announced its endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, a move that is being widely interpreted as a sign of her deep support from the African American community.

Covert cellphone tracking devices, which have proliferated in law enforcement agencies across the nation, have been used by the NYPD on at least 1,000 occasions since 2008 in the course of investigating rapes, murders and other crimes as well as searching for missing people, according to documents obtained by the NYCLU.

Steve Wells, a Cazenovia businessman who runs one of the nation’s fastest-growing food service companies, will challenge Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney for the GOP nod to run for retiring Rep. Richard Hanna’s seat in NY-22. There are now three declared Republicans and one Democrat in the race.

President Barack Obama will nominate Dr. John B. King Jr., former state education commissioner in New York, to serve as Education Department secretary after receiving commitments from lawmakers to give his nomination speedy consideration, the White House said.

AG Eric Schneiderman joined members of the state and federal working group he co-chairs to announce a $3.2 billion settlement with Morgan Stanley over the bank’s deceptive practices leading up to the financial crisis.

Five people were indicted, with four of them facing second-degree manslaughter charges, following the March 2015 building explosion in Manhattan’s East Village that authorities called “a deadly inferno fueled by an illegal gas-delivery system.”

Calling it a “game-changer for Dunkirk,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo formally announced the state’s plans to spend $200 million to build a high-tech drug manufacturing center in the depressed Chautauqua County community.

Motorists who drive with snow on their cars could be fined if state lawmakers pass proposed laws.

Cuomo recognized that the state’s slow moving medical marijuana program is not “perfect,” but said he’d rather err on the side of caution than move it along too quickly.

The DEC has identified Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell International as “parties responsible” for groundwater pollution in Hoosick Falls.

In her annual State of the City address, NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito called for an inspector general for the city Department of Correction, a reformed warrant system for petty crimes and a community-based criminal justice system — all with an eye toward shutting Rikers Island.

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer poked a little fun at NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli while wishing him a happy birthday on Twitter.

James L. Dolson, the former heroin dealer who became locally famous as Niagara Falls recycling mascot Totes McGoats, was continued on probation after completing a court-supervised drug treatment program.

Likening America to a “burning” country in turmoil, activist investor Bill Ackman urged former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg to run for president in a Financial Times op-ed.

The Bethlehem Town Board voted to oppose the planned Northeast Energy Direct natural gas pipeline that would pass through southern portions of Albany and Rensselaer counties to bring natural gas from Pennsylvania to metropolitan Boston.

A Capital Region attorney is in court over what he says are unreasonable delays from the state Economic Development Corp. in responding to his FOIL requests about plans to expand broadband service across the state.

Kaminsky To Push Outside Income Ban ‘Day One’

Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky pledged on Wednesday to push through a plan that would ban outside income of state legislators on “day one” in the Senate.

Kaminsky, the Democrat running for the seat vacated in December by Republican Sen. Dean Skelos in Nassau County, is a former federal prosecutor who has led cases against ex-state lawmakers convicted of corruption, including former Sen. Pedro Espada, former Assemblyman William Boyland and ex-Assemblyman Jimmy Meng.

“As a former corruption prosecutor, I worked day and night to convict crooked politicians who used the obsolete outside income rules to ‘serve two masters’–the people of the State of New York and their private business interests,” Kaminsky said.

“Now, once and for all, it’s time for Albany to put the public’s interest first, and that starts with banning outside income. I promise Long Islanders that on my first day in the Senate, I will introduce legislation to do so and give my full support to existing legislation to swiftly enact these urgent reforms.”

Kaminksy faces Republican Chris McGrath, a Nassau County attorney.

McGrath has said he won’t be giving up his law practice if elected to the Senate.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo backs a measure that would limit outside income of state lawmakers to 15 percent of their base pay, currently $79,500.

NARAL Pro-Choice NY Ends Affiliate Status

The abortion-rights group NARAL Pro-Choice New York has ended its affiliation with NARAL Pro-Choice America and will become an independent entity, the organization said in a statement on Thursday.

The group called it a “natural evolution” for its sister organization, the National Institute for Reproductive Health, and is largely reflective of an “internal” restructuring.

“We are grateful to have been part of the NARAL family for so many years, and excited and proud to be entering this new phase as a fully independent and integrated organization informing and supporting advocacy in New York and dozens of other states and localities,” said Andrea Miller, president of the National Institute for Reproductive Health and its new action fund.

“With critical decisions about reproductive health, rights, and justice increasingly made at the state and local levels, now is the right time for the National Institute to unify, expand, and amplify the network we’ve been building across the country for nearly a decade.”

At the same time, the group insisted the change won’t impact its legislative and political work. It will continue under the banner of the Campaign for a Pro-Choice New York and is considered a “project” of the National Institute for Reproductive Health Action Fund.

The electoral work will also continue with its political action committee and the current staff and leadership won’t change.

Abortion issues have in recent years taken center stage in Albany policy battles, especially in 2013 and 2014, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed a package of measures aimed at women’s rights. The bill included a provision that would have strengthened abortion rights and codified Roe v. Wade in state law, a measure that failed to the pass the GOP-led state Senate.

CSEA’s Donohue Re-elected

Longtime Civil Service Employees Association President Danny Donohue was re-elected to a seventh term as the leader of the state’s largest public workers union.

The union announced Donohue had won the vote, via mail ballot, on Thursday afternoon.

The new term officially begins on March 1.

“These are challenging times as CSEA members and other working people continue to be squeezed and undercut by the manipulation of our economy to benefit the greedy few,” Donohue said in a statement. “My priority is a stronger union that can better stand up and push back.”

Donohue has guided the labor group through some complicated budget years, including a tough contract in 2011, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened mass layoffs unless public-sector workers agreed to less generous contracts.

Donohue and CSEA have since patched things up with Cuomo in recent years, though the labor group withheld its endorsement in the race for governor in 2014, as they did in 2010.

Donohue has also been staunchly critical of Cuomo, once calling him a “monkey” and “a moron” and was deeply opposed to the governor’s successful push for the Tier Six pension reform measure.

Bill Would Bump Up Pay Raise Schedule for M/C Employees

A new bill could speed up the pay raise schedule for management and confidential employees from a salary increase over three years to just one year.

The bill was introduced Wednesday by Senate Finance Chairperson Cathy Young. Its companion bill in the Assembly was introduced last year by Ways and Means Chairman Herman (Denny) Farrell.

Salary increases were withheld from management and confidential employees – who do not have collective bargaining rights – in 2009 and 2010. Last year’s budget agreement allocated a seven percent increase for M/C employees by 2018, starting with a two percent increase in 2015, a two percent increase in both 2016 and 2017, and a one percent increase in 2018.

This legislation would increase salaries by five percent this year following a resolution in the state budget, which OMCE – the non-union organization that advocates for M/C employees – called for ahead this session. With the two percent increase already enacted in 2015, this would complete the seven percent phase-in two years early.

Farrell actually introduced the bill last year following the initial increase for M/C employees, but the Senate had not signed on to the legislation at that time.

The bill follows a lawsuit against the state by a group of Thruway employees, who alleged the withheld pay increases in 2009 and 2010 violated terms that were previously agreed to within the agency. There has been no resolution in that case, but previous legal challenges from M/C employees have failed in court.

Cuomo Pushes For $200M Expansion In WNY

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was in western New York on Thrusday to tout a $200 million expansion of the drug manufacturer Athenex, which is expected to bring 900 jobs within the next five years.

There’s just one catch: The money isn’t actually approved yet.

To that end, Cuomo pledged that he wouldn’t “sign” the budget without the money being in there for the project.

In his remarks in Dunkirk, Cuomo references his recent hand injury, which resulted in surgery and the wearing of a rather large bandage.

“It should be done by April 1,” Cuomo said of the budget before referencing the hand he needed surgery on last year. “But coincidentally, I have a broken hand, at the time. My right hand was broken. I sign with my right hand. My right hand is so broken that if the budget does not have $200 million in it, I cannot sign that budget, period. So we’re going to have the $200 million in the budget.”

The governor doesn’t actually sign the budget once it is approved by the state Legislature. Once it’s approved, Cuomo can line item veto the budget, but does not sign off on it.

Cuomo has used the term before to describe various budget ultimatums in the past, which has been taken to mean he wouldn’t agree with state lawmakers on the spending plan unless a specific item is in the final deal. Last year, Cuomo pushed for his preferred education policies — including a new teacher evaluation plan linked to test results — that was tied to a boost in education spending.

Cuomo announced the plan alongside two Republican lawmakers: Assemblyman Andy Goodell and Sen. Cathy Young, the chairwoman of the Senate Finance Committee. Both pledged to back the proposal.

DEC: Saint Gobain And Honeywell Responsible For Water Contamination

State environmental regulators on Thursday identified two companies as the legally responsible parties for the contamination of water in Hoosick Falls.

Both Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell International were identified as having contaminated groundwater at the McCaffrey Street site where both companies have used the chemical Perfluorooctanoic acid for the last several decades.

The Department of Environmental Conservation has not ruled out identifying other companies responsible for the water contamination.

The state last month declared the area a Superfund site due to the PFOA contamination.

“First and foremost, under Governor Cuomo’s direction, our priority is to provide safe and clean drinking water to the people of Hoosick Falls,” DEC Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement. “We will hold all companies responsible for groundwater contamination and make sure they pay all costs associated with the investigation and remediation of the source of the problem as well as assuring a usable drinking water source.”

The agency at the same time sent letters to both Saint-Gobain and Honeywell demanding they enter into a consent order that would initiate an investigation and remediation of the contaminated sites. The move is a preliminary step to having the companies pay for the investigations and cleanup of PFOA contamination.

If the companies don’t comply with the order, the state plans to use its “full authority under the law to pursue all available legal remedies against the companies,” the DEC said in a statement.

The contamination of groundwater in Hoosick Falls was initially identified in December 2014 and further tests confirmed the chemical had leaked into the water in July 2015.

State officials have defended New York’s response to the contamination, insisting they moved quickly once it was determined the water should not be consumed by people in the village.

pfoa by Nick Reisman

NY-19: WFP Endorses Teachout

Democratic congressional hopeful Zephyr Teachout on Thursday was endorsed by the Working Families Party in her bid to win a Hudson Valley House seat.

The labor-backed WFP in 2014 declined to give Teachout its ballot line in her insurgent campaign for governor against Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo last year.

But the endorsement of Teachout for the 19th congressional district is not a surprise for the WFP, which has been enthusiastic in its support of her campaign, which launched last month.

We’re thrilled to announce WFP’s endorsement of Zephyr Teachout for Congress,” said WFP state Director Bill Lipton. “Zephyr is fearless, independent-minded, and will stand up for working families against the big money donors and wealthy insiders who have rigged the economy in their favor. She’s a great fit for her district, and WFP activists in the 19th are ready to support her grassroots, people-powered campaign.”

Teachout, a Fordham Law school professor, is vying for the Democratic nomination alongside Will Yandik and John Kehoe.

A half dozen Republicans, including former Assembly Minority Leader John Faso and businessman Andrew Heaney, are competing for the GOP nomination.

“I’m so excited to have the support of the Working Families Party and the hundreds of WFP activists in the 19th District in our campaign,” Teachout said. “I’m running for Congress to stand up for the working families in our district who have been shut out of our political system — nurses, state workers, teachers, parents, family farmers, and small businesses alike. That’s what the WFP is fighting for too. It’s time for New York and a Congress that works for all of us.”

Incumbent Republican Chris Gibson is retiring at the end of the year as he launches a potential statewide campaign for governor.

CUNY Union Runs Ad In Amsterdam News Ahead Of Caucus Weekend

The union that represents professional staff and professors at the City University of New York on Thursday placed an advertisement in The Amsterdam News pushing back against proposed cuts to the system.

The ad, running in a newspaper that is read by the African-American community in New York City, is timed to be released ahead of Caucus Weekend, which is scheduled to be held in Albany starting Saturday.

PSC leaders also plan to present for a higher education workshop being held as part of caucus activities on Saturday, along with a labor lunch from noon to 2 p.m.

The print ad is part of a broader campaign that includes radio spots airing in the Albany area.

The ad raises concerns that “without more state funding” CUNY would be unable to attract new faculty and staff.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been criticized for proposing a budget that would shift more spending for CUNY onto the city government. Cuomo has said the cost shifts could be avoided if ways of finding efficient cost savings are reached.

Amsterdam News Feb11 by Nick Reisman

McLaughlin Hopes Water Hearings Will Shine Light On Hoosick Falls

Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin in a statement on Thursday said he hopes the upcoming Assembly hearings on water quality issues will shed some light on the chemical contamination of drinking water in Hoosick Falls.

“Protecting the safety of New Yorkers and monitoring governmental oversight is a unifying issue,” said McLaughlin, a Republican who represents the area. “The people of Hoosick Falls deserve clean water, but they also deserve the truth. These hearings will shed light on who knew what, and when they knew it.”

The Assembly is planning the hearings for April, which will be led by the chamber’s Health and Environmental Conservation committees.

Though the hearings won’t focus on a single water issue and take a statewide focus, lawmakers expect the Hoosick Falls contamination to be a major issue.

The area last month was declared a state Superfund site more than two years ago the chemical PFOA was found in the community’s water supply.

It’s believed the chemical may have entered the water from the nearby Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics, a company that owns a manufacturing plant in the area. The contamination was first learned about in December 2014, with additional tests being conducted in July 2015.

At the same time, McLaughlin called on Republican Majority Leader John McLaughlin to have the Senate hold hearings on water issues as well.

“I strongly urge and am hopeful that Senator Flanagan will correct course, join Speaker Heastie and the Assembly and hold hearings on this critical issue,” McLaughlin said. “It’s the right thing to do and in the best interest of the health, safety and well-being of New Yorkers.”

Sen. Kathy Marchione, a Republican, said in an interview with The Capitol Pressroom this week she would be supportive of hearings on the issue.