Following Police Deaths, Cuomo Calls For Calm

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday urged calm and reflection in the wake of the shooting deaths of two New York City police officers.

Cuomo, who met with the family of Officer Rafael Ramos, who alongside Officer Wenjian Liu was shot to death on Saturday in Brooklyn, said New Yorkers have a “deep appreciation” for the NYPD.

Cuomo also commended law enforcement for handling the largely peaceful demonstrations that have spread across the city and the country following a Staten Island grand jury not indicting a white police in the chokehold death of an unarmed black man, Eric Garner.

“Police officers have done an incredible job in my opinion at maintaining order and no one has a right to abuse police officers,” Cuomo said. “This was just a terrible, terrible act of cowardice. Every New Yorker stands behind the NYPD. They are the best in the nation.”

Cuomo’s comments come as the relationship between Mayor Bill de Blasio and the police department in the city has hit an all-time low.

Police union president Patrick Lynch said the mayor’s office shares direct blame for the deaths of Liu and Ramos. Demonstrating their criticism of the mayor, police officers turned their backs on de Blasio as he was visiting a hospital to receive an update on the shootings.

Last week, Cuomo sought to play a peacekeeper role between Lynch and de Blasio, downplaying in an interview the rift between the police and the mayor’s administration.

Cuomo today directed flags across the state be lowered to half-staff to honor the fallen officers.

Cuomo, who has indicated he would push a package of criminal justice reforms in the wake of the Garner case, avoided a question about what impact this weekend’s shootings would have on the fate of that effort in Albany.

State lawmakers are calling for a variety of measures in the wake of the Garner case as well as the shooting of Michael Brown in Missouri, including requiring some officers to wear body cameras and for increased transparency for grand juries.

Cuomo instead said now is the time to honor both Liu and Ramos.

“Let’s bring the temperature down,” the governor said. “Let’s have more dialogue, more reflection and less emotion in general.”

 

The Weekend That Was

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, in a Sunday Mass one day after the execution-style killing of two NYPD officers, told police and city officials in attendance that the Church is praying for the police department, as he called for unity and healing in a city “tempted by tension and division.”

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani blamed President Obama for the officers’ deaths. “We’ve had four months of propaganda starting with the president that everybody should hate the police,” he said.

Obama issued a statement saying he unconditionally condemns the murder of the two officers, Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Liu.

Investigators believe the incident was a crazed gunman’s ­assassination-style mission to avenge Eric Garner and Michael Brown – two unarmed black men killed by white police officers.

The shooter, Ismaaiyl Brinsley, 28, killed himself on a nearby subway platform while being pursued by police.

The Rev. Al Sharpton: “Any use of the names of Eric Garner and Michael Brown, in connection with any violence or killing of police, is reprehensible and against the pursuit of justice in both cases.”

PBA President Pat Lynch said there is “blood on many hands” – including NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s – adding: “Those who allowed this to happen will be held accountable.”

On Saturday, some officers turned their backs on de Blasio as he walked into the hospital following the shooting deaths of Ramos and Liu.

A spokeswoman for de Blasio scolded Lynch for his remarks, saying: “It’s unfortunate that in a time of great tragedy, some would resort to irresponsible, overheated rhetoric that angers and divides people.”

Giuliani said he “feels bad” for de Blasio, and it “goes too far” to blame him for the murder of the two officers or call for his resignation in response to their deaths.

A former NYPD officer was killed in the line of duty this morning in Florida.

Days after his administration outlined its proposed rules to regulate a new medical marijuana program, Gov. Andrew Cuomo reiterated his opposition to the outright legalization of pot.

The Oneida Indian Nation will open a $20 million, Wizard of Oz-themed casino in Chittenango in 2015, expanding its gaming empire as New York welcomes its first non-Indian casinos.

Landowners in the state’s Southern Tier region who had hoped to reap royalties from gas production don’t have that option, thanks to the fracking ban the Cuomo administration plans to put in place.

“You’ve heard of the Buffalo Billion? Well, I want the Southern Tier Billion,” said Sen. Tom Libous. “If Buffalo can get a billion dollars, then we should get a billion dollars here in the Southern Tier for economic development and bringing in new business and companies.”

Bloomberg View: “No one doubts Governor Andrew Cuomo’s concern for the well-being of New Yorkers. It’s just not clear that a ban on fracking protects it – or how the ban can help make fracking safer and less destructive in states where it is practiced.”

The Times Union calls the fracking ban “the right decision.” “There might come a time when the process is safe enough for some use in New York. But the science today is clear: that time isn’t now.”

Joe Nocera called Cuomo’s claim that his health and DEC commissioners made the fracking decision a “cop-out,” adding: “He gets to please his liberal base, abandon the southern part of his state and then wash his hands of the decision.”

Will New York’s fracking ban impact drilling already underway in Pennsylvania or the debate over the controversial practice in Colorado?

Former Gov. George Pataki, who’s flirting with a potential 2016 run, said the United States should declare a “cyber war” on North Korea in the wake of the Sony hacking scandal.

Rather than launch a $100,000 local effort to control the urban deer population, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has asked the state Department of Environmental Conservation to do the job – and to pay for it.

Dominique Sharpton, who grew up visiting her father, says she was “pretty much born into” activism.

Cuomo signed a bill into law that will provide benefits to firefighters and ambulance workers injured while assisting at a scene before an officer in command is established.

The Cuomo administration said that movie theaters statewide will begin screening spots, including one from a mother who lost her son to drug abuse, urging people to be alert for warning signs of heroin addiction.

Michael Goodwin calls Cuomo’s recent actions “weird,” and wonders: “Is he authentic? Is he honest? Does he know who he is and what he believes?”

Between her three kids, her dog and her magazine work, Cristina Cuomo, sister-in-law of the governor and wife of CNN’s Chris Cuomo, has very busy Sundays.

The state is looking to reclassify some 2,500 PEF members as management/confidential – not 1,000 as originally thought.

Melvin Lowe, a former top aide to indicted Sen. John Sampson, was sentenced to three years in prison for tax fraud and for conspiring with his former boss to steal $100,000 from the state Democratic Senate Campaign Committee.

The New York Power Authority’s Board of Trustees announced a 2-percent hike in the statewide public power utility’s operating budget for 2015.

Cuomo will give an inaugural address for his second term at the World Trade Center site in New York City, followed by another in Buffalo.

Obama signed into law a measure that included a provision creating a national historical park at Harriet Tubman’s former home in Central New York and in Maryland.

The Journal News questioned the lack of transparency in the Thruway Authority’s 2015 budget, approved last Friday, which includes a multimillion dollar hole and no mention of toll increases.

The MTA is trying to address the scourge of “manspreading” on the NYC subway system.

Bob McCarthy pens a political Christmas poem.

Cuomo Directs Flags At Half-Staff for Fallen NYPD Officers

Gov. Andrew Cuomo this afternoon directed that flags on all state government buildings in New York City be flown at half-staff today in honor of the two NYPD officers who were shot and killed yesterday in Brooklyn.

“I join with all New Yorkers in mourning the loss of Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“Like all law enforcement personnel, Officers Liu and Ramos put their lives on the line in order to serve their communities, and it is with great sadness that we mourn their passing after a senseless and deplorable act of violence.”

“My thoughts and prayers go out to the loved ones of these two brave men. We will remember their service with pride and endless gratitude.”

Following the shooting of the two officers, Cuomo issued a statement last night condemning “this deplorable act of violence,” which he said was “he opposite of what New York is and what New Yorkers believe in.”

The governor praised Liu and Ramos and the more than 34,000 other uniformed members of the NYPD who “put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe”

“They run toward danger when all of our instincts tell us to run away,” Cuomo said. “Tonight, we all come together to mourn the loss of these brave souls.”

Cuomo: ‘We’re Going To Be There’ For The S. Tier

Gov. Andrew Cuomo reiterated today that he has not forgotten the dire economic needs of the Southern Tier, where residents are reeling from last week’s one-two punch of losing out on two potential job producers – fracking and casinos.

Speaking to political donor/radio host/supermarket mogul John Catsimatidis on 970 AM, The Answer this morning, Cuomo said again that he did not believe giving a green light to fracking and the jobs it might have brought to the beleaguered upstate region was worth the risk to public health.

“I understand people especially along the Southern Tier, who have very real economic problems, feel disappointment,” Cuomo said.

“…I get that we need an economic plan for the Southern Tier. By the way, I get that we’ve needed an economic plan for upstate New York, and I’ve done more for the upstate economically than any governor in modern political history.”

“I get that Buffalo needed help, and we did it. And now I get that the Southern Tier needs help, and we’re going to be there.”

Cuomo did not offer any details of what he might have in mind for the Southern Tier. But his mention of Buffalo brings to mind the billion-dollar investment the state has pledged to the city since he took office.

Some have speculated that Cuomo will look to do something similar for the Southern Tier – perhaps announcing his plans in his State of the State address next week.

Cuomo also spoke to Catsimatidis about his aggressive stance on reform of the public education system, which he laid out in a letter to Regents Chancellor Marryl Tisch and outgoing state Education Commissioner John King last week.

“I basically said, ‘Look, here are the questions that every New Yorker is asking, give me the honest answer,’” Cuomo explained. “‘Not the answer that the Assembly will accept. Not the answer that the union will accept. Give me the truth. How do you think we should reform education, and forget the politics. Let me worry about the politics.’”

Cuomo said he is looking forward to having a “frank debate” over public education in the coming legislative session.

He admitted there are “political risks” in his approach, but professed not to care that he might run afoul of the powerful teachers union, with which he hasn’t gotten along terribly well for years now. (NYSUT declined to endorse Cuomo when he first ran for governor in 2010, and also when he successfully sought re-election this fall).

Cuomo signaled in his letter to Tisch and King an interest in boosting the state’s charter schools, for which he emerged as an outspoken champion – in sharp contrast to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio – during this past legislative session.

This morning, Cuomo said the state can “learn” from private and charter schools, but his main focus will be on “fixing the public education system, because that’s like 96 percent of the students are.”

Cuomo did not address yesterday’s deadly shooting of two NYPD officers during the interview, which was pre-recorded before the incident occurred.

Silver Accepts Harassment Findings Against Kellner

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver accepted the findings of the chamber’s ethics commission on Friday that outgoing Assemblyman Micah Kellner created a “sexually hostile work environment” and upheld sanctions placed on his office.

“I accept the recommendation of the Committee in full,” Silver wrote in a letter of admonition and reprimand to Kellner. “Therefore, I hereby and again admonish and reprimand you for your conduct. You have been found to have engaged in sexual harassment in 2012 and 2013 in violation of the Assembly’s Harassment Policy, in addition to and distinct from the previous findings of the Committee, upheld on appeal by Judge Levine, that you engaged in sexual harassment in 2009 and 2011.”

In a letter sent by the ethics committee to Silver on Wednesday, the panel also concluded Kellner violated the Assembly’s sexual harassment policy and found that his “conduct is unbecoming of a member of the Assembly and reflects poorly on the entire body.”

Kellner, a Manhattan Democrat, has been appealing sanctions that he sexually harassed members of his staff.

Kellner received a second round of sanctions after it was found he was in violation of rules imposed on his office, including having an intern.

The second round of charges leveled against Kellner were dismissed by hearing officer in November, with Judge Howard Levine determining in a letter that Kellner was not given enough notice earlier this spring following the new charge.

The letter to Kellner released today by Silver’s office accepts the findings in full from the ethics committee’s investigation that Kellner engaged in sexual harassment in 2009 and 2011.

Kellner blasted the development in response:

“Speaker Silver’s and the Assembly Ethics Committe’s actions in this matter have zero credibility after the Speaker’s hand-picked appeals officer questioned the legitimacy of the Ethics Committee’s investigation and the authenticity of the evidence on which they based their decision– ultimately leading the appeals officer to take the unprecedented step of throwing out these exact same charges in November. Speaker Silver has been making up this Kabuki theatre as he goes along, solely to protect himself, while failing to honor or complete the appeals process he put in place.”

EC 12-17-14f.pdf by Nick Reisman

Extras

How not to be late, a “self-help guide” for the chronically tardy NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.

For his final press conference of 2014, President Obama exclusively called on female reporters. The White House had planned it that way.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will have a private swearing-in on New Year’s Eve in Albany. On New Year’s Day, he’ll host public ceremonies in NYC and Buffalo, home to his LG, Kathy Hochul.

Cuomo to the anti-frackers: “You did a great job of making your voice hear, and that’s what democracy’s all about. I actually enjoyed seeing it in action - I know it didn’t always seem that way.”

Sen. Tom Libous said he would be calling Cuomo this afternoon to ask for the fourth available casino license be awarded for a “true Southern Tier casino.”

The state Thruway Authority passed a 2015 budget that leaves a $36 million gap in funding, leaving a decision about whether to raise tolls on the superhighway system until next year.

According to EJ McMahon, the Thruway budget was slightly revised from the one originally proposed, but “continues to assume rising tolls through 2018.”

The executive director of Gracie Mansion has been chosen as First Lady Chirlane McCray’s new chief of staff after the embattled Rachel Noerdlinger stepped down last month.

Dan Doctoroff bid farewell this afternoon to Bloomberg L.P., where he had served as chairman and chief executive since 2008.

Sen. George Latimer’s house in Westchester County is in foreclosure proceedings.

In recommending a fracking ban, acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said he wouldn’t want his own kids to grow up near a well site. Turns out, he’s unmarried and has no children.

More than 1 million workers in New York will get raises this New Year’s Eve, when the state’s hourly minimum wage increases from $8 and hour to $8.75.

Richard Lipsky penned an OpEd for The Boston Globe about why Mark Wahlberg should be pardoned for a felony conviction he received when he was 16.

The Justice League NYC, which has been organizing protests since the Eric Garner grand jury decision, met with de Blasio today.

Soon-to-be-former conservative Rep. Michele Bachmann wants to be a full-time critic of everything Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Campaigns and political committees spent more than $1.5 million on private jets  to fly in Bill and Hillary Clinton to stump for various candidates during the  2014 midterms.

The NYT editorial board calls on Cuomo to “put his energies into a vigorous effort to pass the long-stalled” GENDA.

GlobalFoundries will look outside the Albany region to fill 300 openings for equipment engineer technicians in the coming year, until the pipeline of mid-skilled workers meets the business’ growing demands.

Here are twelve 2014 moments when de Blasio criticized the policies of his predecessor, former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and attempted to show his moves in a new direction.

There’s a new area code in Suffolk County: It’s 934.

Cuomo has signed a bill into law to preserve the dark skies over the Adirondacks.

Cuomo To Hold Swearing-In Ceremonies In NYC, Buffalo

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will eschew a public swearing-in ceremony in Albany for the One World Trade site and Buffalo, an administration official confirmed.

The locations were first reported by The Daily News.

Cuomo, who will take the oath of office for a second, four-year term on Jan. 1., will hold a private swearing-in ceremony at the Executive Mansion in Albany on New Year’s Eve.

The governor on New Year’s Day will hold a public ceremony in Manhattan near the One World Trade site and in Buffalo, with an exact location expected to be announced next week.

Cuomo will be taking office alongside Lt. Gov.-elect Kathy Hochul, a former congresswoman from western New York.

It’s not surprising that Cuomo would want to spend some time in Buffalo on his inauguration day, given the attention he has lavished on the area in his first term.

Cuomo in 2010 held his swearing-in ceremony in Albany on the second floor of the state Capitol, a day that he also chose to re-open the second-floor office suite that had been closed off since the Pataki administration.

Moody’s Down On Speed Camera Implosion

The credit rating agency Moody’s gave a dim analysis of Nassau County’s rejection of a speed camera program after initially budgeting revenue from violations.

Albany lawmakers earlier this year approved a speed-camera program for Nassau County near schools, but officials there ultimately scrapped the program following public outcry.

Moody’s examined the speed-camera situation in Nassau County and a similar situation in New Jersey that also scaled back its implementation.

The agency concludes the problems with the programs constitute a “credit negative” due to the impact on local governments not being able to access new forms of revenue in the midst of tax caps, poor sales tax growth and opposition to tax hikes.

More from Moody’s:

“Net county collections from the cameras, after the vendor’s contracted share, were $21 million between September and November, indicating the county would have exceeded the $30 million (1% of total revenues) in speed camera revenue for which it had budgeted in 2015. Neighboring Suffolk County (A3/stable), which had projected only $2.5 million from speed cameras for 2015, chose to scrap its plan earlier this month before it had even begun, partially based on the Nassau experience.”

Reed: Congress May Override State Fracking Ban

GOP Rep. Tom Reed on Friday raised the possibility of the federal government exploring ways of superseding Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to prohibit hydrofracking in the Southern Tier.

Reed, who represents the area of the state where natural gas deposits are especially rich, told Fred Dicker on Talk-1300 this morning the federal government could have the authority to overrule the ban, which will be formally put in place by the state Department of Environmental Conservation next year.

Reed compared the move to a federal telecommunications measure that overrode local zoning on the placement of satellite dishes.

“So the federal government could have a role here,” Reed said. “Obviously when we talk about energy, we’re talking about our energy security and that has national implications.”

Cuomo on Wednesday backed the proposal made at his year-end cabinet meeting to ban the controversial natural gas drilling process after Acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker could not determine whether the practice could be conducted safely in New York.

Reed, in the interview, said he wanted to see the scope of the state’s fracking prohibition.

“I think it’s going to depend on how far the New York ban goes here,” Reed said.

He also criticized Cuomo over the ban, charging that it was a political decision.

“This is about presidential politics, trying to win a presidential primary,” Reed said. “Maybe he’s worried about trying to win a governor’s race four years from now.”

Moody’s: Casino Win A ‘Credit Positive’ For Host Communities

Winning a bid to host a casino resort is a “credit positive” for the host municipalities in upstate New York, a Moody’s analysis released on Friday found.

Nevertheless, there is a note of caution from the credit-rating agency: Given the troubles of the gambling and casino industry across the country, the long-term benefits of the projects could be “muted.”

The state’s gaming facility location board on Wednesday awarded casino licenses to project bids in Sullivan County, Schenectady and the town of Tyre in Seneca County.

Moody’s points to the revenue and job creation expected to be generated by the projects.

The counties hosting the casino resorts will receive “host fees” with $14.7 million going to Sullivan, $13.1 million expected for Schenectady and $6.9 million going to Seneca County.

The towns and nearby school districts will be in line for smaller amounts.

Moody’s also expects the host municipalities to see increases in local property tax bases driven by the new construction and the growth in sales revenue

Moody’s says the outlook on the gaming industry in the United States writ large is negative due to weakening revenues, lower demand and high fixed costs — suggesting the long-term impact in New York from casino revenue may be elusive.

“Gaming revenues, particularly outside of Las Vegas (Aa2/stable), are down in areas across the country and it remains to be seen if the estimates provided by the Gaming Commission and the casino companies themselves come to fruition. Significant increases in traffic and tourism will likely require an additional police presence. Host municipalities may also need to improve existing infrastructure, particularly roads and bridges, in order to accommodate increases in traffic.”