The Weekend That Was

A spokesman for former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani strongly denied a claim from Carl Paladino last week that the former mayor requested $50,000 for an endorsement during the Buffalo businessman’s 2010 campaign for governor.

A 26-year-old nurse said that a hospital where she had worked in Dallas and its parent company failed her when she contracted Ebola while caring for the first person in the U.S. diagnosed with the deadly disease. She is preparing to sue Texas Health Resources.

Senate Republicans may want her to publicly disclose her finances, but a spokeswoman for Cuomo’s celebrity chef girlfriend, Sandra Lee, insists: “None of the companies Ms. Lee owns lobby or have business before the state.”

Democratic NY-11 candidate Vincent Gentile is already making the Eric Garner case part of the race for office. The Brooklyn pol called on his Republican opponent, Staten Island DA Dan Donovan, to release the transcripts of the grand jury that decided not to indict NYPD cop Daniel Pantaleo for killing the father of five.

The TU chides state lawmakers for resisting Cuomo’s ethics reform ultimatum, and suggests they publicly negotiate a deal with him.

Hundreds of people attended a Saturday afternoon “Call Out Cuomo” educational rally at Massena High School.

Fred LeBrun questions Cuomo’s book deal, and wonders where US Attorney Preet Bharara is on the subject.

EJ McMahon questions the Cuomo administration’s claims that the upstate economy is “robust.”

Now that the fracking war in New York is over – for the moment – what comes next for the Southern Tier and environmental advocates?

The Buffalo News supports the governor’s quest for a “fair, effective” teacher performance evaluation system.

An unprecedented trial is scheduled to open tomorrow in Western New York. Three white Attica prison guards — Sergeant Warner and Officers Rademacher and Swack — face charges stemming from the beating of George Williams, an African-American prisoner. All three have pleaded not guilty.

This week, the North Carolina-based John Locke Foundation published its inaugural First in Freedom Index. Using more than 60 data points, we calculated fiscal, educational, regulatory and health-care freedom in the 50 states. New York ranked last.

Fiery wrecks of trains hauling crude oil have intensified pressure on the Obama administration to approve tougher standards for railroads and tank cars despite industry complaints that it could cost billions and slow freight deliveries.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind is wondering why former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has not taken a position on Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s scheduled address before Congress.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is raising questions about Clinton’s ethical judgment after reports that her family’s foundation received millions of dollars from foreign governments during her tenure as secretary of state.

Libertarian hero Rand Paul of Kentucky on Saturday grabbed first place in the Conservative Political Action Conference straw poll for the third year running, followed closely by rising potential 2016 Republican presidential primary star Scott Walker.

Former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, who is considering entering the Democratic presidential race, said that financial regulation needs to be at the forefront of the 2016 campaign and suggested big banks need to be broken up if they might harm the nation.

O’Malley took a veiled shot at his possible 2016 rival, Clinton, criticizing the politics of “triangulation” that have historically been associated with the former first lady and her husband, former President Clinton.

Bordering on dysfunction, Congress passed a one-week bill late Friday night to avert a partial shutdown of the Homeland Security Department, as leaders in both political parties quelled a revolt by House conservatives furious that the measure left President Barack Obama’s immigration policy intact.

Injuries on NYC playgrounds cost taxpayers $20 million in the last decade — with parents filing 577 claims against the Parks Department, a comptroller report reveals.

The Democrat-controlled state Assembly is planning to hold a public roundtable discussion on legislation restricting where sex offenders can live – a move that some lawmakers see as a sign that the bill could win passage.

More than 1,000 people have signed a petition urging Cuomo to veto a proposed Liquefied Natural Gas deep water port near Long Beach.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio still returns to his stomping grounds in Brooklyn, and is rarely seen on the Upper East Side, even though he lives there (in Gracie Mansion) now.

Former Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s early-rising ways are irking staffers at his company, now that he had made he return there.

Four years ago, New York was home to five producers of hard cider. Today there are 31, including 11 that opened in the past year under the state’s farm cidery law. The measure, which took effect in January 2014, offers tax advantages and other benefits to producers who use fruit exclusively grown in the state.

Christopher Porco, convicted of using an ax to kill his father and maim his mother as they slept in their Delmar home in 2004, has spent the better part of the past eight years trying locate the data that he may believe will prove his innocence.

Conservatives Back Donovan in NY-11

The state Conservative Party announced today it “enthusiastically” and officially voted at an executive committee meeting today to back Republican Staten Island DA Dan Donovan in the May 5 special election for the seat vacated by former GOP Rep. Michael Grimm.

“Dan Donovan will bring an extensive background in public service to Congress,” said Brooklyn Conservative Party Chairman Jerry Kassar. “Like the Conservative Party, he is an advocate of pro-growth economic policies through tax cuts and spending caps.”

“And when it comes to foreign policy, Dan places America’s interests first backed by a strong national defense. I am very pleased the State Conservative Party has nominated him for election to Congress.”

Staten Island Conservative Chairman Harold J. Wagner, Jr. called Donovan “home grown,” a candidate who knows the district and its people.

“He has served his community for over 25 years with honor and distinction,” Wagner continued. “He possesses the political skills to navigate Washington and will know how to advocate for the 11th Congressional District. Knowing Dan for a long time, I have always found him to be attentive to his constituents, and I believe he will reflect the will of the people.”

State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long also cited his longstanding relationship with Donovan, and said he believed the DA’s “knowledge of the issues will be his strength” in representing the district in D.C.

The state Conservative Party backed Donovan in his failed state AG bid in 2010 against the current Democratic incumbent (but then state senator) Eric Scheniderman. In fact, the Conservatives endorsed Donovan even before his own party did, holding their state convention in late May, while the Republicans gathered a few days later (in early June).

Donovan hasn’t always seen eye-to-eye with the local Conservative Party, however, In 2011, the Staten Island Democrats snubbed Donovan, endorsing Democrat Michael Ryan rather than the incumbent DA, who was seeking a third term.

The move was widely seen as the result of Donovan’s falling out with his onetime mentor, former Staten Island BP Jim Molinaro, which was caused by the DA’s call for a special prosecutor in a 2006 case involving Molinaro’s grandson. The borough president denied that charge, though he personally backed Ryan as well.

Donovan handily won re-election in the 2011 November general election, defeating Ryan by a wider margin than he had four years earlier, even though he lacked the Conservative line.

The Republicans picked Donovan, who is perhaps best known as the prosecutor in the Eric Garner case, as their candidate to replace Grimm long before Gov. Andrew Cuomo even called the special election. (Actually, Cuomo’s hand was forced by a lawsuit).

After seeing their preferred candidates – former Rep. Michael McMahon and Assemblyman Michael Cusick – take a pass on the race, the Democrats just recently settled on Brooklyn Councilman Vincent Gentile as their candidate.

Extras

RIP Leonard Nimoy, who was best known as Spock, but was also a talented photographer.

President Obama “loved Spock,” and greeted Nimoy with the Vulcan salute when the two met in 2007.

Politicans weighed in on the “what color is that dress” controversy. Not surprisingly, they’re divided.

It looks like Gov. Andrew Cuomo will be the first to travel to Cuba since the US started normalizing relations with the country after all.

“This is the world we live in. If Preet can make a case against Silver, he can make a case against Cuomo.”

Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. said considering the DREAM Act apart from the state budget will hurt its chances of passage. “I think that Carl Heastie and the Assembly have killed the DREAM Act again,” he said.

The Public Service Commission is now scheduled to vote on the merger of Time Warner Cable and Comcast next month. The vote should happen by March 19.

Mort Zuckerman might sell the Daily News, but his other media property, US News & World Report, is not for sale.

Observer Media has rebranded The New York Observer’s website as “The Observer.”

The Cuomo administration’s top labor negotiator said the state budget does not contain a reserve to pay for higher wage and benefits that might accompany PEF’s expiring contract.

A longtime town court judge in Oswego County has taken a leave of absence from the bench as his bosses investigate the court’s activities.

The state still doesn’t have a database for background checks on ammunition sales that was part of New York’s controversial gun-control law in 2013.

Former Gov. David Paterson said that his popularity ratings slid as a result of Saturday Night Live sketches that made fun of his visual impairment.

This year, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s tax bill on his $1.41 million Park Slope townhome will total nearly $2,900. A few miles away in Borough Park, the owner of a home similarly valued at $1.42 million will have to pay more than $15,000.

The state Department of Labor and local authorities in Schenectady arrested an IRS employee for allegedly getting unemployment and social services benefits she wasn’t entitled to.

Congratulations to NY1’s Bob Hardt for hitting the 140-pound mark.

You think you’ve got cold weather problems? Consider the plight of the dairy farmer.

Ladies and gentleman, Carl Paladino.

Violating Albany’s Prime Directive

With apologies to the late Mr. Spock, an anonymous Cuomo administration official today violated Albany’s prime directive: The Bear Mountain Compact.

The so-called agreement for so-called gentlemen in Albany basically requires that anything that happens in Albany stays in Albany, be it extramarital affairs, debauchery, drunkenness, etc.

The staffer was reacting to a Republican-backed bill that appears to be a thinly veiled effort to troll Cuomo in his bedroom: The measure would require financial disclosure from non-relatives who live with state officials, i.e., the governor’s girlfriend, Sandra Lee.

A Cuomo administration official told myself and several others: “It’s an interesting concept – if the bill’s anonymous sponsor ever comes forward, we may suggest expanding it to include all girlfriends, even those of married members.”

The quote is a clever one, but it’s also something of a threat delivered with a clenched-teeth smile.

To be sure, a lot of bad behavior has occurred (and likely continues to) in Albany for decades. On the surface, there’s an effort on the part by lawmakers and their colleagues to keep it a secret (see Lopez, Vito and Silver, Sheldon).

The press, historically, helped play a role in keeping extramarital affairs a secret, most notably with Nelson Rockefeller’s dalliances.

Consider, however, that two state lawmakers in recent years sought to help federal prosecutors by wearing a wire in order to get the goods on their colleagues and obtain some leniency.

Consider how easy — through the recording of a bathroom-stall cell phone video, archived Google chats and a reputation for bullying behavior — a trio of now-former state lawmakers made it for their victims to make sexual harassment complaints.

Consider, too, how easy it is for any state lawmakers to say something blunt or innuendo-laden on social media.

In other words, Albany may be a town of secrets, but in this day and age it’s a lot easier for those secrets to get out.

DeFran On Cuomo’s ‘Bizarre Approach’ On Education Aid

Senate Finance Committee Chairman John DeFrancisco sharply criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s approach on education spending in this year’s $142 billion budget proposal “bizarre” and said it risked an on-time spending plan.

“That’s going to stop the consecutive on-time budget process,” DeFrancisco, a Republican from Syracuse, said on The Capitol Pressroom. “You don’t have an all or nothing situation and you don’t say I’m not going to negotiate. I think this is sort of a bizarre approach when we’ve gotten the four on-time budgets working in a cooperative way.”

Cuomo is linking up to $1.1 billion in new spending for education to enacting a number of his education reform proposals, including lifting the cap on charter schools and a new, more stringent teacher evaluation process.

The policy proposals have led to considerable consternation from the state’s teachers unions, who have ratcheted up their rhetoric in recent weeks claiming the governor is pursuing anti-teacher policies.

But Cuomo has defended his proposals, saying he wants to reward good teachers even as he wants to remove poor performing teachers from the classroom. Cuomo has also pushed a plan that would make it easier for the state to takeover a failing school.

At the same time, Cuomo has declined to release school aid runs — individual spending targets for school districts, which is a break with past practice.

“This is the first time I’ve ever seen anything like this,” DeFrancisco said. “School districts have to plan their day, but we’re going to say we’re not even going to tell you what you get.”

Of course, Cuomo isn’t just linking education policy to spending. He has tied new income disclosure requirements to capital spending, as well as requiring receipts for travel reimbursement.

DeFrancisco added that it’s going to be up to the governor himself as to whether a budget will be approved before April 1, the start of the state’s fiscal year.

“It all depends on if the governor is going to be firm on these conditions,” he said.

The pace of negotiations are expected to pick up next week and Cuomo on Wednesday held his first leaders meeting with Senate leaders Jeff Klein and Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

“It all depends on practical negotiations,” DeFrancisco said. “I don’t see why we can’t get there, but I don’t see if the governor is going to back off those conditions.”

With Some Snark, Cuomo Administration Reacts To Senate GOP Ethics Proposal

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office on Friday reacted to a bill that would require income disclosure of non-relatives who live with state officials.

The bill, submitted quietly by Senate Republicans on Thursday evening, would apply to Cuomo’s live-in girlfriend, Sandra Lee.

A Republican spokeswoman insisted in a statement that the bill was not targeting the Food Network star specifically, even if she would still be impacted by it.

Cuomo spokeswoman Melissa DeRosa, meanwhile, took a dig at the anonymous sponsorship of the bill, which was submitted to the Rules Committee without a formal sponsor.

“We’re happy to review any ethics proposal with the bill’s sponsor, whoever that may be,” DeRosa said.

Meanwhile, a separate administration official threw even more chin music toward lawmakers.

“It’s an interesting concept – if the bill’s anonymous sponsor ever comes forward, we may suggest expanding it to include all girlfriends, even those of married members,” the official said.

Sheriffs Urge Juvenile Justice Reform

A group of Republican and Democratic sheriffs from around the state on Friday urged state leaders to adopt a package of reforms to the juvenile justice system.

In letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to adopt the proposed changes, which include at the centerpiece a push to raise the age of criminal responsibility.

“Under the proposed legislation, the most serious offenders will continue to be prosecuted in the adult criminal courts. However, instead of using the same unsuccessful “one size fits all” solutions, the proposal before you calls for the creation of special Youth Parts of the adult courts that would offer appropriate sentences and services for young people, including incarceration,” the sheriffs wrote in the letter.

The reforms were first proposed by a panel convened last year by Cuomo also include changes to arrest procedures, removing youth from prisons that include adults and an expansion of services that would provide assistance to juveniles after their release.

The hope is the reforms will lead to reduce recidivism in the criminal justice system.

Those of us working in law enforcement know that these are the reforms New York desperately needs,” the letter states. “The public safety benefits to raising the age are overwhelming. Under the current system, youth housed in adult facilities are more likely to encounter criminal influences that will lead them to a permanent life of crime.”

Signing on to the letter: Sheriffs Craig Apple, Robert Maciol, Michael H. Zurlo, Colleen O’Neill, Barry Virts, Allen Riley, Ernest Cutting, Vincent DeMarco and Peter Convery.

Juvenile Justice Reform Letter by Nick Reisman

Senate Republicans Make An Ethics Target Of Sandra Lee (Updated)

A bill introduced in the state Senate on Thursday evening would require financial disclosure of live-in non-relatives — seemingly targeting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s girlfriend, Food Network personality Sandra Lee.

The bill was introduced quietly into the Senate Rules Committee and does not have an actual lawmaker sponsoring the legislation.

The bill would require financial disclosure statements to “include information on any person they reside with, rather than just their spouse and unemancipated children; requires timely compliance with requirements of this act by members of advisory entities prior to such entities being authorized to provide advice.”

Cuomo has dated Lee since 2005 and resides with her in a Westchester County home. If the two were married, Lee would likely have to disclose information on her business interests and investments, revealing potential business before the state.

The bill is just one of three measures that have surfaced in the last several hours taking apparent aim at Cuomo, which were first flagged by Capital New York.

Meanwhile, a separate bill backed by Staten Island Sen. Andrew Lanza and western New York Sen. Pat Gallivan would create new disclosure requirements for business entities with state contracts to report contributions.

And a third bill, sponsored by Sen. Carl Marcellino, would require state agency employees — members of the executive branch of government — to file financial disclosure forms.

The bills come after Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos told reporters he believed Cuomo should be subject to the same disclosure requirements and scrutiny as lawmakers.

“As we’re discussing disclosure certainly I think there’s going to be robust changes to the requirements of legislators in terms of disclosure,” Skelos, a Long Island Republican, told reporters. “But I think there also should be disclosure by the executive branch. There’s a lot of focus on the Legislature. But I should point out — Spitzer, Hevesi, David Paterson — there have been problems in all branches of government and we’re going to work on a bipartisan way to fix those problems.”

Updated: Senate Republican spokeswoman Kelly Cummings in a statement says the legislation is not targeting a specific individual.

“The language to broaden financial disclosure to include all members of the household was taken from a proposal submitted to the Legislature by the Governor. It is not targeted at any one person, but would apply to every policy maker in state government who files the financial disclosure long form.”

Cuomo Campaign Emails On ‘Enough Is Enough’

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s campaign sent an email to supporters on Friday urging them to contact their state lawmaker and urge them to support the “Enough Is Enough” campaign aimed at cracking down on campus rape and sexual assault.

“The terrible truth is that there is an epidemic of sexual violence on campuses. Both here in New York, and nationwide,” the email states. “This is not a new problem, but it is time and past time we did something about it.”

Cuomo’s legislation would require affirmative consent for sexual encounters and have all reports of rape and assault be directed to law enforcement, not be adjudicated by the college’s administration.

SUNY campuses have already adopted the uniform policy standards; Cuomo wants to extend the policy to private campuses.

“These reforms represent a powerful step forward in this fight,” the email from Cuomo’s campaign says. “Not only will it help to protect our students, but New York will serve as an example and leader to the rest of the nation. But I can’t do it alone. I need your help and support to urge the legislature to do the right thing. Please tell your legislator to support these reforms.”

Gaming Commission Releases Casino Siting Analysis

The New York State Gaming Commission released a report today detailing the selection process of the Gaming Facility Location Board.

That board chose three locations, out of a possible four, to place casinos in three different regions of the state.

Governor Cuomo has called for the bidding process to be re-opened, to select a fourth casino in the Southern Tier. The Gaming Commision put that request in motion today by approving a draft request for applications.

The choice for the Southern Tier region was controversial to some because the pick was said not to be in the “true Southern Tier”, along the Pennsylvania border. Instead, the board choice Lago Resort, which will be located more in the Finger Lakes/Central New York region.

In the report, the commission cites Lago Resorts capital investment in the area – $425 million – saying it “far exceeds the proposed capital investment for the region.” The report also cites Lago’s potential to attract tourism to the Finger Lakes area, and, therefore, money.

As for the losing bid – Tioga Downs – the report said that location would not have the same impact. Since the building and location already exists, there would be less capital investment – about a third of what Lago proposed.

The report also says the board was concerned about the project’s debt to equity ratio. They say the proposed equity contribution was at $5 million, the rest of the project’s bill would be footed with loans. They were specifically concerned that the facility was relying on a commitment letter from one institution to provide $160 million in borrowed money.

They were also concerned with the facility’s design and how fast it would actually be open considering the many phases of development proposed.

You can read the full report online here.