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.

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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.

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Extras

Jeanine Pirro, the former Westchester district attorney and current Fox television star, is selling her custom-built Harrison home for $4.995 million.

Buffalo’s two vacant federal judgeships became a topic of debate on the Senate floor today, as US Sen. Chuck Schumer pressed Republican leaders about their slow pace in confirming new judges from New York and all across the country.


Terry Pegula says
a new football stadium is “nothing urgent right now,” expressed no desire to sell naming rights on Ralph Wilson Stadium and called the last two Buffalo Sabres seasons “two of the most successful seasons we’ve ever had.”

Two research chimpanzees at a state university on Long Island shouldn’t be considered legal persons and given the rights bestowed by so-called personhood, a New York State Supreme Court judge ruled.

The de Blasio administration is launching a $30 million effort to help connect low-income residents with mental health services, one of the first steps in an overhaul of the city’s mental health system promised by Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray.

US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand gave a scathing speech on the Senate floor today blasting Republicans who vow to use any and all measures to defund Planned Parenthood — even if it means a government shutdown.

The new Tappan Zee Bridge and reconstruction of LaGuardia Airport are “legacy” projects for Cuomo. Political analysts say the governor’s penchant for large-scale projects is unmatched among his recent predecessors.

When Schumer complained there had been too few Senate votes this year on the president’s judicial nominees, Sen. Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, defended the pace and said: “So put that in your pipe and smoke it, senator from New York.”

Hillary Clinton’s job application for president of the United States would have two reference numbers on it: Her husband’s and the White House.

Voters continue to find Clinton dishonest and untrustworthy, according to a new Q poll. (She and Donald Trump are almost tied).

Cinton called for a higher federal minimum wage, but stopped short of supporting the $15 minimum wage touted by some of her Democratic nomination opponents.

Trump’s campaign manager says his candidate has specific policy positions ready for release at a time and method of the campaign’s choosing.

National Guard personnel overpaid for fuel during post-Sandy cleanup efforts, according to an audit by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

New York City health officials are tracking an outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease that has killed two people and sickened dozens of others in the South Bronx. (De Blasio insists there’s no reason for alarm).

In the first outside review of the NYPD’s use of body cameras, the inspector general overseeing the department recommended police use cameras more often, but work to limit exposing victims and witnesses.

Members of the Taxis for All Campaign, an advocacy group for blind and wheelchair-using passengers, hosted a “roll-in” outside Uber’s Chelsea headquarters to protest what it says is the company’s lack of accessible vehicles.

The Executive Committee of 1199 SEIU unanimously passed a resolution this week that urges Cuomo and the DEC to deny permission for storage of liquid propane gas in salt caverns next to Seneca Lake in Schuyler County.

Republicans To Roll Out SD-52 Candidate On Monday

sd52The Republican candidate in the special election replace former Sen. Tom Libous will be announced on Monday, Broome County GOP Chairman Bijoy Datta said Thursday afternoon in a statement.

The news comes as Democrat Barbara Fiala, a former Broome County, launches her bid today for the 52nd Senate district, which encompasses four counties in the Southern Tier.

In his statement, Datta took a swipe at Fiala’s early support from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who endorsed less than 24 hours after Libous was found guilty of lying to the FBI and automatically removed from his seat. More >

DiNapoli Questions Sandy Spending On Catering Company

dinapoliA catering company contracted by the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs racked up $20,00 in costs deemed excessive by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office, according to a report released on Thursday.

The Staten Island-based Arrochar Meats, Inc., provided food to the New York Army National Guard during the emergency response for Superstorm Sandy, but also acted as “an unnecessary middleman” for 18,960 gallons of fuel, which added nearly $20,000 to purchase price.

“In times of disasters, most New Yorkers pull together to help each other, not to make a quick buck,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “Even under such circumstances, state agencies should keep watch over the public’s money and, in this case, DMNA should now recover any inappropriate fees that were charged.” More >

DeFrancisco Appointed Deputy Majority Leader

DeFranFlanSyracuse Sen. John DeFrancisco has been named the deputy majority leader of the state Senate, the GOP conference on Thursday announced.

The appointment of DeFrancisco to the number two post in the Senate brings regional balance to the Republican leadership, but it also extends an olive branch to the faction of GOP lawmakers who supported the Syracuse lawmaker over Majority Leader John Flanagan of Suffolk County on Long Island.

“John DeFrancisco is a key part of our leadership team and a staunch advocate for the needs of every region of the state, including Upstate New York,” Flanagan said in a statement. “As a colleague and a friend, I am confident he will be a strong Deputy Majority Leader whose knowledge and experience will help move our pro-growth, pro-taxpayer agenda forward in the coming months and years. We have made real progress in moving this state in a new and better direction, but we have a lot of important work left to do. I am pleased to name Senator DeFrancisco to this position and look forward to continuing to work with him in this new capacity.”

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Skelos And Son Plead Not Guilty To New Charges

skelosDean Skelos, the former Senate majority leader, and his son Adam pleaded not guilty on Thursday morning in federal court in Manhattan to new charges alleging a no-show job in a superseding indictment issue last week.

A trial is now scheduled for Nov. 16 for Skelos, who resigned from the leadership post in the Senate in May, but retains his seat in the chamber.

Both Skelos and former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who was ousted following his own arrest in a separate corruption case, will be on trial in federal court that month.

Skelos, who arrived to court with his arm around his son, had no comment when he left the arraignment on Thursday. More >