Liz Benjamin

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Here and Now

Happy day after Thanksgiving! Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in the New York City area and Albany with no public schedule.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is traveling to Connecticut, where his son Dante is a student at Yale University. He has no public events scheduled and will return to the city on Sunday.

At 9 a.m., Walmart workers, clergy, and supporters fast outside the estate of Alice Walton, whose family owns half of Walmart, as part of a national day of action to “demonstrate the hunger crisis for Walmart workers and their families that are struggling to put food on the table this holiday season,” and protest for a $15-an-hour minim wage, 515 Park Ave., Manhattan.


Black Friday – and all the craziness that goes with it – is well underway. (Some people got an early start on “Gray Thursday”).

The 89th annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, where there was a record police presence by the NYPD, went smoothly.

…but out on Long Island, unexpectedly windy conditions forced the pilot of a blimp to make an emergency landing — on an elementary school’s playing field.

An increase in fatalities and injuries amid a building boom in New York City has mostly affected undocumented immigrant laborers and far exceeds the rate of new construction. The view increasingly held by safety inspectors, government officials and prosecutors, is that safety measures at these job sites are woefully inadequate.

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s colleagues are pondering what his role in the chamber will be if he’s acquitted of federal corruption charges. He could return to Albany for the 2016 legislative session, which begins in January. But few, if any, of his fellow Democrats believe that he could retake the position he ceded to Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat who was elected speaker in February.

The NY Post: “Gov. Cuomo’s pre-holiday slap at Mayor de Blasio’s handling of homelessness was far more than the latest blow in their supposed feud — because Andrew Cuomo has some serious history on this issue.”

De Blasio is struggling to govern as his feud with Cuomo drags on, insiders say.

While fighting – an ultimately winning – its battle with de Blasio, the ride-sharing company Uber cultivated a relationship with Cuomo.

Daily fantasy sports web sites DraftKings and FanDuel are permitted to operate through this holiday weekend, thanks to a judge’s action Wednesday in the case brought against the sites by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

After tracing the cross-country movements of a menacing anti-Muslim rabble-rouser from Arizona, the FBI took the unusual step of issuing an alert to New York law enforcement agencies to look out for him.

While Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw and County Executive Mark Poloncarz are often at odds, they both look at the county’s improved financial health – for which they both take credit – and question the long-term need for a local control board that costs taxpayers about $480,000 a year.

The state’s Department of Financial Services is promoting one of its division leaders as its acting superintendent departs next week. According to a memo sent to the agency’s staff on Wednesday, Shirin Emami will take the reins as acting superintendent on Monday.

The NYC Council is set to vote to give city-funded security to some private schools, after striking a deal with de Blasio on the controversial legislation. The bill will provide at least one security guard, at city expense, to religious and private schools with 300 or more students if the school opts in.

The New York City Hospitality Alliance, which represents restaurants, bar owners, food suppliers and some hotels, registered a political action committee with the state Board of Elections Nov. 23.

The Business Council has expressed its support for the Crestwood Midstream liquefied petroleum gas storage project in a letter to Cuomo. The Texas-based company wants to store some 88 million gallons of liquid propane and butane in underground salt caverns on the west shore of Seneca Lake.

Normally, regulations require the police officers of Buffalo to be clean shaven unless they’re working undercover. But that rule has been suspended for a fundraiser known as “No-Shave November.”

Democrat Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign has scheduled more than a dozen December events featuring her husband, the former president, as her team prepares for an end-of-year finance deadline ahead of the first contests in Iowa and New Hampshire.

Republican 2016 candidate Donald Trump denied that he mocked a New York Times reporter with a disability in a South Carolina speech, despite appearing to imitate mannerisms of the “poor guy” and make fun of him.

New York state plans to mount a public awareness campaign about the risks and consequences of female genital mutilation, a practice that health officials say puts thousands of girls and young women in New York at risk.

Two million dollars in grants are available to organizations for projects to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species in New York State’s waterways.

Syracuse defeated the UCONN Huskies 79-76 to reach the Atlantis championship game, where it will meet Texas A&M Friday at 3 p.m. And the Orange can credit the play of its two savvy, fearless freshmen for helping it advance.

A man jumped the White House fence yesterday afternoon while the first family was inside celebrating Thanksgiving.

Actor Will Smith thinks he might have a future in politics.

RIP Niagara Falls Councilman Robert Anderson, who passed away Wednesday following a battle with cancer.

Extras, Holiday Schedule Info

A programming note regarding the Thanksgiving holiday weekend:

For those of you in our viewing area, there will be no Capital Tonight show tomorrow or Friday. We will return at our regularly scheduled time (8 p.m.) on Monday. There will be no blogging and no morning memo tomorrow as we give the CapTon/SoP team some well deserved time off to celebrate with their families. An abbreviated memo will be sent out Friday morning, accompanied by some light blogging, as the news cycle dictates. There will be a weekend headline wrap on the blog sometime Sunday afternoon.

We are thankful to all of you who make what we do possible, and we hope you enjoy your holiday. Here are some headlines from today…

This year’s pardoned presidential turkeys: Honest and Abe.

Still no verdict in the federal corruption trial of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. The jury gets the holiday weekend off – no sequestering – and will reconvene Monday.

Judge Valerie Caproni has been propelling the parties forward at a brisk pace in Silver’s trial, insisting on using just about every minute of every day to keep proceedings moving.

Silver and his attorneys were smiling as they left the courthouse today.

For the first time since the HIV/AIDS epidemic began, New York State is reporting zero infections passed from mother to child for an entire year.

A ruling is expected in the next few weeks on whether fantasy sports companies DraftKings and FanDuel will remain in business in New York following a hearing today in state Supreme Court in Manhattan.

With the Paris terrorist attacks in mind, the NYPD is increasing the number of officers on duty for the event tomorrow — while assuring New Yorkers there is no specific threat.

Cuomo is urging New Yorkers to protect themselves from identity theft and beware of scams during the holidays.

There’s a dispute over why the MTA removed a set of ads promoting a new Amazon series that feature Nazi and Imperial Japanese insignia from several New York City subway cars.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said he heard reports about people cheering the 9/11 terror attacks, but didn’t – unlike 2016 Republican candidate Donald Trump (or so he claims) – see it for himself.

Citing a labor dispute between some Albany trade unions such as the painters and the operators of the city’s Hilton hotel, PEF has decided to move its upcoming Dec. 1 and Dec. 2 executive board meeting.

The Syracuse basketball team will get one scholarship back per year over the next four seasons after winning its appeal of the NCAA Committee on Infractions decision, the school announced.

No, it’s not illegal to give your kids instant lottery tickets as gifts this holiday season. But it’s probably not the best idea, either, the state Lottery said.

A Schuyler County legislator’s “deer season” Facebook comment has sparked concern and anger among foes of the plan by Crestwood Midstream to store liquefied petroleum gas at a 576-acre site on the southwest shore of Seneca Lake.

The United University Professions, the union that represents SUNY faculty, has opened the application period for $3,000 scholarships for up to four SUNY undergraduates, and one graduate or professional student.

Acting Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter, along with other law enforcement officials, spoke out against a new law meant to increase prison time hit-and-run drivers — claiming the legislation has too many exceptions.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City and Albany with no public schedule.

Jury deliberations continue in the federal corruption trial of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, while proceedings continue in the corruption trial of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam.

At 5:33 a.m., 7:33 a.m. and 9:33 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray will appear on NPR’s Morning Edition to discuss ThriveNYC: The Mental Health Roadmap for All.

At 7:05 a.m., de Blasio will appear live on Fox News’ “Good Day NY” with Rosanna Scotto to discuss security and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.

At 10 a.m., the New York City Coalition Against Hunger releases its annual survey on demand at soup kitchens and food pantries and new findings on food insecurity and hunger in New York City and New York State, Caldwell Temple A.M.E Zion Church, 1288 Reverend James A. Polite Ave., the Bronx.

At noon, DraftKings and FanDuel appear in court related to a proposed injunction by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Supreme Court, 60 Centre St., Manhattan.

At 3 p.m., the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloons will be inflated ahead of tomorrow’s 89th Parade, 79th St and Columbus Avenue, Manhattan. (De Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton attend this event with Macy’s CEO Terry Lundgren at 5 p.m., Southwest Corner of 77th Street and Central Park West).


In a dramatic about-face and as parents revolt against what they see as over-testing of their kids, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is reportedly pushing for the role of test results in establishing teacher performance evaluations to be reduced – possibly even to zero. The administration insists Cuomo is waiting for the recommendations of a task force he had set up to conduct a review of the Common Core standards and assessments.

It was clear early on in the jury’s deliberations in the federal corruption trial of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver that things were not going well, with one juror asking to be excused because she felt physically unwell due feeling “pressured.” The judge refused her request, but will speak with her this morning.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer and Cuomo announced that Alcoa has entered into a 3½-year agreement with the state to keep the smelter open and maintain 600 jobs at the Massena West facility. The agreement is retroactive to Oct. 1 and runs through March 31, 2019.

The deal to keep the Massena plant open is not coming cheaply to the Cuomo administration. It includes: $38.8 million in capital and operation expenses from the state’s economic development arm, and $30 million in energy cost assistance.

The feud between Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio took a new turn yesterday over the mayor’s decision to join a Republican – Cuomo’s election foe in 2014, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino – at a bipartisan event seeking more federal transportation funding.

“The Republican who I ran against, this is a man who is against a woman’s right to choose, this is a man who wants to lock refugees out of this country — it is not a person who I would stand next to,” said Cuomo, who was appearing with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, a potential 2017 primary rival to de Blasio.

Cuomo tore into the de Blasio administration’s handling of the homeless crisis, saying that better “management” by the mayor was needed instead of just “throwing more money at the problem.”

Adam Skelos bragged to the head of AbTech Industries, which had secured a $12 million contract with Nassau County at his urging, that he had direct assurances from County Executive Edward Mangano that a storm water cleanup project would be funded after a series of delays threatened Skelos’ consulting job with the company, a wiretapped phone call revealed yesterday.

A fight over ethics reform in the state legislature helped get Adam Skelos fired from his $10,000-a-month job with AbTech.

Jurors in the Skelos trial were dismissed early yesterday after one juror complained of chest pains.

Thomas Libous, a former deputy majority leader of the state Senate who is dying of cancer, was sentenced to six months of home confinement and two years of probation for lying to federal agents who were investigating whether he used his political influence to get his son a job. Libous said he plans to appeal.

Cuomo announced as part of his “See Something, Send Something” campaign a new mobile app that allows New Yorkers to alert authorities of potential threats.

De Blasio penned a letter to congressional GOP leaders, asking House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to back a bill that would prohibit people on terror watch lists, which bar them from boarding airplanes, from buying firearms.

Cuomo will count nuclear power as renewable energy, at least temporarily, when the state issues new rules next year requiring utilities to procure half their power from renewable sources by 2030. But that plan doesn’t seem likely to convince Entergy to keep the FitzPatrick plant in Oswego County open.

After nearly two years of battling unsuccessfully to ban horse carriages from Central Park, de Blasio is now pushing a compromise that would reduce their number by two-thirds.

More >


Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries took turns kicking NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio for “playing footsie” with the governor’s 2014 Republican opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

…and then de Blasio and Astorino returned the favor.

In a highly unusual move, a juror in former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s federal corruption case sent a note to the judge shortly after noon pleading to be excused from the jury. “I have a different opinion/view so far in this case,” she wrote, “and it is making me feel very, very uncomfortable.”

…the judge rejected this request.

A second note indicated one juror was having “difficulty distinguishing” if exchanging state funds for something in return is illegal, and asked if an Assembly ethics code “clearly outlines this.”

The corruption trial of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, came to a halt late this afternoon after one juror complained of chest pains.

Abu Dhabi’s investment arm is reportedly considering a sale of all or part of chipmaker Globalfoundries Inc. as the emirate explores asset disposals amid a slump in crude oil.

A lot has changed in Western New York – so much so that The Buffalo News has published a primer for “expats” returning home to the area for the holiday.

Capital Region Assembly members Steve McLaughlin and John McDonald III sent a letter to the state Department of Labor asking Acting Commissioner Mario Musolino to launch an investigation into Wal-Mart’s firing of Thomas Smith on Nov. 6.

Cuomo kicked off the 2015-16 skiing and riding season and announced that Whiteface Mountain will open on Thursday and Gore Mountain on Friday.

The Syracuse City Council voted unanimously to override Mayor Stephanie Miner’s veto and provide $15,000 for the Citizen Review Board to hire consultants to help investigate complaints of police misconduct.

According to an internal profits and losses sheet, Onondaga County made just $2,313 from Miranda Lambert’s concert in September – the inaugural concert at the Lakeview Amphitheater.

According to BuzzFeed, daily fantasy football has better odds than Mega Millions.

State Police will crack down on impaired, distracted, and speeding drivers this Thanksgiving weekend.

The New York State Fair looks to get an early start on ticket sales with a Cyber Monday promotion next week.

Protesters planned to voice their displeasure today with Rep. Louise Slaughter’s vote for stricter vetting requirements for Syrian and Iraqi refugees who come to the U.S.

Diversity hiring goals set for the construction of the SolarCity plant in South Buffalo have not translated into a lot of jobs for African-American workers.

Amazon has reportedly asked the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to pull their controversial ads with Nazi symbols from the subways.

Alcoa gave more details about its executive structure for the previously announced split of the lightweight-metals manufacturer’s upstream and so-called value-add companies.

A new law signed by Cuomo will compensate parents who are family caregivers of adult children special needs.

Two days before he stepped down, PTA members at a school board meeting at the Saunders Trades and Technical High School asked that Superintendent Michael Yazurlo be given a contract extension.

Well, this is embarrassing.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is St. Lawrence, Queens, Kings and New York counties.

Jury deliberations begin in the federal corruption trial of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and the trial on corruption charges of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his adult son, Adam, continues.

At 6:50 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray will appear live on CNN’s New Day to discuss ThriveNYC: The Mental Health Roadmap for All.

At 10 a.m., Cuomo makes an announcement at the Alcoa Plant West, Rt 131 Entrance, Area 3 Entrance, Massena.

Also at 10 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul reads to children at Cornerstone Manor’s Women’s Shelter, 150 E. North St., Buffalo.

At 10:50 a.m., Hochul tours Buffalo City Mission Men’s Shelter, 100 E. Tupper St., Buffalo.

At 11 a.m., Brooklyn BP Eric Adams, Sen. Jesse Hamilton and Assemblywoman Latrice Walker distribute 700 turkeys for Thanksgiving, Full Gospel Assembly, 131 Sullivan Pl., Brooklyn.

Also at 11 a.m., NYPIRG releases its 30th annual pre-Christmas report on toxic toys, 9 Murray St., Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., Cardinal Timothy Dolan leads the annual Catholic Charities distribution of Thanksgiving meals to nearly 700 New Yorkers, Lt. Joseph P. Kennedy Community Center, 34 West 134th St., Manhattan.

At 11:45 a.m., after assembling and delivering food packages with Joel Berg of NYC Coalition Against Hunger, de Blasio makes remarks about food insecurity, St. John’s Bread & Life, 795 Lexington Ave., Brooklyn.

At 12:30 p.m., NYC Council President Melissa Mark-Viverito holds a pre-stated press conference, Red Room, City Hall, Manhattan, after which, she will preside over the Council’s meeting.

At 1 p.m., Hochul participates in New York’s annual Thanksgiving food donation drive with Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle as part of the governor’s commitment to feed 35,000 people statewide this holiday, Maplewood YMCA, 25 Driving Park Ave., Rochester.

At 1:15 p.m., Cuomo participates in New York’s annual Thanksgiving food donation drive with the Rev. Patrick Young, Rep. Joseph Crowley, Sen. Jose Peralta and Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry, First Baptist Church of East Elmhurst, 100-10 Astoria Blvd., East Elmhurst, Queens.

At 2:15 p.m., Cuomo participates in New York’s annual Thanksgiving food donation drive with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, BedStuy Campaign Against Hunger Super Pantry, 2004 Fulton St., Brooklyn.

At 3:30 p.m., Cuomo participates in New York’s annual Thanksgiving food donation drive with Rep. Charles Rangel, Assemblyman Keith Wright and NYC Councilwoman Inez Dickens, Martin Luther King Jr. Democratic Club, 2155 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd., Harlem.

Also at 3:30 p.m., Hochul joins elected officials in a Thanksgiving food donation drive, Reverend Dr. Bennett W. Smith Family Life Center, 833 Michigan Ave., Buffalo.

At 4 p.m., de Blasio joins a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers – including Cuomo’s 2014 GOP opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino – to host a press conference to highlight the need for increased federal transportation funding as New Yorkers prepare for holiday weekend travel, Amtrak Rotunda, Penn Station, Manhattan.

At 4:30 p.m., Cuomo participates in New York’s annual Thanksgiving food donation drive with Sen. Adriano Espaillat and Assemblyman Guillermo Linares, 210 Sherman Ave., Manhattan.


Assemblyman Pete Lopez formally announced his bid to seek the Republican/Conservative nomination for the NY-19 seat being vacated by Rep. Chris Gibson at the end of next year, joining an increasingly crowded GOP field.

With closing arguments complete, Judge Valerie E. Caproni is expected to instruct the jury in former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s corruption case today, after which it is to begin its deliberations.

“Don’t be barreled over by somebody’s view of what the Assembly should be,” the assemblyman’s attorney Steven Molo urged the jurors. “Instead, consider the law.”

The founder of the struggling environmental services company at the heart of the federal corruption case against former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, testified at their trial yesterday that days after Hurricane Sandy hit in 2012, the senator provided valuable business intelligence that the company felt would be helpful.

Former North Hempstead Councilman Thomas Dwyer testified he handed Adam Skelos a $20,000 check from his title company at a restaurant in 2013 to avoid the payment being linked to a politically connected developer.

A top-level state Senate staffer, Welquis “Ray” Lopez, left the Skelos corruption trial courtroom after being accused of coaching a witness on the stand and warned by the judge that he would be expelled.

New York State’s highest court declined to hear an appeal from several groups seeking the public release of transcripts from the grand jury that considered evidence in the death of Eric Garner at the hands of NYPD officers. The decision, in a six-word ruling published on its website, ended a yearlong legal effort to pry open records from the private proceeding.

Two days after Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill to halt for two years the state’s plan to cull mute swans, the measure’s sponsor, Sen. Tony Avella, suggested the birds are the victims of a hazy political conspiracy. “There’s something else going on here,” he claimed. “…Somebody who has real political influence doesn’t like (the swans).”

Making the “See Something, Say Something” mantra high-tech, Cuomo announced a new smartphone app that will allow New Yorkers to report suspicious activity.

Wading deeper into the fray on college campuses over institutional racism, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said he “absolutely” believes Yale University should change the name of Calhoun College, the building on its campus where his son Dante lives, because it is named after a “segregationist leader.”

De Blasio’s eyes welled with tears during an announcement of a major mental-health initiative as he spoke of the addiction challenges faced by both his late father and college-age daughter.

The state Gaming Commission is proposing a set of sweeping new rules aimed at combating what the group’s executive director described as the “entrenched drug culture in horse racing.”

After bids languished for nearly three years, the Cuomo administration has contacted developers about revamping proposals for Belmont Park and informed them that one significant parcel is no longer on the table.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has reached a settlement with one of four fitness and tanning franchises that he sought to sue in April over alleged violations related to tanning safety.

The company, Planet Fitness, has agreed not to offer “unlimited” indoor tanning sessions as part of its premium membership packages.

More >


A prosecutor called former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver a “master of deception” as summations began in the Manhattan Democrat’s closely watched corruption case.

“The defense all boils down to this: this is all just a coincidence,” said Andrew Goldstein, the assistant U.S. attorney who gave the summation. “You know the quid and the quo are connected. It’s obvious. It’s common sense.”

Arriving at court today, Silver continued to insist he’ll be “vindicated.”

Glenwood Management, the real estate developer at the center of the corruption trials of both Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, gave half a million dollars in 2011 to the Committee to Save New York, a business-backed advocacy group that focused solely on supporting Cuomo’s agenda.

The Court of Appeals rejected efforts to make public the testimony heard by the Staten Island grand jury in the death of Eric Garner.

The state Gaming Commission is putting forth a series of sweeping rules regarding the use of drugs for Thoroughbreds following their report on a series of allegations that PETA made following an investigation they conducted during the 2013 racing season at the Saratoga Race Course.

The Syracuse Common Council voted 5-3 to appoint veteran politician Joe Nicoletti to fill the vacancy left by Pam Hunter, who resigned this month after winning a seat in the state Assembly. Some councilors were angered by the speed with which he had been chosen.

Frank Parlato Jr.’s unusual role as a newspaper owner writing about his own criminal case prompted the prosecution to ask for a gag order. The judge in the case said no.

Horse racing and wagering is now legal on Palm Sunday, thanks to a bill Cuomo signed into law this past weekend.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg expressed little faith in the ability of state and federal elected leaders to make progress on climate change, saying that business, consumers and mayors will have a much greater impact.

Bronx Assemblyman José Rivera shared a bizarre photo of himself sitting in the washroom of an airplane with his Facebook friends yesterday.

Nassau Presiding Officer Norma Gonsalves said lawmakers have reached a deal they hope will avoid steep budget cuts from NIFA.

Cuomo also signed a bill that would create a commission for the state women’s suffrage 100th anniversary commemoration in 2017.

A Central New York man was charged with masterminding a $1.6 million scheme to sell high-tech audio earbuds to state employees while charging their insurance carrier for hearing aids.

The US Senate Democrats’ campaign arm outraised its Republican rivals in October by about $1.5 million. The DSCC brought in $3.8 million compared to the NRSC’s $2.3 million.

NYC is looking at bringing in drones for everything from catastrophic fires and natural disasters to tree pruning and traffic jams.

Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump suggested he would be open to running for president as an independent if he concludes the GOP isn’t treating him “fairly.”

Raising For Kaminsky

From the Morning Memo:

As the federal corruption trial of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his adult son, Adam, continues in Manhattan today, two top Democrats will be hosting a fund-raiser for a freshman assemblyman mentioned as a potential contender for Skelos’ Long Island seat.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs are headlining the event for Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky, a former federal prosecutor, at the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse tonight, according to an invitation provided to CapTon.

Thanks to his record of prosecuting public corruption cases, Kaminsky, who was elected in 2014 to fill the seat of retired former Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, is viewed by Democratic leaders as an attractive candidate for the Senate next fall regardless of whether Skelos is found guilty and forced to resign, or weathers the legaI storm and seeks re-election.

Kaminsky, who also happens to be the great-nephew of comedian Mel Brooks, hasn’t said one way or another whether he’s interested in running for the Senate, though he did tell liberal Democratic activist and radio host Bill Samuels this weekend that he would be “a fool not to want to at least think about it.”

“I don’t think it’s ripe for discussion yet,” Kaminsky said yesterday on AM 970’s “Effective Radio with Bill Samuels”, adding: “As long as Senator Skelos is the senator…it’s a long time until next November. If he’s not the senator, then obviously that will certainly prompt some discussion.”

“…But I just have a lot to do on Long Island to fight for people in my district, to fight for the middle class,” the assemblyman continued. More >

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with a Thanksgiving-related event in the afternoon.

The federal corruption trials of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver continue (separately) in New York City this morning, with closing arguments scheduled in the Silver case.

A full calendar of the day’s events appears at the end of this post.


Frustrated by the pending shutdown of two nuclear power plants on Lake Ontario, which he hopes to delay, Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to order state regulators to mandate that, by 2030, half of all power consumed by New Yorkers be generated from renewable sources that emit much less carbon dioxide.

In Assemblyman Sheldon Silver’s corruption case, in which no witness testified directly to knowledge of an illegal quid pro quo, how Judge Valerie Caproni tells jurors to interpret the evidence as it relates to the law could sway deliberations. Two relatively low profile lawyers – the “law guys” – are trying to influence that process.

The head of a breakaway faction of state Senate Democrats, IDC Leader Jeff Klein, says his group is not ready to abandon its five-year alliance with the chamber’s Republican majority just because former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos was caught on tape trashing them. “Nothing changes,” Klein said. “Coalition government is bigger than one person.”

The push by a JCOPE commissioner appointed by Silver to legislators applying for exemptions from new financial disclosure rules — passed in the wake of Silver’s corruption indictment earlier this year — to submit the paperwork seeking exemptions by hand, in person, and not just by email, could weaken future corruption cases.

As a January deadline looms, real estate industry and union leaders have yet to hammer out a deal on 421-a abatement.

A bill to allow illegal immigrants in New Jersey to apply for driver’s licenses is fueling impassioned reactions in both parties as state lawmakers consider whether the goal of improving road safety outweighs concerns about national security.

Faced with a neighborhood backlash against his zoning plans for affordable housing, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio went to a Bronx church to pitch his plan as a needed bulwark against New York becoming a “gilded city.” He argued that since development is inevitable, the city is better off working to make sure it doesn’t totally leave out the poor and middle class.

A slew of prominent communications firms may be forced to register as lobbyists under a proposal by the state ethics commission, JCOPE. The plan would force private consulting groups that have helped craft messages for lobbying efforts to register with the state. Until now, their activities have not been considered lobbying.

Cuomo insults the legacy of his late father, liberal icon Mario Cuomo, by claiming that businesses paying the minimum wage “steal” $2 billion from taxpayers because their workers can get government subsidies, according to Empire Center for Public Policy President E.J. McMahon.

When political analysts added up turnout figures from the Nov. 3 elections, they could find only one word to describe a year when a mere 24.5 percent of registered voters showed up at the polls in Erie County: Abysmal.

Andrew Hevesi, the chairman of the state Assembly Social Services Committee, called on Cuomo to tap into $2.1 billion the state has collected from legal settlements to help address the city’s growing homeless problem.

Cuomo vetoed bipartisan legislation that would have provided fare relief to NYC commuters who have to take two buses and a train to reach their destination.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer is pushing legislation to ban known or suspected terrorists from legally buying firearms and explosives. He says 2,000 people on the terror watch list have purchased guns in the US, and blames the National Rifle Association for blocking the measure in the past.

Long Island has even more excess power than previously projected, enough to forestall the need for a big new generating plant until 2028, according to an updated analysis by PSEG Long Island.

Nurses are hoping the Buffalo Common Council will get behind state legislation to mandate minimum nurse-to-patient staffing ratios. The city’s Legislation Committee unanimously endorsed the resolution Nov. 17 to the cheers of dozens of nurses, and the Council is expected to adopt it Tuesday.

The owners of Liberty Ridge Farm, Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who were fined $13,000 after refusing to host a lesbian wedding, are appealing the ruling. The couple’s attorneys will make their case before a mid-level appeals court today in Albany.

More >

The Weekend That Was

Trying to reassure a nation on edge, President Obama said the Islamic State group “cannot strike a mortal blow” against the U.S., and he warned that overreacting to the Paris attacks would play into extremists’ hands. “We will destroy this terrorist organization,” he vowed.

The governor urged residents to begin taking the necessary steps to prepare for accumulations of lake effect snow that will impact parts of western and northern New York tonight through early tomorrow morning.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer vowed to fight “tooth and nail” against the National Rifle Association to make it a a crime for anyone to sell guns to terrorists.

Wading into the national debate about potential security risks posed by refugees fleeing violence in Syria, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said he is more concerned with people on terrorist watch lists being able to purchase firearms.

Former Rep. Dan Maffei has a new job lined up at the Federal Maritime Commission, an independent federal agency that regulates international shipping. Officials were loathe to say how much he’ll be paid, but it’s likely about $155,500.

The NYPD is following through on NYC Mayor Nill de Blasio’s pledge to stop locking people up for carrying small amounts of pot. Police cuffed 18,120 individuals on this charge through Oct. 20 — a 40 percent plummet from the 29,906 pot busts in the same period last year, state Division of Criminal Justice records show.

Western New York real estate developer-turned-newspaper publisher Frank Parlato Jr.’s battle with federal prosecutors, four years in the making, escalated when a grand jury accused him of cheating the Internal Revenue Service and two heirs to the Seagrams liquor fortune.

Following the terrorist attacks on Paris, Staten Island Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis is calling on de Blasio to stop issuing municipal ID cards to undocumented immigrants.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says de Blasio would do better as mayor of the capital of Syria than New York. “Given the way he’s talking, and not worried about the security and safety of the people of New York, maybe he should be mayor of Damascus,” Christie said on CNN’s State of the Union.

The Rev. Al Sharpton gave himself a 71 percent raise last year after his National Action Network group drew a record $6.9 million in donations.

Cuomo on Saturday vetoed a bill for the second time that would have sought additional protections for mute swans that the state Department of Environmental Conservation have deemed as an invasive species.

Some believe the governor forced the hand of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown when it came to giving public employees of the city a minim wage increase to $15 an hour. Conservative Chairman Ralph Lorigo called the move an “impediment” to party backing should Brown run for a fourth term in 2017.

New York labor leader Dennis Rivera, the former SEIU 1199 president, funneled $1.1 million of his nonprofit’s money to a “sham” charity tied to former presidential candidate and then-New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, the NY Post reports.

New York’s liberal-leaning Working Families Party is working to broaden its reach with a new emphasis on local, down-ballot races around the state. The labor-backed party is best known for its involvement in statewide races and political campaigns in New York City, but in this month’s election, it recruited and supported 111 candidates in local races. Seventy-one of them won.

Tom Precious says the wiretapped conversation between former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, about the relationship between the GOP and the IDC proved “Albany politics are raw, alliances and friendships are highly fleeting, and even worries about the health of fellow politicians are not always centered on empathy but political survival.”

Denise Jewell Gee notes that the debate over whether daily fantasy football betting is legal is “besides the point” for those who are trying to help problem gamblers because “they’re already seeing people who need help because they’ve lost control to the game.”

Outgoing Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman still thinks the mandatory retirement age of 70 is “ridiculous” in the year 2015. That said, he doesn’t hold a grudge at his forced departure from the high court bench.

In September, log-grown mushrooms were recognized as an official crop in New York, bringing tax breaks and validation for fungi farmers.

Conde Nast Traveler released their list of the 15 most beautiful lakes in the country, citing that they’re gorgeous and worth a visit any time of year. Lake George in the Adirondacks is the only lake in the northeast to make the cut.

RIP Sheila Fuller, whose leadership resume included a 10-year run as town supervisor in Bethlehem. She is being remembered for the respect and care she held for the town and its citizens.


Gov. Andrew Cuomo might not be running for president, but he is systematically putting himself on a bigger political stage in his second term.

The governor has just over a week to select a successor from the list of seven names provided to him for retiring Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg says his relationship with his successor, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, has “never been bad,” telling reporters: “I don’t know where you guys get this stuff.”

De Blasio said failing to get ahead of the city’s homelessness problem and explain it to New Yorkers is the biggest mistake he has made so far in office.

RIP John E. Zuccotti, the real estate investor and former deputy mayor who championed the revival of lower Manhattan in the wake of 9/11, has died at the age of 78. His namesake park was the center of the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement.

Republican 2016 candidate Donald Trump backed off discussion of a mandatory database to track Muslims after a torrent of criticism from both Republicans and Democratic opponents.

The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame is moving from Amsterdam in the Mohawk Valley to Wichita Falls, Texas early next year.

Democratic 2016 candidate Bernie Sanders has two new TV ads that will hit the airwaves in New Hampshire and Iowa this weekend.

Democratic chairs in NY-19 have launched an effort to draft Ulster County Executive Mike Hein into the race.

Veteran reporter Marcia Kramer gets her due.

Penn State has put a moratorium on recreational class trips to New York City and Washington D.C., since both cities are, in the eyes of the university, highly volatile targets of inevitable terrorism.

Adele Malpass, the chairwoman of the Manhattan Republican Party, wants former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly to challenge de Blasio on the GOP line in 2017.

A review by the state Farm Bureau found that the cost of the average Thanksgiving meal in New York is increasing 3 percent this year compared to last year.

The Atlantic magazine’s Alana Semuels, in a piece headlined “How to Decimate a City,” cites research showing Syracuse has highest rates of concentrated poverty among black and Hispanics in the nation.

The DEC is investigating the deaths of waterbirds found along the shores of Lake Ontario in Wayne, Oswego and Jefferson counties. The dead birds started turning up in mid-October.

Queens is getting its first-ever marathon to be run entirely in the borough. The 26-mile race is scheduled for April 30th, 2016 at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

Interim Rochester School District Superintendent Daniel Lowengard will make $195,000 — the same salary as Bolgen Vargas, whom he replaces — when he assumes control Jan. 1.

In the battle for New York City riders, Uber isn’t the only smartphone-driven car service gaining ground. Its smaller rival known for pink mustaches (Lyft) is also racing ahead.

In a woman’s presence, men eat 93 percent more pizza, according to researchers at Cornell University.