Liz Benjamin

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Homepage: http://nystateofpolitics.com


Posts by Liz Benjamin

Here and Now

Happy “House of Cards” day! Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.

At 9:30 a.m., the New York Gaming Facility Location Board meets, ESDC, 37th Floor Conference Room, 633 Third Ave., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., acting NYS Tax and Finance Commissioner Ken Adams discusses the governor’s tax exemption for the wine, beer, cider and spirits industries, Flagship Brewery, 40 Minthorne St., Staten Island.

Also at 10 a.m., Stop the Pipeline holds a press conference on why it is calling on the state Department of Environmental Conservation to block the Constitution pipeline in the Southern Tier, LCA Press Room (130), Legislative Office Building, Albany.

At 11 a.m., NYS Broadband Program Office Director David Salway discusses the governor’s NY Broadband Program, Swain Ski Resort, Celeste and Sean Schoonover, 2275 County Road 24, Swain.

Also at 11 a.m., NYC Councilman Fernando Cabrera and representatives of a nonprofit organization that operates a job training program for former inmates, homeless residents and people treated for substance abuse, The Doe Fund, hold a news conference; Burnside and Jerome avenues, the Bronx.

At 1 p.m., the final joint legislative budget hearing is held on the workforce development portion of Cuomo’s 2015-16 spending plan, Hearing Room B, LOB, Albany.

Also at 1 p.m., the president of the NAACP’s state conference, Hazel Dukes, serves as guest speaker during an event marking the observance of “Black History Month,” attended by senior citizens assisted by several agencies and featuring artwork, a biographical presentation, cake, music performed by the Terri Davis Quartet and a poetry reading; The Carter Burden Center for the Aging Inc.’s The Carter Burden/Leonard Covello Senior Program, 312 E. 109th St., Manhattan.

At 3 p.m., Adams discusses the governor’s property tax relief program, 20 Dorchester St., Huntington Station, Long Island.

At 7:15 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will deliver remarks at the DC37 Black History Month celebration, 125 Barclay St., Manhattan.

Headlines…

As a new report shows that more than 97 percent of area principals and teachers are deemed effective or highly effective, educators across the state are rallying against a plan by Cuomo to make the rating system tougher.

Though 95 percent of New York’s teachers were deemed effective or highly effective in 2013-14, there are some exceptions.

A day after NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio traveled to Albany to try to convince state lawmakers that he should remain in charge of turning around the city’s lowest-performing schools, Cuomo challenged that assertion with a new report highlighting those schools’ struggles.

In the report, Cuomo linked legislators’ names to chronically failing public schools in their districts in a provocative move to win support for his education reforms.

Cuomo’s report cited 178 failing schools across New York – the same number used in a Families for Excellent Schools (F.E.S.) report released Wednesday, which calls for a state takeover of those schools, a major component of Cuomo’s education reform proposals.

Republicans in the state Assembly pushed Cuomo to release school aid runs so that districts can better plan their budgets and tax levies, which are due to go before voters this May.

Two of St. Lawrence County’s Republican Assemblymen say they are outraged by Cuomo’s proposal to tie the DREAM Act to funding for the Tuition Assistance Program (TAP). Opponents call this “political blackmail.”

As ferocious battles rage in Congress, statehouses and courtrooms over the legal status of undocumented immigrants, an evolution has been underway at some colleges and universities. They are taking it upon themselves to more freely, sometimes openly, make college more affordable for these students, for whom all federal and most state forms of financial aid remain off limits.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is taking credit for starting the “Who’s your daddy?” serenade against pitching great Pedro Martinez during the 2009 World Series between the Yankees and Philadelphia Phillies. But the famed Yankees’ Bleacher Creatures are calling a balk.

Despite the insistence of sergeant-at-arms Wayne Jackson that it was time for session to begin, former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver shuffled up to former Red Sox and Mets pitcher, grinning as the soon-to-be Hall of Famer signed him an autograph.

Maggie Miller, the state’s chief information officer, faced a barrage of questions from lawmakers at a budget hearing yesterday afternoon about the Cuomo administration policy of automatically deleting emails of state workers that are more than 90 days old.

More >

Extras

Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman is exploring a sale of the tabloid and has retained the firm Lazard to assist in the process.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo won’t be the first governor to visit Cuba since the US began to normalize relations with the country. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon is going next month.

President Obama’s nominee for attorney general cleared a hurdle as a Senate panel signed off on US Attorney Loretta Lynch over the objections of some Republicans.

The FCC approved net neutrality by a 3-2 vote, with Chairman Tom Wheeler saying the policy will ensure “that no one — whether government or corporate — should control free open access to the Internet.”

The 2013-14 teacher evaluation rating data found 95 percent of the state’s educators were either effective or highly effective.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to Congress a “mistake”, but stopped short of directly criticizing the controversial leader.

Former Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV cast Sen. Adriano Espaillat as too old and tired to run for a third time for the seat Rep. Charlie Rangel is expected to vacate at the end of 2016.

Speaking on the eve of today’s anniversary of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, US Attorney Preet Bharara said his office and the law enforcement officials it works with have taken the hard lessons of the last 22 years to heart.

The Staten Island Advance supports de Blasio in his disagreement with Cuomo over education policy, and calls on local lawmakers to do the same.

It was sports star day (unofficially) at the state Capitol.

The CBC says New York should stop borrowing from the pension fund and use $2.5 billion of the $5 billion surplus to reduce the oustanding liability from past borrowing.

Assemblyman Marcos Crespo is favored to succeed Heastie as Bronx Democratic Party chairman, but his record – including a “no” vote on same-sex marriage and the Women’s Equality Act – has rankled some progressives.

See where New York’s congressional delegation members ranked on the NLCV’s annual environmental scorecard.

“If they were in orange jumpsuits, you’d think they were ISIS hostages.”

New York State had the nation’s most unionized workforce in 2014, thanks largely to its very heavily unionized public sector.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren took somewhat of a pass when asked to assess the progressive credentials of 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

Clinton still has a long list of demands – though no more crudites or lemon wedges – for the paid speeches she continues to deliver.

Carly Fiorina tore into Clinton during a speech at CPAC.

Attorneys for former Gov. Rick Perry have asked a Texas appeals court to dismiss felony charges against the possible 2016 presidential candidate on free speech grounds.

Google Inc. is making its largest bet yet on renewable energy, a $300 million investment to support at least 25,000 SolarCity Corp. rooftop power plants.

Teachers at the popular PS 321 in Brooklyn’s Park Slope are turning to parents for help in opposing Cuomo’s education reforms.

Two llamas on the lam! (Sadly, no longer).

DiNapoli Questions Cuomo Per Diem Reform Tactic

From the Morning Memo:

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office was blindsided by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s announcement in his 30-day amendments that he had linked part of his ethics reform package – an overhaul of the legislative per diem system – to a portion of the comptroller’s own budget.

No one from the Cuomo administration had bothered to give the comptroller’s staff a heads-up on this, or even seek their counsel regarding the rather sticky constitutional implications of putting ethics reforms into appropriations bills in an effort to force the Legislature’s hand.

“We were not consulted by the executive,” DiNapoli spokeswoman Jennifer Freeman confirmed.

This is not terribly surprising, given the rocky relationship between Cuomo and DiNapoli.

The governor is in the habit of not consulting the comptroller on issues that impact him – the public campaign finance pilot program (which turned out to be a dud) established last year solely for the comptroller’s race, is a perfect example.

(To be fair, the comptroller wasn’t warned by legislative leaders about that, either – not even by his former colleagues in the Assembly Democratic conference).

So, Cuomo’s surprise proposal that the comptroller would be prohibited from reimbursing expenses for a member of the Legislature or statewide elected official until expanded disclosure provisions are met sent DiNapoli staffers scrambling to figure out the ramifications and implications of that plan.

So far, they’ve determined that if for some reason the Legislature completely rejects Cuomo’s amendment, it could wipe out funding for the comptroller’s office employees who are in charge of reviewing – and paying – the state’s bills.

(Remember: If something is embedded by the governor in an appropriation bill, the Legislature only has the power to either strike it entirely or reduce its monetary value; but not to amend it).

This, of course, would be highly problematic. But the comptroller’s office isn’t terribly worried, because it seems unlikely lawmakers will take the risk of completely ruling out Cuomo’s per diem reform idea.

That said, the comptroller is questioning the efficacy of Cuomo’s plan, noting that anything achieved through the budget will be short lived – basically lasting only as long as the duration of the spending plan itself, which would be (at most) two years.

“Clearly there is a need to strengthen the state’s ethics laws,” Freeman said. “But broad policy issues are generally best dealt with on their merits rather than attaching them to time-limited appropriations.”

“Comptroller DiNapoli expects these issues will be worked out during negotiations between the Legislature and the Executive.”

WFP Claims Victory in Special Prosecutor Probe

From the Morning Memo:

The Working Families Party is celebrating the end of a protracted legal battle over its efforts in the 2009 NYC elections that lead to the demise of its for-profit arm, Data & Field Services, but ultimately resulted in no charges against the labor-backed party.

Special prosecutor Roger Adler announced yesterday that his investigation of the WFP’s involvement in Councilwoman Debi Rose’s campaign resulted in the indictment of two former aides to the Staten Island Democrat, but no allegations of wrongdoing against the party itself or any of its officials.

In a lengthy statement released late last night, New York WFP Director Bill Lipton slammed Adler, calling him an “unqualified prosecutor with a political axe to grind” who had spent “three years and hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars to reinvestigate allegations…that had already been debunked.”

“This matter never should have been the subject of a criminal investigation in the first place,” Lipton continued. “It should have been treated as a routine administrative matter and examined by the Campaign Finance Board, and Roger Adler himself has admitted as much.”

“Instead, he pressed forward with a full-scale criminal investigation to attempt to inflict political damage on his opponents, while keeping the meter running for himself. By the end, we have no doubt that he’ll have billed half a million dollars in public money for himself.”

“The indictment of a defunct corporation that has been out of business for more than three years is bizarre. But the indictments against the Rose campaign and two campaign workers are especially outrageous.”

“Councilmember Debi Rose is the first and only African American elected official on Staten Island, and it is wrong that her campaign and her volunteers were subject to a different standard than everyone else.”

The US Attorney’s office and the NYC Campaign Finance Board also both investigated the WFP’s 2009 efforts and found no significant violations.

A lawsuit brought by Randy Mastro, a former Giuliani administration deputy mayor, was settled in 2010, requiring some restitution by Rose for “alleged undercharging” by DFS for services provided to her campaign and also structural changes to how DFS operated. Under the settlement, there was no finding of wrongdoing by the WFP.

The WFP hired former Chief Judge Judith Kaye to review DFS, and she recommended that it reconstitute itself as a taxable, nonprofit corporation. The WFP ultimately opted to shut down DFS altogether and pony up $100,000 in legal fees to settle its long-running dispute with Mastro.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule. The Senate is in session at 11 a.m. The Assembly is in session at noon.

At 8 a.m., the executive director of The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, Patrick Foye, delivers a keynote speech during a Queens real estate conference presented by REBNY, Schneps Publications Inc.’s The Queens Courier weekly newspapers and the Star Network; Terrace on the Park catering facility, 52-11 111th St., Queens.

At 10 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul holds a media availability after a sexual assault campus roundtable with students, Long Island University, Tilles Center Patrons Lounge, 720 Northern Blvd., Brookville.

Also at 10 a.m., a joint legislative budget hearing will be held on the public protection portion of Cuomo’s 2015-16 spending plan, Hearing Room B, LOB, Albany.

At 10:30 a.m., a funeral will take place for former Queens Democratic Sen. George Onorato, 2117 45th St., Long Island City, Queens.

Also at 10:30 a.m., the PSC meets, 9th Floor Board Room of its offices located at Three Empire State Plaza, Albany.

Also at 10:30 a.m., NYC Council members workers, and advocates will unveil the CLEAN Act: new legislation to clean up the laundry industry through new regulation and licensing that sets stronger workplace health and safety standards, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., NYS Broadband Program Office David Salway discusses the New NY Broadband Fund included in Cuomo’s 2015-16 budget, The Roxbury Motel, 2258 Co Rd 41, Roxbury.

Also at 11 a.m., the September 11th Museum holds a ceremony to mark the 22nd anniversary of the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, West and Fulton streets, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and his colleagues will be joined by education advocates and professionals at a press conference to call for equitable education funding and the release of school aid runs, back of Assembly chamber, state Capitol, Albany.

At 11:15 a.m., Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie holds a press conference on the DREAM Act, Speaker’s Conference Room (342), state Capitol, Albany.

At noon, NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray will speak at the Vera Institute of Justice on the intersection of mental health and criminal justice, Woolworth Building, 15 Barclay St., Manhattan.

Also at noon, hundreds of students, faculty and staff from CUNY and SUNY will be in Albany for a statewide Higher Education Action Day of citizen lobbying and activism, outside concourse meetings rooms 2, 3 and 4, Empire State Plaza, Albany.

Also at noon, Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr. hosts an annual “Dominican Heritage Celebration” honoring NYC Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras, The Mott Haven Bar & Grill owner Rosa Garcia and the corporate and community development director of CUNY’s Lehman College, Nestor Montilla Sr.; Salsa Con Fuego lounge and restaurant, 2297 Cedar Ave., the Bronx.

At 12:30 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will speak at the Police Officer Eddie Byrne annual memorial service, 107 Avenue and Inwood Street, Queens.

Also at 12:30 p.m., Hall of Fame Pitcher Pedro Martinez will be honored at an award ceremony during Dominican Heritage Week by Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Sens. Adriano Espaillat and Jose Peralta, and Assemblyman Victor Pichardo, Minority Conference Room (315), third floor, state Capitol, Albany.

At 1 p.m., opponents of proposed state regulations and taxes on e-cigarettes participate in a news conference and rally organized by the New Yorkers for Smarter Smoking Alternatives coalition; steps, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 2 p.m., a bipartisan group of eight US Senators, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, will reintroduce a strengthened version of the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, Senate Visitor’s Center, Washington, D.C.

At 3 p.m., Salway makes another appearance on the same topic (broadband), 144 Main St., 2nd Floor, Moravia.

At 6 p.m., Eric Adams, the first person of color to serve as Brooklyn’s chief executive, will host his Black History Month celebration at Brooklyn Borough Hall, where he will celebrate the legacy of the borough’s African-American businesses, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

At 6:30 p.m., Assemblyman Walter T. Mosley III delivers a “State of the District” address; Higgins Hall, Pratt Institute, 65 St. James Place, Brooklyn.

At 7 p.m., the Staten Island Democrats meet to select a candidate for the May 5 special election in NY-11, The Crystal Room, 67 Olympia Blvd., Staten Island.

Also at 7 p.m., during a legislative forum and rally in support of a proposed Education Investment Tax Credit, Archdiocese of New York officials including Bishop John O’Hara and Superintendent of Schools Timothy J. McNiff, city officials and state lawmakers are scheduled to speak; Monsignor Farrell High School, 2900 Amboy Rd., Staten Island.

Headlines…

A yearslong investigation into the Working Families Party, the influential left-leaning group that helped fuel the rise of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, has resulted in the indictments of two former aides to a Staten Island city councilwoman, but no changes to the party itself.

De Blasio’s first trip to Albany this year could not be called a success. His budget requests were met with skepticism from some lawmakers, and his call for a permanent extension of mayoral control was promptly dismissed by Cuomo, who held a competing event at the Capitol.

The mayor’s agenda diverges significantly from the governor’s this year.

Cuomo shot down de Blasio’s pitch for permanent mayoral control of the NYC school system, saying the idea should be subject to review in Albany every few years.

Cuomo, who convened a cabinet meeting at the exact time de Blasio was providing budget testimony to a legislative panel, scoffed at the notion that he would seek to upstage a man whom he has repeatedly referred to as a good friend, saying: “Only a really twisted mind would come up with that.”

The mayor panned two of Cuomo’s top education proposals that would weaken his say over school policy — including one that would allow the state to put failing city public schools into a receivership.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner told state legislators during a budget hearing that her city needs state money to fix its water system and other aging infrastructure. She made it clear that she meant grants, not just loans. She got a good reception from lawmakers.

A spokeswoman Cuomo said that “no employee of the executive chamber” has been subpoenaed in connection with a federal investigation, a few hours after the governor himself wouldn’t say whether they had.

Cuomo unveiled “Enough is Enough” – a campaign designed to address what he called “an epidemic of sexual assaults on college campuses.” He’s pushing legislation that would require private colleges to adopt uniform sexual assault policies and the governor is encouraging students to call outside police to investigate rape cases.

More >

Extras

Asked if his cabinet meeting was deliberately timed to coincide with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s budget testimony, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said: “Only a really twisted mind would come up with that one.”

The proposed Lago casino beat back a legal challenge in the form of an injunction request by opponents concerned about what the development will to do the area’s environment.

Cuomo did not endorse NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s call for permanent mayoral control of schools, saying: “I think it’s going well enough to extend it for three years.”

US Attorney (and US AG nominee) Loretta Lynch announced the arrest of three Brooklyn residents on charges they conspired to provide material support to the Islamic State terrorist group, or ISIL.

The CBC released its recmomendations to lawmakers regarding what to support and what to reject in the governor’s 2015-16 budget.

The all-Hasidic Village of Kiryas Joel is urging Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney to boycott Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s planned speech to Congress next week.

The de Blasio diaries…”Fifty Shades of Blush.”

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg says the Keystone pipeline can be a major chip in climate talks with Canada.

Former Democratic state Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk of Duanesburg will host a new radio show called “The Albany Report” on WGXC (90.7 FM) beginning next Monday at 10 a.m.

Brooklyn Sen. Velmanette Montgomery apologized for her racially charged comments regarding the imminent closure of a supermarket.

The developers of the former Nevele resort unveiled their “Plan B” for revitalizing the site in the wake of the state’s rejection of its casino application.

Families for Excellent Schools, a Manhattan-based nonprofit and lobbying group, is calling for New York state leaders to place 178 failing public schools, including some in Syracuse, under state receivership this fall.

The International Business Times reports that News Corp. gave Cuomo a book contract after his administration backed a series of state initiatives that benefited the media giant.

Hillary Clinton says she has been given three Fitbits and Jawbones, but she never really took to them.

Cuomo’s AIDS task force is trying to go beyond its mandate, not just reducing the number of new HIV infections below the threshold necessary to qualify as an epidemic, but virtually eradicating the disease.

SUNY Oswego alumnus Al Roker suggests global warming is to blame for the harsh winter.

Piglets and sows will return to the 2015 New York State Fair, Agriculture & Markets Commissioner Richard Ball announced.

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick has signed a 20-year electric power purchase agreement for a solar array that will replace greenhouse-gas emissions equal to that created for 120 homes.

It’s historically cold in Buffalo.

Stewart-Cousins: Ahem, What About Me? (Updated)

Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins is (not surprisingly) displeased by the fact that she and her fellow minority leader, Assembly Republican Leader Brian Kolb, are being left out of the backroom budget talks that again include IDC Leader Jeff Klein, even though he no longer has a power-sharing deal with the Senate Republicans.

After the governor revealed at his Red Room cabinet meeting that the four-men-in-a-room budget talks established when the IDC and GOP split control of the chamber would continued, Stewart-Cousins responded by suggesting the time has come to get rid of this secretive negotiation process altogether.

“As we discuss ways to clean up Albany and reform state government, a perfect place to start is the much maligned three/four men in a room​ budgetary process,” Stewart-Cousins said in a statement. “In the past we had been led to believe that membership was based on constitutional roles and not simply the whims of the governor.”

“Since membership has now been expanded, I would hope all legislative conference leaders will be ​included, giving all New Yorkers a voice in the budget. The more diversity and light we can shine on this process the better it is for everyone.”

After the GOP won its slim – but complete – majority in the 2014 elections, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Klein renegotiated the relationship between their two conferences so that it’s something less than their previous status, but something more than the minority-majority relationship between Skelos and Stewart-Cousins.

Cuomo said Klein in being included in this year’s leaders meetings – the first of which is taking place right now – due to his “relationship” with Skelos, and the fact that he can deliver the votes of his five-member conference, which gives the GOP some breathing room in the closely-divided chamber.

The three men in a room process was the subject of some very public criticism by US Attorney Preet Bharara, who mocked the practice in a speech delivered the day after the arrest on corruption charges of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, and said it is the root of Albany’s many problems.

“I have a little bit of a hard time getting my head around this concept of three men in a room,” Bharara said while speaking at New York Law School. “Maybe it’s just me. I’m an immigrant from India, which is overpopulated, so for me, it’s like a billion men in a room.”

“…Why three men? Can there be a woman? Do they always have to be white? How small is the room that they can only fit three men? Is it three men in a closet? Are there cigars? Can they have Cuban cigars now? After a while, doesn’t it get a little gamey in that room?”

Bharara told The Buffalo News in a subequent interview that he keeps the book “Thee Men in a Room” by former Sen. Seymour Lachman on his desk and has met with the ex-Democratic lawmaker to discuss the frustrations he experienced while serving in Albany.

UPDATE: Stewart-Cousins is getting some backup here from Citizen Action of NY. The organization’s executive director, Karen Scharff, released the following statement:

“It’s hard to understand ​Governor Cuomo’s ​reasons for excluding the only woman legislative leader from a seat at the decision-making table. Leader Stewart-Cousins has been a champion for New York’s working families and ​is the leader of 24 senators while Senator Klein only leads 5. Governor Cuomo should open the process so that the voices of all leaders, and the voters that they represent, can be heard.”

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany, and the Legislature is back from its mid-winter break. It is ON at the state Captiol!

At 8:30 a.m., Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi holds a breakfast fundraiser, (cost: $400 a head), Fort Orange Club, 110 Washington Ave., Albany.

At 9 a.m., Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. and other officials from the NY Hispanic Clergy Organization hold their fifth prayer rally for the 64-year-old nursing home patient and rape victim of Nanic Aidasani, who is scheduled to appear in court, Bronx Criminal Court, 265 East 161st St., the Bronx.

At 9:30 a.m., a joint legislative hearing will be held on the local government section of Cuomo’s 2015-16 budget proposal, (this was re-scheduled due to a snowstorm), NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will testify first, Hearing Room B, Legislative Office Building, 181 State St., Albany.

Also at 9:30 a.m., NYC Council Members Paul Vallone and Corey Johnson will hold a press conference to call for the establishment of full service animal shelters in Queens and the Bronx; City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., NYC Council members Carlos Menchaca and Helen Rosenthal, advocates for worker cooperatives and workers express support for a City Council bill scheduled for a Thursday vote that would require reporting of city contracts and small business assistance awarded to worker cooperatives; steps, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., SUNY chancellor Nancy Zimpher, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, UAlbany president Robert Jones and Albany city schools superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard deliver an “Albany Promise” progress report, University Hall, University at Albany, 1400 Washington Ave., Albany.

At 11 a.m., Cuomo holds a cabinet meeting, The Red Room, state Capitol, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., labor advocates release a report called “Empty Judgments: The Wage Collection Crisis in New York” to coincide with Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal’s introduction of new state legislation to provide workers with tools to recoup their compensation, LCA Press Room, (130), LOB, Albany.

At noon, NYS Financial Services Superintendent Ben Lawksy will deliver remarks on financial regulation at Columbia Law School, Jerome Green Hall, Room 106, 435 W. 116th St., Manhattan.

At 1:30 p.m., de Blasio holds a media availability, LCA Room 130, Legislative Office Building, 181 State St., Albany.

At 2 p.m., leaders from Agudath Israel of America and other advocates hold a news conference to discuss the Education Investment Tax Credit, 3rd Floor, state Capitol, outside Senate lobby near the LCA Room, Albany.

At 5:30 p.m., Assemblyman Marc Butler holds a $275-a-head fundraiser, Fort Orange Club Library, 110 Washington Ave., Albany.

Also at 5:30 p.m., Assemblyman Clifford Crouch holds a $250-a-head fundraiser, The University Club, 141 Washington Ave., Albany.

Also at 5:30 p.m., the SRCC holds a fundraiser, (cost: $1,000 per person), at The State Room, 100 State St., Albany.

At 6 p.m., Sen. John Flanagan and Assemblyman Andrew Garbarino hold separate fundraisers for $750 and $250 per person, respectively, at the Fort Orange Club, 110 Washington Ave., Albany.

Also at 6 p.m., NYC Public Advocate Tish James opens a planned series of public “Mayoral Control Forums: Our Schools, Our Voices” events in each borough to discuss administration of public schools; moot courtroom, Brooklyn Law School, 250 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

At 6:30 p.m., Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro holds a $99 per person fundraiser at Cosimo’s, 120 Delafield St., Poughkeepsie.

Headlines…

An increase in the hourly wages for New York’s tipped workers was ordered by the acting labor commissioner, Mario J. Musolino, and will go into effect at the end of the year. It will consolidate three categories of tipped workers — whose minimum hourly wages range from $4.90 to $5.65 — into a single class to be paid at least $7.50 an hour.

In an interview with the NYT, Staten Island DA-turned-congressional candidate Dan Donovan “was unapologetic” about the outcome of the Eric Garner chokehold case, “and fiercely defensive of his record as an officer of the law. He did not conceal his frustration that his reputation has been transformed because of a racially divisive legal battle.”

The de Blasio administration, under pressure from ultra-Orthodox rabbis, is set to ease New York City’s regulations on a controversial Orthodox Jewish oral circumcision ritual that has been linked to herpes infections in infants.

Former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver pleaded not guilty to three felony counts during his arraignment hearing in federal district court. Lawyers for Silver said they plan to file motions requesting the indictment be dismissed.

The former speaker’s legal team moved for a mistrial based on “improper extrajudicial statements” by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose office is prosecuting the case.

Silver, 71, avoided injury after losing his balance on the ice outside Manhattan federal court on Centre Street as a TV newsman and one of the Manhattan assemblyman’s lawyers, Joel Cohen, grabbed him by his shoulders to catch him before he could fall.

The NY Post: “(T)here’s only one thing to conclude from Cuomo’s heated outburst over Dicker’s column: It couldn’t have been more spot on.”

Ninety-two percent of voters said in a Siena poll that corruption in state government is a serious problem (51 percent say very serious; 41 percent say somewhat serious) in the wake of the arrest and indictment of Silver. But the majority don’t think reform is worth risking a late budget to achieve.

The real estate lobby will press its agenda in Albany today, calling for the renewal of a major development subsidy program, warning lawmakers not to strengthen rent-control laws and arguing for the renewal of an initiative meant tot spur cleanup of contaminant sites.

More >

Extras

A portrait of Gov. Andrew Cuomo as a white Persian cat (AKA “Cuomew”) exists, as do paintings of several other New York elected officials portrayed as felines.

A former federal prosecutor explains how ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s attorneys might make the case that the corruption charges against him are unfounded.

“We hate to say it, but this has the mark of an administration that’s teetering.”

The president kept his promise to veto legislation that would have given the federal government’s blessing to the Keystone pipeline, but he hasn’t yet made up his mind about the project’s fate.

Rep. Elise Stefanik spoke on the House floor (her first floor speech) to commemorate the 35th Anniversary of the “Miracle on Ice” that occurred at the 1980 Lake Placid Olympic games. (For the record, the 30-year-old congresswoman wasn’t yet born when that historic win took place).

Reps. Steve Israel, Kathleen Rice, Hakeem Jeffries and Joseph Crowley derided “dumb” and “dangerous” Republicans for attaching amendments to a DHS funding bill that would rollback President Barack Obama’s controversial execution action on immigration.

The NYT’s Eleanor Randolph joins a growing chorus questioning why Cuomo wants to shut down nydoctorprofile.com. She wants more information on the site – and pictures.

The Court of Appeals will take up a case that could derail NYU’s controversial expansion plan and redefine what types of property can be considered parkland.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is trying to use incendiary remarks made by former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani as a springboard to raise money for his Republican presidential campaign.

The Syracuse Post-Standard: “Cuomo’s proposal to stop placing official notices about votes on constitutional amendments in the newspaper is a bad idea on multiple levels.”

Former White House spokesman Ari Fleischer will headline the Broome County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner this Thursday.

A federal investigation found that New York City public schools have long denied girls equal opportunities to play high school sports, and the city has promised to address the problem.

The U.S. Postal Service opened a Zip Code Boundary Review Process to determine if a unique Zip code for Halfmoon is warranted, according to Sen. Charles Schumer’s office.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio released the preliminary mayor’s management report for 2015.

US Attorney Preet Bharara and his wife, Dalya, attended the pretigious Vanity Fair Oscar Party with the likes of Jane Fonda, Anjelica Huston and Steve Martin.

De Blasio has decided to annul the regulation enforced by the Bloomberg administration on the controversial oral suction circumcision practice known as Metzitzah B’peh.

Stemming the exodus of young people from Long Island must be an objective of state business aid, according to Howard Zemsky, Cuomo’s nominee for economic development czar.

The film company set to be the first tenant at a new state-run nanotechnology hub in DeWitt has again delayed shooting of its first films in the Syracuse area.

AG Eric Schneiderman is in the market for a senior speechwriter.

Singer-songwriter Taylor Swift has donated $50,000 to New York City public schools.

A draft conservation plan for bald eagles in New York is now available for public comment.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is in the city with no public events. He’s preparing for his budget testimony in Albany tomorrow.

From 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Greater Jamaica Development Corp. former Chair Lamont Bailey, NAACP’s state conference President Hazel Dukes, A Better Jamaica Inc. Executive Director Greg Mays, former Gov. David Paterson and an official from an organization of black city firefighters, Vulcan Society Inc. President Regina Wilson, will be honored during a Black History Month breakfast. NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton will speak about relations between black residents and police officers; 110-31 Merrick Blvd., Queens.

At 9 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul addresses the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce Breakfast, Brooklyn Law School, 250 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

At 10 a.m., Hochul tours the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, 2 MetroTech Roadway, Brooklyn.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., the vice president for administration and finance of CUNY’s Stella and Charles Guttman Community College, Mary Coleman, Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone President and CEO Kenneth Knuckles, Food Bank For New York President and CEO Margarette Purvis and Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice Executive Director David Shuffler, will be honored by Rep. Jose Serrano and state Sen. Jose M. Serrano a Black History Month event; The Bronx Museum of the Arts, 1040 Grand Concourse, the Bronx.

At 10:30 a.m., Cuomo attends a rally at the at Hotel and Motel Trades Council, 305 West 44th St., Manhattan.

Also at 10:30 a.m., Sen. David Carlucci hosts a Veterans Advisory Council meeting and check presentation at the Ossining American Legion 506, 58 South Highland Rd., Ossining.

At 11 a.m., state Sen. Michael Gianaris is joined by elected officials and transit advocates as he calls for passage of legislation increasing penalties for drivers who kill or seriously injure others while driving without valid licenses; 76th Street and Woodside Avenue, Elmhurst, Queens.

Also at 11 a.m., NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer presents an analysis of the NYC FY16 Preliminary Budget, 1 Centre St., South Entrance, 5th Floor Boardroom, Manhattan.

At noon, Democratic Reps. Joe Crowley, Steve Israel, Hakeem Jeffries and Kathleen Rice call for federal lawmakers to approve long-term DHS funding by Friday without amendments challenging President Obama’s executive actions on immigration, and discuss potential consequences of failing to do so; lobby, Marine Air Terminal, LaGuardia Airport, Ditmars Boulevard and 23rd Avenue, Queens.

Also at noon, Assembly members Alec Brook-Krasny and Nicole Malliotakis, state Sen. Marty Golden and other state government officials hold a news conference to promote their proposed program to offer discounts on Verrazano-Narrows Bridge tolls to drivers who cross the bridge more than three times a month; near the bridge entrance, Gatling Place and 92nd Street, Brooklyn.

Also at noon, IDC Leader Jeff Klein, attorney Susan Chana Lask and Soundview Homeowners Association members and officials hold a news conference to discuss a planned federal lawsuit accusing the city Department of Buildings and subcontractors of building substandard housing and depriving owners of certificates of occupancy; conference room, second floor, Hutchinson Metro Center, 1200 Waters Place, the Bronx.

At 1:30 p.m., During a roundtable discussion for reporters, Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis promote proposals to overhaul ethics regulations for state officials, including changes to ethics rules for Assembly members proposed by Republican lawmakers; Royal Restaurant, 7609 Fifth Ave., Brooklyn.

Also at 1:30 p.m., Assemblyman Marcos Crespo will teach 5th through 8th graders about the New York’s lawmaking process, highlighting the effort to pass the Education Investment Tax Credit, St. Athanasius School, 830 Southern Blvd., the Bronx.

At 3 p.m., former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is due in court on the three-count federal corruption indictment handed up last week, 40 Foley Square, Manhattan.

At 4:30 p.m., Police Reform Organizing Project founder and Director Robert Gangi, John Jay College of Criminal Justice Prof. Peter C. Moskos, NYPD 1st deputy commissioner Ben Tucker, Harlem Community Justice Center’s project director Christopher Watler, and a representative of the NYC CCRB participate in a free public panel discussion titled “Beyond the Rage: Strengthening Police-Community Relations”; Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, room I202, Arnhold Hall, 55 W. 13th St., Manhattan.

At 7:45 p.m., Staten Island DA Dan Donovan, the GOP candidate in the NY-11 special election, meets with Brooklyn Republicans; 1662 Sheepshead Bay Rd., Brooklyn.

Headlines…

Gov. Andrew Cuomo had secured approval in 2012 from the state ethics board to write his memoir and promised not to use state resources to write or promote it, according to letters released last night.

The connection between ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and WNY businessman Jordan A. Levy was highlighted in last week’s indictment of the Manhattan lawmaker on federal corruption charges.

In a major blow to Gov. Chris Christie that complicates his 2016 ambitions, a New Jersey judge ruled that he violated state law when he declined to make the full payment into the state’s pension system for public employees last year and ordered him to find a way to fund it now.

Nearly three weeks after a fatal Metro-North Railroad crash, the NTSB released a summary of its preliminary findings, but official conclusions about the cause of the crash are months away. The document did not address how a dozen large pieces of the third rail were ripped from the track bed and ended up tearing into the train after it struck a sport utility vehicle stopped in a rail crossing.

The crash caused $3.7 million in damage to Metro-North, the NTSB found. The engineer, who has previously been identified as Steven Smalls, activated the train’s emergency brakes when it was about 300 feet from the SUV.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer called Smalls a “true hero,” saying his “quick reaction in slowing the train and subsequent rescue of injured passengers saved numerous lives.”

The state attorney general’s office has opened a preliminary inquiry into the process by which three projects were recently recommended for new casino licenses, according to two former bidders who were later contacted by investigators.

Two-thirds of state legislators won’t feel a pinch if their outside income is limited because they don’t have that much to lose, according to a report released by good government groups.

Newsday: “Cuomo’s proposed $142.6-billion budget would eliminate the $1.2-million funding for the physician profile site (nydoctorprofile.com), calling it duplicative and a waste of money. It’s neither.”

Cuomo advisor Christine Quinn wrote a NYT letter to the editor touting the governor’s plan to curb campus rape.

The Rev. Al Sharpton is all about the money, a daughter of police chokehold victim Eric Garner claims in a bombshell videotape.

Phil Reisman on the Cuomo administration’s response to the Larry Schwartz-is-still-on-the-public-payroll story: “(C)alling somebody a liar is awfully strong stuff, and it hedges perilously close to the kettle calling the pot black.”

A ruling from the state Appellate Division in Rochester in a case brought by eight Buffalo homeowners determined they (and others) can refuse entry to an appraiser without being penalized. And the decision has implications for appraisal challenges in suburban municipalities from Hamburg to Lockport, as well.

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