Liz Benjamin

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Homepage: http://nystateofpolitics.com


Posts by Liz Benjamin

Extras

Two U.S. appeals courts issued contradictory rulings on Obamacare subsidies. One upheld them. The other struck them down for millions of Americans covered through HealthCare.gov.

Brooklyn BP Eric Adams: “If flying a #whiteflag on the #BrooklynBridge is someone’s idea of a joke, I’m not laughing. We won’t surrender our public safety to anyone.”

Some news outlets fell victim to a twitter parody account that took responsibility for the flag switch.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer still uses an ancient LG flip-phone, in part because “you can FOIA any email.”

Speaking of outdated technology

Looks like NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and his son, Dante, are having a good time on their Italian vacation. More here.

Back home in NYC, Sen. Bill Perkins called Eric Garner’s death – apparently by being choked by an NYPD officer – a “murder.”

LG Bob Duffy had some interesting tweets today.

Hudson Valley Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney and Chris Gibson sent a letter to the FERC this week urging it to abandon the Lower Hudson Valley Capacity Zone.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a potential 2016 contender, called fellow would-be White House aspirant Hillary Clinton “a 20th century candidate.”

A judge ruled investors in the Empire State Building can’t sue over their claims they were shortchanged by the deal that turned the iconic skyscraper into a public stock.

New York has a sandwich tax, and a burrito (somehow) qualifies.

Anti-Zephyr Teachout protestors and Randy Credico crashed the Teachout-Astorino press conference.

Stair Fair tickets can be bought online at a discount.

Under fire for flouting the law in NYC, the popular apartment sharing website Airbnb has hired de Blasio’s former camaign manager, Bill Hyers.

Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer is looking to capitalize on his reputation as the scourge of Wall Street analysts by backing TipRanks, which describes itself as a financial accountability website.

Emmi Roth USA, a producer of premium specialty cheeses and dairy products, will expand its yogurt manufacturing facility in the Finger Lakes.

Grisanti Doubles Down vs. Undocumented Immigrants

Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti, who is facing a GOP primary battle this fall and so far does not have the support of local Conservatives, is continuing to make political hay from various Democratic proposals to assist undocumented immigrants in New York.

His latest salvo is an on-line petition against a plan, introduced just as the 2014 session drew to a close by Bronx Sen. Gustavo Rivera, called the New York is Home Act, which would enable nearly 3 million noncitizens who meet specific criteria to apply for citizenship with New York’s Office for New Americans.

“This is the most outrageous proposal I have seen during my four years in the Senate,” Grisanti said in a statement released this morning. “It would not only allow illegal immigrants to vote and run for office in state and local elections, it would allow them to get driver’s licenses, serve on juries, and become eligible for Medicaid.”

“It would also allow them to receive in-state college tuition rates and financial aid. The New York City liberals never seem to learn that middle-class families are sick and tired of funding their politically motivated giveaway programs. I will oppose this legislation every step of the way.”

This is a continuing theme for the Democrat-turned-Republican Western New York senator, whose very first TV ad of this year’s campaign (released back in April) focused on his opposition to the DREAM Act, which would help the children of undocumented immigrants access state cash to attend college. Grisanti voted “no” on the DREAM Act when it was brought to the Senate floor in March and failed to pass.

Grisanti is typically considered one of the more moderate members of the Senate Republican conference - a reputation earned by ”yes” votes on two bills pushed by Cuomo: same-sex marriage and the gun control measure known as the SAFE Act.

He faced a Republican primary in 2012 that was backed by Carl Paladino, the Buffalo businessman who ran for governor on the GOP and Conservative lines in 2010. Grisanti won re-election that year in a crowded three-way race that included Democratic and Conservative Party candidates. (He had lost the Conservative Party’s support thanks to his support of gay marriage – ironically, the party backed a Democrat that year - but is the only one of the four GOP senators who voted “yes” on the measure still sitting in the Senate chamber).

This year, the Conservatives have again taken a pass on Grisanti, backing a palceholder candidate pending the outcome of a GOP primary, in which Grisanti faces a challenge from attorney Kevin Stocker. Sotcker failed in 2012 to knock the senator from his perch.  But Stocker is angering local GOP leaders by trying to wage a write-in campaign on the line belonging to the WFP, which is working hard to flip the Senate into Democratic hands.

If he succeeds, Stocker would challenge Democrat Marc Panepinto on the WFP line in September while also running against Grisanti on the GOP line.

Grisanti has the Independence Party line, which means he’s assured at least one line on the November general election ballot. (Rus Thompson, the Paladino-backed Independence Party member who had been threatening to run, won’t be appearing anywhere on the ballot either in September or November).

Here and Now

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

NYC City Mayor Bill de Blasio is on the island of Capri, Italy with his family. No public events are scheduled.

At 10 a.m., GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout make a joint announcement, Tweed Courthouse, 52 Chambers St., Manhattan. (Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and local business owners will join him).

At 10:30 a.m., JCOPE meets, 540 Broadway, Albany.

AT 10:45 a.m., Astorino will be a guest on “Live from the State Capitol” with host Fred Dicker.

At 11:30 a.m., NYC Council members and state lawmakers who are members of minority caucus groups, as well as other city officials, hold a news conference to criticize the actions of NYPD officers during the Thursday, July 17, arrest of 43-year-old Staten Island resident Eric Garner, who lost consciousness and died; steps, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 11:30 a.m., Sen. David Carlucci joins Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe and others to call for legislation to be signed to ensure people who have had their image broadcasted without their consent will have a course of action, Clarkstown Police Station, 20 Maple Ave., New City.

At 1 p.m., Astorino will hold a joint press conference with state comptroller candidate Bob Antonacci and former Rep. Bob Turner calling on Cuomo to return the $37 million in Superstorm Sandy funds he spent on TV ads to the victims, 175 Ocean Ave., Breezy Point, Queens.

At 1:15 p.m., labor leaders speak out against the DEC’s plan to shut off electricity from Indian Point Energy Center, Colonial Terrace, 119 Oregon Rd., Cortlandt Manor.

At 5:30 p.m., Reps. Peter King and Chris Collins headline a fundraiser for fellow Republican Bruce Blakeman, who is running for Congress in NY-4, Capitol Hill Club, 300 First St. SE, Washington, DC.

At 6:30 p.m., Astorino will attend a fundraiser for Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray, Tropix on the Mile, 395 Woodcleft Ave., Freeport.

At 8 p.m., NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer greets the crowd from the state at Shakespeare in the Park: King Lear, at the Delacorte Theater, 81 Central Park West, Manhattan.

At 8:15 p.m., Astorino will attend the Huntington Chamber of Commerce Networking Luau, Crab Meadow Beach, Waterside Avenue, Northport.

Headlines…

Republican Governors Association Chairman Chris Christie on why he won’t be campaigning on Astorino’s behalf in New York anytime soon: “We don’t pay for landslides and we don’t invest in lost causes.” He’ll change his mind if the race becomes “competitive.”

Christie, the New Jersey governor and a potential 2016 contender, has yet to regain the record high popularity he enjoyed before a scandal involving the George Washington Bridge, though public interest in the lane closures is fading, according to a new poll.

While campaigning in Connecticut, Christie was rebuked by Newtown families for rejecting a bill that would have banned the sale of ammunition magazines larger than 10 rounds.

Food Network star Sandra Lee, who rarely makes public appearances with her live-in boyfriend, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, made a splash at the Adirondack whitewater rafting race he organized this past weekend.

School bus operators who need Mayor de Blasio’s help to retain lucrative city contracts contributed nearly $40,000 to a mayoral nonprofit — but took steps to hide the donations from public view.

De Blasio is keeping up a breakneck New York-type pace on his family vacation in Italy, leaving the Italians to wonder: What’s the rush?

The Staten Island neighborhood thrust into the spotlight when Eric Garner died after an NYPD officer subdued him with an apparent chokehold is in a precinct that has historically seen tension between the police and residents.

An NYPD internal report prepared right after Garner’s death plays down the incident, with supervising officers failing to note the chokehold and insisting he was not in “great distress.”

Nearly two-thirds of New York voters say they’re never surprised when another state legislator gets indicted because most are out only to help themselves and their political pals, according to a new Siena poll.

A legal battle with Cuomo’s anti-corruption Moreland Commission didn’t stop the Syracuse-based firm of Hiscock & Barclay from contributing to the governor’s campaign.

Well-known election attorney and former Senate Democratic Leader Marty Connor is representing challengers to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout’s petitions.

More >

Extras

Westchester Democratic Chairman Reginald LaFayette, who is also a local election commissioner, thinks it’s “a little insulting” to be asked why he can’t file financial reports on time.

The League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes and 1199 SEIU have reached a tentative deal on a new four-year contract.

Federal prosecutors want GOP Rep. Michael Grimm’s tax evasion trial to start in October - a month before Election Day.

The NYC Department of Investigation has begun a review of scores of cases of serious injuries suffered by inmates at Rikers Island.

NY-24 GOP candidate John Katko, who is “not interested in doing the lables,” shared his positions on a host of key issues.

Bronx Councilman Fernando Cabrera rolled $33,000 from his NYC campaign account to his Senate account to fund his primary challenge to Sen. Gustavo Rivera; the CFB wants that cash back.

On his second day in Italy, Mayor Bill de Blasio visited the Vatican and invited Pope Francis to come to New York.

If Tim Wu defeats Kathy Hochul in the Democratic LG primary, it could be curtains for the state Independence Party.

Two of the nation’s largest non-profit immigration service groups will shut down as part of a settlement with AG Eric Schneiderman.

GOP operative John Haggerty, who bilked former NYC Mayor Bloomberg out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in 2009, turned himself in this morning to serve 1 ​1/3 to 4 years in prison.

A report from the city’s Independent Budget Office found 21 percent of households that moved out of New York City in 2012 moved within the state - either to the suburbs or upstate.

GE, which is slated to receive $135 million from the Cuomo administration, contributed $90,000 to the state Democratic Party in less than seven months.

Ken Thompson took a hefty pay cut this year when he was became the new Brooklyn district attorney.

State government contracts related to the Saw Mill River Parkway are paving the way for political donations to Cuomo.

Sen. Michael Nozzolio is touting a GOP proposal to use a $3.3 billion settlement with a French bank for education aid and ending the Gap Elimination Adjustment.

 

Here and Now

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

At 10 a.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli will address the Teamsters Conference, the Fort William Henry Resort and Conference Center, 48 Canada St., Lake George.

Also at 10 a.m., GOP gubernatorial candidate and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino will attend the Chautauqua County Fair with candidate for sheriff Rusa Payne, 1089 Central Ave., Dunkirk.

At 1 p.m., the first meeting about the broadband availability enhancement component of the Smart Schools Initiative will be held, Blue Room, second floor, state Capitol.

At 2 p.m., Astorino will attend a Cattaraugus County meet and greet, Cutco Theatre at JCC, 250 North Union St., Olean.

From 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., a tourism workshop on “Becoming China Ready” takes place in Empire State Plaza’s Meeting Rooms 4 and 5, concourse, Albany.

At 6 p.m., Astorino will attend the Chautauqua GOP Annual Dinner, Lakewood Rod & Gun Club, 433 E. Terrace Ave., Lakewood.

Headlines…

Cuomo’s campaign operatives are being accused of dirty tricks for allegedly sponsoring a biased “push poll” to convince voters that the governor’s GOP opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, holds politically unacceptable views.

The death of Eric Garner while in NYPD custody reveals the tensions between two of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s priorities: mending relations between the police and minority residents while fighting serious crime by focusing on petty offenses.

Eric Garner’s son, Eric Snipes, said he wants to see Officer Daniel Pantaleo, the plainclothes cop seen in a viral video putting Garner in a chokehold and refusing to let up even when the father of six repeatedly yelled he couldn’t breathe, behind bars.

Although officially banned by the NYPD, the chokehold can often be effective in subduing a person resisting arrest and has been tough to eliminate its use by officers.

Four emergency responders have been placed on desk duty as prosecutors investigate the Garner case. The two paramedics and two emergency medical technicians, employed by Richmond University Medical Center, can’t respond to 911 medical calls until the investigation is complete.

The head of the NYC police union asked the public and elected officials to give officers involved in the incident that led to Garner’s death “the benefit of the doubt.”

De Blasio and his family kicked off an eight-day summer vacation on Sunday standing with Rome Mayor Ignazio Marino on a balcony overlooking the Roman Forum, the city’s birthplace. The family is scheduled to spend less than 48 hours in Rome before heading to Capri, once an island vacation hideaway of Roman emperors and now a favorite hangout for the glitterati.

Italian journalists referred to de Blasio as “the cool mayor,” and were impressed by his willingness to handle his own baggage.

The NYT gives the de Blasio vacation its stamp of approval: “You can’t blame Mr. de Blasio for leaving town. He is the city’s chief executive, but he is also a husband and dad, and surely has an acute sense of the fleeting preciousness of time with family.”

A spokesman for Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice called sexist and racially insensitive tweets by her congressional campaign staffer “stupid…attempts at sarcasm and parody,” and said the staffer has been disciplined.

State lawmakers spent $300,000 over the past six months from their campaign accounts to cover legal fees stemming from multiple scandals — bringing the total to $7.5 million since 2004

The Democrat & Chronicle says its difficulty in getting information on a Cuomo TV ad campaign “reflects a culture of secrecy that continues to permeate Albany nearly four years into an administration that promised to be ‘the most transparent and accountable in history.’”

Florida’s treasurer is accusing Cuomo of running a misleading ad campaign about START-UP NY that’s aimed at luring business to New York from the Sunshine State, saying: “We know a huckster when we see one.”

More >

The Weekend That Was

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his Vermont counterpart, Peter Shumlin, reportedly tied in the second annual Adirondack Rafting Challenge on the Indian River.

Also participating: Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and DSCC Chairman Mike Gianaris.

At a rally in Harlem on Saturday, the Rev. Al Sharpton said the death of Eric Garner as he was being arrested by NYPD officers would test the commitment of the de Blasio administration to police reforms.

The NYPD has taken away the gun and badge of Officer Daniel Pantaleo as the department and prosecutors investigate his use of an apparent chokehold on Garner, of Staten Island. Patrick Lynch, the president of the PBA, said that decision was “absolutely wrong.”

After delaying their departure briefly, the de Blasio family has arrived in Italy with his family for the start of an 8-day summer vacation that includes a mix of meetings with government officials and sightseeing in the mayor’s ancestral homeland.

Jon Bon Jovi and the Toronto-based group interested in buying the Buffalo Bills reportedly want to keep the team in Buffalo.

The tentative contract agreement to avert a shutdown of the LIRR was far from scripted, people close to the tense labor negotiations say. Unions representing the employees were so close to walking off the job that Long Island lawmakers had quietly taken steps to draft federal legislation to forestall or halt a strike.

DeVry Education Group Inc. said AG Eric Schneiderman’s office is investigating whether the for-profit education company’s marketing violates laws against false advertising.

Former Clinton strategist James Carville mocked the new Bill and Hillary-bashing book “Blood Feud,” saying “a Bugs Bunny comic book has more reality to it.”

The reunification between the IDC and the so-called “regular” Senate Democrats does not – at this point – appear to extend to a merging of their campaign cash.

The NYC Medical Examiner’s Office is a mess — plagued with errors, including bodies being lost, mistakenly cremated or wrongly donated to science — while millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent on plans and equipment useful only in a mass disaster, the Post reports.

Volunteer firefighters and officials will urge Cuomo to sign a proposed law, which would allow volunteer fire departments to check if prospective members are convicted sex offenders.

Chris Churchill: “If a casino is built on the Rensselaer waterfront, we can thank (or blame) Joe Bruno.”

Astorino called the “New York is Open for Business” TV ad campaign a “swindle of historic proportions” and said Cuomo should halt it ASAP.

Although the locavore movement caught fire about a decade ago, it has gotten a push during the past year in New York, where Cuomo has made it part of his economic policy.

The TU cheers US Attorney Preet Bharara for picking up where Cuomo’s Moreland Commission left off.

A year after then-NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg vowed to “destroy” the yellow-cab industry, his allies and surrogates are pouring energy and cash into ride-sharing ventures fiercely opposed by New York’s hacks and medallion owners.

A day after blaming the Albany political establishment for its decision to yank a $186 million bond financing deal that cost the city nearly $2 million, officials at the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany are now saying it’s the news media’s fault.

The head of the City Council’s powerful Finance Committee, Julissa Ferreras, once ran a taxpayer-funded, not-for-profit that routinely issued checks to her and her parents.

Republican congressional candidate Bruce Blakeman is calling for his opponent, Democratic Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice, to fire a campaign staffer who had posted a joke to Twitter about domestic violence.

In a dramatic shift of momentum, none of the key power brokers in Syracuse are publicly pushing today for the Interstate 81 viaduct to be replaced by a new elevated highway that bisects the city.

Bob McCarthy keeps track of the rapidly changing political landscape in WNY.

Prominent members of the Jewish community ripped Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout for hiring an anti-Israel consultant: Robert Akleh, a former field director for the Working Families Party.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer says pet owners could save millions of dollars on prescriptions for their animals if they could buy the drugs at ordinary pharmacies.

Rep. Brian Higgins had more than 25 times as much campaign cash on hand on June 30 as did his Republican rival, former radio personality Kathy Weppner. And while Rep. Chris Collins had $561,973 to spend, the campaign of his Democratic opponent, Orchard Park police officer Jim O’Donnell, is $656 in debt.

According to FEC filings, Elise Stefanik has only $152,103 on hand after spending more than $680,000 on her GOP primary campaign against Matt Doheny. Democrat Aaron Woolf, who did not face a primary opponent, has $757,834 on hand.

Georgina Bloomberg is relieved her father never ran for president.

Extras

Rep. Michael Grimm has a new attorney in his federal indictment case, and a court date Monday.

Rep. Charlie Rangel loaned $100,000 to his re-election campaign one day before the Democratic congressional primary on June 24.

Anyone who dares slander retiring Sen. Greg Ball will be handled with “absolute force.”

Jim Malatras is returning to the Cuomo administration as the new Howard Glaser. Glaser’s deputy Fran Reiter is retiring due to “health reasons.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the “two Rochesters.”

Zephry Teachout, botherer of bulls.

IDC Leader Jeff Klein took a $10,000 campaign donation from a mafia-linked realty company – the same firm he rents his district office space from.

Rep. Tim Bishop’s fellow House Democrats have contributed $121,800 to him either from their own campaign funds or from their leadership PACs.

Contrary to what EPA Administration Judith Enck claims, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens says Onondaga Lake is so clean he’d swim it in himself (if there was a beach).

Rocker Jon Bon Jovi is part of a Toronto group that has retained a banking firm and submitted paperwork expressing interest in buying the Buffalo Bills.

NYC First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris said the administration would support a ban or fee on plastic shopping bags, which the City Council has been eying to pass.

“It’s not like the mayor sits in my office all day, although he does sometimes come in to eat my M&M’s.”

One of the START-UP NY ads features footage of workers as businesses unlikely to qualify for START-UP NY.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand OpEds in favor of the Summer Meals Act.

The governor’s office announced that 68 after-school programs across New York will share nearly $11 million in state and federal grants.

The mother of 9-year-old Anna Conte who fought to legalize medical marijuana in New York to help treat the girl’s seizures said on her Facebook page that her daughter died.

While touring Iowa as Republican Governors Association chair, NJ Gov. Chris Christie gave glimmers of what a possible Christie presidential bid in 2016 could look and feel like.

Christie’s chief economist is resigning after a hectic three-and-a-half years in Trenton.

The “I Love New York” program, which promotes New York businesses and tourism, is expanding into China.

Another round of layoffs at the New York Daily News.

Here and Now

It’s Opening Day at the racetrack in Saratoga Springs.

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. He and his family depart for a vacation in Italy this evening.

At 8:45 a.m., Westchester County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino will be a guest on 98.1FM/1590 WAUB Finger Lakes Morning News with host Joe Salzone.

At 9:45 a.m., Astorino will attend and deliver remarks at the American Legion Convention, Desmond Hotel, 660 Albany Shaker Rd., Albany.

At 10:30 a.m., NYC Councilman Robert Cornegy Jr., former Mayor David Dinkins, the principal of K. 455 Boys and Girls High School, Bernard Gassaway, state Sen. Velmanette Montgomery and Assemblywoman Annette Robinson speak during a ceremony to mark the observance of “Nelson Mandela International Day,” between Atlantic Avenue and Fulton Street and Lewis Street and Utica Avenue, Brooklyn.

At 11:15 a.m., Astorino will be a guest on the Laura Ingraham Show.

At 11:30 a.m., LG Bob Duffy attends a groundbreaking ceremony the or Central New York Hub for Emerging Nano Industries, 24 Aspen Park Blvd., East Syracuse.

At noon, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli will rally supporters of his re-election campaign at a “major event” in Buffalo. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown will formally endorse DiNapoli, UAW Region 9 Headquarters, 35 George Karl Blvd., Suite 100.

At 12:15 p.m., Astorino will attend and deliver remarks at the Associated General Contractors Conference, The Sagamore, 110 Sagamore Rd., Bolton Landing.

At 12:45 p.m., NY-21 GOP candidate Elise Stefanik will tour ReEnergy Black River on Fort Drum.

At 3:30 p.m., Astorino will be a guest on 92.1FM/1040AM WYSL The Credibility Report with host Peter Haidt.

At 3:45 p.m., Astorino will attend Saratoga Racetrack Opening Day with Sen. Kathy Marchione, Saratoga Racetrack, Union Ave., Saratoga Springs.

At 6 p.m., Stefanik will tour the Watertown Rams stadium to tour and throw out the first pitch at their game.

At 6:30 p.m., Chemung County Sheriff and GOP LG candidate Chris Moss marches in the Seneca County Parade and attends the Seneca County Fair, Waterloo.

At 7 p.m., Rep. Chris Gibson attends an Oneonta Outlaws game, where he will throw out the ceremonial first pitch, Damaschke Field.

Headlines…

Federal prosecutors investigating Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s shutdown of the Moreland Commission have subpoenaed the assistant to its former executive director to testify before a grand jury. The subpoena asked for documents and correspondence – including any communications with Cuomo and his senior aides.

Prodded by Cuomo, LIRR union leaders and MTA negotiators reached a tentative deal in the four-year-long contract battle that averts a strike and for the first time requires all workers to pay for health care.

Cuomo finalized the deal over a seafood lunch at the Midtown restaurant Docks Oyster Bar downstairs from his office. He had fish.

Getting involved at the 11th hour in labor disputes and then taking credit for closing the deal has become a “signature move” for Cuomo, Ken Lovett notes.

The state has proposed shutting down the Indian Point nuclear plant for up to three months a year to protect fish in the Hudson River.

New York has spent $161 million on ads promoting tourism and its business climate since Cuomo took office in 2011, according to records released late yesterday. The largest chunk – $28 million – went toward START-UP NY ads.

It took the Cuomo administration a long time to fill FOIL requests for its ad spending information. Gannett waited a year.

Democratic LG candidate Kathy Hochul headlined a rally on the Upper West Side to announce she and Cuomo plan to run on a new Women’s Equality ballot line.

Critics called the new ballot line a cynical ploy by Cuomo to boost turnout among women voters.

Westchester County Executive and GOP gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino continues to call for eight regional debates between himself and Cuomo.

Former Queens Councilman Daniel Halloran testified at his federal trial that an envelope of cash he took from someone who turned out to be a government informant wasn’t a bribe but a personal loan.

Mayor Stephanie Miner wrote to President Barack Obama today to urge federal officials to establish a site in Syracuse to house immigrant children awaiting deportation.

Republican attorney general candidate John Cahill’s $1 million-plus campaign haul included $20,000 from conservative hedge fund manager Sean Fieler, known for his controversial statements about homosexuality and his activism against abortion.

A group of Capital Region lobbyists for hopeful cannabis growers and dispensary owners started a business alliance.

More >

Extras

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has the largest lead in the polls among states with governor’s races this year, according to FiveThirtyEight.

When it comes to fundraising, however, Cuomo has been eclipsed by Texan Greg Abbott, a Republican running for governor against Democrat Wendy Davis in the race to replace Rick Perry.

Speaking of Texas, speculation that Sen. Greg Ball is relocating there continues, thanks to recent campaign contribution he made.

LG candidate Kathy Hochul refused to admit she has “evolved” on immigration, preferring to say her position on the matter was misunderstood and has been clarified.

Hochul filed paperwork to create a campaign committee for her LG run.

Former Gov. David Paterson recently joined the advisory board of a company named in an indictment unsealed by Brooklyn federal prosecutors whose stock was manipulated.

The Obama administration needs to act quickly to phase-out the older railroad tank cars carrying millions of gallons of Bakken crude through New York, US Sen. Chuck Schumer said.

The Tr-State Transportation Committee finally received its FOIL request for the new Tappan Zee Bridge financial plan. (Don’t expect too much here).

The three counties around Syracuse lost more jobs in the past year than any other region in the state, according to new state Labor Department numbers.

When he took the stand in his trial on corruption charges, ex-NYC Councilman Dan Halloran repeatedly mentioned his surgery to remove a benign brain tumor.

The state’s overall unemployment rate dropped, but it remains higher than the national average.

GOP NY-21 candidate Elise Stefanik reiterated her pledge to fight against cuts to Fort Drum if she’s elected to Congress.

Although her poll numbers are pretty low, Zephyr Teachout is proving to be popular with downtown Democratic clubs in NYC.

So far, only one person has reviewed Teachout’s petitions – longtime general election attorney Josh Ehrlich. No challenges have been filed yet.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has a new buildings commissioner – the last major post in his administration to be filled.

While in Italy, de Blasio hopes to find eggplant parm that’s better than his mom’s.

The mayor won’t rule out possibly taking another vacation later this year.

Alan Chartock: “Really, why would anyone really want to be lieutenant governor of New York?”

RIP, Elaine Stritch.

Gibson: ‘Common Sense, Not Common Core’

Rep. Chris Gibson may have taken a pass on running on the “Stop Common Core” ballot line being created by GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino, but he’s doubling down on his opposition to the controversial curriculum with a new web video that touts a “common sense” approach to education reform.

The video, which the Republican congressman released earlier today, is light on details. It features Jennifer Pelesz, a parent from Valatie, who touts the fact that the congressman lives locally and understands her concerns about Common Core, and Gibson’s wife, Mary Jo, who says that testing kids as a means to evaluate teachers’ performance is “not an effective way to really evaluate.”

“As a parent of three children attending our local public school, I understand firsthand the necessity of ensuring local teachers and parents have input in our education system,” Congressman Gibson said in a statement. “Washington mandates, excessive standardized testing and New York State’s implementation of Common Core have significantly hurt the education of our students. I am proud to lead efforts in the United States Congress to reduce unnecessary standardized testing and will continue to fight to increase the influence local administrators, teachers, and parents have on their child’s education.”

Common Core has been largely a state-level issue, but Gibson has been voicing opposition to the standards – and to what he believes is over-testing of public school students – for some time.

Gibson is facing a challenge from Democratic political newcomer Sean Eldridge. In the most recent fundraising quarter, Gibson out-raised his opponent, who is relying heavily on his personal wealth to fuel his campaign.