Liz Benjamin

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Homepage: http://nystateofpolitics.com


Posts by Liz Benjamin

Extras

How not to be late, a “self-help guide” for the chronically tardy NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.

For his final press conference of 2014, President Obama exclusively called on female reporters. The White House had planned it that way.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will have a private swearing-in on New Year’s Eve in Albany. On New Year’s Day, he’ll host public ceremonies in NYC and Buffalo, home to his LG, Kathy Hochul.

Cuomo to the anti-frackers: “You did a great job of making your voice hear, and that’s what democracy’s all about. I actually enjoyed seeing it in action - I know it didn’t always seem that way.”

Sen. Tom Libous said he would be calling Cuomo this afternoon to ask for the fourth available casino license be awarded for a “true Southern Tier casino.”

The state Thruway Authority passed a 2015 budget that leaves a $36 million gap in funding, leaving a decision about whether to raise tolls on the superhighway system until next year.

According to EJ McMahon, the Thruway budget was slightly revised from the one originally proposed, but “continues to assume rising tolls through 2018.”

The executive director of Gracie Mansion has been chosen as First Lady Chirlane McCray’s new chief of staff after the embattled Rachel Noerdlinger stepped down last month.

Dan Doctoroff bid farewell this afternoon to Bloomberg L.P., where he had served as chairman and chief executive since 2008.

Sen. George Latimer’s house in Westchester County is in foreclosure proceedings.

In recommending a fracking ban, acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said he wouldn’t want his own kids to grow up near a well site. Turns out, he’s unmarried and has no children.

More than 1 million workers in New York will get raises this New Year’s Eve, when the state’s hourly minimum wage increases from $8 and hour to $8.75.

Richard Lipsky penned an OpEd for The Boston Globe about why Mark Wahlberg should be pardoned for a felony conviction he received when he was 16.

The Justice League NYC, which has been organizing protests since the Eric Garner grand jury decision, met with de Blasio today.

Soon-to-be-former conservative Rep. Michele Bachmann wants to be a full-time critic of everything Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Campaigns and political committees spent more than $1.5 million on private jets  to fly in Bill and Hillary Clinton to stump for various candidates during the  2014 midterms.

The NYT editorial board calls on Cuomo to “put his energies into a vigorous effort to pass the long-stalled” GENDA.

GlobalFoundries will look outside the Albany region to fill 300 openings for equipment engineer technicians in the coming year, until the pipeline of mid-skilled workers meets the business’ growing demands.

Here are twelve 2014 moments when de Blasio criticized the policies of his predecessor, former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and attempted to show his moves in a new direction.

There’s a new area code in Suffolk County: It’s 934.

Cuomo has signed a bill into law to preserve the dark skies over the Adirondacks.

Libous Seeks 4th Casino License for S. Tier

From the Morning Memo:

Sen. Tom Libous, a Binghamton Republican, is among S. Tier residents reeling from this week’s news that the region lost out on two badly needed potential local job creators: Fracking and a casino.

Appearing on CapTon last night, Libous said he is “fired up” over the decisions. While a fracking ban seems definitive and difficult to challenge – though there is some talk of lawsuits, as Cuomo predicted – Libous does see a remedy for the casino situation.

“We’re not happy; there’s a lot of disappointed and angry people here, and I’m trying to figure out what our next step is,” the senator said.

“I’ve got my people looking to see if we can do something with that fourth license that wasn’t given…it would make sense to me that we might have an option at that,” Libous, the second most powerful GOP member in the Senate, continued.

“…It would be my goal to get local leaders together, and try to see if we can’t get that local license.”

“They said they would grant four, and the one in Seneca County is 120 miles away from us. I think it would be great if we could get that license, and that’s what we’re going to try to do. That’s the most realistic approach right now.”

Libous declined to blame Cuomo for the Gaming Facility Location Board’s decision, which he called “flawed” and “bad”, saying the casino legislation was purposely designed to prevent either the governor or lawmakers from influencing the process.

“Whether the governor had any input in that, that’s something you’d have to ask him,” said the senator, who has long maintained a close relationship with Cuomo (the governor even attended the senator’s son’s wedding in 2013).

“I don’t believe he did….the siting commission made a mistake. That’s what happened, and I’m not happy with their decision.”

Libous said that if the fourth license was awarded to Tioga Downs, a new casino would be up and running there within six months – faster than any of the other facilities that received licenses will be opening their doors.

Tioga Downs owner Jeffrey Gural was furious over the fact that the S. Tier was passed over for a casino in favor of Tyre in the Finger Lakes, and he was not shy about making his views public.

Libous plans to hold a press conference at 11 a.m. this morning to make his call for the fourth license public. But he may be tilting at windmills.

After the casino decisions were announced Wednesday, Gaming Facility Location Board Chairman Kevin Law was asked whether it was possible to go back and recommend a fourth license down the road.

Law responded: “We actually spent time really trying to figure that out. Do we want to say three at this time and maybe we’ll pick a fourth? No.”

“We reached a unanimous consensus that these three selections that we made have the best shot for success,” Law added. “There shouldn’t be a fourth.”

Also, during a stop in Sullivan County on his casino victory tour yesterday, Cuomo said he did not “anticipate” doing any more licenses.

The governor said he wants to make sure the casinos given the green light succeed and don’t have to worry about additional competition – other than what already exists in an increasingly crowded (and, from a national standpoint, troubled) gaming landscape.

Here and Now

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

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will meet with members of the Justice League NYC, which has been organization protests following the Eric Garner grand jury decision. This meeting will be closed press.

At 8 a.m., ahead of a NYC Board of Correction public hearing, advocates of jail reform will hold a rally to protest the proposed creation of Enhanced Supervision Housing Units, 455 1st Ave., Manhattan.

At 10:10 a.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli will be Sen. David Carlucci’s special guest on the “Albany Report” radio show, exclusively on WRCR 1300 AM.

At 10:30 a.m., former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani makes his annual visit to Hale House Mother Hale Learning Center; 154 W. 22nd St., Manhattan.

At 10:40 a.m., US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will tour the Center for Agriculture and Natural Resources at the SUNY Cobleskill with President Debra Thatcher, culinary students, and instructors, 114 Rockland Lane, Cobleskill.

At 11:30 a.m., the Thruway Authority board meets at its headquarters to approve its 2015 budget, 200 Southern Blvd., Albany.

At noon, the Assembly will hold a joint public hearing to examine the adequacy of the fee schedule for medical provider reimbursement proposed by the Workers’ Compensation Board to be used under both the workers’ compensation system and the no-fault system and to determine its impact on access to quality treatment and return to work rates, Hearing Room B, LOB, Albany.

At 2:10 p.m., de Blasio speaks at the NYPD Promotions Ceremony, 1 Police Plaza, Manhattan.

At 5 p.m., a pro-police rally (and potential counter-rally) take place, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Headlines…

Gov. Andrew Cuomo fired the first salvo in what’s shaping up to be a contentious battle over education reform, signaling he plans to push next year for sweeping changes – like making it easier to fire low-performing teachers and increasing the number of charter schools.

Cuomo made his intentions clear in a letter to the Regents chancellor and outgoing state education commissioner. NYSUT slammed the governor’s questions and the letter’s overall tone as showing “ignorance about what parents want and the real issues facing public education.”

Gerald Benjamin, director of the Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach at SUNY New Paltz, said it was unusual for the governor to release such a letter publicly rather than communicating privately with legislative leaders. “He’s playing hardball.”

DFS Superitnendent Ben Lawsky said he would ease record-keeping requirements in the state’s proposal for a virtual currency licensing regime and provide a transitional license for startups, but concerns remain that the final rule will set too high a bar for anti-money laundering compliance.

New York landowners blocked from cashing in on the natural gas boom by the state’s just-announced fracking ban may fight back in court, but experts say energy companies are unlikely to spend their money and time on lawsuits when they’ve already lost their investments.

Cuomo defended the state’s decision, saying it wasn’t worth jeopardizing the public’s health for the jobs the drilling could create.

Though he said he had nothing to do with the selection process, Cuomo took a mini victory lap yesterday of counties that won the casino sweepstakes. (Bad weather kept him from making it to Seneca County).

Southern Tier residents are reeling from the one-two punch of no casinos and no fracking. “The casinos went down, fracking went down – come on; this place is dead in the water now,” said Binghamton resident Pat Shea. “This whole area was thumbed at, snubbed, like it was nothing.”

It’s a totally different situation in the Catskills, where Monticello casino boosters are celebrating after winning one of the three upstate license recommendations announced this week.

Bob McManus: “The fruits of Andrew Cuomo’s first term went on display one after another this week — and what a withered bunch of grapes they turned out to be.”

State legislators, highway officials and even those stuck on highways for 30 hours during the November snowstorm in Western New York are expected to participate in the state Thruway Authority’s self-review of its performance now underway.

Federal prosecutors plan to sue New York City over widespread civil rights violations in the handling of adolescent inmates at Rikers Island, making clear their dissatisfaction with the city’s progress in reining in brutality by guards and improving conditions at the jail complex.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first-year agenda has faced next to no resistance in the City Council, a feat some say is inextricably linked to his successful effort to install his choice for council speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Police precincts across NYC are reportedly calling off their planned annual festivities because they can’t afford to take officers off the street while protests against police brutality continue to crop up almost nightly.

An organizer at NYC’s largest union, SEIU, surrendered to cops and was charged with busting an NYPD lieutenant’s nose during a videotaped mob attack on the Brooklyn Bridge.

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BuzzFeed will receive a $4 million tax break from the state to expand its Manhattan offices.

…The announcement comes on the heels of news that Buzzfeed has signed one of the year’s biggest leases in Midtown South, which has increasingly become a focal point for NYC’s tech and creative industries.

When it came to siting upstate casinos, the Gaming Facility Location Board played it safe.

PBA President Pat Lynch told officers to use “extreme discretion,” in response to what he said was a lack of support from City Hall and Washington after the Eric Garner grand jury decision.

Lynch also said NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio “thinks he’s running a f@#$ing revolution,” and called a protest of the Garner decision by black congressional staffers “stupid S@#!.”

Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools, called off an anti-de Blasio press conference after the DOE agreed to find space for her network of expanding charter schools.

Seventy-six percent of New Yorkers disagree with de Blasio’s quest to ban horse-drawn carriages from Central Park, a Q poll found.

PETA named de Blasio its “person of the year.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Lyme bill into law.

He also vetoed a bill that would have put a halt to state plans to eradicate a species of swan.

There will be no toll increase involved when the Thruway Board meets tomorrow to approve the 2015 budget.

Richard Nixon Nixon’s grandson, Christopher Cox, and his wife, Andrea Catsimatidis, heiress to the Gristedes supermarket fortune, are getting a divorce.

…and also, this.

The governor is holding an open house at the executive mansion on Dec. 31 instead of New Year’s Day. Tickets are available through a lottery.

“When I visit New York, I often get a headache from all the pollution. I notice that the governor hasn’t banned the use of cars.”

The four-year graduation rate for New York City students entering high school in 2010 reached 64.2 percent - a small uptick from 61.3 percent the previous school year.

Statewide, a total of 76.4 percent of students who started high school in 2010 graduated before June 2014 – up slightly from the 74.9 percent in 2009.

Rush Limbaugh thinks Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush would be the perfect ticket for 2016.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson phoned Clinton recently to tell her to run for president again. (He expects his state to “decide the nation” in the race).

A Clinton adviser recently met with the head of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, the liberal issues group most closely affiliated with Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Grant Loomis, the deputy chief of staff for Rep. Chris Collins, has been named as the new vice president of government affairs for the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.

Former Gov. George Pataki thinks the NYPD is the best police department in the nation.

Martens Staying Put

After presiding over a seemingly endless review of fracking in New York and weathering considerably criticism for the delay in a decision, it would be hard to blame DEC Commissioner Joe Martens for wanting to take a break.

Martens, a former president of the Open Space Institute and widely respected environmentalist, has served as head of the DEC since January 2011. (He was one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s early appointees).

Back in November, there was a rumor that Martens’ would soon be departing his post, replaced by outgoing Republican Sen. Mark Grisanti, who lost his re-election bid to Democratic Senator-elect Marc Panepinto.

There was some logic to that idea. Grisanti chairs the Senate’s Environmental Committee, and also earned a big chit with the governor when he crossed party lines as one of four GOP senators to vote “yes” on gay marriage in the summer of 2011.

Cuomo declined to endorse Panepinto in the fall elections, but that didn’t help Grisanti, who was in a tight spot after losing the GOP primary and trying to seek re-election running just on the Independence Party line.

Despite whatever political favors Cuomo might still owe Grisanti, the DEC float was quickly shot down by an agency spokesperson, who said Martens had no plan to give up his job.

And apparently, the end of the fracking hasn’t changed his mind.

“I have no plans,” Martens said with a laugh when I asked him during a CapTon interview last night about his future.

“If I was going to leave, I would have left before this decision came out, because this took a lot of work.”

“And I just want to say I have to tip my hat, not only to DOH staff, but to DEC staff, who for – some of them six years – have been studying this issue exhaustively,” the commissioner continued.

“The draft supplemental generic environmental impact statements we put out reflected an enormous amount of work on the department and its staff, and I have to tip my hat to them.”

Despite Martens’ intent to stick around, the steady stream of top Cuomo administration officials heading for the door before Term II continues, however.

Capital NY reports that the latest departure will be that of State Labor Commissioner and former Assemblyman Peter Rivera, who submitted his retirement papers to the state comptroller’s office on Dec. 4. His retirement takes effect at the end of the year.

Quiet Casino Winner: HTC

There was a host of obvious winners and losers following yesterday’s announcement regarding the awarding of three of four available upstate casino licenses.

But there was another, far less obvious winner, too: The New York Hotel Trades Council, otherwise known as HTC.

The small but scrappy and political potent union has standing labor agreements with all three of the casino projects that got the green light from the Gaming Facility Location Board.

That means the 32,000-member HTC is poised to significantly increase its upstate footprint, which is now almost entirely in NYC.

A source familiar with the three casino projects said the union is likely to gain more than 3,000 members – a 10 percent increase in its ranks, which would be almost unheard of in the modern labor movement.

HTC stood to gain even more jobs if one of the Orange County projects had been approved.

But that would have been a little to close for comfort, competition-wise, to the existing Resorts World slot parlor at the Aqueduct racetrack in Queens, which is staffed by more than 1,000 HTC workers who just won a major living wage ruling last fall.

The upstate casino HTC members aren’t likely to get the same deal, which doubled the salaries of Aqueduct workers overnight. But they will likely get a quite lucrative arrangement that would be “transformative” in rural areas, the source said.

HTC currently has seven unionized hotels in the Capital Region, and has been trying to expand. These three casino deals will help accomplish that goal, and undoubtedly increase the union’s clout on a number of levels.

HTC didn’t lobby for any specific casino bid, according to his source. The process was simply too difficult to (ahem) game out.

It did, however, work hard (and spend big) to get the constitutional amendment that allowed for the expansion of non-Indian-run casino gambling expanded in New York.

The union also successfully pushed for so-called “labor peace agreement” language to be included in the initial casino bill.

Cuomo’s Casino Victory Lap

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who pushed hard to get Las Vegas-style casinos legalized in New York as a key component of his plan to revive the upstate economy, plans to visit the three communities that emerged victorious yesterday in the battle for gaming licenses.

Cuomo’s press office just released his itinerary for the day, and it includes visits to Schenectady, Sullivan and Seneca counties. His schedule is as follows:

- At approximately 10:30 a.m., Cuomo will be in Schenectady – site of the Rivers Casino & Resort project at Mohawk Harbor. He’ll appear at Proctors Theater at 432 State St.

(It’s worth noting that Proctors does not believe it will be negatively impacted by this project because it doesn’t have a performance space).

- At approximately 12:30 p.m., Cuomo will be in Sullivan County, site of the Montreign Resort Casino. This event will take place at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts on Hurd Road.

- At approximately 2:30 p.m., Cuomo will make his third and final casino-related appearance in Seneca County, future home of the Lago Resort & Casino. He’ll be at the Finger Lakes Regional Airport on Martin Road.

Cuomo has repeatedly gone out of his way to insist that he had no influence over the selection of the casino license recipients, who all spent big on lobbying and campaign contributions throughout the selection process.

The governor made a similar claim regarding the decision – also announced yesterday – not to allow fracking in New York, saying he relied on the expertise and recommendations of his health and DEC commissioners.

Of course, no one who knows this governor and his hands-on approach to governing is buying these claims.

And it appears the governor is more than willing to fete – and take some credit for – the casino decisions now that they have been formally announced.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s press office has not yet released his public schedule. But he’s expected to make an appearance in Sullivan County, which won one of three casino licenses yesterday.

DFS Superintendent Ben Lawsky is in Washington, where he will deliver remarks on the new, revised, proposed BitLicense framework for regulating virtual currencies, as well as broader trends and issues in payments technology, Bipartisan Policy Center, 1225 Eye St. NW, Suite 1000.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is also in DC today. He will travel there after attending a Compstat meeting at 1 Police Plaza and a retirement breakfast for Nancy Bunche, house steward of Gracie Mansion. In Washington, the mayor meet with DNC leadership on New York City’s bid to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

At 10:30 a.m., NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will appear in “Scrooge: A Christmas Story,” put on by the East Harlem Repertory Theater Company at Lehman College, the Bronx.

Also at 10:30 a.m., NYC Public Advocate Tish James, who chairs the Commission on Public Information and Communication, will hold a hearing to discuss ways of increasing public access to governmental information and data, 1 Pace Plaza (Pace University, Aniello Bianco Room, enter at 3 Spruce St., Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., outgoing state Education Commissioner John King delivers remarks to education department staff, Chancellor’s Hall, SED, 89 Washington Ave., Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., Monroe County Clerk Cheryl Dinolfo naturalizes 48 new US citizens, County Office Building Legislative Chambers, Room 407, 39 W. Main St., Rochester.

At 11:30 a.m., Sen. Jeff Klein unveils a new report on “Toxic Tidings: chemicals of Concern in Children’s Products”; 250 Broadway, 20th Floor, Room 2009, Manhattan.

At noon, Sen. Marty Golden joins family and friends of Pietro Joseph Scarso, a 5-year-old boy fighting Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, to highlight a public awareness campaign; 9321 Ridge Blvd., Brooklyn.

At 1 p.m., Chobani will be donating one million cups of Greek yogurt to New Yorkers in need this holiday season, 669 County Road 25, New Berlin.

At 1:30 p.m., Success Academy Charter Schools CEO Eva Moskowitz and others call on NYC leaders to provide space for Success Academy middle schools; City Hall Steps, Manhattan.

At 3 p.m., Rep. Chris Gibson will attend the ceremonial swearing-in ceremony for state Supreme Court Justice Lisa Fisher, Greene County Courthouse, Catskill.

At 6 p.m., the Dutchess County GOP hosts a holiday cocktail party, Christo’s, 155 Wilbur Blvd., Poughkeepsie.

Also at 6 p.m., members of the NYC Panel for Educational Policy hold a public meeting; Q. 450 Long Island City High School, 14-30 Broadway, Queens.

Also at 6 p.m., the Westchester County GOP and County Executive Rob Astorino co-chost a holiday party, Westchester Manor, 140 Saw Mill River Rd., Hastings-on-Hudson.

At 6:30 p.m., former Manhattan GOP Chair Dan Isaacs is scheduled to host a holiday party, Metropolitan Republican Club, 122 East 83rd St., Manhattan.

Also at 6:30 p.m., Assemblyman Karim Camara will moderate an Emergency Youth Town Hall on Police Brutality, 180 Remsen St., St. Francis College, Founders Hall Auditorium, Brooklyn.

Also at 6:30 p.m., Congressman-elect Lee Zeldin hosts a victory/holiday party, the proceeds of which will be used to retire his NY-1 campaign debt, The Luordo residence, 2 Hunters Way, Nissequogue, Long Island.

At 11:30 p.m., de Blasio appears on “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central. (This interview was pre-taped).

Headlines…

After six years of review, New York finally has an answer on fracking in the Marcellus Shale: No.

New York is the first state in the US to ban the controversial natural gas drilling technique.

The fracking decision did little to change how Gov. Andrew Cuomo is viewed. Drilling opponents were thrilled with the move and praised him, while supporters insisted it was political motivated and lambasted him.

Cuomo – a famously hands-on governor – appeared to try to wash his hands of the fracking decision, insisting it had been made not by him, but by his health and DEC commissioners. (No one was really buying that).

The fracking decision is likely to help repair the governor’s relations with the left wing of the Democratic Party, which backed Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout against him in the September primary. Teachout issued a statement praising the decision.

You can read the DOH report on the public health impact of fracking, which was two years in the making, here.

The New York Times weighs in: “This was not an easy decision, but it was the right one.”

The Journal News called the decision “wise.”

When Conklin, N.Y., town supervisor Jim Finch heard the news, he began drawing up plans to secede from the state. “I’m serious,” said Finch, who oversees a town of some 5,000 people on the Susquehanna River just a few minutes’ drive from the Pennsylvania border. “New York City determines policy in the Southern Tier? That’s baloney.”

Rep. Tom Reed called the fracking decision “devastating” for the Southern Tier, which didn’t get one of four available upstate casino licenses, either. Sen. Cathy Young called it a “punch in the gut” for the region. (Both lawmakers are Republican).

Cuomo said he will work to develop an alternative economic plan for the Southern Tier region that is now cut off from the fracking industry after the state decided drilling was too risky.

A $300 million casino and resort planned for an old industrial site along the Mohawk River in Schenectady got the initial green light as one of three gambling centers to be licensed by New York state.

Orange County, a coveted potential casino location due to its proximity to New York City, drew the most bidders but received no licenses, even though the projects there would likely have been the most profitable in the state.

“We concluded that a license award to any of the six Orange County proposals would present too great a risk of precluding success to Sullivan or Ulster County,” said Gaming Facility Location Board Chair Kevin Law. “We also concluded that granting licenses to two casinos within the Catskills would negatively impact each other.”

The recommendation to license a casino in Sullivan – the heart of the once-bustling “Borscht Belt” resort region – will test the premise that blackjack and craps can breathe new life in an old summer haven known in its heyday for families, mostly Jewish, arriving packed in station wagons to enjoy fast-talking comedians and other entertainment, a la “Dirty Dancing.”

The awarding of a casino in Seneca County drew ire from Tioga Downs owner and applicant Jeffrey Gural, who said: “Bad day? I think the Southern Tier just got wiped out economically.” Lago developer Tom Wilmot said he plans to start construction ASAP.

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The US will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba and open an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half-century after the release of an American contractor held in prison for five years.

Pope Francis, who celebrated his 78th birthday today, played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal.

A group opposing a new casino in the Finger Lakes is strongly considering suing the Gaming Commission to halt the Lago Resort & Casino development in Seneca County.

Jeff Gural, owner of both Vernon Downs and Tioga Downs racinos, said the people of the Southern Tier were “screwed” by the casino and fracking decisions.

Senate Deputy Republican Leader Tom Libous, of Binghamton, is very upset about the treatment the Southern Tier received.

As promised by acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, the agency’s public health review is now online.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave himself cover on fracking – and climate change – which may come in handy should he still harbor White House ambitions.

Attorney Tom West, who represented a gas company and landowner who sued to overturn local zoning bans, doesn’t expect a lawsuit bonanza in response to the fracking decision.

NYC’s leading Democrats – including Mayor Bill de Blasio – hailed the Cuomo administration’s decision not to allow fracking in the Marcellus.

Anti-fracking activist and actor Mark Ruffalo is happy.

A bill intended to enhance financial accountability at the Port Authority was sent to Cuomo, giving him until Dec. 27 to act on the measure before it becomes law.

After months of intensifying pressure to address rampant brutality and corruption at Rikers Island, de Blasio toured the troubled jail complex – his first visit since taking office.

New York City says it has ended its longstanding practice of sending 16- and 17-year-old inmates to solitary confinement for breaking rules.

The late David Garth’s relationship with the Cuomo family was “frequently adversarial.”

Several aviation and rail projects in Western New York will benefit from $26.8 million in statewide funding announced by Cuomo.

De Blasio is scheduled to meet with people who have been protesting the Eric Garner decision, and says they must “denounce violence.”

Fifty-seven percent of New Yorkers want the protestors – even those who are nonviolent – off city streets, a new Q poll found.

The same poll found 61 percent of voters support AG Eric Schneiderman’s call for his office to be given the power to handle cases in which unarmed civilians are killed by police.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s scheduled deposition in a federal lawsuit brought by two sexual harassment victims of former Assemblyman Vito Lopez has been postponed, raising the specter that a settlement in the case could be near.

Rep. Peter King really does not like his fellow Republican, Sen. Ted Cruz, calling the Texas lawmaker “one big self-inflicted wound.”

Cuomo professed ignorance of his administration’s effort to reclassify some 1,000 PEF workers, and also of the MC pay raise commission bill sitting on his desk.

A group of Tompkins County renewable energy experts say there’s no need for a proposed natural gas pipeline between Freeville and Lansing, and they’re planning to lobby against the project.

New York Medicaid program spent $193.2 million during the first six months of 2014 on Sovaldi, the controversial Hepatitis C drug that carries an $84,000-per-patient price tag.

Success Academy founder and CEO Eva Moskowitz will slam the de Blasio administration tomorrow for what she claims are delays in presenting plans for turning around 247 failing schools and for finding locations for 16 charter schools.

Despite Jeb Bush’s decision to flirt with a 2016 run, Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone is sticking with NJ Gov. Chris Christie.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is hosting an off-the-record holiday party this evening for the City Hall press corps and senior staffers at Gracie Mansion.

At 10 a.m., Bodega Association of the US Inc. members and officials and community and government officials hold a news conference to discuss the release of a report about beer pricing, criticize mergers and pricing of franchised beer wholesalers and promote state legislation intended to benefit independent beer wholesalers; steps, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., the Assembly will hold the fifth in a series of six statewide public hearings to examine legislation that would establish New York Health, a universal “single payer” health coverage plan, Nassau County Legislative Chamber, Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building, 1550 Franklin Ave., Mineola.

At 10:30 a.m., the Assembly Ethics Committee meets, Room 714, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

At 11 a.m., the Assembly will hold a public hearing to examine the impact of the SFY 2014-2015 State Budget on counties, cities, towns and villages, Roosevelt Hearing Room C, 2nd Floor, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., Councilmen Paul Vallone and Daniel Garodnick will host a press conference announcing legislation to regulate the private use of drones in New York City, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer has a press conference at the Farragut Houses, 192 Sands St., Brooklyn.

Also at 11 a.m., Sen. Liz Krueger and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes hold public forum on Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, 19th floor, 250 Broadway, Manhattan.

At 11:15 a.m., Cuomo holds a cabinet meeting, Red Room, state Capitol, Albany.

At 11:30 a.m., Sen. David Carlucci will host a press conference to make families aware of the dangers that are associated with artificial Christmas trees, Curti Landscaping Christmas Tree Stand, Rockland Shopping Center, 17 North Middletown Rd., Nanuet.

At 12:50 p.m., de Blasio visits Rikers Island, Robert N. Davoren Complex, 11-11 Hazen St., East Elmhurst. A press conference will follow.

At 2 p.m., the Gaming Facility Location Board meets to announce the winners of up to four casino licenses in three upstate regions, Empire State Plaza, Meeting Room 6, Albany.

Also at 2 p.m., nursing home workers represented by SEIU Local 1199 participate in an informational picketing at a Bronx nursing home, as part of similar demonstrations planned at more than 40 nursing homes NYC and on Long Island; Daughters of Jacob Nursing Home, 1160 Teller Ave., the Bronx.

At 2:30 p.m., the Wage Board appointed by state Labor Commissioner Peter Rivera meets, Room 544, Building 12, Harriman State Office Campus, Albany.

At 4 p.m., Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, state GOP Chair Ed Cox, state Sens. Ruben Diaz and Dean Skelos, Marine Toys for Tots Foundation representatives and other New York Hispanic Clergy Organization members distribute free donated toys to up to 1,000 children ages 1 to 9; auditorium, I.S. 216 Rafael Hernandez Middle School, 977 Fox St., the Bronx.

At 8 p.m., Brooklyn BP Eric Adams and Consul General of Pakistan Raja Ejaz will hold a candlelight vigil with members of the Pakistani community after the school massacre in Peshawar that killed 141 people, 132 of them children, 1090 Coney Island Ave., Brooklyn. (Stringer will also attend).

Headlines…

The real “Alpha House” is coming to an end, as Rep. George Miller of California prepares to retire and sell the D.C. home is has long shared with US Sen. Chuck Schumer and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin.

With little fanfare to mark a rare bipartisan achievement, President Obama signed a massive, $1.1 trillion spending bill that keeps the government operating over the next nine months.

Kristin Proud, the commissioner of the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, is the latest high-ranking Cuomo administration official set to depart at the end of the month.

Assembly Democrats challenged Cuomo’s assertion that New York lawmakers had shown little interest in ethics reform, saying they were prepared to back substantial changes to the way business is done in Albany.

Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos accused Cuomo of being insincere in negotiations over a legislative pay raise.

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer is seeking to settle a $75 million damage claim filed against the city in the chokehold death of Eric Garner — a move that could give Stringer a high-profile role in the case at the expense of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The NYPD announced a $12,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of seven suspects, in connection with a clash between protesters and police on the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday.

De Blasio will meet at City Hall on Friday with members of Justice League NYC, one of the groups that has staged the protests.

The mayor said police union leaders, who are among his loudest critics, do not speak for all members of the New York Police Department.

A staffer of Rep. Michael Grimm called de Blasio an “asshole” on Facebook. The comment has been deleted, and the congressman – according to his spokesman – neither agrees with nor condones the sentiment. Disciplinary action will be taken.

The divide between Buffalo police and the black community was on display last night as residents repeatedly asked why more isn’t being done to weed out bad cops, and police brass repeatedly told the group they don’t tolerate officers who abuse their authority.

Nine out of 10 New York City teachers received one of the top two rankings in the first year of a new evaluation system that was hailed as a better way of assessing how they perform, according to figures released by the state Education Department.

Overall, more than 95 percent of the state’s teachers were rated “effective” or “highly effective” in evaluations for the previous school year. That’s despite dismal test scores statewide.

“It’s crazy that the majority of teachers across the state were rated highly when the majority of students aren’t being taught to read and do math at grade level,” said Jenny Sedlis, executive director of the pro-charter schools organization StudentsFirstNY.

Even as the governor says a long-awaited study on fracking is nearing completion, a large group of local officials want the ban to continue.

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