Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin


So far the extraordinarily not-so-special session is turning out to be a bust, though the night is young, when one is speaking of state Capitol time. Heck, lawmakers till have several hours of daylight during which they could come to some sort of agreement that would extend mayoral control of the NYC school system, which is set to sunset at midnight Friday.

The trouble is, now that they’re here, lawmakers – and the governor – are gumming up the works by trying to stuff all sorts of unrelated issues into the mayoral extension bill, some of which weren’t all that terribly prominent during the final days of the regular session.

Anyway, while we’re all waiting for something to happen, here are some headlines to keep you busy…

The Coast Guard is backing off a contentious proposal to put 10 commercial shipping anchorages on the Hudson River stretching from Yonkers north to Kingston.

Two New York City subway supervisors were suspended without pay today – a day after a derailment in Manhattan that injured 34 people and was blamed on a piece of unsecured replacement track, the transit authority said.

Former Gov. George Pataki: “The MTA is an authority where the governor has a majority of appointees. So, ultimately, accountability lies on the governor.”

“Cuomo has provided the citizenry with all of the tools it needs to demonstrate that the subway is in dire need of investment and repair. If he’s smart, he’ll pretend that was his plan all along.”

The major cause of subway delays is a factor that basically did not exist 15 years ago: overcrowding. Subway ridership has risen dramatically since the 1990s, from about four million people using the system daily to almost six million.

Staten Island Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis – the Republican frontrunner challenging Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio – blamed both de Blasio and Cuomo for the current “transit crisis” in the aftermath of this week’s derailment.

Straphangers stuck on the derailed train are lining up to sue the subway system that made their morning a living hell.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has reached an agreement to receive memos written by former FBI Director James Comey detailing his interactions with Trump, Chairman Richard Burr said.

The reporter who accused White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders of inflaming the public against the media at a press briefing, Brian Karem, says he did it because he’s tired of being bullied by the administration.

Karem, executive editor of the Montgomery County Sentinel, conceded he may have lost his temper, but said it was a “long time coming.”

Two former press secretaries to Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton said the White House should embargo all video from press briefings for later use, preventing the video from being broadcast live.

Real estate developer and Republican Paul Massey bowed out of the NYC mayoral contest just hours after a bruising round of questions at a Crain’s Breakfast Forum in Midtown.

Transit advocates fed up with the mounting downstate subway crisis will host a protest rally outside Cuomo’s Manhattan office this evening.

After years of tolls, traffic, and frustration for some, the conversation around the future of tolls at the Grand Island Bridges is seeing movement, thanks to Supervisor Nate McMurray.

Construction worker Carlos Cardona, who developed a respiratory illness from working at the World Trade Center site in the weeks after the 9/11 attack won a stay of deportation after the Daily News highlighted his plight, and Cuomo gave him a pardon.

Sen. Jim Tedisco today honored three Schenectady-area residents who were involved in a dramatic rescue Sunday of a girl who dropped 25 feet from a ride at the Six Flags Great Escape amusement park near Lake George.

With more than a hundred firefighters from across the state watching, Syracuse’s fire chief rejected a state union’s decision to censure him.

Shortly after 12:01 a.m. tomorrow, an unknown Uber or Lyft driver will make history when he or she arrives curbside outside a Capital Region establishment.

More than 20,000 drivers are expected to give rides for Uber and Lyft when the apps launch, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Copy editors at the New York Times who face possible layoffs sent a letter to their editors protesting the newspaper’s proposed changes, and taking aim at the “humiliating” process of forcing those who might be on the chopping block to re-apply for their jobs.

A daredevil who died after plunging over Niagara Falls in an apparent stunt with an inflatable ball might have brought a boa constrictor along for the ride.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule.

The Legislature is in Albany for an “extraordinary” session.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will make radio appearances today, participate in a call with mayors from across the country about health care reform efforts in D.C., and then travel to Philadelphia, PA. He will return to New York City in the evening.

In Washington this morning, President Donald Trump will lead a tribal, state, and local energy roundtable.

In the afternoon, Trump will participate in a meet-and-greet with the Chicago Cubs, and will then meet with immigration crime victims to urge passage of House legislation “to save American lives.”

In the evening, Trump will depart the White House en route to the Trump International Hotel, where he will give remarks at the RNC dinner.

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


The primary purpose of today’s extraordinary session in Albany is to address the looming lapse of mayoral control of New York City’s public schools, an issue that failed to gain consensus before the Legislature’s scheduled session ended last week.

…But other issues – like the sales tax extensions for suburban and upstate counties set to expire in November – are highly likely to come up.

“I would hope that we don’t do simply an extension of mayoral control,” said state Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco. “There are many, many other issues out there that have to be resolved, such as upstate taxes, the sales taxes, the…personal income tax in New York City.”

While lawmakers are set to return at 1 p.m. — a week after they ended the regular session without a deal on mayoral control — it’s unclear if they will actually take up the mayoral control (or any other) legislation.

Senators traveled to the White House on yesterday after Republican leaders delayed plans to vote on legislation to partially repeal and replace Obamacare this week because they hadn’t locked down the necessary number of votes.

During their meeting at the White House, Trump told the GOP senators: “(W)e’re going to talk and we’re going to see what we can do. We’re getting very close.” But until yesterday, he has been largely on the sidelines of this particular debate.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell called the meeting “very helpful,” and expressed optimism the Senate would eventually pass a bill to repeal Obamacare, though it’s going to take a “little bit longer.”

McConnell faced resistance from across his conference, not only from the most moderate and conservative senators but from others as well. Had he pressed forward this week, he almost surely would have lacked the votes even to begin debate on the bill.

A once-quiet effort by governors to block the full repeal of the Affordable Care Act reached its climax in Washington yesterday, as state executives from both parties — who have conspired privately for months — mounted an all-out attack on the Senate’s embattled health care legislation hours before Republicans postponed a vote.

Trump singled out a female journalist during a phone call with the new Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar, telling Varadkar, “She has a nice smile on her face. So I bet she treats you well.”

Sarah Palin, former vice-presidential candidate and ex-Alkaska governor, filed a defamation lawsuit against The New York Times Company, saying the newspaper had published a statement about her in a recent editorial that it “knew to be false.”

Paul Manafort, who was forced out as Trump’s campaign chairman last summer after five months of infighting and criticism about his business dealings with pro-Russian interests, disclosed that his consulting firm had received more than $17 million over two years from a Ukrainian political party with links to the Kremlin.

GOP consultant Roger Stone, a Trump loyalist, is set to testify before the House Intelligence Committee as part of its Russia election meddling probe in late July, according to his attorney.

The MTA said a preliminary investigation determined the cause of yesterday’s subway derailment, which injured dozens of people, was an improperly secured piece of equipment on the tracks. In other words, “a human error, not a track defect.”

Cuomo was in New York City around 9 a.m. yesterday, a spokeswoman confirmed, but did not go to the scene of the derailment at 125th Street, which city officials said happened around 9:45 a.m. Instead, he headed back to Albany, offering no response at all to the incident until hours after it occurred.

De Blasio didn’t go to the derailment scene, either, seeming to almost willfully ignore the incident, and leaving it to the new MTA chairman, Joe Lhota, to brief reporters.

Cuomo’s popularity — currently at its highest levels in years — largely rests in New York City and the surrounding suburbs. The last thing he’ll need when seeking a third term next year is angry commuters looking for someone to blame, experts and politicos say.

Jim Dwyer says the “spitball fights” between the mayor and the governor over who’s responsible for the MTA are not going to fix the subway for beleaguered riders.

More >


U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delayed the vote on the Republican leadership’s health care bill until after the July 4 recess.

Two subway cars of an A train derailed this morning at the 125th Street station in Harlem, causing dozens of injuries. As many as 34 people were hurt, with six transported to nearby hospitals, officials said.

Newly-minted MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said an emergency break was to blame for the derailment.

Sen. Mike Gianaris has launched a (well-timed) petition calling on Cuomo and state legislators to address weeks of chronic delays and historic failures throughout the MTA system upon their return to Albany.

EJ McMahon: “(T)o a degree unheard of at any time in the past 65 years, New York’s state treasury is swimming in excess cash that ideally could, and should, be devoted to projects like fixing the subways.”

Ken Lovett: “The coming summer of hell for commuters could morph into an election year train wreck for Gov. Cuomo in 2018 if things don’t improve, insiders warn.”

State Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi plans to announce tomorrow that he will challenge Rep. Claudia Tenney in the 2018 election, according to two Democratic sources familiar with his decision.

The Court of Appeals dismissed the bulk of a lawsuit contending the state hasn’t lived up to a 2006 court mandate to increase funding for New York City schools by $1.9 billion, and by extension, funding for school districts throughout the state.

The president used the resignations of three CNN journalists involved in a retracted Russia-related story to resume his attack on the network’s credibility.

Hillary Clinton divulged details about her third memoir, out this fall, and shared her post-election reading list to attendees at the American Library Association conference in Chicago, saying it’s the “most personal” nook she has written.

Actor Alec Baldwin said that he will be bringing back his famous Trump impersonation to “Saturday Night Live” this fall.

Trump’s business will be paid millions of dollars to release the owner of a Toronto hotel complex from using his name.

The stock value of the Australian biotech firm Rep. Chris Collins championed to fellow lawmakers plummeted today, costing the New York Republican $17 million as investigators continue probing his relationship with the firm.

A pro-Trump outside group is stepping up its attacks on GOP Sen. Dean Heller over his opposition to the Obamacare repeal plan — a stunning act of retribution against a politically vulnerable member of the president’s own party.

House intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes said he is still being “fully read-in” on the House Russia investigation and can retake control of the probe at any time, if he wanted to. But for now, he’s staying away.

Maurice Hinchey, who served the Hudson Valley for 38 years as a state assemblyman and congressman, has frontotemporal degeneration, a rare and terminal neurological disorder, his family announced.

The governor signed a bill into law that permits wine ice cream to be sold in smaller containers.

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, has added to his legal team one of the nation’s most prominent trial lawyers, Abbe D. Lowell, his lawyers said. (Lowell once represented former state Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno).

By focusing on quality-of-life issues, Republican New York City mayoral candidate and assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis is highlighting concerns about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s management capabilities that have dogged him during his first term.

Katie Wilson, an Essex County Democrat, is planning a challenge to Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik, next year, making her the second Democrat to enter the NY-21 race well in advance of the midterm elections.

De Blasio said he “does not see” Rikers Island being closed ahead of the 10-year time frame he proposed in his recently unveiled plan to shut down the sprawling detention complex, though he would be “surprised pleasantly that changes are happening quicker.”

Activists and voters in Jackson Heights slammed Sen. Jose Peralta for declining to show up at a town hall meeting they held last night at the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights, and in his absence, turned the event into a briefing on what they said were Peralta and the IDC’s failures in Albany.

The largely ambitious Saranac Lakes Wild Forest unit management plan includes a few cases of the state simply acknowledging what many people already use.

Happy 90th to a NYC icon, (the) Strand bookstore.

Here and Now

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

So far, state lawmakers have no plans to return to Albany to address unfinished business, though there’s a report the governor will be calling a special session as early as tomorrow – specifically to address mayoral control of the NYC school system, which sunsets Friday at midnight.

The bill Cuomo would reportedly send to the Legislature would extend NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s control of the schools for a single year, and would not include any other issues – like charter schools, which the Senate GOP has been pushing, or a measure to rename the new Tappan Zee Bridge in honor of his late father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo – because the governor reportedly wants to “keep it clean.”

There would, however, be a separate bill in which Cuomo seeks an agreement to allow some police officers, firefighters and members of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, which includes corrections officers, to qualify for enhanced accidental disability pension benefits, according to an anonymous administration official who spoke to the New York Times.

That’s a measure Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Brooklyn Sen. Marty Golden tried unsuccessfully to get passed earlier this year.

In Albany today, Carl Paladino is scheduled to take the stand in the state Education Department hearing on a petition to remove him from the Buffalo School Board, as is board member Larry Quinn, a Paladino ally.

In D.C. this morning, President Donald Trump will speak with President Emmanuel Macron of France, meet with National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, and then speak with Prime Minister Leo Varadkar of Ireland.

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


The U.S. Supreme Court cleared much of President Donald Trump’s travel ban to take effect this week and agreed to hear arguments in the fall, giving the president at least partial vindication for his claims of sweeping power over the nation’s borders.

Trump called the decision a “clear victory for our national security.” The ban on people entering the U.S. from six mostly Muslim countries can be applied for now to everyone except people who have a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

Refugee admissions, which were the main source of new residents moving to Buffalo and other upstate cities in recent years, could slow dramatically as a result of the court’s decision.

The White House charged late yesterday that Syria seemed to be making preparations for a chemical attack and warned strongman Bashar Assad that he and his regime “will pay a heavy price” for any mass slaughter of civilians.

The Senate Republican health care bill would leave 22 million more Americans uninsured in 2026 than under President Barack Obama’s health care law, the Congressional Budget Office estimated, in a blow to GOP leaders’ hopes of pushing the plan through the chamber this week.

Two Republicans – Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky – that they would vote against even debating the health care bill, joining Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, who made the same pledge on Friday. Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson hinted that he, too, would probably oppose taking up the bill on a procedural vote expected as early as Tuesday, meaning a collapse could be imminent.

Then-candidate Trump was “joking” when he publicly asked Russia to hack Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said.

Three CNN employees have handed in their resignations over a retracted story linking Trump to Russia, the network announced.

Lynne Patton, a longtime Trump ally named chief of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s regional office in New York and New Jersey, is defending her qualifications.

The U.S. Supreme Court broke for its summer recess without an anticipated retirement announcement from the 80-year-old Justice Anthony Kennedy. He could still make the call at any time, but the last day was seen as the most likely time.

Day three of the hearing to remove Carl Paladino from the Buffalo School Board began with School Superintendent Kriner Cash taking the stand and testifying that Paladino’s public comments about the teacher contract hurt the district and its future contact negotiations. He was one of two witnesses, and was questioned for three hours.

In response to a request made by three newspapers – The Buffalo News, the NY Post and the NY Daily News – court documents that have been kept secret in the legal fight between law partners Ross M. Cellino Jr. and Stephen E. Barnes will soon be unsealed, State Supreme Court Judge Deborah A. Chimes stated.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo told the state’s members of Congress that he would propose a “Faso-Collins” tax on counties to make up for the loss of county funding for Medicaid under an amendment proposed by Reps. John Faso and Chris Collins.

Amid considerable unfinished business in Albany, Cuomo held a campaign fundraiser in Manhattan that was headlined by former VP Joe Biden.

“It’s not enough to criticize the current administration,” Cuomo said without mentioning Trump by name. “What we (Democrats) have to demonstrate in this country is we got the message in November and that we have reconnected with the middle class.”

More >


The U.S. Senate bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act would increase the number of people without health insurance by 22 million by 2026, a figure that is only slightly lower than the 23 million more uninsured that the House version would create, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that a part of President Trump’s refugee and travel ban can go into effect, while agreeing to hear the constitutional merits of the entire ban this fall.

Trump welcomed the ruling, calling it a “victory for our national security.”

The court will also hear an appeal from a Colorado baker with religious objections to same-sex marriage who had lost a discrimination case for refusing to create a cake to celebrate such a union.

In addition, the nation’s highest court rejected yet another call to decide whether Americans have a constitutional right to carry guns with them outside their homes.

Also denied by the court: a petition by East Hampton Town officials to review a lower court ruling that nullified airport curfew laws.

With just a few days before an anticipated vote, Senate Republicans released a revised version of their Obamacare repeal legislation that adds a continuous coverage requirement to the draft bill they unveiled last week.

Senior presidential adviser Ivanka Trump said she tries to steer clear of politics, while lavishing praise on her dad and giving him an “A, of course.”

Since her father won last year’s presidential election, the First Daughter’s company has filed trademark requests with U.S. officials for branded lingerie, lounge wear and athletic apparel.

Though the new head of HUD’s New York and New Jersey office, Lynne Patton, was criticized for her lack of housing experience, she says her experience was much like that of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, who held the position in the 90s.

There’s a lifeguard chair named after former VP Joe Biden.

If closes its deal with Whole Foods Market, the high-end grocery store for which CEO Jeff Bezos has announced a bid, the e-commerce giant would be set to increase its access to taxpayer money — potentially channeling billions in federal funding to the world’s second-richest man.

One day after the Pride March in Manhattan, Commissioner James O’Neill declined to apologize on behalf of the New York Police Department for the nearly four-decades-old clash that sparked the gay rights movement.

The Gay City News ran an op-ed calling out NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio for his handling of the opioid epidemic.

Amid a mounting downstate transit crisis, Amtrak CEO Wick Moorman is stepping down at the end of the year, and will be replaced by former Delta CEO Richard Anderson.

Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud had an abrupt response for anyone calling him to fire a vocal, radically liberal professor: “No,” Syverud wrote in an email to the campus community last week.

Former Republican state Sen. Michael Balboni has been confirmed as a member of the board of trustees of the New York Power Authority and to the state Canal Corporation board of directors.

For the second year in a row, several people interfered with an effort to reduce the deer population in Fayetteville earlier this year, according to a USDA report to the village.

An obsessed stalker was busted after Kansas cops told the NYPD he was on his way to the city to take home the love of his life — former Miss New York and Fox News panelist Joanne Nosuchinsky.

The Onondaga County Justice Center and two civil rights organizations have reached an agreement to curb the use of solitary confinement as a punishment for 16- and 17-year-olds held there.

A battle is brewing between brokers and some residents, activists and lawmakers over what to call a section of Harlem.

Here’s some video of U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer dancing. You’re welcome.

For the second time in weeks a rare occurrence has been discovered, this time in Wilton. A lobster, with a rare genetic defect that makes the lobster orange in color. (The first was found in Latham).

Also, here’s a raccoon riding the NYC subway.

There’s a duck ramp on the Empire State Plaza.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule. The Legislature is out of session with no plans – yet – to return to Albany this summer.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio today will visit a facility on Rikers Island and meet with correction officers and staff – an event that is closed to members of the press.

In D.C. today, Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump will lunch with U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley.

In the afternoon, the president and First Lady Melania Trump will welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India.

Pence will then join Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma for a listening session with victims of Obamacare, and later will attend an expanded bilateral meeting, joint statements, and dinner with Trump and Modi.

At 8 a.m., NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill will address the NYC Affairs Committee of the NYC Bar Association, 42 West 44th St., Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., Rep. Adriano Espaillat will hold a press conference in opposition to recent efforts to rename Harlem, next door to the Apollo Theater located at 253 W. 125th St., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., Cardinal Dolan holds a “White Mass” to honor and bless NYC healthcare workers during “these uncertain times” for care providers and people who need care, St Patrick’s Cathedral, 5th Avenue and 50th Street, Manhattan.

At 10:45 p.m., GOP NYC mayoral candidate Paul Massey launches a Green Growth greenways/infrastructure proposal, Crotona Park, Fulton Avenue and Crotona Park North, the Bronx.

At 11 a.m., three days ahead of the June 29th start date for statewide ridesharing, Sen. David Carlucci will come together with local officials and anti-drunk driving activists to encourage the use of ridesharing over the July 4th weekend, Veterans Plaza, Corner of Main and Cedar streets, Nyack.

At 11:30 a.m., a funeral will be held for the late veteran journalist Gabe Pressman, Riverside Memorial Chapel, 180 W 76th St., Manhattan.

At 12:15 p.m., LG Kathy Hochul visits Harlem businesses with Sen. Brian Benjamin, starting at Melba’s, 300 West 114th St., Manhattan; and ending at the Harlem Business Alliance, 252 Malcolm X Blvd.

At 12:45 p.m., the hearing in the case of Buffalo City School District Board of Education v. Carl Paladino, state Department of Education continues, Regents Room, 89 Washington Ave., Albany.

At 1:15 p.m., Hochul tours Hot Bread Kitchen in La Marqueta, 1590 Park Ave., Manhattan.

At 2:30 p.m., Hochul delivers opening remarks at a NYC pay equity hearing, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. State Building, 163 West 125th St., Manhattan.

At 5:30 p.m., Massey meets and greets voters at a “Meet Paul Massey” event hosted by Bronx GOP, American Legion, 3035 Corlear Ave., the Bronx.

At 6 p.m., Sens. Andrea Stewart-Cousins and George Latimer and Assembly members Gary Pretlow and Shelley Mayer host a forum set to answer questions about the new Excelsior Scholarship, PC4 Yonkers, 16 Warburton Ave., Yonkers.

At 6:30 p.m., Queens Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal hosts a clean energy forum to provide constituents with information on what they can do to help reduce New York City’s carbon footprint, Rutgers Presbyterian Church, 236 W. 73rd St., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., Boyd Melson launches his campaign to challenge Staten Island GOP Rep. Dan Donovan, 445 Lafayette St., Apt. 16B, Manhattan.

Also at 7 p.m., de Blasio appears on NY1’s “Road to City Hall.”

Also at 7 p.m., the Ernest Skinner Political Association and Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams host a forum with several NYC mayoral candidates, Clarendon Road Church, 3304 Clarendon Rd., Brooklyn.

Also at 7 p.m., ctizens and community activists in District 13 host a town hall for state Sen. Jose Peralta, Jewish Center of Jackson Heights, 37-06 77th St. Queens.


Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara tweeted vaguely about a potential return to the public sector some day.

Bharara will announce today that he’s becoming an executive vice president at his younger brother’s media firm, Some Spider Studios.

He will write articles and also host a podcast called “Stay Tuned With Preet,” which will debut in a few months.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has embarked on an unprecedented campaign to put the stamp of the State Police on New York City, rerouting troopers to city airports and toll plazas from upstate areas that rely on them and bewildering some of the officials charged with carrying out his orders.

Cuomo is set to propose a tax on counties that would take effect if Congress enacts a health care provision to shift the $2.3 billion local share of Medicaid outside New York City on to the state.

Cuomo’s pledge to make government work and his knack for easing partisan gridlock are facing new headwinds ahead of his re-election campaign next year. The governor ended his seventh legislative session last week with important matters unresolved and lawmakers pointing fingers.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg will announce today that he’s throwing his financial might into helping beleaguered American mayors, creating a $200 million philanthropic program aimed at backing inventive policies at the city level and giving mayors a stronger hand in national politics.

U.S. Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill as opposition continued to build inside and outside Congress, and as several Republican senators questioned whether it would be approved this week.

President Trump’s son Eric took a jab at Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom Perez by calling him a “nut job.”

Trump confirmed reports he called the House health care bill “mean,” and said former President Barack Obama used the word “meanness” in describing the measure because he did it first.

Trump said he doesn’t think congressional Republicans are “that far off” on a health overhaul to replace “the dead carcass of Obamacare.” He also he complained about “the level of hostility” in government and wondered why both parties can’t work together on the Senate bill as GOP critics expressed doubt over a successful vote this week.

Trump broke with 20 years of White House tradition by opting not to host a dinner to mark the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting and reflection.

Russia is reportedly recalling Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, the man who has emerged as a focal point in the FBI probe into Russia’s election meddling.

Websites belonging to ​the Long Island town of Brookhaven and the Ohio state government were hacked ​Sunday to broadcast ISIS propaganda.

More >

The Weekend That Was

Just as NYC Pride festivities got underway today, Gov. Andrew Cuomo had some timely news to announce: The artist Anthony Goicolea had been chosen to design the first official monument to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people commissioned by the state.

Speaking alongside New York’s newest and first openly gay judge on the state’s highest court, Cuomo praised Paul Feinman’s legal experience and also marked the occasion of his appointment to New York Court of Appeals on the same day as New York City’s annual Pride March.

Politicians, celebrities and local organizations were some of the record-breaking 40,000 marchers in the celebration to conclude June’s plethora of Pride Month events.

President Trump today accused former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton of colluding with her party to defeat her primary opponent Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Trump appeared to confirm Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election while suggesting the Obama administration knew of Russian interference long before voters took to the polls.

Russia “meddled” in last year’s presidential election as part of a decades-long effort to “undermine American democracy,” CIA Director Mike Pompeo said.

Deep cuts to Medicaid, on which the Senate and House seem to agree, could force some seniors out of nursing homes.

While the House bill includes Medicaid changes that are expected to eventually cost the state $7 billion annually, most experts said it’s too soon to predict exactly how much more the Senate bill would cost, though it’s no doubt the Senate bill would be worse for New York.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Scottish actress Louise Linton exchanged vows Saturday night in a Washington wedding officiated by Vice President Pence. The president and first lady were among the guests.

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee leaders on Friday said they are seeking information about former Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s alleged interference in Clinton’s private email investigation.

In a tweet, Clinton said the GOP would be “the death party” if the health care bill passes the Senate.

An adviser to Trump’s campaign who called for Clinton to be shot visited the White House just hours before the White House press secretary Sean Spicer denounced a play for seemingly urging violence against the president.

As the end of the U.S. Supreme Court term approaches, rumors of retirement have ramped up around Justice Anthony Kennedy, a pivotal judge who often bridges a gap on the bench between conservatives and liberals.

CNN has retracted a bombshell story that linked a high-profile Trump ally, Anthony Scaramucci, to a Kremlin-connected bank.

A secretive Washington firm that commissioned a dubious intelligence dossier on Trump is stonewalling congressional investigators trying to learn more about its connections to the Democratic Party.

Sanders and his wife Jane have lawyered up in the midst of a federal investigation involving a loan that led to the bankruptcy of the college where she was president.

Military chiefs will seek a six-month delay before letting transgender people enlist in their services, officials said Friday.

Ivanka Trump must testify in a dispute with an Italian shoemaker over one of her company’s shoe designs, a judge said.

Cuomo and the state Democratic Party kicked off a summer-long statewide voter registration drive Sunday at the Pride March in NYC as part of the governor’s “New York Fights Back” campaign targeting six House Republicans.

Bo Dietl, a retired NYPD detective and former Fox News contributor is now immersed in a sideshow-like bid for mayor of New York City, has had some high-profile private investigator clients.

Charter schools could seek to grab a bigger hold on the New York City education system if a law giving the mayor control over the schools is allowed to expire.

As NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio warns of “chaos and corruption” that could return if control of city schools reverts to the Board of Education, experts explain the differences and why they believe mayoral control is better in the city.

State lawmakers doled out $52 million in pork-barrel grants before leaving Albany, including $500,000 for a solar-powered carousel in Buffalo and more than $29 million to local schools and libraries, according to the Empire Center for Public Policy.

This year’s legislative session ended on a distinctly sour note, with Cuomo accusing lawmakers of “dereliction of duty.” But the session didn’t begin that well, either.

Many opponents of the Child Victims Act – a measure to make it easier for child sex abuse survivors to bring cases as adults – preferred operating in the shadows at the state Capitol, leaving the heavy lifting of fighting the bill publicly to the Catholic Church.

Grand Island supervisor Nate McMurray is standing with many other elected officials from Western New York, calling on Cuomo to either remove the tolls or make them cashless, to ease traffic congestion.

Carl Paladino is using his foes’ attempts to have him removed from office as a platform to air his grievances about the Buffalo schools, essentially shifting the spotlight off of himself and onto the many problems he’s criticized since he was first elected.

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia is no stranger to the antics of the Buffalo School Board, and in her brief time as New York State’s top educator has already conveyed she does not intend to tolerate any of its nonsense.

De Blasio has sought to position New York City as a leader in the fight against climate change, but even as he has committed to quickly come up with an aggressive plan to further reduce its greenhouse gas emissions, the agency that is supposed to lead that effort is in flux.

Backed by $750 million in taxpayer money, the nearly $1 billion Solar City factory is the centerpiece Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion economic development initiative and meant to be a beacon of hope for an economically depressed city. But when will it open – if at all?

The state Department of Health is boosting New York’s medical marijuana program to meet growing demand. Effective immediately, nurse practitioners can register online and certify patients the same day.

Cuomo’s pardon of a World Trade Center disaster worker fighting deportation to Colombia after a drug conviction is the latest example of politicians trying to rescue individuals from their immigration problems, but the mixed and unpredictable results make it unlikely to become a common occurrence.

The State Police quietly probed mistreatment of female recruits and found evidence of inappropriate conduct, but never made that public and closed the inquiry, raising questions about whether the allegations were fully investigated or covered up.

The Long Island Rail Road’s anti-fraud custom of listing “M” and “F” genders on fare cards discriminates against transgender people and should be stopped, according to New York City Public Advocate Letitia James.

A teenager fell from a stopped gondola ride at Six Flags Amusement Park Saturday night, tumbling into a crowd of park guests and employees gathered below in an effort to catch the victim before she hit the ground. She’s in stable condition with no serious injuries.

The NYT approves of Cuomo’s decision to bring back Joe Lhota to run the MTA, but says his effort to take more control of the authority’s board is “not needed” and ” distraction.”

Also from the NYT: “For shooting themselves in the collective foot, Albany’s leaders could not have chosen a more effective method than their failure Wednesday night to extend Mayor Bill de Blasio’s control over New York City schools for at least another year.”

While Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority fees charged to ride-hailing companies’ customers at Buffalo’s airport are new, taxis have been paying for access to the Buffalo airport for years. So have parking lot shuttles, limousines and other ground transportation companies.

The Staten Island Advance and former Rep. Michael Grimm air their differences over the paper’s coverage of his trials an tribulations.

The design team building the 630-foot-high ferris wheel on Staten Island’s north shore got into a bitter pay dispute with the developer — and walked off the job in late May. The project has since ground to a halt.

A fourth Democrat is seeking the party’s nomination to vie for the 23rd House seat occupied by incumbent Republican Tom Reed of Corning: Eddie Sundquist, a native of Jamestown, Chautauqua County.


Senator Dean Heller of Nevada, perhaps the most vulnerable Republican facing re-election in 2018, said today he would not support the newly-released Senate health care overhaul as written, dealing a blow to his party’s attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton urged supporters to “speak out” against Senate Republicans’ healthcare overhaul bill, casting the matter as a choice of “people over politics.”

The Senate’s version of the American Health Care Act would cost New York’s Medicaid program billions of dollars over the next decade, putting Albany in the position of having to choose between raising taxes or cutting services and programs for hundreds of thousands.

Bill Hammond: “The U.S. Senate GOP’s health bill, though pitched as more moderate than the House plan, would be harder on New York in at least one respect. The Senate’s discussion draft…would impose a tighter Medicaid funding limit on the highest-spending states – New York among them – while being relatively generous to the lowest-spending states.”

President Trump thinks special counselor Robert Mueller’s friendship with fired FBI Director James Comey “is very bothersome.”

Trump’s warning last month that his conversations with Comey might have been taped was an attempt to affect Comey’s public statements and his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee, the president admitted.

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise is no longer in the intensive care unit at MedStar Washington Hospital Center, officials said.

U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee leaders said they are seeking information about former attorney general Loretta Lynch’s alleged efforts to stifle the FBI’s investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of State.

The White House has been prohibiting cameras at some press briefings, so CNN got creative today and sent a sketch artist.

Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was a guest on the Daily Show.

Cuomo is poised to veto a $90 million relief package for Lake Ontario flood victims and municipalities unless lawmakers agree to make changes to the program.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says he plans to put serious heat on state legislators beginning Monday to renew his control over city schools, saying the ramifications of not doing so would be catastrophic.

Syracuse University today became the fifth school in Central New York to confirm it’s opting out of a new state program that provides tuition aid to students at private colleges and university.

Three cities will host hearings beginning next week to discuss the economic impact of the gender wage gap in New York.

Food & Wine, the glossy, chef-focused food magazine, is moving from New York to Birmingham, Ala., joining a stable of other publications owned by Time Inc. that includes Cooking Light and Southern Living.

RIP Gabe Pressman, the senior correspondent for WNBC-TV and the indefatigable dean of New York City’s TV reporters, who chased breaking news and covered politics, protests and parades for more than six decades. He has died at the age of 93.

Shaking the (Political) Money Tree

In case you needed more proof of the nexus between political cash and legislative action, the folks over at NYPIRG have put together a handy – and lengthy – list of fundraisers held during the just-ended 2017 session.

The list includes events held by rank-and-file members in the shadow of the state Capitol, and also a handful of fundraisers hosted elsewhere (outside the City of Albany, that is) by legislative leaders, which tend to be a higher priority for the sort of people (lobbyists, etc.) who attend these sorts of shindigs in hopes of influencing policy.

In other words, this isn’t a complete tally of every single fundraiser held by state lawmakers over he past six months, but it’s enough to provide a good idea of how the public’s business and politics mix between January and April.

There have been a number of proposals over the years as part of various different campaign finance reform packages that would prevent lawmakers from holding fundraisers on session days in the immediate vicinity of the Capitol. But, as you know, there hasn’t been any significant movement 5o speak of on the campaign finance reform front for years.

Albany Money Machine June 2017 by liz_benjamin6490 on Scribd

Here and Now

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

In D.C. this morning, President Donald Trump will meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, and then later again with Tillerson and also Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

Later, the president will sign the Department of Veterans Affairs Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act of 2017.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is in Miami Beach, Florida to participate in the U.S. Conference of Mayors’ 85th annual meeting.

At 8:30 a.m., NYC Councilman Jumaane Williams delivers remarks at P.S. 119’s graduation, 3829 Avenue K, Brooklyn.

At 10 a.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina speaks at the George Washington Educational Campus graduation, Campus Auditorium
549 Audubon Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., Williams delivers remarks at the Midwood High School Graduation, Kings Theatre, 1027 Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn.

Also at 10 a.m., the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, with support from the New York City Council, Assembly and state Senate, presents Brooklyn Eats, the borough’s largest food and beverage trade show, New York Marriott, 333 Adams St., Brooklyn.

At 10:30 a.m., de Blasio will deliver remarks at the Politico “What Works Miami” breakfast, Pompeii Room, Eden Roc Miami Beach Hotel, 4525 Collins Ave.

At 11 a.m., de Blasio delivers remarks Ocean Promenade West (Upper Lobby Level), Fontainebleau Miami Beach, 4441 Collins Ave., Florida.

Also at 11 a.m., more than 100 striking beer delivery Teamsters from Long Island will rally and hold a press conference outside Anheuser-Busch’s Newark brewery, 200 U.S. Highway 1, Newark, NJ.

At 11:30 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul visits volunteers at the 5th Annual CUNY Citizenship NOW! Immigration Hotline, John Jay College, 524 West 59th St., 3rd Floor, Manhattan.

At 1:25 p.m., U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Agriculture Committee, will tour Capital Roots Urban Grow Center and hold a press conference urging the Senate to reject the Trump administration’s budget proposal to cut SNAP benefits for low-income families, 594 River St., Troy.

At 2 p.m., NYC Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan, elected officials and community rally to reopen FDNY Engine Company 261, Former Engine Company 261 Firehouse, 37-20 29th St., Queens.

At 2:45 p.m., de Blasio will deliver remarks at the Metro Economies standing committee meeting, Lucali, 1930 Bay Rd., Miami Beach, Florida.

At 5 p.m., de Blasio will speak at the SEIU Investing in Airport Workers Event with SEIU President Mary Kay Henry, Room Splash 11/12 (Upper Lobby Level), Fontainebleau Miami Beach, 4441 Collins Ave., Florida.

At 6 p.m., Williams attends Brooklyn Community Board 17 Park Committee’s Annual Summer Variety Concert, Paerdegat Park, Brooklyn.


U.S. Senate Republicans finally released their secretive bill to repeal Obamacare after weeks of backroom negotiations — and it was immediately slammed as “heartless” by Democrats and too soft by hardline conservatives.

The measure encountered immediate trouble as four GOP senators said they opposed it but were open to negotiations.

The Faso-Collins amendment, a provision that would require New York state to pick up the counties’ share of Medicaid costs, has been included in the Senate bill.

Former president Barack Obama posted a nearly 1,000-word critique of the Senate health-care bill on Facebook, warning, “This bill will do you harm.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo trashed the U.S. Senate health care bill as an “ultra-conservative assault on New Yorkers and our values” that could hit the state hard, financially speaking.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand delivered a blistering critique of the latest health-care proposal that Senate Republicans, calling its Medicaid funding cuts “galling” and “a cruel joke” and vowing to do “everything in my power to prevent this bill from becoming law.”

The House intelligence committee next week plans to interview John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign chairman whose hacked email account became central to Russian meddling in the US election last year, according to multiple sources familiar with the matter.

Last night, Trump, First Lady Melanie Trump and members of Congress piled onto the South Lawn of the White House for POTUS’ first congressional picnic, which featured charcoal made in Mexico.

Trump has nominated New York Jets owner Woody Johnson to become the U.S. ambassador to Britain, with his brother Christopher Johnson set take over day-to-day operations of the team in his absence.

Though top issues remain undone, Cuomo insisted the session had been “tremendously productive,” adding: “It would be silly to say we’re going to be able to work out every issue…We did the budget on time. We had a tremendous amount of successes.”

Cuomo said he’s disappointed lawmakers have ended their session without loosening the statute of limitations for molestation to give victims more time to report abuse.

Cuomo blamed the failure to get a mayoral control deal on the Assembly Democrats, and said the fact that lawmakers left Albany without an agreement was a “dereliction of duty.”

“If they go home and they’re not assaulted by the residents of their district and chased back to Albany, then, yes, I would call a special session,” the governor told reporters at a press conference in the state Capitol’s Red Room.

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