Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in the New York City area with no public schedule. The Legislature is not in session.

It should be a relatively quiet day (famous last words, and pending a big holiday weekend/Friday news dump) as folks stretch Memorial Day weekend from three days to four.

At 7:40 a.m., NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), will appear live on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

At 9 a.m., Medgar Evers College of the City University of New York holds its 45th annual commencement ceremony, with a keynote address from political strategist and Democratic National Committee Vice Chair Donna Brazile, who also receives an honorary degree, Barclays Center, 620 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn.

At 10 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blaso will appear live on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show to discuss the Memorial Day weekend, the new Taxi and Limousine Commission driver fatigue rules, tenant protection and the newly trained correction officers. He also will be taking questions from listeners.

Also at 10 a.m., NYC Council President Melissa Mark-Viverito and Councilman Mark Levine give out free re-usable bags to create awareness about the over-consumption of plastic grocery bags, 136th Street and Hamilton Place, Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson participates in special naturalization ceremony at Ellis Island for 62 citizenship candidates from 39 countries, held in honor of Memorial Day and as one of 100 naturalization ceremonies held in national parks this year in honor of the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary.

At 11:30 a.m., de Blasio will appear on AM 710 WOR. (Pre-taped appearance).

At noon, de Blasio will on AM 1280’s Radio WADO. (Pre-taped appearance).

At 1 p.m., NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver, state Sens. Joe Addabbo and James Sanders, and NYC Councilmen Eric Ulrich and Donovan Richards celebrate the upcoming opening of Rockaway Beach for the swimming season, Rockaway Beach Boardwalk, 94th Street Plaza, Queens.

At 12:30 p.m., NYC Councilman Barry Grodenchik and Queens Library President and CEO Dennis Walcott participate in Queens Library’s story time and advocacy rally, Glen Oaks Library, 256-04 Union Turnpike, Queens.

At 4:30 p.m., in response to a tragic recent shooting, IDC Leader Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, the Pelham Parkway Residents Council, and Stand Up to Violence will rally against gun violence at the Throggs Neck Houses, 810 Astor Ave., the Bronx.

Headlines…

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has increased his investigation of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, conducting a raid yesterday afternoon at an office once used by Todd Howe – a veteran lobbyist who has ties to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, his family and his inner circle.

Even as independent investigator Bart Schwartz’s presence is held up as a measure of confidence in the Cuomo administration and the state’s vast economic development apparatus, several questions remain about Schwartz’s role and power.

Large gaps in New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s schedule are now filled with private meetings and calls away from City Hall since multiple investigations into his fundraising and administration began, according to documents and people familiar with the matter.

After ducking reporters for more than a week, de Blasio Mayor de Blasio emerged to defend his much-maligned decision to withhold communications with five confidants outside the government, calling it “appropriate” and “based on legal guidance.”

Cuomo announced that $36 million has been invested to restore the aging infrastructure at Jones Beach and other state parks. The governor criticized past neglect while praising the beach’s art deco buildings and touting the completed restoration of the West Bathhouse, which was originally built in 1931.

Cadavers at N.Y.U.’s medical school that were supposed to be cremated were buried in a potter’s field, in a practice the university admitted had gone on for years.

Advocates for homeless people filed a complaint with New York City’s Civil Rights Commission accusing the Police Department of targeting people living on the street, a practice they say violates a two-year-old law that prohibits “bias-based profiling.”

New York City can go ahead and enforce its requirement that chain restaurants post warnings about high-sodium menu items, an appeals court has ruled.

President Obama arrived in Hiroshima, Japan, today, beginning a historic visit that he hopes will bolster an important ally and emphasize the dangers of nuclear weapons.

Donald Trump pledged to make the United States fully energy independent as president by reducing U.S. dependence on foreign oil and rolling back environmental regulations restricting oil and natural gas exploration.

Trump has provisionally accepted Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ proposal to debate, but the billionaire is setting a high price for participating. His condition: The hosting TV network would have to put up millions of dollars for charity.

State Department officials proposed setting up a separate computer system to accommodate former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to new testimony released yesterday.

Unable to shake what has become a lingering distraction for her campaign, Clinton played down a report from the State Department’s inspector general that criticized her use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.

Clinton and her advisers have offered a series of explanations over the last year for her decision to use a private email server as secretary of state, a decision that she said again had been a “mistake,” including the claim that she was not comfortable with using a computer to read email, preferring to use her BlackBerry.

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Extras

Hours after reaching the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, Donald Trump thanked North Dakota for putting him “over the top,” and poked fun at Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton for not being able to “close the deal.”

The possibility of appearing to pander is among the reasons Trump would be unlikely to pick a woman or a minority as his vice presidential running mate, his campaign chairman says.

A retired senior State Department military adviser claims Clinton’s “sloppy communications with her senior staff” when she was secretary of state may have compromised at least two counterterrorism operations. Clinton’s spokesman Nick Merrill called the allegations “patently false.”

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said that the culture surrounding the “gangsta rap world” creates the atmosphere that led to the fatal shooting at a Manhattan concert hall.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s inquiry into the state Department of Public Service has reportedly broadened in recent days.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took an unusually personal role in raising money for a nonprofit group backing his political agenda, according to several people who received fundraising appeals from the mayor.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are in a tight race to win next month’s California primary, according to a new poll that shows them in a virtual tie.

Rockland District Attorney Thomas Zugibe, a member of the defunct Moreland Commission, lamented its early demise.

Gary Greenberg, a minority owner of the Vernon Downs racetrack, says he’ll spend $100,000 this year to unseat Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco and other senators who won’t pass a bill to allow child sexual abuse survivors like himself sue their abusers.

Sara Niccoli, Democratic candidate for the 46th Senate District is calling for ethics reforms including a Congressional-style limit on outside income of 15 percent.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer called on Holocaust survivors and families of victims who were deported from Nazi-occupied France through the Societé Nationale des Chemins de fer Francais rail company to file restitution claims by the U.S. State Department’s May 31 deadline.

While many large airports suffer from increasingly long lines at security checkpoints, Syracuse has managed to avoid the problem, Hancock Airport’s director told Congress.

The Indian Point 2 nuclear reactor will reopen late next month in time for the summer’s peak energy season after a longer-than-expected shutdown because of deteriorating bolts critical to the plant’s safety.

Legoland is expected to purchase land in Goshen to site its third mega theme park in North America, according to multiple state and local sources.

House Majority PAC Looks for NY Pick-Ups

From the Morning Memo:

The House Majority PAC, the leading super PAC that aims to assist the Democrats in retaking control of Congress, is feeling optimistic about its chances in New York this fall, suggesting in a new memo that at least six GOP-held seats could be flipped in the general election.

“Multiple Republican incumbents and challengers are finding their already-precarious political prospects diminishing even further as they struggle with a damaging party brand, a toxic presidential ticket-mate, and increasingly prove themselves out of touch with their own districts,” the PAC’s executive director, Alixandria Lapp, wrote in the memo being released today.

The districts in play, according to the PAC, are: NY-1, NY-19, NY-21, NY-22, NY-23, and NY-24. Two of those – NY-19 and NY-22 – are open seats, thanks to decisions by their current Republican occupants, Rep. Chris Gibson and Rep. Richard Hanna, respectively, not to seek re-election.

Lapp notes that despite the big win by presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump in New York’s April presidential primary, he’s still polling far behind his fellow New Yorker, Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, in general election head-to-head match ups.

And, according to those same polls, Trump’s favorability ratings are in the dumps. (Then again, so are Clinton’s, so perhaps that’s not the best data point to be citing).

Not all GOP candidates have wholeheartedly embraced Trump. Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin – a top Democratic target – has endorsed him, but another Republican whose district is in play this fall, freshman Rep. John Katko, of Syracuse, has declined to do so, saying the billionaire developer has to “earn” his vote.

The House Majority PAC, which was founded in 2011, has already placed airtime reservations for this fall targeting NY-1 and NY-24, though a dollar amount wasn’t immediately available. The PAC is weighing its options for further investments, a spokesman said.

In the 2012 cycle, in which Democrats won three competitive House races – including two pick-ups – the House Majority PAC spent more than $2 million, all told.

According to Lapp, the PAC this year plans to “play a significant role in helping ensure victories in House races across the Empire State.”

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Nassau County and New York City. The Legislature is not in session.

Vice President Joe Biden is in New York City today for a a roundtable discussion on cancer. He’ll also attend a fundraiser at a private residence for Sen. Russ Feingold and receive an award and deliver remarks at Intrepid’s 25th Anniversary Salute to Freedom Gala.

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

Headlines…

A 33-year-old man was killed and three other people were wounded when gunfire broke out during a rap concert at Irving Plaza in Manhattan last night, sending panicked concertgoers streaming for the exits, the police and witnesses said

A state control board approved $485 million in funding to complete the SolarCity project in Buffalo, although not without imposing additional scrutiny over how the money is spent in the months ahead.

Assembly representatives requested additional oversight measures of the project, including monthly updates on the project from Fort Schuyler Management Corp. — a development arm of SUNY Polytechnic Institute — as well as the Empire State Development Corp. board and the PACB.

SolarCity’s huge upfront costs are the main reason why the company regularly loses money. It recently reported a $215 million quarterly loss at a time it earned only $113 million, and analysts don’t expect the company to become profitable anytime soon. Its growth depends on its ability to raise cash from investors.

Legislation eliminating the state “tampon tax” is now in the hands of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who plans to sign it into law. The bill eliminates feminine hygiene products — including tampons, pads and sanitary napkins — from the 4 percent state sales tax, and would also have the effect of wiping out any country sales taxes on the products.

Just in time for mosquito season, the state is launching an ad blitz to remind New Yorkers about the dangers of the Zika Virus. Cuomo’s office announced an “aggressive” campaign involving TV, radio and online ads as well as billboards and bus and subway signs.

Convening his task force on the heroin epidemic, Cuomo told Staten Islanders that he expects to get laws passed this session to address the deadly addiction that many New Yorkers have become all too familiar with.

The governor is taking on both the health insurance and pharmaceutical industries in his effort to curb the state’s surge in heroin and opioid addiction.

Cuomo says a new task force will analyze the State Fairgrounds in Onondaga County to determine if there would be an economic benefit to privatizing the fairgrounds, either partially or in full.

Billy Joel and Cuomo talk about their shared love of pasta, boating and “feeling anonymous” in a new interview with Beach magazine. The governor, who interviewed his longtime singer/songwriter friend, also revealed his the godfather to Joel’s daughter, Della Rose, who turns 1 in August.

The legislative effort to return control of NYRA to private hands left the starting gate with a bill filed by GOP Sen. John Bonacic that conforms to some, but not all, of Cuomo’s demands. One of the main differences centers on the number of appointments the governor would get on the association’s newly configured board of directors.

Bonacic wants to replace the current 17-member NYRA board with a 15-member board, with eight of the appointments controlled by the association and four of the appointments controlled by the state government. Two additional seats would be reserved for horsemen’s and breeders’ organizations, and the final seat would be filled by the association’s chief executive.

Legislation was crafted in both the state Senate and Assembly this week that would allow the sites to resume operations in New York with oversight from the state Gaming Commission. Sponsors of both measures said they are optimistic a final agreement can be reached before the Legislature ends its session on June 16.

In a move aimed at dampening the impact of “broken windows” policing, the New York City Council passed bills to create a civil process for some of the most common low-level infractions observed by police officers, including public drinking and public urination.

Elected officials are demanding NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio cough up records on pending deed restrictions, such as one that resulted in four investigations into the sale of a Lower East Side nursing home. “We’re all frustrated,” Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer said.

De Blasio has been ducking for cover while getting battered by probes and negative polls. The mayor hasn’t answered questions from the City Hall press corps in more than a week and he wasn’t even in town over a three-day weekend while visiting his brother in Seattle.

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Extras

The State Department’s inspector general has sharply criticized Hillary Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, saying she had not sought permission to use it and would not have received it if she had.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said he is still not ready to endorse Donald Trump, despite reports that he is about to back the businessman as the Republican presidential nominee.

A majority of New York City voters believe Mayor Bill de Blasio does favors for his political donors, a new Quinnipiac poll found.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he had no input into SUNY Polytechnic Institute awarding $100 million in contracts to his top campaign contributor in Central New York, COR Development.

Cuomo said he will seek bids from private companies to run the New York State Fair or to jointly run the fair with the state.

Bart Schwartz, the former federal prosecutor hired by Cuomo to investigate potential fraud in the state’s Buffalo Billion program, has retained New York City PR firm Montieth & Co.

The NYC Council passed a series of criminal justice reforms to sharply curtail the punishments for low-level offenses such as littering and peeing in public, an overhaul intended to help unclog the courts and jails of the nation’s largest city.

Three years after scandal forced the Assembly to overhaul its sexual harassment policy, victims of the old system say their careers are still suffering and wonder whether the new one will protect other women like them.

Clinton contemplated vice presidential running mates (not really) on The Ellen Show.

Carl Paladino on Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren: She’s “from that pot smoking generation that’s hallucinating at times off the planet.”

Cuomo told residents of opioid addiction-ravaged Staten Island that he considered the present-day heroin epidemic worse than the crack epidemic that tore through predominantly nonwhite New York neighborhoods during the 1980s.

Mount Sinai Beth Israel will close its existing hospital and replace it with a much smaller facility, significantly reducing the number of hospital beds in lower Manhattan.

State Assembly candidate Dean Hart plans to show up at the Nassau County Democratic Party’s nominating convention at the Cradle of Aviation in Garden City tonight with a live donkey — the symbol of the Democratic Party.

A bill sponsored by Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco would increase the fine for littering on a highway or adjacent land from $350 to $700. Conviction on a second offense would cost a person $1,400, up from $700. A same-as version of this measure is stuck in the Assembly Transportation Committee.

ICYMI: Here’s the LCA show response offered last night by the Upstate Democratic Women’s Caucus, (an entity created by Susan Arbetter), in which yours truly has a cameo.

Driving upstate with actor Viggo Mortensen, who (did you know?) is a Watertown High School and St. Lawrence University graduate.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Onondaga County and New York City. The Legislature is in session in Albany.

The Public Authorities Control Board is scheduled to vote on $485 million for the beleaguered Buffalo Billion project. (This meeting was originally supposed to take place last week, but rescheduled after questions were raised by legislative leaders).

At 12:15 p.m., Cuomo makes an announcement, New York State Fairgrounds, 601 State Fair Blvd., Syracuse.

At 3:15 p.m., Cuomo convenes a meeting of his Heroin Task Force on Staten Island, CYO-MIV Community Center, 6541 Hylan Blvd., Staten Island. (LG Kathy Hochul will also attend).

The New York City Council will vote on the Criminal Justice Reform Act, “creating more proportional penalties for certain low-level, non-violent offenses.” Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will hold a press conference prior to the Stated Meeting, 12:30 p.m., Red Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will deliver remarks at the Major Cities Chiefs Association Conference, which is closed to members of the press.

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

Headlines…

The Public Authority Control Board, controlled by the two legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is set to authorize spending another $485 million to complete a solar panel production plant, the centerpiece of Cuomo’s “Buffalo Billion” economic development program, which is under investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office.

All three men, whose representatives must unanimously agree at the meeting for the RiverBend or any other funding to be approved, yesterday sought to send positive signals about the money flow. “I think everything will be fine,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said, and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan echoed: “Every indication is that it’s going forward and it should.”

In 2013, as Cuomo ramped up his Buffalo Billion economic development program, IBM, which is playing a big role in the project, retained lobbyist Todd Howe’s firm of Whiteman Osterman & Hanna.

Federal investigators’ interest seems to lie less with whether the people of Buffalo will ultimately benefit than with those who already have: a tangle of well-connected players — including developers and frequent donors to the governor — who have feasted on Buffalo Billion money.

Deputy Senate Majority Leader John DeFrancisco said he has no idea what Preet Bharara’s investigation will uncover, but he thinks Cuomo has too much power over economic development, and he respects COR Development executive Steve Aiello.

A publicly funded investigation of possible improper conduct within Cuomo’s administration by Bart Schwartz will be released publicly unless it interferes with law enforcement, a spokesman for the governor said. (Cuomo at first told reporters the internal review would not be made public).

As Schwartz proceeds with his own probe, aspects of his role remain ambiguous, and former prosecutors said a thorough internal audit amid a federal criminal inquiry could prove challenging. There are also questions, based on past history, about Cuomo’s ability to tolerate a truly independent investigation.

With just 10 days left in the legislative session, Cuomo offered eight bills to close the “LLC loophole,” a shady way of circumventing campaign contribution limits. His strategy was intended to “smoke out the Senate,” which has killed similar bills before, sources said.

One of the bills Cuomo proposed would apply only to races for governor. “It is a menu selection,” Cuomo said, adding that the governor-only option was “to show that I’m willing to go first, and I’m willing to go it alone.”

Flanagan said in a statement that the governor’s LLC loophole plan “fails to fundamentally address the root cause of the problems that exist within our campaign finance system, most notably a lack of enforcement, a lack of transparency, and a lack of full and honest disclosure.”

According to a lawsuit filed by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office against the corporate franchiser that owns Domino’s Pizza, the computer system used by franchises across the state systematically undercounted hours worked by employees, shortchanging them hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Battered by numerous investigations of his campaign and administration, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio saw his job-approval rating in a new Q poll sink to its lowest point since he took office. Only 41 percent of voters said the mayor was doing a good job, while 52 percent said he wasn’t.

Amid ongoing investigations, de Blasio has found shelter from the political fallout in a type of direct outreach he avoided for the first half of his term: town hall meetings and call-in radio shows.

East Harlem state Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez and Brooklyn Sen. Kevin Parker are already plotting to run for NYC comptroller next year — assuming that incumbent Scott Stringer will give up the post to challenge de Blasio in a Democratic primary.

The city will face a $3.8 billion budget gap by 2019 — bigger than de Blasio is banking on, Stringer said. The comptroller projected a gap $800 million larger than the $3 billion the mayor expects that year because the city will have to shell out more on a rescue plan for public hospitals, homeless shelters, and overtime.

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Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule. The Legislature is in session.

The 116th LCA Show – “Downton Andy” – is at 7 p.m. tonight at the Empire State Convention Center. Tickets are still available.

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

Headlines…

Following his nomination at the New York Democratic Party’s executive committee meeting in Saratoga Springs, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown is poised to be officially installed as state Democratic chairman when the party reconvenes in June. He said he and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have a “solid” relationship.

Brown said he’s prepared to work 22 hours a day, if necessary, to do both his job as mayor and his new job as chairman.

The state Senate rejected an attempt, 30-29, to force a vote on legislation that would give people sexually abused as children a one-year window to sue over decades-old incidents.

Former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato urged Nassau lawmakers to halt and investigate the county Industrial Development Agency’s consideration of $109 million in tax breaks for a controversial Long Beach apartment project, making a rare appearance at a public meeting.

With its back to the wall and facing multiple investigations, the de Blasio administration is soliciting NYC Council members to issue public statements of support for the mayor.

The de Blasio administration halted gains made by some low-performing schools when it removed former Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s letter-grading system for the public schools in 2014, a study by the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research shows.

Penalties for a host of minor offenses will be eased under a sweeping package of criminal justice legislation on which the NYC Council is set to vote tomorrow.

Last week, 25 employees of Babeland, an adult toy store with three locations in New York City, voted to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. ““This is the only adult sex shop that is organized,” said RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum. “And I think that’s significant.”

The state must cough up $13 million in aid for struggling public schools, including nearly $4 million earmarked for city schools, advocates claim in a letter sent to the Cuomo administration.

The nine correction officers who are on trial in the July 2012 beating of an inmate at Rikers Island, New York City’s main jail complex, will not be telling their side of the story in court.

More than 50 years after its controversial creation, the University at Buffalo Foundation remains a source of argument and misunderstanding as it operates in relative secrecy.

Former President Bill Clinton, campaigning for his wife ahead of the June 7 California primary, urged Democrats to “relax” about her general election prospects, even though polls show her running even with, or even slightly behind, Donald Trump.

Hillary Clinton declined to debate her primary rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, in California, preferring instead to focus on Trump and the general elections.

Trump holds his first official campaign fundraiser with the RNC tonight in New Mexico. Tickets are $10,000 a pop.

Trump has begun vetting potential VP running mates.

Former President Jimmy Carter, who has long put religion and racial reconciliation at the center of his life, is on a mission to heal a racial divide among Baptists and help the country soothe rifts that he believes are getting worse.

The acquittal of a Baltimore police officer charged in the arrest of Freddie Gray, the black man who suffered a fatal spinal cord injury while in police custody last year, immediately renewed questions of whether any of the six police officers charged in the case would be convicted in connection with his death.

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Extras

Virginia Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe is the subject of an ongoing investigation by the FBI and prosecutors from the Justice Department’s public integrity unit. As part of the probe, investigators have scrutinized McAuliffe’s time as a board member of the Clinton Global Initiative, a vehicle of the charitable foundation set up by former President Bill Clinton.

Nebraskans are discussing a third-party run by their senator, Ben Sasse, after a Sunday Washington Post/ABC News poll revealed an unprecedented amount of dislike for the major party frontrunners: Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Staten Island Rep. Dan Donovan, the only Republican representing New York City in Washington, said he is prepared to campaign for Trump in the five boroughs.

The Democratic Party is calling for party unity amid heightened tensions between Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’s supporters and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the Democratic National Committee chairwoman.

The leader of the state corrections officers union is urging members to boycott the Watertown Daily Times and the newspaper published a story last Thursday on abuse allegations at a northern New York prison.

The state Gaming Commission has approved a standardized table of penalties for outlets that wrongfully serve underage gamblers. The penalties range from written warnings for lottery ticket retailers involved in a first violation, to $25,000 for un-escorted minors in Video lottery terminal parlors, race tracks or OTB tele-theaters.

The NYC Correction union headed by Norman Seabrook is being taken to court for barring a foe from trying to unseat him in next month’s election.

National Grid’s electric and natural gas delivery rates will remain frozen where they are for the next two years, the state Public Service Commission announced today.

RIP Nicholas “Nick” DiNapoli, father of state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, who died at the age of 92 yesterday.

President Barack Obama took a detour on his Asia trip today when he dined with celebrity chef and adventurous eater Anthony Bourdain in Vietnam. Their meal and conversation will be featured in a September episode of CNN’s “Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown.” (Their meal cost $6 U.S.)

Even though it is not here now, one type of mosquito that can transmit Zika virus may eventually migrate to Central New York, according to a mosquito-borne disease expert at Upstate Medical Univerity.

The company Assemblyman Bill Nojay used to be paid for campaign work for Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren’s 2013 primary race and a second firm he co-owned that’s embroiled in a multimillion-dollar lawsuit, were not listed on his annual financial disclosure forms.

Consistent with New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision initiative, the New York Independent System Operator today announced new market rules that will enable certain on-site generation resources to participate in New York’s wholesale electricity markets.

Road and bridge construction on state highways will be suspended for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.

The New York City Council is expected to approve legislation Wednesday to reduce penalties for violations such as urinating in public, having open containers of alcohol and littering.

Nassau Town Supervisor David Fleming said Kinder Morgan has withdrawn its application to run the NED Pipeline through the town.

Rep. Brian Higgins called on the state Department of Transportation to formally assess alternative transportation routes to Buffalo’s Skyway – the elevated highway along the downtown waterfront.

Twitter recently had to combat a pornbot that hacked the Twitter account of the late David Carr, the renowned The New York Time’s reporter who had a sudden death in February 2015 at the age of 58.

Kris Jenner, the matriarch of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, is involved with a shady $105,000-a-year business school run by a for-profit organization that has run afoul of the state Education Department.

Cuomo Doubles Down On Buffalo

From the Morning Memo:

The governor’s decision to tap the mayor of Buffalo to serve as head of the state Democratic Party comes at a crucial time for both the Queen City and the Cuomo administration.

Cuomo’s signature upstate economic development project – the vaunted Buffalo Billion – is at the center of what is now a far-reaching investigation by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara into the administration’s process of awarding lucrative development projects.

Local officials in communities where projects are scheduled to begin or already well underway – including Buffalo – are worried that Bharara’s probe will result in a slowdown or, worse yet, complete cancellations.

The concern is particularly acute in the case of the Buffalo Billion if legislative leaders don’t green light a $485 million vote by the PACB, which has already been rescheduled once, and is reportedly – if you believe the Cuomo administration’s claims – going to take place sometime this week.

Turning to Brown for such a high profile political post at this time signals Cuomo’s desire to demonstrate that Buffalo still matters in a big way to him, and he’s not quite willing to throw in the towel yet.

Brown, as longtime Cuomo watchers know, is a veteran ally of the governor.

He has twice been mentioned as a potential lieutenant governor pick, and twice passed over – once in favor of former Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy, and then again (and closer to home) in favor of Cuomo’s current No. 2, former Rep. Kathy Hochul, who once served as Erie County clerk.

Brown’s selection also comes in a crucial election year, and, according to local party leaders the mayor was instrumental in helping deliver Erie County for Hillary Clinton in the recent Democratic presidential primary.

Clinton’s victory was slim – she defeated Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in Erie County by just 705 votes, even though she lavished time (with a personal visit plus visits by multiple surrogates) and money (with multiple TV ads) on the area.

Buffalo is also expected to be a battleground in the rematch for control of the state Senate, thanks to the abrupt (and rather embarrassing) announcement by freshman Sen. Marc Panepinto that he won’t be seeking re-election this fall.

The Republicans have a lot of hope for their candidate, Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs, while the Democrats saw the man widely considered their best hope in the 60th SD – Assemblyman Sean Ryan – take a pass on running.

Of course, it remains unclear just how involved Cuomo plans to be in the fight for control of the Senate this year – particularly since fundraising for the 2014 fight, particularly by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, is currently the focus of one of several investigations into City Hall in Lower Manhattan.

That might give the governor, who has been notoriously reluctant to help his fellow Democrats in the state Senate, an excuse to sit on his hands in the fall elections.

Another WNY Change on Tap for NYS Dems

From the Morning Memo:

As Buffalo Mayor Brown is preparing to take the helm of the state Democratic Party, another Western New Yorker is set to leave his party post.

James J. Eagan, executive vice president of Midwood Financial Services, is announcing today his resignation as state party secretary.

In a statement provided to SofP, Eagan cited Brown’s selection as party chairman as the motivation behind his decision, saying it provided an “excellent opportunity” for him to step back and refocus his efforts on local elections.

Brown will be the first WNY chair of the state party since the 1970s, and Eagan said he feels like he’s leaving the operation in good hands, with the interests of his region well represented.

“I applaud Governor Cuomo’s decision to support Mayor Byron Brown as party chair, as it provides the state party with strong leadership that capably represents the Western New York interests that I have been representing in my role as secretary,” Eagan said.

“With Western New York sufficiently represented in the state party, the timing is right for me to shift my focus back home to Erie County,” he continued.

“It is imperative that Erie County Democratic Party leaders support candidates with core values that do not contradict those of the Democratic Party, along with having the capability of taking on the challenges of good governance, including restoring public faith in the ethical integrity of elected officials.”

State Democratic Party leaders are gathering today in Saratoga Springs to elect their new leaders.