Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin

Here and Now

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

The 45th annual legislative conference hosted by the Assocition of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators, AKA caucus weekend, is kicking off in Albany today. Here’s a schedule of events.

At 9 a.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli hosts the state pension fund’s 9th annual Emerging Manager and Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise Conference, Hilton Albany, 40 Lodge St., Albany.

At 9:30 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul discusses economic development with General Mills plant leaders, 54 South Michigan Ave., Buffalo. (This event is closed to reporters, but Hochul will hold a media availability outside the gate after her meeting).

At 10 a.m., Upstate Revitalization Initiative Director Rich Tobe outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Town of Tonawanda Municipal Building, 2919 Delaware Ave., Kenmore.

At 10:30 a.m., Deputy Secretary of State for Economic Opportunity Jorge Montalvo outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Mosholu Montefiore Community Center, 3450 Dekalb Ave., the Bronx.

Also at 10:30 a.m., Sen. James Sanders Jr. holds a veterans Valentine visit, New York State Veterans Home at St. Albans, 178-50 Linden Blvd., Queens.

Also at 10:30 a.m., Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz hosts a senior issues town hall, Riverdale YM-YWHA, 5625 Arlington Ave., the Bronx.

Also at 10:30 a.m., the Assembly Committee on Cities holds a public meeting on infrastructure needs relating to cities, Lubin Dining Hall, Harold and Muriel Block Building, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1300 Morris Park Ave., Bronx.

At 11 a.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray will visit P.S. 253 and share lunch with students as part of “Respect for All Week” and “No One Eats Alone” day, The Magnet School of Multicultural Humanities, 601 Oceanview Ave., Brooklyn.

Also at 11 a.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. hosts 9th Annual Bronx Sweetheart Luncheon honoring couples married 50 years or more, Villa Barone Manor, 737 Throggs Neck Expwy., the Bronx.

Also at 11 a.m., OGS Commissioner RoAnn Destito outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Common Council Chambers at City Hall, 198 N. Washington St., Rome.

Also at 11 a.m., Hochul promotes services to help animals at the at Erie County SPCA, 205 Ensminger Rd., Tonawanda.

At noon, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will host a press conference to make an announcement, 356 East 8th St., Manhattan.

Also at noon, DOT Commissioner Matt Driscoll outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Syracuse Rotary, Justin’s Grill, 6400 Yorktown Circle, East Syracuse.

Also at noon, state Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Rogers Island Visitor Center, 11 Rogers Island Dr., Fort Edward.

At 1 p.m., JCOPE hosts an “informal roundtable discussion” on proposed guidelines regarding requiring PR specialists to register as lobbyists, 25 Beaver St., Manhattan.

Also at 1 p.m., PSC Chair Audrey Ziebelman outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, The NYIT Old Westbury Student Government Association, Room 135, Harry Schure Hall, Northern Boulevard at Valentines Lane, Old Westbury.

At 3 p.m., Hochul highlights state investment in Buffalo’s East Side at the Varsity Theatre grand opening, 3165 Bailey Ave., Buffalo.

At 6 p.m., the chair’s reception kicks off caucus weekend, Empire State Convention Center, Albany.

At 10 p.m., a “black networking party” will be held as part of caucus weekend, Hilton Albany ballroom, 40 Lodge St., Albany.

Headlines…

Just as investors are expressing a major lack of confidence in alternative energy companies, Gov. Andrew Cuomo defended New York State’s $750 million investment in Buffalo’s new SolarCity plant during a Western New York swing. In fact, he took the long view on a variety of subjects.

New York will spend $200 million to build a pharmaceutical factory in Chautauqua County, Cuomo said, a move he said will create 1,400 jobs in the cities of Buffalo and Dunkirk.

Peter Liang — the NYPD officer who in 2014 shot blindly into a darkened public housing stairwell in Brooklyn where Akai Gurley was standing, striking and killing him — was found guilty of 2nd degree manslaughter and other charges.

“This bad verdict will have a chilling ­effect on police officers across the city because it criminalizes a tragic accident,” said PBA President Patrick Lynch.

KeyBank said it would work with Cuomo to address his concerns about its purchase of First Niagara Financial Group, a day after the governor said he opposed the merger and was lobbying to kill it.

Alec Brook-Krasny, a former Brooklyn assemblyman who resigned eight months ago, is still cruising around town in vehicles bearing official legislative license plates that most traffic agents won’t ticket. He blamed his inaction in changing the plates on “long lines” at the DMV.

The Buffalo school district has filed a lawsuit against LPCiminelli, alleging that the company that managed the district’s massive school renovation project withheld financial information as part of “a scheme to conceal the excessive profits it was pocketing.”

Two days ahead of the holiday, Cuomo sent the City of Albany a particularly welcome budgetary Valentine: $12.5 million that Mayor Kathy Sheehan will use to plug a yawning deficit.

Even as the Buffalo Teachers Federation and its statewide parent union challenge the governor’s school receivership law in court, Cuomo said he believes the statute will survive the court challenge.

A state Supreme Court judge has granted permission for Staten Island Borough President James Oddo to bestow unflattering street names spelling out greed and deceit on a private development he fought on the former Mt. Manresa site.

A judge plans to unseal secret papers related to former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s corruption case.

Erie County won’t immediately enforce its ban on microbeads – one of the country’s toughest – as it’s own attorney warned the measure might not stand up in court.

Sources tell the NY Post that Democratic City Councilman Vincent Gentile of Bay Ridge has begun pestering NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio for a judgeship or job within the administration.

State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker has declared the flu to be “prevalent” which means that health care workers need to have been vaccinated or wear protective masks when coming in contact with patients. This has been the case for more than two years now.

U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Charles Schumer jointly announced that the U.S. Department of Labor has approved Trade Adjustment Assistance certification for laid-off workers of Alcoa. The decision will allow up to 205 workers, including those laid off in prior rounds of Alcoa cutbacks in Massena, to receive a number of program benefits.

Danny Donohue has been re-elected to a seventh term as head of the Civil Service Employees Association. He had faced a challenge from Kathy Garrison, who is the union’s Capital Region president.

More >

Extras

The fierce contest for the Republican presidential nomination has claimed its latest casualty: Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s back tooth, which he cracked while snacking on a Twix bar.

Ken Langone, the billionaire co-founder of Home Depot who was a leading supporter of Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey, has thrown his support behind Gov. John Kasich of Ohio, the Kasich campaign said.

SolarCity Corp.’s stock has lost more than 60 percent of its value since the start of the year, and shares continued to dive today – two days after the Northern California solar company reported disappointing fourth-quarter results.

The Congressional Black Caucus PAC announced its endorsement of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, a move that is being widely interpreted as a sign of her deep support from the African American community.

Covert cellphone tracking devices, which have proliferated in law enforcement agencies across the nation, have been used by the NYPD on at least 1,000 occasions since 2008 in the course of investigating rapes, murders and other crimes as well as searching for missing people, according to documents obtained by the NYCLU.

Steve Wells, a Cazenovia businessman who runs one of the nation’s fastest-growing food service companies, will challenge Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney for the GOP nod to run for retiring Rep. Richard Hanna’s seat in NY-22. There are now three declared Republicans and one Democrat in the race.

President Barack Obama will nominate Dr. John B. King Jr., former state education commissioner in New York, to serve as Education Department secretary after receiving commitments from lawmakers to give his nomination speedy consideration, the White House said.

AG Eric Schneiderman joined members of the state and federal working group he co-chairs to announce a $3.2 billion settlement with Morgan Stanley over the bank’s deceptive practices leading up to the financial crisis.

Five people were indicted, with four of them facing second-degree manslaughter charges, following the March 2015 building explosion in Manhattan’s East Village that authorities called “a deadly inferno fueled by an illegal gas-delivery system.”

Calling it a “game-changer for Dunkirk,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo formally announced the state’s plans to spend $200 million to build a high-tech drug manufacturing center in the depressed Chautauqua County community.

Motorists who drive with snow on their cars could be fined if state lawmakers pass proposed laws.

Cuomo recognized that the state’s slow moving medical marijuana program is not “perfect,” but said he’d rather err on the side of caution than move it along too quickly.

The DEC has identified Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics and Honeywell International as “parties responsible” for groundwater pollution in Hoosick Falls.

In her annual State of the City address, NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito called for an inspector general for the city Department of Correction, a reformed warrant system for petty crimes and a community-based criminal justice system — all with an eye toward shutting Rikers Island.

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer poked a little fun at NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli while wishing him a happy birthday on Twitter.

James L. Dolson, the former heroin dealer who became locally famous as Niagara Falls recycling mascot Totes McGoats, was continued on probation after completing a court-supervised drug treatment program.

Likening America to a “burning” country in turmoil, activist investor Bill Ackman urged former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg to run for president in a Financial Times op-ed.

The Bethlehem Town Board voted to oppose the planned Northeast Energy Direct natural gas pipeline that would pass through southern portions of Albany and Rensselaer counties to bring natural gas from Pennsylvania to metropolitan Boston.

A Capital Region attorney is in court over what he says are unreasonable delays from the state Economic Development Corp. in responding to his FOIL requests about plans to expand broadband service across the state.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Chautauqua County.

At 8:15 a.m., state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia visits Maple Avenue Middle School, 515 Maple Ave., Saratoga Springs.

At 9:30 a.m., Elia visits Lake Avenue Elementary School, 126 Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs.

At 9:45 a.m., Deputy Secretary of State for Economic Opportunity Jorge Montalvo outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Great Kills Friendship Club, 11 Sampson Ave., Staten Island.

At 10 a.m., the NYC Campaign Finance Board hosts a public meeting, 100 Church St., 12th Floor, Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., Cuomo makes an announcement, Dunkirk High School, 75 W. 6th St., Dunkirk.

Also at 10:30 a.m., the Assembly Committee on Cities holds a public hearing on “Infrastructure Needs Relating to Cities,” to examine the infrastructure problems of cities and explore potential solutions, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1300 Morris Park Ave., the Bronx.

At 11 a.m., Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky, Democratic candidate for the 9th Senate District seat, makes a pledge regarding outside income rules for state legislators, Rockville Centre LIRR Station, Clinton Ave and Front Street, Rockville Centre, Long Island.

Also at 11 a.m., Elia visits SUNY Adirondack Early College Career Academy, 640 Bay Rd., Queensbury.

At noon, NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito delivers her State of the City address, Samuel Gompers Educational Campus, 455 Southern Blvd., the Bronx. (NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, among many other elected and appointed officials, will attend).

Also at noon, state Tax and Finance Commissioner Jerry Boone outlines CUomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, SUNY Delhi , Sanford Hall Centennial Center, 2 Main St., Delhi.

At noon, LG Kathy Hochul makes a state funding announcement, Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce, 214 North Franklin St., Watkins Glen.

At 1 p.m. DOT Commissioner Matt Driscoll outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, SRC Arena – Otis Suite, Onondaga Community College, 4585 West Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse.

Also at 1 p.m., Elia visits Jackson Heights Elementary School, 24 Jackson Ave., Glens Falls.

Also at 1 p.m. OGS Commissioner RoAnn Destito outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Carthage Area Hospital’s Professional Building, 3 Bridge St., Carthage.

Also at 1 p.m., Canal Corp. Director Brian Stratton outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Town of Webb Park Avenue Office Building, 183 Park Ave., Old Forge.

At 1:15 p.m., Hochul visits Lakewood Vineyards, 4024 State Route 14, Watkins Glen.

At 11:30 a.m., Finger Lakes region municipal leaders, 1199SEIU, Gas Free Seneca and others rally against a proposed liquefied petroleum gas and natural gas storage and transport facility, Legislative Office Building, Room 130, Albany.

At 1:30 p.m., Elia visits Glens Falls Middle/High School, 10 Quade St., Glens Falls.

At 2 p.m., state Division of Human Rights Commissioner Helen Foster outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, BronxWorks, 1130 Grand Concourse, the Bronx.

At 2:30 p.m., the New York Cosmos partner with Assemblywoman Nily Rozic to offer free soccer clinics, 120 Queens School, 58-01 136th St., Queens.

Also at 2 p.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray will visit South Brooklyn Community High School’s Learning to Work program to see and hear more about their efforts to support youth in transitioning to secondary education or employment, 173 Conover St., Brooklyn.

At 3 p.m., state Liquor Authority Chairman Vince Bradley outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Katonah Library – Community Room, 26 Bedford Rd., Katonah.

At 3 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will deliver remarks at a public health roundtable with leading clinical experts on the Zika Virus, The COW, City Hall, Manhattan. (The roundtable is closed press, but Deputy Mayor Dr. Herminia Palacio and Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett will take on-topic questions after the event).

At 3:30 p.m., IDC Leader Jeff Klein and IDC member Sen. David Carlucci will join NYSUT members, parents and teachers to call for the creation of a Kindergarten Conversion Fund from approximately $60 million in unclaimed or forfeited lottery prizes for full-day K and the expansion of existing kindergarten programs, Park Elementary School library, 22 Edward St., Ossining.

At 4:40 p.m., Assemblyman William Colton gathers with community members to tell their stories of ‘how the 14 month closing of seven Manhattan bound N Line stations has impacted the lives of riders and their families, in front of Kings Highway N Line Station, Kings Highway, Brooklyn.

At 5 p.m., Farina visits the new STEM lab at Brooklyn International High School, 49 Flatbush Ave. Extension, Brooklyn.

At 5:15 p.m., the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, New Democratic Dimensions, Common Cause NY and National Women’s Political Caucus NYC Chapter hold a “NYS Political Ethics: Where Do We Go From Here?” networking cocktail reception featuring a conversation with state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, General Society Library, 20 West 44th St., Manhattan. (Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, NYC Councilman Daniel Garodnick and former NYC Councilman Robert Jackson are also scheduled to speak).

At 5:30 p.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. hosts an annual African-American Heritage Celebration, recognizing individuals for their contributions to the community and city, including Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel, Eastwood Manor, 3371 Eastchester Rd, the Bronx.

At 6 p.m., Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte delivers her State of the District address, Brooklyn College Student Center, Campus Road and East 27th Street, Brooklyn.

At 7 p.m., Farina attend the Town Hall meeting of District 25’s Community Education Council, JHS 185, 147-26 25th Dr., Queens.

Headlines…

A state agency directed New York City to toughen security at its emergency homeless shelters following the fatal stabbings yesterday of a mother and her young children at a Staten Island hotel used to house the homeless.

NYC’s spending on homeless services has skyrocketed by 46 percent over just two years — and there’s no sign New York taxpayers are getting their money’s worth, Comptroller Scott Stringer charged.

The New York Assembly announced plans to hold a hearing on water quality in the state as officials scramble to address contamination in the Village of Hoosick Falls.

Sen. Kathy Marchione, U.S. Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer, and Rep. Chris Gibson said the timeline on the village of Hoosick Falls’ website stating they were first “updated” on the situation in December 2014 is not accurate. They insist they were first told last March, though the state DOH and the EPA informed them little could be done because the toxic chemical was not a regulated contaminant.

A company with deep ties to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, OTG Management, is planning to bring electronic gaming — including a digital version of the New York Lottery — to JFK and La Guardia airports.

Cuomo called for federal regulators to reject KeyCorp’s proposed acquisition of First Niagara Financial Group, and threatened legal action if the deal goes through.

A new proposal from Cuomo’s office seeks to extend to minors the confidentiality regarding HIV infections that is already given to them for the treatment of other sexually transmitted infections.

Mike Bloomberg has commissioned a second national poll to test his viability as an independent presidential candidate, following the decisive victories of Donald Trump and Sen. Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire, because the former NYC mayor is “itching” to run, sources tell the NY Post.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus ripped into Bloomberg, calling the former mayor’s potential presidential run a boon for the Republican Party.

Meet Corey Lewandowski, the man running the Trump campaign.

The morning after Sanders’s sweeping victory in New Hampshire, the Vermont senator took his momentum to a Harlem landmark – Sylvia’s restaurant – to have tea with the Rev. Al Sharpton, who has not yet issued an endorsement in the race.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is planning to campaign with the mothers of Trayvon Martin and Eric Garner as she and Sanders battle it out for the black vote.

Federal prosecutors began presenting evidence to a grand jury in Brooklyn in the death of Garner, an unarmed black man who died after being placed in a chokehold by a white police officer in Staten Island in July 2014, according to a person briefed on the matter.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who suspended his presidential bid after his sixth-place finish in the GOP primary in New Hampshire, returned home yesterday with his White House dreams crushed and a heap of problems on his desk in Trenton.

A Daily News investigation of NYC’s 11,513 licensed day care centers (and hundreds more unlicensed facilities) found a pattern of too many kids and not enough help.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will reportedly, for the first time ever, march in this year’s New York City St. Patrick’s Day parade.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said the city of Syracuse is likely to go bankrupt or be taken over by a state fiscal control board if it doesn’t merge with the county, County Executive Joanie Mahoney said.

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Extras

Republican Carly Fiorina is the latest candidate to suspend her 2016 presidential bid. She announced her decision on Facebook and Twitter.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie plans to suspend his presidential campaign as well.

Sen. Bernie Sanders went on “The View” and got his first taste of his very own ice cream flavor, “Bernie’s Yearning” by Ben & Jerry’s. He pronounced it “excellent.”

Sanders had breakfast this morning with the Rev. Al Sharpton at Sylvia’s in Harlem – the same New York City restaurant where Sharpton huddled with Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential campaign.

“My concern is that in January of next year, for the first time in American history, a black family will be moving out of the White House. I do not want black concerns to be moved out with them,” Sharpton said.

Early this morning, with the results of New Hampshire still sinking in, former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s top political advisor Kevin Sheekey tweeted a New York Post story making the case for a Bloomberg candidacy.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo penned a letter today officially requesting federal officials block the merger of First Niagara and KeyCorp.

SolarCity’s Buffalo factory likely won’t hit full production until the summer of 2017 – somewhere between three to six months later than the initial timetable.

A state Supreme Court justice rejected a motion for a mistrial in the case of a NYPD police officer charged with manslaughter, saying the defense’s complaints about the prosecution’s closing argument didn’t amount to misconduct.

Cuomo is asking the state PSC to investigate NRG Energy and the reasons behind its decision to close the coal-fired power plant it owns in Dunkirk rather than converting it to run on natural gas.

Though Sanders won the New Hampshire primary in a landslide over Hillary Clinton, he will likely receive fewer Granite State delegates than she will.

Cuomo’s infrastructure proposals “aim to achieve worthy goals, but have some fundamental flaws from a public policy and infrastructure planning perspective.”

The amount of radioactive tritium leaking from the Indian Point nuclear power plant is growing, according to tests released today.

More than a third of practicing attorneys in the United States are problem drinkers and 28 percent struggle with depression, according to a new study.

Rep. Tom Reed says he is continuing to press Cuomo to seek the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act funding to get Route 219 construction started.

Five Buffalo schools share the unenviable spot of being among the first in New York to test the state’s new receivership law and meet its ultimatum: Improve, or else.

TWC News’ documentary, “Outside the Wall, Going Inside the Dannemora Prison Break” has been nominated for a New York Emmy. Among those named in the nomination, is the late Bill Carey, who co-produced the program and conducted a lengthy, exclusive interview with Cuomo.

Suffolk’s new police commissioner, Timothy Sini, said he won’t run for district attorney next year when the job, now occupied by Thomas Spota, comes open for election.

Georgina Bloomberg owns a rescue pig.

State lawmakers continue to search for a compromise on a paid family leave program in New York, with disagreement centering on how to pay for the measure.

Cuomo is scheduled to visit Dunkirk tomorrow to formally unveil the state’s plans to spend $200 million to build a high-tech drug manufacturing center there for a Buffalo biotech company.

Extras

The results of today’s New Hampshire primary should winnow the crowded GOP field.

The 2000 Democratic VP nominee, former Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, says a big win for Donald Trump and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in New Hampshire could bring former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg into the race for president.

Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs is shepherding about 120 New York volunteers for Hillary Clinton in a get-out-the-vote effort in New Hampshire. They are focusing on coastal communities, especially Exeter.

The Buffalo Teachers Federation and NYSUT are suing the state Education Department for giving the the Buffalo superintendent unprecedented powers – including to override union agreements – under the state’s receivership law.

The Success Academy charter school network has been hit with another lawsuit over the now-famous “got to go” list of disruptive students kept at one Success school and exposed by the New York Times.

State Assemblyman Michael Kearns is asking Cuomo to consider “clawing back” tax incentives given to First Niagara Financial Group, with expected job cuts looming.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Clinton’s campaign and proposals are “more realistic” than what her primary rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders, has put forward.

Newspaper giant Gannett Co. is exploring the parcel-delivery business as it examines how to make the most of its fleet of paper carriers and delivery trucks.

Wesstchester Magazine chronicles the rise and fall of ex-Sen. Nick Spano, who says he still misses being a state lawmaker.

Another Buffalo broadcast news veteran is moving into public relations. Joanna Pasceri, who said her farewells in December as co-anchor of WKBW-TV news, is joining the Erie County DA’s Office as public information officer.

Barbara A. Res, the woman for worked for The Donald overseeing construction of Trump Tower in the 1980s, writes: “Trump is not as bad as he sounds. But he’s a lot worse than he says.”

The College of Saint Rose has been in a cost-cutting and layoff mode due to what the school’s leadership says are budget shortfalls. Now, the faculty is poised to take a “no confidence” vote on tomorrow aimed at the school’s president Carolyn Stefanco.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and the Working Families Party are pushing back against Cuomo’s assertion that there’s “no reason or appetite” for a tax hike on the rich this year.

Bring first lady of NYC has not been everything Chirlane McCray expected or hoped.

The surprise battle between Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe and the gun-control organization founded by former Bloomberg escalated today to include a full-page newspaper ad skewering the governor’s rationale for a gun deal with Republicans.

Ten months after being caught stealing gas for cooking, the Carnegie Deli, renowned for its massive meat sandwiches named for famous New Yorkers, reopened this morning.

The Catholic Diocese of Syracuse has closed its retirement home for priests after 59 years, citing financial concerns. The facility was home over the past 15 years to at least four priests against whom the diocese had found credible allegations of child-molesting.

The lack of a real winter has been hard on certain segments of the upstate economy.

Uptown Funke!

Gibson: The More The Merrier

From the Morning Memo:

Generally speaking, elected officials and party leaders prefer to avoid primaries.

Even though they give lip service, (I’m looking at you, state GOP Chairman Ed Cox), about how great a little healthy competition can be in generating excitement among the grassroots and letting the best possible candidate emerge victorious, the reality is that most pols privately agree primaries tend to be unnecessarily expensive, divisive and often distracting.

But Rep. Chris Gibson, the NY-19 Republican who is forgoing a re-election bid this year to focus on a potential 2018 run for governor, insists the fact that there are at least three – if not more – others who might throw their respective hats into the ring does not bother him.

“Time Warner Cable did a story last week about the deep bench for the Republicans. When’s the last time we saw a story on that? That’s something to be proud of,” Gibson insisted.

To the list of potential GOP contenders that I ticked off – Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who is mulling a second attempt at the governor’s office after losing to Cuomo in 2014; investment banker Harry Wilson, who lost a close race to Democratic state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli in 2010; and Carl Paladino, the 2010 GOP/Conservative gubernatorial candidate who failed to defeat then-AG Cuomo – Gibson added yet another name: Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinario, who he said “is going to make a great governor.”

“I think those folks you mentioned as strong leaders; I’m proud of them,” Gibson said. “I’m going to do my best to unite and rally folks.”

“I’m going to have a very positive vision…look to raise money, draw support, build out support, and ultimately to win in 2018, and then change this state, so that this can be the once Empire state, a place that’s flourishing, a place that’s safe and secure, a place that has educational policies that our parents and teachers are proud of.”

Gibson stressed, yet again, that though he has formed an exploratory committee to enable him to raise money for a possible run, he has not yet decided to formally declare his candidacy. He plans to see how his fundraising goes over the next year, explaining that any candidate who wants to be viable on the GOP side is going to have to be able to raise at least $20 million.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule. Voters head to the polls in New Hampshire today for the first-in-the-nation presidential primary.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will deliver remarks today at two closed-press events: the Clergy Advisory Council Meeting and the NYC Tech Talent Pipeline Advisory Board Meeting. He has no public schedule.

The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network holds its lobbying day at the state Capitol, with hundreds of cancer patients, caregivers and activists from across New York bringing their stories to lawmakers to urge them to make fighting and detecting cancer a priority. (Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan is scheduled to address this group at 11:45 a.m.)

Also in Albany on this Lobby Day: Catskill Mountainkeeper and the Catskill Park Coalition for Catskill Park Awareness Day.

At 9:30 a.m., the final legislative budget hearing will be held on Cuomo’s 2016-17 proposal, this time with the focus on human series, Hearing Room B, LOB, Albany.

At 10 a.m., Low-Wage Workers for Real Affordability will gather at City Hall to reject de Blasio’s housing plan, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., a coalition of unions and patient rights groups from across New York will announce a campaign calling on lawmakers to pass the Safe Staffing for Quality Care Act, Albany Room, Empire State Plaza Concourse, Albany.

Also at 10:30 a.m., Assemblywoman Amy Paulin hosts a press conference related the bill she authored regarding aid in dying, state Capitol, third floor adjacent to the LCA room outside the Senate lobby, Albany.

At 11 a.m., members of the New York Convention Center Development Corp., meet, Empire State Development, 633 Third Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., Rep. Chris Gibson will hold a media availability at Albany International Airport to answer questions about the exploratory committee he has formed to run for governor in 2018, Main Terminal, 3rd Floor Conference Room.

Also at 11 a.m., the Legislature will continue the bi-partisan interview process of candidates for the State Board of Regents, Assembly Parlor, 3rd Fl., state Capitol, Albany.

At 11:15 a.m., the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission holds its second public meeting regarding a development proposed for Gansevoort Street, 1 Centre St., Manhattan.

At 11:30 a.m., Assembly members Chad Lupinacci, ranking minority member of the Higher Education Committee, and Nicole Malliotakis will hold a press conference to address the alarming student debt crisis, back of the Assembly chamber, 3rd Fl. state Capitol, Albany.

At noon, Patty Ritchie, Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, and members of the Senate Republican Conference will be holding a press conference to highlight their “Planting Seeds” initiative to help the state’s farmers, Room 332, state Capitol, Albany.

At 12:15 p.m., LG Kathy Hochul visits Death Wish Coffee Company after its Super Bowl ad debut, 19 Wood Road, #500, Round Lake.

At 12:30 p.m., Families Together in New York State, a lead member of the Raise the Age NY campaign, holds its annual Legislative Awareness Day and Luncheon where over 400 family members, state leaders, youth and advocates from around the state will speak on issues impacting families of children with social, emotional and behavioral needs, Empire State Plaza Convention Center, Albany.

At 1 p.m., Empire State Development Wester New York Regional President Sam Hoyt outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Dudley Branch Library, 2010 South Park Ave., Buffalo.

At 1:15 p.m., Chief Diversity Officer Rose Rodriguez outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Hartley House Community Center, 413 West 46th St., Manhattan.

At 1:30 p.m., Hochul has lunch with Saratoga Springs Mayor Joanne Yepsen at Pizza 7 in Honor of National Pizza Day, 7 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs.

Also at 1:30 p.m., the Senate Democratic Conference will unveil a set of policy initiatives spearheaded by the Senate Democratic Policy Group to help New York families during the critical early childhood period, Room 315, state Capitol, Albany.

At 2:30 p.m., state Division of Veterans’ Affairs Director Eric Hesse outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Wyoming County Board of Supervisors, 143 North Main St., Warsaw.

At 2:45 p.m., Hochul tours the packaging plant of Glens Falls-Based Bottled Water Company JUST Beverages, 31 Broad St.

At 3:30 p.m., Hochul makes a state funding announcement, Glens Falls Civic Center, Heritage Hall, 1 Civic Center Pl., Glens Falls.

At 6 p.m., Rodriguez delivers her second State of the State overview of the day, this time at the National Association of of Hispanic Nurses, 1250 Broadway, Room 7A, Manhattan.

At 6:30 p.m., NYS Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner Jamie Rubin outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Neighborhood Housing Services of Northern Queens, 60-20 Woodside Ave., Woodside.

Headlines…

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Ohio Gov. John Kasich picked up the most votes as the first ballots of the first-in-the-nation primary were cast early today. Sanders won over all four Democratic voters in the tiny town of Dixville, while Kasich sneaked past Donald Trump, 3-2, among Republicans.

During his first visit to Albany since taking office in 2009, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said there was a common thread to the public corruption cases he has pursued to conviction: “People knew.”

Bharara called on everyone from the public to rank-and-file legislators to get involved in reducing Albany’s “crisis of corruption” that has produced a culture of bribery, kickbacks and a “rancid” environment. “It calls for a re-examination of the culture of our public institutions,” he said. “It’s not just the corrupt actors themselves who bear responsibility.”

The US attorney repeatedly hammered the complacency and implicit collaboration of other lawmakers, whom he called “enablers” in Albany’s corrupt culture. “What’s been going on in New York State government lately is simultaneously heartbreaking, head-scratching and almost comic,” he said.

Bharara warned he’s not yet done investigating corruption in Albany, saying: “We’re not closing up shop anytime soon.”

Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, a Manhattan Democrat who was a longtime ally of former Speaker Sheldon Silver, is now facing a primary challenge from labor lawyer Arthur Schwartz.

Former US Attorney Michael Garcia, Garcia, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s sixth appointment to the high court since taking office in 2011, was confirmed by the Senate. He replaces Susan Read, who retired last year.

Garcia is a Republican whose office’s investigation into a prostitution ring led to the 2008 resignation of former Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

Cuomo formally swore in the state’s new chief judge: former Westchester County District Attorney Janet DiFiore. She’s the second woman to hold the top post on the Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court.

Both the governor and Bharara attended DiFiore’s swearing-in ceremony, but did not speak to one another. Bharara had his eyes closed on repeated occasions during Cuomo’s speech — maybe resting up for the Bruce Springsteen show he was set to attend last night in Albany.

Cuomo called for more facts and less emotion as his administration continues to investigate a water pollution crisis in Hoosick Falls. “Fear is powerful and fear of ‘what if, what if, what if, what if?’ That starts to cascade and that’s not especially helpful,” he said. “So let’s get the facts first.”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio dismissed as “foolish” the push by the Transport Workers Union for a state investigation into his drive to ban horse drawn carriages in Central Park.

A key housing tax break is “dead and will not be revived,” the head of the building trades union, Gary LaBarbera, said in a statement. He called for a brand new program to be established in the place of the expired 421-a program.

The last time Rep. Chris Gibson geared up to run for a new office, he formed his campaign committee in March, leaving him roughly 8 months until November. This time, he’s doing it more than two years before the office he is considering seeking (governor) is up for grabs again.

In his 2017 budget, to be presented today, President Obama will propose spending $11 billion over the next 10 years to fight family homelessness, a phenomenon that is closely linked to the dearth of affordable housing in New York and other big cities.

In a letter disclosed yesterday in a federal court filing, the FBI confirms one of the world’s worst-kept secrets: It is looking into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server.

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Extras

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will help Hillary Clinton raise campaign cash on Feb. 16 – in the interval between the New Hampshire primary tomorrow and the Nevada caucuses on Feb. 20 – at an undisclosed location in New York City.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has taken heat from the press for rising homelessness, tensions with the police and his attention to fringe issues like restricting horse carriages in Central Park. He’s also winning respect from an unexpected corner: Wall Street.

President Barack Obama is asking Congress for more than $1.8 billion in emergency funding to help fight the Zika virus.

A peanut butter, espresso, almond milk and chocolate smoothie is fueling young political operatives in New Hampshire. (It’s especially popular with Clinton campaign members).

Bad weather could complicate things for tomorrow’s New Hampshire primary.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg tells the Financial Times why he’s considering a presidential run: “I find the level of discourse and discussion distressingly banal and an outrage and an insult to the voters,” adding that the public deserves “a lot better.”

Former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter is becoming a senior fellow for a campaign called What Works Cities – an initiative launched by Bloomberg Philanthropies last year to encourage 100 mid-sized cities to better leverage data and evidence in their policy making.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani blasted pop star Beyonce for what he deemed her “outrageous” halftime performance at the Super Bowl that attacked police officers. Long Island Rep. Pete King: Ditto. (More or less).

Cuomo threw cold water on Assembly speaker Carl Heastie’s plan to increase taxes on the rich, telling reporters: “I don’t believe there’s any reason or appetite to take up taxes this year.”

State Sen. Jeff Klein, the head of the Independent Democratic Conference, introduced a bill offering 12-weeks of employee-funded paid family leave. It has no same-as bill in the Assembly.

HIV/AIDS activists are flooding Cuomo’s office with letters saying that AIDS funding in the executive budget is inadequate, and asking for additional dollars when he submits his 30-day amendments later this month.

Republican Andrew Heaney is up on Fox News Channel on cable in NY-19 with his second TV ad, this one highlighting what the candidate views as missteps by the Obama administration in handling ISIS.

Three reasons why Rep. Chris Gibson might have a better shot than his GOP predecessors at getting elected governor: US Attorney Preet Bharara, his upstate roots and his record as a proven vote getter – albeit in congressional district, not statewide.

Rep. Brian Higgins, marking the formal transfer of 50 acres of land from the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority to the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp., said he believes there could be development at Terminals A and B on Buffalo’s Outer Harbor by the end of the year or early next year.

Two more Democratic contenders have pulled the plug on running to succeed retiring Long Island Democratic Rep. Steve Israel. Financier Todd Richman of Great Neck and Suffolk Legislator William Spencer informed party leaders they no longer wish to run.

At her swearing-in today, new Chief Judge Janet DiFiore wore a robe that belong to the late Chief Judge Judith Kaye.

Long Island congressional contender Anna Throne-Holst has taken fire for her recent switch to the Democratic Party, but her backers say primary foe David Calone has political baggage of his own — his tenure on the Long Island Power Authority board.

Cuomo announced the recipients of $35.3 million from the Higher Education Capital Matching Grant Program, which requires grantees match about $3 for every $1 the state awards. The projects funded range from repairs, renovations and new construction of classrooms, laboratories and other facilities.

Cornell University President Elizabeth Garrett announced that she is undergoing treatment for colon cancer.

University at Albany will hire about 15 faculty members for its College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity over the next few years. Enrollment in an undergraduate minor in emergency preparedness, homeland security and cybersecurity has been higher than expected.

SD-9 Shaping Up To Be A Clash Of Titans

From the Morning Memo:

The battle for the Long Island Senate seat that once belonged to ex-Majority Leader Dean Skelos is officially joined, with both sides settling on a candidate, and Gov. Andrew Cuomo calling a special election on April 19 to coincide with New York’s presidential primaries.

With these formalities out of the way, the Democrats and Republicans have retreated to their respective corners to plot their respective campaign plans, and with so much on the table – this race is widely viewed as crucial in the fight for the majority – they’re bringing in the big guns and plan to spare no expense.

On the GOP side, political newcomer Chris McGrath’s campaign will be run by E. O’Brien Murray, better known to insiders as “O.B.”

Murray has considerable experience working on a variety of Senate and congressional campaigns. Interestingly, he has been working for several years now as an adviser/strategist for another Long Island Republican, Sen. Jack Martins, who is putting the GOP conference in something of a bind by opting to run for retiring Democratic Rep. Steve Israel’s seat in NY-3.

The GOP has also called again on BrabenderCox, which has done media/strategy for a number of national Republican candidates and also cut effective TV ads in the last campaign cycle for key GOP Senate candidates (who are now freshmen members in need of defense): Rich Funke and George Amedore.

The Republicans opted for McGrath, a trial attorney with no strong political ties to either Skelos or the Nassau County GOP, specifically because he can’t be painted as an insider, though he has given a considerable amount of campaign cash out over the years to both Democrats and Republicans – a fact that has given some on the right pause.

The GOP is already laying out its argument against the Democrats’ candidate, Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky, a former federal prosecutor who is making ethics and reform a hallmark of his campaign, given the recent history of this seat.

Basically, the Republicans are going to try to tie Kaminsky to disgraced former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who, like Skelos, went down in flames due to a federal corruption conviction; and slam him for not voting “yes” on a hostile Assembly minority amendment on pension forfeiture – among other issues.

On the Democratic side, a source familiar with the Kaminsky campaign called it an “all hands on deck” effort, with a wide variety of consultants and operatives involved. Officially speaking, the campaign is being managed by Rich Orsillo, who also worked on Kaminsky’s 2014 Assembly bid.

The DSCC and its preferred consulting firm, Queen-based Parkside, is also heavily involved, as is Evan Thies, who served as a spokesman for Kaminsky’s 2014 campaign.

Global Strategy Group will be doing the polling, and ad man Jimmy Siegel, best known (to NY reporters, anyway) as making his political debut on then-AG Eliot Spitzer’s 2006 gubernatorial campaign, will be doing the TV.

The Democrats are prepared to spend in the neighborhood of $2 million, all told, according to this source.

And if the Republicans make a similar commitment, this very well could go down as one of the most – if not THE most – expensive special elections in New York history, rivaling the 2007 special election in which now former Democratic Sen. Craig Johnson bested Republican Maureen O’Connell, in which a combined $5 million was spent by the two sides.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany and New York City. US Attorney Preet Bharara is in Albany for the first time (ever, at least publicly). The two will appear at the same event (though not necessarily together) this afternoon, which reporters who cover the state Capitol are VERY much looking forward to.

Also, both houses of the Legislature will be in session. Another budget hearing will be taking place. The Senate Judiciary Committee will consider Cuomo’s nomination of Michael Garcia (a Republican) to the Court of Appeals.

So much is happening today that the schedule appears at the end of this post.

Headlines…

The Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl, 24-10 over the Carolina Panthers, giving Payton Manning, who, at 39, is the oldest starting quarterback in Super Bowl history, his second win in what might be the end of his football career.

The NRC is sending a radiation-protection specialist to New York this week to inspect the Indian Point nuclear power plant after state officials found evidence of a surge in radiation levels in groundwater there.

Entergy Corp. said elevated levels of radioactive material found in groundwater at the 2,000-megawatt Indian Point nuclear power facility north of New York City don’t pose a threat to public safety.

Disgraced former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver appears to still be pulling strings, controlling crucial votes in the contest to pick his successor. Alice Cancel, a Democratic district leader, emerged yesterday from the pack of hopefuls seeking a ballot spot in a Manhattan special election to replace Silver, who lost his seat due to a corruption conviction.

A day before the New Hampshire primary, Donald Trump has won the backing of a legendary New York Republican, former state GOP Chairman Bill Powers, who also blasted his own state party’s failure to rally behind the candidacy of its “favorite son” presidential hopeful.

Two days after a 38-year-old man was killed by a crawler crane that collapsed onto a Lower Manhattan street as workers tried to secure it against accelerating winds, Mayor Bill de Blasio said New York City was lowering the wind-speed threshold at which such equipment must be shut down.

Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins criticized de Blasio’s plan to require that NYPD officers take “implicit bias” training starting this spring. ​

In the wake of a report showing the difficulties for average fans to buy concert and sports tickets at face value, two state senators – Bard Hoylman and Daniel Squadron – are calling for a legislative hearing into the matter.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s efforts to force corporations to disclose their political spending has resulted in a six-figure payout to one of his major campaign contributors, Manhattan law firm Bernstein Litowitz Berger & Grossman.

Bob McCarthy: After almost three years of tension between the Peace Bridge Authority’s Canadian and American delegations, the New Yorkers loyal to Cuomo may have now prevailed, thanks largely due to a change in command at the top in Canada.

But more than three years after Sandy, Hoboken, NJ is just as vulnerable to a deluge from the Hudson River and the plan to defend it with a sea wall is mired in controversy.

The Bloomberg-for-president speculation continues.

Flint, Michigan Mayor Karen Weaver thanked Hillary Clinton, saying the former secretary of state’s concern over the city’s water crisis helped spur government action for her constituents.

Clinton called the Flint water crisis “immoral,” and demanded that Congress approve $200 million in emergency aid to address the community’s battle with lead-contaminated water.

NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and a variety of fellow female New York Democratic elected officials campaigned for Clinton in New Hampshire this weekend ahead of tomorrow’s Granite State primary.

Clinton said that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s attacks on her beliefs about abortion are “pathetic.”

State Conservative Party Chairman Michael Long says Rubio’s presidential bid has the support of many party leaders — though Donald Trump is still appealing to rank-and-file activists.

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