Liz Benjamin

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Homepage: http://nystateofpolitics.com


Posts by Liz Benjamin

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The conservative House Freedom Caucus is supporting a plan aimed at bridging the internal Republican Party divide between moderates and conservatives on health care reform.

But while some conservative members of Congress giving support to the measure, the proposed changes are also raising new concerns about some of the promises the party has made about guaranteed, affordable coverage and even how members of Congress themselves would be treated.

Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder used his speech on the first morning of Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network convention to warn that voting rights – particularly those of communities of color – are currently “under siege” by Republican voter identification laws.

President Donald Trump’s tax reform plan unveiled today would eliminate the state and local tax deduction, costing New Yorkers their most popular federal tax deduction. (More here from E.J. McMahon).

Slamming what he called “a massive federal land grab,” Trump signed an executive order directing his interior secretary to review the designation of dozens of national monuments on federal lands.

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to Trump, is the presumed new owner of one of the most expensive residential properties in DC: a massive 15,000-square-foot, eight-bedroom, $8 million mansion.

NYC is girding itself for the president’s first return to his hometown since he took relocated to the White House.

Rep. John Katko is among 14 members of Congress who will serve as advisers to a White House commission developing a strategy to combat the nation’s heroin and opioid epidemic.

Hollywood stars who went all-in for Hillary Clinton say the next woman who tries to shatter that highest glass ceiling needs something that Clinton seemed to lack – authenticity.

Outgoing SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher is in line for a $245,000-a-year faculty post at the University of Albany when she steps down in June. Her successor, Kristina Johnson, meanwhile, is getting many of the same perks that were afforded to Zimpher.

The first primary challenge against an IDC member is shaping up for 2018. Former New York City Councilman Robert Jackson has formed a state Senate campaign committee to raise money for an imminent campaign against freshman state Sen. Marisol Alcantara, state Board of Elections records show.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed an $84.86 billion executive budget that includes funding for the beginnings of a pre-K expansion, legal services for undocumented immigrants and more even as the city grapples with the potential of federal budget cuts from Trump.

Rep. Chris Collins today led a bipartisan letter sent to Trump applauding the president’s acknowledgements of Canada’s protectionist trade policies related to dairy products and advocating for swift action to ensure Canada upholds its trade agreements.

At an event held at the Emerson Park Pavilion in Auburn, Cuomo announced the state will fund the installation of two systems that aim to address concerns about blue-green algae toxins detected in drinking water supplies for the city of Auburn and town of Owasco.

RIP director Jonathan Demme, who made films like “The Silence of the Lambs” and “Stop Making Sense,” which helped define their respective genres. He died in Manhattan from complications of esophageal cancer at the age of 73.

Ann Coulter has officially canceled her controversial speech at the University of California, Berkeley.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, grappling with a multimillion-dollar budget deficit, is quietly talking to city officials about charging admission for visitors from outside New York — an idea bound to be debated, since the Met is a public institution that was free for a century and now has a “suggested” entrance fee that many don’t pay.

County Executive Edward Mangano has recommended the reappointment of Zahid Syed as chairman of Nassau’s Human Rights Commission despite Syed’s suspension three years ago from his part-time county job because of time-card irregularities.

The NYC Council today held a hearing to debate nine bills aimed at expanding protections for the city’s undocumented immigrants, as well as Muslims and residents who are gay, bisexual or transgender.

The Erie County Industrial Development Agency had a record-setting day today, approving tax breaks for seven projects – the largest number of projects that it has provided subsidies for in a single meeting since it was created in 1970, agency officials said.

New York City jails drastically have reduced the number of inmates in solitary confinement. But problems remain with the way some of its most dangerous inmates are housed, according to a report released today by the jails’ watchdog agency.

Some ticket resellers are hoping fans will pay up to $9,800 for a pair of seats to see The Beatles legend Paul McCartney at the Carrier Dome on Saturday, Sept. 23.

Animal Adventure Park is accepting two sponsors to help continue their conservation efforts – one for the live stream of April the giraffe and her new baby, and another for the live web show next Monday where they’ll announce the calf’s name.

Actress Liv Tyler and her rock star father, Steven Tyler, have upstate roots.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Cayuga and Nassau counties. The Legislature is in session for the third and final day this week.

The Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network kicks off its annual convention at the Sheraton Hotel in midtown Manhattan. Speakers today include former US AG Eric Holder, DNC Chair Tom Perez, Cuomo (in the evening), NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray and others.

In D.C., President Donald Trump this morning will be at the Department of the Interior to deliver remarks and sign the antiquities executive order.

In the afternoon, Trump will return to the White House to have lunch with VP Mike Pence.

He will then meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, participates in a federalism event with governors and signs an education federalism executive order, drops by an all-senators briefing on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, holds a National Teacher of the Year event, and conducts several briefings.

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

Headlines…

A federal judge blocked President Donald Trump’s attempt to withhold funding from “sanctuary cities” that do not cooperate with U.S. immigration officials, saying the president has no authority to attach new conditions to federal spending.

Trump plans to unveil a tax cut blueprint today that would apply a vastly reduced, 15 percent business tax rate not only to corporations but also to companies that now pay taxes through the personal income tax code — from mom-and-pop businesses to his own real estate empire.

After moving last month against former President Obama’s efforts to limit fossil fuel exploration and combat climate change, Trump will complete his effort to overturn environmental policy this week, signing two executive orders to expand offshore drilling and roll back conservation on public lands.

Congressional Republicans have made an offer to keep the government funded without any demands for funding to begin construction of a border wall, paving the way for an agreement to avoid a shutdown in the coming days.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is scheduled to discuss Long Island’s gang violence problem Friday during a visit to Central Islip, officials said.

Trump will return to New York City on May 4 — marking his first trip back to his hometown since taking office. He is slated to deliver an address aboard the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum on Manhattan’s West Side, and will meet face-to-face with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Reaching across party lines — and the Lincoln Tunnel — Cuomo announced the hiring of Maria Comella, a former top aide to Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, to serve as chief of staff.

Comella, who has worked on numerous GOP presidential campaigns but supported Hillary Clinton over Trump last year, said her decision to accept the chief of staff job was part of a desire “to be an active participant in our democratic process.”

Creating a possible power struggle at the state Capitol, a bill requiring more oversight of Cuomo’s economic development programs has cleared an important hurdle in Albany, passing by unanimous vote in the Senate Finance Committee.

A law firm hired by Hoosick Falls to negotiate with two companies blamed for polluting water supplies billed the village tens of thousands of dollars to provide public relations advice and to serve as the gatekeeper for numerous Freedom of Information Law requests filed by news organizations.

After two derailments at Pennsylvania Station, Amtrak officials are considering closing tracks at the station for an extended period to make long-term repairs — a drastic move that would cause huge disruptions for tens of thousands of commuters.

The MTA discriminates against people with disabilities because of its widespread lack of elevators and electric lifts in the subway system, rendering it significantly more inaccessible than other cities with large public transportation systems, according to two lawsuits filed yesterday.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city would spend $100 million on narrowing the largest gap in the 32-mile Hudson River Greenway loop with an esplanade over part of the gap between 41st and 61st streets. Another $5 million will be spent on accelerating efforts to fill in smaller gaps in East Harlem and Inwood.

Though NYC GOP leader had hoped to avoid another bruising primary in this year’s mayor’s race, the field of candidates has grown. The latest to throw her hat into the ring is Staten Island Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, who said she’s running “unless my good friend John Catsimatidis jumps into the race.”

Three retired police officers and a former Brooklyn prosecutor were charged yesterday in a widening federal corruption investigation into the New York Police Department and its gun-licensing division.

The government’s key witness in multiple corruption probes – Jona Rechnitz – was a part-time “loan shark” who made money doling out predatory loans, court documents alleged.

The de Blasio administration is planning to make schools cooler over the next five years by adding nearly $29 million to the city’s budget for air-conditioning.

More >

Extras

A federal judge in California temporarily blocked the Trump administration’s efforts to withhold funding from cities that limit their cooperation with federal immigration enforcement – another setback for the president in what is shaping up to be a long season of litigation surrounding the clash between the White House and so-called sanctuary cities.

The leaders of the House Oversight Committee said that former White House National Security Advisor Michael Flynn appears to have not properly disclosed payments he received from Russia to the US government.

President Barack Obama reportedly has inked a deal that will bank him $400,000 to speak to a Wall Street firm, placing him on the money train that caused his would-be successor Hillary Clinton problems in her presidential campaign

Trump hasn’t managed to get any major laws passed in his first 100 days in office — but that didn’t stop the White House from declaring his the most successful opening stretch for a president since FDR, citing his extensive use of executive orders.

Trump strongly repudiated anti-Semitism and pledged to “never forget” the Holocaust, after a series of major missteps by the president and White House officials around Holocaust history and Jewish issues.

Trump’s Presidential Inaugural Committee acknowledged that a final report it filed with the Federal Election Commission this month was riddled with errors, and it plans to file an amended and/or corrected version.

Some conservative media figures invited to an exclusive event with the president last night left the White House frustrated and complaining that Trump’s staff had intentionally sought to limit what they could report out of the meeting.

Two New York Republicans – Reps. Chris Collins and John Katko – have appealed to Trump to intervene as Lake Ontario’s waters continue to rise.

Staten Island Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis has said she plans to enter the New York City mayoral race – a bid that could shake up what has so far been a sleepy campaign season.

Trump will return to New York for the first time as commander-in-chief next week, for a speech and a face-to-face meeting aboard the Intrepid with the Australian prime minister.

The audience at the W20 Summit — a G-20 adjunct focused on women’s issues — booed and groaned when Ivanka Trump praised her father as a “tremendous champion of supporting families.”

The head of a pro-Israel Jewish-American group is urging Cuomo to block an invitation to have Muslim civil rights activist Linda Sarsour speak at a CUNY commencement ceremony.

Maria Comella, a former top aide to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie who has ample experience working on GOP presidential campaigns, is crossing party lines and the Hudson River to become Cuomo’s new chief of staff. (More here).

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is traveling to Vermont next week for a Vermont Democrats event, where he’ll enjoy a little face time with U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The Blackstone Group, a hedge fund that is among opponents of closing the carried interest loophole at the state level, is home – once again – to ex-top Cuomo administration aide Bill Mulrow, who is chairing the governor’s 2018 campaign.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg attacked sanctuary cities on MSNBC this morning, denouncing the idea of cities effectively nullifying federal law. “You cannot…have everybody be deciding which laws they obey,” he said. “The law is the law.”

Local officials are grappling with the likely increased costs associated with the raise the age legislation that recently became law as part of the new state budget.

Cuomo used a stop in Rochester today for a political twofer: Touting airport upgrades first announced seven months ago and taking a ride in a car driven by a likely Lyft driver.

New York’s 10 regional economic development councils will compete for more than $800 million in state economic development aid in the latest round of an initiative launched by Cuomo six years ago.

A petition drive is underway to name one of the future new Staten Island ferryboats after Firefighter John G. Chipura, a Staten Islander who died in the World Trade Center attacks on September 11, 2001.

The two full-service gambling casinos that opened upstate this year are each earning about $3 million in gaming revenues per week, according to reports from the New York Gaming Commission

Eating chocolate cake for breakfast is good for you. No, really.

Nope.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Monroe County and Albany.

Members of Congress return to work on Capitol Hill after a two-week spring break. In Albany, both the Senate and Assembly are in session today.

VP Mike Pence is returning to D.C., having cut short a 10-day trip to Asia and Hawaii. He will attend the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s National Days of Remembrance ceremony with the president at 11 a.m.

In the afternoon, Pence will participate in the Senate Republican Policy Luncheon.

After the Days of Remembrance ceremony, President Donald Trump will meet with Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin, and then have a meeting on tax reform.

Later in the afternoon, Trump will participate in a farmers’ roundtable and sign an executive order promoting agriculture. He’ll also meet with National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, and have dinner with Sen. Bob Corker.

It’s a very busy day in NYC, state and national politics. A fuller calendar of the events appears at the end of this post.

Headlines…

President Trump last night appeared to back off his threat to risk a government shutdown if he didn’t get his demand for a down payment on a border wall with Mexico, removing the major barrier to keeping the government open at the end of this week.

Trump has instructed his advisers to make cutting the corporate tax rate to 15 percent a centerpiece of his tax-cut blueprint to be unveiled this week, according to people with knowledge of his plans, even if that means a significant reduction in revenue that could jettison his campaign promise to curb deficits.

In his first public speech since leaving office, former President Obama decried the influence of money in politics and the polarization he blamed on social media and the explosive growth of cable TV.

Obama studiously avoided any mention of Trump or the assault on his own legacy as he returned to his adoptive home of Chicago.

The U.S. State Department’s recent promotion of Trump’s Florida resort, Mar-a-Lago, is drawing criticism from Democrats and ethics advocates.

The U.S. Department of State has appointed “Fox & Friends” anchor Heather Nauert as its new spokeswoman.

Albany County Judge Peter Lynch ruled that Sen. Robert Ortt’s rights weren’t violated during the grand-jury process last month, which resulted in felony indictments against the Niagara County Republican and his predecessor, ex-Sen. George Maziarz.

Reached by phone following the ruling, Stephen R. Coffey, Ortt’s Albany defense attorney, said he had no comment on the decision but indicated that he thought Ortt would be exonerated.

Kristina Johnson, an engineer, inventor and former top US Energy Department official, was named chancellor of SUNY, eventually replacing outgoing Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, though there will be a several month lag between the two during which an interim chancellor will be in charge.

In addition to serving as and undersecretary of the U.S. Department of Energy, Johnson helped develop technology that aided the 3-D glasses used in films like “Avatar.”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed skepticism about the need for the additional powers afforded to the governor in the latest state budget.

The mayor wants to extend his pre-K program — promising free full-day child care for all city 3-year-olds by 2021, but he’ll need help from the state and federal governments to pay for it.

De Blasio criticized a lawsuit demanding that he fix the city’s unbalanced property tax system as wrong-headed — but wouldn’t say how the problem should be fixed.

De Blasio will announce plans to spend $1.8 million on 14 new sidewalk-cleaning trucks as part of his executive budget, set to be rolled out on tomorrow.

The mayor denied speculation that he has been coloring his hair.

Mayoral hopeful Bo Dietl “illegally secured journalists’ phone records and credit reports” at the behest of Fox News executives, a new lawsuit filed by Andrea Tantaros charged.

Eric Ulrich, one of three Republicans on the NYC Council who once considered a run against de Blasio himself, instead has endorsed Dietl’s mayoral run, lending the weight of an elected officeholder to a political novice.

Democratic operative Charlie King, an on-again/off-again Cuomo ally for years, gets attention from the WSJ for his recent public – and controversial – attacks defending a top administration official, Melissa DeRosa.

More >

Extras

Former President Obama today made his first public comments since leaving the White House, but made only the most passing of references to his successor.

Vice President Mike Pence is cutting short a 10-day trip to Asia and Hawaii, returning to Washington by mid-week to help the president pass a spending bill to keep the government fully open past Friday.

Top Trump administration officials will hold a rare briefing on Wednesday at the White House for the entire U.S. Senate on the situation in North Korea, senior Senate aides said.

Actress and longtime education advocate Cynthia Nixon used her appearance on “The View” today to attack Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s education policies — and compared him to Trump’s controversial Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

Cuomo will nominate NYSERDA CEO John Rhodes to head the PSC, replacing former Chair Audrey Zibelman, who left to head one of Australia’s grid operators earlier this year.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is staffing up for his re-election bid — starting with naming Rick Fromberg, the operative he previously tapped to create City Hall’s Public Engagement Unit, as campaign manager.

Seeking to double down on an effort — expanding early childhood education — for which he has been widely praised, de Blasio announced a plan today to offer free, full-day prekindergarten to 3-year-olds.

Former Broome County Executive Debbie Preston was scheduled to be arraigned on three counts of official misconduct this morning. Instead, she entered a guilty plea to just one of those counts.

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, Assemblyman Charles Lavine, also a Democratic Nassau County executive candidate, introduced an amendment to the SAFE Act that would prohibit any individual convicted of a hate crime from possessing a firearm.

The fierce lobbying battle in Albany that led to expansion of ride-sharing services such as Uber and Lyft statewide has now moved to Long Island and Westchester County, where taxi interests hope to persuade suburban counties to opt out of the app-based transportation.

Greek yogurt giant Chobani is suing right-wing radio host Alex Jones, accusing the conspiracy theorist of publishing false information about the company.

The last remaining Lottery game where you can get a ticket for a dollar will soon be no more. Tickets for Mega Millions will at the end of October go from $1 to $2, although Lottery officials say there will be more chances to win.

Dailykos takes a closer look at potential Democratic primary challenges to IDC members in the next election cycle.

Green groups and business interests don’t agree on much, but both view Cuomo’s recent decisions on natural gas infrastructure like pipelines as inconsistent and problematic, albeit for different reasons.

Former Fox host Andrea Tantaros filed a suit in federal court today alleging that network operatives hacked her phones and emails to conduct a smear campaign against her after she reported sexual-harassment complaints against former CEO Roger Ailes and Bill O’Reilly.

Here and Now

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

The state Legislature is due back in Albany today after its two-week spring break.

Former President Barack Obama returns to the national stage with the first big speech of his post-White House tenure, to be delivered in his hometown of Chicago. (He’ll be speaking to community leaders and organizers at the University of Chicago, which will be the site of his presidential library).

In D.C., the U.S. Senate is scheduled to confirm (belatedly) the president’s pick to be the next Agriculture secretary, Georgia former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue.

At 9 a.m., AARP launches a statewide series of free public document shredding events as part of “Operation: Stop Scams” to help New Yorkers fight identity theft and fraud, Sidney Albert Jewish Community Center, 340 Whitehall Road, Albany.

Also at 9 a.m., the NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment Commissioner Julie Menin presents economic impact study of the music industry at Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce Brooklyn Newsmakers event, Brooklyn Bowl, 61 Wythe Ave., Brooklyn.

At 10:30 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio makes an education-related announcement, P.S. 1 The Courtlandt School, 335 East 152nd St., the Bronx. (NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina and NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray will also attend).

At 11 a.m., the #CLOSErikers campaign with actors Rosie O’Donnell, Megan Boone and Matt McGorry host an anniversary rally, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., Assemblyman Ron Kim announces new legislative measures aimed at increasing punishment for individuals who assault taxi drivers, Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Blvd., Queens.

Also at 11 a.m., Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Fireman’s Association of the State of New York President Ken Pienkowski and others announce seventh annual RecruitNY statewide firefighter recruitment initiative to boost firefighter numbers, Doyle Hose Company No. 1, 2199 William St., Cheektowaga.

Also at 11 a.m., environmental organizations respond to a new LIPA study, CCE Office, 225 Main St., Farmingdale, Long Island.

At noon, Queens Republican Councilman Eric Ulrich, who considered – but decided against – a run for NYC mayor, will endorse Bob Dietl’s run for that office, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at noon, state Sen. Terrence Murphy, Assemblyman Felix Ortiz and the Alliance Combating Distracted Driving host the 2017 Distracted Driving Awareness Lobby Day, Legislative Office Building, third floor, Albany.

At 1 p.m., NYC Councilman Mathieu Eugene, the Haitian-American Council for Unity and Empowerment and others to urge the U.S. secretary of homeland security to renew Temporary Protected Status for Haiti, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 1 p.m., NYC Councilman Corey Johnson and AARP launch a statewide series of free document shredding events as part of “Operation: Stop Scams” to help New Yorkers fight identity theft and fraud, 26th Street between 8th and 9th Avenues, Manhattan.

At 2 p.m., Tax Equity Now New York (TENNY), a newly formed coalition of homeowners, civil justice organizations, and real estate leaders dedicated to fixing New York City’s broken property tax system will make a major announcement, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 3 p.m., the SUNY board of trustees holds a public meeting, The State University Plaza, 353 Broadway, Large Courtroom, Albany. (The selection of a replacement for outgoing Chancellor Nancy Zimpher will be announced).

At 4 p.m., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer hosts a symposium on “How to keep manufacturing in NYC: the Garment Center and beyond,” High School of Fashion Industries, 225 W. 24th St., Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., ABNY hosts the Spirit of ABNY Awards honoring former MTA Chairman and CEO Tom Prendergast, New York City Transportation Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and others, The Rainbow Room, 30 Rockefeller Center, Manhattan.

At 6:30 p.m., Long Island Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin holds a fundraiser with National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Steve Stivers, The Kimberly Hotel, 145 E. 50th St., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., a pre-taped interview with de Blasio – AKA “Mondays With the Mayor” – airs on NY1’s “Inside City Hall.”

Also at 7 p.m., de Blasio will deliver remarks at the Queens County Democratic Organization’s Friends of Queens County event, Diageo’s 4th on 5th, 530 Fifth Ave., Manhattan.

Headlines…

Congressional leaders and White House officials have steered the nation to the brink of a government shutdown that virtually all parties agree would be a terrible idea.

President Trump shrugged off the 100-day milestone in the White House as inconsequential ahead of the looming landmark — with only a fraction of his goals accomplished.

No matter whether centrist economist Emmanuel Macron or far-right National Front leader Marine Le Pen wins France’s presidency in two weeks’ time, yesterday’s first-round election made history in France.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg said he decided not to run for president in 2016 because he did not believe he could win, especially on an independent ticket. “If I thought we could win, or had a reasonable chance, I would have done it,” he told “60 Minutes.”

Bloomberg’s net worth is $47 billion, and he says most of that will go to his philanthropic foundation. He has already given away $5 billion to causes that often dovetail with his political interests, like gun control and the environment.

A wide majority of voters who supported Hillary Clinton in the November presidential election say they would vote for her again despite her loss, according to a new poll.

Trump commented on the results of the Washington Post/ABC News poll, in which 53 percent of respondents characterized him as a strong leader. “Would still beat Hillary in…popular vote,” he tweeted.

Trump’s star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame has been vandalized for the second time since October.

Trump will likely make his Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J., a bucolic town 40 miles west of Midtown Manhattan, his getaway spot for the summer.

Kristina Johnson, an engineer who developed technology critical to 3-D movies and served as under secretary in the U.S. Energy Department before founding a hydroelectric company, will be appointed chancellor of the SUNY, replacing outgoing Chancellor Nancy Zimpher, the first woman to hold the post.

Republican state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan will reportedly insist that more charter schools be allowed to open in New York City as part of any deal to extend Mayor Bill de Blasio’s authority over the public-school system.

State Senate Deputy Democratic Minority Leader Michael Gianaris, who heads his conference’s campaign operation, recently met with former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to talk about the need to flip New York to total Democratic control, and DNC Deputy Chair Keith Ellison will headline a fundraiser for the conference in June.

Central New York Rep. John Katko, a former longtime federal prosecutor, is reportedly considering a 2018 run for state attorney general on the GOP line. A spokeswoman for the congressman did not rule out the possibility that he’ll run statewide.

The Brooklyn DA’s office, promising to seek “equal and fair justice” for the borough’s vulnerable foreign-born residents, has created a policy that tailors prosecutions to avoid, when possible, the deportation or detention of immigrants charged with certain misdemeanors or nonviolent crimes.

Five people, three of them children, were killed in a fire that roared through a house in Queens yesterday afternoon, New York City officials said. The dead included two boys, 2 and 9; a girl, 14; a woman, 20; and a man, 45.

An off-duty NYPD officer was accused of drunk driving yesterday morning when he crashed on the Van Wyck Expressway, critically injuring two people, police said.

More >

The Weekend That Was

Two polls released today show that Trump will mark his 100th day in office with the lowest approval rating in both surveys since they began decades ago. Voters who supported him on Election Day, though, are still nearly universal in their approval.

While Trump still draws overwhelming support from his own party, he risks losing the nation’s political middle ground. Among independents, disapproval rose markedly in a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, to 54 percent, while 30 percent approved of his job performance. That 24-point gap compares with a 9-point margin of disapproval in February.

Trump cast the Affordable Care Act as the Democrats’ problem and noted that it needs money to stay afloat, tweeting as his surrogates in talk show appearances said the Democratic Party must agree to border-wall funding to avoid a government shutdown.

Lawmakers returning to Washington this coming week will find a familiar quagmire on health care legislation and a budget deadline dramatized by the prospect of a protracted battle between the president and Democrats over his border wall.

The Trump administration is using the Obamacare subsidies, called “cost-sharing reductions,” as a bargaining chip to try to get Congress to begin funding the wall he wants at the Mexican border.

Trump will hold a massive rally in Pennsylvania on the same night as the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner next Saturday night.

The rally will take place in the keystone state’s capitol, Harrisburg, PA., which Trump once referred to as a “war zone.”

Trump has promised a sweeping tax plan, arriving in the days ahead, that will be “bigger, I believe, than any tax cut ever.” But there is a major roadblock to that fundamental change, and it comes from a sector well known to the president: the real estate industry.

In a wide-ranging interview with the AP, Trump said young immigrants brought to the U.S. as children and now here illegally can “rest easy,” telling the so-called “dreamers” they will not be targets for deportation under his immigration policies.

Here are the 20 people outside the White House to whom the president turns to for advice and support.

Hillary Clinton praised the thousands of demonstrators who protested Trump’s anti-science agenda on Saturday and urged people to “protect the Earth and all its beauty.”

The premiere of a virtual reality short by Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelow was already a high-profile event at the Tribeca Film Festival on Saturday night. And then Clinton walked onstage.

The NY Post’s Maureen Callahan: “Hillary and the would-be Clinton dynasty should do the right thing and just go — before the party, like the weary American electorate, is forced to show them the door.”

Trump spoke on the phone with Rep. Claudia Tenney’s son, Marine Corps 1st Lt. Trey Cleary, while he was at Camp Lejeune, NC awaiting his six-month deployment this weekend to Iraq.

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick’s drive to win in life has led to a pattern of risk-taking that has put his ride-hailing company on the brink of implosion.

Ousted “O’Reilly Factor” host Bill O’Reilly is slated to return with a new episode of his podcast tomorrow – less than a week after the cable network gave him the boot — and a $25 million payout.

The late Court of Appeals Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, whose death the NYPD is still investigating, had a tumultuous personal life, but significant professional achievements. The NY Post takes a closer look into her background.

A coalition called Tax Equity Now NY, which includes the NAACP and the Black Institute has teamed up with lawyers from the firm Latham & Watkins, including former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippmann, to file a class-action suit this week charging that the DNA of the NYC property tax system is racially biased and favors the affluent over the working- and middle-class.

The Justice Department escalated its fight with big cities and other jurisdictions over immigration on Friday, suggesting that illegal immigration is increasing urban crime and threatening to pull grant funding from uncooperative jurisdictions.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio writes in the NY Daily News: “The United States Department of Justice released an outrageous and absurdly false statement calling New York City ‘soft on crime.’ That is an unacceptable insult to the NYPD and all New Yorkers. President Trump and his Attorney General Jeff Sessions must immediately repudiate it.”

The NYC correction officers who have been decrying what they call a dangerous uptick in jail violence filed a new lawsuit against de Blasio and the Department of Corrections, saying they are to blame for the uptick — and the alleged coverup.

A federal judge has unsealed records that suggest a coverup of an inmate’s claims that he was abused by guards after the escape of two prisoners from Clinton Correctional Facility that sparked a massive manhunt in 2015.

The Lifetime movie about Joyce Mitchell and the Dannemora prison escape will premiere tonight at 8:00 p.m. on Lifetime. A special extended version of the movie will air at 8:00 p.m. tomorrow and again at 12:00 a.m. on Tuesday.

De Blasio appeared Saturday with Gary LaBarbera, president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, to announce a memorandum of understanding between the city and the union to begin training as many as 3,000 workers to perform retrofits on city buildings.

At least four NYC taxi drivers have each been fined hundreds of dollars by the city for praising Trump — and, in some cases, making offensive comments to passengers, the Daily News reports.

New York City’s birth rate is declining and is now the fourth lowest among the nation’s 10 largest metro areas, according to 2016 census estimates.

A corruption sting that led to headlines and the indictments of 50 NYC officials and the business people who bribed them has resulted in only a handful of prison sentences.

Queens businessman Edul Ahmad was sentenced Friday to two years behind bars for running a mortgage-fraud scam, after cooperating with authorities and rolling over on former state Sen. John Sampson.

A federal judge denied a request by a coalition of police-reform groups that the NYPD’s body camera pilot program, set to begin this coming week, should be stopped and reviewed, claiming the plan has numerous problems that need to be fixed.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo tipped his hat to Earth Day on Saturday by announcing the preservation of more than 5,900 acres of parkland in the Hudson Valley. The forested expanses have been acquired by the state in parcels under a program that started in 2011.

Cuomo’s speech Friday evening at the New York State Democratic Rural Conference at the Hotel Syracuse was not open to the news media. U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s speech earlier in the conference was open to reporters.

Tenney says the $15 million gondola planned for the New York State Fair is an unnecessary waste of taxpayers’ money, and she’ll oppose granting the federal approval needed for the project.

The Green Party’s Howie Hawkins will make his third run for mayor of Syracuse this fall, bringing the field of candidates ting to replace incumbent Stephanie Miner, who is term limited out of office, to 10.

Terrence Robinson announced Saturday his intention to run on the Green Party line for Buffalo mayor, doing so on Earth Day 2017, which was also the one year anniversary of the Paris Agreement and the 47th anniversary of the first Earth Day in 1970.

Steve Cichon formally announced Saturday that he is a candidate for Erie County Clerk, seeking the Democratic endorsement. Surrounded by family, friends and supporters in front of Cheektowaga Town Hall, Cichon said he will bring an “outsider perspective” to the office.

A retired Tonawanda city police officer who serves as the Common Council’s Fourth Ward councilman announced Saturday he will run for mayor. Timothy Toth, a Republican, is seeking to unseat Mayor Rick Davis, a Democrat, who is expected to campaign for a second four-year term.

Syracuse police officers fired their weapons when a man tried to run them over Saturday during a traffic stop in the city, leading to a chase that ended on the Onondaga Nation.

A New York State Division of Human Rights public hearing has been set to hear testimony in a sexual harassment complaint filed against Huntington Highway Superintendent Peter Gunther.

LIPA’s long-awaited review of current and future power needs cites a $5 billion price tag in recommending against an overhaul of two aging power plants and canceling a decision to build a large plant.

Growing demand for cellular data by smartphones, tablets and other devices has led wireless carriers across the country to deploy a new kind of wireless transmitter called “small cells” to provide better coverage in densely populated areas.

Major service disruptions on the Long Island Rail Road this year — including those caused by two Penn Station derailments in less than two weeks — have exposed the vulnerabilities of the region’s aging and overused rail system, and most meaningful solutions remain far off, experts said.

Lake Ontario’s high water level has damaged their properties and flooded other areas, prompting Niagara County to declare a state of emergency in the lakeshore towns of Porter, Wilson, Newfane and Somerset.

April the giraffe has become a cash cow for the Animal Adventure Park in upstate’s Harpursville, thanks to a YouTube video livestream of her pregnancy and birth of an incredibly cute calf that has riveted viewers around the world, though the zoo won’t say exactly how much it has earned.

Here and Now

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

In D.C. this morning, President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at the White House, and then will travel to the Department of the Treasury to sign financial services Executive Orders and meet with Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin.

In the afternoon, Trump will meet with the Director of the Office of Management and Budget Mick Mulvaney.

At 8:15 a.m., John Miller, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, speaks at a CityLaw Breakfast, New York Law School, Events Center, 185 W. Broadway, Manhattan.

At 8:30 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul accepts the 2017 Donald H. Gemson Award for Public Policy on Cuomo’s behalf at the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network Breakfast, Hard Rock Cafe, 1501 Broadway, Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo will be joined by Sheriff Patrick O’Flynn and several town supervisors to discuss response efforts to flooding along Lake Ontario, Mayer’s Marina, 7 Lake Rd., Webster.

Also at 9 a.m., state Senate interns take part in a model legislative session, state Senate chambers, state Capitol, Albany.

Also at 9 a.m., Hudson Valley Pattern for Progress will host Reps. John Faso and Sean Patrick Maloney for its “Across the Aisle” discussion at Marist College, the Cabaret Dining Hall, Student Center (2nd Floor), 3399 North Rd., Town of Poughkeepsie.

At 10 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will appear live on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, and will take calls from listeners.

At 11 a.m., U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will visit the World Awareness Children’s Museum for a press conference calling on the Senate to reject President Trump’s budget proposal to eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities, World Awareness Children’s Museum, 89 Warren St., Glens Falls.

Also at 11 a.m., Assemblyman David Weprin and fellow elected officials stand with Harkirat Singh, a 25-year-old Sikh taxi driver who was assaulted while on duty, Sikh Cultural Society, 9530 118th St., Queens.

At 11:30 a.m., Canal Corp. Director Brian Stratton delivers a regional budget briefing, Genesee Community College, Conable Technology Building, Room T-102, 1 College Rd., Batavia.

Also at 11:30 a.m., Rep. John Katko will be joined by a bipartisan group of local leaders to discuss his efforts in Congress to strengthen water infrastructure in Central New York, Emerson Park Pavilion, 6879 E. Lake Rd., Auburn.

At 1 p.m., Faso will be helping raise awareness at a rally on National Blue and Green Day for Organ Donation, Roscoe Central School, 6 Academy St., Roscoe.

At 3 p.m., the Benjamin Center at SUNY New Paltz for kicks off a two-day event on Women in Politics, which will feature Gillibrand, former NYC Council Speaker Chris Quinn, Sen. Marisol Alcantara, Rensselaer County Executive Kathy Jimino, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and others, FDR Library & Museum, Hyde Park.

At 3:30 p.m., Hochul delivers regional highlights of the 2017-18 state budget, Oswego City Council Chambers, 13 West Oneida St., Oswego.

At 6:30 p.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina delivers remarks at an Arts Matter event, Carnegie Hall – Weil Terrace Room, 154 W. 57th St., Manhattan.

Headlines…

Hillary Clinton told an audience of LGBT advocates last night that the progress they’ve achieved in recent years may not be secure under the Trump administration, and urged them to keep fighting.

Former Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara took a shot at Trump’s Justice Department, questioning its judicial independence in light of efforts by former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani to persuade “senior officials” to help him free a jailed businessman being prosecuted by Bharara’s old office.

The Trump administration has opened a wide-ranging probe into whether to curb steel imports in the name of national security, ramping up its campaign to give a more economic nationalist tinge to American trade policy.

Registered voters prefer embattled United Airlines over President Trump, a new poll reveals.

UC Berkeley invited controversial conservative Ann Coulter back to campus — a little more than 24 hours after cancelling her gig which had been set for next week.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo last night announced the submission of 154 vetoes of “unnecessary language” in the new state budget.

Cuomo is boasting that he increased the state budget by only 2 percent — but the Assembly says its analysis shows “total state spending” went up 5.6 percent over last year.

According to a Cuomo spokeswoman, the governor’s new top aide, Melissa DeRosa, is “actively engaged” with JCOPE, the state’s ethics-advisory agency, “to ensure that even the appearance of impropriety is avoided” ahead of her starting her new position later this year.

During his eight annual State of the County address, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, saying he was elected to stop “the tax madness,” pledged not to raise property taxes in 2018.

Astorino also outlined a new plan in response to the opioid epidemic and asked the Board of Legislators to join him in a lawsuit aimed at protecting taxpayers, ratepayers, students and communities directly affected by the eventual closure of Indian Point.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has weighed in on the sexual misconduct scandal at her alma mater, the Emma Willard School, saying she’s “deeply disturbed and outraged” about the issue.

The veteran FDNY firefighter who fell to his death yesterday was a renowned heavy metal drummer who was scheduled to go on tour next month — and was once offered a spot in the Grammy-nominated band Hatebreed.

Police detectives have videos showing Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam walked alone in the area between her New York City home and the Hudson River for more than three hours the night before her body was found in the river, according to a senior law-enforcement official.

Attorneys for a class-action lawsuit against the NYPD’s body camera program said in court papers the new policy for the cameras, set to be rolled out later this month, should require that more encounters with police and the public be recorded.

New York City’s tourism arm is hoping to counter the president’s “hostile ‘America First’ rhetoric” with a multimillion-dollar ad campaign aimed at countries that often send the most U.S. visitors, including the United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico and Spain, the agency’s research chief told the NYC Council.

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Extras

Bill O’Reilly reportedly will receive “tens of millions” in severance from Fox News, though 21st Century Fox and O’Reilly’s representatives will not acknowledge the existence of a payout because a confidentiality agreement limits what the two sides can say.

..the payment, according to sources, is up to $25 million – the equivalent of one year of O’Reilly’s salary.

Fire Fox News host Andrea Tantaros charges two of her ex-colleagues conspired to smear her reputation by spreading a nasty internet story as payback for a threatened lawsuit.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s reaction to O’Reilly’s departure from the airwaves: “I’m sure the station will adjust. and it was their decision — it couldn’t have been an easy one. My guess is the evidence was overwhelming for FOX to make that decision.”

White House officials, desperate to demonstrate progress on President Trump’s promise to repeal the Affordable Care Act, are pushing to resurrect a revamped version of a Republican health care bill before his 100th day in office next week.

Trump on healthcare: “The plan gets better and better and better, and it’s gotten really, really good, and a lot of people are liking it a lot.”

Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz, chair of the House Oversight Committee, already made waves by announcing he won’t be seeking re-election, but now ups the ante by suggesting he may not even serve out the entirety of his current two-year term.

Trump blasted the New York Times’ “big lie” for posting contrasting photos of the crowd size at his Patriots Super Bowl celebration at the White House versus the one held by then-President Obama in 2015. (The paper ended up adding a correction to its story).

Trump confidant Roger Stone had his Twitter account temporarily locked again this week after tweeting “I’m watching you and know what you’re up to. Better watch your ass” to Media Matters communications director Laura Allison Keiter.

A New York City firefighter died today after falling from the roof of an apartment building in Queens, a Fire Department official said.

The husband of the late Court of Appeals Judge Shelia Abdus-Salaam says he has no reason to believe she committed suicide, and speculation that she did is both “unwarranted and irresponsible.”

Trump’s frequent Mar-a-Lago visits may soon end, as the private club shuts down for the season in May.

A new Buffalo train station should be located downtown, a site selection committee concluded today. The vote was 11 in favor of downtown, 4 in favor of the Central Terminal, with one absention.

The New York State Board of Parole is appealing a judge’s decision that would have this month freed Laurie Kellogg, who was convicted of murdering her husband in 1992.

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani has for the first time acknowledged the contours of his unusual effort in representing Reza Zarrab, a Turkish gold trader jailed in Manhattan on charges of conspiring to violate the American sanctions on Iran: In a newly unsealed court affidavit, he makes it clear that he is trying to turn a criminal case into a matter of international diplomacy.

The Biological Diversity Center is suing the Trump administration for repealing protections for wolves, bears and other predatory animals that live on Alaska’s national preserves.

Highlighting Women’s March activists Tamika Mallory, Bob Bland, Carmen Perez and Linda Sarsour for Times “100 most influential people” edition, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand says we are witnessing the rebirth of the women’s movement.

At the same time lawmakers raised the age, they gave people with criminal convictions, regardless of their age, a chance to seal their records from public view.

The knives are out in Hillary Clinton’s camp about who leaked embarrassing information to the authors of a bombshell new book about her “doomed presidential campaign.”

In New York’s prisons and jails, simple menstruation supplies like pads and tampons can become bargaining chips, used to maintain control by correction officers, or traded among incarcerated women, according to former inmates and advocates on the issue.

Rep. Claudia Tenney says she “can’t wait” to do in-person town halls, though the investigation into death threats against her appears to be ongoing.

Madison County could be the first upstate county to ban single-use plastic bags.

Nassau’s Democratic Committee this week launched the first of what it says will be numerous advertisements targeting Democratic county executive candidate George Maragos, who assails party leaders frequently.

This happened.

Here and Now

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

In D.C., President Donald Trump is scheduled to meet this afternoon with National Security Advisor H. R. McMaster, and then will welcome Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni of Italy to the White House.

Trump and Gentiloni will have a bilateral meeting, followed by a press conference.

At 8:15 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina visit to P.S. 516 for Pre-K for All Acceptance Day as New York City parents get their first round pre-K offers for the 2017-2018 school year, 4222 4th Avenue at 43rd Street, Brooklyn.

At 9:30 a.m., the NYC Rent Guidelines Board holds a public meeting, Landmarks Preservation Commission Conference Room, David N. Dinkins Manhattan Municipal Building, 1 Centre St., Manhattan.

Also at 9:30 a.m., Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney signs an official statement of support for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, encouraging employers to act as advocates for employee participation in the military, Headquarters Building, Stewart Air National Guard Base, Newburgh.

At 10 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul makes an announcement, EmergenceTek, Brisbane Building, 403 Main St., Lafayette Square, Buffalo.

At 11 a.m., NYPIRG holds a news conference to release government information that details a vast array of leaking pipelines, polluted oil storage facilities and hundreds of contaminated gas stations that ExxonMobil or its corporate predecessors owned or operated in New York, state Capitol, 3rd Floor (outside Senate lobby), Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., students from CUNY hold rally and press conference to oppose Cuomo’s “backdoor tuition hike,” and will deliver petition signatures to the NYC Council Higher Education Committee demanding free and open CUNY for all, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 11:45 a.m., Hochul provides Hanover Chamber of Commerce members with highlights of the 2017-18 budget, The Colony Restaurant, 876 Main Rd., Irving. (Chautauqua County).

At noon, the #NoCuts Coalition, an alliance of dozens of grass-roots groups, civic organizations, faith leaders and labor unions rally against the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, 26 Federal Plaza, Manhattan.

At 12:15 p.m., the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council meets and Moynihan Station Development Corporation President Michael Evans presenting the second phase of the Moynihan Station, New York Metropolitan Transportation Council office, 25 Beaver St., Suite 201, Manhattan.

At 1 p.m., NYC Councilman Dan Garodnick, Committee on Economic Development chairman, will hold a hearing examining the economic impact of President Trump’s travel ban on New York City, Council Chambers, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 1 p.m., the state PSC will meet, 19th floor Board Room, 3 Empire State Plaza, Albany.

Also at 1 p.m., state Sen. Tony Avella and residents call on the city to transfer control of a vacant lot to the parks department so that a new park can be created, 39th Avenue and 234th Street, Queens.

At 1:30 p.m., Republican NYC mayoral candidate Paul Massey tours Cristo Rey Brooklyn High School and discusses education policy, 710 East 37th St., Brooklyn.

Also at 1:30 p.m., community groups announce legal action against the NYPD body cameras program, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 2 p.m., NYC Councilman Mark Treyger, Mayor’s Office of Recovery and Resiliency Director Jainey Bavishi and others release report detailing effective strategies to increase neighborhood resiliency, Coney Island Cathedral, 2816 Mermaid Ave., Brooklyn.

At 6 p.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray will speak about mental health at the Phyllis L. Kossoff Lecture, an annual forum at the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College, 47-49 East 65th St., Manhattan.

Also at 6 p.m., Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and the Queens Parent Advisory Board meet for a workshop on “The College Admissions Process and How to Fund Your Child’s College Education,” Queens Borough Hall, 120-55 Queens Boulevard, Queens.

At 6:30 p.m., Rep. Hakeem Jeffries hosts a town hall meeting on the Trump presidency, Boys and Girls High School, 1700 Fulton St., Brooklyn.

At 7:30 p.m., de Blasio delivers remarks at the Hispanic Federation’s annual gala, American Museum of Natural History, Central Park West at 79th Street, Manhattan.

At 8 p.m., Democratic Westchester County Legislature Majority Leader Catherine Borgia delivers a rebuttal to County Executive Rob Astorino’s address and outlines her caucus’ vision for Westchester. (Video and transcript to be provided).

Headlines…

If Congress does not strike the first truly bipartisan deal of his presidency by April 28, Trump will spend his 100th day explaining to the public why the government he’s charged with running has partially shut down.

The White House denied that Trump misled the public when he suggested that a massive U.S. aircraft carrier was being deployed toward the Korean Peninsula as part of an effort to deter North Korea from launching additional missiles.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is making aggressive law enforcement a top priority, directing his federal prosecutors across the country to crack down on illegal immigrants and “use every tool” they have to go after violent criminals and drug traffickers. But he does not have a single U.S. attorney in place to lead this effort.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he will back Trump in his effort to back American dairy farmers in a developing trade war with Canada – one of the first issues on which the New York Democrat has said he’ll work with the president in his first 100 days.

Authorities are investigating an alleged stalker who showed up at Malia Obama’s workplace in Manhattan on three separate days earlier this month with a sign proposing marriage.

Former VP Joe Biden took aim at Trump’s proposal to cut billions of dollars in federal funding for medical and environmental research, telling an audience of Stony Brook University alumni in Manhattan the cuts would put the nation “a generation behind” in developing lifesaving drugs and technology.

New England Patriots star Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski yesterday crashed White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s daily media briefing.

With its biggest star – Bill O’Reilly – departing in another blowup over sexual harassment, Fox News faces some big challenges. It now has to show that it can hang on to its loyal army of conservative viewers, improve its working culture, and still continue to make big bucks for its corporate parent.

In a statement, O’Reilly said it is “tremendously disheartening” to him that he was forced to depart Fox News after 20 years due to “completely unfounded claims.”

Former Erie County Democratic Chair Steve Pigeon is accused of illegally funding races for the County Legislature and a local town supervisor in 2013. Two longtime Pigeon associates, Kristy L. Mazurek and David B. Pfaff, were arraigned on the same charges. All three pleaded not guilty.

A panel formed six months ago to determine the best site for a new Buffalo train station is expected to announce today that downtown – not Central Terminal – is its selection.

For the third time in as many months, protesters once again interrupted the monthly meeting of the Buffalo School Board, saying they will continue to disrupt proceedings until Carl Paladino is removed from his elected position for making racially charged comments.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and other WNY leaders pushed back against the proposed federal budget that would eliminate $3 million in local community development block grants and federal housing grants next year.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation to invest over $200 million to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic in New York.

Cuomo said that businesses in his Start-Up NY tax-break program should continue reporting to the state on how many jobs they create and how much money they invest in their operations, despite the requirement being eliminated by the budget he recently signed into law.

Charlie King, a top Cuomo ally, used an offensive slur to refer to Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox in an ongoing war of words over the elevation of the governor’s former chief of staff, Melissa DeRosa, to the post of secretary to the governor.

Nearly a year after NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to produce a “stunning” number of instances of donors who didn’t get what they wanted from the city, he walked back the promise and said he intends to provide only a few examples.

NYC wants to hike the minimum price of a pack of cigarettes in the five boroughs from $10.50 to $13 — a 24 percent increase. That includes the $4.35 state excise tax, the $1.50 city tax, the $1.01 federal excise tax and the sales tax. More here and here.

NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito wants the city to investigate how prevalent the teaching of sex education is in the public schools.

Real estate developer Janno Lieber, who played a prominent role in rebuilding the World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan, will join the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to oversee its large infrastructure projects, officials said.

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