Liz Benjamin

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Senate Dems Won’t Sue Over SAFE Act MOU

From the Morning Memo:

When the Senate Republicans made a surprise announcement of the memorandum of understanding they had signed with a top Cuomo administration aide that appeared to indefinitely delay a key provision of the SAFE Act, the Senate Democrats immediately cried foul.

The minority conference questioned the legality of the MOU, signed by Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and state Operations Director Jim Malatras, which seemed to derail creation of a database for ammunition sale background checks.

Deputy Senate Minority Leader Mike Gianaris said the Senate and Assembly Democrats were in talks about a potential legal challenge to the MOU, which he saw as a slippery slope and something that established a dangerous precedent.

Even as the Senate GOP declared victory – a claim gun rights advocates said was overblown – the Cuomo administration immediately downplayed the significance of the MOU, insisting the database would still go ahead as planned, though failing to explain exactly how and when that would occur.

Apparently, the administration’s assurances were sufficient to quell the Senate Democrats’ concerns – at least in the short term. During a CapTon interview last night, Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins revealed the conference is no longer planning to pursue legal action.

“At this point…I take him at his word that this will not stop anything,” the Yonkers Democrat said. “It will not weaken anything. And what I’m looking for is a timeline as to when we will be getting this done. That’s where we are right now.”

“I think the governor understands that that’s where everybody who supported the SAFE Act is,” Stewart-Cousins continued. “And I expected that to happen.”

Stewart-Cousins reiterated that neither she nor any members of her conference support any weakening of the SAFE Act. But she did not provide a deadline as to when she expects the Cuomo administration to provide a timeline for achieving the ammunition database.

According to the MOU, the Senate GOP has to sign off on any expenditure of state money that would be used to create the database.

But Flanagan, who continues to be under fire from the right for voting “yes” on the controversial gun control law, is unlikely to approve funding any time soon – especially not with the special election for ex-Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous’ seat this fall and the 2016 rematch for control of the majority looming.

The SAFE Act is likely to be a factor in the special election for Libous’ Binghamton district – a GOP dominated area where opposition to the gun control law remains strong. The Democrats’ candidate – Cuomo’s ex-DMV Commissioner and former Broome County Executive Barbara Fiala – has yet to discuss her position on the issue publicly.

Cuomo last week surprised many by publicly declaring his support for Fiala, who is also the interim chair of his Women’s Equality Party, even before she declared her candidacy. (She’s scheduled to do so later this week).

The Senate Democrats and the governor have been at odds over the past year, following Cuomo’s failure to significantly follow through on his pledge to help the conference in its 2014 quest to win back the majority.

Cuomo promised to help the Senate Democrats as part of the deal he cut to receive the ballot line of the labor-backed Working Families Party. But aside from a few endorsements (mostly made via press release) and joint appearances, the governor didn’t exactly pull out all the stops to assist his fellow Democrats.

The GOP ended up taking the majority – albeit by a very slim margin that could be imperiled if the Democrats win the Libous seat. However, even Stewart-Cousins admits that’s a long shot. She says the minority conference is setting its sights on 2016 when presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton might top the ticket and pull more New York Democrats than usual to the polls.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Warren County and New York City.

At 8 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul speaks At the Buffalo Niagara Partnership Board meeting about the governor’s economic development and tax relief measures, 665 Main St., Suite 200, Buffalo.

At 10 a.m., Cuomo attends the NYS Laborer’s meeting, The Sagamore, 110 Sagamore Rd., Bolton Landing.

Also at 10 a.m., Hochul joins state and local officials at a ribbon cutting to celebrate the extension of a Greenway nature trail, Buffalo Outer Harbor, corner of Michigan Avenue and Fuhrmann Boulevard, Buffalo.

Also at 10 a.m., NYC Councilman Jumaane Williams cohosts the eighth annual job fair at Brooklyn College.

At 11 a.m., Onondaga County GOP Chair Tom Dadey and DeWitt GOP Chair Matt Wells will introduce the Republican candidate for DeWitt Town Supervisor. The seat in currently held by Democrat Edward Michalenko, GOP HQ, 2910 Erie Blvd. East, Syracuse.

Also at 11 a.m., the Commission on Statewide Attorney Discipline, created by Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman to conduct a comprehensive review of the state’s attorney disciplinary system, 20 Eagle St., Albany.

At 11:30 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a press conference, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 11:30 a.m., the Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee holds a roundtable discussion on climate change, 250 Broadway, Manhattan.

At noon, Hochul meets with veterans and seniors, VFW Hendershott Manness Post, 550 Main St., Arcade.

Also at noon, Brooklyn BP Eric Adams will advance his “Cut the Salt, Curb the Sugar” initiative, a preventative health program in partnership with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, by distributing free copies of his new low-sodium, low-sugar cookbook, Columbus Park, downtown Brooklyn.

At 12:45 p.m., Hochul visits Jim Youngers Farm, 7004 East Arcade Rd., Arcade.

At 1:45 p.m., Hochul tours Drasgow’s Machine Shop, a recipient of a regional economic development award, 4150 Poplar Tree Rd., Gainesville.

At 2:45 p.m., Hochul tours Wyoming County Agricultural Center, 36 Center St., Warsaw. (This event is closed to members of the press due to construction).

At 3:30 p.m., Hochul stops by Yummies Ice Cream to meet small business owners in recognition of National Ice Cream Month, 12 Center St., Warsaw.

At 6 p.m., Adams and civil rights attorney Norman Siegel will host a town hall at SUNY Downstate Medical Center in East Flatbush to investigate cases of tenant harassment throughout Brooklyn, 395 Lenox Rd., East Flatbush, Brooklyn.

At 6:30 p.m., hundreds of citizens from Queens march the streets of Downtown Jamaica to demand development that includes real affordability in housing, good union jobs for the local residents and anti-displacement policies that protect residents, Greater Allen AME Cathedral of New York, 11031 Merrick Blvd., Jamaica, Queens.


Eighteen months after calling LaGuardia Airport in Queens a “third-world facility,” Vice President Joe Biden was on hand at a Manhattan hotel as Gov. Andrew Cuomo map out a plan to replace the airport.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the airport in northern Queens, estimates the overhaul will cost about $4 billion, most of which will go toward tearing down the Central Terminal Building, rebuilding it in place and augmenting it with a grand entry way.

“Three cheers for the governor,” says the New York Post, which deems the overhaul of LaGuardia is “long overdue.”

Biden and Cuomo also announced that the Rochester area would house the American Institute for Manufacturing Integrated Photonics, a more-than-$600 million partnership between the federal government, New York and a coalition of universities, non-profits, major businesses like General Electric and 20 other states.

While in Rochester Biden declared Cuomo “just about the best governor in the whole United States of America.”

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, hoping to spur action on long-stalled plans for new Hudson River rail tunnels, sent a letter to the governors of New York and New Jersey urging them to meet with him in the next two weeks to map out a strategy for building new crossings.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito seemed to have moved past her public rebuke of the mayor, whom she accused of trying to “save face at the expense of this Council” after he backed away from placing a cap on the car-hailing service Uber, while failing to give the Council credit for the negotiations.

Fred Heller, the owner of a yellow-cab company who rounded up nearly $50,000 for de Blasio’s campaign in 2013, has landed on the board of the city’s key economic development agency.

Legal payouts by New York City are forecast to spike 17.5 percent by the 2018-19 fiscal year, even as de Blasio’s administration has pumped millions of dollars into a new war on so-called frivolous litigation.

US Sen. Charles Schumer declared he’s not going to decide on the Iran nuke deal until he gets clear answers on what the consequences of approving or scuttling it would be.

Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said last week’s conviction of state Sen. Tom Libous for lying to federal investigators was “tragic on so many levels.” She also hopes her conference can win the Republican’s Binghamton seat, as part of an overall push to re-take the majority.

More >


VP Joe Biden joked that he came to Rochester for “one reason…I thought Abby Wambach was going to be here.”

Former New York gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout will take the reigns of the super-PAC meant to advocate for the destruction of all super-PACs. She’ll replace Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig, who is an avowed supporter of campaign finance reform, as CEO of Mayday PAC.

The state Board of Elections will begin examining active campaign committees belonging to former office holders, Risa Sugarman, the board’s enforcement counsel, announced.

The state’s Fast Food Wage Board took one of its final steps today, approving a formal report recommending a $15-an-hour minimum wage for employees of the fast-food industry. In an apparent violation of the Open Meetings Law, the report was not made public.

Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins shares Cuomo’s trepidation about a special legislative session to address ethics reform.

Republicans are leading the effort to establish Billy Joel Boulevard in Hicksville, Long Island, but the fact that the singer is still alive has presented a stumbling block.

Billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has added fuel to rumors that he will run for mayor of London by purchasing a £17 million, or $26 million, house in the city’s Chelsea neighborhood.

Mayor Bill de Blasio says about 400,000 people have obtained New York City’s municipal ID card since the program was rolled out six months ago.

A plea deal is apparently in the works for former Dannemora prison worker Joyce Mitchell, who is accused of helping Richard Matt and David Sweat break out of Clinton Correctional Facility last month.

The NYT’s public editor provides a tick-tock of how the paper botched the Hillary Clinton email investigation story.

Clinton, the 2016 Democratic frontrunner, called GOP hopeful Mike Huckabee’s remark about how President Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran would send the Israelis “to the ovens” “offensive” and said it had gone too far.

Private sector employment around the state continued to rise between June 2014 and June 2015, with a 2.3 percent jump, nearly matching the nationwide growth rate of 2.4 percent, according to an analysis by the state Business Council’s research branch.

Republican 2016 candidate Donald Trump has a media handler.

Long Beach Democratic Party chairman Michael Zapson has filed nominating petitions for 120 Democratic committee slots along Nassau County’s South Shore in a power struggle with county Democratic Chair Jay Jacobs, who has called for Zapson to resign.

The deadline to submit project proposals to help the Albany, New York region win millions in state economic development money is days away.

Unionized Verizon employees from the Mid-Hudson Valley would be among the thousands to go on strike Saturday if a dispute over a new contract is not settled.

The Buffalo Bills have a new president.

Boston’s 2024 Olympic bid is over.


Democratic 2016 frontrunner Hillary Clinton proposed raising capital gains taxes for assets that are held for less than six years by top-bracket payers as a way to try and encourage long-term investing, and grow the economy.

Clinton also backed the decision by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s wage board to pursue a $15-an-hour minimum wage for fast food workers here, and called on it and other cities to continue reaching higher than the federal minimum wage.

Clinton lashed out against “inaccuracies” in reports about her use of a private email address during her time as secretary of state, as the Justice Department weighed whether to open an investigation.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino took his affordable housing fight with the federal government to Clinton’s Chappaqua home. (He didn’t get in).

Jason Horowitz investigates the “100 percent Brooklyn” roots of Vermont Senator – and 2016 Democratic hopeful – Bernie Sanders.

A Manhattan federal court judge shot down Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s third attempt to have the criminal corruption charges against him thrown out — the third time he’s made the request.

Cuomo is expected to be in Massena Sunday to help promote the Evan Williams Bourbon Bassmasters Elite Tournament, which kicks off July 30 in Waddington.

The DNC is reversing its Obama-era ban on fundraising from lobbyists and political action committees – at least when it comes to building a massive war chest for its 2016 convention and in taking in cash raised by primary candidates for joint fundraising accounts.

Dunkin’ Brands Group Inc., the owner of Dunkin’ Donuts, upbraided New York regulators over a plan to boost fast-food wages to $15 an hour – a move the company said could lead to price increases.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s relationship with the UFT could face a new test after the state gave his administration the option of replacing staff at many of the city’s worst schools.

The multi-billion-dollar car-hail company Uber has essentially produced a guidebook for how to defeat de Blasio.

Newsday says whoever replaces outgoing DEC Commissioner Joe Martens must have the “ability to work miracles and deal with being micromanaged.”

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick traveled to Washington, D.C., yesterday to hand deliver a letter to Congressman Tom Reed, urging against federal budget cuts that will nearly eliminate all of the city’s affordable housing subsidies.

Republican Assemblyman Joseph Borelli will take the rare step of turning down public matching funds without great personal wealth to fall back on – at least for the time being – for his run for the Staten Island Council seat vacated by Vincent Ignizio.

A community activist is looking to have Mount Vernon Mayor Ernie Davis kicked off this year’s election ballot as the still-on-probation incumbent tries for a fifth term in office.

Four commissioners on the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics say the recent hiring of State Police First Deputy Superintendent Kevin Gagan as the watchdog panel’s chief of staff and special counsel is “plainly invalid

SEIU Ad: Cuomo Continues Dad’s Liberal Legacy (UPDATED W/Video)

From the Morning Memo:

The powerful SEIU union, a longtime ally of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has launched a TV ad praising his fast food wage board’s decision this week to hike that industry’s hourly pay to $15 an hour in New York, characterizing this as a move in keeping with his late father’s legacy as a liberal lion.

The ad, which hit NYC airwaves last night, is paid for by SEIU International, according to a source familiar with the effort. The buy is about $500,000. (Those familiar with the work of veteran political ad man Jimmy Siegel will recognize his signature touch here).

Here’s the script:

“They stand on the other side of the counter, but a world away from the American dream. Workers struggling to raise a family on $8 or $9 an hour. But they have a fighter on their side named Cuomo.”

“His father, Mario, used to say, ‘The best exercise for the heart is reaching down to lift someone up.’ Governor Cuomo is following that proud legacy by working to raise the minimum wage. Because working in fast food shouldn’t put you on the fast track to poverty.”

“It’s the fair thing. It’s the principled thing. And for a governor named ‘Cuomo’, it’s the only thing.”
Former Gov. Mario Cuomo, who had a close but complex relationship with his son, passed away at the beginning of the year. He is remembered as a champion of the left – a segment of the Democratic Party with which his son, the current governor, has had his differences.

SEIU 1199, which mainly represents healthcare workers in New York, has a long history of supporting Andrew Cuomo, and played a key role in helping him rebuild his political career and come back to win the state attorney general’s race in 2006 after his failed 2002 gubernatorial run.

The union has often stood behind the governor in a mutually beneficial relationship even as other members of the state’s labor community warred with him. Its leadership played a key role in pressuring the labor-backed Working Families Party to endorse the governor – not his far more liberal Democratic primary challenger, Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout – in last year’s election.

SEIU International President Mary Kay Henry was on hand for the post-wage board victory rally in New York City earlier this week, and she heaped praise on the governor for being a champion of the so-called “Fight for $15.”

The union has been a big player in the fast food worker wage movement, even though the effort has split its ranks – in part because the $15-an-hour increase will not (for the moment anyway) be directly impacting its members.

Some health care worker advocates have, in fact, expressed concern that raising the minimum wage in fast food will cause undue pressure in their industry, perhaps even sparking an exodus of home health aides seeking better pay elsewhere. (Though, to be clear, fast food workers still don’t have the right to unionize, nor do most receive benefits, both of which most healthcare workers already have).

But labor leaders looking at the big picture say the decision by New York’s fast food wage board could cause a cascade of similar actions across the nation – a rising-tide-lifts-all-boats approach.

The $15-an-hour recommendation is already having an impact on the 2016 presidential race. Several Democratic contenders – though not the frontrunner, Hillary Clinton – have expressed support for raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour at the federal level.

The fast food wage board and Cuomo’s pledge to continue pushing for a statewide boost in the minimum wage are part of a recent leftward shift by the governor that his labor allies hope will not be short lived.

This shift also includes an executive order naming the state AG a special prosecutor in unarmed civilian deaths at the hands of law enforcement, and an effort to protect nail salon workers after a New York Times expose revealed widespread abuses in that industry.

There have also been other initiatives by Cuomo that received less attention at the national level, like his push to eradicate AIDS in New York, and his establishment of a labor task force to look at potential abuses in industries dominated by undocumented workers.

Some segments of the left remain wary – if not downright pissed off – at the governor, especially public sector employees and public school teachers. They’re also still smarting from his never-fulfilled promise – made in return for the WFP’s endorsement last year – that he would push hard to help his fellow Democrats re-take control of the state Senate.

Democrat control in the upper house would, ostensibly, have made some of what Cuomo has been forced to achieve through executive orders (due to the opposition of Senate Republicans) more easily adoptable in the Legislature.

The Senate Democrats will get another crack at taking back the majority in 2016, and they are hopeful the presidential election – and the possible presence of hometown favorite Clinton at the top of the ticket – will vastly improve their chances.

It remains to be seen whether Cuomo will assist the effort this time around. If recent history is any guide, he’ll be loathe to let NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose progressive agenda the governor has complicated and/or usurped at every turn, take the lead role like he did last year.

Yesterday, Cuomo surprised Senate Democrats by coming out of the box early to voice support for his former DMV Commissioner Barbara Fiala to run for the seat of ex-Sen. Tom Libous after the Binghamton Republican was forced to vacate his seat after being convicted on a felony corruption charge.

Fiala, an ex-Broome County executive who’s currently serving as the interim chair of Cuomo’s Women’s Equality Party, has not even formally announced her candidacy yet. She says she plans to do so next week.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule. The 2015 season at the Saratoga Racetrack starts today. We’re still awaiting a decision in the corruption trial of former Senate Majority Leader John Sampson.

At 9:15 a.m. and 10:15 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio appears on CNN Newsroom.

At 11 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul and ESDC and local elected officials host a ribbon cutting for a major expansion, restaurant and arcade at the Holiday Inn Hotel in Niagara Falls, 114 Buffalo Ave.

At noon, Hochul tours the Prospect Point Cafe and Cave of the Winds snack bar, Niagara Falls State Park, 333 Prospect St., Niagara Falls.

At 1:30 p.m., 2016 Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton delivers speech on “achieving long-term economic growth and lasting prosperity”, NYU Leonard N. Stern School of Business, 44 West 4th St., Manhattan.

Also at 1:30 p.m., Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney will have an open press tour of the Abilities First facility to mark the 25th anniversary of the Americans With Disabilities Act, 70 Overocker Rd., Poughkeepsie.

At 6 p.m., the Hudson Union Society hosts former Director of Central Intelligence Agency James Woolsey, 45 Main St., #838, Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., Abrazo Dominicano in New York is held, Maestro’s Caterers, 1703 Bronxdale Ave., the Bronx.


Though it won its first round with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Uber isn’t out of the woods yet, with both the mayor and the governor saying the company should be regulated.

“I don’t care how much money they have,” de Blasio said of Uber. “There will be rules.” For now, though, a cap is not among them, and the administration’s about face on that issue has angered one of the mayor’s close political allies, NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Greg David of Crain’s says the governor’s successful effort to raise the minimum wage of fast food workers in New York was “the product of a perfect storm of three related economic and political factors.”

“It started in New York City as what seemed a quixotic drive confined to fast-food workers. But the movement to raise the hourly minimum wage took root in other parts of the country, and is emerging as a significant, and divisive, element in the presidential campaign.”

Cuomo said the state would pay billions of dollars toward closing the vast gap in the MTA’s capital plan, but also said that New York City should significantly increase its contribution to as much as $3 billion – far more than the city has ever paid toward the capital costs of the transportation authority.

De Blasio insisted his current NYPD commissioner, Bill Bratton, 67, is “not too old” to serve a second four-year term – should the mayor be re-elected. Bratton said this week he has no plans to serve for 6 1/2 years, noting he would be 75 years old in the job if he did.

As he lamented the conviction of prominent Republican ex-Sen. Tom Libous, Cuomo endorsed his former DMV Commissioner Barbara Fiala, a Democrat and interim chair of the Women’s Equality Party, to run for the now-vacant Southern Tier seat that Libous occupied for 26 years.

Fiala said she plans to run, and will make a formal announcement of her candidacy next week. Among the potential Republican candidates for Libous’ seat are Binghamton Mayor Rich David and Jerry Marinich, the chair of the Broome County Legislature and a longtime Libous ally.

Cuomo and state leaders are vowing that a public-private partnership for the Institute for Manufacturing Innovation in Rochester would exceed a $625 million investment and create thousands of jobs over the next decade.

A day after Joseph Mascia acknowledged making racist comments about some of Buffalo’s African-American leaders, the Housing Authority commissioner and Common Council candidate was stripped of the Conservative line in the upcoming Council race. Also, the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority demanded that Mascia resign his BMHA seat. He refused.

More >


Barbara Fiala, the former head of the state Department of Motor Vehicles and Broome County executive, will announce her run for the state Senate seat vacated by Deputy Majority Leader Thomas Libous’ felony conviction next week.

In addition to making a LaGuardia Airport-related announcement with Cuomo in NYC Monday, VP Joe Biden will also join the governor in Rochester to formally reveal that the region won a nationwide competition as the site for an Institute for Manufacturing Innovation.

“This is just the opening salvo,” Sen. John DeFrancisco said of the wage board’s $15 an hour fast food industry proposal. “That doesn’t mean the Senate is going to go along with it,” he said.

Police arrested and charged Brooklyn Assemblyman Dov Hikind with disorderly conduct after he and other demonstrators obstructed the entrance to Sen. Charles Schumer’s Midtown office demanding that the senator commit to opposing the international agreement to drop sanctions against Iran.

Since his conviction on a felony corruption charge, former Sen. Tom Libous’ Senate webpage now reads: “This senator is currently inactive, and this content is provided to you by an archive.” Also, his name has been removed from his office door at the state Capitol.

Libous’ Southern Tier district has been in GOP control for decades and has a Republican enrollment advantage of more than 9,000 registered voters.

The Republicans are expressing confidence they’ll retain Libous’ seat, but they don’t yet have a candidate.

Donald Trump paid a visit to the Mexico border and predicted Hispanics would love him in the White House — “they already do” — because as president he’d grab jobs back from overseas and give more opportunity to those who live in the US legally.

NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito had some unusually harsh words for NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio regarding the Uber cap.

NYC Councilwoman Annabel Palma suffered third-degree burns on her legs during a Fourth of July barbecue at a friend’s house, according to NYC Councilwoman Inez Dickens.

The board of the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority unanimously passed a resolution calling on Joseph Mascia to resign his post as the tenant-elected commissioner in the wake of his admission that he had used a racial slur in referring to prominent local African-Americans.

A day after dozens of local leaders took a ceremonial swim in Onondaga Lake, Judith Enck, regional administrator for the EPA’s Region 2, said the water still isn’t safe for swimming, despite recent progress.

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman announced that he has made permanent the task force he created in 2010 to highlight the unmet legal needs of low-income New Yorkers and to push for higher spending on civil legal services.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton suggested today that he would not serve a full second term alongside de Blasio, if the mayor is re-elected in 2017.

Efforts to salvage two sunken tugboats on the St. Lawrence River will be temporarily postponed — a move that will allow the Bassmaster Elite fishing competition to take place as planned.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (and his daughter Taylor, 6) picked blueberries in Cazenovia as the Bronx Democrat continues his upstate tour.

A policy fissure is quickly opening in the Democratic primary over the minimum wage, with Hillary Clinton’s two main challengers taking advantage of her hesitancy to embrace the issue.

Rep. John Katko has introduced a bill that would prohibit the IRS from outsourcing audits to outside entities. He said outsourcing sensitive taxpayer examinations could compromise confidential information and is a waste of public funds.

If Bill Clinton decided to challenge his wife for the Democratic nomination – in an alternate universe America where term limits don’t exist – he would lose in a landslide, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found.

Thanks for the recognition, Metroland!

After Libous Conviction, AG Renews Ethics Reform Call

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office had a hand in the investigation that led to the conviction yesterday of now former Sen. Tim Libous, called the Binghamton Republican’s political demise “sad,” and said it should reignite calls for additional ethics reform in Albany.

“These cases are always sad cases,” Schneiderman said of his former Senate colleague during a CapTon interview last night. “To have someone who is supposed to be in public service, swears to uphold the public trust, found to be guilty of a crime, it’s never happy.”

“And it really is, again, another reminder, in my view, that the structure in Albany has to be dramatically changed if you’re going to change the culture,” the AG continued.

“It’s really something that has been happening way too often, and it’s not going to stop. I proposed some very drastic reforms myself, proposed legislation. And I think either that or something like that has to happen, or people will continue to be investigated, and the public trust will be further eroded.”

In the wake of the corruption scandal that brought down former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver at the beginning of this year, Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed a package of ethics reform measures and vowed to force the Legislature’s hand in accepting it as part of this year’s budget deal – even if that meant shutting down the government.

In the end, however, Cuomo comprised on ethics reform.

He focused mostly on more disclosure of lawmakers’ outside income, got some – but not all – of what he wanted, and ended up with changes that good government advocates and others said were not significant enough to really address Albany’s pervasive corruption problem.

Schneiderman went considerably further in his ethics reform proposals, which included a call to ban moonlighting by state lawmakers and giving them a big pay raise to compensate for their lost outside income.

The AG called on Cuomo to stick to his guns on reform, saying a late budget would be a “small price to pay” for systemic change in Albany.

After Libous’ conviction of a single felony count of lying to the FBI about using his public post to get his son, Matthew, a job at a politically connected law firm – a decision that automatically ejected him from his Senate seat – six good government groups renewed their call for a special legislative session to address ethics reform.

The groups said the failure to address outstanding issues – like closing the LLC loophole in the campaign finance law, which is now the subject of a lawsuit by some of the same entities – is “indefensible” and “shockingly irresponsible”, and the governor should demand the Legislature’s speedy return to Albany.

Schneiderman declined to go quite that far.

“I think that there is a lot more support than people think in the Legislature itself for dramatic reforms,” the AG said. “A lot of the younger members in particular from the Senate and Assembly have said to me, ‘Yeah, we actually like this idea,’…we’ve got to hermetically seal them off, to the extent we can, from money in government and from money in politics.”

“…Albany has become a place where everyone drives 90 miles an hour, and if you pull them over, their first reaction is not, ‘Oh, I’m breaking the law,’ it’s, ‘Why are you pulling me over? Everyone here drives 90 miles an hour.’ It’s something that really has to be shaken up in a big way, and I think the sooner the better.”

The AG declined to criticize Cuomo for failing to wrest a more significant reform deal from the Legislature, saying the governor had a “lot of things on his plate” and an unusually difficult legislative session that saw the ouster of not one, but two conference leaders as a result of corruption scandals.

“I do think that support is building, and will continue to build,” Schneiderman said. “And this is going to end with a bigger reform movement, it’s going to end with some kind of comprehensive reform. Otherwise, this is going to keep happening.”

“And I tell this to my colleagues, most of whom are completely honorable public servants in the state Legislature: You’ve got to do something about this…this is the kind of stuff that makes people lose their confidence in government.”

Schneiderman defended himself – and Cuomo – for calling for closure of the LLC loophole and then turning around and using it to raise campaign cash by saying that unilateral disarmament is “not the right answer” and has “not worked traditionally.”

Here and Now

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

We’re still awaiting a verdict in former Senate Majority Leader John Sampson’s corruption trial.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie continues his upstate tour with stops in Utica.

At 8 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio appears live on on CBS This Morning.

At 9 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul convenes a tourism roundtable in Chautauqua County with local and regional representatives to promote Cuomo’s I Love NY initiative, 115 W. Lake Rd., Mayville. (The event is closed to members of the press, a media availability will follow).

At 10 a.m., de Blasio and NYC Transportation Commissioner Polly Polly Trottenberg will host a press conference to make an announcement related to Vision Zero, 61st Street and Queens Boulevard, Queens.

Also at 10 a.m., NYC Council members Carlos Menchaca, Helen Rosenthal and Margaret Chin hold a rally to support legislation to regulate tourist helicopters, Steps of City Hall, Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., the NYC Council Transportation Committee will hold a hearing to vote out Intro. 847-A, which requires a study on the impact of growth the taxi and for-hire vehicle industry, Committee Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., Sen. Terrence Murphy, co-chair of the Senate’s Task Force on Heroin and Opioid Addiction, hosts a prescription drug drop off event tomorrow in partnership with the town of Yorktown, Yorktown Police Department and Alliance for Safe Kids, Jefferson Village Activities Center, 3500 Hill Blvd., Yorktown Heights.

Also at 11 a.m., Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks will be joined by project partners to cut the ribbon and announce the completion of the Energy Conservation Improvements Project, Civic Center Plaza, 99 Exchange Blvd., Rochester.

Also at 11 a.m., Assemblyman Dov Hikind calls on US Sen. Chuck Schumer to publicly oppose the recent Iran nuclear agreement, 780 Third Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., potential primary challenger Thomas Lopez-Pierre and NYC Council 7th District voters rally to demand NYC Councilman Mark Levine return a $1,000 contribution from Brooklyn landlord Yeshaya Wasserman, 500 W 141st St., Harlem.

At 11:30 a.m., Sen. Tony Avella, advocacy groups and community leaders hold a press conference about his bill to recognize Hindu, Sikh and Islamic faiths in the state’s religious incorporation law, 137-16 Northern Blvd, Queens.

At 1:30 p.m., the NYC Council holds its stated meeting, Council chambers, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 1:30 p.m., the Justice Committee and other advocates hold a press conference and youth speak out to demand the DOJ convene a grand jury and prosecute those responsible for Ramarley Graham’s death, 1 St. Andrews Plaza, Manhattan.

At 3 p.m., Hochul tours the Johnson Estate Winery to promote the WNY wine industry, 8419 West Main St., Westfield.

At 6 p.m., Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr. and Dominican Day Parade host a Dominican Heritage Celebration, honoring the newly formed 2015 National Dominican Day Parade and introducing the new committee for the Manhattan parade, Bronx County Building, 851 Grand Concourse, the Bronx.

Also at 6 p.m., Common Cause/New York, Consumers Union, and Manhattan BP Gale Brewer hold “Verizon FiOS:in New York: A Public Forum to Discuss the Verizon FiOS Rollout”, El Barrio Firehouse Community Media Center, 175 E. 104th St., Manhattan.

At 7:30 p.m., New York City Friends of Clearwater and the Campaign for a Cleaner Hudson sponsor a vigil for a cleaner Hudson, Pier 63, Hudson River Park, Manhattan.


Sen. Tom Libous, who became one of the most powerful lawmakers in Albany but had his life upended by cancer and a corruption case, was found guilty of lying to FBI agents who were examining his son’s hiring at a politically connected law firm. Libous forfeited his seat as a result of his conviction. He will be sentenced on Oct. 30 and faces up to five years in prison.

“Public corruption is a scourge,” US Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. “…Libous’s lies have been exposed, his crime has been proven, and Albany will be the better for it.”

“Senator Libous and his entire family have been through a difficult ordeal and have faced numerous personal health challenges,” Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said in a statement. “They will continue to be in our thoughts and prayers in the weeks and months ahead.” Flanagan said the GOP still controls the chamber and is “100 percent confident” it will hold Libous’ seat in a special election (if one is called).

Fast-food workers in New York working at national restaurant chains were all but ensured a major raise when a wage board appointed by the governor unanimously recommended increasing the minimum wage for them to $15 per hour by July 2010 statewide.

The wage for fast-food workers in New York City would be raised incrementally to $10.50 by Dec. 31, to $12 by Dec. 2016, to $13.50 by 2017 and to $15 by 2018. For the rest of the state, it would rise to $9.75 by Dec. 31, to $10.75 by December 2016, to $11.75 by 2017, to $12.75 by 2018, to $13.75 by 2019, to $14.50 by 2020 and to $15 by July 1, 2021.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo applauded his wage board’s recommendation, shrugging off claims by business groups that the pay increase will result in higher prices and lost jobs. “I think that’s just an idle threat,” he said.

In stark contrast to previous Cuomo administration efforts there was no pretense that the wage board was somehow separate from the governor, but his fellow Democrats didn’t necessarily link the accomplishment with him.

“I run the government,” Cuomo said yesterday in defense of his numerous executive orders to effect significant policy changes this year. “I am the executive and therefore I use executive power. And that’s why the executive is given the power.”

Newsday: “Of all the ways to settle the battle in New York over the minimum wage, it’s hard to imagine a worse solution than having an unelected board bypass the State Legislature to advocate a sharp increase to $15 an hour statewide and limit the increase to just fast-food workers.”

In 2013, McDonald’s Corp. described a future where customers could order Big Macs on a smartphone. Almost two years later that vision remains far off, even though fast-food apps have become commonplace in much of the industry.

In a stunning turnaround less than 24 hours before an expected NYC Council vote, the de Blasio administration backed down on its controversial plan to cap Uber’s growth while it studied the app’s impact on congestion.

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Senate Republicans no longer have an elected majority after Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous was convicted today on a federal corruption charge, leaving the GOP one vote short of the 32 needed to control the chamber – if, for some reason, Sen. Simcha Felder, a Brooklyn Democrat, decides to defect, and the IDC refuses to step in to assist.

Libous’ fellow Binghamton-area lawmaker, Democratic Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, on his conviction: “This is a sad ending to a long career serving our community.”

The de Blasio administration has backed away from its fight with the app company Uber, agreeing to drop for now its plan to place a cap on the number of vehicles operated by Uber in New York City.

De Blasio’s 2013 campaign spent $1,643 using Uber 52 times and spent $11,652.63 taking another company that offers e-hails – Legend Car Service—291 times. A spokesman for the mayor’s campaign said de Blasio did not personally take any of the Uber rides.

CSEA President Danny Donohue’s statement on the $15/hour fast food wage board decision is decidedly anti-Cuomo in tone.

Rochester has won a nationwide competition as the site for an Institute for Manufacturing Innovation focusing on the increasingly important field of integrated photonics, used in telecommunications and lasers.

Republican 2016 candidate Donald Trump’s disclosure filing with the FEC is 92 pages long and starts with the 515 entities where he has a title – from the Donald J. Trump Revocable Trust to Trump World Publications LLC to Trump Ocean Manager Inc. to DT Dubai II Golf Manager LLC.

The Donald also earns income from more than 150 separate deals and was paid $1.75 million to deliver seven speeches last year.

GOP 2016 contender Lindsey Graham ceremoniously destroyed his cell phone today – just a day after Trump infamously announced the South Carolina senator’s digits during a nationally televised campaign rally.

Syracuse will get $10 million from the state Assembly this year to jump start Syracuse’s efforts to fix its crumbling water system, Assemblyman Bill Magnarelli announced.

Rep. Kathleen Rice, a Long Island Democrat, wants to require all new cars sold in the United States to include technology that would serve as the equivalent of a breathalyzer.

Forty-five state attorneys general, including New York AG Eric Schneiderman, want phone users to be able to block calls they don’t want.

Around 1,000 security officers, baggage handlers and wheelchair attendants employed by a subcontractor to airlines opted not to go ahead with a job action at JFK and La Guardia airports today because they reached a settlement with the company.

So-called “ghost” campaign committees are still a thing.

At the Vatican, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio talked about the importance of cities making efforts to combat climate change.

Congestion pricing is back!

New York will shorten its fall turkey hunting season because of a declining turkey population, the DEC said.

Dinosaur Bar-B-Que will have a prominent presence at Ralph Wilson Stadium, the Buffalo Bills announced.