Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin

The Weekend That Was

Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched a new public service announcement to educate New Yorkers about the disease of addiction and inform them that help is available. The 30-second PSA will debut during Super Bowl 50 on the Capital Region CBS affiliate, and will air statewide through TV and digital media starting Feb. 15.

The Donald’s brash New York persona is playing well in New Hampshire.

In advance of receiving an award from the Human Rights Campaign, Cuomo announced a series of measures intended to eliminate so-called conversion therapy, a practice that claims the ability to reverse same-sex attraction in some people but that has been widely discredited by scientists and criticized by gay-rights groups.

A couple who run a small urban farm said powerful Queens Sen. James Sanders, who is now running for Congress, offered them $1.7 million in taxpayer money to fund their operation — then demanded a $250,000 kickback. They have filed a report with US Attorney Preet Bharara’s office.

Rep. Chris Gibson, a Republican who is forgoing a re-election bid this year to prepare for a possible gubernatorial run in 2018, is filing paperwork tomorrow to establish an exploratory committee for that statewide bid.

New York will investigate the Indian Point Energy Center after Cuomo said he learned that “radioactive tritium-contaminated water” leaked into the groundwater at the nuclear facility in Westchester County.

Financial disclosures filed last year show just 24 state lawmakers – mostly lawyers – were making about as much or more in outside income as their $79,500 base annual pay from the state. Those 24 accounted for at least two-thirds of outside income reported for 2014, which ranged between $4.6 million and $7.1 million.

Every year, scores of New Yorkers are removed from their dwellings without ever facing trial or consulting a lawyer.

At least three investigators with the Suffolk district attorney’s office have been subpoenaed as a federal investigation has expanded into whether county investigators and prosecutors engaged in federal civil rights violations by illegally using a wiretap, sources tell Newsday.

John L. Tishman, who oversaw the construction of the twin towers of the World Trade Center, died Saturday at age 90.

Feminist icon Gloria Steinem says young women are supporting Democratic presidential candidate and Vermont senator Bernie Sanders for only one reason: To meet boys. The outspoken Hillary Clinton supporter made the eyebrow-raising remark in a Friday night appearance on “Real Time with Bill Maher.”

Fireworks flared at the the first head-to-head debate of the 2016 campaign season when Clinton accused Sanders of attacking her with an “artful smear.”

Extras

With just seven dissenters, NYC Council members today went above the recommendations of a salary commission to award themselves a 32 percent raise — from $112,500 to $148,500.

Rep. John Katko will deliver the weekly Republican address Saturday. It’s the first national role the freshman Central New York congressman has been asked to serve by House Republicans.

Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz thinks KeyCorp’s acquisition of First Niagara Financial Group would be a bad deal for the Buffalo Niagara region.

A 52-year-old Army veteran from Syracuse says he will launch a long-shot bid to challenge U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer in the November election. James P. LaSpino, a 1981 graduate of Nottingham High School in Syracuse, said he will file to run as an independent candidate.

Jennifer Cunningham, long one of the state’s most prominent strategic political consultants, has dipped her toe back into the lobbying world in light of new rules passed by the state’s lobbying regulator, JCOPE.

Assemblyman Robert Oaks said he’s seriously considering a run for the state Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Michael Nozzolio.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio says a multi-agency investigation is underway following a deadly crane collapse this morning at a construction site in Lower Manhattan.

Hillary Clinton’s daughter accidentally called Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, her mom’s rival in the Democratic race for the White House, “President Sanders.”

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown’s 10th State of the City address emphasized a stay-the-course approach, putting a freeze on property taxes for a fifth straight year and the goal of pushing the city’s economic development successes further into the East Side neighborhoods.

Former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg need not bother with an independent bid for the White House, as far as DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is concerned.

Assemblyman Fred Thiele is renewing a call for the governor and lawmakers to allocate money for another Long Island Rail Road track from Sayville to Montauk to deal with demand and reduce summer traffic.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is campaigning for Clinton in advance of the New Hampshire primary.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman today announced a $470 million joint state-federal settlement with mortgage lender and servicer HSBC to address mortgage origination, servicing, and foreclosure abuses.

A 1924 wooden carousel stored for decades in an Ohio warehouse will have a Buffalo waterfront spot to call home in the near future.

De Blasio’s aides struggled with when – and how – to tell him that two NYPD officers had been shot during his State of the State address.

Some 551 New Yorkers have been certified to obtain medical marijuana, nearly one month after the state’s program began.

Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, the longtime champion of medical marijuana in the state Legislature, has introduced a bill that would authorize five new manufacturers in the state by Jan. 1.

Three days after lohud Tax Watch columnist David McKay Wilson reported on problems with two tourism nonprofits run by Libby Pataki, the AG’s office has launched an investigation into both agencies.

Dean Wish and Dean’s Beans are fighting over who actually has the world’s strongest coffee.

Here and Now

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

At 6:45 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul will be a guest on WKBW to Mark National Weatherperson’s Day and National Wear Red Day​, (Channel 7 in Buffalo).

At 8 a.m., state Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Bank of America Tower, 1 Bryant Park, Manhattan.

At 9:30 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Government Operations holds a hearing on proposed may increases for Council members, the mayor, the public advocate, the NYC comptroller and DAs, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., state Division of Veterans’ Affairs Director Eric Hesse outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Legislative Chambers at the Franklin County Courthouse, 355 West Main St., Suite 409, Malone.

Also at 10 a.m., Rep. Nydia Velazquez attends a press conference against violence with Brooklyn Heights Congregation Bnai Avraham following the attack on Rabbi Aaron L. Raskin, steps of Congregation Bnai Avraham, 117 Remsen St., Brooklyn.

At 10 a.m., Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and Zephyr Teachout will hold a press event regarding a “major announcement” on Teachout’s NY-19 campaign, Deyo Hall, 18 Broadhead Ave., New Paltz.

At 10:30 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will host a press conference on the Brooklyn-Queens Connector, Red Hook East/Joseph Miccio Community Center, 110 W 9th St., Brooklyn.

At 11 a.m., Upstate Revitalization Initiative Director Rich Tobe outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce, 904 East Shore Dr., Ithaca.

Also at 11 a.m., Rep. Kathleen Rice will hold a press conference to introduce new legislation that will make it easier for consumers to unsubscribe from unwanted commercial emails, 300 Garden City Plaza, Suite #200, Garden City, Long Island.

Also at 11 a.m., the state Legislature’s Westchester delegation holds a public budget forum for members of the public, community leaders, municipal and school officials to share their views on the governor’s budget, Greenburgh Public Library, multi-purpose room, 300 Tarrytown Rd., Elmsford.

Also at 11 a.m., Alliance for Tenant Power tenants and members rally against the renewal of what they desribe as “the 421a tax giveaway or any other subsidies that favors luxury developments over affordable housing,” near One57, 57th Street and Fifth Avenue, Manhattan.

At noon, OGS Commissioner RoAnn Destito outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Penn Yan Village Board Room, Penn Yan Village Hall, 111 Elm St., Penn Yan.

Also at noon, Hochul attends Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown’s State of the City address, Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, 153 Franklin St., Buffalo.

At 1 p.m., state Canal Corp. Director Brian Stratton outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Montgomery County Office Building, 64 Broadway, Fonda.

At 2 p.m., Velazquez attends the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation’s quarterly elected officials briefing, Brooklyn Navy Yard Center at BLDG 92 (corner of Flushing and Carlton avenues), Brooklyn.

At 3 p.m., Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Sam Roberts outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Daemen College, Wick Campus Center Alumni Lounge, 4380 Main St., Amherst.

At 4:30 p.m., Rep. Elise Stefanik will host an Invasive Species Summit with stakeholders from around NY-21, 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel, 200 Riverside Dr., Clayton.

At 6 p.m., Deputy Secretary for Legislative Affairs Mark Weprin outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Towers on the Green
North Shore Towers, 270-10 Grand Central Parkway, Arcade Level, Floral Park, Queens.

Headlines…

Speaking of power-washed streets free of graffiti and new infrastructure projects along the waterfront, Mayor Bill de Blasio laid out a vision in his third State of the City address of a New York that would gleam from pavement to rooftop, while renewing his pledge to create a more equal city without diminishing its quality of life.

Capping one of the more bewildering political debacles in recent New York memory, de Blasio’s speech was overshadowed — before he so much as delivered a word of it — by the implosion of his widely mocked, ill-supported deal to get horse carriages off New York City streets.

Many residents in impacted neighborhoods welcomed the mayor’s proposal of a $2.5 billion, 16-mile streetcar line running through neighborhoods along the East River in Brooklyn and Queens.

The NYT editorial board says: “The mayor, who has promised a more equitable city, should make sure that a major project like this will serve all kinds of communities, wealthy and low-income. It’s promising that, as he points out, 45,000 people live in public housing along the route.”

Two NYPD officers were shot at and wounded at a Bronx housing project last night by a gunman who then fled and took his own life, police said.

The incident took place just as de Blasio was touting in his State of the City address a few miles away that shootings were down 34 percent last month.

The Manhattan Republican Party last night tapped businessman and naval reservist Lester Chang as its candidate to run for disgraced ex-Speaker Sheldon Silver’s downtown Assembly seat.

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and state Sen. Brad Hoylman joined former Comptroller John Liu in calling for the New York County Democratic Committee to pick Yuh-Line Niou as its candidate for the April 19 special election for Silver’s seat.

The state’s most high-tech efforts to combat bad weather and bad people will be housed in a 236,000-square-foot building to be built on the Gov. W. Averell Harriman State Office Campus.

The New York City health department is now recommending that pregnant women abstain from sex or use condoms if their male partner has recently been to a country where the Zika virus is prevalent.

Assemblyman Joseph Lentol, chair of the Assembly codes committee, said he will recommend that the full Assembly not support Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to create a permanent special prosecutor to investigate police-involved deaths.

The state’s acting prison commissioner, Anthony Annucci, declined to answer specific questions at a legislative budget hearing about last summer’s prison escape at Dannemora, saying an ongoing investigation of the breakout is still underway.

The Air Force Reserve unit at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station is about to get its first new mission since its founding in 1963, and the local lawmakers and base advocates who pushed for it think the move will keep the base operating for many years to come.

More >

Extras

Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont will debate tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern, just days after the two fought to a virtual draw in the Iowa caucuses. It’s their fifth face-off, but their first one-on-one since former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley dropped out of the race.

Clinton and Sanders both say they’ve filed 80,000 signatures for New York’s April 19th presidential primary.

“Bernie Bros” are a thing. Not a good thing.

In a significant political blow to Mayor Bill de Blasio, the New York City Council decided to abandon its scheduled vote on a bill to restrict the horse-drawn carriage industry to Central Park after a key supporter of the deal – the Teamsters – rescinded its backing.

Animal rights activists who have been trying to ban the carriage industry for years placed the blame for the deal’s demise squarely on Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

A proposal for an earlier bar-closing hour in Erie County failed today, with seven county legislators voting against the idea and only three supporting it.

Democrat Andrew Falk, an attorney who has run several times unsuccessfully for public office, plans to challenge Republican Sen. Terrence Murphy for his Hudson Valley seat in November.

Leaders of the state’s largest public employee unions, the CSEA, is warning that state workers will retire en masse later this year if a proposal by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to change their share of health benefits is adopted.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention should issue guidelines for doctors on prescribing opioids to treat acute pain, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said.

Democratic NY-21 congressional candidate Mike Derrick has the second lowest fundraising results, at this point, of local congressional challengers in six local congressional races, according to campaign finance reports filed with the Federal Election Commission.

At today’s public protection budget hearing, a fairly stark Republican-Democrat debate formed over whether, facing a 2 percent cap, additional court funding should go to judicial raises or an increase in civil legal services, which helps the poor get legal representation in court.

The New York Times announced a comprehensive review of its newsroom strategy in light of falling circulation and the ongoing transformation to digital.

LG Kathy Hochul said she and the governor won’t urge support for a proposed merger between Onondaga County and City of Syracuse governments until after the public has had a chance to weigh in.

The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station will receive what could be a life-saving boost in President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2017 budget, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said, as the Air Force will announce plans to bring eight refueling tankers to the base to replace its aging fleet of cargo planes.

New York will offer free testing for all pregnant women who have traveled to a country affected by the Zika epidemic, regardless of whether they show symptoms.

Black & Puerto Rican Legislators Honor Pioneers

From the Morning Memo:

The New York Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators is gearing up to mark its 50th anniversary in Albany next weekend, and will be honoring two veteran New York City politicians.

Retiring Harlem Rep. Charlie Rangel and former Bronx Rep. Robert “Bobby” Garcia – two Democrats who experienced a rocky road in their political careers, yet retain considerable respect and standing among their supporters – will be receiving the Percy E. Sutton Empire State and Nation Builder Award, which is the association’s highest and most prestigious honor.

The awards ceremony will be held at the association’s 45th annual legislative conference – AKA caucus weekend – which traditionally takes place (for some reason that has never been clear to me) on Valentine’s Day weekend in Albany.

Valentine’s Day – Feb. 14 – also happens to be the 47th anniversary of Garcia’s election to Congress. He won a 1978 special election to fill the vacant seat of former Rep. Herman Badillo, who stepped down to become a deputy mayor. Garcia ran as a Republican, though he made it clear it planned to vote with the Democrats if elected.

While in the House, Garcia earned attention by sponsoring a bill to establish a national holiday in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. After considerable debate, the bill was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1983.

Garcia is also a former state assemblyman and former senator, and was the first Puerto Rican elected to serve in New York’s upper house.

Before receiving their awards, Rangel and Garcia will participate in a panel discussion with two past award recipients – former NYC Mayor David Dinkins and former Buffalo Assemblyman Arthur Eve. The panel will be moderated by former state Comptroller H. Carl McCall.

The keynote speech at the caucus weekend gala will be delivered by DNC Vice Chairwoman and political commentator/operative Donna Brazile.

According to the caucus weekend schedule, the governor is planning to hold a reception at the executive mansion on Sunday.

Here and Now

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

The Clinton Global Initiative is holding its annual winter meeting, hosted by former President Bill Clinton, in Manhattan.

At 8 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio appears live on FM Hot 97’s Ebro in the Morning to discuss his State of the City address.

At 9:30 a.m., legislators hold the 11th of 13 joint budget hearings, focusing on the public protection portion of the governor’s budget, Hearing Room B, LOB, Albany.

At 10:30 a.m., Deputy Secretary of State for Local Government Dede Scozzafava outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Town of Plattsburgh Board Room, 151 Banker Rd., Plattsburgh.

Also at 10:30 a.m., the Assembly Committee on Cities holds a public hearing on infrastructure needs relating to cities, Legislative Chambers, Monroe County Office Building, Room 406, 39 W. Main St., Rochester.

At 11 a.m., DOT Commissioner Matt Driscoll outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Morrisville State College, Stadium Hospitality Suite, 80 Eaton St., Morrisville.

Also at 11 a.m., Queens Parks Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski joins state Sen. Tony Avella and New York City Councilman Paul Vallone to cut the ribbon on a new comfort station in Little Bay Park, Little Bay Park, Totten Road and Cross Island Parkway, Queens.

At noon, state Division of Veterans Affairs Director Eric Hesse outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Amsterdam Common Council Chambers , Second floor of City Hall, 61 Church St., Amsterdam.

Also at noon, Sen. Ruben Diaz , former NYC mayoral candidate Rev. Erick Salgado and the New York Hispanic Clergy Organization gather to demand that the mayor and NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission “end abusive tactics used against taxi drivers once and for all,” City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 12:15 p.m., state Office for the Aging Director Corinna Crossdale outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, New Old Venice Inn, 99 Merrick Rd., Baldwin.

At 2:30 p.m., Scozzafava delivers another State of the State briefing, Village of Saranac Lake Board Room, 2nd Floor, 39 Main St., Saranac Lake.

Also at 2:30 p.m., Office of Faith Based Community Development Services Executive Director Karim Camara outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Langston Hughes Library, 100-01 Northern Blvd., Corona, Queens.

Also at 2:30 p.m., Corinna delivers a second State of the State briefing, Bristal Assisted Living Senior Center, 99 South Service Rd., North Hills.

At 6 p.m., the executive committee of the New York County Republican Party will convene to designate a candidate to run for the 65th Assembly District seat vacated by the disgraced former Speaker Sheldon Silver, the designated candidate will then address the regularly scheduled meeting, Metropolitan Republican Club, 122 East 83rd St., Manhattan.

Also at 6 p.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli gives keynote remarks at Cathedral Club dinner, Marriott Marquis in Times Square, West side ballroom, 1535 Broadway, Manhattan.

At 6:30 p.m., Deputy Secretary for Legislative Affairs Mark Weprin outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center, Room 301, 208 W 13th St., Manhattan.

Also at 6:30 p.m., state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia delivers the Phyllis L. Kossoff Lecture on Education and Policy at Teachers College, her first major policy address in NYC, Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 West 120th St., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., PSC Chair Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Charlie Brown Steakhouse, 1001 Goethals Rd., Staten Island.

Also at 7 p.m., de Blasio delivers his third State of the City address, Lehman Center for the Performing Arts, 250 Bedford Park Blvd W., Manhattan.

At 7:30 p.m., New York City Councilmen Steven Matteo and Joe Borelli and Staten Island Republicans meet to nominate Ron Castorina for Assembly District 62, The Grand Plaza, 23 Nelson Ave., Staten Island.

Headlines…

After dismal sales and tepid reviews, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s memoir will endure one more slight: It won’t be published in paperback. The decision by Cuomo’s publisher, HarperCollins, isn’t unexpected—the hardcover edition of “All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics and Life” suffered anemic sales.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected in his State of the City address tonight to back a plan for an above-ground streetcar line along the East River that links Brooklyn and Queens.

The 17-mile line would run across Brooklyn’s waterfront and connect neighborhoods from Sunset Park to Astoria.

The mayor will also highlight the transformation of Governors Island into a driver of innovation and a project that would bring a streetcar to the East River waterfront.

The de Blasio administration has tried to keep protesters and others deemed unfriendly to his agenda away from his big speech.

Many New York City Council members believe the pending horse-carriage legislation that could erase hundreds of jobs and cost the city millions is less about animal rights and more about de Blasio keeping a campaign promise to wealthy donors. But they’ll likely approve it anyway tomorrow, saying they are under intense pressure to do so.

The Transport Workers Union said it will sue the mayor and the City Council, should they pass a law to move a diminished horse carriage industry into Central Park and ban pedicabs outside the park’s tourist areas.

Glenwood Management, the giant real-estate firm that was once the biggest political donor in New York, is being sued by US Attorney Preet Bharara for not making one of its properties disability-friendly, new court papers charge.

The NYPD’s latest strategy to fight crime on the NYC subway system, where crime is up 36 percent since last January: Waking up sleeping passengers to prevent them from being victimized.

Members of the City Council spent hours yesterday trying to justify a 32 percent pay hike they plan to award themselves, but they didn’t convince the head of a special panel that recommended they get $10,000 less.

The NYT weighs in on the NYC Council’s plan to vote itself a raise: “A better-paid City Council is welcome, on several levels. But there are also good reasons to be uneasy about how the Council got here — and to ask the members to take a bit more time to answer a few lingering questions and to make a better case than they have for the package they are about to give themselves.”

The head of a NYC-funded nonprofit that delivers meals to senior citizens stole nearly $1 million from the foundation to pay for his family’s Long Island home, luxury car and clothes, federal officials charged.

Bob McManus: “The FBI has just commissioned a set of digitized billboards along Albany-area highways. They flash ‘Report Corruption’ at drivers — no kidding. This is at best an amusing gesture and, at worst, a cynical joke.”

More than 100 nonunion workers in Nassau County got raises averaging nearly 13 percent last year, with many getting salary hikes of $10,000 to $20,000, county comptroller records show.

Long Island Sen. Jack Martins offered some of his most pointed rhetoric yet about Cuomo’s proposal to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15, telling an administration official that the planned increase would simply shift money away from business owners.

After more than two hours of debate and three ballots, Democrats in NY-24 couldn’t decide which of three candidates to endorse to take on GOP Rep. John Katko, so they backed two of them: Colleen Deacon, 38, of Syracuse, and Steve Williams, 52, of Baldwinsville.

More >

Extras

Republican Rand Paul, the libertarian-minded freshman senator from Kentucky who was once viewed as a formidable presidential contender, is suspending his White House bid. He’ll focus on running for re-election instead.

Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum may be the next Republican to bow out; he’s “reassessing” his campaign, and has postponed a planned 46-county tour in South Carolina.

After some deliberation, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders has agreed to face Hillary Clinton in an additional debate tomorrow night.

Georgina Bloomberg doesn’t know if her father is going to launch a campaign for the White House, but thinks he would make a “great president” and would be supportive if he does decide to run.

Tech CEOs are much more interested in a potential presidential bid by the former New York City mayor than throwing their support behind Clinton, according to one expert who tracks the industry.

Donald Trump is accusing Sen. Ted Cruz of “stealing” the Iowa caucuses and wants a do-over.

Trump has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Republican Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin, who represents Hoosick Falls, is calling for legislative hearings on what critics claim has been the Cuomo administration’s slow response to the village’s water crisis, and wants to subpoena records related to the Department of Health’s reaction to the unfolding situation.

Should the New York City Council on Friday approve a bill to house a shrunken horse carriage industry inside Central Park — and banish pedicabs from the park’s southern precincts — it will promptly encounter a lawsuit.

Daemen College of Amherst became the first private school in America to endorse U.S. Sen. Kirsten E. Gillibrand’s legislation aimed at combatting sexual assault on college campuses.

David Sweat pleaded guilty to two counts of escape and one of promoting prison contraband in November, five months after he was shot and captured about two miles from the Canadian border. He apologized in court for his actions, but still received the maximum possible sentence.

State Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott is “convinced” Sweat would try to escape again if given the opportunity.

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia has canceled a trip to the state’s most controversial and politically connected charter network, Success Academy, as she seeks to tamp down a recent drama around her appearance at a charter school rally.

The Syracuse area ranks 95th among the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas for economic growth over the past five years, according to a new study, the latest sign of the region’s stagnant economy since the end of the Great Recession.

Two tourism nonprofits controlled by former NYS First Lady Libby Pataki violate state law for failing to have functioning boards of directors, which provide oversight and control of funds donated to the tax-exempt entities.

Cuomo’s office issued a warning today about scammers looking to prey on New Yorkers during the early part of the tax season.

The 19-member Consensus commission that proposed merging Syracuse and Onondaga County governments will not provide a detailed roadmap for how to do that, even if the commission’s final report endorses the merger. Instead, it would be up to political leaders to hammer out the details, which could take years.

Cuomo launched a new web-based service that will help connect New Yorkers struggling with addiction to treatment.

Overweight squirrels are a problem in WNY.

Negotiations Underway on Pension Forfeiture

From the Morning Memo:

The Senate and Assembly are negotiating new language on a constitutional amendment that would cause public officials convicted of wrongdoing to lose their public pensions – an issue that was supposed to be settled during last year’s session, but got derailed due to labor opposition.

“We’re working with Assemblyman (David) Buchwald right now to get a same-as bill so that both houses have the same kind of bill,” said Senate Ethics Committee Chairman Tom Croci during a CapTon interview last night.

“It’s a constitutional amendment that goes far deeper than what has currently been proposed at taking away pensions.”

As you’ll recall, there was supposedly a deal on this last year, but it was passed by the Senate and not the Assembly, which held off due to reservations expressed by unions that the language was too broad. The worry was that rank-and-file public employees, and not just bad-acting elected officials, who were supposed to be the target of this effort, would be impacted.

Despite numerous assertions that the Assembly would be revisiting the issue, it so far has not. Speaker Carl Heastie just yesterday said he’s seeking “clarity” about the amendment’s reach.

Reform advocates were heartened by the fact that the governor included pension forfeiture in his budget proposal, but lawmakers clearly would like to get something done outside the context of the budget.

Asked how far into the public employee ranks the amendment should reach. Croci said he likes the “federal model” in which anyone who is a position of shaping public policy and/or is a “leader” in a position of public trust is held accountable.

“Those are the kinds of things that we’re trying to sort out right now,” Croci said. “To make sure that we’re going after individuals, whether it’s in the governors branch of government, the executive branch, in the Assembly or in the Senate or in the legislative staff that are considered public officers…we’re having that conversation right now with (Buchwald’s) office.”

Here and Now

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

At 8 a.m., NYLCVEF, Enterprise Community Partners and NYU’s Wagner School host a policy forum on greening affordable housing in New York City, The Puck Building, 295 Lafayette St., 2nd Floor, Manhattan.

At 8:15 a.m., the Riders Alliance launches an “Apology Tour” with a cardboard cutout Cuomo saying he’s “sorry” for not funding the MTA’s capital plan in his budget proposal, Grand Central Terminal, Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) and Dinner Lab announce the grand opening of Brooklyn FoodWorks, a shared kitchen and culinary incubator in Central Brooklyn, 630 Flushing Ave., Brooklyn.

At 9:30 a.m., legislators will hold the 9th of 13 hearings on Cuomo’s budget proposal, focusing on mental hygiene, Hearing Room B, LOB, Albany.

At 10 a.m., state Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon outlines CUomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Sheldon Hall, SUNY Oswego, 7060 Route 104, Oswego.

Also at 10 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a press conference, Manhattan 1/2/5 Sanitation Garage, 353 Spring St., 5th Floor (at intersection of West Street), Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., the Legislature will begin interviews of state Board of Regents candidates, Assembly Parlor, 3rd Floor, state Capitol, Albany.

Also at 10 a.m., Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton announce the results of a major long-term investigation, DA’s office, 350 Jay St., 19th Floor, Brooklyn.

Also at 10 a.m., the NYC Planning Commission will vote on Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Quality and Affordability, 22 Reade St., Manhattan.

At 10:15 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Fordham University, Tognino Hall, 441 E. Fordham Rd., the Bronx.

At 11 a.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz issues a report on platform development opportunities over railyards in the Bronx, Lehman College, 250 Bedford Park Blvd.

Also at 11 a.m., former NYC Mayor David Dinkins rehearses his narrative role in a special performance of Lincoln Portrait at Carnegie Hall next week in collaboration with renowned pianist Jiaxin Tian and the Manhattan Symphonie, DiMenna Center for Classical Music, 450 W. 37th St., Manhattan.

At 11:45 a.m., Deputy Secretary for Legislative Affairs Mark Weprin outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Bay Ridge Senior Center, 6935 4th Ave., Brooklyn.

At noon, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign will hold a news conference with supporters to announce the 80,000 signatures gathered to appear on the ballot in NYC, City Hall Park, Manhattan. (Sens. Bill Perkins and James Sanders, Jr., former Sen. Tom Duane, WFP State Director Bill Lipton and others are expected to attend).

At 12:30 p.m., Reardon delivers her second State of the State outline of the day, this time at Gigi’s Italian Kitchen, 2256 Hudson Ave., Rochester.

At 1 p.m., legislators hold their 10th of 13 joint budget hearings on the workforce development portion of Cuomo’s spending proposal, Hearing Room B, LOB, Albany.

Also at 1 p.m., de Blasio holds a press conference, 1 Police Plaza, 2nd Floor, Manhattan.

At 3 p.m., Hochul outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Yeshiva University, 215 Lexington Ave., Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., Hochul delivers remarks to the Adirondack Council, The Cornell Club, 6 East 44th St., Manhattan. (Closed press).

At 7 p.m., Deputy Secretary of State for Local Government Dede Scozzafava outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Mullin’s Family Restaurant, 1180 US-11, Gouverneur.

Headlines…

A battle over housing policy is quietly rekindling the feud between New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The Cuomo administration wants to add oversight to the city’s affordable-housing bonds, a measure the city fears will slow development and cause uncertainty among developers—and imperil the top item on the mayor’s agenda.

The New York Times: “Cuomo, who should be using his power to make New York City more hospitable to working-class and middle-class families, has instead slipped a little poison into his executive budget that could cripple the city’s ambitious efforts to build affordable housing…It’s not a stretch to call this sabotage (of de Blasio’s agenda).”

Cuomo on Wednesday will name Rossana Rosado, the former editor and publisher of El Diario-La Prensa, as New York’s next secretary of state. Rosado, 54, will replace retiring Cesar Perales, who has held that post for the past five years and is considered the most influential Hispanic official in the governor’s cabinet.

While de Blasio was in Iowa stumping for Hillary Clinton, opposition to his plan to shrink the horse-carriage trade and restrict it to Central Park has grown, prompting the mayor and his surrogates to do some last-minute vote wrangling to counter the growing number of antagonists.

“The Sopranos” actress Edie Falco, a backer of NYCLASS, sent robocalls to pols urging them to sign off on the deal to cut the number of horses to 75 and keep them in a stable inside Central Park, as did actresses Debi Mazar and Kathy Najimy. Hip hop mogul Russell Simmons was also personally calling members, according to NYCLASS. And X-files star Gillian Anderson is sending them e-mails.

Staten Island’s Groundhog Day celebration, held for 35 years, may have been the highest-profile appearance for Kathy Hochul in her yearlong tenure as lieutenant governor. She called the event an “honor,” but was feeling the pressure, saying: “It’s like being in the Super Bowl. You got to get it right.” (She did).

Sen. Michael Nozzolio, 64, who has represented the Finger Lakes region for more than 30 years, announced he will not seek re-election in the fall, citing a heart problem.

Nozzolio’s departure causes another headache for the Senate GOP as it seeks to retain the majority this fall. He was unopposed in four of his last six Senate campaigns, and with $209,986 in his campaign accounts as of mid-January,he likely would have been difficult to unseat in 2016.

Ontario County Republican Committee Chairman Doug Finch said there are three state Assembly members from that region who would be good GOP candidates to run for Nozzolio’s seat: Minority Leader Brian Kolb, Assemblyman Robert Oaks, and Assemblyman Gary Finch.

Many New Yorkers who earn more than a million dollars a year would see a tax increase under the terms of a proposal introduced by Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. (The idea was immediately shot down by the Senate Republicans).

A new Siena poll found voters overwhelmingly support a number of Cuomo’s priorities for 2016, but still hold mixed views about the governor himself.

Motorists at all 85,000 metered parking spots in the city will be able to pay the meter from their smartphone by the end of this year, de Blasio plans to announce in his State of the City address.

De Blasio denied he was micromanaging his image last year when his lawyers issued a sweeping mandate to review all public records requests that could “reflect directly on the mayor.” But the first batch of more than 50 requests forwarded to City Hall, and obtained by the AP, reveal many in which the “sensitivity or controversy” for the mayor’s office is tenuous at best. Some are downright innocuous.

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Extras

LG Kathy Hochul presided over Groundhog Day at the Staten Island Zoo and lived to tell about it – as did the groundhog.

Lawmakers will start interviewing candidates for the state Board of Regents tomorrow. There are two open seats – the at-large position being left by chancellor Merryl Tisch and the seat held by vice chancellor Tony Bottar, who represents the 5th Judicial District, which includes the Mohawk Valley.

Sen. Mike Nozzolio, who is retiring due to health concerns, was expected to face a GOP primary after he angered some constituents last year for voting for Long Island Sen. John Flanagan as Senate majority leader instead of Syracuse Sen. John DeFrancisco – a move critics said was a slight to upstate.

The state plans to spend $200 million to build a high-tech drug-manufacturing center in Dunkirk for a Buffalo biotech firm that would create hundreds of jobs.

A Long Island builders’ group is criticizing the lack of details in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s splashy plans for New York’s infrastructure and accusing Island lawmakers of abandoning the issue so far in the 2016 legislative session.

The Sullivan County Board of Elections will appoint a monitor to review challenges to voter registrations to settle a lawsuit filed by Hasidic Jewish residents in what legal experts call an unprecedented agreement in New York state.

WNY Republican and Democratic lawmakers are joining together to push Cuomo to provide “true parity” in funding between upstate roads and bridges and the downstate Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Former NYC Assemblyman Robert Jackson is running again for the state Senate seat currently held by Adriano Espaillat, who is running for the House seat being vacated by Rep. Charlie Rangel.

The families of Continental Flight 3407 joined with senators, congressmen and one of the nation’s most prominent pilots today to launch the first strike in what they expect will be a battle to preserve key aviation safety improvements won after Clarence crash that claimed 50 lives.

As Jon Kaiman prepares to run his final meeting tomorrow as chairman of the Nassau Interim Finance Authority before stepping down to run for Congress, speculation about his potential replacement is beginning. One name that has surfaced is that of former two-term County Comptroller Howard Weitzman.

George Marlin points out some potential problems with Kaiman’s political fundraising.

Julie Menin, NYC Consumer Affairs commissioner for the past two years, has been named commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.

Former LG Bob Duffy channels his inner Eddie Money for a good cause.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ near win in Iowa puts NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Hillary Clinton supporter who once yearned to be the face of the national progressive movement, on the wrong side of its groundswell.

About 1 million, or half of the state’s property tax rebate checks have gone out and the other half should be sent out by the end of February, state Tax Commissioner Jerry Boone told lawmakers at a budget hearing.

The products in Syracuse’s newest medical pot dispensary at 2140 Erie Boulevard East sound like cappuccino flavors: “Dolce,” “Forte” and “Balance.”

Two state Assembly members from Syracuse – Bill Magnarelli and Pam Hunter – today endorsed Colleen Deacon over her two Democratic rivals in the race for the party’s designation for the NY-24 seat.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg is giving a lecture to the 1-percenters at the private Bahamas resort Lyford Cay on Feb. 13.