Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin


In the wake of recent unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is still confident this weekend’s march on Staten Island against police brutality will be peaceful.

The Rev. Al Sharpton: “We must show the world that we are mature enough to allow a citizenry to question those in authority but respect them at the same time.”

Bronx Councilman Andy King warned Ferguson-style racial turmoil could come to New York if federal prosecutors don’t file charges against the cop who shot an unarmed black constituent, Ramarley Graham, in 2012.

A top AFL-CIO official said organized labor is witholding judgment on Hillary Clinton as a presidential candidate.

Clinton will host a high-dollar fundraiser for the Democratic Women’s Senate Network at her home, along with Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Michael Bennet.

VP Joe Biden was in Connecticut.

LG Bob Duffy, a burgeoning Twitter star, had to go dark briefly because his account was hacked.

Zephyr Teachout: “From the beginning of talking to the WFP, I said I wanted to run in the Democratic primary. And nothing that happened at the WFP convention changed that.”

Jim Kelly got “great news” when he visited a New York City hospital today. There’s no physical evidence of the oral cancer for which he’s being treated.

A video appears to catch former Attorney General and current state Senate candidate Oliver Koppell dissing residents of the district he’s running to represent in Albany.

The NRA has launched a national ad campaign against former New York City Mayor Bloomberg, whose PAC is trying to make gun control a major issue in races across the country.

Three villages will receive state grants to assist in their dissolution plans.

Another FOIL has been filed in connection with a controversial Scaffold Law report paid for by the Lawsuit Reform Alliance.

The League of Women Voters announced the launch of, an electronic voter guide, for select primary races.

A NYC Council committee passed legislation requiring stricter independent expenditure disclosure requirements and banning anonymous campaign ads.

TV weatherman Al Roker predicted de Blasio would serve but a single term, but the dispute didn’t stop the mayor from participating in the weatherman’s 60th birthday celebration.

Cuomo’s office is spending $35,000 for an outside law firm to make sure the state Board of Elections properly implements its pilot program of public campaign financing.

Sen. Tim Kennedy and his primary challenger Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant, engaged in “a lively, sometimes testy, but always respectful” debate.

‘Tough’ Cahill’s 1st Ad Links Schneiderman To Moreland (Updated)

Republican attorney general hopeful John Cahill is hitting the airwaves with his first TV ad, in which he links his Democratic opponent, AG Eric Schneiderman, to the failed Moreland Commission and pledges to be “tough enough” to clean up corruption in Albany.

“John Cahill is Ironman tough and is exactly the kind of Attorney General that New Yorkers need to finally break the lock of corruption on state government,” said Cahill’s campaign spokesman Dave Catalfamo. “His ethical, active and independent approach to the AG’s office, offers voters a clear and compelling alternative to the complicit, lackadaisical, incompetent administration of Eric Schneiderman – this ad tells that story.”

The ad is scheduled to start running statewide tomorrow and will continue for two weeks (including over the Labor Day weekend), and the buy is about $750,000, according to Cahill’s campaign. That’s a sizable chunk of the money Cahill has raised to date; as of the July 15th filing with the state Board of Elections, he had $968,689 on hand.

This is actually the first spot from either candidate. Schneiderman, who has vastly out-paced Cahill in fund-raising, has reserved some $2 million worth of air time during the last few weeks before the Nov. 4 election. Buying so far in advance means Schneiderman not only received a discount, but also was able to snap up good time slots at a moment when voters are likely to be paying more attention to the race than they are in the middle of August.

Cahill’s ad also comes as yet another poll – from Quinnipiac this morning – shows that Schneiderman continues to be over 50 percent mark in his reelection bid, leading Cahill 51-29.

Voters approve 51-22 percent of the job Schneiderman is doing, and 44 percent say he deserves re-election. Forty-eight percent of voters said they don’t know enough about Schneiderman to have an opinion of him, despite the fact that he has been a statewide elected official for almost four years. But 72 percent don’t know Cahill, a former top Pataki administration aide, which explains why he’s spending money now in hopes of raising his name recognition and defining himself before Schneiderman and his allies do it for him.

Cahill’s ad doesn’t mention anything about his party affiliation, and it steers clear of any social issues – though it does mention his work to increase preserved open space in New York. Schneiderman’s camp has been hammering on Cahill over the abortion rights issue (he’s pro-life), trying to paint him as too conservative to represent Democrat-dominated New York.

This ad also refers to “Eric Schneiderman’s ethics commission,” which is a reference to the now-defunct corruption-busting Moreland Commission created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. To call is the AG’s commission is really a stretch, though he did deputize the commission’s members – at the governor’s request – to give them the power to investigate outside the executive branch (in other words, to target the Legislature), and also provide top staffers to assist the commission with its work.

Schneiderman has made it clear he’s cooperating with US Attorney Preet Bharara’s investigation of the Moreland Commission’s demise, but he has declined to comment beyond that. Cahill has been slamming the AG for his silence, insisting he has to come clean about what he knew of the Cuomo administration’s interference with the commission’s efforts and why he didn’t blow the whistle on that.

So far, efforts by the Republicans – including Cahill – to tar their Democratic opponents with the Moreland mess hasn’t borne much fruit. Today’s Q poll reiterates the findings of previous polls, indicating that while voters believe Cuomo should have stayed out of the commission’s way and is perhaps contributing to the corruption problem in Albany, that’s not enough to tank their support of him – or Schneiderman, for that matter.

Here’s the script from Cahill’s ad:

“A lot of people call me tough.

I served as Governor Pataki’s right hand in rebuilding Ground Zero. I helped lead the battle to preserve over a million acres of open space… and we won. As Attorney General, I’ll enforce the law and expose the corruption that cripples state government.

When Eric Schneiderman’s ethics commission began investigating his own contributors, it was shut down. Cleaning up Albany starts with a new Attorney General who’s tough enough to clean out corruption.

I’m John Cahill.”

Updated: The Schneiderman campaign weighs in.

“It’s never a good sign when a campaign is forced to squander all its money on air time in August. It must be tough to see Cahill’s paltry poll numbers, so it’s not surprising he’s resorting to a Hail Mary move so early in his campaign,” said campaign spokesman Peter Ajemian. “This ad is the latest example of Cahill running from his own record as an oil and gas industry lobbyist whose views are too extreme for New York.”

Unshackle Steers Clear of Statewide Races – For Now

From the Morning Memo:

The pro-business, anti-tax organization Unshackle Upstate released its 2013-14 legislative scorecards yesterday, indicating which Assembly members and senators are likely to receive its endorsement this fall.

But Unshackle has decided not to pick sides just yet in any of the statewide races, although the group’s executive director, Brian Sampson, was not shy about indicating during a CapTon interview last night which way his board is leaning.

“We’ve had initial conversations…about what we want to with the statewide races, and we’ve made a determination at this point we’re not going to engage,” Sampson told me.

“However, we do have concerns about where certain individuals are aligned and what they’re pushing for relative to the Working Family Party and the Senate going back to New York City control, which would be bad for us and upstate. We’re going to have to see where things go.”

“…We’re going to engage in a few primaries where we think it’s important,” Sampson continued. “Then after Labor Day I’ll be getting my board back together to discuss what we want to do both in local elects and in statewide races.”

Unshackle’s rules require unanimous consent among board members for endorsements.

In 2010, the Rochester-based lobbying group sat out the governor’s race, declining to back either Cuomo (then the state attorney general) or his GOP challenger, Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino.

It did endorse Republican hedge fund manager Harry Wilson for state comptroller, but he lost in a very tight race to the Democratic incumbent, Tom DiNapoli.

Based on its scorecards, it’s easy to see that Unshackle will be siding with the Senate Republicans again this year, though one Democrat – Syracuse’s Dave Valesky, an IDC member – scored high enough (88) to be considered for the group’s nod. (A lawmaker must score 85 or higher to be endorsement eligible).

That’s a switch for Valesky, according to Sampson. In 2012, the Central New York Democrat received a 72.

In the Assembly, just one Democrat – Buffalo’s Robin Schimminger, who tends to vote on the conservative side, especially when it comes to fiscal and tax matters – made the cut for Unshackle’s endorsement consideration. He received a 94.

Watch Here >>

Q Poll: Cuomo Part of Corruption ‘Problem,’ NYers Like Him Anyway

A whopping 83 percent of New York voters think state government corruption is either a very or somewhat serious problem, and close to half (48 percent) believe Gov. Andrew Cuomo is contributing to the mess, according to a Quinnipiac poll released this morning.

Forty-one percent of those polled said Cuomo is part of the solution to the swamp that has engulfed Albany.

Concern over corruption and the governor’s role in combatting it (or failing to do so) has so far not had much of an impact on either his favorability rating or his lead over all challengers in the fall elections.

Cuomo continues to enjoy a massive lead over his GOP opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, trouncing him 56-28, which is virtually unchanged from 57-28 in a May Q poll (conducted well before the Moreland mess heated up, thanks to a July 23 New York Times report).

As for Cuomo’s Democratic primary challenger, Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout, 88 percent of New Yorkers have no idea who she is. Ditto (or nearly, at 89 percent) for Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins.

“Is the governor’s race all over? Did it ever start?” said Q pollster Mickey Carroll.

“Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino gets only the standard Republican numbers. Voters give Gov. Cuomo a big lead and say he deserves reelection.”

“First, Cuomo has the primary challenge from Zephyr Teachout, who’s about as anonymous as a candidate can be,” Carroll added.

The governor’s favorability rating is 55-36, and 57-28 approve of the job he has been doing. Fifty-three percent of voters say Cuomo deserves to be re-elected, which is about the same as in May.

Fifty percent of voters disapprove of the way Cuomo is handling ethics in government, but 50 percent also say he’s honest and trustworthy.

Of the 51 percent who have read or heard anything about the governor’s decision to shutter the anti-corruption Moreland Commission, 77 percent say the shutdown was a political deal with legislative leaders while 11 percent say the decision was good government.

Even Cuomo’s fellow Democrats believe – 68-15 -that the demise of Moreland was the result of a political deal.

Forty-six percent of all voters think the feds should continue the defunct commission’s work, though another 46 percent said they haven’t heard enough about this issue to have an opinion one way or the other.

Here and Now

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

At 8:30 a.m., as part of its Executive Breakfast Series, the Long Island Association will host the Executive Director of the New York and New Jersey Port Authority, Patrick Foye, 300 Broadhollow Rd., Melville.

At 9:30 a.m., NYC Councilmen Dan Garodnick and Brad Lander and advocates promote two bills that would require additional disclosure on political campaign mailers of candidates and groups involved in sending the mailers; steps, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 9:30 a.m., Brian Jones, the Green Party candidate for LG, will speak at a protest on wage theft and the minimum wage, 75 Varrick St. (in front of the state Labor Department), Manhattan. Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout is also expected to attend.

Also at 9:30 a.m., the New York State Fair butter sculpture is unveiled, TWC News will air the momentous event live.

At 10:15 a.m., Democratic LG candidate Kathy Hochul visits the Bayside Senior Center with Assemblyman David Weprin, 221-15 Horace Harding Expressway, Bayside, Queens.

At 10:30 a.m., AG Eric Schneiderman makes an announcement, SUNY Purchase, University Police Department Office, 735 Anderson Hill Rd., Purchase.

At 11 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio attends an interfaith roundtable with New York City clergy members hosted by Timothy Cardinal Dolan, 452 Madison Ave., Manhattan. (A media availability will follow, though the meeting is closed to the press).

Also at 11 a.m., the FDNY Union of the Uniformed Fire Officers Association endorses Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos, Hochul, and state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Russo’s on the Bay, 162-45 Cross Bay Blvd., Howard Beach, Queens.

Also at 11 a.m., LG Bob Duffy makes remarks at the Lion Heart Residences of Cohoes groundbreaking, 51 Manor Ave., Cohoes.

Also at 11 a.m., representatives of the statewide Coalition of Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and community, government and union officials call for the mayor to disclose more details about efforts to award contracts to businesses owned by minority residents and women, and seek a federal investigation of changes in city laws regulating certification of such businesses; steps, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 11:30 a.m., GOP AG candidare John Cahill attends the Dutchess County senior picnic, Freedom Park, 212 Skidmore Rd., LaGrange.

Also at 11:30 a.m., Assemblyman Felix Ortiz and health experts hold a press conference to discuss an annual study assessing the health of adults, 404 55th St., Brooklyn.

At 12:30 p.m., Duffy marks remarks at the at the Tech Valley High School ribbon cutting ceremony, Tech Valley High School, SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, 246 Tricentennial Dr., Albany.

Also at 12:30 p.m., Cahill attends the Dutchess County Fair, 6550 Spring Brook Ave., Rhinebeck.

From 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m., Rep. Dan Maffei will answer questions live on for the first time in the NY-24 campaign.

At 3 p.m., Cahill highlights step one in his plan to fight corruption in Albany, Robert Abrams Building for Law and Justice, (in front of building on State Street, across from the state Capitol), Albany.

At 4:30 p.m., Real Affordability for All, Rev. Michael Walrond and others hold march to escalate a campaign urging developers to set aside 50 percent of all new apartments as real affordable units, First Corinthian Baptist Church, 1912 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd., Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., Rep. Charlie Rangel attends a campaign event for former NYC Councilman/Senate candidate Robert Jackson, 193 Malcolm X Blvd., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., Chemung County Sheriff and GOP LG candidate Chris Moss attends and speaks at the Ulster County Conservative Committee Dinner, La Mirage Restaurant and Catering, 423 Broadway St., Ulster Park.


NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s meeting today with religious leaders at the home of Cardinal Timothy Dolan is meant to soothe tensions ahead of a weekend march to protest the death of a Staten Island man in an apparent police chokehold.

When the Rev. Al Sharpton marches on Staten Island to protest the death of Eric Garner, he won’t be joined by any of the city’s top Democrats.

A Staten Island grand jury will hear evidence next month in the Garner case, potentially forcing the police officers implicated in the apparent chokehold death to testify under oath if they hope to avoid indictment.

De Blasio, who “shot to fame denouncing stop-and-frisk tactics and luxury condominiums, is now defending hard-nosed policing and cutting deals with developers, bowing to the realities of leading an unruly city but also angering an activist left that propelled his rise to the Democratic elite.”

Good-government groups are preparing to do battle with each other over a ballot proposal to change the state’s redistricting process.

For the first time, indicted Sen. Tom Libous addressed a report that the FBI raided his home on Aug. 8th, saying: “I’ve said it all along; I’m very confident. I sleep well at night. We’re going to fight it and the great thing here is I’m going to continue to work hard and do my job every day because I was elected to do so. I’m running hard for re-election and I’ll let the people decide.”

Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams is considering backing Zephyr Teachout over Cuomo in advance of the Sept. 9 Democratic gubernatorial primary.

The NYT endorses NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer’s “ClaimStat” initiative, and wonders why the mayor’s office offered only “mild praise” of the idea.

More >


Staten Island DA Dan Donovan will convene a grand jury to determine if the NYPD officers involved in the death of Eric Garner will face criminal charges.

The Rev. Al Sharpton is still insisting that the case be turned over to the federal government.

Jimmy Fallon’s love affair with Syracuse continues.

Bronx Councilman Jimmy Vacca will introduce a bill requiring the NYC Board of Elections to use tech-savvy methods to provide voters with election information.

The Post-Standard calls Syracuse students English and math test scores “worse than dismal” and “unacceptable.”

RIP Frank Fossella, a former NYC councilman who also served as first vice chairman of the Staten Island Democratic Party.

WFP co-founder Bertha Lewis, a Teachout supporter, is disappointed that her ally, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, is backing Cuomo for re-election.

Former NYC Council Speaker Chris Quinn thinks Teachout’s running mate, Tim Wu, should apologize “to the legacy of Susan B. Anthony” for his comments on women’s suffrage.

Democratic LG candidate Kathy Hochul announced the Women’s Equality Party has received more than 100,000 signatures in a recent petitioning drive.

Nine Democrats running for state Senate will file petition signatures to run on the Women’s Equality Party line – including IDC Leader Jeff Klein.

De Blasio has been avoiding the more conservative areas of Brooklyn that he lost to Republican Joe Lhota in 2013.

Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley has made three trips in nine months to New Hampshire, home to the first presidential primary.

“Is it any wonder that more women don’t run for office?”

Emmy nominee Laverne Cox of “Orange is the New Black” fame is lending her voice in support of a petition demanding safe housing for trans people in New York prisons.

Howard Dean is a supporter of Hillary Clinton 2016, but thinks she “will have a challenger in the Democratic field – maybe several. (Not him).

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation announced a $1.25 million challenge grant to Buffalo State’s Art Conservation Department to bolster graduate student fellowships in the flagship program.

Uber, the fast-growing private car start-up, has hired President Obama’s former campaign manager David Plouffe to be its senior vice president of policy and strategy.

According to the website, Teachout’s Fordham Law students admire her professorial skills – and think she’s hot.

GOP Rep. Tom Reed says he has lost 110 pounds since undergoing bariatric surgery. A marathon is on his “bucket list.”

Another 50-state economic ranking list – New York is 23rd.

Here and Now

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

At 9 a.m., NYC Public Advocate Tish James attends a Federal Immigration Court migrant children screening, 26 Federal Plaza, Manhattan. (Media availability to follow).

At 9:05 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers remarks at the “Getting Ready for Pre-K” Summer Professional Development Institute for Pre-K Teachers, Whitman Hall Auditorium, Brooklyn College, 2900 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn.

At 9:30 a.m., Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo will hold a press conference to protest the 24-hour eviction of residents who have been residing in a “cluster” homeless shelter, 941 Intervale Ave., the Bronx.

At 10 a.m., Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout is back in court, defending a lower court decision in her favor regarding Cuomo’s residency challenge, Appellate Division, Second Department, Monroe Place, Brooklyn. (Teachout and her LG running mate, Tim Wu, hold a press conference prior to the hearing).

Also at 10 a.m., Westchester County Executive and GIO gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino will unveil a comprehensive jobs plan, Bob Carr 2.0 Printing and Mailing, 12 Hall St., Binghamton.

Also at 10 a.m.,Bronx Overall Economic Development Corp. President Marlene Cintron, Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr., state Labor Commissioner Peter M. Rivera and other officials mark the opening of a “New York Works” satellite office of the state Department of Labor’s Division of Business Services; Room 123, 851 Grand Concourse, the Bronx.

Also at 10 a.m., NYC Councilman Andy King and NYCHA Chairwoman and CEO Shola Olatoye, joined by state Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, lead a tour of the authority’s Boston Secor Houses, as King discusses nearly $1.5 million in funding for projects to install security cameras and renovate the public housing development’s senior center and track and field; 3475 Bivona St., the Bronx.

Also at 10 a.m., Senate candidate/Dutchess County Legislator Sue Serino, Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell, Yorktown Councilman Terrence Murphy and Carmel Supervisor Ken Schmitt hold press conference on pension reform, Carmel Town Hall, 60 McAlpin Ave., Mahopac.

At 10:15 a.m., Democratic LG candidate Kathy Hochul speaks at a Women’s Equality Party press conference, City Hall steps, 260 Broadway, Manhattan.

At 10:40 a.m., Astorino will be a guest on WNBF Binghamton Now with host Bob Joseph.

At 11 a.m., employees at El Diario join representatives of the Newspaper Guild of New York and the New York City Central Labor Council and others at a rally to end firings of union-represented workers at the newspaper, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 11:45 a.m., Onondaga County Comptroller and GOP state comptroller candidate Bob Antonacci attends the Auburn-Finger Lakes Region Rotary Club luncheon, Holiday Inn, 75 North St., Auburn.

At noon, civic groups hold a virtual press conference to launch the “Vote Yes for Progress” push in favor of the redistricting constitutional amendment that will appear on the November ballot, register here:

Also at noon, Sen. Tony Avella will unveil “Made in Queen” – a comprehensive six-point economic plan in order to boost employment opportunities and attract new businesses to the borough, Cascarinos Brick Oven Pizzeria, 14-60 College Point Blvd., Flushing.

At 12:30 p.m., Sen. Diane Savino and environmental advocates from groups discuss the Legislature’s passage of the “Community Risk and Resiliency Act” and call for the governor to sign it; parking lot across the street from Savino’s district office, 36 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island.

At 2 p.m., NYC Council members, inmate advocates and former guards and inmates from the city’s Rikers Island Correctional Facility discuss proposals for overhauling treatment of inmates at the jail; Urban Justice Center, 16th floor, 123 William St., Manhattan.

At 3:15 p.m., Astorino will continue his jobs plan unveiling tour, Buffalo Central Terminal, 495 Paderewski Dr., Buffalo.

At 4:30 p.m., Antonacci attends the Erie County Conservative Party family picnic, 299 Leydecker Rd., Buffalo.

At 5:30 p.m., Hochul campaigns at the W 72nd Street 1/2/3 Subway Station with Rep. Jerry Nadler, state Sens. Senators Brad Hoylman, Jose Serrano and Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal, Upper West Side, Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., Chemung County Sheriff and GOP LG candidate Chris Moss attends and speaks at the Erie County Conservative Committee Picnic, VFW Post 8113, Chicken Coop, 299 Leydecker Rd., West Seneca. (Astorino will also attend).

Also at 6 p.m., de Blasio delivers remarks at the Mayor’s Awards in honor of the Americans with Disabilities Act reception, Celeste Bartos Forum, New York Public Library, 5th Avenue and 42nd Street, Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., Antonacci attends the Buffalo Bisons’ baseball game, Coca-Cola field, Buffalo.


Republican Rep. Peter King and former Gov. David Paterson, Cuomo’s hand-picked state Democratic chairman, next week will join the stream of American politicians going to Israel to show solidarity against Hamas.

Labor sources said the AFL-CIO endorsement of Gov. Andrew Cuomo labor was blocked primarily by NYSUT and AFSCME – a parent organization of public employee unions.

“I find it hard to imagine that anything the unions are doing is ultimately going to make a big difference in a primary,” said Joe Mercurio, a Democratic political consultant. “This is going to be a turnout-driven election, and (Cuomo) has way more resources than (Teachout) does to generate turnout.”

Cuomo signed a new law designed to make life easier for U.S. service members. The measure eases certain educational and job related restrictions.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton called a graffiti exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York “outrageous.”

Bratton insisted that gun violence in NYC is at a historically low level and that the majority of shooting incidents are in the same areas that have been hot spots for decades.

A federal appeals court ruled that Erie County must unseal reports on jail conditions as part of its monitoring by the U.S. Department of Justice.

More >


US Attorney Preet Bharara told the New York Times: “I have no interest and desire to seek political office…Now or ever.”

At least 105 jobs are being lost at Remington Arms in Ilion as part of the gun maker’s plans to move two assembly lines to Alabama.

While several members of Congress have called for a federal prosecutor in the death of Eric Garner in NYPD custody, Mayor Bill de Blasio believes Staten Island DA Dan Donovan is capable of leading the investigation.

An agenda distributed to labor activists who gathered at a Manhattan hotel today for the AFL-CIO convention did not include anything about the governor’s race.

Morning Joe included Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a report on “governors in trouble,” and discussed his transparency problem.

NRCC Chairman Greg Walden is coming to Syracuse tomorrow, but so far does not plan to campaign in public with John Katko, the GOP NY-24 candidate.

Hillary and Bill Clinton will return to Iowa next month as headliners for the 37th Harkin Steak Fry.

LG Bob Duffy tweaked NJ Gov. Chris Christie on Twitter.

Donald Trump charged the Rev. Al Sharpton with fanning the flames in Ferguson, Missouri, saying that causing controversy is a “cottage industry” for  the MSNBC host.

Sharpton called out Hillary Clinton, Christie and other potential 2016 presidential candidates for keeping quiet on the situation in Ferguson.

A mega-developer looking to build a $750 million casino resort in Orange County has been repeatedly accused of racial discrimination in other states.

“ Tim Russert country” (Western New York) is not to blame for David Gregory’s “Meet the Press” failure.

The state is routing $340 million in funding to expand full-day pre-kindergarten programs for nearly 37,000 children. The lion’s share of that cash is going to NYC.

Sen. Liz Krueger donated $2,000 from her campaign to Sen. Tony Avella’s primary challenger, John Liu, despite a detente between the mainline Democratic conference and the IDC.

Why is the Environmental Defense Fund spending big to help re-elect GOP Rep. Chris Gibson?

Democratic NY-4 candidate Kathleen Rice called on her Republican opponent, Bruce Blakeman, to join her in endorsing a federal minimum wage increase.

A couple NYC Council members blamed Norman Seabrook, the president of the correction officers union, for stonewalling reforms at the violence-plagued Rikers Island.

RIP former Vermont U.S. Sen. James Jeffords, who in 2001 tipped control of the Senate when he quit the Republican Party to become an independent.

It’s been business as usual for the Buffalo Sabres even though owner Terry Pegula and his wife, Kim, are in the thick of the bidding to become owners of the Buffalo Bills.

The U.S.Department of Health and Human Services has abandoned a controversial plan to open dozens of temporary shelters across the nation for immigrant children awaiting deportation.

Cahill Stands With Donovan

ICYMI, this was the second item in today’s Morning Memo:

Republican state attorney general candidate John Cahill has issued a statement of support for Staten Island DA Dan Donovan, the GOP’s 2010 AG contender, as he continues his investigation into the death of Eric Garner.

“There is not a more conscientious, better prepared or more fair minded prosecutor than Dan Donovan,” Cahill said yesterday. “There is not a law enforcement official in America better suited to conduct this investigation…The death of Mr. Garner is tragic and his family deserves the facts, all the facts, not a political football.”

“Demagoguing New York’s law enforcement community and passing the buck yet again to a federal judge or US Attorney only deepens the divisions between those responsible for enforcing the law and the communities they are charged to protect,” Cahill concluded.

Republicans are rallying around Donovan in the face of claims – mostly from Democrats – that the DA is too close to the NYPD to conduct a fair and transparent probe into the circumstances of Garner’s death, which occurred after an officer put him in an apparent chokehold while trying to arrest him for allegedly selling untaxed, loose cigarettes.

Downstate Democratic members of New York’s congressional delegation want US AG Eric Holder to step in to investigate Garner’s death and also the NYPD’s so-called “broken windows” policy, which they believe unfairly targets blacks and Latinos.

Donovan was elected in 2003 and has twice easily won re-election on Staten Island. He’s next up in 2015, but says he hasn’t yet given any thought to whether he’ll be running – a decision that could no doubt be significantly impacted by his handling of this case.

Donovan lost the 2010 AG’s race to then-Democratic state Sen. Eric Schneiderman, who won a five-way Democratic primary in September prior to continuing on to the November general election.

In his uphill battle against Schneiderman this fall, Cahill, a former top Pataki administration aide, has been sticking largely to a law-and-order message, assailing the Democratic incumbent’s record on fighting crime. Cahill has also been hammering on Schneiderman for his role – or lack thereof – in the Moreland mess.

Despite Cahill’s repeated attacks, Schneiderman has consistently maintained a double-digit lead over his GOP opponent in public opinion polls, even widening his lead by five percentage points (from 22 to 27) in last week’s Siena poll.

In Some Races, PEF Plays It Safe

From the Morning Memo:

Much was made last week of the endorsement by PEF, the state’s second-largest public workers union, of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Democratic primary challenger Zephyr Teachout.

The nod was seen both as political muscle flexing by the union’s new president, Susan Kent, and a shot across Cuomo’s bow at a time when his relationship with several public sector unions is strained.

PEF also bucked the institutional Democratic trend and backed former NYC Councilman Oliver Koppell over IDC Leader Jeff Klein, despite the Cuomo-backed deal for Klein and his fellow renegades to abandon the GOP and strike a new deal with the so-called “regular” Democrats in exchange for (among other things) seeing primary challenges to IDC members dropped.

But a full list of PEF’s legislative endorsements provided to CapTon reveals the union wasn’t so politically provocative in all its candidate selections, even opting to sit on the sidelines rather than choose sides in races where incumbents have been charged with wrongdoing.

PEF did not issue endorsements in the Brooklyn race where embattled former Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson is fighting for his political life; or in the Binghamton race where Sen. Tom Libous, the chamber’s No. 2 Republican, is doing the same.

Both Sampson and Libous have been slapped with federal corruption charges.

The union’s regional leaders recommended backing Sampson’s primary challenger Dell Smitherman, a former 1199 SEIU political coordinator, and Libous’ Democratic opponent, former Vestal Town Supervisor Anndrea Starzak; but those suggestions were not heeded when a final vote was taken at PEF’s conference last week.

PEF did back a primary challenger to another scandal-scarred senator, supporting former NYC Councilman Leroy Comrie over Sen. Malcolm Smith (another former Senate Democratic leader) in Queens.

On Long Island, PEF mostly stayed with the status quo, except in one notable case: It backed Democrat Ethan Irwin, a Levittown lawyer and former US Marine, over veteran GOP Sen. Kemp Hannon.

In two open seats on Long Island, PEF backed the Democratic candidates, choosing environmental activist Adrienne Esposito in the battle for GOP Sen. Lee Zeldin’s district (he’s running for Congress), and Dave Denenberg for ex-Sen. Chuck Fuschillo’s district.

PEF also opted for “no endorsement” in another Brooklyn district, which is represented by Sen. Simcha Felder – a Democrat who conferences with the Republicans.

In Western New York, PEF issued no endorsement in the 59th SD, which is represented by Republican Sen. Patrick Gallivan. It is also sitting out the 60th SD race, where GOP Sen. Mark Grisanti faces a primary challenge from attorney Kevin Stocker and a general election challenge from Democratic attorney Marc Panepinto.

And PEF also passed up the opportunity to choose sides in the battle over retiring GOP Sen. George Maziarz’s seat in Niagara Falls, but did give a nod to Elaine Altman – a Democrat challenge Republican Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer.

Also seeing “no endorsement” votes in their districts from PEF were GOP Sens. Cathy Young (57th SD) and Jim Seward (51st SD).

In several contested races on which control of the Senate chamber could hinge, PEF sided with the Democrats. It backed Sen. Cecilia Tkaczyk over her GOP opponent (for the second election cycle in a row) ex-Assemblyman George Amedore; Sen. Terry Gipson over Republican Dutchess County Legislator Sue Serino; and Sen. Ted O’Brien over his Republican challenger, former TV news anchor Rich Funke.