Liz Benjamin

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Holiday Weekend Programming Note

From all of us here at Capital Tonight and State of Politics to all of you out there in New York – and beyond – have a happy and safe Thanksgiving!

We are thankful for your interest and support, because without you, of course, we wouldn’t have an audience for all the work we love to do. It has been a crazy political year, and it’s not over yet. So we hope you’ll continue to follow along with us as we cover the latest happenings in Washington, Albany and New York City.

Barring any major breaking news, we will be taking tomorrow and Friday off to enjoy the holiday. For those of you in our viewing area, there will be no Capital Tonight until Monday at 8 p.m. There will be light-to-no blogging here at State of Politics until Sunday evening, and no a.m. or p.m. memos, again, barring something really significant that we feel we need to let you know about.

Enjoy that turkey, and perhaps some time off from political discourse. I would urge everyone to try to keep their passionate opinions in check at the dinner table, but I know that’s probably a lost cause. At the very least, try to be civil and open minded with friends and loved ones who might not see things the way you do.

We look forward to “seeing” you again soon. Be well.



In a blow to the Obama administration’s labor-law plans, a federal court has blocked the start of a rule that would have made an estimated 4 million more American workers eligible for overtime pay heading into the holiday season.

President-elect Donald Trump tapped Betsy DeVos, a top Republican donor and school choice activist, to head the Department of Education.

Trump also tapped Gov. Nikki R. Haley of South Carolina, an Indian-American who is a rising star in Republican politics, to be United States ambassador to the United Nations, and wants Ben Carson to head HUD as he moves to diversify his cabinet.

Carson suggested on Facebook that he would join the Trump administration, reversing his stance last week that he didn’t want to work in government.

Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein is pushing for vote recounts in Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, three traditionally Democratic states where Trump did much better than expected on Nov. 8.

The FEC determined that the Trump campaign accepted close to 1,100 donations, which amounted to roughly $1.3 million, that violated one of a handful of campaign finance laws.

Trump’s eldest son, emerging as a potential envoy for the president-elect, held private discussions with diplomats, businessmen and politicians in Paris last month that focused in part on finding a way to cooperate with Russia to end the war in Syria.

Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, could probably get around the nation’s anti-nepotism law for federal employees and take a job in the White House, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said.

If Trump makes good on his promise to cut all federal funding for cities that protect immigrant residents from his planned deportations, he would blow a massive hole in New York City’s housing, children’s services and police counterterrorism budgets, Comptroller Scott Stringer said.

Kevin Sheekey, a top aide to former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg who was mulling a mayoral run himself, said he has decided against stepping into the 2017 City Hall race.

Two executives from Cor Development Co. and six other defendants, including two former advisors to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, will be arraigned Dec. 1 in federal court on the charges for which they were indicted yesterday.

Obama pardoned the last two turkeys of his presidential career, and made a lot of dad jokes in the process.

DJ Rick Perry. Yes, it’s for real.

Members of the Western New York legislative delegation joined at least two dozen community and labor activists to denounce plans to close the West Seneca-based facility.

Like the vast majority of New York Democratic officials, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams supported Hillary Clinton for president. But unlike many of his peers, Adams sees a silver lining in Trump’s win.

E.J. McMahon is not a fan of the latest 421-a deal brokered by the governor.

New York State’s largest Medicaid managed long-term care plan will no longer enroll members in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties, according to a letter its chief sent to the state Department of Health.

Large commercial solar farms, covering dozens of acres with tens of thousands of electricity-generating panels, are certain to arrive in New York state in a big way.

There has been a veritable stampede for the exits by Daily News staffers applying for voluntary buyout packages — including a lot of masthead names.

Here and Now

Happy day before Thanksgiving!

If you’re traveling, leave yourself some extra time. It’s going to be very busy out there today – the busiest travel day of the year, in fact.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule while members of his administration continue their volunteering stints for the holiday.

At 9 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul will prepare and distribute meals at East High School, 1801 East Main St., Rochester.

Also at 9 a.m., homeless New Yorkers, community groups, and advocates call on Cuomo and legislative leaders to sign an MOU and keep the governor’s supportive housing commitment, outside Cuomo’s office, 633 Third Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 9 a.m., NYC Public Advocate Tish James hands out bystander intervention literature with Hollaback! At the 96th Street subway station, 96th Street and Broadway, Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., Hunger Free America shares the annual survey on demand at soup kitchens and food pantries and new findings on food insecurity and hunger in New York City and New York State, Bed-Stuy Campaign Against Hunger, 2010 Fulton St., Brooklyn.

At 10:30 a.m., U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer calls on the U.S. Department of Transportation to swiftly finalize a rule that would require electronic speeding devices in large trucks, buses and school buses over 26,000 pounds, Brewster Rest Area, I-684 North, Brewster.

Also at 10:30 a.m., Karim Camara, executive director of the state Office of Faith Based and Community Services will deliver boxed meals for the First Baptist Church of East Elmhurst, 100-10 Astoria Blvd., East Elmhurst, Queens.

Also at 10:30 a.m., advocates and local elected officials call on Cuomo to sign Nikolas’ Bill to provide breast milk to premature babies, Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

At 11 a.m., OTDA Commissioner Sam Roberts will prepare meals at The Rescue Mission, 155 Gifford St., Syracuse.

Also at 11 a.m., NYC Jimmy Van Bramer visits the Razi School, an Islamic school in Woodside, to reassure the students, parents, and faculty that #QueensValues include people of all religions and backgrounds, 55-11 Queens Blvd., Queens.

Also at 11 a.m., Rep. Nydia Velazquez attends United Senior Citizens of Sunset Park Puerto Rican Celebration, 475 53rd St., Brooklyn.

At noon, Velazquez attends Asian Americans for Equality Annual Thanksgiving Luncheon Golden Unicorn, 18 East Broadway, Manhattan.

Also at noon, state Canal Corp. Director Brian Stratton, Director of the NYS Division of Veterans Affairs Eric Hesse and Osbourne McKay, deputy director at the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision will prepare meals at the Hopes Mission of Green County, United Methodist Church, 103 Mansion St., Coxsackie.

At 12:30 p.m., Hochul will distribute meals at the Edward Saunders Community Center, 2777 Bailey Ave., Buffalo.

Also at 12:30 p.m., Schumer publicly reveals the long lost paintings by Thomas Cole and push the federal government to award the ongoing project with additional federal investments, Thomas Cole Historic Site, 218 Spring St., Catskill.

At 1 p.m., James gives away turkeys to NYCHA residents, South Jamaica Houses, 109-24 160th St., Queens.

Also at 1 p.m., Velazquez attends CPC Little Star of Broome Street Early Child Care Center Thanksgiving family and friends Luncheon, 131 Broome St., Manhattan.

Also at 1 p.m., Hunger Free America shares the annual survey on demand at soup kitchens and food pantries and new findings on food insecurity and hunger in New York City and New York State, Affinity Health Plan, 41-46 Main St., Queens.

At 3 p.m., Schumer launches effort to pass legislation that would establish a specialized national cancer registry to be managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Niagara Engine 6, 114 Fort Rd., Schoharie.

At 3:30 p.m., Velazquez attends Confucius Plaza Thanksgiving Celebration, 33 Bowery, Manhattan.

At 5 p.m. – members of the Campaign for Alternatives to Isolated Confinement call on Cuomo and the state legislature to pass the Humane Alternatives to Long Term (HALT) Solitary Confinement Act, Union Square, 14th Street and Union Square West, Manhattan. (The same event will occur simultaneously at the Tompkins County Public Library at Green Street and Cayuga Street, Ithaca).

At 5:15 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill will host a press conference to discuss safety and security preparedness for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Central Park West and 77th Street, Southwest Corner, Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., the governor’s WNY regional representative Adam Sassone will prepare meals at the Buffalo City Mission , 100 East Tupper St., Buffalo.


A federal grand jury in Manhattan returned a 14-count indictment of Joe Percoco, a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and seven others on corruption charges in two wide-ranging bribery schemes to rig bids and wield influence on upstate development projects.

The indictments include counts of fraud, bribery, extortion and honest services fraud. Cuomo has not been charged with any wrongdoing, though the scandal has rocked his administration and led to growing criticism of the way economic development programs are awarded in the state.

The indictments added two charges of wire fraud to 12 other counts — also including extortion and bribery — alleged in a Sept. 22 criminal complaint against the same eight men. No additional individuals were named, and the indictment did not reveal that any of the defendants had decided to cooperate with prosecutors.

Putting the case before a grand jury and obtaining indictments show the U.S. Justice Department is moving “full speed ahead” with its prosecution, said Frank J. Clark, a former federal prosecutor and former Erie County district attorney.

“This case is a real turkey,” said Barry A. Bohrer, Percoco’s lawyer. “We will knock the stuffing out of it at trial.”

Dr. Alain Kaloyeros, the man also known as “Dr. Nano” who became a decisive figure in drawing new technology companies to upstate New York, stands accused in a bid-rigging scheme beyond the one that now mars the image of the Buffalo Billion turnaround project.

During his wide-ranging meeting with editors and reporters at the New York Times, President-elect Donald Trump gave his critics cause for hope, and disappointed some of his followers by saying he no longer is interested in pursuing charges against his erstwhile opponent, Hillary Clinton.

During the meeting, Trump disavowed the white-supremacist alt-right movement and reversed course on a host of other positions he’d previously expressed.

Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who ran an outsider’s campaign for the Republican presidential nomination and later backed Trump, is likely to be chosen as secretary of housing and urban development.

Nikki Haley, the first woman and minority elected as South Carolina’s governor, is expected to accept Trump’s offer today to serve as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations.

Former Tennessee Rep. Harold Ford Jr. — a black Democrat who was chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council — is reportedly in the running to get a transportation or infrastructure post in the Trump Administration.

Trump will be spending Thanksgiving at his estate in Florida.

The Medal of Freedom ceremony brought big names to the White House yesterday. Honorees included Diana Ross, Michael Jordan, Ellen DeGeneres and Robert De Niro. The award is the highest civilian honor given by the White House.

“Everyone on this stage has touched me in a powerful personal way,” said Obama, who has given out more Medals of Honor than any other president. “These are folks who have helped make me who I am and think about my presidency.”

DeGeneres experienced a delay getting into the ceremony where she was to be honored because she forgot her ID and the Secret Service wouldn’t let her pass.

President Obama will be offering the last White House Thanksgiving turkey pardons of his tenure to two birds named “Tater” and “Tot.”

More >


President-elect Donald Trump has changed his mind about locking up his erstwhile opponent, Hillary Clinton, saying he does not intend to pursue investigations into his rival’s use of a private email server or the financial operations at the Clinton family’s global foundation.

According to Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway, the president-elect wants to help Clinton “heal” from her election loss.

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, now a contender for the position of director of national intelligence, says he supports Trump’s decision on Clinton, but could have gone either way on the matter.

New York Times reporters live tweeted their on-again-off-again-on-again meeting with Trump at the paper’s Midtown headquarters.

Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is hailed in a new profile as the savior of the president-elect’s campaign.

Trump says selling his companies to avoid a conflict of interest is “a really hard thing to do because I have real estate.”

A majority of voters want Trump to delete his Twitter account, according to a new Quinnipiac University poll.

The New York City Council’s dominant Progressive Caucus – led by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito – announced its endorsement today of Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison for chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Kyle Strober, Long Island regional director for Sen. Chuck Schumer, will replace Desmond Ryan as executive director of The Association for a Better Long Island, the real estate developer lobbying group announced.

Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, Tommy Mottola, and Chazz Palminteri are planning to host a Dec. 6 fundraiser performance of the new Broadway musical A Bronx Tale, with proceeds to benefit Cuomo’s 2018 re-election bid.

Most struggling schools in New York met goals over the past year that could keep them from losing local control to an outside administrator, the State Education Department announced today.

Trump’s charitable foundation will not be paying any of the $25 million settlement to resolve a series of lawsuits concerning Trump University, the president-elect’s defunct for-profit education venture that drew customer complaints about price gouging.

Since being featured in a viral fake news story about Clinton, the owner of a Washington, D.C. pizza restaurant said the threats he and his business have received are “endless.”

One day after giving a speech outlining his plans to oppose Trump over immigration and public safety, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters not to expect dramatic change overnight.

With 421-a seemingly on the verge of returning from bureaucratic purgatory, officials are cracking down on landlords who are allegedly abusing the tax break, threatening to retroactively revoke benefits if they don’t register apartments as rent-regulated.

Government and transit officials dominate the 17-member train study committee announced by Mayor Byron Brown today.

Four companies are partnering with New York state to provide Thanksgiving meals to more than 35,000 people.

Two people were killed when a beam came crashing down at a Queens construction site this afternoon, authorities said.

JCOPE, the state’s ethic watchdog agency, is down to 11 of a possible 14 commissioners, with the resignation of Mary Lou Rath, a former Republican state senator in Western New York.

Penelope Ann Miller is to star in Lifetime’s “Prison Break: The Joyce Mitchell Story” alongside Myk Watford and Joe Anderson, who will portray the two murderers who broke out of the maximum security Clinton Correctional Facility in rural Clinton County in June 2015.

Actor and activist David Duchovny supports the Cuomo administration’s decision to subsidize upstate nuclear plants as a bridge to renewables.

Cuomo will announce Dec. 8 the winners of his annual competition for state business aid.

Here and Now

Good morning! Members of the Cuomo administration are fanning out around the state today to participate in a pre-Thanksgiving volunteer initiative. A full listing of their respective schedules appears at the end of this post.

The governor himself is in New York City with no public schedule.

At 9:30 a.m., Winona Small, wife of Delrawn Small, speaks after the court appearance of police officer Wayne Isaacs indicted in the of murder of Delrawn Small, outside Kings County Supreme Court, 320 Jay St. Brooklyn.

At 10 a.m., the Center for New York City Affairs presents a “Growing Up NYC” event featuring New York City Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, The New School’s University Center, Tishman Auditorium, 63 5th Ave., Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., elected officials, environmental groups and advocates for geothermal energy call on Cuomo to sign the geothermal tax credit bill, outside the governor’s office, state Capitol, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., Dreamers launch a “Caravan of Courage” from NYC to the White House to “show that fear will not defeat us nor will we hide in the shadows,” Trump Building, 40 Wall St., Manhattan.

At noon, NYC Councilmen Mark Levine and Rafael Espinal are joined by advocates from the education and business communities to call for a “robust” expansion of foreign language education and financial literacy programs in New York City public schools, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 12:30 p.m., LG Kathy Hochul tours new interactive exhibits at the Niagara Power Vista, 5777 Lewiston Rd., Lewiston.

At 1 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner O’Neill will host a press conference to make an announcement regarding officer safety, David N. Dinkins Municipal Building, rear plaza, 1 Centre St., Manhattan.

Also at 1 p.m., state Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball will join the Christmas Tree Farmers Association of New York to kick-off the Christmas season and promote farm-fresh trees grown in New York, Hurd’s Family Farm, 2187 NY-32, Modena.

At 2 p.m., NYC Public Advocate Tish James, NYC Council Members Barry Grodenchik, Stephen Levin and others announce their endorsement of Home Stability Support, a proposal to address New York’s growing homeless crisis, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 2 p.m., Ball will stop at Adair Vineyards as part of the Upper Hudson Wine & Trees beverage and tourism promotion, 52 Allhusen Rd., New Paltz.

At 2:30 p.m., Hochul announces the completion of energy efficiency projects, Buffalo City Hall, 65 Niagara Sq., Buffalo.

At 5 p.m., Rite Aid cashiers, pharmacists, pharmacy techs along with other 1199 SEIU members, and elected officials – including de Blasio – march and rally to demand Rite Aid stop slashing healthcare benefits and bargain in good faith with employees, Columbus Circle, Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., Assemblyman Walter Mosley and NYC Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo hold “2017: Where We Go From Here? Organizing for the Future in Trump’s America,” with topics like “how to heal in the aftermath,” “organizing for response moving forward,” and “how to help in your neighborhood,” Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School, 357 Clermont Ave., Brooklyn.

This evening, de Blasio will be attending the attend the District Council 37 delegates meeting, which is closed to members of the media.


President-elect Donald Trump released a two-and-a-half-minute infomercial-style video, turning to social media to deliver a direct-to-camera message in which he vowed to create jobs, renegotiate trade agreements, end restrictions on energy production and impose bans on lobbying.

In an off-the-record meeting with top news executives, reporters and anchors that could have been a rapprochement, Trump instead reportedly excoriated those present, calling some out by name. Trump’s top advisor, Kellyanne Conway, said the get-together had been “very cordial, very productive, very congenial” as well as “very candid and very honest.”

An Asia-Pacific trade deal stands almost no chance of working now that Trump has pulled the plug on it, proponents of the pact said, opening the way for China to assume the leadership mantle on trade.

Trump reportedly used a post-election meeting with interim United Kingdom Independence Party leader Nigel Farage to express opposition to wind farms in the United Kingdom. The president-elect has long been against a wind farm constructed near his golf course in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, even fighting unsuccessfully all the way to Great Britain’s highest court to block it.

Argentine President Mauricio Macri says he spoke with Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who he has known since her “infant days”, during his recent phone call to America’s new leader.

The Emoluments Clause, an obscure provision of the U.S. Constitution, now poses risks for Trump should he continue to reap business benefits from transactions with companies controlled by foreign governments.

Newt Gingrich prefers former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani to former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as a potential secretary of state, the former House Speaker said after meeting with the president-elect.

Trump met with another of his former rivals, ex-Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who is under consideration for several Cabinet posts, including defense, energy and agriculture.

Gene Sperling, economic policy adviser to Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and a former director of the National Economic Council, provides a look inside the Democratic Party and its economic policies as it ponders what happens next.

New York improperly used as much as $150 million in grants to set up its insurance exchange under President Barack Obama’s health care law and help people enroll for coverage, according to a new federal audit.

In a speech aimed at assuaging his supporters, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio promised again to oppose the federal government if any of Trump’s policies undermine the rights of New Yorkers.

De Blasio presented the city as a national model of resistance and a “better way,” saying: “Now, it’s our turn to build a movement — a movement of the majority that believes in respect and dignity for all.”

Starting next fall, the de Blasio administration will create college savings accounts for thousands of New York City kindergartners, in a three-year pilot program intended to increase the number of low-income children who go on to attend college.

NYC Councilman Joe Borelli, a Staten Island Republican and one of two city lawmakers to endorse Trump prior to the election, is seeking an appointment in the president-elect’s administration, according to people familiar with the matter.

…though the councilman himself sought to walk that “fun” story back in a subsequent tweet.

“God forgive us, but we just elected a tyrant,” actor Martin Sheen, the star of “West Wing”, told Entertainment Weekly in an interview about the upcoming “Anne of Green Gables” movie from PBS.

A newly released video shows a room full of people doing the Hitler salute and yelling “Hail Trump!” after listening to a speech about white nationalism that invokes Nazi terminology.

An Italian restaurant that inadvertently hosted white nationalists cheering Trump has apologized and announced plans to re-gift their earnings from the dinner in Washington, D.C.

Restaurant foot traffic is almost toast because of beefed-up security near Trump Tower in Manhattan, angry business owners said.

Trump will not derail progress made in fighting climate change and creating clean-energy jobs, the head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Gina McCarthy, insisted in arguing “the inevitability of our clean energy future is bigger than any one person or nation.”

The response to a false alarm that caused a panicked evacuation of John F. Kennedy Airport during the summer was plagued by poor coordination and communication among police, private security and other personnel, according to a review by a team of top security officials. More here.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s campaign to shut Entergy Corp.’s Indian Point nuclear power plant moved ahead with a court ruling that renewing its federal licenses will require a review of whether it meets current environmental standards.

Indictments are due by tomorrow in an economic development corruption scandal involving Cuomo’s former top aide and other former associates. The governor has been active in recent days on other matters – including taking steps to counteract a rise in hate crimes after Trump’s election.

More >


Democratic Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a high-profile Bernie Sanders supporter during the Democratic primary, is reportedly “under serious consideration” for various cabinet positions in president-elect Donald Trump’s administration.

“Hamilton” star Brandon Victor Dixon said he’s encouraged by Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s response to the actor’s post-show statement directed at the Indiana governor, who was in the New York City audience with his family Friday night.

Trump voters on campuses across the country view themselves as underground rebels fighting a corrosive epidemic of political correctness. Just don’t expect them to wear their “Make America Great Again” caps to the dining hall.

As the last year of her term-limited tenure on the NYC Council approaches, Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito says she feels a fresh urgency to push her immigration initiatives following the election of Trump.

What President Obama told his daughters (in part) after Trump’s big win: “(Y)ou should anticipate that at any given moment there’s going to be flare-ups of bigotry that you may have to confront, or may be inside you and you have to vanquish. And it doesn’t stop…You don’t get into a fetal position about it. You don’t start worrying about apocalypse. You say, O.K., where are the places where I can push to keep it moving forward.”

Staten Island Councilman Joseph Borelli says despite published reports, he’s not specifically seeking to become the U.S. ambassador to France under Trump, though he did fill out an application to be part of the transition team and wouldn’t necessarily turn down a job offer if one materializes.

Joe Scarborough, former Republican congressman and current MSNBC host, suggested that ardent Trump loyalist, former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, may be a poor fit for the job of Secretary of State, based on his lagging mental abilities.

As Trump considers whether to appoint him to a Cabinet post, government ethics analysts and even a prominent Republican senator are questioning how Giuliani might be able to set aside financial entanglements with foreign interests should he return to public office.

In a unanimous decision, the state Court of Appeals has determined that the New York Department of State was correct in its determination that it has the right to review Entergy’s applications to renew its federal licenses to operate Indian Point’s nuclear reactors for another 20 years.

To accommodate the expected Thanksgiving traffic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that construction on New York highways will halt during the long holiday weekend.

The Big Apple Circus, a New York-based not-for-profit organization with a mission of entertaining audiences and reaching low-income kids, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy late Sunday after years of declining interest in circuses, clowns and private performances.

The Netflix revival of “Gilmore Girls,” which begins streaming Nov. 25, may be the ultimate escape from the insanity of the 2016 presidential election. However, in a strange turn of events, the original series — which ran from 2000 to 2007 — actually had many references to both Trump and Hillary Clinton.

Clinton is recovering from her election loss in part by shopping for books with her family in Rhode Island.

The Baileys of Massapequa — the imaginary couple that U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer dreamed up to guide his political focus — probably voted for Trump.

Did celebrity endorsements help Clinton or contribute to her loss?

After five years of extreme congestion, the revamped Times Square is nearly finished. And it will soon be tested by holiday hordes.

Suffolk County Legislator Kate Browning has another year in office before being forced out by term limits, but her chief of staff Josh Slaughter seems to be preparing for a run.

The mothballed power plant in Dunkirk could have a chance of reopening. NRG Energy, the plant’s owner, said it is prepared to revive its scuttled plan to convert the coal-burning power plant to run on natural gas after one of its competitors, Entergy Corp., dropped a lawsuit that had blocked the project and led to the facility’s mothballing earlier this year.

High Achievement New York, a group that’s championed high standards and Common Core from the beginning, surveyed its members about a new name for the controversial curriculum and found support for: “Empire State Learning Standards.”

Kanye West has reportedly canceled the rest of his tour – including an appearance in Albany – after cutting a concert short in California over the weekend.

General Electric Co. has sold its former global headquarters in Fairfield, Conn., to Sacred Heart University for $31.5 million

Felder Sticks With Senate GOP

From the Morning Memo:

Sen. Simcha Felder, the Brooklyn Democrat who has helped the Senate Republicans maintain control over the chamber since he was first elected in 2012, has decided to stay put for 2017, enabling the GOP to almost claim victory in the fight for the majority, despite two undecided races on Long Island.

“I’ve been with them before, and I’d have to have a compelling reason to leave,” Felder said, explaining that though he has been in discussions with the so-called “regular” Democrats, they have failed to offer him enough of an incentive to switch sides.

Felder, who had refused to pick sides in the immediate aftermath of the elections earlier this month, said during a telephone interview last night that he had informed both the Senate GOP and Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins of his decision yesterday.

(For the record, Felder stressed that he has “great respect” for Stewart-Cousins, and looks forward to having an opportunity to work with her in the future).

This effectively makes Felder the 32nd GOP vote in the chamber, assuming Long Island Sen. Carl Marcellino, who currently maintains a roughly 2,500-vote lead over his Democratic challenger, James Gaughran, is officially declared the winner in that race.

If the second Long Island Republican senator whose race has yet to be called, Michael Venditto, manages to eke out a victory against his Democratic opponent, John Brooks, who is up by 33 votes at the moment, the GOP conference will have 33 votes – plus the additional potential cushion of an ongoing “relationship” (whatever that turns out to mean) with the now-seven-member IDC.

Felder, who has never been shy about admitting he will cut a deal with any conference that can best deliver – in his opinion – for his constituents, said he’s aware that some call him an opportunist. But he chafes at the negative connotation of that characterization.

“I don’t mind what that position allows me to do, but I don’t like being called that,” he said.

As recently as last Monday, Felder was saying he would he “delighted” to either caucus with his fellow Democrats or remain with the Republicans, depending on which side offered him the “best deal,” which he stressed would not be about cash, but rather legislation and “issues.”

After attending a closed-door meeting where Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, of Long Isand, was re-elected as head of the GOP conference, (Felder said he did not cast a vote), the Brooklyn lawmaker suggested he might even wait until the IDC announced which conference it would be aligning with in 2017.

In the end, though, Felder said he decided to go public with his decision in hopes of “minimizing the sleaziness” of the situation.

Felder, an observant Jew whose district includes many Orthodox Jewish voters, said his constituents “don’t agree” with a lot of what two of the state’s top Democrats – Gov. Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio – have been saying in the wake of Donald Trump’s election, pledging to fight on behalf of liberal values and maintain a sort of safe haven for the left in New York.

“A lot of my constituents are upset with the Democratic Party,” Felder said. “…if anything, the election has made it more compelling for many of my constituents to maintain a balance in Albany.”

Felder said he did receive a post-election phone call from the governor, who, unlike in past campaigns, worked noticeably harder this election cycle to assist his fellow Democrats in their quest to retake control of the Senate. According to the senator, Cuomo suggested a meeting soon, but that get-together has yet to take place.

Felder, who chairs the Senate Cities Committee, insisted the Republicans haven’t committed to anything – no additional perks or promises to move specific pieces of legislation – in order to get him to stick around.

The senator said his priorities for the coming session include permanently killing the so-called “bag tax” in New York City and fighting for additional mental health and special education funding across the city and state.

“Although I have a yarmulke and a beard, I have priorities that are important to everyone in New York State,” Felder said, rejecting the conventional wisdom that he is chiefly interested in fighting for his downstate Jewish constituents.

Here and Now

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

At 8 a.m., the Food Bank of NYC releases a new report on hunger in the five boroughs at its legislative breakfast, Intercontinental Hotel, 111 E. 48th St., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul highlights progress in the Finger Lakes at a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new manufacturing plant, McAlpin Industries, 856 Route 441, Walworth.

Also at 10 a.m., the NYC Council’s Committee on Standards and Ethics holds a hearing on proposed campaign finance reform legislation, Council chambers, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will deliver a public address at Cooper Union’s Great Hall, 30 Cooper Sq., Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., the “Fight for $15” holds a conference call to make a post-election announcement.

At 11:30 a.m., Village of Brookville Mayor Daniel Serota and a Nassau County Supreme Court justice will officially pardon “Teddy the Turkey,” as animal rights activists observe, Historic Milleridge Inn, 585 N. Broadway, Jericho.

At 1 p.m., Hochul breaks ground at The Lofts at University Heights, 120 Minnesota Ave., Buffalo.

At 6 p.m., NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer attends a memorial for Maggi Peyton hosted by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Hunter College President Jennifer Raa​b, Kaye Playhouse, 695 Park Ave., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., de Blasio hosts a town hall with NYC Councilman Andy King, Academy For Scholarship And Entrepreneurship, 921 East 228th St., the Bronx.

Also at 7 p.m. a pre-taped interview with de Blasio airs on NY1’s “Inside City Hall.”


President-elect Donald Trump yesterday assessed several more contenders for top U.S. posts including NJ Gov. Chris Christie and former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, as blunt-spoken retired Marine Corps General James Mattis emerged as a leading candidate for defense secretary.

Trump has turned the vital, but normally inscrutable, process of forming a government into a Trump-branded, made-for-television spectacle, parading his finalists for top administration positions this weekend before reporters and the world.

In between his meetings with prospective cabinet members, Trump took time to confer with his former Hollywood agent, Ari Emanuel, whose spokesman said the get-together was not about a potential job offer.

Trump confirmed Giuliani is a contender for the position of secretary of state in his administration, among “other things.”

Also under consideration for secretary of state: Former Trump rival Mitt Romney.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, the first sitting Republican to oppose any of Trump’s potential cabinet picks, is now questioning the president-elect’s choice for director of the CIA, Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo, who will need Senate confirmation.

In his first round of Sunday show interviews since the election, Vice President-elect Mike Pence did not rule out the possibility that Trump would reinstate waterboarding as an interrogation technique during his administration.

Pence also said he “wasn’t offended” after the cast of the Broadway hit “Hamilton” called for the Indiana governor to uphold the country’s values in a personal message after a show. “I nudged my kids and reminded them, that’s what freedom sounds like,” he said.

Trump’s team is standing by a proposed crackdown on New York City and other municipalities that help shelter undocumented immigrants from deportations. The president-elect’s newly named chief of staff Reince Priebus said Trump is “looking into” cutting millions of funding to so-called sanctuary cities on Day 1 of his presidency.

Trump says his wife, Melania, and their son, Barron, will move to the White House “right after he finishes school” next year.

Filmmaker Rob Reiner accused Trump’s Jewish son-in-law, Jared Kushner, of turning his back on his religion. “What is he doing? He’s turning his back on his religion and his heritage just so he can make money? I don’t get it. I just can’t wrap my mind around it,” Reiner, who is Jewish, said.

Trump said he would move to the White House. Still, with his family remaining at Trump Tower, the likelihood may increase that the president-elect will spend part of the week in New York.

With fake hair swept back and real lip thrust forward, actor Alec Baldwin returned to Saturday Night Live with his first post-election impression of Trump, which was still etched in acid, still uncluttered with subtleties.

Rural America, even as it laments its economic weakness, retains vastly disproportionate electoral strength. Rural voters were able to nudge Trump to power despite Hillary Clinton’s large margins in cities like New York.

In a wide-ranging speech, Gov. Andrew Cuomo addressed the recent spike in hate crimes reported since the Trump’s election and introduced a new initiative intended to combat growing intolerance – including a new unit of the State Police dedicated to investigating such crimes.

Cuomo said New York will take specific steps to highlight what he says has been the state’s role as “the social conscience” of the nation. “New York is going to lead the way in stopping the anger,” Cuomo told congregants in Abyssinian Baptist Church during its 9 a.m. service. He added, “You spread fear and we will spread love.”

Cuomo this past week met separately with a group of powerful union leaders and a group of donors to talk about how to move forward in the Trump era.

Dominican-American pols denounced Sen. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for Attorney General, for his comments dismissing Dominican immigrants as contributing nothing to American society.

Beastie Boys member Ad-Rock joined hundreds of New Yorkers at the Brooklyn Heights playground named after his bandmate yesterday in a show of solidarity against hate after someone defaced the area with a swastika allegedly in the name of Trump.

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer becomes the top Senate Democrat in January with a choice: Either find areas of common ground with Donald Trump or use the minority party’s powers to stand in the way of the president-elect’s agenda. The veteran congressional deal maker and tactician appears to be planning for both.

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The Weekend That Was

President-elect Donald Trump met in the last week in his office at Trump Tower with three Indian business partners who are building a Trump-branded luxury apartment complex south of Mumbai, raising new questions about how he will separate his business dealings from the work of the government once he is in the White House.

President Obama is rethinking his plans to withdraw from the political arena after he leaves office next year, hinting to friends and supporters that he wants to add his voice to the shellshocked Democratic activists and elected officials who are now angrily vowing to oppose Trump’s presidency.

Trump hinted strongly that he was considering picking James N. Mattis, a retired Marine Corps general, to be defense secretary, heaping praise on the general for the second day in a row as he sought to complete his choices for a national security team.

Retired four-star Army Gen. Jack Keane reportedly declined Trump’s offer to serve as secretary of defense due to personal reasons. “I was asked to serve, but I’m not able to,” Keane told NPR.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer doesn’t anticipate New York will get shortchanged once again when it comes to anti-terrorism funding. In February, the Obama administration clashed with New York reps when it proposed cutting $300 million from the Urban Area Security Initiative.

The job of minority leader, in Schumer’s view, is to serve as the bulwark against a unified Republican government led by his former campaign donor, Trump; to use the power of the Senate minority to try to force compromise when possible; and to stand in the way of Republicans when necessary.

Hillary Clinton’s lead in the popular vote over President-elect Donald Trump has grown to 1.5 million votes. As of Saturday, Clinton had received 63,390,669 votes, while Trump received 61,820,845 votes — a difference of 1,569,824, according to the Associated Press.

Queen Elizabeth II has invited Trump to the UK for an official state visit next summer. The 90-year-old monarch has herself begun planning for the visit, but official discussions about such an invitation will likely begin soon.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo wrote an open letter to New York’s students following the recent incidents of bias and discrimination reported at universities throughout the state, saying: “This is the State of New York, not a state of fear. We will not tolerate hate or racism.”

Standing in front of scores of parishioners at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem today, Cuomo criticized Trump’s stance against illegal immigration, though he didn’t mention him by name.

“The ugly political discourse of the election did not end on Election Day,” Cuomo said. “In many ways it has gotten worse, into a social crisis that now challenges our identity as a state and as a nation and our people.”

The governor also announced plans to create a new hate-crimes unit in the state police and legal assistance for immigrants targeted for deportation or discrimination.

Trump took to Twitter to demand an apology from the “Hamilton” cast member who gave VP-elect Mike Pence an onstage earful about equality.

“Conversation is not harassment sir,” accord Brandon Victor Dixon replied in a tweet. “And I appreciate @mike_pence for stopping to listen.”

Critics slammed Trump for calling for the apology, inciting a Twitter war between defenders of the Broadway actors and a faction attempting to boycott the sold-out show.

Trump is a New York power broker, but he has tended to shun the kinds of places that power brokers are known to frequent. He prefers a circuit shaped not so much by discriminating taste as by celebrity culture — the right nightspots and parties, Broadway openings, red carpets, paparazzi with their cameras and flash guns.

The 21 Club is a favorite Trump hangout. He dined there recently with his family, enjoying a burger and fries.

Trump claimed he settled the Trump University fraud case because the U.S. is now his No. 1 priority — as he insisted that he could have won. “The ONLY bad thing about winning the Presidency is that I did not have the time to go through a long but winning trial on Trump U. Too bad!” he tweeted.

Trump interviewed prospective Cabinet appointees — including Mitt Romney, rumored for secretary of state — on Saturday afternoon at his 500-acre golf course in New Jersey.

“We had a far-reaching conversation with regards to the various theaters in the world where there are interests of the United States of real significance,” Romney told reporters. He did not say whether the two discussed a possible cabinet position.

Trump was set to meet today with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, among others, according to his transition team.

“It’s important to have New Yorkers in the administration, particularly since Republicans come primarily from the South and Southwest, so in Congress the influence is definitely not from the Northeast,” said Long Island Rep. Pete King. “To the extent we can get influence in the cabinet and the administration from New York and New Jersey it’s beneficial.”

Giuliani defended himself against criticism of his paid work for foreign countries late this week, saying that comparisons of himself to Clinton are “nuts.”

People close to Trump say he is more focused now than he was in the first few days after his surprise victory. He was nervous and jolted, they said, by the 90-minute Oval Office meeting with President Obama, and for the first time appeared to take in the enormousness of the job.

In the chaos that often seems to surround Trump — the churn of advisers, the Twitter wars with reporters, the daily uncertainty over who is making decisions — the president-elect’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has emerged as the closest thing to a steadying influence.

The first U.N. climate conference after the landmark Paris Agreement closed Friday with delegates appealing to Trump to join the battle against global warming and inviting him to see its impacts in Pacific islands.

Trump’s decision to pick hard-right Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions as his attorney general is setting off red alerts among various communities across the country. The marijuana reform community is one of them.

Trump’s election turned a lot of people’s worlds upside down, and few know that better than Buffalo lawyer Kathleen M. Sweet. It’s no secret Trump is eyeing the U.S. Supreme Court vacancy but does the president-elect also have an interest in lower court judgeships and, if he does, what does that mean to Sweet’s nomination to the federal bench here?

Future First Lady Melania Trump and son Barron will reportedly not be moving to the White House after the inauguration in January. The president-elect’s 46-year-old wife and the couple’s 10-year-old son are staying put at the family’s Trump Tower penthouse so Barron can continue attending his Upper West Side private school.

New York City won’t close Fifth Avenue as it works with the U.S. Secret Service to provide security outside Trump Tower, NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said.

Hundreds of people gathered at Dutch Kills Green park in Queens on Saturday for a march protesting Trump’s presidency.

A few hundred people have protested in Paris against Trump, expressing their concern about whether he will respect human rights, women and minorities.

Electoral College voters across the country are being harassed by Clinton supporters, in a last-ditch effort to prevent the Trump presidency.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, a Democrat and a Clinton supporter whose district includes Trump’s Manhattan home, said the president-elect should pick his former rival as ambassador to the United Nations, and even suggested that Clinton could be the first female secretary-general of the U.N.

Donations to the Clinton Foundation nose-dived last year amid Hillary Clinton’s presidential run, pay-to-play allegations, internal strife and a black mark from a charity watchdog.

The 9/11 Memorial and Museum’s first full year of operation ended in the red, with costs outstripping revenues by $25.2 million. The private nonprofit foundation, chaired by former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, racked up $108 million in expenses but took in only $87.3 million, just-filed 2015 tax records show.

Former NYC Mayor David Dinkins and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams — who is frequently mentioned as a potential mayoral candidate — endorsed NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s bid for a second term today.

Herb London thinks the Cuomo administration’s upstate nuclear plant bailout is a bad idea.

Zephyr Teachout: “(F)or the past generation, the Democratic Party has been dominated by leaders and funders who supported shipping jobs overseas. And those same leaders largely supported the monopolization that has jacked up prices and driven down wages at the jobs that remain here. That must now end.”

Next year, Cuomo will have appointed all the members of the state’s highest court – a phenomenon only one other governor, the late Mario Cuomo, also experienced.

Sales of Empire and Success, two Long Island-made colognes carrying the brand of Trump, have risen sharply in recent weeks, according to local fragrance vendors.

Trump’s energy policies — with a strong focus on domestically produced fossil fuels — could shift the national focus away from green-energy plans and policies that have flourished on Long Island, local green-energy advocates and officials say.

State education and law enforcement officials urged Long Island school districts to protect students from harassment after the discovery of several swastikas inside high schools in Port Washington and Northport, among other postelection confrontations in the schools.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano’s administration wants to give a $1.4 million contract to an engineering company that acknowledges it’s under investigation in New York City for political contributions to public officials.

After six months of negotiations, Actors’ Equity Association and the League of Off-Broadway Theatres and Producers late last week reached a deal on a new contract that boosts off-Broadway actors’ salaries.


Vice President-elect Mike Pence will take over the job of leading Trump’s transition effort, taking the helm from New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as Trump moves to assemble a government after his stunning upset victory.

A number of New Yorkers – including Trump campaign surrogates Rep. Chris Collins and former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani – made the transition team cut. Also on board: Three of Trump’s adult children, Erie, Donald Jr. and Ivanka, (but not Tiffany).

Trump said that, after conferring with President Barack Obama, he would consider leaving in place certain parts of the Affordable Care Act, an indication of possible compromise after a campaign in which he pledged repeatedly to repeal the 2010 health law.

More than 100,000 consumers signed up Wednesday for Obamacare plans than any day since open enrollment started Nov. 1, according to the Obama administration.

Billionaire Warren Buffett, who supported Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, said he remains confident in the long-term prospects for equities after his candidate was defeated by Trump.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, who is expected to be the incoming Senate minority leader, has thrown his support behind Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison to be the next chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

In a conference call with top donors today, Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta said a “hostile press corps” contributed to the Democratic nominee’s defeat.

The New York Observer, the salmon-hued chronicler of New York City’s power elite owned by Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is ceasing its print edition, just shy of its 30th year as a weekly paper.

At the age of 71, Trump expert and investigative reporter Wayne Barrett is still working – from his bed, where he is fighting interstitial lung disease.

Business mogul John Catsimatidis is considering another run for NYC mayor next year — or even challenging U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in 2018.

First Lady Michelle Obama sent some subliminal messages through the dress she chose to wear while hosting First Lady-in-waiting Melania Trump for the first time at the White House.

Clinton supporter and acress Lena Dunham has been silent since Donald Trump won the presidential election early Wednesday morning, but the Girls creator broke her silence in her Lenny newsletter this morning.

Clinton’s shocking loss in the presidential race rattled the political world and shattered the dreams of thousands of longtime Clinton aides and supporters who hoped to follow her to the White House.

Marc L. Mukasey, a top white-collar criminal defense lawyer who works at the same law firm as Rudy Giuliani, is reportedly on the Trump transition team’s short list to replace Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara.

Americans are quietly showing their solidarity with minorities, LGBT individuals, women, Muslims and other groups that have been targeted by Trump by wearing safety pins to show they are a “safe space.”

Two former Christie aides convicted in the George Washington Bridge lane-closing case have filed for a new trial.

Officials in Flower Hill, Long Island have not disclosed who will succeed Mayor Elaine Phillips, who was elected this week to the state Senate, or when the transition will happen.

The UFC’s first MMA debut in New York since the sport was legalized is tomorrow at Madison Square Garden.

The power of incumbency is still alive and well in the state Legislature, where all but one of the current lawmakers running in 199 state legislative races decided Election Night were returned to office.

Though education advocates and state leaders are still waiting for the post-election smoke to clear at the federal level, the situation in New York State is largely status quo, analysts said.