Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin

The Weekend That Was

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and two of his Democratic colleagues have suggested that President Donald Trump should consider resigning, after a run of sexual harassment scandals that has driven out some members of Congress.

U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, a fixture of Republican politics in Alabama for a generation, sent a clear message to his home state when he said on national television that the party could “do better” than elect Roy Moore to the state’s other Senate seat in two days.

During a raucous rally in the Florida panhandle, near the Alabama state line, Trump urged voters to elect Moore, warning that America “cannot afford” to have a Democrat win the hard-fought campaign instead.

Most Republican leaders in Alabama say they plan to vote for Moore on Tuesday, despite the sexual misconduct allegations against the former judge that have prompted others around the country to say he should never be allowed to join the U.S. Senate.

Over the past few months, the #MeToo movement has spurred women to speak out against sexual harassers. They’ve been calling for their firing. And now, women are replacing those men.

As he ends his first year in office, Trump is redefining what it means to be president. Despite all his bluster, he views himself less as a titan dominating the world stage than a maligned outsider engaged in a struggle to be taken seriously.

Trump reportedly drinks as many as 12 Diet Cokes and watches up to eight hours of TV daily.

Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said that the women who have Trump of sexual misconduct “should be heard.”

The United States will send its full contingent of athletes to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, United Nations Haley said.

Trump’s administration continued to defend his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to the holy city.

During an interview earlier this week at the Economic Club of Chicago, former President Barack Obama reminded his audience to remain vigilant in protecting the values and institutions that make up American democracy or risk following in the path of Nazi Germany.

A commission set up to help reform the Democratic presidential nominating process has voted to restrict the number of superdelegates as part of a slew of changes.

A painting of Hillary Clinton as a punk rocker set off security alarms and caused a brief shutdown at the Miami airport.

Joel A. Giambra, a former Erie County executive and regional government champion engulfed by a controversial budget crisis as Erie County executive, is weighing a Republican candidacy for governor next year.

Conductor James Levine had a wingman in his alleged abuse of young men — his younger brother, Tom, according to a police report.

The New York City Ballet has appointed an interim team to oversee the artistic management of the company during an investigation into a sexual harassment accusation against longtime leader Peter Martins.

It cost $111 million to run the 9/11 Memorial and Museum last year, up $3 million from the year before — with $24 million going to staff salaries and $10.4 million for security. The site is showing a deficit for the second year in a row.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called on the Trump administration to restore an Obama-era proposal that would have required airlines to post checked baggage fees at the start of a ticket purchase.

Donald Trump Jr. ripped journalists after a week that saw several mistakes from prominent new outlets, saying journalists could care less about seeking the truth.

While there have been four years of relative comity between the Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio, Council President Melissa Mark-Viverito, who leaves office at the end of the month, converted many doubters by standing up to the mayor when it counted. She’s mulling her next political move, leaving all doors open.

The next NYC Council speaker may force all city agencies to conduct extensive “diversity” audits, and critics fear the “unreliable” headcounts could be the first step toward hiring quotas.

Protesters and public officials blasted the concealed-carry bill that passed the House of Representatives last week in a Saturday City Hall rally in Lower Manhattan.

NYC Public Advocate Letitia James burned through nearly all of the more than $750,000 in taxpayer matching funds in a lopsided race against a poorly funded opponent — spending $500,000 on a single Election Day expenditure, public records show.

The NYC Housing Authority has a new tactic in its struggle to address its lead-paint inspection scandal: Blame the tenants.

Rep. Chris Collins is pushing his business partner’s brother, John L. Sinatra Jr., for federal judgeship, stunning good government advocates and raising concerns among women lawyers because he would take the seat that the Obama administration wanted to fill with Buffalo’s first-ever female district court judge.

Collins and Buffalo developer Nick Sinatra have teamed up on several real estate deals in recent years. Collins has invested between $3.5 million and $13 million in Sinatra’s real estate ventures since 2014, and Collins loaned Sinatra’s company somewhere between $1 million and $5 million in late 2015.

Democrat Laura Curran and Republican Jack Martins spent a total of nearly $5 million during the yearlong campaign for Nassau County executive, according to new State Board of Election campaign filings.

In NYC, which is seemingly exhausted by a long-running construction boom, the number of pitched battles over new developments appears to be growing.

Jeremy Travis, the former president of John Jay College who insiders say is vying for the coveted job of CUNY chancellor, had two retired NYPD cops at his beck and call as chauffeurs, driving him to work everyday as they furnished him with his favorite Starbucks coffee and the day’s newspapers for the trip, sources told The NY Post.

Public streets and sidewalks in NYC are routinely sold to institutions and deep-pocketed real-estate interests in a little-known practice that takes them off the official City Map and transforms them into private property. The city got more than $35 million from nine street deals in the past four years.

Six months after Uber and Lyft hit city streets, Buffalo cab companies are renewing calls for the city to treat the taxi industry and new ride-hailing services the same.

As GE seeks to close the books on a $1.7 billion cleanup of the upper Hudson River, a new fight is simmering over the company’s legacy of toxic pollution in the region. The focus: whether children are safe playing in riverside parks and backyards that are prone to frequent flooding.

Nine current and former University of Rochester professors and students have filed a lawsuit against the school’s President Joel Seligman and Provost Robert Clark, alleging sexual misconduct by Professor T. Florian Jaeger and U of R’s refusal to take action on behalf of the victims.

A wave of viral activity — not all of it influenza — is sweeping across the Long Island region, posing early winter threats to just about everyone, and particularly those with weakened immunity.

Domestic abuse allegations involving Cohoes Mayor Shawn Morse stretch back more than two decades, including an incident in the mid-1990s when a woman he dated for several years called police and said Morse had grabbed her neck and lifted her off the ground during an argument at her downtown apartment.

The Hudson River village of Buchanan is searching for how to reinvent itself in a post-Indian Point era.

The Capitalize Albany Corp. has issued a request for proposals for what would ultimately become the city’s first highline park.

The Town of Amherst wants to buy a 57-acre East Amherst property, a move that would scuttle a developer’s plans to build an 80-house subdivision there. It’s the latest twist in a project that has pitted neighbor against neighbor and revived a split between the Town Board and Amherst’s Zoning Board of Appeals.

Gloversville Mayor Dayton King resisted a call from his former opponent to resign after state police accused King of official misconduct.

Extras

Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks resigned following allegations that he asked female staffers to be surrogates for his child — speeding up his previously scheduled departure set for the end of January.

A former aide to Franks has told The AP the congressman repeatedly pressed her to carry his child, at one point offering her $5 million to act as a surrogate.

Franks allegedly made unwanted advances toward female staffers in his office and retaliated against one who rebuffed him, according to House GOP sources with knowledge of a complaint against him.

Dustin Hoffman, already under withering fire for allegations of past sexual harassment, was accused of nightly groping an actress who co-starred with him in Death of a Salesman in 1983-84.

“This really isn’t about 2020,” a Democratic strategist who worked for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said of her leading the charge against sexual harassers in her own party. “It’s about, we have a sexual assaulter in the White House. And how do we do something about that? How is that OK? How did that become acceptable? It cannot become acceptable.”

Democrats are considering a plan that would limit — but not abandon — the influence of “superdelegates” in the next presidential primary, after a bruising 2016 primary prompted allegations by Bernie Sanders’ supporters that the system was rigged.

The U.S. Labor Department released its official hiring and unemployment figures for November, providing the latest snapshot of the American economy and revealing that 228,000 jobs were added last month. Wall Street economists had expected an increase of about 200,000.

Dina Powell, deputy national security adviser for strategy, announced she will leave the White House early next year — the first in an expected wave of senior West Wing departures.

Kurt Bardella, a former Republican spokesperson, is leaving his party, citing Trump and other GOP leaders’ endorsement of Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race as the final straw.

Bill Hammond: “Federal officials have reportedly confirmed that they are cutting off a major portion of funding for New York’s Essential Plan, opening a roughly $1 billion hole in the state budget and raising new doubts about the future of a rapidly growing health insurance option for the working poor.”

A review by The New York Times of daily mortality data from Puerto Rico’s vital statistics bureau indicates a significantly higher death toll after Hurricane Maria than the government there has acknowledged.

Efforts to help potential first-time home buyers save for down payments using special tax-favored accounts have been gaining traction in state legislatures.

New York collects sales tax on even the smallest items, but it probably won’t collect a cent on a nearly half-billion dollar painting by Leonardo da Vinci.

Syracuse University officials say Rep. Claudia Tenney spread “categorically false” information this week about the university’s position on the Republican tax plan making its way through Congress.

Sen. Rob Ortt, a Niagara County Republican, introduced legislation that would end the state’s $420 million a year film-tax credit program, saying it needs to be scrapped in the face of a major state deficit next year.

Dayton King has been arrested and accused of using his position as mayor of Gloversville to gain access a personnel file belonging to a Gloversville city employee, and his opponent in the race for mayor.

The Baldwinsville school district will no longer allow a Christian-based group to teach sex education classes to high school students after an instructor used a skit that compared giving away a piece of chewing gum to a girl losing her virginity.

After several years of contentious bargaining, Erie County has settled a contract with the its blue-collar union, offering 2 percent raises each year for the next four years to the 1,500 members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1095.

Boston Herald Publisher Patrick J. Purcell announced today that the media company with its flagship Boston Herald tabloid has reached an agreement with GateHouse Media, LLC for them to acquire the company’s operational assets. The purchase is subject to court approval.

A snowshoe racer visiting from India, accused of inappropriate romantic contact with a 12-year-old girl here, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor earlier this week.

Source: FBI Probing Cuomo Admin Hiring (Updated x2 W/Cuomo Spox Comment)

The FBI is investigating the Cuomo administration’s practice of hiring people to work in executive chamber jobs but paying them through other state agencies’ budget lines, a source familiar with the probe confirmed.

The news was first reported by Chris Bragg of the Times Union, who first wrote about this phenomenon back in May.

The investigation is coming out of the office of the U.S. attorney of the Eastern District, according to this source, and started after the governor hired a number of former Obama administration staffers who were out of jobs after their ex-boss left the White House.

The practice of putting executive chamber staffers on different agency lines to keep costs down and enable the governor to hire more people than his official budget technically allows is a long standing one. Many governors, going back at least to Cuomo’s father, the late Mario Cuomo, and perhaps even beyond, used this method.

Based on that fact, the source familiar with the FBI probe called it “absurd,” adding:

“This is a practice that has been going on for 50 years…It’s fully public what lines people are working on – available for anyone to see. And it’s not like we’re talking about no-show jobs here; these people are actually doing the work.”

A former official in the administration of ex-Republican Gov. George Pataki confirmed the fact that many governors have engaged in this practice, saying: “Planting staff in agency land been going on for decades.”

Cuomo in recent months has stepped up his efforts to boost his profile to a national level, speaking out frequently against the Trump administration – particularly, of late, regarding the federal tax reform bills currently making their way through Washington. He is widely believed to be considering a potential run for the White House in 2020, and has said he plans to seek a third term next fall.

This is not the first time a U.S. attorney has launched an investigation into the Cuomo administration.

Preet Bharara, formerly of the Southern District until he was fired by President Donald Trump, looked into the governor’s early shutdown of the corruption-busting Moreland Commission, but ultimately brought no charges.

Bharara, once a vocal critic of the governor’s, also probed Cuomo’s signature upstate economic development project, the Buffalo Billion, an effort that did eventually result in charges – including against a former top aide to the governor, Joe Percoco, as well as ex-SUNY Poly head Alain Kaloyeros.

The Buffalo Billion-related trials are slated to start next year, with the first beginning in January.

Updated: Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi in a statement noted the practice is a longstanding one for governors, dating back half a century.

“In this environment, anyone can ask about anything, but the fact is the longstanding practice of detailing staff from Agencies to work in the Executive Chamber dates back over 50 years to at least the Rockefeller administration and extends to the White House and the federal Department of Justice,” he said.

“Given that the Federal Department of Justice and the White House have a long history of utilizing this practice, perhaps the FBI can investigate them when this is charade is over.”

Azzopardi similarly dismissed the questions surrounding the practice “absurd.”

“‎The agencies are all part of the same executive branch, and this administration follows the exact same lawful hiring process we inherited from previous administrations stretching back decades,” he said. “If there are questions about it, call George Pataki.”

UPDATE2: Azzopardi is now confirming that the administration received a subpoena for documents several months ago, saying: “We have cooperated, providing necessary documents and personnel files.”

Here and Now

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

Here’s something that deserves high-profile treatment – a new level, one might even say low – in the ongoing efforts of a message-conscious gubernatorial administration to control press coverage:

Instead of holding formal press conferences with the state Capitol press corps, Cuomo of late has held media conference calls – even when he’s physically in Albany – in which he discusses a single topic like the congressional tax plan and then takes a limited amount of questions from reporters hand-picked by his staff.

Prior to the calls, Cuomo aides contact news outlets and suggest questions their reporters might want to ask the governor. If the aides are rebuffed, these reporters don’t get to ask any questions at all. Reporters who agree to play ball are picked instead.

Cuomo, who is widely believed to be mulling a White House run in 2020, and will be seeking re-election to his current post next year, has not met in person with the Capitol reporters for a traditional press conference, in which questions are unscripted and free-flowing, since the end of the legislative session in June.

The governor held one of these conference calls yesterday, despite the fact that he was just blocks away from the Capitol at the executive mansion at the time. Several reporters camped outside his office on the Capitol’s second floor during the call, demonstrating just how ridiculous it was that Cuomo could not be bothered to make the trip up the hill to speak to them in person.

Remember: This is a governor who, when he initially ran in 2010, promised to establish the most transparent administration in modern history – a goal I think many would say he not only hasn’t met, but has upended completely.

Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi, who confirmed for reporters that the governor was indeed at the Executive Mansion on Eagle Street for yesterday’s call, gave the following explanation: “The governor was working on the state of the state at the house, was not in the office, and decided to conduct a press conference call to keep this critically important issue in the news and reach media outlets in these congressmember’s districts.”

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

Headlines…

Congress passed a two-week funding bill, staving off a government shutdown a day ahead of the deadline. But lawmakers face a turbulent next few weeks as they try to clinch a broader budget deal by the end of the year.

The two-week extension came after U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi failed to reach agreement with President Donald Trump on a permanent spending plan.

The temporary spending agreement took the air out of the balloon of heightening tension that the government would grind to a halt over differences on defense and domestic spending, border security and the future of youthful immigrant “Dreamers.”

Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks announced he will step down from Congress because he made two female staffers “uncomfortable” by approaching them about bearing a child for him and his wife.

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who once spent taxpayer money so he could go horseback riding with Vice President Pence, racked up more than $14,000 on government helicopters this summer.

U.S. Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota, in an emotional speech on the Senate floor, announced that he would resign from Congress, the most prominent figure in a growing list of lawmakers felled by charges of sexual harassment or indiscretions.

For years, the issues that U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has made her name on were important but distinct, touching on segments of American life that most people never interact with. Now, at a moment when the cover has been ripped off toxic workplaces from Hollywood to Wall Street, she’s finding the rest of the world has caught up with her crusades.

Former Hillary Clinton aide Philippe Reines argued during an appearance on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that Gillibrand isn’t sufficiently explaining why she called for the resignation of Franken this week and former President Bill Clinton previously.

Trump hosted his first White House Hanukkah party last night, where he touted his administration’s decision to declare Jerusalem the capital of Israel.

Israel stepped up security in Jerusalem today ahead of a declared Palestinian “day of rage” in the holy city. Palestinians and Arab nations made their anger and dismay known after Trump’s Jerusalem announcement.

Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, will face a different judge to be sentenced than the one who took Flynn’s guilty plea to a felony false statement charge last week, court records show.

Rep John Lewis announced he won’t speak at the opening of Mississippi civil rights and history museums, saying it’s an “insult” that Trump will attend.

A Slovenian magazine has apologized to U.S. first lady Melania Trump for suggesting she had worked as a high-end escort while pursuing her international modeling career.

A federal pilot records database – aimed at preventing airlines from making hiring mistakes – began to take shape, seven years after Congress called for such an online resource in aviation safety. The legislation was passed in response to the 2009 crash of Continental Connection Flight 3407 in Clarence.

Some of Trump’s New York friends and colleagues are seeking changes to the federal tax reform bill, as are some of the Republican Party’s most generous donors. They have called the White House, the Treasury Department and Congress in a furious push to soften the economic blow. Many fear their concerns are falling on deaf ears.

“The problem is not the federal tax policy,” said Rep. Tom Reed, a Republican who represents the struggling Southern Tier, and voted yes on the House version of the bill. “The root cause of the entire issue is the tax-and-spend culture out of Albany that has created that burden on New Yorkers.”

County leaders across New York are the latest to complain about the tax overhaul plan now being crafted in Congress. They predict higher taxes for many of their constituents, declining home prices and slowed economic growth.

More >

Extras

Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota announced he would resign “in the coming weeks” from the U.S. Senate after his support among Democrats crumbled, becoming the highest-profile casualty in the growing list of lawmakers felled by charges of sexual harassment or indiscretions.

“I of all people am aware that there is some irony in the fact that I am leaving while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office, and a man who has repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party,” Franken said during his resignation speech.

“The President addressed the comments back during the campaign,” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. “We feel strongly that the people of this country also addressed that when they elected Donald Trump to be president…I don’t have anything new to add.”

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is likely to tap LG Tina Smith to replace Franken after his resignation, which would set off a cascade of job openings and reshape Minnesota politics.

Former Democratic Rep. Harold Ford Jr. has been fired for misconduct by Morgan Stanley after facing a human resources investigation into allegations of misconduct, a company spokeswoman confirmed.

Huckabee Sanders briefly extended today’s briefing to answer what she called “ridiculous questions” about Trump’s health due to slurred words during his Israel speech. She attributed that to a dry throat, and “nothing more than that.”

Huckabee Sanders also said Trump will have a physical exam early next year at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center and the results will be released to the public.

AND Huckabee Sanders quickly walked back her remarks, after she suggested no decision had been made to send U.S. athletes to the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Democrats will insist on safeguards for those in the DACA program before the holiday recess, suggesting Republicans will be on their own to prevent a government shutdown if that language is excluded. “We will not leave here without a DACA fix,” she insisted.

Hillary Clinton is pushing Congress to fund the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), denouncing Republicans for passing tax cuts while the program’s authorization has expired.

FBI Director Christopher Wray defended his employees against a growing chorus of accusations by Republicans, including Trump, that its agents were allowing political bias to seep into their investigations.

Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn said she’ll be representing the “people of the United States,” not Trump, at the upcoming Winter Olympics in South Korea, and also insisted she won’t go to the White House if invited.

Actor Alec Baldwin took to Twitter to chastise the way in which some late-night personalities have handled the growing cavalcade of sexual misconduct allegations in Hollywood.

EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said the Obama administration erred when it formally declared greenhouse gases a dangerous pollutant worthy of regulations in 2009.

Just a few blocks from his Tel Aviv hotel where he is staying with his wife, Monique, Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen said Palestinians were violently protesting the president’s Jerusalem decision.

A House bill passed late yesterday to expand the right to carry concealed weapons drew condemnation from New York Democrats, while upstate Republicans supported the measure.

Ten Albany High School students were taken into custody following a series of fights that broke out across campus this afternoon, Albany police said.

NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray defends the habitual returns she and her husband make (via police-driven SUV) to Brooklyn for things like gym visits and trips to the dry cleaner.

Promises the governor made in the wake of the Buffalo Billion corruption scandal have been abandoned as Phase II of the project moves forward.

General Electric is planning to cut 12,000 jobs in its power business, a person familiar with the matter said, as the company’s new leaders move to slash costs and stabilize the beleaguered manufacturer

A broad coalition of 133 conservation and Wilderness organizations from across America, including Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, has asked Congress “to reject an unprecedented call to amend the Wilderness Act to allow for the use of mountain bikes in designated Wilderness.”

Bronx Democratic Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda wants to allow undocumented immigrants protected under the federal DACA program to keep their driver’s licenses after it ends in March, and also to be eligible for the Excelsior Scholarship program.

Gov. Scott Walker announced plans this week to move forward with making Wisconsin the first U.S. state to drug test people applying for food stamps.

Here and Now

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

In the morning, President Donald Trump will meet with Republican Members of the Senate.

In the afternoon, Trump will meet with the RNC chairwoman, and then will sign a proclamation for National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day.

Later, the president will meet separately with Congressional leadership, and the former ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton.

In the evening, the president and First Lady Melania Trump will host a Hanukkah Reception.

Michigan Democratic Sen. Al Franken is expected to make an announcement about his political future today after a long list of his Democratic colleagues – including Kirsten Gillibrand, and the chamber’s top Democrat, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer – called for him to resign in the face of mounting sexual harassment allegations.

Minnesota Public Radio reported that Franken will be resigning, but a tweet from the senator’s verified account indicated he was still speaking with his family and had not yet made a decision.

If Franken does step down, he will be the most prominent lawmaker so far to be felled by the swirling allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct sweeping through the Capitol.

At 9 a.m., NYU’s School of Professional Studies Schack Institute of Real Estate’s Urban Lab hosts the When Real Estate Meets Innovation panel presentation, New York University Kimmel Center for University Life, 60 Washington Square S., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., the Build NYC Resource Corp. holds a public hearing, 22 Reade St., Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., the NYC IDA holds a public hearing, 110 William St., Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., key Democratic Members of Congress will join with Puerto Rican teachers and health care professionals to call on Congress to pass additional federal recovery assistance for the Island, Cannon House Office Building, Room 234, Washington, D.C.

Also at 10 a.m., Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda announces legislation that will prohibit the state DMV from cancelling, suspending, or rescinding drivers’ licenses issued to youth enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program when it ends in early March of 2018, outside Senate chamber, 3rd Floor, state Capitol, Albany.

At 10:15 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul delivers remarks at Small Places Close to Home: An Annual Celebration of Human Rights Day, FDR Presidential Library, 4079 Albany Post Rd., Hyde Park.

Also at 10:15 a.m., the state Department of Health Statewide Early Intervention Coordinating Council convenes for its quarterly meeting, Empire State Plaza, Convention Center, Meeting Room 2, Albany.

At 10:45 a.m., Regent Beverly Ouderkirk will deliver remarks and participate in a question and answer session at the Northeastern Council of School Superintendents (NECOSS) 47th Annual Conference, Crowne Plaza Resort, 101 Olympic Dr., Lake Placid.

At 11:15 a.m., Hochul makes an announcement, Family Services, 29 N. Hamilton St., Lobby, Poughkeepsie.

At 12:30 p.m., Hochul delivers remarks at Hudson Valley Magazine’s Women in Business Awards Luncheon, Villa Borghese
70 Widmer Rd., Wappingers Falls.

Also at 12:30 p.m., county leaders, including Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, Putnam County Executive MaryEllen O’Dell, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy and others discuss the impact of federal tax reform on NY homeowners, LCA press room, 130, LOB, Albany.

At 1 p.m., the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys – UAW Local 2325 hold a rally to call on the Office of Court Administration and state Court of Appeals Chief Judge Janet DiFiore to immediately implement a policy to end court coordination with U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

At 1:30 p.m., the Metropolitan Area Planning Forum meets for its 2017 annual meeting, New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, 55 Beaver St., Manhattan.

At 2 p.m., Hochul presents WW II veterans with the governor’s Pearl Harbor Remembrance Proclamation, VA Hudson Valley Health Care System, 2094, Building 1, Albany Post Rd., Montrose.

At 4:45 p.m., Hochul meets Seimens Competition in Math, Science & Technology winners, Half Hollow Hills District Office, 525 Half Hollow Rd., Dix Hills.

At 5:30 p.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. will host the borough’s annual Christmas tree lighting, along with other special holiday festivities, the Bronx County Building, 851 Grand Concourse, the Bronx.

At 6 p.m., a NYC reception is held in honor of state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, The Eventi Hotel, 861 Sixth Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 6 p.m., National Organization of Women New York City hosts a forum for New York City Council speaker candidates, focusing on women’s issues, Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute, Hunter College, 47-49 E. 65th St., Manhattan.

At 6:30 p.m., Hochul delivers welcoming remarks at the Association for a Better Long Island holiday party, Carlyle at the Palace, 1600 Round Swamp Rd., Plainview, Long Island.

At 7 p.m., Hochul accepts an award on behalf of the governor and makes an announcement at the Crime Victims Center’s Parents for Megan’s Law “Champions for Children” Gala, IBEW Hall, 370 Motor Parkway, Hauppauge, Long Island.

At 8 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio hosts a town hall meeting with Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos for residents of Council District 5, 317 E. 67th St., Manhattan.

De Blasio will deliver remarks at the Gracie Mansion Conservancy Benefit, which is closed to members of the media.

Headlines…

Leading Republicans are looking at scaling back some of the corporate tax cuts that they are trying to usher into law, two people involved in the tax negotiations said, convinced that they need to find new revenue to make last-minute fixes to the giant package moving through Congress.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the current tax structure allows the state to pay for key programs like social services and free college tuition for some, and warned of big tax hikes if the reform measure is passed eliminating state and local deductions.

Those involved with building affordable housing across the state are bracing for a potential significant impact as the House and U.S. Senate look to reconcile legislative differences when it comes to how certain types of municipal bonds are treated in the federal tax code.

Voting mostly along party lines, the House approved legislation loosening gun regulations and allowing those with permits to carry concealed weapons to legally travel with those firearms to other states – a top priority of the National Rifle Association.

The bill was blasted by New York City law-enforcement authorities at a press conference in Times Square.

House Speaker Paul Ryan said House Republicans will aim to cut spending on Medicare, Medicaid and welfare programs next year as a way to trim the federal deficit.

Disgraced national security adviser Michael Flynn assured an ex-business partner that economic sanctions on Russia would be “ripped up” as soon as the Trump administration entered the White House, according to documents made public yesterday.

The son of scandal-plagued Michigan Rep. John Conyers — endorsed by his dad to succeed him in Congress — was taken into custody, but not charged, in the stabbing of his girlfriend earlier this year, records show.

Like several commanders-in-chief before him, Trump is expected to sign a six-month waiver on plans to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, despite his announcement about recognizing the latter as Israel’s capital.

Since her arrival in the U.S. Senate, where she was appointed to replace Hillary Clinton when she became secretary of state in 2009, Kirsten Gillibrand has constructed a brand as an advocate for women’s issues in general – and sexual assault victims in particular.

Six women sued Harvey Weinstein and the film studio he co-founded, alleging a vast “Weinstein Sexual Enterprise” that enabled the movie producer to sexually assault and harass women for decades.

A former spokesman for Clinton, Josh Scherwin, says Trump is so determined to undo his predecessor’s accomplishments that he would keep cancer from being cured just to prove a point.

Donald Trump Jr. refused to tell lawmakers about conversations he had with his father regarding a 2016 Trump Tower meeting with a Russian lawyer after emails detailing the meeting had become public, according to the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee.

The nation’s homeless population increased this year for the first time since 2010, driven by a surge in the number of people living on the streets in Los Angeles and other West Coast cities.

Teamsters whose pension benefits were cut could see some future relief under a proposal backed by Schumer, who, along with several other Democratic senators, is backing legislation that would create a remedy through the Treasury Department.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio met with New Jersey Gov.-elect Phil Murphy in a closed-door session that focused on transportation, education, jobs and fighting the Republican tax plan making its way through Congress.

As the national conversation bursts with a reckoning over sexual misconduct, activists hope that this year they will succeed and are advancing a new, more aggressive strategy to pass the Child Victims Act.

Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz, two of New York’s most popular and longest tenured radio hosts, were placed on leave by New York Public Radio as the company investigates allegations of inappropriate conduct.

More >

Extras

A Democratic official who has spoken to Al Franken and key aides says Franken will resign his Minnesota Senate seat tomorrow, the official tells MPR News.

Franken’s support among his fellow Democrats cratered today as a host of female Democratic senators called upon him to resign and more women came forward with allegations against him.

“The Silence Breakers” of the anti-harassment #MeToo movement have been named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year.”

House Democrats overwhelmingly joined Republicans to defeat an attempt to impeach President Donald Trump. But 58 Democrats supported the bid to consider impeachment over the objections of House Democratic leaders, who viewed the measure as a distraction in a Republican-controlled Congress.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he will seek reelection in his country’s elections in March.

Trump raised the possibility of a government shutdown ahead of a meeting with Democrats for a second consecutive week, even as tensions on Capitol Hill appeared to diminish after hard-line House conservatives backed off plans to oppose a short-term stopgap.

Leonard Lopate and Jonathan Schwartz, two longtime hosts at WNYC, have been put on leave effectively immediately pending investigations into allegations of inappropriate conduct.

The announcement regarding Lopate and Schwartz comes a few days after reports of harassment by the former host of the The Takeaway, John Hockenberry.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway appeared on CNN’s “New Day” to defend Trump’s endorsement of Roy Moore, hailing the president’s “tremendous moral standards” in backing the Alabama Senate candidate whom numerous women have accused of sexual assault and harassment.

AG Eric Schneiderman released updated guidance – “Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Know Your Rights” – to inform New Yorkers about the laws that protect them from sexual harassment at work.

John Conyers III, a Detroit hedge fund manager named as a possible successor to his scandal-rocked father, Rep. John Conyers, was arrested in Los Angeles this year on suspicion of domestic violence, but prosecutors declined to charge him.

The 2018 State of the State Address will be held on Wednesday, Jan.3 at 1:00 p.m. at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany.

A bill to scuttle Cuomo’s naming of the new Tappan Zee Bridge for his father is expected to be filed later this week by Republican Assemblyman Kevin Byrne, a Putnam County legislator whose grandfather worked on the original span.

As Cuomo tacks left in preparation for a potential presidential run in 2020, a Democrat – Gov.-elect Phil Murphy of New Jersey – is ascending to office in Cuomo’s backyard with none of the baggage Cuomo carries from his seven years as a triangulating Democrat.

Three people suffered minor injuries when two small fires broke out at two of Midtown’s most-traveled transit hubs: Grand Central and Penn Station.

SUNY Polytechnic Institute has yet to receive a $25 million loan that was approved by the state university system’s board of trustees back in September, and it is unclear why the process has taken so long, or why the institute is in financial trouble.

This year’s race for Syracuse mayor was the most expensive in city history. A crowded field of candidates spent more than $1.3 million throughout the year. The two frontrunners – Ben Walsh and Juanita Perez Williams – led spending with a combined $887,000.

The state Association of School Business Officials is out with a study detailing the rising percentage of kids with special needs. Of note: the percentage of kids with autism has more than doubled over the past decade while those with ED, or emotional disturbances has fallen sharply.

The former head of the Niagara Falls Housing Authority has admitted to theft charges, U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced.

The family of a 62-year-old man who died last year in Nassau County jail custody has filed a $60 million federal lawsuit against the county and the facility’s former medical provider that claims the inmate died because he was denied proper care, court papers say.

RIP, Mickey Carroll

New York’s political world is remembering Maurice “Mickey” Carroll, the voice of the Quinnipiac University Poll since 1995, and a longtime journalist and educator, who died today in his family home in Convent Station, NJ, after a short illness.

Before he joined the Q poll, as it’s widely known, Carroll worked for more than 40 years as a political writer for The New York Times and other New York and New Jersey newspapers. He was a throwback to a different, arguably more genteel era, though he certainly saw and covered his share of political intrigue and scandal.

“Mickey Carroll was a reporter in the finest tradition of American journalism, a dedicated educator and a knowledgeable commentator on the American political scene,” said Quinnipiac University President John L. Lahey. “He educated thousands in the classroom and millions through his reporting and his work with the poll.”

From a personal standpoint, Carroll was a longtime friend and mentor of mine. He was never too busy to take my calls, even when I was a newbie reporter just getting started. And he always made a point to get in touch and buy me a drink or a meal when he came through town after I relocated back to Albany from New York City.

Carroll, infamous for his quick quips and sometimes cutting sound bites, coined the phrase “the upstate quote” to describe my Dad, Dr. Gerald Benjamin, a SUNY New Paltz political science professor whose wide breadth of knowledge about state and local government has made him a go-to for reporters across New York.

I will miss him greatly.

Carroll was married for 30 years to newspaper columnist Beth Fallon, who died in 2006. He is survived by his former wife, Peggy, with whom he remained very close; his son, New Jersey Assembly member Michael Carroll, daughters Eileen and Elizabeth, 10 grandchildren and a sister, Anne Shannon. Another son, Patrick, died in 2005.

A memorial mass will be celebrated Thursday, Dec. 14, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Thomas More Roman Catholic Church 4 Convent Rd., Morristown, NJ.9Note, this has been changed from the previously reported location in Manhattan).

Here and Now

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

President Donald Trump will receive his daily intelligence briefing in the morning, and will then hold a cabinet meeting.

In the afternoon, the president will give a statement on Jerusalem.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio today will visit and deliver remarks to NYPD Traffic Enforcement Agents. This event is closed to members of the press.

At 8 a.m., the NYC Economic Development Corp. hosts the 2017 NYC Digital Health Forum, New York Genome Center, 101 Sixth Ave., Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul delivers remarks on ending the AIDS epidemic at the NYS Department of Health Summit, Empire State Plaza Convention Center, Albany.

At 10 a.m., the NYC Deferred Compensation Plan Board meets, 40 Rector St., Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., Chancellor Betty A. Rosa and Regent Beverly Ouderkirk will visit World of Inquiry School No. 58 with Rochester City School District Superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams, 200 University Ave., Rochester.

Also at 10 a.m., state Sen. Marisol Alcántara and Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa celebrate their bill, The Suicide Prevention Act, becoming law, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, chairwoman of the Assembly Committee on Aging, holds a budget hearing, Legislative Office Building, Hearing Room B, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., the Assembly Veterans’s Affairs Committee Chair Michael DenDekker will hold a public hearing to review the $1 million in funding included in the 2017-2018 budget for veteran-to-veteran support services and other veterans’ programs that are under the jurisdiction of the committee, LOB, Hearing Room C, Albany.

At noon, Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy rallies with advocates in support of stronger policies and incentives to promote conversion of 126,000 homes per year to comfortable, efficient electric heat pumps, state Capitol, Albany.

Also at noon, African-American civilian employees of the FDNY announce a civil rights class-action lawsuit seeking sweeping reform of the current system that has permitted discrimination, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at noon, Regina Schwartz, director of the NYC Public Engagement Unit, and New York City Health Department Deputy Commissioner Sonia Angell open a new health insurance enrollment center, 25-05 Queens Plaza North, Queens.

Also at noon, Hochul announces the grand opening of the Central NY Welcome Center, Destiny USA, 9090 Destiny USA Dr., Syracuse.

Also at noon, state Sen. David Carlucci will hold a consumer protection forum on cashless tolls, given media reports of drivers receiving significant fines and late fees when using cashless tolling at the new Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, Nanuet Public Library, 149 Church St., Nanuet.

At 1 p.m., New Yorkers with developmental disabilities, their parents and caregivers and a bipartisan delegation of state legislators rally to urge Cuomo and the state Legislature to accelerate the process and ensure that direct support professionals receive the living wage they are entitled to, state Capitol, second floor, Albany.

At 5:30 p.m., the NYC Commission on Human Rights, in partnership with CUNY School of Law, the New York Women’s Foundation and the city Department of Consumer Affairs holds a public hearing on sexual harassment in the workplace, Dave Fields Auditorium, second floor, CUNY School of Law, 2 Court Square, Queens.

At 6 p.m., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and NYC Councilmen Brad Lander, Ben Kallos and Mark Levine attend the Rabbi Marshall Meyer Risk Taker Awards, Community Church of New York, 40 E. 35th St., Manhattan.

At 6:30 p.m., Commissioner Fidel F. Del Valle of the NYC Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings kicks off the Commissioner’s Community Roundtable series of events with this inaugural event for Bronx residents, Bronx Community Board 7, 229A E. 204th St., Bronx.

At 7:30 p.m., CUNY Television features NYC Councilwoman Adrienne Adams and Council members-elect Justin Brannan, Carlina Rivera and Alicka Samuel discussing the future of politics and public policy in New York City, CUNY TV studios, 365 Fifth Ave., Manhattan.

Headlines…

President Donald Trump has decided to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and begin what is expected to be a years-long process of moving the US embassy to the contested city, fueling unrest across the Middle East.

The move fulfills a 2016 campaign pledge, but breaks with the longstanding international consensus to refrain from recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital until it brokers a peace agreement with the Palestinians

Rob Goldstone, the British publicist who arranged a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer during the 2016 presidential election, will go before the House and Senate Intelligence Committees as soon as next week.

Trump’s improvisational, and often impulsive, political decision making has become so routine that Republican leaders now accept that there will be days when he suddenly endorses and telephones candidates – including one accused of sexual misconduct with teenage girls.

Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who has been openly critical of Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, made a donation to Moore’s Democratic rival, writing on the $100 check: “Country over Party.”

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon stumped for Moore in Alabama, railing against GOP leaders in Washington, the media and some of the candidates critics, telling supporters: “If they can destroy Roy Moore, they can destroy you.”

Bannon slammed Mitt Romney for dodging the draft during the Vietnam War — an attack that conveniently failed to mention his old boss, Trump, did the same.

Now disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein relied on powerful relationships across industries to provide him with cover as accusations of sexual misconduct piled up for decades.

Actress Lena Dunham claims that she tried to convince Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign not to accept money from Weinstein because he was a “rapist.”

Magazine editor Tina Brown also said she told someone close to Clinton during the 2008 campaign that she felt it was “unwise to be so closely associated with” Weinstein.

Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers Jr., under intense pressure to resign amid multiplying allegations that he sexually harassed former employees, announced that he would leave Congress immediately, and he endorsed his son John Conyers III to succeed him.

Lawyers clashed in a Manhattan courtroom over whether a defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who has accused Trump of unwanted sexual advances should be allowed to proceed in state Supreme Court.

The Office of House Employment Counsel brokered a settlement in 2006 over allegations that Queens Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks fired a staffer in retaliation for reporting that she was sexually assaulted at a business tied to a campaign contributor.

Cruise lines, craft beer and wine producers (even foreign ones), car dealers, private equity, and oil and gas pipeline managers did particularly well in the congressional frenzy to rewrite the tax code. And perhaps the biggest winner is the industry where Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, made their millions: commercial real estate.

Western New York won’t have a direct voice in the House-Senate negotiations intended to result in a massive tax reform deal that aims to cut rates while slashing a key tax break that the Empire State enjoys, even though Rep. Tom Reed, a Corning Republican, and Rep. Brian Higgins, a Buffalo Democrat, both sit on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

Allowing taxpayers to use the proposed $10,000 deduction for property taxes also for state income and sales taxes is one option on the table as Congress begins to hammer out differences in the House and Senate tax bills, a key lawmaker said.

More >

Extras

President Trump told Israeli and Arab leaders he plans to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – a symbolically fraught move that would upend decades of American policy and upset efforts to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Germany’s Deutsche Bank has received a subpoena from the US special counsel investigating possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office spent $3.2 million during the first few months of his investigation into Russian election interference. The Justice Department has spent $3.5 million to support the probe, though the special counsel’s office says that money would have been spent anyway if Mueller had not been appointed.

Besieged by allegations of sexual harassment, Democratic Rep. John Conyers resigned from Congress, bringing an abrupt end to the civil rights leader’s nearly 53-year career on Capitol Hill.

The top editor for the National Enquirer, Us Weekly and other major gossip publications, Dylan Howard, openly described his sexual partners in the newsroom, discussed female employees’ sex lives and forced women to watch or listen to pornographic material, former employees told The AP.

Russian athletes will be allowed to compete at the upcoming Pyeongchang Olympics as neutrals despite orchestrated doping at the 2014 Sochi Games, the International Olympic Committee said.

Trump has been questioning the validity of his infamous Access Hollywood tape, but his vice president’s wife, Karen Pence, reportedly has her own opinion of the man caught boasting of sexually harassing women: “reprehensible – just totally vile.” (Pence’s spokeswoman has denied this in a tweet).

On the week host Matt Lauer was fired because of sexual misconduct charges, NBC’s “Today” show beat its rivals at ABC for the first time in three months.

State AG Eric Schneiderman, leading a coalition of 15 state attorneys general, today filed a lawsuit against the EPA and its administrator, Scott Pruitt, for failing to meet the Clean Air Act’s statutory deadline for designating areas of the country impacted by unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone (commonly referred to as smog).

Harvard Law Prof. Alan Dershowitz: ” I think we have to stop criminalizing political differences on both sides. Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be locked up. Donald Trump shouldn’t be prosecuted for any crimes. If you don’t like what they did, don’t vote for them. That’s the answer; democracy.”

FEMA has reportedly told some employees who pulled in beefier paychecks after working overtime to respond to the series of natural disasters that hit the U.S. earlier this year they may need to return part of their extra pay.

The House has passed Rep. John Katko’s bill to raise overtime limits on Secret Service agents who have taken on extra duties this year that include protecting President Donald Trump and his large family.

The number of arrests made at the U.S.-Mexico border hit its lowest level since 1971, new Homeland Security figures show.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo suggested the Republican tax plan would “rape and pillage” New York congressional districts, drawing a rebuke from GOP House members with whom he’s frequently clashed.

The NYC Council reversed course and said the press would no longer be barred from its side of City Hall. Council spokeswoman Robin Levine said only the speaker’s suite of offices would be off limits.

Former Syracuse Mayor Tom Young is likely to testify at the federal corruption trial of two Cor Development executives if a judge allows defense lawyers to present arguments about Cor’s positive effects on the community.

Nassau County Executive-elect Laura Curran will reinstate the position of deputy county executive for economic development to jump-start new housing, transportation and retail projects and to attract new businesses to the region.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney: “New rule: after today, the Republican Party can choose to support massive new debts and it can choose to support politicians who abuse kids, but it cannot lecture the rest of us about it.”

Rep. Elise Stefanik publicly opposed drilling for oil and gas in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge after ads from the Wilderness Society targeted her and 12 other Republican lawmakers, asking them to vote against the Senate’s GOP tax bill including a rider for Arctic drilling.

A publicly funded campaign for NYC Council, launched by a longtime staffer for Brooklyn state Sen. Marty Golden, spent $13,000 on a business in which Golden has a substantial financial interest.

Cuomo has appointed infrastructure consultant Paul Karas, who most recently served for four years as vice president and manager of RS&H Inc., a transportation buildings infrastructure consulting firm, to be commissioner of the state DOT.

Onondaga County lawmakers voted today in favor of raising the legal age to buy tobacco in the county to 21. The vote was 11-5. One legislator was absent. Before the bill can become law, a public hearing must be conducted.

Travelers using LaGuardia Airport are in for another jolt this weekend when six airlines move to different terminals during the ongoing airport reconstruction project.