Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin

Here and Now

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

At 11:30 a.m., Rep. Kathleen Rice and the recently appointed director of the FEMA National Flood Insurance Program, deputy associate administrator for Insurance and Mitigation Roy Wright, will hold a press availability to answer questions and discuss superstorm Sandy recovery, Long Beach Boardwalk at National Boulevard (outside the Allegria Hotel), Long Beach, Long Island. (At 9:30 a.m., they will meet with state and local officials in a closed-press event at the Long Beach city manager’s office).

At 1 p.m., Rep. Chris Gibson will visit Opportunities for Otsego and discuss the agency’s work to combat poverty, 3 W Broadway, Oneonta.

At 1:30 p.m., the Assembly Committees on Children and Families and Social Services hold a closed-press roundtable discussion on childhood poverty, the first of several meetings on the issue, Council Chambers, Rochester City Hall, room 302-A, 30 Church St., Rochester.

At 2:30 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will make an announcement related to roof replacement at NYCHA, Queensbridge South Houses, 21st Street and Queens Plaza North, Queens.

At 3 p.m., Assemblyman Keith Wright and a working group on Housing Development Fund Companies meets, Harlem State Office Building, 7th floor, 163 W. 125th St., Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., Sen. George Amedore, Gibson, and Montgomery County Executive Matt Ossenfort will partner with Catholic Charities Care Coordination Services to host a free community narcan training, Canajoharie High School, 136 Scholastic Way, Canajoharie.

Also at 6 p.m., Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams raises the Dominican flag over Brooklyn Borough Hall in honor of the upcoming Brooklyn Dominican Parade, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

Headlines…

Business bigwigs — some with ties to Gov. Andrew Cuomo — have reportedly begun discussing the possibility of bankrolling an early effort to go after NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio in hopes of further weakening him in advance of the 2017 elections.

A cop in de Blasio’s security detail was shot with a pellet gun last night outside Gracie Mansion. The officer and her partner were getting out of an unmarked police car near the Upper East Side residence shortly after 7 p.m. when she “felt pain in the lower back.”

The mayor and his family “were not in harm’s way at all,” police said.

Two teens are in custody in connection with the pellet gun shooting.

Over 300 topless protesters bashed de Blasio’s effort to banish the bare-breasted painted ladies of Times Square during a march yesterday.

The group of women participated in the annual Topless Parade from Columbus Circle to Bryant Park, while some men took pictures and video.

The parade was among dozens of such events staged in about 60 cities on the worldwide GoTopless Day.

The open-air malls in de Blasio’s New York may be filled with an unusual number of aggressive performers — heavily or barely costumed — but he is not the first mayor to wrestle with the consequences of turning streets into pedestrian spaces.

The NYT editorializes: “Times Square is not going to hell, or anywhere near hell’s vicinity. Mr. de Blasio’s enemies have been predicting New York’s downfall since before the mayor took office. He should not be feeding their false narrative by panicking over some localized crudeness.”

Hundreds of Nassau County contracts worth a total of nearly $10 million have been awarded in recent years at amounts just dollars below the threshold for legislative approval. Many of the pacts went to politically connected companies without competitive bidding – and were never openly discussed, debated or voted on, a Newsday investigation found.

A Brooklyn-based home health-care service, Empire State Home Care Services, has agreed to pay $6 million as part of a settlement with AG Eric Schneiderman to resolve allegations of improper Medicaid billing, highlighting the state’s heightened attention to fraud in this growing industry.

Buffalo School Board member Carl Paladino already is complaining about new Superintendent Kriner Cash’s appointment and says he will not support Cash unless he hires certain people for cabinet positions. Paladino is drawing battle lines, not just with the new superintendent, but with the new state education commissioner.

Republican 2016 candidate Donald Trump said the potential entrance into the race of VP Joe Biden won’t make any difference because the former US senator is the same sort of Democrat as Hillary Clinton, though she’s “damaged” because of her “email thing.”

More >

The Weekend That Was

State Police, working on behalf of the state Labor Department, descended on Times Square Saturday as the topless painted ladies and their male managers who have been preying on tourists for tips were questioned on whether their basic business practices are on the up and up.

New York State’s economic development agency quietly passed a resolution Thursday morning that seeks to prohibit any “behavior” that “has a tendency to disrupt commercial activity” in and around Times Square – a move clearly aimed at ridding the area of the topless panhandling women.

A 69-year-old woman hung out topless in Times Square on Saturday in bare-chested solidarity with the beleaguered desnudas.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s position against the women’s presence in Times Square has left some politicians – including some of his allies – scratching their heads, with some labeling his approach as sexist.

Calling it the first time in 40 years that a city police officer has been shot, Chief John Tedesco outlined this morning how a carjacking suspect allegedly shot two officers before being shot multiple times himself and Tasered. The suspect, now identified as Thaddeus Faison, 39, of Albany, died from his injuries.

Rochester police have arrested a 32-year-old city man for allegedly firing at the vehicle in last week’s drive-by shooting at the Boys & Girls club on Genesee Street. But whoever fired into the crowd — killing three and injuring four others — remains at large, authorities said Saturday.

American Pharoah is going to run in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday. Trainer Bob Baffert said as much this morning after the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years worked six furlongs in a time of 1:10.98 (by Baffert’s stopwatch) at Del Mar Race Track in San Diego.

On “Meet the Press” this morning, Democratic California Gov. Jerry Brown said the email scandal surrounding Hillary Clinton is “like a vampire”, adding: “She’s going to have to find a stake and put it right through the heart of these emails in some way.”

Former Bush administration Attorney General Michael Mukasey said Clinton is indeed the focus of a US Justice Department probe, calling the argument that the probe is about her private email network when she was secretary of state “ridiculous.” “It is not a political witch hunt,” he said.

Vice President Joe Biden’s team has settled on a one-month window from Sept. 1 to Oct. 1 in which he could potentially announce plans to run for president.

Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said he has patched up his “disagreement” with Clinton from the 2008 election and will be supporting her in her 2016 bid for the presidency.

Stephanie Yazgi, de Blasio’s controversial new “immigration organizer,” was being paid by private funds before being brought on staff — countering his excuse that taxpayers had to pay her $150,000 salary because an outside grant fell through.

No one has announced a plan to run against the mayor in 2017. But as his poll numbers sag during a summer marked by feuds and missteps, NYC’s political chattering class is buzzing about the contenders who might contemplate a Democratic primary challenge.

Town of Oyster Bay officials helped a private businessman secure loans by arranging with lenders to have the town pay in case of defaults – potentially exposing taxpayers to millions of dollars in liabilities, a Newsday investigation has found.

Florida Senator and 2016 GOP contender Marco Rubio will swing by Buffalo Tuesday night for a fundraiser at the Snyder home of Amy Habib, and organizers hope it will raise more than $250,000 for his campaign.

Two-thirds of all freshmen enrolled in WNY’s four-year colleges and universities took out student loans in the first year of their education, according to a Buffalo News analysis. The increases in borrowing amounts outpaced the average rise in costs of attending the schools.

New REBNY boss John Banks broke bread recently at the Capital Grille in Midtown with state Sen. Mike Gianaris, who heads the Democratic conference’s political arm. Is the real estate association having second thoughts about backing the Senate Republicans?

The 101st Precinct in Far Rockaway, an overgrown former beach resort dotted with Robert Moses-era public housing at the city’s eastern edge, is an early testing ground of a model of so-called community policing that fell out of favor in the 1990s as crime levels hit all-time highs.

Inmates at Bare Hill Correctional Facility were kept outside in February without hats or gloves while officers tried to gain information about an assault, which allegedly led to at least 10 inmates getting frostbite, lawsuits allege.

Undocumented children’s cases are overwhelming New York courts.

Eight months after a small Finger Lakes farm town was recommended for one of three New York casino licenses, the battle over the $425 million development is ratcheting up again. A recent appeals court ruling involving state environmental review law has suspended site construction in Tyre, between Rochester and Syracuse along the Thruway.

Orange County Democratic Chairman Brett Broge is asking a state official to investigate Sen. William Larkin Jr.’s failure to report his campaign contributions and expenditures from January to July, an accounting that he was supposed to file by July 15 and is now more than a month overdue.

The amount of unclaimed funds returned to recipients hit a new record in the last fiscal year, and in some counties the amount claimed has soared over the past five years.

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer wants President Obama to declare the plaza outside the Stonewall Inn a national monument.

Village of Ocean Beach taxpayers could owe $750,000 in superstorm Sandy disaster recovery funds that authorities want back because the FEMA says a sewer plant and two buildings in the barrier island community were underinsured.

US Sen. Charles Schumer has joined state and Long Island officials who have expressed alarm over a federal report that says dredged sediment from Connecticut rivers could be safely buried in the Long Island Sound for up to 30 years.

Extras

Facing extraordinary pressure, Rep. Jerry Nadler became the lone Jewish Democrat from New York to endorse the president’s proposed agreement with Iran, which would lift economic sanctions in exchange for Iran’s taking steps to abandon a path to nuclear arms.

New York City’s film commissioner, Cynthia Lopez, has tendered her resignation, and will leave the de Blasio administration in late October to pursue other opportunities in the production industry.

Success Academy founder and C.E.O. says she is interested in running for mayor, and that she will “let everyone know” when she decides whether to run against de Blasio in 2017.

With Congress expected to vote next month on President Obama’s proposed nuclear deal with Iran, nearly half of New York’s congressional delegation remains undecided or did not respond to questions about their position on the agreement.

The Federal Bureau of Prisons could “jeopardize the safety of young children and families” if it moves forward with a proposal to open a halfway house in Syracuse’s Tipperary Hill neighborhood, Rep. John Katko warned.

Westchester County is tightening up rules for visitors to the county jail, a month after 13 inmates got sick on synthetic marijuana that was allegedly slipped to a prisoner by his visiting wife.

Prosecutors are urging a federal judge to throw the book at ex-Brooklyn Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. when he is sentenced next month for soliciting bribes.

Cuomo announced that attendance at New York State Park campgrounds is on pace for another record-setting year, and reminded New Yorkers that many of the state’s finest camping facilities are open for fall camping well into the autumn months.

The driver involved in the May 30th accident that killed 3-year-old Maksym Sugorovskiy and critically injured his 5-year-old sister in Buffalo’s Delaware Park will not face criminal charges. He likely will be charged with a vehicle and traffic infraction.

In an attempt to reduce deaths and injuries due to drunk driving, Cuomo announced an end-of-summer crackdown on impaired driving. The initiative, “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” will be a joint effort of the State Police and local law enforcement to be more vigilant and proactive when screening for impaired drivers.

Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren is sending her daughter to private school. “We are Christians and we wanted to make a faith-based decision, but also one that we believe will give her the academic success she needs for her future,” the mayor said.

Former NIFA Board member George Marlin has some recommendations for his erstwhile colleagues when it comes to managing Nassau County’s deteriorating fiscal health.

How did organizers of the opt-out movement in New York Mills, a small school district in Oneida County where between 74 and 77 percent of kids didn’t sit for state English or math tests, see so much success?

Students from wealthier districts tended to perform far better on this year’s Common Core math exam than their peers in less affluent districts, but also opted out of the test at higher levels, according to analysis by POLITICO New York.

While emphasizing that Clinton’s defense cannot be judged until the content of the messages are fully analyzed, fellow diplomats and other specialists said if any emails were blatantly of a sensitive nature, she could have been expected to flag it.

A veteran of the war in Afghanistan will be the new highest ranking non-commissioned officer of the 10,500 member New York Army National Guard.

Miner: No State Senate Run in the Cards

minerFrom the Morning Memo:

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, who is barred by term limits from seeking re-election to her current office, says “it’s flattering” to be mentioned as a potential state Senate contender, but she has no plans to run at the moment.

Miner said her name has been floated by “strangers that I don’t know” who have not spoken with her directly as a potential candidate next year for Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco’s seat.

The mayor also noted that she doesn’t live in the Republican lawmaker’s district, which would make running difficult, and has no desire to move.

“I like my house; I like my neighborhood,” Miner said. “I will continue to be an advocate for the people of the city of Syracuse and continue to try to solve problems. I know that there are a whole host of ways that that can be fulfilled.” More >

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in the New York City area with no public schedule. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is in the city with no public schedule.

At 10 a.m., Assemblyman William Colton and NYC Council Member Treyger sponsor neighborhood clean-up event from 86th Street from 25th Avenue to 16th Avenue, and 18th Avenue from Benson Avenue to 82nd Street, Brooklyn.

Also at 10 a.m., Rep. Elise Stefanik visits Med-Eng, followed by a media availability, 103 Tulloch Dr., Ogdensburg.

Also at 10 a.m., FASNY President Robert McConville and local elected officials hold a media availability at the FASNY Annual Youth Firefighter Training Day, Town of Rensselaer County Fire Training Center, Macha Lane, Wynantskill.

At 10:30 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul and Cheektowaga Supervisor Mary Holtz Visit with Cheektowaga seniors as part of National Senior Citizens Day, Cheektowaga Senior Center, 3349 Broadway, Cheektowaga.

Headlines…

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is examining a state investment program for young technology businesses – including investments made by a Long Island venture capital firm.

School districts will not be penalized by the federal government for having large numbers of students refuse to sit for the state standardized tests this year, education officials said, ending months of uncertainty over how they would respond to a growing antitesting movement.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo declined to specify what incentives New York is offering General Electric to lure its headquarters back to the Empire State, other than to say he put “a lot of love” on the table.

Calling it a “transformative moment” for the Mohawk Valley, the governor announced that two businesses – ams and General Electric – will create 2,500 jobs in the Mohawk Valley. The Austrian company ams will build a wafer fabrication plant at the Marcy Nanocenter.

The news of the GE’s return to Utica, once home to generations of GE employees, captured much of the attention – including high praise from the governor.

Cuomo said he has gone out of his way to “put my thumb on the scale to balance the beam to make sure upstate New York gets its fair share.” He cast the state Legislature as more downstate focused, even as Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is touring areas outside his Bronx district and delivering the exact opposite message.

Emma Wolfe, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s director of intergovernmental affairs and a top legislative aide, was paid by a Brooklyn-based outside consulting firm, Hilltop Public Solutions, last fall when she took a leave of absence to work with Democrats trying to retake the state Senate.

One of the desnudas – women who stroll topless in Times Square, attracting hoots and cheers from tourists and posing for photos in exchange for a tip – explains why she’s doing the job, and insists that she loves it.

Whatever action the de Blasio administration takes to control the women, it will face legal challenges at every turn. Civil rights lawyers argue the women are bare-breasted panhandlers, and so they are protected, first by two state high-court rulings that made it legal to go topless and to panhandle, and then by the free-speech clauses in the state and federal constitutions.

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, sharply criticized the growing test-boycott movement, saying its supporters do not understand the need for Common Core test data in measuring students’ progress and shining a light on areas in need of improvement.

Transit advocates, urban planners and elected officials reacted with shock over a proposal, floated by de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, to remove pedestrian plazas at Times Square.

NYC Councilman Dan Garodnick, whose district includes parts of Times Square, writes: “Yes, we need to take direct aim at aggressive panhandling in all of its forms but we shouldn’t throw the baby out with the bath water.”

Dan Janison: “(T)ry this one on for size: Cuomo for New York City mayor in 2017.”

More >

Extras

David Sweat, one of the convicted killers who led law enforcement on an intense three-week manhunt after breaking out of a maximum-security prison in Clinton County on June 6, pleaded not guilty to escape charges today.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a topless individuals task force – (AKA, the TIT force) – which will be headed by two men.

Daily News owner Mort Zuckerman has called off the sale of the nearly 100-year-old New York newspaper. “For a variety of reasons, I have decided to withdraw the Daily News from the market,” he wrote in a memo to staffers.

A Staten Island judge rejected a request from the Civilian Complaint Review Board for grand jury records related to the case of Eric Garner, who died last year after a police officer used a chokehold while trying to arrest him on suspicion of selling loose cigarettes.

The wife of state Sen. Dean Skelos’ son, Adam Skelos, was arrested in Rockville Centre Wednesday night for allegedly breaking her nephew’s $200 pair of glasses in half during an argument and trying to prevent him from calling the police.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton wants to eliminate pedestrian plazas established by former Mayor Mike Bloomberg in Times Square in hopes of improving quality-of-life policing problems, and has discussed that idea with de Blasio.

The mayor said he plans to run for re-election in 2017, regardless of who challenges him. “Come one, come all,” he invited to potential opponents.

NYC Public Advocate Tish James filed a lawsuit against the Department of Education over what she described as a consistent lack of air conditioning on buses that transport disabled children to and from school, as is required by law and the contracts that the DOE maintains with its private bus operators.

Adam S. Cohen, an 18-year veteran of the FBI with expertise in how terrorists use the Internet, is the new head of the agency’s office in Buffalo.

AG Eric Schneiderman today launched a $400,000 advertising campaign to warn about scams associated with homeowners looking for help to avoid foreclosures.

The Yellow Brick Road Casino in Central New York will add table games by year’s end as the competition among gaming facilities in New York becomes more fierce.

What’s the next chapter for comedian-tuned-activist Randy Credico, and can he stay sober long enough to see it through?

New York state and municipal email addresses appear to have been used to register for Ashley Madison, a website where people can find partners for extramarital affairs.

As part of her central campaign vow to rein in student debt and cut the cost of college, Hillary Clinton announced a plan to expand the AmeriCorps service program and increase aid to program participants for education payments.

The NYC Health Department announced that the Legionnaires’ outbreak that killed 12 people in the South Bronx is officially over, and have identified the Opera House Hotel as the source of the virus.

JCOPE review board members met last week with some of the commission’s most persistent good government critics: leaders of Common Cause New York, the New York Public Interest Research Group, League of Women Voters and Citizens Union.

Former President Jimmy Carter, 90, announced that his cancer showed up in four small spots on his brain and he will immediately begin radiation treatment, saying he is “at ease with whatever comes.”

Destiny USA wasn’t happy to see Gap go last month. Now, the spurned mall’s owners are suing the clothing retailer for $3 million.

Sheriff’s investigators will present evidence to prosecutors for a vehicular manslaughter charge against Caitlyn Jenner for her role in a fatal car crash last February.

Good News For Biden In Q Poll

From the Morning Memo:

A new Quinnipiac poll of three key swing states – Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio – should provide some food for thought to Vice President Joe Biden as he reportedly contemplates adding his name to the 2016 mix.

The poll showed the vice president and former US senator running as well or better than the Democratic Party’s current frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, against top GOP contenders in hypothetical general election match-ups.

Clinton and Republican Donald Trump continue to lead the fields for their respective party’s presidential nominations, but they have the worst favorability ratings among voters of all the leading candidates, and also the lowest scores in the “honest” and “trustworthy” categories. More >

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is holding his second “Capital for a day” in Utica. This is a “day-long series of meetings between the governor, senior state officials and local leaders designed to advance local priorities for growth and improvements in the community,” according to Cuomo’s press office.

The event kicks off with a cabinet meeting at 9:30 a.m. at the Radisson Hotel, 200 Genesee St. Then cabinet members will fan out around the city to attend various events, while Cuomo makes an announcement at 11 a.m., Quad-C Building, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, 330 Technology Dr.

Also at 11 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul will tour downtown restoration projects in Utica, starting at the Clark City Center, 185 Genesee St.

At 1 p.m., Hochul will convene a Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council meeting, State Office Building, 207 Genesee St.

At 2 p.m., Hochul tous Griffiss Air Force Base, 584 Phoenix Dr., Rome.

At 4 p.m., Hochul holds a second cabinet meeting – again at the Radisson – this time to debrief top administration officials about what they learned over the course of the day.

Also happening today…

At 9 a.m., Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie tours Cohoes Falls with Assemblyman John McDonald, Cohoes Mayor George Primeau and City Officials, 342 North Mohawk St., Cohoes.

Also at 9 a.m., Rep. Elise Stefanik hosts a “coffee with your Congresswoman” event, Potsdam Town Hall, 18 Elm St., Potsdam.

At 9:30 a.m., Heastie tours Waterford Harbor Visitors Center with Mayor Bert Mahoney, Waterford Harbor Center, 1 Tugboat Alley, Waterford.

At 10:15 a.m., Heastie tours the CEO Urban Training Center, 2347 Fifth Ave., Troy.

At 10:55 a.m., Heastie tours downtown Troy with Mayor Lou Rosamilia, 2347 Fifth Ave.

At noon, Rep. Chris Gibson will meet with county staff and constituents at the Columbia County Department of Social Services recognition picnic, DSS, 25 Railroad Ave., Hudson.

At 1 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will host a press conference to break ground on a new affordable housing development, 34-11 Beach Channel Dr., Queens.

Also at 1 p.m., Heastie joins McDonald and Assemblywoman Pat Fahy on a tour of the Capital South Campus Center, 20 Warren St., Albany.

At 1:15 p.m., Stefanik tours St. Lawrence County Community Development Program, 1 Commerce Lane, Canton.

At 2 p.m., Heastie and Fahy tour Indian Ladder Farms, 342 Altamont Rd., Altamont.

At 2:30 p.m., Stefanik visits Traditional Arts in Upstate New York, 53 Main St., Canton.

Also at 2:30 p.m., IDC Leader Jeff Jlein will announce $200,000 in state funding for the YMCA of Greater New York and present a check to organization officials, Bronx YMCA, 2 Castle Hill Ave., the Bronx.

At 3 p.m., Educators 4 Excellence-New York hosts its annual summit, with over 150 teachers, education advocates, and community leaders, NYU Kimmel Center, 60 Washington Square S., Manhattan.

At 3:15 p.m., Heastie tours SUNY Albany, 1400 Washington Ave., Albany.

Also at 3:15 p.m., Stefanik tours Frazer Computing, 6196 U.S. Highway 11, Canton.

At 4:30 p.m., Heastie tours Albany Medical Center’s Pediatric Unit, 43 New Scotland Ave., Albany.

At 5:30 p.m., Sen. Toby Stavisky and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic attend a rally with Verizon workers to “fight for good jobs, FiOS buildout, and quality service,” Bayside Central Office, Bell Blvd and 43rd Street, Queens.

At 6:30 p.m., the New York City Democratic Committee holds its summer cocktail party, 32BJ Headquarters, 25 W. 18th St., Manhattan.

Also at 6:30 p.m., NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Sen. Gustavo Rivera, Assemblyman Victor Pichardo, and others hold a workers rights forum, gymnasium at the Church of St. Simon Stock, 2191 Valentine Ave., the Bronx.

At 7:30 p.m., Gibson will present a Congressional proclamation honoring former Esopus Town Supervisor John Coutant, who passed away this year, Esopus Town Hall.

Headlines…

A 24-year-old Mexican immigrant who graduated from high school and community college in Queens and works in a restaurant in a NYC hotel owned by Donald Trump criticized the GOP presidential candidate’s immigration view on video, knowing it could cost him his job.

Standing in front of a hotel emblazoned with Trump’s name in Las Vegas, former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said that the constant questions about his fellow Democrat and presidential rival Hillary Clinton’s email use was a distraction for the entire party.

Clinton’s campaign said that emails on the private server she used when she was secretary of state contained material that is now classified – the clearest explanation thus far of an issue that has roiled her bid for the presidency.

Trump has made dramatic gains on Clinton and is within striking distance of her in a hypothetical 2016 presidential battle, according to a new poll.

An unusually named candidate running as an Independent is making the 2016 race more interesting. A new survey by Public Policy Polling among registered voters in N.C. finds “Deez Nuts” is gaining ground on both Trump and Clinton.

Two more Republican presidential candidates have found a perfect foil in NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. In the past 36 hours, he’s been attacked three times on the campaign trail by GOP presidential candidates — once by former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and twice by NJ Gov. Chris Christie.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined the call for a crackdown on the nearly naked women in body paint who pose for photos in Times Square. An aide to the governor said Cuomo does not believe the women were violating the lewdness laws, but does think their tactics flouted laws against harassment, aggressive panhandling and impeding pedestrian traffic.

“Forty-Second Street was a symbol of degradation,” Cuomo told NY1. “What they’re saying is: ‘I was around for the bad, old Times Square, and this is starting to remind me of the bad, old Times Square.'”

De Blasio convened a special task force charged with finding a legal way of evicting the nearly naked panhandlers. The increased scrutiny was evident last night, when one of the men overseeing the women was arrested.

The mayor, who recently had to back off an effort to cap new Uber cars, said that city officials are crafting a “vision” for the for-hire car industry. De Blasio said his plan will address congestion, disability access and funding to the MTA.

Plans to redevelop Willets Point, a crumbling collection of auto repair shops on 62 acres next to Citi Field in Queens, suffered another setback as negotiations broke down between the city and the developers that had been selected by the Bloomberg administration to build the project.

More >

Extras

A man was arrested in Texas for calling in a fake bomb threat to the Statue of Liberty that forced the evacuation of thousands of visitors, US Attorney Preet Bharara’s office said.

Hillary Clinton’s advantage against Bernie Sanders among Democratic voters continues to evaporate, according to the latest CNN/ORC national poll.

Clinton’s campaign is releasing a new television ad in Iowa and New Hampshire focused on economic themes such as raising middle-class wages and fixing an economic system that she says favors the wealthy.

“(E)veryone’s an expert on inflating footballs and now everybody’s an expert on wiping servers.”

Gov. Dannel Malloy is preparing an aggressive counter-offer to try to keep General Electric Corp. in Connecticut after Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently visited the company’s local headquarters.

NY1’s Pat Kiernan was topless when he did the “In the Papers” segment about stories on the topless women in Times Square.

Rep. Paul Tonko said in a statement that he will support the Iran nuclear deal, describing it as “far from perfect,” but “far better than any available alternative.”

Auburn councilors are scheduled to formally proclaim Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015 as “Bill Carey Day” in the city. In a memo to his fellow officials, Mayor Michael Quill said Carey “made a significant impact on journalism is Auburn and all of central New York.”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump “is literally trying to undermine fundamental constitutional rights” with his plan to deport undocumented immigrants en-masse.

Speaking in New Hampshire, Republican presidential candidate and former Florida governor Jeb Bush criticized de Blasio’s universal pre-kindergarten program, accusing the mayor of creating the program to appease teachers’ unions.

A person who recently visited West Africa was rushed to Bellevue Hospital with Ebola-like symptoms before doctors later ruled out the deadly disease, officials said.

Businessman Denver Jones received a setback in his aim of running for former Sen. Tom Libous’ seat when state Supreme Court justice denied his request for more time to petition onto the ballot.

“Of all the candidates running this year, (former Gov. George) Pataki, 70, may be the most awkward match for the climate of 2016.”

Approximately 250 non-union Thruway employees are suing the Thruway Authority in federal court, contending its board last May improperly rescinded raises that had been promised more than six years ago.

Sen. Dave Valesky wants to increase penalties for drivers who cause serious injury or death when they don’t move over for stopped police or emergency vehicles with their lights flashing.

Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve appealed to Cuomo to take action on a proposal by a private rail company to store hundreds of discarded oil tank cars on railroad tracks in the High Peaks region of the Adirondack Park.

Cirque du Soleil is bringing its highflying act to Broadway. The troupe’s new production, “Paramour,” is slated to open at the Lyric Theatre on June 2, 2016, with previews starting April 16.

A local Democratic insider familiar with her thinking told Business Insider that Public Advocate Letitia “Tish” James is considering challenging de Blasio in the 2017 election.

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer tore into New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for his role in killing a planned Hudson River rail tunnel, saying it disqualifies him from being president and even from his current job running the state.

Anti-abortion activists protested in front of the Melville offices of US Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand this week, calling on the two Democrats to ban federal funding of the nonprofit women’s health organization Planned Parenthood.

Schumer visited the massive SolarCity factory now under construction in South Buffalo to call for an extension of the federal solar tax credit program and for a change in federal regulations that would let homeowners and businesses take advantage of the tax credit sooner.

Goodbye Jean Gutbrodt, we’ll miss you.

Heastie: Reform Takes Time

carlheastieFrom the Morning Memo:

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie rose to power earlier this year, in part by promising he would change the secretive top-down practices of his predecessor, former Speaker Sheldon Silver, providing more involvement to rank-and-file members and overhauling the way the chamber does business.

Members seem pleased this far with Heastie’s approach, saying he went out of his way to listen to their concerns and communicate them to the governor and the Senate during the budget and end-of-session negotiations.

Heastie also signed off on reforms to the notoriously loophole-ridden per diem system, which had been criminally abused by several now-former lawmakers. Receipts and proof of travel to Albany are now required in order for lawmakers to be reimbursed for their expenses. More >