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Posts by Liz Benjamin
May 19th - 5:39 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule. Voters across the state head to the polls today to cast their ballots on school budgets and in school board races. Poll opening times vary, check with your local Board of Elections for more information.
The Assembly is in session at 1:30 p.m., the Senate at 3 p.m.
The State Board of Regents continues to meet throughout the day, Education Department Building, 89 Washington Ave., Albany.
At 9 a.m., Sen. Brad Hoylman will hold a forum on New York’s efforts to combat climate change, LOB, Hearing Room A, 198 State St., Albany.
Also at 9 a.m., Sen. Patty Ritchie and Assemblymember Shelley Mayer hold a news conference pushing legislation to address obstacles in the recovery of missing children, room 130, Legislative Office Building, 198 State St., Albany.
At 9:10 a.m., state Financial Services Superintendent Ben Lawsky will deliver remarks on reforming New York’s foreclosure process at Mortgage Bankers Association’s National Secondary Market Conference & Expo, New York Marriot Marquis, 1535 Broadway, Manhattan.
At 9:15 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul meets with representatives from the Capital Region Chamber of Commerce, Albany-Colonie Chamber of Commerce Office, 5 Computer Dr. South, Albany.
At 10 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a press conference to make an announcement, Blue Room, City Hall, Manhattan.
At 10:30 a.m., Sen. Joe Griffo and Assembly members Phil Steck and Didi Barrett, along with local leaders, announce the Municipal Health Insurance Savings Act, room 130, Legislative Office Building, 198 State St., Albany.
At 11 a.m., Hochul tours downtown Saratoga Springs with Mayor Joanne Yepsen, Pavilion Grand Hotel, 30 Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs.
Also at 11 a.m., Climate justice advocates will hold a news conference to announce the introduction of legislation to go to 100% clean energy in NYS by 2030, LCA Press Room (130), LOB, 198 State St., Albany.
Also at 11 a.m., AG Eric Schneiderman will make an announcement on a new affordable housing initiative, Two Bridges Tower, 82 Rutgers Slip, Manhattan.
Also at 11 a.m., employer/business groups unveil an interactive property tax cap savings website, Legislative Office Building, 3rd floor terrace, agency side, 198 State St., Albany.
At 11:30 a.m., Hurricane Sandy survivors, Environmental Advocates of New York, Make the Road New York, New York Communities for Change, Working Families Organization, Working Families Party, 32BJ SEIU and the TakeSides.org coalition deliver scientific studies on climate change to Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan’s office, Room 332, state Capitol, Albany.
At 12:30 p.m., Sen. Adriano Espaillat and advocates for New York’s farmworkers will march to the Capitol from Westminster Presbyterian Church and call for the passage of the Farmworkers Bill of Rights during a press conference at the Million Dollar Staircase, 3rd Floor, Capitol, Albany.
At 1 p.m., Hochul speaks at the EMS Memorial Dedication Ceremony, EMS Memorial, Empire State Plaza, Albany.
Also at 1 p.m., Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Assembly Housing Committee Chairman Keith Wright, members of the Democratic conference and housing advocates hold a press conference on rent regulations, Speaker’s Conference Room, Room 342, state Capitol, Albany.
At 2 p.m., de Blasio and city officials hold another press conference to make another announcement – this one related to NYCHA, Gymnasium, James Weldon Johnson Community Center, 1833 Lexington Ave., Manhattan.
Also at 2 p.m., Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, Sen. Kemp Hannon, animal rights advocates, restaurateurs and dogs hold a news conference on her bill, A.5956-A, which would lift New York’s longstanding ban on dogs in outdoor food establishments and empower restaurant owners to permit animals in outdoor dining areas, LCA Press Room (130), LOB, 198 State St., Albany.
At 4:45 p.m. the vice chairman of payment processing firm First Data Corp.’s board of directors, Joseph Plumeri, Manhattan DA Cyrus R. Vance Jr. deliver keynote speeches during New York Law School’s 123rd commencement ceremony; Carnegie Hall, 161 W. 56th St., Manhattan.
At 5:30 p.m., the Dutchess County Democratic Committee introduces its 2015 candidate for county executive, College Hill Park, N Clinton Street, Poughkeepsie.
LG Kathy Hochul and former Gov. David Paterson, Cuomo’s hand-picked state Democratic party chairman, rallied around the governor’s agenda, saying a recent slump in his approval rating is nothing to worry about.
As they began discussing complex calculations for rating the performance of public school educators, some members of the State Board of Regents aired their broader concerns about the future of the teaching profession in New York.
The bruising battle between Cuomo and public education advocates is going another round as the end of the legislative session nears.
Cuomo is putting his political energy into a proposal to enact a $150 million education tax credit program to benefit mostly private and religious schools before the session ends – despite his veto lectures to lawmakers against such matters coming up after the budget.
The state Thruway Authority’s board of directors passed an amended budget that calls for no toll hikes in 2015 and allocates $750 million from a $1.3 billion bank settlement windfall to help pay for the Tappan Zee bridge replacement. Still unknown, though, is precisely how the state will pay all the costs for the approximately $3.9 billion bridge.
Cuomo announced that the group of banks, credit unions and mortgage companies will take action to maintain properties that have been foreclosed upon, but officials said legislation to hold banks accountable for property maintenance is still needed.
A Brooklyn man and New Jersey woman are among the first injured passengers from the May 12 Amtrak crash to file lawsuits over the deadly derailment outside Philadelphia. The series of suits filed yesterday mark the start of many expected lawsuits to arise from the crash that killed eight and injured more than 200.
Despite a recent poll showing his approval rating dropping among blacks, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said he’s not worried about losing the African-American voters who helped sweep him to City Hall in 2013.
De Blasio is poised to lay out his 10-year plan on how to fix New York City’s public housing authority. He’ll call for significant new financial help from the city and for squeezing more revenue out of the housing projects and their residents.
The Assembly voted to extend mayoral control of NYC schools by three years, as Cuomo has suggested, but the issue remains unresolved in the GOP-controlled Senate.
A bill that would establish a state monitor for the East Ramapo School District, where a school board dominated by Orthodox Jews has drawn criticism for diverting money from public schools to children in local yeshivas, faces an uncertain future after running into resistance in the Legislature.
President Obama joined the Twitterverse, promising to engage personally — not through a staff member — with the American people in the often chaotic forum, which has become a kind of global town square for the Internet age.
May 18th - 5:14 pm
In an open letter to state lawmakers on the Huffington Post, Gov. Andrew Cuomo called again for passage of criminal justice reforms before the session ends next month.
The state Thruway Authority, flush with a $1.3 billion cash infusion from Cuomo’s budget, won’t issue debt this year for the first time since at least 2011, according to a mid-year modification its board approved today.
The NYT says the fast food wage board, which meets for the first time Wednesday, “may not be able to get to $15 in one step, but…should chart a path to that level.”
The state Education Department recommended a new matrix to evaluate teachers and principals based on student performance and in-class observations, and also proposed allowing schools to seek a two-month waiver to delay the implementation of the evaluations.
State economic development officials approved spending an additional $25 million on business and tourism commercials despite an independent audit that found they had achieved nothing.
Matthew Libous, son of Senate Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous, has been sentenced to six months in prison, 100 hours of community service and a $25,000 fine in relation to his tax fraud conviction. He faced up to nine years behind bars.
Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. accused NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer of rescinding a job offer to the Bronx lawmaker’s wife because she appeared with him at an anti-gay marriage rally.
Citing a deadly increase in the use of heroin laced with a dangerous additive, US Sen. Chuck Schumer called on Congress to increase funding for a key anti-drug effort – rather than cutting it, as President Obama suggested in his budget.
Abtech Holdings, Inc., the company at the center of federal charges against State Senator Dean Skelos and his son, has suffered a “tremendous setback” due to the suspension of its work in Nassau County, a company executive said.
Hillary Clinton is making her second trip to Iowa as a 2016 presidential candidate today, headlining a small “house party” in Mason City.
AG Eric Schneiderman lauded Cuomo’s announcement today regarding a crackdown on so-called “zombie” properties, though the attorney general is still pushing for legal changes that would apply to all lenders.
Chris Quinn, former NYC Council speaker-turned-Cuomo aide, defends Clinton’s evolution on same-sex marriage in an Out magazine OpEd.
The Green Party’s Howie Hawkins will challenge Syracuse City Auditor Marty Masterpole, a Democrat, in November.
Republican Assemblyman Joe Borelli has opened a campaign committee to run for the Staten Island seat of retiring NYC Council Minority Leader Vincent Ignizio.
GOP Sen. Michael Nozzolio and Democratic Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther were joined by families of victims of domestic violence to push for a bill that would create a statewide registry of anyone convicted of a violent felony.
New York’s IDAs provided $660 million in net tax exemptions in 2013, up $105 million from 2012 but estimated job gains were nearly 23,000 lower than the previous year, according to a report issued today by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.
Aaron Mair, a longtime environmental activist from Schenectady, will become the first African-American president of the Sierra Club.
John Flanagan’s ascent to Senate majority leader marks the first time in more than four decades a Suffolk official has held a leadership post in Albany. The last was Republican Assembly Speaker Perry Duryea, who led the lower house 1969 to 1974.
Syracuse University has gone to court to find out what happened to nearly $2 million that a late professor set aside to fund three professorships.
May 18th - 7:52 am
From the Morning Memo:
Counting today, there are 15 days remaining in the 2015 legislative session, and things are heating up, with the Senate and Assembly and Gov. Andrew Cuomo starting to lay out their respective agendas for the mad dash to the finish of what has been a very rocky year in Albany.
Yesterday, new Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan released a list of his end-of-session priorities, while Gov. Andrew Cuomo did a whirlwind tour of four Brooklyn churches and a yeshiva to tout his latest version of the Education Investment Tax Credit, now known (with some additions and changes) as the Parental Choice in Education Act.
Also over the weekend, Flanagan introduced a bill that would make the 2 percent tax cap permanent – a top priority for the Senate GOP’s conservative and business allies. The Assembly Democrats, meanwhile, introduced a bill to extend the New York City rent laws for another four years and make them more tenant-friendly.
These two issues are linked, though the rent laws are scheduled to expire next month, and the cap won’t do so until next year.
When he ascended to the speaker’s post back in February, Carl Heastie said renewing and strengthening the city’s rent laws would be his “No. 1 priority” this session.
The “renewing” part is probably not going to be a problem with the Senate Republicans. With the exception of two lone NYC lawmakers – Sens. Marty Golden, of Brooklyn; and Andrew Lanza, of Staten Island – the members of the GOP conference don’t have many (if any) constituents directly impacted by the laws.
But they did collectively benefit from well over $1 million from REBNY during the 2014 elections, which spent big to help the Republicans re-take the majority with an eye toward getting a clean extension – in other words, no pro-tenant changes – of the rent laws this year.
Also up for discussion is the controversial 421-a tax abatement program, which has been a boon to big NYC developers, who, in turn, have given big bucks across the board in Albany.
With the role played by developer Glenwood Management in the federal corruption scandals of both ex-Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, advocates are hoping some rent law reforms could be had.
But the fact that Flanagan did not mention the issue in his priority list statement released yesterday was not a good sign, though he has said since ascending to the majority leader’s post that he expects both the rent laws and New York City mayoral control, which is also set to sunset next month, will likely be extended before the session’s scheduled end on June 17.
The Senate Republicans are likely going to push for unspecified changes to mayoral control to improve transparency and accountability, which is not going to sit too terribly well with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and his allies in the Assembly Democratic conference.
Flanagan did include “common sense” reforms to the SAFE Act on his to do list – a nod to the conservative upstaters who did not support him during the battle to replace Skelos as leader because of his “yes” vote on the controversial gun control law.
The likelihood of the governor and Democrat-controlled Assembly signing off on any SAFE Act modifications is fairly low.
One conservative Republican lawmaker, Assemblyman Bill Nojay, of Livingston County, is suggesting Flanagan hold the rent laws hostage in exchange for SAFE Act reforms. But that seems like an extreme, playing-with-fire sort of approach that would not benefit the newly-minted majority leader – especially not as he looks toward what will be a difficult election year in 2016.
The Senate Republicans and the governor are on the same page – at least conceptually – when it comes to the education tax credit. This issue creates a problem for Heastie, who used to be a sponsor of legislation to enact the credit, but took his name off that – and all other bills – when he became speaker.
Mike Whyland, spokesman for the Assembly Democrats, is quoted in the NY Times this morning that there has “not been sufficient support” in the conference for the tax credit, though some members – especially in poorer, urban areas – have been under intense pressure to back it.
Whyland also said Heastie would not allow the tax credit to be linked to passage of any other legislation – like, say, mayoral control of the New York City school system, which some are suggesting could be linked to raising the charter school cap, another issue pushed without success by Cuomo during the budget battle.
Cuomo tried unsuccessfully during the budget to link the education tax credit, which is a problem in the Assembly majority conference; to the DREAM Act, which is a problem in the Senate majority conference. Playing the two sides against one another didn’t work in that instance. We’ll see what ends up in the so-called, end-of-session “big ugly.”
The Assembly Democrats and Senate GOP are in agreement – again, conceptually – when it come to revisiting the education reforms, especially the teacher performance evaluation system, they agreed to in the budget deal. This is likely to be an uphill battle with Cuomo, for whom the education reforms were a bright spot in a budget that saw many of his policy priorities shunted aside.
May 18th - 5:40 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City and Albany with no public schedule. There are 15 days remaining (including today) in the 2015 legislative calendar. The Assembly is in session at 2 p.m., the Senate at 3 p.m.
The State Board of Regents meets all day today, and is expected to release a draft of the new teacher performance evaluations, Education Department Building, 89 Washington Ave., Albany.
At 9 a.m., Rep. Yvette Clarke delivers a keynote speech and business, federal and state officials participate in a panel discussion as part of a national tour titled “Stop. Think. Connect. Two Steps Ahead: Protect Your Digital Life” presented by the National Cybersecurity Alliance, or NCSA; Central Library, Brooklyn Public Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn.
At 11 a.m., NYC Councilmembers Andrew Cohen and Ritchie Torres advocate for the passage of legislation that requires the NYPD to assign a school safety agent to any public or private school that requests one; Salanter Akiba Riverdale Academy, 665 W. 254th St, the Bronx.
Also at 11 a.m., New York nail salon owners join Assemblyman Ron Kim and Rep. Grace Meng to speak out about the problems in their business and propose immediate solutions; in front of Alpha Nails & Spa, 199-02 32nd Ave., Flushing, Queens.
Also at 11 a.m., Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and state Sen. William Larkin attend a dedication, Main Post Office, 787 NY Route 17M, Monroe.
At 11:30 a.m., the New York State Democratic Committee holds its annual spring meeting, Hilton, 40 Lodge St., Albany.
At noon, NYC irst Lady Chirlane McCray will attend a roundtable at a City homeless shelter in Brooklyn. For “privacy reasons” the event is closed to members of the media and the location is not being made public.
From 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., Brooklyn BP Eric Adams, executives from city marketing and tourism agency NYC & Company, former Brooklyn BP Marty Markowitz, and representatives of more than 50 Brooklyn businesses and tourism attractions mark the start of the agency’s “Tourism Ready” initiative in Brooklyn; Brooklyn Museum, 200 Eastern Pkwy., Brooklyn.
Also at 1 p.m., the Thruway Authority Board meets, 200 Southern Blvd., Albany.
At 2 p.m., the New York State League of Women Voters holds a news conference on the education tax credit, Room 130, Legislative Office Building, 198 State St., Albany.
At 3 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will hold public hearings for and sign Intro. 419-A, in relation to a comprehensive cultural plan; Intro. 178-A, in relation to price displays for second-hand automobiles; Intro. 51-B, in relation to requiring the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to issue an annual report regarding Hep B and C; and Intro. 181-A, in relation to notice requirements for hotel development plans, Blue Room, City Hall, Manhattan.
At 3:30 p.m., LG Kathy Hochul tours downtown Troy with with Mayor Lou Rosamilia, 1st Playable Productions, 5 3rd Street, #300, Troy.
At 6 p.m., the New York League of Conservation Voters holds its annual gala, with Cuomo as the keynote speaker; Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers, Manhattan.
At 6:15 p.m., Hochul speaks at the NYS Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs Youth of the Year Awards Dinner, Albany Hilton, 40 Lodge St., Albany.
At approximately 6:30 p.m., de Blasio delivers remarks at the CUNY Celebration for the late former Rep. Herman Badillo, Danny Kaye Playhouse, Hunter College, 695 Park Ave., Manhattan. (Also attending: Secretary of State Cesar Perales, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, Gail Badillo, Geraldo Rivera, Hunter College President JenniferRaab, City College of New York President Lisa S. Coico and others).
Also at 6:30 p.m., Sen. George Amedore and Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple will partner with Catholic Charities Care Coordination Services to host a free community NARCAN training, Guilderland Public Library, 2228 Western Ave., Guilderland.
At 7 p.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina participates in a forum about city schools moderated by NY1 host Errol Louis and presented by the Daily News and a coalition of 118 neighborhood and religious organizations and schools in the city, the Metro Industrial Areas Foundation or Metro IAF; Town & Village Synagogue, 334 E. 14th St., Manhattan.
Amtrak trains will resume running between New York City and Philadelphia today – several days after service was shut down because of a deadly train derailment in Philadelphia.
With 15 days left in the legislative session, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Gov. Andrew Cuomo outlined two sets of priorities that likely will lead to simple compromise and unresolvable clashes as June 19 nears.
Among Flanagan’s priorities: “common sense reforms” to the SAFE Act, an issue that is unlikely to gain traction with the governor and Democrat-controlled Assembly.
Assemblyman Bill Nojay said one way for Flanagan, who voted “yes” on the SAFE Act, to prove he is serious is to refuse to pass any extension of the New York City rent regulation laws without agreement on “meaningful” changes to the gun control law.
Kickstarting what promises to be a bitter battle, state Assembly Democrats this weekend introduced a bill to extend the state’s expiring rent regulation laws by four years and make them more tenant friendly.
In a campaign-style tour meant to put pressure on lawmakers, Cuomo visited churches and a yeshiva yesterday to promote a bill to give tax credits to families of students at private schools, including religious ones. He argued for his proposal by pointing to the presence of “failing public schools,” and saying he wanted to give parents another option.
Cuomo is expected today to introduce two new measures in the Legislature that would give regulators greater authority to punish nail salons that mistreat workers and make it easier for manicurists to acquire licenses.
Cuomo will also announce today that nearly a dozen major banks and mortgage lenders have agreed to maintain thousands of abandoned houses in foreclosure in New York – a move that could bring relief to residents across Long Island who live near the dilapidated homes and the municipalities paying for their cleanup.
Democratic activists tell the NY Post’s Fred Dicker that state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is being urged by union activists and other “progressives” aligned with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to consider running for governor and even challenging Cuomo in the Democratic primary, should Cuomo seek a third term in 2018.
The governor was honored yesterday during the opening ceremony of the 30th annual AIDS Walk in Central Park for his plan to drastically reduce the number of new HIV cases by 2020.
The United States Justice Department is now reviewing inmate abuse at Attica Correctional Facility, the upstate New York prison that employed three officers who pleaded guilty in March to state charges stemming from the beating of a 29-year-old inmate.
Flanagan received a no-interest loan from a friend and failed to disclose it for years. He forgot about the $20,000 and $50,000 loan from Jennifer Lorenz made for “college and home improvements” for nearly five years until he finally came clean this year and amended his annual financial reports to disclose the debt.
May 17th - 5:34 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo today joined parents, students, elected officials and community leaders at Yeshiva Shaare Torah in Brooklyn to rally support for the Parental Choice in Education Act, and also spoke at four Brooklyn churches.
RIP Al DelBello, former lieutenant governor under the late ex-Gov. Mario Cuomo and former Westchester county executive, who died at the age of 80 last Friday.
As the lone member of the so-called “three men in a room” not facing federal corruption charges, Cuomo appears eager to focus on other issues even as he faces questions about his ties to a major real estate firm at the center of the newest scandal to rock the state Capitol.
A growing number of school board candidates up for election across Long Island Tuesday have voiced support for the anti-testing movement and at least 70 candidates have won endorsement from the group that helped organize last month’s sweeping state test refusals.
Republican Sen. Patrick Gallivan is signaling possible support for mayoral control of the Buffalo School District. “I’m open-minded to it…When you look at Buffalo’s lack of performance over the years, I think that merits looking at other ways for them to improve,” he said.
In the aftermath of the Senate leadership battle, Carl Paladino has his sights set on both Sen. Cathy Young and state GOP Chairman Ed Cox.
The Rev. Al Shaprton’s daughter, Dominique, wants $5 million from city taxpayers after she fell in the street and sprained her ankle.
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton has proposed amnesty for 1.2 million open warrants, affecting people who run the risk of arrest for failing to resolve sometimes decades-old infractions for low-level offenses such as drinking in public or disorderly conduct.
Police unions are demanding that the NYPD’s civilian oversight board come clean after it admitted to disclosing details of complaints against cops to Legal Aid lawyers in violation of state law.
NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray said she felt “tremendous sadness” and “disrespect” when NYPD cops turned their backs on her and her husband, Mayor de Blasio, at a funeral for a slain officer earlier this year.
The fatal derailment in Philadelphia has drawn attention to Amtrak’s permanent problem: It was designed to fail.
Protestors angry over Cuomo’s lack of capital funding for the MTA staged a fake campfire in front of his Midtown Manhattan office today, sharing horror stories about trains that are overcrowded, filthy, delayed or simply never showed up at all.
Here’s something you don’t see every day – the Assembly speaker and Bronx borough president rapping and getting their groove thing on.
Political corruption in New York state isn’t worse than ever. It just feels that way.
Zephyr Teachout will speak at a Democratic Women of Cayuga County event in Auburn on June 2.
Many of de Blasio’s policy goals for New York City face an uphill path in Albany, with only weeks remaining in the 2015 legislative session and many state lawmakers unlikely to cooperate.
A former top Clinton administration official predicts that Hillary Clinton will pick Julian Castro as her running mate if she wins the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination.
Clinton and her husband former President Clinton, raked in a whopping $25 million from about 100 paid speeches since January 2014, a Clinton campaign official said.
Former Obama campaign advisor and MSNBC contributor David Axelrod criticized presidential candidate Clinton for dodging media questions on the Clinton Foundation controversy.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is challenging Clinton for the 2016 Democratic nod, said he likes and respects her.
Will First Lady Michelle Obama campaign for former First Lady Clinton?
President Barack Obama travels to Camden, NJ tomorrow in a visit that will bring him to one of America’s poorest cities, but one with a transformed police department that federal officials have pointed to as a model of community policing.
Assemblyman Joseph Borelli is considering a campaign to replace NYC Council Minority Leader Vincent Ignizio following the Republican’s sudden decision to resign his Staten Island seat.
Assemblyman David Weprin announced he will not run for his brother’s soon to be vacant NYC Council seat, ending days of speculation and hand-wringing among some Queens Democratic insiders. Mark Weprin is resigning to take a job with the Cuomo administration.
Philip Rumore will serve another two-year term as the head of the Buffalo Teachers Federation. In elections Saturday, Rumore won handily against his opponents, Patrick Foster, a teacher for 17 years, and Marc Bruno, a Riverside High School teacher who regularly speaks at School Board meetings. The vote was 707 for Rumore, 344 for Foster and 299 for Bruno.
Cuomo has already made more than $500,000 on his recently published memoir and now a recently filed financial disclosure suggests he can expect at least $150,000 more.
Because of naloxone’s effectiveness in nearly instantaneously bringing overdose victims back from near-death, New York and a handful of other states are making the lifesaving drug available to virtually anyone willing to be trained to use it, hoping to better the odds it will be there when needed.
Delivering the commencement address at Hofstra University today, Rep. Kathleen Rice challenged graduates to surpass the Greatest Generation, not by doing what makes them happy but by following their passions.
Sharpton joined activists and city pols at the grand opening of the National Action Network’s Staten Island chapter in New Brighton on Saturday.
University at Buffalo researchers found very large pickup trucks and sport utility vehicles – which are heavier and pricier than others – had the lowest frequency of personal injury claims.
The federal government has picked Griffiss International Airport as the first test site to license a new low-altitude surveillance system for drones.
May 15th - 5:30 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.
NYSUT is staging a “day of advocacy,” with rallies around the state, calling on state lawmakers to use the remaining days of this year’s legislative session to enact measures that protect and enhance public education.
At 8 a.m., as part of Bike to Work Day, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan will commute by bike to Albany City Hall, starting from the parking Lot, Bethany Reformed Church, 760 New Scotland Ave., Albany. She will be stopping at The Downtube bike shop at 466 Madison Ave. for a press conference at 8:30 a.m.
From 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, state Sen. Kemp Hannon, NYSHealth President James Knickman, Empire Center President EJ McMahon, National Review editor Reihan Salam, and others participate in a Manhattan Institute conference titled “New York’s Next Health Care Revolution: How Employers Can Help Empower Patients and Consumers,” Sofitel New York Hotel, 45 W. 44th St., Manhattan.
At approximately 9:05 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasioi appears live on The California Report, which airs daily on KQED Radio at 5:50 am, 6:50 am and 8:50 am PT, and can be livestreamed at http://www.kqed.org/radio/listen/. (Please note that all times listed are Pacific Time).
At 9:30 a.m., NYC Councilmen Mark Levine and Ydanis Rodriguez, housing advocates, United Association union Local 1 members and tenants hold a news conference to discuss illegal connections to natural gas pipelines; in front of 600 W. 161st St., Manhattan.
At 10:45 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul meets with SUNY Potsdam President Kristin Esterberg and university officials, SUNY Potsdam, Raymond Hall, 44 Pierrepont Ave., Potsdam.
At 11 a.m., charter school advocates, education professionals and families call for city officials and state lawmakers to eliminate a restriction on the number of charter schools; steps, City Hall, Manhattan.
At noon, DC37 Executive Director Henry Garrido joins library workers and advocates to call for the mayor to increase funding for libraries by $65 million in his executive budget, City Hall steps, Manhattan.
At 12:30 p.m., Brooklyn BP Eric Adams will urge Cuomo to reverse the policy of his Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance to withhold funding from a number of New York City’s homeless shelters due to poor conditions, Auburn Family Shelter, 30 Auburn Pl., Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
Also at 12:30 p.m., Sen. David Carlucci calls on the NYS DOT to collaborate with other organizations to find out which grade crossing lanes are not safe, and how much it would cost to fix them, Suffern Train Station, Chestnut Street, Suffern.
At 1 p.m., Hochul convenes the North Country Regional Economic Development Council meeting, Clarkson University, Student Center, 8 Clarkson Ave., Potsdam.
At 2:45 p.m., Hochul meets with Massena local officials and business leaders, 60 Main St., 3rd Floor, Massena.
At 3:40 p.m., Hochul tours Curran Renewable Energy, 20 Commerce Dr., Massena.
House Speaker John Boehner snapped at a Washington reporter who asked about any links between federal cuts in Amtrak funding and the train derailment that killed eight in Philadelphia. “Are you really going to ask such a stupid question?” he said. “Listen, they started this yesterday: ‘It’s all about funding, it’s all about funding.’ Obviously, it’s not about funding.”
Amtrak said that limited service between Philadelphia and New York caused by this week’s derailment could resume on Monday, with full service by Tuesday. In the meantime, the suspension is disrupting one of the busiest transportation corridors in the nation.
The train’s engineer, who has been identified as Brandon Bostian, 32, a Queens resident who joined Amtrak as a conductor about a decade ago — has agreed to be interviewed, the NTSB said, and investigators will talk to him in the next few days.
Bostain was obsessed with trains while growing up, talked about them constantly and wanted to be an engineer or a conductor.
He had been ranting online for years about the perils of fatigued train operators. Amtrak officials would not say what Bostian’s work shift was on Tuesday, when the New York City-bound train derailed just after 9 p.m.
In the moment the train was supposed to be slowing down, it was instead accelerating, investigators. Why that occurred has emerged as the central issue surrounding the deadly derailment.
A safety system to stop speeding trains had been installed on the southbound tracks near the derailment in Philadelphia that killed eight people, but not on the northbound side, where the Amtrak train hurtled off a sharp curve at over 100 miles per hour.
The Bronx district attorney’s office said that it would not file charges against the engineer who fell asleep on a Metro-North Railroad train in 2013, causing the train to hurtle off the rails in an accident that left four people dead.
Meet self-described family man and “institution guy” John Flanagan, the new Senate majority leader, as seen through the eyes of Tom Precious.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he stands behind police and fire unions in a fight to increase the benefits NYC uniformed workers will receive if they’re seriously injured on the job. His statement to the AP came a day after came a day after the unions panned a proposal offered by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
NYC Public Advocate Letitia James, Assemblyman Keith Wright and Councilman Jumaane Williams blasted state Senate Republicans and Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a large pro-tenant rally in Manhattan’s Foley Square last night.
“Cutting off funds for shelters, as the governor has done, is only hurting the poorest New Yorkers,” Assemblyman Social Services Committee Chairman Andrew Hevesi said.
One Cuomo administration official, when asked about the slow growth of, and outlook for, START-UP NY, furnished a NY Times reporter with a children’s poem about a blossoming garden: “Dig In,” by George Shannon. “Plant a little. Plant a lot,” the poem reads. “Plant the seeds and bulbs you bought.”
May 14th - 5:21 pm
The attorney for Amtrak engineer Brandon Bostian said his client has “absolutely no recollection whatsoever” of the crash that killed eight people and injured over 200 others. NTSB officials say the train was traveling over 100 miles per hour headed into a 50 mile per hour curve.
The office of Bronx District Attorney Robert Johnson has completed its investigation of the deadly 2013 Metro-North crash and decided not to file charges.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie ranked a close second in the state Legislature in the amount of per-diem reimbursements since 2013, as he vowed this week to increase accountability over the lax system.
A month after the debut Iowa visit of her 2016 presidential campaign, Democrat Hillary Clinton will return to the first-in-the-nation voting state next week.
In a sudden decision last night, the Brooklyn Democratic Party’s executive committee voted unanimously to endorse Clinton for president. There was only one abstention.
A Brooklyn Heights pizzeria got an unannounced visit from Hillary Clinton this afternoon. She ordered a “Fire and Spice” salad and an iced tea.
In what was her first visit to the Brooklyn neighborhood where her campaign HQ is located – Brooklyn Heights – Clinton also stopped by the toy store Area Kids and purchased a dress for her granddaughter, Charlotte.
ABC News chief anchor George Stephanopoulos has given $75,000 to the Clinton Foundation in recent years, charitable contributions that he did not publicly disclose while reporting on the Clintons or their nonprofit organization.
Former Maryland governor Martin O’Malley, a Democrat who has been ramping up for a potential White House bid in 2016, plans to make an announcement about his political future on May 30 in Baltimore.
A bill sponsored by Sen. Bill Larkin directs the commissioner of motor vehicles to issue “Jamaican bobsled team” distinctive plates. (H/T Nick Reisman).
The chair of the Senate’s energy committee has begun a formal investigation into a transformer fire at the Indian Point nuclear facility and subsequent release of liquids into the Hudson River.
Twenty-one protesters, including “Gasland” filmmaker Josh Fox, were arrested yesterday in Schuyler County in the latest protest against a proposed liquid petroleum gas facility in the Finger Lakes.
US Sen. Chuck Schumer has recommended veteran Brooklyn federal prosecutor Robert Capers to head the Eastern District of New York, following Loretta Lynch’s ascent to US attorney general.
Sandra Lee’s decision to undergo a bilateral mastectomy after receiving a diagnosis of ductal carcinoma in situ has sparked debate about treatment of this disease, which some experts are reluctant to even call cancer. She has chosen to go a very aggressive route.
“Maybe Kathy Hochul will surprise us all as Governor. Maybe…and then again maybe not.”
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino signed the “Children’s Product Safety Act” into law, three days after it was passed unanimously by the county legislature.
Heastie was not shy about showing love for fellow Bronxites at the Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club’s annual dinner on May 7.
The state Commission on Judicial Nomination is seeking recommendations and applications for the post of chief judge, a position that will be vacant on Jan. 1.
NYC CFB Chair Rose Gill Hearn says there’s “still time for lawmakers to pass comprehensive and robust ethics and campaign finance reforms before the end of this legislative session in June.”
Unlike past proposals, Cuomo’s new legislation establishing an education tax credit offers more incentives for donations to private school scholarship funds than public schools.
The MTA is failing to meet its own targets for keeping subway stations free of garbage, cleaning just 3 percent of tracks within self-imposed deadlines, according to New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer.
President Barack Obama will award the Medal of Honor to former Army Private Henry Johnson of Albany for conspicuous gallantry during World War I.
HBO says it will consider filming a movie about abolitionist hero Harriet Tubman at her historic Auburn home and nearby properties in Upstate New York, but it’s still too early to decide on a shooting location.
Clinton just threw her support behind putting Tubman on the $20 bill.
May 14th - 8:28 am
From the Morning Memo:
Despite his claims to the contrary, Gov. Andrew Cuomo “definitely” influenced the recent leadership battle in the state Senate, according to the candidate who came up short in that fight, Syracuse Sen. John DeFrancisco.
Cuomo reportedly preferred the ultimate winner, Long Island Sen. John Flanagan, to succeed former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos. But publicly insisted he had no preference, telling reporters “I’m not in the Legislature,” and “I see my job as working with whoever they send me.”
But during a wide ranging CapTon interview last night, DeFrancisco rejected Cuomo’s claims, saying his colleagues specifically told him they had received calls from the governor on Flanagan’s behalf.
“Oh definitely he made calls, definitely, no doubt about it,” the Senate Finance Committee chairman said, adding: “He can do whatever he wants, but be honest about it.”
Asked why he thought Cuomo would prefer Flanagan, the former Education Committee chairman, over him, DeFrancisco replied:
“Maybe the question might be, if you’re the governor and you wanted to deal with John Flanagan or John DeFrancisco, this abrupt person who tells it like it is, maybe that might answer it….the governor’s reasons will have to come from him, and no doubt, if you ask him that question, he’ll say he didn’t call anybody.”
DeFrancisco expressed frustration with the fact that some of his colleagues said one thing and did another when it finally came time to cast their votes in the closed door conference, where he reportedly received 15 votes to Flanagan’s 18, with six fellow upstaters casting deciding votes.
“What should be practiced in Albany, like any other place where people work professionally, is look people in the eye and you tell them the truth,” the senator said. “You don’t lie, you don’t make things warm and fuzzy.”
“The reason we couldn’t get an agreement, people were telling John something, people were telling me something. In order to agree, you have to have an accurate count.”
“We could have resolved this in two minutes if everybody told us, straight up, who they supported.”
DeFrancisco insists he has no hard feelings, and, as of yesterday, was continuing his morning routine of working out with his former opponent in the Senate gym. He was the first to nominate Flanagan on the floor of the Senate to lead the chamber, and stressed the need for the GOP conference to go forward united.
DeFrancisco admitted that “maybe you’re going to look at someone a little differently than you did before” if that person reneged on a promise to back him in the leadership fight. But, he said, the needs of the conference – and, more importantly, preserving GOP control – should take precedence over any one senator’s personal grudges.
“We have 32 Republicans, one Democrat,” DeFrancisco said. “If a bunch of people go off ship, we’re going to end up with two years of Democrat control of everything in the state…there will be no voice for upstate New York. So we’ve got to maintain the conference.”
DeFrancisco did express frustration over the rumor that he had planned to retire at the end of this two-year election cycle until the possibility of becoming majority leader was raised.
“I don’t know where that came from,” he said. “…it’s not true. I’m still a vital human being. I still can do what I need to do to lead a conference.”
At the same time, DeFrancisco refused to commit to seeking re-election in 2016, saying: “A lot of things happen between now and then, and we’ll evaluate it at that time…I definitely was not planning on anything, whether I’m running or not.”
May 14th - 5:31 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is in California.
At 9:15 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul tours the New York Bean processing facility, 2905 West Main St., Caledonia.
At 10 a.m., members of the NYC Campaign Finance Board hold a public meeting; boardroom, 12th floor, 100 Church St., Manhattan.
At 10 a.m., Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr. and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie co-host the 2nd annual labor breakfast with state AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento, NYC Central Labor Council President Victor Alvarez and TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen, Bronx County Building, Veterans’ Memorial Hall, 851 Grand Concourse, the Bronx.
At 10:30 a.m., Hochul tours Noblehurst Farm and Creamery, 1840 Craig Rd., Pavilion.
At 11 a.m., Sen. Adriano Espaillat, ranker on the Senate’s Housing Committee, and NYC Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez call for an end to the deregulation of NYC’s one million rent regulated units and an end to massive rent increases for the units’ 2.5 million tenants, City Hall, steps, Manhattan.
Also at 11 a.m., Environmental Advocates of New York and partner organizations call on Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan to bring up bills with more than 32 sponsors for votes, LCA Press offices, 3rd floor, State Capitol, Albany.
Also at 11 a.m., LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski, Sen. Jack Martins and Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro detail travel alternatives for 40,000 LIRR customers facing major delays Saturday & Sunday because of a bridge demolition project, Southside of Ellison Avenue Bridge, Westbury.
At noon, Wildlife Conservation Society spokesman John Calvelli, Diaz Jr., Deputy Manhattan BP Joseph Garba, state Sen. Jose Peralta and Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda outline a proposal to direct part of the city hotel occupancy tax to subsidize each borough’s local tourism promotion efforts; in front of the Zoo Center, the society’s Bronx Zoo, 2300 Southern Blvd., the Bronx.
Also at noon, advocates, NYC Council members, laundry workers and residents criticize the cleanliness of commercial laundry facilities in the city as a public health threat, including facilities that serve hospitals, hotels and restaurants; steps, City Hall, Manhattan.
At 12:30 p.m., de Blasio will participate in a lecture with former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich at the Goldman School of Public Policy at University of California, Berkeley, Freight and Salvage, 2020 Addison St., Berkeley, CA.
At 1 p.m., Hochul speaks at a “transformational announcement” regarding Letchworth State Park, 1 Letchworth State Park (one mile south of Castile entrance), Castile.
Also at 1 p.m., Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster will be joined by Lockport Mayor Ann McCaffrey, Assemblyman John Ceretto and a representative from the AG’s office to discuss the importance of protecting local communities from the burden of vacant and abandoned properties, outside 560 College Ave., Niagara Falls.
Also at 1 p.m., NYC Council members join the New York City Alternatives to Incarceration/Reentry Coalition to call for increased funding for their citywide programs and services for those in the criminal justice system, City Hall steps, Manhattan.
At 2:45 p.m., Hochul and Livingston County Chamber of Commerce President Laura Lane tour small businesses in Mount Morris, Charred Grill Restaurant, 36 Main St., Mount Morris.
At 4:30 p.m., de Blasio will speak at Santa Clara University, where his daughter, Chiara, is a student, Santa Clara University – Recital Hall, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA.
At 5 p.m., elected officials, including NYC Public Advocate Letitia James, NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito and Assemblyman Keith Wright, march and rally with tenants and supporters to call for urgent reforms to rent laws, Foley Square, Manhattan.
At 6 p.m., Manhattan BP Gale Brewer speaks during a panel discussion about the “421-a” tax incentive program, presented by the American Planning Association’s regional chapter; Rudin Family Forum for Civic Dialogue, NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, second floor, Puck Building, 295 Lafayette St., Manhattan.
At 6:30 p.m., NYC officials and state lawmakers join Dominican Day Parade Inc. officials as they introduce members of the nonprofit organization’s new board of directors and Community Advisory Committee, in preparation for the scheduled Sunday, Aug. 9, parade; 809 Restaurant, Bar & Grill, 112 Dyckman St., Manhattan.
At 7 p.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina delivers the address at the Manhattanville College graduate & doctoral commencement, Manhattanville College, 2900 Purchase St., Purchase.
As search crews pored over a derailed Amtrak train that killed seven and injured scores, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and more than two dozen of his counterparts from across the country rallied in front of the U.S. Capitol to call for increased transportation funding.
De Blasio thinks the solution to America’s transportation funding woes lies in taxing the rich. “If you ask me where I think we should get revenue that could have a transcendent impact on our country, no one here will be shocked if I say there’s several ways I think we should be taxing those who have done very well,” he said.
In an ironic twist, while the mayors held their press conference outside the Capitol, inside the U.S. House Appropriations Committee voted down several amendments that would have increased funding for Amtrak.
Democratic lawmakers in Washington angrily demanded an increase in Amtrak funding, calling the accident a result of congressional failure to support the rail system. Republicans refused, defeating the request in a morning committee hearing and accusing Democrats of using a tragedy for political reasons.
“It’s not just our trains, it is our bridges that are failing,” said Rep. Steve Israel, a Long Island Democrat. “It is our highways that are crowded and filled with potholes. It is our runways at our airports…We are divesting from America.”
An engineer jammed on the emergency brakes just seconds before the fatal Amtrak derailment, but the train — traveling at 106 miles an hour, more than twice the speed limit — slowed only slightly, federal authorities said, before hurtling off its tracks.
Victims of the derailment include a 20-year-old midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy, an Associated Press employee, a technology executive, a CUNY administrator and a Wells Fargo employee.
New teacher evaluations would be delayed in New York and tying school aid to the evaluations would be dropped under legislation introduced by Assembly Democrats.
The de Blasio administration wants to partially restore disability benefits for newly hired cops and firefighters seriously injured on the job – a move quickly rejected as inadequate by the unions representing those workers.
At the mayor moves to court Silicon Valley, Internet titans including Facebook, Google and Twitter this week have issued a public rebuke of the de Blasio administration on an ostensibly obscure subject: municipal taxi policy.
A week after longtime lawmaker William Scarborough pleaded guilty to claiming $40,000 in bogus travel expenses, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced new rules governing the reimbursement system.
May 13th - 5:14 pm
A speeding Amtrak train heading from Washington, D.C. to New York City killed at least seven people when it derailed while going over 100 mph in a curve — even though there was a speed restriction of 50 mph.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent members of the New York National Guard and state officials will to Pennsylvania to aid the response after the crash.
Less than a day after the deadly crash, House Republicans voted to chop $260 million from Amtrak’s budget, saying the reduction was necessary to stay under the cuts Congress and the president agreed to four years ago.
Due to a respiratory infection, Sandra Lee has postponed her breast cancer surgery, which had been scheduled for tomorrow, until early next week.
Lee recorded a video diary for People magazine about her life since her diagnosis.
The state-owned oil company of Azerbaijan secretly funded an all-expenses-paid trip to a conference at Baku on the Caspian Sea in 2013 for 10 members of Congress – including two New Yorkers, Reps. Yvette Clarke and Greg Meeks – and 32 staff members.
Schenectady Republican state Sen. Hugh Farley is set to get a primary challenge from a 33-year-old Realtor, Christian Klueg of Northville, Fulton County. (Assuming, that is, that Farley seeks re-election in 2016, which he has not confirmed).
First, Republicans mocked Hillary Clinton for not yet winning the endorsement of her own former campaign manager, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. Now, they’re tweaking her for embracing his progressive agenda.
Clinton will head into the 2016 presidential election with another semi-official super PAC in her corner.
The Auburn Citizen chastises Sens. Jim Seward and Michael Nozzolio for supporting Long Island’s John Flanagan for Senate majority leader over the upstate candidate, Sen. John DeFrancisco, of Syracuse.
Sen. Cathy Young explained why she backed Flanagan over DeFrancisco, saying she had done so in the name of “stability,” adding: “We blocked New York City from taking control of New York state government. New York City Democrats were planning a procedural move to take control of the Senate.”
Young said there was no “arrangement” for her backing of Flanagan, though senators have said she could be in line to become Senate deputy majority leader, should something happen to Tom Libous.
Bill Hammond: “In his first 24 hours as majority leader of the state Senate, Long Island Republican John Flanagan has already proven a master of one skill that’s critical to the job: talking a lot without saying very much.”
Gotham Gazette took a look at Flanagan’s “fundraising velocity” since he joined the Senate in 2003 after many years in the Assembly.
A report from the industry-backed New York Gaming Association showed the biggest drop in aid to education in 2014 since the racinos opened in 2004.
A group of security officers employed by the Buffalo City School District have filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that they were not properly compensated for overtime work.
The state Senate today passed legislation that would change the state heath law to allow restaurants to let customers bring their pet dogs into outdoor dining areas. (Cats, sadly, were left out of this legislation).
Assembly Democrats have introduced legislation that would delay the development and implementation of new teacher evaluations, as well as no longer tie school aid to the new standards.
The Division of the Budget announced the re-launch of the Open Budget website (www.openbudget.ny.gov), with new interactive features that will help New Yorkers understand their budget.
Here’s Assemblyman Felix Ortiz doing his hands-on legislator thing.
How is this fair? Brooklyn is getting a Wgeman’s, while Albany is still going without.