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Posts by Liz Benjamin
May 19th - 7:30 am
From the Morning Memo:
Some 40,000 Verizon workers represented by CWA are entering the sixth week of the biggest strike in recent history, sparked by contract impasse with their employer, and are receiving some support from local governments across the state.
A number of local governments have passed or are considering resolutions declaring solidarity with the striking workers, and some – including the Long Island town of Babylon, which passed a measure last night – are pledging not to enter into any new Verizon contracts and also to review existing contracts for potential termination.
“We deeply appreciate the support of elected leaders and communities willing to stand up to Verizon and stand with the workers who are fighting to keep good, middle-class jobs that pay medical bills and put food on the table,” said Robert Master, assistant to the vice president of CWA District One.
The Town of New Paltz is scheduled to consider a similar resolution today, and the City of Syracuse will follow suit next Monday.
A number of state and federal elected officials have stood with striking Verizon workers on the picket lines, and Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders did the same in advance of the New York presidential primary last month.
So far, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has declined to get involved in the battle between Verizon and CWA, which also happens to be a key union player in the Working Families Party, though he has stepped in to ended similar impasses before.
The WFP has pledged to mobilize its members across New York to try to pressure more local elected officials to stop doing business with Verizon. CWA also plans to ask the state Procurement Council later this month not to enter into any new contracts with the company.
“Elected officials across our state have a clear choice: They can stand with courageous workers on strike to preserve good jobs, or side with corporations like Verizon trying to move jobs overseas to keep even more of their billions of dollars in profits,” said WFP State Director Bill Lipton.
May 19th - 6:15 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.
Cuomo’s longtime girlfriend, Sandra Lee, is scheduled to undergo today what she hopes will be her last surgery connected to her breast cancer diagnosis and double mastectomy last year, and the governor is reportedly planning to be with her.
At 8 a.m., New York City Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Herminia Palacio, Dr. Ram Raju of NYC Health + Hospitals, Assemblyman Richard Gottfried and others speak at City & State’s On Health Care event, 3 West Club, 3 W. 51st St., Manhattan.
Also at 8 a.m., City & State Reports hosts a series of panels on the business role in K-12 education with former Board of Regents chair Merryl Tisch, Stanley Litow of the IBM International Foundation and others, Hunter College, 68th Street and Lexington Avenue, Manhattan.
At 9:45 a.m., parents organized by Families for Excellent Schools will protest NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s refusal to attend the Senate’s hearing on mayoral control, 250 Broadway, Manhattan.
Also at 9:45 a.m., NYC Councilmembers Jimmy Van Bramer and Steven Matteo and members of the cultural community rally for increased funding for cultural organizations in the FY 2017 budget, City Hall steps, Manhattan.
At 10 a.m., de Blasio appears live on The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC.
At 10:30 a.m., Assemblymembers Ron Kim, Aileen Gunther and Marcos Crespo host a roundtable discussion on challenges facing Asian Americans and other immigrants in dealing with mental health issues, Assembly Hearing Room, 250 Broadway, Manhattan.
Also at 10:30 a.m., The New York Public Library, the Queens Library and the Brooklyn Library hold a toddler story time to showcase the kinds of free programs that would benefit from restored and expanded city funding, City Hall steps, Manhattan.
Also at 10:30 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul launches a Community College Council Meeting in the Finger Lakes Region, Genesee Community College, 1 College Rd., Batavia.
At 10:35 a.m., de Blasio appears live on WCBS 880.
At 10:50 a.m., de Blasio appears live on 1010 WINS.
At 11 a.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina wil testify at the second state Senate hearing on NYC mayoral control of the public school system, (de Blasio won’t be attending, angering the GOP), Senate Hearing Room, 250 Broadway, 19th Floor, Manhattan.
Also at 11 a.m., Sens. Liz Krueger and Brad Hoylman and NYC Councilman Dan Garodnick release the names of predatory equity companies, landlord and management companies, City Hall steps, Manhattan.
At noon, Sen. Tony Avella will hold a joint press conference with The Humane Society of the United States, fellow elected officials, a representative from the Jane Goodall Institute and others to urge the New York Blood Center to keep its promise to provide lifetime care to a colony of chimpanzees exploited by the center for decades of research and then abandoned, City Hall steps, Manhattan.
At 1 p.m., Assemblyman Santabarbara will announce state funding he secured to provide enhanced safety and recreational improvements at the Plotter Kill Preserve in Rotterdam, a Schenectady County park that has grown in popularity in recent years, Mariaville Road in Rotterdam (Route 159).
Also at 1 p.m., Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro will speak to reporters immediately following his appearance at the Onondaga County Republican Committee’s Executive Leadership Council Luncheon, Sheraton University, Regency C Room, 801 University Ave., Syracuse.
At 2 p.m., Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and others rally for rideshare upstate, Kleinhan’s Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle, Buffalo.
Also at 2 p.m., Hochul opens a Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council meeting, Monroe Community College, Flynn Campus Center, 1000 East Henrietta Rd., Rochester.
At 4 p.m., the governor’s Task Force to Combat the Heroin and Opioid Crisis holds a public hearing, Medaille College, Main Building, 18 Agassiz Circle, Buffalo.
At 6 p.m., the Assembly Minority Task Force on Protecting the Rights of People with Developmental Disabilities holds a regional forum, Genesee Community College, Best Center Room T-119, 1 College Rd., Batavia.
At 7 p.m., de Blasio delivers remarks at the 2016 Kings County Democratic Gala, El Caribe, 5945 Strickland Ave., Brooklyn.
At 8:10 p.m., de Blasio delivers remarks at the 56th Annual Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club, Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale, 475 West 250th St. on Henry Hudson Parkway East, the Bronx.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s fundraising strategy to assist the Senate Democrats in their 2014 attempt to retake the majority, which has drawn scrutiny from investigators, is similar to a method employed by his predecessor, former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, to help the Senate Republicans in a key 2007 special election on Long Island.
Four days before the state Board of Elections issued a criminal referral over the role of county parties in fundraising for Senate Democratic candidates in 2014, forms detailing spending on those very candidates appear to have disappeared from the Nassau County Democrats’ online filings.
De Blasio, faced with new questions about deed restrictions lifted by the city with little public input, said that he would personally sign off on all such decisions going forward.
De Blasio’s top political lieutenant Emma Wolfe was made aware of discussions about the controversial sale of the Rivington House nursing home as early as January 2015, sources and documents show. In fact, the mayor is one of the few members of his inner circle who claims NOT to have known about the project.
Mayor de Blasio’s team raised conflict-of-interest questions about the state awarding two big contracts to a firm owned by a top campaign donor to Cuomo one a day after the state put on hold a Brooklyn construction project because Cuomo ESDC appointees expressed similar concerns about the developer who made donations to a fund supporting the mayor.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie signaled support for Buffalo’s SolarCity project at RiverBend but cautioned that his house is still doing its “due diligence” on the Cuomo administration’s request for $485 million to complete the solar panel factory in South Buffalo.
Asked if he is comfortable with SUNY Polytechnic Institute founding president and CEO Alain Kaloyeros continuing to oversee upstate nanotech economic development as SUNY Poly is investigated by federal and state authorities, Gov. Andrew Cuomo urged reporters not to rush to judgement.
Cuomo is still in line to receive an additional $150,000 to $250,000 in “deferred income” from his 2014 memoir “All Things Possible,” according to his 2015 financial disclosure form filed with the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics.
Presidential candidate Donald Trump can count at least on Western New York’s votes at the Republican National Convention following the appointment of several local delegates pledged to the Manhattan billionaire.
Senate and Assembly Republican leaders John Flanagan and Brian Kolb are among the 11 at-large delegates heading to July’s national GOP convention in Cleveland, where Trump is expected to be chosen as the party’s presidential nominee. Also on the list is Wendy Long, the Republican challenging U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer. Absent: Former Gov. George Pataki, once a Trump opponent.
Trump’s sister will not be a part of a federal appeals court panel hearing arguments regarding the release of a list of unindicted co-conspirators in the 2013 George Washington Bridge lane-closing scandal.
Cuomo is saying “cheers” to new legislation that will loosen regulations on the state’s craft beverage industry and bring the state’s 80-year-old Alcoholic Beverage Control Law up-to-date with modern demands.
An outgoing member of the Adirondack Park Agency board has blasted Cuomo for strong-arming the board, citing pressure from his office behind a recent decision to open up some Adirondack wilderness to mechanized vehicles and mountain bikes.
While in Rochester to make the announcement about his liquor law legislation, Cuomo was quizzed on the city’s involvement in the U.S. Attorney’s Buffalo Billion probe. He said he had “no idea” about whether a tech project in the Flower City is in Preet Bharara’s crosshairs.
Disgraced former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver won’t have to turn himself in to begin serving his 12-year federal prison sentence until Aug. 31, nearly two months later than his originally scheduled date of surrender.
May 18th - 6:06 pm
Donald Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, has released a list of 11 potential Supreme Court justices he plans to vet to fill the seat of late Justice Antonin Scalia if he’s elected to the White House.
Though not officially speaking for Trump, frequent Trump surrogate Rep. Chris Collins, is casting doubts on some of the candidate’s more controversial campaign promises.
New York City police officers shot and killed a man during the morning rush hour in Midtown Manhattan after he refused their orders to drop a knife and then lunged at them.
A day after the Assembly passed a three-year extension of mayoral control of New York City schools, state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan slammed New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio for not attending the second planned public hearing on mayoral control the GOP conference is holding tomorrow.
De Blasio’s latest line of defense in the ongoing investigation into his fundraising operation essentially boils down to: We didn’t give the donors everything they wanted.
Former Gov. George Pataki, the last Republican to be elected to a statewide office in New York, will not be a delegate to the party’s national convention this year.
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and her husband received a $457,200 cash gift from her British in-laws last year, according to Gillibrand’s 2015 federal tax return. That’s more than the $325,228 in adjusted gross income the couple earned last year.
The Obama administration, in a far-reaching effort to improve the lot of workers that has ignited criticism from business groups, announced that it was making millions more employees eligible for overtime pay.
Long Island Republican Rep. Peter King said he has signed on with the Obama administration’s campaign to crack down on criminal and terrorist use of shell corporations and met today to discuss it with other lawmakers and national security officials in the White House Situation Room.
An organ-donation law named after Rockland County teenager Lauren Shields will be extended for another four years, pending Cuomo’s signature.
Manhattan federal judge Valerie Caproni pushed back the start date for ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s 12-year sentence for corruption by two months, giving him until Aug. 31 to comply.
…meanwhile, Silver’s legal team filed notice that he will appeal his conviction.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer is urging the federal government to do more to stop “ransomware” cyberattacks in which hackers seize control of a business’s or government’s computers and demand payment to release them.
With two weeks left before its self-appointed deadline, a task force looking at ways to improve the state’s business climate has created an email account to solicit feedback. Its seven members have held several conference calls, but haven’t yet met in person.
Veteran Democratic activist Joseph Fritz, a Brentwood lawyer, has entered the primary fray against law student John DeVito for the right to take on Republican state Sen. Tom Croci this fall.
The state Education Department and SUNY are out with their lengthy TeachNY report on how to improve recruitment and effectiveness of teachers in the state. But the two main unions that would be impacted – NYSUT and UUP – are unhappy.
The nearly $18 billion sale of the Long Island communications giant Cablevision to the European company Altice could spend another month before the state Public Service Commission, which has been examining the transaction — technically a merger — since late last year.
While stopping short of giving a complete endorsement, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said he is “very open” to the proposed Queen City Landing project along Buffalo’s Outer Harbor.
May 18th - 5:25 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Monroe County and New York City. The state Legislature is in session in Albany.
At 8:30 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul hosts a Mohawk Valley Roundtable on Women’s Leadership, Gems Along the Mohawk, 800 Mohawk St., Herkimer.
At 10 a.m., Hochul opens the Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council meeting, Herkimer Community College, Robert McLaughlin College Center, Herkimer.
At 11 a.m., Cuomo makes an announcement, Three Heads Brewing, 186 Atlantic Ave., Rochester.
Also at 11 a.m., NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton will preside over the annual Pre-Ramadan Conference, 1 Police Plaza, Auditorium, Manhattan.
Also at 11 a.m., SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and state Education Department Commissioner MaryEllen Elia announce a new partnership, Federal Building, Small Courtroom, 3rd floor, SUNY Plaza, 353 Broadway, Albany.
At 1 p.m., Hochul and Co-Chair Commissioner Arlene González-Sánchez Convene Heroin and Opioid Abuse Task Force, Central New York Listening Session, Syracuse University, Maxwell School, Public Events Room (220 Eggers Hall), Syracuse.
At 3 p.m., state GOP chairman Ed Cox holds media availability following state committee meeting and the election of the Republican presidential at-large convention delegates, Albany Marriott, 189 Wolf Rd., Albany.
At 3:15 p.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Fariña will join Mayor Bill de Blasio and business leaders at a press conference to discuss mayoral control, Blue Room, City Hall, Manhattan.
At 6 p.m., Farina attends a meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy, Long Island City High School, 14-30 Broadway, Queens.
Also at 6 p.m., NYC Councilmen Jumaane Williams and Brad Lander and Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte host Selebrasyon! Haitian Flag Day Celebration, ShapeShifter Lab, 18 Whitwell Place, Brooklyn.
At 7:30 p.m., the Democratic County Committee of Richmond County meets, Crystal Room, 67 Olympia Blvd., Staten Island.
Vermont Sen. Sen. Bernie Sanders won Oregon’s Democratic presidential primary last night while front-runner Hillary Clinton appeared to have notched a narrow victory in Kentucky – a split decision preventing the former secretary of state from turning her full attention and resources to battling Donald Trump.
Raising the prospect of lasting fissures in the party, Sanders rebuffed pressure to rein in his supporters after they disrupted a weekend Democratic convention in Nevada, throwing chairs and later threatening the state chairwoman in a fight over delegates.
Trump started the day by picking up nine delegates in Guam, and was fewer than 100 delegates shy of clinching the Republican nomination for president headed into the Oregon vote, in which there were 28 delegates at stake.
Clinton earned more than $5 million in royalties for her 2014 memoir, “Hard Choices,” and roughly $1.5 million delivering speeches last year, according to a personal financial disclosure her campaign released hours after Trump said he had filed his own disclosure with the FEC, as required by law.
Former Gov. George Pataki has been tapped as one of New York’s at-large Republican delegates and is expected to back Donald Trump — even though he has denounced Trump as a disaster for the GOP.
State officials, citing potential conflicts linked to various investigations of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, blocked a deal on a long-delayed plan to put up two apartment towers inside Brooklyn Bridge Park.
Despite the state’s sudden reversal, the de Blasio administration is pushing ahead with the Brooklyn project, which would include market-rate and subsidized apartments as well as a school.
State officials hope to try again next Wednesday to approve $485 million to complete the SolarCity project at Buffalo’s RiverBend complex, though legislators say they still want the Cuomo administration to provide more specifics about the funding before that meeting.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted the PACB meeting that was supposed to take place yesterday was cancelled due to a “scheduling issue,” and not anything related to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s investigation of the Buffalo Billion and other projects.
The governor also mocked de Blasio’s claim that the state’s “executive branch” — in other words, the governor — was behind the investigations of the mayor’s administration and fund-raising activities.
Food Network host Sandra Lee is scheduled to undergo her final reconstructive surgery tomorrow following a double mastectomy a year ago after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Cuomo, Lee’s longtime partner, will be with her at Mount Sinai Roosevelt in Manhattan.
While unveiling new buses in NYC, self-professed gearhead Cuomo proclaimed himself a big fan of mass transit.
Cuomo signed off on a plan that will lead to the removal of roughly 34 miles of the historic rail corridor in the Adirondacks, though supporters of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad say they’ll go forward with legal action to block the controversial project.
Cuomo said that he expects that a report from the state inspector general on last summer’s escape from maximum-security Clinton Correctional Facility in the North Country will be finished “shortly.”
Candidates, state and county campaign committees and independent groups spent more than $7.1 million on last month’s special election to fill the State Senate seat of former Majority Leader Dean Skelos, according to state Board of Elections records.
May 17th - 5:09 pm
The state Education Department has reportedly received a subpoena in connection with a probe by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office into a number of energy-related state entities and developers.
Conifer Realty, which specializes in affordable housing projects across New York and four other states, was one of more than two dozen companies named in a broad subpoena served on Cuomo’s office late last month, but exactly what is being examined remains uncertain.
Maple Street Charter School, the for-profit charter school hoping to open in Rochester next year, has paid tens of thousands of dollars to a lobbying firm at the center of a rapidly expanding federal investigation into improper influence in Albany.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has tacitly implied that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is to blame for some of the investigations into his fundraising, and today Cuomo tacitly implied that’s not true.
After half a decade of stability, a major shake-up is underway at the Adirondack Park Agency. Chair Lani Ulrich will step down at the end of next month, and Commissioner Richard Booth is also leaving.
Cuomo has approved a plan to divide a 119-mile state-owned rail corridor through the Adirondacks to extend a scenic train route and create a new multi-use trail.
A federal appeals court halted the release of a list of alleged co-conspirators in the 2013 George Washington Bridge lane closures after an anonymous person named on the list said its release would harm the person’s reputation.
NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer released a scathing audit finding that the MTA’s Access-A-Ride vehicles are too often late, or don’t show up at all, thanks in part to inadequate oversight on the part of the MTA.
The state Appellate Division — which ruled in March that state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s fraud suit can go forward against Donald Trump’s defunct “school” and the candidate himself — granted Trump permission to appeal its ruling to the state Court of Appeals.
City & State’s annual Albany Power 100 list is out.
Bishop Richard J. Malone of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo joined with the archbishop of Omaha, Neb., Monday to lead the church’s opposition to President Barack Obama’s directive that transgender students be allowed to use the restrooms assigned to the gender they choose.
Former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld, who once ran a (short-lived) campaign for governor of New York, has emerged atop the shortlist of potential running mates for likely Libertarian presidential nominee Gary Johnson.
The general election effort to take down Trump through TV ads began today, with the main “super PAC” supporting Hillary Clinton airing its first two attack ads on broadcast television in four important swing states.
Former Clinton deputy chief of staff Huma Abedin and at least five others will be questioned by a conservative watchdog group’s lawyers seeking information about Abedin’s overlapping employment at the U.S. State Department, the Clinton Foundation and an outside consulting firm.
Despite criticism from some state lawmakers, the state Board of Regents today adopted regulations to allow undocumented workers to apply for teaching certification and other professional licenses.
The top ranking NYPD official hand picked by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton to clean up the scandal-scarred License Division has abruptly quit the force.
The Constitution Pipeline Co. is appealing a state decision last month to reject a water-quality permit for the proposed 124-mile pipeline.
Rep. Richard Hanna says Congress should help determine why America’s firefighters have a higher rate of cancer than the general population, and what risk factors might be to blame.
Schenectady Deputy City Clerk Chad Putman today began a 120-mile walking and biking tour of the sprawling 49th Senate District being vacated by Republican state Sen. Hugh Farley.
May 17th - 5:41 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City. The Legislature is in session in Albany. It’s Lobby Day at the state Capitol, with various special interests pressing their respective cases.
Voters across the state decide on their respective school district budget proposals and board member elections today.
Voters in Kentucky (Democrats only) and Oregon go to the polls today to choose a presidential candidate.
A fuller calendar of the day’s events appears at the end of this post.
Hours after legislative leaders refused to commit to approving $485 million in additional funding for Buffalo’s SolarCity project, Cuomo administration officials said a key funding vote by a state oversight panel scheduled for today has been postponed.
While original agreements with the state required SolarCity to hire at least 1,460 workers for its Buffalo factory — including 900 within the first 24 months of operation — the number was dropped to just 500 workers, according to an amended agreement filed with the SEC. Both SolarCity and SUNY Polytechnic Institute officials deny the job reductions are a setback.
The company behind an affordable housing project in Albany’s Arbor Hill is among nearly two-dozen firms mentioned in the federal subpoena served to the Cuomo administration. The Albany Housing Authority hired Norstar Development for the project – a Canada-based company with significant operations in Buffalo and is led in the U.S. by Richard Higgins, a former state housing czar under Gov. Mario Cuomo.
Negotiations over a proposal to strip pensions from corrupt lawmakers continue in Albany — though broader ethics reforms appear to be going nowhere despite two recent scandals involving their leaders.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation extending event ticket regulations for another year, but absent reforms he won’t sign an extender again next year.
Manhattan federal prosecutors told the judge who sentenced Dean and Adam Skelos last week that the government won’t push for them to go to prison until at least three-plus months after the U.S. Supreme Court rules in a pending case on anti-corruption laws.
Long Island Republican Rep. Peter King is catching heat for using an ethnic slur to describe the Japanese during an interview on MSNBC Friday morning and then refusing to apologize for it. His said his comment was “satirical, ironic and sarcastic, a rhetorical device against nativism and anti-Japanese sentiment.”
Khari Noerdlinger, the 19-year-old son of a former aide to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Rachel Noerdlinger, had been charged with aggravated manslaughter, weapon possession and hindering apprehension in the death of 16-year-old Savion Lewallen and pleaded not guilty.
De Blasio has expanded city government by adding more than 25,000 employees since taking office in 2014, a government watchdog has reported.
A nonprofit launched by the mayor to push his progressive agenda nationally got all of its money ($480,000) from one source last year: another of his nonprofits, records show.
The Progressive Agenda, which de Blasio and his allies formed last year, raised no other money in 2014 and has just lost its sole full-time employee, Executive Director Geri Prado.
A committee charged with reviewing and revamping how Erie County government works has proposed longer terms for legislators, looser conditions for giving elected officials raises, tougher ethics language and greater diversification of county leadership among other noteworthy recommendations.
Onondaga County Comptroller Bob Antonacci says the Consensus report proposal that local city and county governments be merged to save money and make the area more competitive “will fail to live up to the community’s expectations.”
The court date for a lawsuit over pay raises for Onondaga County officials has been postponed – again. A judge is now expected to rule on Antonacci’s suit against 19 county officials on July 28.
May 16th - 5:21 pm
A state oversight board this week is set to green-light a $486 million payment to the SUNY Polytechnic real estate subsidiary that is at the heart of the federal probe into Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative.
Under heavy pressure from an influential gun-control group, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said he would introduce legislation expanding universal background checks — following through on a months-long pledge to bring forward the bill.
As she rolled out $20 million plan to boost the lives of women and girls in New York City, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said today she hoped to see more of them working in the City Council.
The Reform Party of New York State says it plans to conduct candidate interviews by early June, with an eye toward forcing an opportunity-to-ballot primary in some races.
It appears the Seneca Nation’s planned Niagara Street “energy station,” which began construction last month, will not be opposed by the Cuomo administration.
Cuomo said he has signed legislation extending event ticket regulations for another year, but absent reforms he won’t sign an extender again next year.
Roger Stone, a longtime political ally and former campaign adviser to Donald Trump, admitted that Trump posed as his own publicist in the early 1990s, likening Trump’s actions to the Founding Fathers.
Suffolk Democratic Chairman Richard Schaffer said he met with the county legislature’s Democratic caucus to reassure them the current strains in his relationship with County Executive Steve Bellone will not impact them in any way, and that he intends to tone down the rhetoric going forward.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is one of the few Democratic leaders in Congress that has not yet endorsed a candidate in the Democratic presidential race. A source says she’s worried an endorsement could reduce voter turnout in the primary in her home state of California on June 7.
EMILY’S List, a powerful fundraising political action committee for Democratic women candidates, has endorsed North Hempstead Town Board member Anna Kaplan in the five-way Democratic primary for retiring Rep. Steve Israel’s NY-3 seat.
Former Syracuse Police Sgt. Thomas Connellan billed the state hundreds of times for a part-time job that he didn’t do, state Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott said.
Onondaga County DA William Fitzpatrick blasted “overtime excesses” and ineptitude by leaders of the Syracuse police department for allowing Connellan to get paid for working two jobs at once. He vowed to probe police overtime to see if there were any more abuses.
Niagara County Sheriff’s Deputy Joseph Tortorella today won the ultimate recognition for his life-saving heroics outside a Wheatfield school 13 months ago: the Presidential Medal of Valor.
The East Ramapo Board of Education is expected to appoint its interim superintendent, Deborah Wortham, as permanent leader of the school district.
The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station’s new air refueling mission means a lot for the viability of the base in the coming years, but the base needs a little more to further solidify its future, U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand said.
Her husband puts his life on the line every day to guard a city their family cannot afford to live in. That’s the message of the NYPD Patrolman’s Benevolent Association new 7-figure TV ad campaign, which started airing today.
The May 2016 Empire State Manufacturing Survey indicates that business activity declined for New York manufacturers.
“The Hunger Games” star Jennifer Lawrence praised Syracuse native Robert De Niro Sr. at the 27th annual GLAAD Media Awards over the weekend.
May 16th - 5:22 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule. Both houses of the Legislature are in session at the state Capitol.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is in the city with no public schedule.
A fuller calendar of the day’s events appears at the end of this post.
The NY Post’s Fred Dicker reports Team Cuomo is on “lockdown,” with tight-lipped aides fearful that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s ongoing investigation of the governor’s former top aide Joseph Percoco and lobbyist Todd Howe may snare other officials.
A businessman whose dealings with the de Blasio administration are already under federal investigation used a middleman to profit from a nearly $6 million city contract for rat-repellent trash bags.
NYC officials yesterday renamed a Brooklyn street in honor of the aide to Cuomo who was killed during a street festival last year — but neither the governor nor the mayor showed up for the ceremony amid their administrations’ ethics probes.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio trashed crooked ex-pols Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos as “bad apples” who got what they deserved in a WABC radio interview, while downplaying the multiple probes facing him and predicting he’ll be re-elected next year.
A Long Island sports complex named after Skelos has quietly removed the signs bearing his name. Though the park is still named after Skelos, who last week was sentenced to five years in prison on federal corruption charges, the village of Rockville Centre removed any signs referencing the Dean Skelos Sports Complex.
De Blasio and Cuomo have taken opposite approaches on everything from tax increases to tackling the Ebola virus. In the face of high-stakes investigations into their administrations over the past several weeks, the two Democrats accordingly have worked off two wholly different blueprints. The mayor is defensive and indignant, while the governor has sought to appear in control.
Bharara’s investigation into the 2014 campaign for state Senate may intensify as a new complaint has been lodged against the Erie County Democratic Committee charging illegal coordination with a statewide union, CWA, on retiring Sen. Marc Panepinto’s campaign.
De Blasio and his operatives made the decision — now under investigation — to heavily use upstate county party committees to raise money in 2014 for Senate Democrats only after they feared the governor was not prepared to spend what he promised, sources on all sides of the matter said.
How much does a phone call to pitch your product to the top reaches of the de Blasio’s administration cost? $68,750, apparently. That’s how much a company that’s been accused of ignoring workers’ rights sent to the mayor’s campaign just five days after their paid lobbyist snagged a coveted phone chat with Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen.
A state Senate Democratic aide who was a campaign manager referenced in a state Board of Elections criminal referral involving Team de Blasio’s 2014 fundraising operation on behalf of the Senate Democrats has been subpoenaed by investigators.
E.J. McMahon: “Quite apart from whether Bharara uncovers any criminal wrongdoing, the Buffalo Billion project is highly questionable both as a matter of public policy and as a business proposition.”
A growing middle class, along with aging baby-boomers, is fleeing New York, state and federal records reviewed by Gannett New York showed. Residents say they are being driven out by some of the highest property taxes in the nation and higher-than-average income taxes that, even though recently lowered, still rank in the top half of the U.S.
Eight NYPD sergeants who alleged widespread cheating on the 2015 lieutenants’ exam will file a new lawsuit today challenging questions on the test, potentially throwing coveted promotions into limbo yet again.
A collision between higher teacher salaries and state property-tax restraints is putting the squeeze on school budgets across Long Island and New York — a phenomenon that could worsen over the long run, education officials and financial analysts said.
A NYPD union head said he had told an NYPD inspector who died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound in West Babylon on Friday that he was not the focus of a federal corruption probe in the department.
May 15th - 4:35 pm
A a single federal subpoena to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office two weeks ago showed that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s probe has expanded significantly, and extends far beyond Buffalo. The subpoena wants information about individuals and companies from Brooklyn, Albany, the Hudson Valley, Syracuse, Westchester County, Rochester, Manhattan and Maryland.
Here’s a list of all the companies about which Bharara is seeking information.
The federal subpoena issued to the Cuomo administration in April mentions two firms represented by lobbyist Todd Howe in a Syracuse development that landed an unusual grant of $2.5 million in state funds. The companies are Syracuse-based Pemco Group and Carnegie Management, which is based in Brooklyn.
SolarCity, the California company that will occupy the Western Hemisphere’s largest solar panel manufacturing plant and serve as the keystone of the Buffalo Billion, forecasts more professional and better-paying positions at its Buffalo operations, while dropping jobs at the gigantic RiverBend complex to a minimum of 500.
Carrie H. Cohen, who led the criminal case against former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and recently left Bharara’s office to become a defense attorney, is now representing Buffalo state Supreme Court Judge John Michalek.
Silver’s attorneys attorneys argued he shouldn’t have to sit in prison or pay penalties while he appeals his corruption conviction and awaits a key U.S. Supreme Court decision in the case of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell
A spokesperson for the Maid of the Mist issued a statement insisting that the company was not encouraged by Cuomo’s office to hire LPCiminelli as the contractor for its new dry dock and maintenance facility on the American side of Niagara Falls.
A federal probe involving longtime former Cuomo aide Joe Percoco is examining Peter Galbraith Kelly Jr., senior vice president for external affairs for Competitive Power Ventures Holdings LLC, and a program his team oversaw called CPV Educates.
President Barack Obama used his speech at Rutgers University’s commencement today to praise the 250-year-old school, while slamming the “anti-intellectualism” in American politics. “In politics and in life, ignorance is not a virtue,” he said.
The New York Times interviewed dozens of women who had worked with or for Donald Trump over the past four decades. Their accounts reveal unwelcome romantic advances, unending commentary on the female form, a shrewd reliance on ambitious women, and unsettling workplace conduct, according to the interviews, as well as court records and written recollections.
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus suggested that voters “don’t care” about Trump’s on-going struggles with female voters, refusal to release tax returns and allegations of pranking journalists in the 90s.
Long Island Rep. Peter King said that while he is endorsing Trump, he wants more clarity on the presumptive Republican presidential nominee’s foreign policy and his approach to China.
Albany native Sue Carswell has been in a media whirlwind thanks to Trump. Well, actually an audio tape of a phone interview she conducted 25 years ago while working as a reporter for People magazine with someone claiming to be a media spokesman for Trump who sounds on tape a lot like the Donald himself.
New York City Councilman Joseph Borelli’s colleagues say he has lost his mind. But Borelli, a Republican who is the only city lawmaker so far to endorse Trump for the presidency, doesn’t seem too fazed.
The head of the New York City agency at the center of a disputed real estate transaction told a City Council committee she couldn’t speak about the deal because it was still under investigation.
Cuomo’s friends are circling as the Port Authority prepares to put out lucrative bids for the $5.3 billion to $8 billion LaGuardia Airport main terminal renovation project.
State Democratic Party Executive Director Basil A. Smikle Jr. suggested NYC Mayor Bil de Blasio’s allegation that the investigation into his 2014 fundraising for the Senate Democrats is politically motivation is “nothing more than a political smoke screen created by the mayor.”
A surging tide of weapons — including loaded revolvers, 9mm handguns, meat cleavers and daggers — has been confiscated this year from students in NYC schools, most of which do not have metal detectors.
Huma Abedin, aide to Clinton and wife of ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner has managed to publicly weather two of her husband’s tawdry phone-message scandals. Now she’s forced to relive them, as the documentary “Weiner” has hit theaters.
A recent change to the state’s STAR school tax relief program has left some homeowners and assessors confused about the tax breaks, prompting lawmakers to seek a repeal of the new requirements.
Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins said NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton should resign amid an ongoing corruption probe at the department, charging that there is a double standard in which high ranking brass are punished less severely than lower level cops and sergeants for the same behavior.
Bratton refused to take off-topic questions during a press conference after an active-shooter drill today, despite the growing anxiety over a federal investigation into police corruption that’s already led to a suicide just days earlier.
Crooked gun license broker Shaya Lichtenstein’s access to police was so good that his applicants didn’t even have to come to headquarters for a mandated interview before they got their permits, the Daily News has learned.
About four hours after losing his friend to a suicide, Lt. Michael Fargo gave up his gun and badge — and maybe his plans for a quiet retirement. Fargo, a close friend and colleague of NYPD Inspector Michael Ameri, remained on modified duty this weekend as a federal corruption probe moved toward likely indictments in a police scandal.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer is urging the Transportation Security Administration to put more dogs on the passenger-screening line to reduce long delays for travelers going through security at New York City airports.
Lead exceeding district standards was found in 12 water fountains in six buildings throughout the Northport-East Northport school district on Long Island earlier this month, officials said, and those water fountains have been shut down.
Cuomo announced that USA Luge will keep its headquarters in the Adirondack community, saying the decision by the organization yesterday will create jobs and “inspire the next generation of Olympians in New York State.”
Over a million people are buried in a potter’s field on Hart Island. A New York Times investigation uncovered some of their stories and the failings of the system that put them there.
Gary Greenberg, a Greene County resident and minority owner of the casino, hotel and racetrack Vernon Downs, was molested as a child in the 1960s. He now says he’s prepared to spend $100,000 or more against incumbent state senators from both parties who refuse to support legislation to help child sexual assault victims.
With former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos sentenced last Thursday to 5 years in prison for extorting about $330,000, and former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver sentenced May 3 to 12 years in prison for pocketing about $4 million, the pressure is on the Legislature and Cuomo. But no deal appears in sight.
National Democrats have decided to choose sides and back Colleen Deacon in the party’s upcoming congressional primary in the Syracuse area. The DCCC backed her to run in NY-24 against GOP freshman Rep. John Katko over Democratic rivals Steve Williams and Eric Kingson.
Give Cuomo the bill he’s asking for and, in four years, he says he’ll shrink the state’s new HIV cases from 3,000 per year to 750 — and eventually end the HIV/AIDS epidemic in New York.
The Assembly sponsor of legislation to eliminate the tampon tax, Linda Rosenthal, says she and her Senate counterpart are close to a deal, though it’s unclear if the Senate sponsor, Sue Serino, agrees.
Proponents of expanding background checks for gun purchases formally kicked off a campaign in Maine – one of two key national races this year pitting a group co-founded by billionaire former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg as a response to mass shootings in 2014 against the group it was meant to target — the NRA.
Poor fiscal management, unrealistic budgeting, and ballooning debt led Oyster Bay to become the only municipality in the state with a junk credit rating from Standard & Poor’s, analysts said, in stark contrast to towns around it.
Sixty-seven years after leaving Syracuse University to join his father’s growing newspaper empire, Donald Newhouse returned today to receive something he did not get when he left all those years ago — a degree, albeit an honorary one.
Volunteers, forest rangers and law enforcement officers were combing the Catskills today in search of a lost zebra.
May 13th - 5:32 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.
At 7 a.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. hosts “Health Day: I am #not62,” celebrating physical activity and wellness, as part of Bronx Week 2016, 1 Fordham Plaza, the Bronx.
Also at 7 a.m., the Economic Club of New York hosts Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown, 350 5th Ave., Manhattan.
At 8 a.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli delivers remarks at Alzheimer’s Foundation of America-Concepts in Care Conference, New York Hilton, 1335 Ave. of the Americas, Manhattan.
At 9 a.m., Assemblywoman Deborah Glick participates in panel on “Women’s Pay Equity: Getting Even” at the New School’s Center for New York City Affairs, Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, Arnhold Hall, I-202, 55 W. 13th St., Manhattan.
At 9:30 a.m., LG Kahty Hochul addresses China delegation members during a China-New York economic and trade cooperation conference, New York Marriott Marquis, 1535 Broadway, Manhattan.
At 10 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will appear live on WNYC’s the Brian Lehrer Show to discuss Queens Boulevard, Zika preparedness, making Stonewall Inn a national monument and other topics. The mayor also will be taking questions from listeners.
At 11 a.m., Long Island residents concerned with the spread of vacant, dilapidated homes protest at state Sen. Tom Croci’s office to demand action against abandoned homes, Croci’s office, NYS Office Building, Room 3B-41, 250 Veterans Memorial Highway, Hauppaugue.
At 12:15 p.m., Hochul delivers remarks at the T.J. Martell Foundation’s Women of Influence Awards, Plaza Hotel, Terrace Room, 768 5th Ave., Manhattan.
At 1 p.m., Toxics Targeting will hold a news conference to release a DEC Notice of Incomplete Applications for propane fracking proposed in Barton, 38 Hawley St., Binghamton.
At 2 p.m., EPA Regional Administrator Judith Enck presents Environmental Champion Awards to this year’s recipients at a ceremony at the EPA’s offices, 290 Broadway, Manhattan.
At 3:30 p.m., former U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius receives an honorary degree and delivers the keynote address at the Icahn School of Medicine’s 47th graduation ceremony, Lincoln Center, Manhattan.
A judge sentenced former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos to five years in prison for running a federal shakedown scheme that “caused immeasurable damage.” Skelos’ adult son, Adam, whom the ex-lawmaker used his position of power to try to help, got an even longer prison sentence — 6 1/2 years — as a “deterrence.”
While the crimes and the 12-year prison term of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver exceeded those of Skelos and his son, the Skeloses’ trial stood out for the gritty, unvarnished look it offered of the personal and political dealings of a family immersed in Albany’s back channels.
Following the Skelos sentencing, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara issued a statement that took a clear jab at Gov. Andrew Cuomo for the early shutdown of the corruption busting Moreland Commission, which Bharara looked into, but ultimately declined to bring any charges.
Adam Skelos’ personal life has been destroyed by the corruption scandal, which prompted his wife, Anne Marie, to file for divorce, his lawyer said at Adam’s sentencing. Adam’s ex is now planning to move in with Adam’s mom, Gail, along with their two autistic sons.
A nephew of Dean Skelos, Basil “Billy” Skelos, was arrested for grabbing a Daily News reporter’s phone, throwing it across the street and grabbing her wrist following the disgraced pol’s sentencing alongside his son.
After initially having trouble selling tickets to his birthday bash fundraiser, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio eventually was able to convince enough people to pay $100-to-$250 to fill Brooklyn Bowl, where he was roasted by comedian Louis C.K. last night.
De Blasio pitched his re-election run in 2017 to the crowd of his supporters, urging them to stand with him against “powerful forces” arrayed against the “progressive change” brought by his administration.
An inquiry by Bharara’s office focuses on de Blasio’s fundraising efforts to help the state Senate Democrats in their failed 2014 effort to re-take the majority. But the Cuomo campaign, which was run by ex-Cuomo aide Joe Percoco, who is also now under investigation, was nonetheless involved in the overall effort and may have been aware of the mayor’s actions.
Cuomo claims he barely knows Todd Howe, a fired lobbyist under federal investigation by Bharara’s office, yet he was close enough to the family to be the secret hand model behind former Gov. Mario Cuomo’s official portrait, The NY Post reports.
SolarCity, whose state-funded “gigafactory” is the plum of Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion initiative, acknowledged it had received a subpoena from the U.S. Attorney’s office investigating improper lobbying and undisclosed conflicts in state contracts.
Ken Lovett: “Even for New York, which has almost become numb to the procession of public officials in recent years who left office in handcuffs or shame, having two top legislative leaders given substantial prison time a little more than a week apart is a new low.”
Tom Precious: “Several lobbyists, who traditionally trade speak on condition of anonymity, said Albany is increasingly a nervous community, especially as they now see Bharara expanding his probe of the Buffalo Billion include looking at an array of players, including longtime advisers to Cuomo. Still, said one lobbyist, some don’t get it.”
Activists affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement disrupted de Blasio’s remarks at a pre-K event yesterday, demanding NYPD changes and asking why the cop who fatally shot an unarmed Bronx man in 2012 is still on the job.