Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin

Here and Now

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

At 9 a.m., Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa, Regent Lester Young, Jr., and state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia will speak as part of the opening plenary session of a day-long symposium on My Brother’s Keeper, Cultural Education Center, 222 Madison Ave., Albany.

At 9:30 a.m., the last in a series of 13 joint legislative budget hearings on the governor’s 2017-18 spending plan will be held, focusing on the housing portion of his proposal, Hearing Room B, LOB, 198 State St., Albany.

At 10 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will appear live on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, and will take questions from listeners.

At 10:30 a.m., IDC Leader Jeff Klein, Assembly members Mark Gjonaj, Michael Benedetto and Jeffrey Dinowitz as well as New York City Councilman Andrew Cohen host a closed press Valentine’s for Veterans event with Miss USA Deshauna Barber, James J. Peters V.A. Medical Center, 130 W. Kingsbridge Road, the Bronx.

At 11 a.m., Sen. David Carlucci will release a report on the condition of Rockland County’s dams and urge passage of new legislation that will prioritize aging water infrastructure to target available funding to improve them, 46 Old Mill Rd., West Nyack.

Also at 11 a.m., Sen. Tony Avella, NYC Councilman Barry Grodenchik and community members hold press conference to protest the New York City Department of Environmental Protection’s bioswale project in Northeast Queens, 200-15 36th Ave., Queens.

Also at 11 a.m., Rep. Carolyn Maloney will join with seniors and advocates at the Stein Senior Center to warn against a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, Stein Senior Center, 204 East 23rd St., (just off 3rd Avenue), 2nd Floor, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., Sen. Michael Gianaris, Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas, City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer and The Legal Aid Society announce a lawsuit protecting low-income tenants of the New York School of Urban Ministry dormitory residence from unlawful eviction, 31-10 47th St., Queens.

At 11:15 a.m., NYC Commissioner of Media and Entertainment Julie Menin honors the cast and creators of VH1’s new Made in NY series, “The Breaks,” by renaming 44th Street and 7th Avenue to The Breaks Way, 1515 Broadway, Manhattan.

At noon, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown delivers his 11th State of the City address, the last in his current term.

At 1:30 p.m., de Blasio will tour the offices of AppNexus, a new tech startup, and then join Andrew Rasiej in a discussion regarding the tech sector and announce more details about the City’s new tech hub at Union Square, 28 W. 23rd St., Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., Sen. Marisol Alcántara holds an immigration town hall with Rep. Adriano Espaillat, Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa, NYC Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, New York Legal Assistance Group, Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrant Rights, LatinoJustice and MFY Legal Services, P.S. 48, 4360 Broadway, Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., an invite-only “chair’s reception” is held to kick off Caucus Weekend 2017, Empire State Convention Center, Albany.

At 9 p.m., City & State holds a Caucus Weekend Kickoff Cocktail Reception, The State Room, 100 State St., Albany.

Headlines…

President Trump dismissed reports about his associates’ contacts with Russia last year and vigorously defended his performance in his first four weeks in office, in a contentious news conference that showcased his unconventional and unconstrained presidency.

“My message is being filtered,” Trump reportedly told senior administration officials inside the Oval Office hours before his freewheeling news conference. “I want to speak directly to the American people about the progress we’ve been making.”

Trump blamed the problems the country and world currently face on the “mess” he “inherited” as president, but pledged to “tackle these challenges.”

At the conference, which lasted 80 minutes, Trump forced a point he has been repeating in early morning tweetstorms for days: all of the controversial news about his administration is nothing more than “fake news” — a term he has come to use for any news article he does not like — and that the mainstream media is out to get him.

Robert Harward, the retired vice admiral and former Navy SEAL who was Trump’s top choice to replace his ousted national security adviser, turned down the post in the latest setback for a White House already in turmoil.

Crossroads Media founder Mike Dubke is expected to be named as White House Communications Director, and the appointment is expected to be announced as early today.

Moving quickly to replace his original U.S. Labor Secretary pick after controversial fast food executive Andrew Puzder withdrew his name, Trump played it safe with his selection: Alexander Acosta. Even the AFL-CIO president, Richard Trumka, said Acosta deserved “serious consideration” for the post.

EPA employees have been calling their senators to urge them to vote today against the confirmation of Scott Pruitt, Trump’s contentious nominee to run the agency – a remarkable display of activism and defiance that presages turbulent times ahead for the agency.

In a surprise move, the Department of Justice now says the president “intends in the near future to rescind” his executive order on immigration, and will “replace it with a new, substantially revised” order, though Trump himself seemed to contradict that.

Trump said he’ll issue a new executive order next week, though he provided no details about what it will contain.

House Republican leaders sketched out a plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, offering a set of policy specifics but showing they have yet to bridge significant GOP divisions over many of its components.

Restaurants, from San Francisco to Phoenix to Washington, D.C., were some of the most visible spots affected by yesterday’s “Day Without Immigrants” demonstration, with well-known chefs closing some of their eateries for the day in support.

Melissa Mark-Viverito delivered her last State of the City address as the speaker of the New York City Council, peppering the speech with policy, Spanish and invocations of immigrant contributions — and lacing it with allusions to, but no direct mention of, Trump.

Mark-Viverito vowed to further restrict the city’s cooperation with federal immigration authorities under Trump, delivering a full-throated defense of immigrant communities. “If you are here, you are a New Yorker,” she said.

Trump’s Jan. 25 executive order threat to cut federal funds to cities and counties that decline to cooperate with federal authorities enforcing policies on illegal immigrants is unlikely to hurt the municipalities’ credit, at least in the short term, according to credit-ratings firms, analysts and investors.

CIA Director Mike Pompeo denied allegations that the agency was hiding intelligence from the president, calling reports that it was doing so “dead wrong.”

Advocates for those living in the country illegally say this week’s two local raids netting 32 people demonstrate a significant uptick in law enforcement activity stemming from Trump’s executive order to depart “all removable aliens.”

Former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn misled the FBI about discussing sanctions with a Russian diplomat ahead of Trump’s inauguration. That could have meant criminal charges, but investigators reportedly don’t believe Flynn intentionally lied.

An elite Upper East Side private school’s annual ice-skating party at Trump Wollman Rink in Central Park reportedly had to be canceled after parents refused to send their kids in protest of the president.

More >

Extras

The president has selected R. Alexander Acosta, currently dean of Florida International University College of Law and chairman of U.S. Century Bank, to be secretary of Labor after fast food exec Andrew Puzder withdrew from consideration.

Acosta was assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division in the Bush administration. He’ll be the first Hispanic member of the Trump cabinet if he’s confirmed.

The U.S. Senate confirmed Rep. Mick Mulvaney, a South Carolina Republican, to lead the Office of Management and Budget in a narrow vote this morning, giving the congressman one of the most powerful positions in Trump’s Cabinet and the responsibility of reconciling the new administration’s conflicting spending priorities.

During a free-wheeling press conference, Trump expressed disappointment about media reports of “chaos” in his administration, saying that he “inherited a mess,” and adding: “It is the exact opposite. This administration is running like a fine-tuned machine.”

The House passed a measure in a 230-188 vote that would reverse a last-minute rule from the Obama administration that said conservative states can’t block the women’s health and abortion provider from receiving family planning dollars under the Title X program.

In her final State of the City address, New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito decried Trump’s policies and promised that city lawmakers would strike back against federal immigration policies and guarantee women free birth control that the GOP has promised to restrict.

Another Broadway show standing ovation for Hillary Clinton last night. (She saw Sunset Boulevard).

Keep it short and free of nuance – that is the new guidance that has recently circulated to some intelligence analysts who compile materials for the president’s Daily Brief on security threats around the globe.

A coalition of Long Island business groups is calling on state judges to expedite LIPA’s legal challenges to the taxes it pays on National Grid power plants, saying the delays are costing businesses and homes millions of dollars a year.

The state Department of Health has sent out the first results to 370 residents whose blood was tested for a toxic chemical found in Newburgh’s water supply.
Not all the Momentive workers are happy with the three-year contract that ended their 105-day strike, though it was approved in a 317-211 by union members.

Outspoken political activist John “Rus” Thompson pleaded guilty this morning to a misdemeanor offense for voting on Grand Island in 2015 after he had moved to Niagara Falls. After rejecting a deal offered by a previous DA, Thompson said he felt this outcome was fair.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand penned an OpEd about why the country needs a national paid family leave program.

In an Albany TU OpEd, former Gov. Eliot Spitzer takes on Cuomo over his effort to do away with foundation aid, which was set up to settle the CFE case, but never fully funded.

For the first two months of the new Congress, the 292 Republicans have scheduled just 88 in-person town hall events — and 35 of those sessions are for Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin. In the first two months of the previous Congress in 2015, by contrast, Republicans held 222 in-person town hall events.

In NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s State of the City speech this week, which ran to over 8,000 words, a mere 214 of them were devoted to education.

The City of Buffalo is considering regulating AirBnBs like traditional bed and breakfasts.

A student at Sol La Music Academy in Santa Monica, CA turned Clinton’s campaign concession speech into a song called “To All the Little Girls.”

In the face of mounting complaints about his failure to fund capital improvements at the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced an $8 million allocation for the state-owned facility.

The Obama administration’s accountability regulations for the Every Student Succeeds Act have been paused by the Trump administration, and they’re on thin ice in Congress. But U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos wants states to keep going on their ESSA plans.

Clinton praised Oscar de la Renta as an inspiration to striving immigrants like himself at an event honoring the late fashion designer with a series of commemorative stamps.

In case you’re curious, actress Lena Dunham says she is not, in fact, single-handedly to blame for Clinton’s loss to Trump.

Government prosecutors may be investigating 21st Century Fox for quietly settling sexual harassment claims against former Fox News chief Roger Ailes without reporting it to the media giant’s shareholders.

Just one full-length novel under his belt and Syracuse University professor George Saunders is on Stephen Colbert’s list of top living authors.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City and Erie County, holding a mix of government and political events.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is in the Big Apple with no public events scheduled.

At noon, NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will deliver her third State of the City address – the final major policy speech as her career in the leadership post – titled “Who We Are,” at the Kings Theatre, 1027 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn.

Vice President Mike Pence is breakfasting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Naval Observatory. He will join President Donald Trump for a Congressional listening session at the White House.

In the afternoon, Trump will meet with U.S Attorney General Jeff Sessions, sign H.J. Res. 38 and tape his weekly radio address. Pence will host an African American economic opportunity listening session.

A full calendar of the day’s happenings appears at the end of this post.

Headlines…

Fast food executive Andrew Puzder, who was scheduled for a Senate confirmation hearing today, withdrew as President Donald Trump’s labor secretary nominee as controversy deepened over his personal life and private sector background.

The Republican and Democratic leaders of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee asked Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director James Comey to send the committee documents and provide a briefing on the resignation of Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser.

Trump fiercely defended Flynn, calling him a “wonderful man” who has “been treated very, very unfairly by the media,” and also once again avoided taking questions from the mainstream media about the mushrooming scandal surrounding his administration.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is among those seeking an independent, non-partisan probe to determine the extent of the president’s ties to Russia.

“I’ve been in Congress a long time. I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, referring to the resignation of Flynn, apparent Trump administration lies, and fresh reports that there were constant contacts between the Trump campaign and Russian intelligence services.

South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham said a select committee should be convened if senior Russian intelligence officials were in contact with Trump campaign advisers.

Intelligence officials have reportedly kept sensitive information from Trump out of concerns that The White House may be compromised by Russia and the information could fall into the wrong hands.

Trump plans to assign a New York billionaire, Stephan A. Feinberg, to lead a broad review of American intelligence agencies – an effort that members of the intelligence community fear could curtail their independence and reduce the flow of information that contradicts the president’s worldview.

Staff at the EPA have reportedly been told that Trump is preparing a handful of executive orders to reshape the agency, to be signed once a new administrator is confirmed.

Trump responded to a question from an Israeli reporter over the rise of anti-Semitism in the United States by citing his Jewish friends and family members — and his election margin.

Palestinians reacted with anger and bafflement after the Trump administration apparently backed away from insisting that having two states — one for Israelis, one for Palestinians — was the only viable solution to the decades-long Middle East conflict.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis issued a sharp ultimatum to NATO, telling allies they must start increasing defense spending by year’s end or the Trump administration will “moderate its commitment” to them.

Harvard, Yale and Stanford are among 17 elite universities that have launched a legal challenge to Trump’s ban on refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations entering the US, saying it has “serious and chilling implications.”

Aetna chief executive Mark Bertolini said that the Affordable Care Act’s exchanges – the marketplaces where consumers can buy individual health coverage under President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law – are in a “death spiral.”

A psychiatrist who wrote the criteria that define narcissistic personality disorder says “amateur diagnosticians have mislabeled” Trump with that diagnosis. “He may be a world-class narcissist, but this doesn’t make him mentally ill.”

Trump will not carry on Obama’s annual tradition of filling out an NCAA tournament bracket on ESPN.

White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Stephen Bannon said in a joint interview that there is no division between them, despite rumors of a power struggle during the administration’s chaotic first month.

Priebus, facing growing criticism and calls for his ouster, is racing to bring order to a White House that looks to be spiraling out of control.

Organizers in cities across the U.S. are telling immigrants to miss class, miss work and not shop today as a way to show the country how important they are to America’s economy and way of life. “A Day Without Immigrants” actions are planned in cities including Philadelphia, Washington, Boston and Austin, Texas.

A Russian spy ship was spotted off Long Island’s coast yesterday morning, according to Pentagon officials, who noted the ship was in international waters “consistent with international law.”

There are no specific plans to bring a cashless toll system to the upstate portions of the Thruway even though it now operates at the Tappan Zee Bridge between Rockland and Westchester counties, a Cuomo administration official told lawmakers.

NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said she and her colleagues are exploring “legal options” to counter Gov. Andrew Cuomo‘s decision to sign legislation banning implementation of the five-cent paper and plastic bag fee the city passed last year. She also accused the governor of slandering the Council.

Spotify is set to move its U.S. headquarters to 4 World Trade Center early next year, creating 1,000 new jobs with its expanded office space, Cuomo announced.

According to his Spotify playlist, the governor listens to Lady Gaga, the Rolling Stones, Bruno Mars, Bon Jovi and a lot of songs by his good friend Billy Joel.

More >

Extras

Andrew Puzder has withdrawn as President Donald Trump’s choice for labor secretary. The decision came as Senate Republicans told the White House he was losing support, with four reportedly firm Republican no votes and possibly up to 12.

The president lashed out at the nation’s intelligence agencies again, saying that his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was brought down by illegal leaks to the news media, on a day of new disclosures about the Trump camp’s dealings with Russia during and after last year’s campaign.

Reports that Trump campaign aides communicated with Russian intelligence officials show remarkable parallels to the Watergate scandal, Hillary Clinton’s former campaign manager, Robby Mook, said.

Trump said that the U.S. would no longer insist on a Palestinian state as part of a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians, backing away from a policy that has underpinned America’s role in Middle East peacemaking since the Clinton administration.

Co-host Mika Brzezinski says she will no longer allow senior White House counselor Kellyanne Conway on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.”

Trump has offered the job of national security adviser to retired Vice Adm. Robert Harward following Flynn’s resignation earlier this week.

The state Department of Transportation says it paid $5.4 million to print and install 374 “I Love NY” highway signs across New York, well more than the agency originally claimed the signs cost.

After a year spent defending Trump on the cable news networks, Republican Rep. Chris Collins of Clarence finally hit the big time late last night. Stephen Colbert mocked him on “The Late Show” on CBS, with an assist from Buffalo-born actress Christine Baranski.

Cuomo is seeking to modernize New York’s charitable gaming rules — improvements he says could help non-profit organizations across the state.

In approving a bill to put a moratorium on NYC’s bag tax, Cuomo joined a group of Republican governors – Arizona’s Doug Ducey, Idaho’s Butch Otter, Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, Vice President and former Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, to name a few – who have approved bans on, well, bag bans.

Actor Ashton Kutcher, co-founder of Thorn: Digital Defenders of Children, an organization that works to combat human trafficking, testified at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Ending Modern Slavery: Building on Success hearing today, during which he blew a kiss to Republican Arizona Sen. John McCain.

The Republican Party’s House campaign arm announced its 10 highest-priority incumbents, naming the members who will get special attention from party leaders as the GOP tries to fend off a fierce push by Democrats to retake the House in 2018. Two New York freshmen – Reps. John Faso and Claudia Tenney – are on the list.

A pharmaceutical research group is launching a campaign against Cuomo’s proposal to control the price of prescription drugs, saying it will do nothing to improve patient access to prescriptions while threatening research and development.

The Empire Center: Nearly two-thirds of New York State’s tax receipts are now generated by the personal income tax, or PIT, which relies disproportionately on the highest-earning one percent of New York taxpayers.

NYSERDA announced the launch of a new website that provides early-stage clean energy entrepreneurs with individual, secure business assessments and resources to help them grow their companies.

Long Island immigrants facing the threat of deportation soon will have a new resource to aid their defense, as Hofstra University’s law school is opening a clinic to help some make their cases before immigration authorities and to craft proposals that could influence the policy debate.

A decade after his autistic son died at the hands of a care worker, Michael Carey says the state still isn’t doing enough to protect its most vulnerable citizens.

A group of Finger Lakes winery and vineyard owners will gather Friday to host a tasting to mark National Wine Day, and also raise awareness of their opposition to a proposed gas storage facility on Seneca Lake.

A Utica city firefighter/paramedic, who also is the fire chief’s son, has filed a federal lawsuit alleging discrimination based on his gender and religious beliefs. He says he has been subjected to a hostile work environment, threatened with disciplinary action, harassed and ridiculed because he refuses to cut his hair.

An Ithaca couple participating in a sit-in at Republican Rep. Tom Reed’s office may not have gotten a chance to speak with him, but they did get married, taking advantage of Mayor Svante Myrick’s surprise food-delivery visit.

The new Rivers Casino is so far having a positive impact on nearby businesses.

AS part of a settlement with JCOPE, the former head of SUNY Downstate Medical Center in Brooklyn agreed to pay a $3,000 ethics fine after using his state credit card to help pay for a Bermuda vacation.

Assembly Leaders Back Lavine’s Local Run

From the Morning Memo:

The race for the Democratic nod for Nassau County executive is shaping up to be something of a power struggle, with local party officials going one way and leaders of the Assembly majority conference backing one of their own. 

A SoP reader forwarded an invite to a March 14 fundraiser being held at the Albany Hilton to benefit Assemblyman Charles “Chuck” Lavine’s county executive bid. The event is being headlined by none other than Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle. 

Meanwhile, down in Nassau County, local Democratic Chair Jay Jacobs et al are supporting County Legislator Laura Curran to run this fall. 

Curran is focusing much of her campaign platform on fighting corruption and cronyism at a time when the current county executive, Republican Ed Mangano, is embroiled in a corruption scandal.

Mangano, (who, as you may recall, was one of a handful of Republican county executives to cross party lines and endorse Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election bid in 2014), pleaded not guilty to federal charges last fall, but he has refused to heed calls to step down and hasn’t said whether he’ll seek a third term. His trial has been scheduled for 2018. 

A number of Republicans are reportedly circling and waiting to see what happens to Mangano: State Sen. Jack Martins, Hempstead Town Councilman Bruce Blakeman and Hempstead Tax Receiver Donald Clavin.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Jacobs sided with Curran over Lavine and several other interested candidates, including Republican-turned-Democrat George Maragos, the county comptroller; and Long Beach City Manager Jack Schnirman. 

Schnirman has since announced he’ll be running for comptroller instead – a decision Jacobs supports. But the other two are staying the course, which means (unless something changes) there will be a three-way primary in September. 

Lavine announced his intention to seek the local office back in November, saying a “responsible adult” was needed to manage the county and bring some honesty back to the post. 

Long-time Albany watchers may recall how Lavine arrived at the Capitol ‘lo those many years ago.

He was part of former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi’s quixotic “Fix Albany” campaign – one of its few success stories, actually – defeating veteran Assemblyman David Sidikman in a primary intended to demonstrate how the moribund Legislature desperately needed shaking up. 

But Lavine’s election did not end up sparking a massive reform wave at the Capitol, (he actually backed then-Speaker Sheldon Silver, who since has been toppled by a federal corruption scandal). Suozzi, meanwhile, went on to lose big in a long-shot gubernatorial primary challenge to then-AG Eliot Spitzer. 

Spitzer, as we all know, was forced to step down from the governor’s office due to a prostitution scandal. Suozzi – after some time in the private sector and a failed county executive comeback attempt – is now a congressman, having defeated Martins for the Long Island seat vacated by former Democratic Rep. Steve Israel.

March fundraising invite for Assemblyman Lavine's Nassau Co Exec run by liz_benjamin6490 on Scribd

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Suffolk County and New York City.

In the morning, Vice President Mike Pence and President Donald Trump host a listening session with the Retail Industry Leaders Association and member company CEOs.

In the afternoon, Trump and Pence hold a bilateral meeting and working lunch with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

At 9 a.m., homeless New Yorkers, community groups and advocates demand that the governor and legislative leaders sign the affordable housing memorandum of understanding, Cuomo’s New York City office, 633 Third Ave., Manhattan.

At 9:30 a.m., the 11th in a series of 13 joint legislative budget hearings is held, this one focused on the transportation portion of the governor’s 2017-18 spending plan, Hearing Room B, LOB, 198 State St., Albany.

At 10 a.m., Cuomo makes an announcement, H. Lee Dennison Building, 100 Veterans Highway, Hauppauge, Long Island.

Also at 10 a.m., Assembly members Sean Ryan, Anthony Brindisi, Patricia Fahy, Al Stirpe and Harry Bronson call for a package of funding to be included in the state budget for refugee resettlement agencies, Million Dollar Staircase, third floor, state Capitol, Albany.

Also at 10 a.m., JFK International Airport workers deliver letters to Terminal 4 airport manager as well as Etihad and Emirates Airlines to call on them to ensure contractors stop the harassment of Muslim workers, JFK Terminal 4 AirTrain station, Queens.

At 11 a.m., NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer will present his preliminary analysis of the mayor’s FY 2018 budget and January financial plan, 1 Centre St., Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. and Healthfirst host the 10th annual Bronx Sweetheart Luncheon, honoring Bronx couples who have been married 50 years or more, Villa Barone Manor, 737 Throgs Neck Expressway, Bronx.

At noon, LG Kathy Hochul highlights the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage at the National Susan B. Anthony Luncheon, Rochester Riverside Convention Center, East Lounge, 123 East Main St., Rochester.

At 1:30 p.m., Sen. Jesse Hamilton, Nigerian-American Muslim community members, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and Immigrant Defense Coalition partners gather to launch sanctuary Senate District initiative, NAMIC, 801 Dean St., Brooklyn.

Also at 1:30 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will tour The Joint Industry Board of the Electrical Industry’s Electrical Industry Training Center, 48-40 34th St., Long Island City, Queens.

Also at 1:30 p.m., the NYC Council holds a stated meeting, Council chambers, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 2 p.m., Sens. Marisol Alcantara and Rubén Díaz Sr. and Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda announce new legislation to provide for an instant 3-cent refund of sales tax for the use of reusable bags by customers, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 2 p.m., Hochul tours a culinary and hospitality training program at East High School, 1801 Main St. East, Rochester.

At 2:30 p.m., Cuomo makes an announcement, 633 Third Ave., 38th Floor, Manhattan.

At 4 p.m., de Blasio will hold a public hearing on, and sign into law, nine pieces of legislation, Blue Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., de Blasio will attend The Nation’s Monthly Conversation Series launch to partake in a conversation with Katrina van den Heuvel, 520 8th Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 6 p.m., the NYC DOT hosts a Bronx public transit plan workshop, Fordham University Campbell Hall, 441 E. Fordham Road, Bronx.

At 6:30 p.m., NYC Councilman Daniel Garodnick hosts a forum on navigating the recent Trump executive orders and their effects on New York City, as well as steps New Yorkers can take as activists and allies, Temple Emanu-El, Lowenstein Auditorium, 10 E. 66th St., Manhattan.

Also at 6:30 p.m., Tech:New York City Leadership Council launches with an update on the recent Trump immigration ban’s legal challenges, The Jane, Hotel Ballroom, 113 Jane St., Manhattan.

Headlines…

Phone records and intercepted calls show that members of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and other Trump associates had repeated contacts with senior Russian intelligence officials in the year before the election, according to four current and former American officials.

Former national security adviser Michael Flynn said he didn’t talk about sanctions on Russia when he spoke with the country’s U.S. ambassador late last year.

Flynn’s stunning resignation has emboldened congressional Democrats to demand a broader investigation into President Trump’s ties to Russia — and compelled a small group of leading Republicans to acknowledge growing concerns over the episode.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer demanded that Attorney General Jeff Sessions “recuse himself” to ensure an independent investigation into Flynn’s Russia connections.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul thinks it’s “excessive” and “not useful” to launch a probe into the new administration.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, a California Republican, says he won’t open an investigation into Flynn, citing executive privilege, but will investigate who leaked the story that led to Flynn’s resignation and why Trump’s national security adviser was being recorded.

The front-runner to succeed Flynn as White House national security adviser is a former Navy SEAL and retired three-star admiral who became one of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’s most-trusted colleagues while leading troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Trump’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today is expected to begin a reset in U.S.-Israel relations, but experts said they also hope the president clarifies his shifting views on crucial issues.

Senior White House adviser Kellyanne Conway showed some love to a Twitter user, “Lib Hypocrisy,” who appears to identify as a white nationalist, but later said she had “never heard” of the user and suggested someone else had access to her account and sent the tweet.

Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen said the central bank still expects to raise interest rates gradually this year. But she said the Fed also recognizes the dangers of waiting too long to tighten credit.

Senate approval of Andy Puzder to lead the Department of Labor will hinge in large part on his testimony in a confirmation hearing tomorrow, as an unusually large number of GOP senators are reserving judgment on the nomination until they hear his explanation of several sensitive matters.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie lunched with Trump at the White House yesterday amid speculation that the New Jersey governor might join the administration as it grapples with growing pains.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill to impose a moratorium blocking NYC from imposing a controversial 5-cent fee on plastic disposable bags.

Cuomo released a 1,000 word statement on the issue late in the day yesterday, saying the city law due to take effect today was “deeply flawed” even if the intent to clean up the environment was a good one. He’s establishing a task force to look into the matter and report back by the end of the year.

NYC Council members Brad Lander and Margaret Chin, who had fought for years for the fee, were dismayed by Cuomo’s decision, but it was a spokesperson for Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito who seemed the most incensed.

State Sen. Bill Perkins is heading back to his roots on the NYC Council after easily won his old seat in a nine-way special election to replace Inez Dickens, who left for the state Assembly in January.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman thinks Cuomo’s bid to expand the civil law enforcement authority of the state Department of Financial Services represents “a wholly unnecessary overreach by the Executive (that)…should be rejected by the Legislature.”

More >

Extras

President Trump was informed weeks ago that his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, had not told the truth about his interactions with Russia’s ambassador and asked for Flynn’s resignation after concluding he could not be trusted, the White House said.

Buffalo Republican Rep. Chris Collins’ take on Flynn’s resignation: “It’s time to move on.”

Collins, a strong Trump supporter and frequent Trump surrogate, says he has never held a public town hall meeting, and never will, because he believes they are “useless.”

Bronx Democratic Rep. Eliot Engel capitalized on Flynn’s resignation to push legislation that would slam the Kremlin and its agents with even tougher financial sanctions.

In a rare display of bipartisanship, the U.S. Senate voted 81-19 to confirm former wrestling entertainment executive Linda McMahon to lead the Small Business Administration as part of Trump’s cabinet.

Secret Service director Joseph Clancy, who took over the beleaguered agency in the wake of a string of security lapses and personnel misconduct, announced he will retire early next month.

The director of the Office of Government Ethics says White House counselor Kellyanne Conway misused her official position by hawking Ivanka Trump’s product line on TV and recommended the White House punish her.

New York Times features writer Jacob Bernstein apologized for calling the first lady a “hooker” at a Fashion Week event.

The White House visitors office will resume public tours on Tuesday, March 7.

Pedro Hernandez, a former Manhattan bodega stock clerk who confessed to luring the 6-year-old Etan Patz into the store’s basement and attacking him, was found guilty of murder and kidnapping, a long-awaited step toward solving the nearly 40-year mystery that bedeviled investigators and forever changed the way parents watched over their children.

Sen. Bill Perkins, a Harlem Democrat who is widely expected to win a NYC Council special election tonight, has missed quite a few votes in Albany since he was re-elected last fall.

Pete Souza, who served as the chief White House photographer during former President Barack Obama’s eight years in office, is continuing his suddenly not-so-subtle campaign of throwing shade at Trump.

Marvin Krislov, the president of Oberlin College, an Ohio institution known for its music program and left-leaning campus, will become the next head of Pace University, a sprawling private university in Manhattan and Westchester County.

Border Patrol Agents arrested 23 suspected undocumented immigrants in a raid outside a Western New York convenience store yesterday, but said the incident was “random” and not related to any policies implemented by the Trump administration.

Syracuse native Tom Cruise’s mother Mary Lee South is dead, according to multiple reports. She was 80.

Good luck in your next chapter, Paul Grondahl.

Compliments of CNN: “If the president wrote Valentine’s Day cards.”

…and speaking of presidents and Valentine’s Day, the Obamas tweeted some lovey-dovey sentiments.

Here and Now

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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

It’s Tuesday, which means it’s lobby day down at the state Capitol – a typically very busy, very crowded experience. Expect lots of heart/love related references, including from environmental activists, who will be handing out little bags of chocolate kisses as they make the rounds seeking more money in this year’s budget.

The 10th of 13 joint legislative budget hearings will be held in the LOB today, with the focus on the K-12 education portion of the executive spending plan. State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia is scheduled to testify first.

Down in NYC, there’s a special election to fill the vacant Harlem Council seat vacated by now-Assemblywoman Inez Dickens. Sen. Bill Perkins is the frontrunner in what is widely expected to be a low turnout race in which a total of nine candidates are running. If he wins, it will further complicate matters for the regular Senate Democrats.

In D.C., President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will participate in a parent-teacher conference listening session. Trump is scheduled to lunch with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and his wife, and later will meet with Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

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

Headlines…

After serving less than a month, Michael T. Flynn, the White House national security adviser, resigned last night after it was revealed that he had misled Vice President Mike Pence and other top Trump administration officials about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States.

The acting attorney general informed the Trump White House late last month that she believed Flynn had misled senior administration officials about the nature of his communications with the ambassador, and warned that the national security adviser was potentially vulnerable to Russian blackmail.

Hillary Clinton took to Twitter to weigh in on the news of Flynn’s departure.

Reps. John Conyers Jr. and Elijah Cummings – the ranking members of the Judiciary and Oversight committees, respectively – called for a classified briefing for Congress regarding former Flynn after his abrupt resignation.

Keith Kellogg, who was named to replace Flynn as Trump’s interim National Security Adviser, was the first of the retired generals to flock to the now-president’s long-shot campaign last year, advising him behind the scenes on foreign policy issues from early on.

Kellogg is among the top contenders to permanently fill the National Security advisor post, which does not require Senate confirmation.

The U.S. Senate confirmed Steven Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs banker and Hollywood film financier, to be Treasury secretary, putting in place a key lieutenant to the president who will help drive the administration’s plans to overhaul the tax code, renegotiate trade deals around the world and remake financial regulations.

Here’s the breakdown of the Mnuchin vote – both of New York’s senators voted “no.”

A federal judge in Virginia said late yesterday that Trump’s executive order on immigration was likely unconstitutional and issued a preliminary injunction blocking part of the administration’s efforts to restrict entry to the United States.

Trump and his top aides coordinated their response to North Korea’s missile test on Saturday night in full view of diners at the president’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida — a remarkable public display of presidential activity that is almost always conducted in highly secure settings.

No classified information was present when Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe publicly discussed a North Korean missile test at the president’s Florida club, the president’s top spokesman said.

Following meetings at the White House with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Trump said he seeks only modest changes in the U.S. trade relationship with Canada, pledging that the two nations would continue to work together on cross-border commerce and security issues.

The White House has granted coveted press credentials to The Gateway Pundit, a provocative conservative blog, which gained notice last year for its fervent pro-Trump coverage and its penchant for promoting false rumors about voter fraud and Hillary Clinton’s health that rocketed around right-wing websites.

Omarosa Manigault, a reality-TV star and a longtime Trump associate who is now a communications official at the White House, got into an allegedly physical altercation with a reporter and revealed the administration has collected “dossiers” of negative information about certain journalists.

The New York Times reprimanded an unidentified reporter who had called First Lady Melania Trump “a hooker” at a New York Fashion Week event.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio laid out his priorities for the final year of his first term and beyond, saying in his State of the City address at The Apollo Theater last night that he would focus on creating thousands of new jobs to attack the city’s crisis of affordability — but offering few details of how he would deliver on the promise.

The speech in some ways marked the unofficial start of de Blasio’s re-election campaign this year. The mayor’s choice of venue harks back to the black New Yorkers and other liberals who helped carry him to victory more than three years ago and who make up the heart of his base.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed $2 billion in his budget to be used over five years to upgrade and protect drinking water but some estimates for the total cost of water infrastructure needs in the coming decades are 40 times that amount.

Citing an aging water infrastructure across the state, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli in a new report said the system could require nearly $40 billion in repairs and upgrades over the next two decades.

A legislative push to add protections for illegal immigrants has divided Democrats in Albany, revealing some fractures in the party as it navigates how to respond to Trump’s agenda.

New York City lawmakers and transit advocates called on Cuomo to increase funding for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority amid rising subway ridership and a forthcoming fare increase.

More >

Extras

For the first time since taking office, President Donald Trump didn’t tweet before 8:15 a.m. ET on a weekday.

Federal officials have held private talks in recent days with attorneys for Trump’s real estate company to address a potential violation of the president’s lease with the government for his new luxury hotel near the White House, but the two sides have so far failed to reach a resolution.

Andrew Sullivan: “(A)ll politicians lie…Trump’s lies are different. They are direct refutations of reality — and their propagation and repetition is about enforcing his power rather than wriggling out of a political conundrum.”

Trump’s poll numbers keep dropping, and his 55 percent disapproval rating is already as high as President Obama’s ever was in his first term in office.

Amid a bitter war of words between the Trump administration and the Fourth Estate, plans for the 2017 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner in April have been thrown into turmoil.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wants national security adviser, Michael Flynn, to be fired immediately, saying in a statement that his conduct “was alarming enough before his secret communications with the Russians were exposed.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is set to deliver his annual state of the city address at the Apollo Theater tonight, a wide-ranging speech that in some ways marks the unofficial start of his reelection campaign this year.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo counts on $1.2 billion in “fiscal gimmicks” to keep spending growth below 2 percent in his proposed 2017 state budget, a government watchdog agency said.

Cuomo has tapped Guillermo Linares, a former assemblyman and NYC councilman, to head the agency tasked with helping implement his plan to offer free CUNY or SUNY tuition to students with family incomes up to $125,000.

Fellow Democrats outflanked de Blasio from the left, demanding he carve out a $200 million budget subsidy to subsidize transit costs for poor New Yorkers.

Sen. Joe Griffo has introduced legislation that would allow connoisseurs of fine wine ice creams to enjoy their treats in more responsible sizes by doing away with a statutory requirement that the boozy dessert be sold in containers of at least one pint.

Sen. Jose Peralta was booted from his local Democratic club in the latest fallout over his defection to an independent group in the senate — which has prompted rallies and criticism from former allies in Queens.

The legislative session is slowly gaining steam, marked by a lingering tension between Cuomo and lawmakers. But this year stands out for another reason: civil disobedience.

Top political advisers to John Kasich have formed a nonprofit organization that will promote themes the Ohio governor pushed during his unsuccessful run for last year’s Republican presidential nomination.

Low turnout is expected in the special election scheduled to be held tomorrow to fill the NYC Council seat vacated by now-Assemblywoman Inez Dickens.

Wall Street Journal Editor-in-Chief Gerard Baker defended his paper’s coverage of Trump during a staff town hall and said it would be “fake news” to claim the publication hasn’t been tough enough, according to Journal sources.

The city of Yonkers will pay an extra $3 million to keep its lights on over the next 12 years, according to a study of utility costs linked to a controversial Cuomo administration plan to bail out three upstate nuclear power plants.

Cuomo today announced that the New York State Police issued more than 4,000 tickets during a special STOP DWI traffic enforcement campaign over Super Bowl Weekend.

UFT President Michael Mulgrew makes the case for stronger charter school oversight now that U.S. Secretary Betsy DeVos – a strong charter supporter – has been confirmed.

The state comptroller’s office will audit the Hempstead Town Industrial Development Agency and Valley Stream School District 30 after a controversy over tax breaks granted to the Green Acres Mall.

At 85, Matilda Raffa Cuomo is still crisscrossing the state, talking up her mentoring program with the same passion she brought to it in the 1980s and ’90s as the first lady of New York.

According to the late former Gov. Mario Cuomo, what mattered to then-30-year-old Andrew Cuomo was: His car (Jaguar), his dinner, and his date.

Singer Katy Perry, an ardent Hillary Clinton supporter, made a number of political statements during her Grammy’s appearance.

The governor proposed $2 billion in his budget to be used over five years to address clean water infrastructure, but some estimates for the total cost of water infrastructure needs in the coming decades are 40 times that amount.

About three dozen mayors spoke out against Cuomo’s push for more counties and municipalities to share services, accusing him of placing another state mandate on local governments.

Legislation that allows 16 and 17-year-olds to become organ donors in New York takes effect tomorrow.

Taste NY sales totaled more than $13.1 million last year, according to Cuomo’s office. That’s up from approximately $4.5 million in 2015.

Here and Now

Good morning. Happy Chinese Lunar New Year.

Hopefully, you weathered the big storm safely. Now comes the fun part: Digging out.

Also, be careful today; high winds are in the forecast, and a winter storm warning remains in effect in some locations until this evening. More of the white stuff could be on the way.

The roads are slick with ice and snow, so allow more time for the morning commute. Also, check your local listings for closings.

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

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is in Washington, D.C. to meet with VP Mike Pence and President Donald Trump. Their schedule includes a “working lunch,” and a roundtable discussion on the advancement of women entrepreneurs and business leaders.

Trump is also scheduled to speak by phone to foreign leaders and meet in the afternoon with RNC officials.

It’s a busy day in Albany, with lots of fundraisers and press conferences and hearings scheduled. Meanwhile, down in NYC, Mayor Bill de Blasio is preparing to deliver his fourth “State of the City” address at The Apollo Theater tonight.

Check the bottom of this post for a full calendar of events.

Headlines…

As a private citizen, Donald Trump used to criticize President Obama’s fondness for golf. But with two trips this month to his Florida golf clubs, the new president appears to have reversed his thinking.

Federal immigration officials arrested more than 600 people across at least 11 states last week, detaining 40 people in the New York City area, law enforcement officials said. It remained unclear whether the actions by ICE agents were part of continuing operations to round up illegal immigrants with criminal convictions or a ramping-up of deportations by the Trump administration.

The White House is examining several options – including issuing a new executive order or continuing its legal battle – for how to proceed on its immigration policy after a setback dealt by the courts last week, top White House adviser Stephen Miller said.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio urged demonstrators at a “Rally for Refugees” in lower Manhattan yesterday to continue speaking out against President Donald Trump’s efforts to ban the entry of Syrian refugees and travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

A top White House aide sidestepped repeated chances yesterday to publicly defend embattled national security adviser Michael Flynn following reports that he engaged in conversations with a Russian diplomat about U.S. sanctions before Trump’s inauguration.

Republicans love cutting taxes, especially if they were authored by a president named Barack Obama. But as they push their wobbly effort to erase his health care overhaul, they’re divided over whether to repeal the levies the law imposed to finance its expanded coverage for millions of Americans.

Prominent police chiefs and prosecutors fear that the new administration is out of step with evidence that public safety depends on building trust, increasing mental health and drug addiction treatment, and using alternatives to prosecution and incarceration.

The US Department of Education, helmed by its new secretary, Betsy DeVos, yesterday misspelled the name of African American historian and civil-rights pioneer W.E.B. Du Bois in a tweet.

A typo prompted the Library of Congress to nix a $17 inauguration portrait of Trump from its online store.

Comedian Tom Arnold is claiming Hillary Clinton begged him to release footage of Trump using racial slurs just days before the November election.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer writes in the NYT: “The bar is always high to achieve a seat on the Supreme Court, but in these unusual times — when there is unprecedented stress on our system of checks and balances — the bar is even higher for Judge Neil M. Gorsuch to demonstrate independence.”

Schumer said that Medicare as we know it is in grave danger, just two days after Tom Price’s confirmation as Health and Human Services Secretary. He pledged to use his new role as Senate Democratic Leader to block “efforts to weaken, wound and destroy” the entitlement program.

These are chaotic and anxious days inside the National Security Council, the traditional center of management for a president’s dealings with an uncertain world.

North Korea defiantly launched a missile into the sea yesterday, but Trump never mentioned the country while pledging support for Japan, a sharp departure from his previous combative reaction.

D.C. Democrats are discovering it’s sometimes not so bad to be out of power, which means you no longer bear all the responsibility for problems and proposals.

Christopher Ruddy, CEO of Newsmax Media and a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, said that White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus is the “problem,” in “way over his head” and should be dumped.

America Rising, a pro-Republican PAC, is preparing to ramp up efforts to oppose Gov. Andrew Cuomo — not in expectation of his likely run for a third term next year, but with an eye to his potentially seeking the presidency in 2020.

Caroline Wojtaszek, the Niagara County district attorney, filed an affidavit last week recusing her office from an ongoing investigation into the campaign accounts of former state Sen. George Maziarz. She said she found new files related to the probe.

A plan to offer a $7.6 billion subsidy to the company controlling most of New York’s nuclear power plants will cost the City Of Buffalo about $3.35 million in added utility costs, according to a new analysis by the Alliance for a Green Economy.

Anti-nuclear activists are blasting the state for agreeing to turn over about $1.5 billion it held in nuclear plant decommissioning funds to two energy companies.

A new challenge for the mainline Senate Democrats: The expected win in a NYC Council special election tomorrow of Sen. Bill Perkins will leave them with just 22 members in the 63-member chamber as budget season fast approaches.

More >