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Posts by Liz Benjamin
Jun 26th - 5:00 pm
Breaking news in the three-week-old manhunt for the two Clinton Correctional Facility escapees, Richard Matt and David Sweat. According to multiple reports, Matt has been shot and killed by law enforcement, while Sweat is still on the run. Tune in to Time Warner Cable News for updates.
A trail camera in Whippleville took a photo of the two men earlier this week, according to law-enforcement officials. The camera captured both men, showing Matt holding a shotgun.
The hunt for the escapees hit its 21st day today, with State Police saying they were adding additional troopers near the Canadian border.
Searchers found new evidence at a second cabin, this time in Malone, a town in northern New York, near the Canadian border, as well as from a site outdoors.
“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. “In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were.”
President Obama called the ruling “a victory for America.”
ICYMI: Obama led the congregation in “Amazing Grace” while eulogizing the Rev. Clementa Pinkney, one of the victims in last week’s South Carolina church shooting, and also expressed support for taking down the Confederate flag.
Former NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who advocates to get same-sex marriage legalized in New York, reflects on what today’s court ruling means to her.
Dan Janison: “Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan appears ready to come away with more political gains than losses from his first end-of-session deals as New York’s top elected Republican.”
Here’s how lawmakers voted on the Big Ugly.
AG Eric Schneiderman panned the Big Ugly for failing to include any additional ethics reforms.
EJ McMahon takes a look at which pension sweeteners made the cut – and which fell short – in the Big Ugly.
Democrat-turned-Republican supermarket mogul – and perhaps future tabloid owner? – is having a media moment.
The PEF election could end up in court.
Syracuse Common Councilor Pamela Hunter won the county Democratic committee’s endorsement for a vacant state Assembly seat, but the race for support among voters in her party has just begun.
Lorenzo Fertitta, UFC chairman & CEO, said in a statement that there were clearly enough votes in the Democratic-led Assembly to pass a bill that would lift the MMA ban in New York, but it never came to a vote.
The Chinese owners of the Waldorf, New York’s largest union hotel employer, have reached a record deal with the Hotel and Motel Trades Council union in which the hotel could pay almost $149 million in severance packages to its employees over the next two years.
Aiming to curb gender bias and harassment in New York City, officials are readying a plan that would require businesses to convert some restrooms to gender-neutral facilities.
Last night’s WFP gala became an anti-Cuomo fest, with party leaders expressing regret for endorsing him in 2014 and recommitting to flipping the state Senate into Democratic hands next year.
The Fast Food Wage Board, which wrapped up its public hearing schedule earlier in the week, is moving right along. The panel is set to meet Monday, at 11 a.m. Monday, on the Harriman Campus, building 12.
Half of New York’s power will come from renewable sources in the next 15 years, under a new state energy plan. The state will try to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030.
Jun 26th - 1:19 pm
In yet another “screw you” to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Republican-controlled Senate departed Albany without acting on the mayor’s appointees to the MTA Board, multiple sources confirm.
De Blasio had three nominees pending with the Senate to serve on the state-run authority, which manages transit – buses, subways, trains, bridges and tunnels – in New York City and surrounding areas including, Long Island: David Jones, a leader with the nonprofit Community Service Society who has advocated reduced transit fares for low-income New Yorkers; Manhattan Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, who chairs the chamber’s Transportation Committee; and Veronica Vanterpool, director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign and a member of the MTA’s “reinvention” commission.
The trio would bring some diversity to the Board. Jones is black, and Vanterpool and Rodriguez are Latino. The mayor’s decision to tap the councilman did raise some eyebrows, with questions about whether him doing double-duty as both a board member and chair of the committee that oversees the MTA would present a conflict of interest.
The mayor’s appointees were supposed to replace two holdovers from the Bloomberg administration – John Banks and Jeffrey Kay – and give de Blasio control of the four seats on the MTA Board that are afforded to City Hall.
A Senate spokesman said members of the majority are “performing our due diligence on the mayor’s selections.” He did not confirm or deny that the majority’s decision not to act on the mayor’s appointees was born of the Republicans’ ongoing anger with de Blasio for his failed effort to assist the Senate Democrats in taking back the majority during last year’s elections. The bad blood between the conference and the mayor (not to mention the difficult relationship between Cuomo and the mayor) made this an unusually difficult session for de Blasio in Albany.
The Senate did not hold up everything having to do with the MTA, which is always a bit of a sticky wicket – especially for the downstate members – due to its long-running financial issues. (The authority a $14 billion funding gap in its five-year capital plan, which Albany did not address before the session ended).
MTA Chairman Tom Predergast was confirmed earlier this week for a new six-year term. During his confirmation hearing, he warned that if lawmakers don’t do something about the capital plan gap by the end of the year, the agency might have to delay contracts for some projects.
The Senate also confirmed one of Cuomo’s two MTA Board nominees – Larry Schwartz, a former top aide to the governor who is now working in the private sector for an airport services company called OTG Management, to replace Republican Andrew Saul. Schwartz could not travel to Albany to attend his confirmation hearing in person, and so participated via video conference.
Cuomo’s other nominee, Peter Ward, president of the small (but growing in both numbers and clout) New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council. Ward was supposed to replace Allen Cappelli, a Democratic operative from Staten Island who was selected to serve on the board by former Gov. David Paterson in 2008.
News of Cuomo’s decision not to reappoint Cappelli, who has demonstrated an independent streak during his time on the board, angered both Staten Islanders and transit advocates. Cappelli himself expressed disappointment about his imminent removal.
The Senate could not immediately provide an answer as to why Ward was not confirmed, but Schwartz was. (I’m told a few other gubernatorial appointees were also held up due to the fact that they could not appear in person before the Health Committee, as desired by its chairman, Sen. Kemp Hannon). Sen. Diane Savino, an IDC member from Staten Island, said she had not pushed for the delay, saying she believes the “clock just ran down.”
Cappelli said he has no idea why he was spared – at least in the short term – and believes he will continue to serve on the board until the Senate confirms a replacement. At the moment, lawmakers have no plans to return to Albany before next year’s session, which begins in January.
“At least I can continue to serve and fight for capital projects and service enhancements for a period of time,” Cappelli said. “We’ll see what happens.”
Jun 26th - 5:12 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City. The 2015 session is officially in the books. Both the Senate and Assembly have passed the “Big Ugly” (Big Lovely, Big Whatever), and members quickly departed Albany, eager to put a tumultuous and difficult six months behind them.
At 10:30 a.m., AG Eric Schneiderman announces a “major criminal enforcement action,” office of the AG, 120 Broadway, Manhattan.
At noon, Brooklyn BP Eric Adams and Deputy BP Diana Reyna, NYC Council members Laurie Cumbo and Mathieu Eugene and Sen. Jesse Hamilton hold a news conference to criticize deportations from the Dominican Republic; steps, Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.
At 5:30 p.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray, Deputy Mayor Lilliam Barrios-Paoli and Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Gilbert Taylor will deliver remarks at the first-ever graduation ceremony for college-bound high school seniors living in Department of Homeless Services shelters, as well as graduates from the DHS Advantage Academy, The Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum, Pier 86, West 46th Street and 12th Avenue, Manhattan.
Members of the Assembly overwhelmingly approved the Big Ugly in a 122-13 vote, finishing up around midnight. The measure passed the Senate a bit earlier in the evening, 47-12, with a number of Democrats dissenting.
The votes ended a session that will be remembered for for its corruption scandals and attendant upheaval rather than its legislative achievements – or lack thereof. Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the agreement “a reasonable and intelligent compromise” in which “no one is exactly happy with everything.”
The details of the final deal were largely unchanged since Cuomo and legislative leaders announced a framework agreement earlier in the week. It extends NYC mayoral control for just one year, continues both rent control and the 421a program with what the governor deemed “historic” reforms (though advocates strongly disagree), extends the tax cap with minor modifications and creates a $1.3 billion property tax rebate program.
Contrary to lawmakers’ claims, the Big Ugly did not end the State Education Department’s so-called “gag order” policy that prevents administrators and teachers from discussing the contents of state exams.
Among issues not included in the Big Ugly: An oversight measure for the troubled East Ramapo school district, a bill lifting New York’s ban on MMA, the education tax credit (though nonpublic schools get $250 million), and so-called “Raise the Age” legislation/criminal justice reforms.
After the East Ramapo bill failed to win approval in Albany, Chancellor Merryl Tisch said the school board should dismiss its superintendent to show it aimed to fix the damaged district.
Also failing to make the cut: A plan that could have affected the siting of video slot machine parlors on Long Island, as well as a proposal to force Nassau County to direct some sales tax revenue to two villages in Assemblywoman Earlene Hooper’s district.
As a result of the end of session deal, not only Cuomo, but former governors George Pataki, David Paterson and Eliot Spitzer now all have the power to perform marriages. The new law takes effect immediately – just in time for this weekend’s Gay Pride Parade in NYC.
The governor did not deny that he was the “top Cuomo administration official” quoted in the Daily News questioning NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s strategy as he pushed to renew his control of the city’s schools and restructure and reauthorize a real estate tax subsidy to help him build more affordable housing. (Cuomo’s spokeswoman on whether the governor had admitted he was the commentor: “Nope”).
De Blasio was on the downside of a difficult week, as he navigated the final hours of both the state legislative session and City Council budget talks. “Right now, we are focused on policy,” the mayor responded when asked about the tough comments from the governor’s camp.
Richard Matt traded on his skills as an artist to assist in his breakout – along with fellow convict, David Sweat – from Clinton Correctional Facility.
There are thousands of cabins across the six-million-acre Adirondack Park and the surrounding foothills. Many of them are empty this time of year, but stocked with firearms and nonperishable food – just the sort of things the escaped convicts would be looking for as they elude law enforcement.
Jun 25th - 5:59 pm
It’s 6 p.m., do you know where your state lawmaker is? Still in Albany, but – so far – not passing any legislation related to the Big Ugly (or “Big Whatever,” as Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan call it, or, as the governor prefers, the “Big Lovely”). It’s shaping up to be a long night, folks. So, settle in, and enjoy the following headlines while you wait for this year’s session to officially conclude.
UPDATE: The Big Ugly bill has landed!!
In a sweeping victory for President Obama’s signature law, the US Supreme Court ruled, 6-3, that the federal government may provide subsidies to people purchasing health insurance from a federal exchange.
New York City’s top Democrats hailed the ruling.
The Senate Finance Committee approved the appointment of Larry Schwartz, the former secretary to Cuomo, to the MTA Board. Senators interviewed Schwartz via a video conference because he was unable to make the trip to Albany.
Anonymous quotes are hardly new, but some of the recent ones raised eyebrows even among veteran watchers of Albany. Cuomo today did not deny that he was the top administration official anonymously quoted slamming NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio in three downstate papers this morning.
Could NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray and Sandra Lee play peacemakers for their respective significant others? McCray says the two have a “very good relationship” that they should “develop.”
Asked if she could consider a run for governor in the future, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, who is prevented by term limits from seeking re-election, replied: “I will never say never.”
Disgraced former Sen. Malcolm Smith says he is a “humbled and broken man,” and argues he deserves leniency because his attempt to bribe his way into NYC Hall was not for financial gain.
Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch is blaming the Senate Republicans – not Cuomo – for failing to get a deal on the East Ramapo oversight bill.
The president of the state correctional officers union is telling members that the time to talk about the factors leading up to the escape from Clinton Correctional Facility will come, but the focus now must be on capturing Richard Matt and David Sweat.
The prison guard arrested in connection with the prison break admitted to authorities he’d exchanged favors with the escaped killers, but claimed he had no clue the extra privileges he gave them “made their escape easier.”
Advocates for paid internships are accusing the de Blasio administration of falling short of its own progressive rhetoric when it comes to intern compensation. Many of the mayor’s interns work full-time, but are not paid, even as he pushes for a higher minimum wage.
An investigation by state IG Catherine Leahy Scott found that a former top official with the state office of Medicaid IG improperly accepted gifts, including air travel and a job offer, from a Texas corporation that had a $120 million contract with the state.
Spanish-language broadcaster Univision is dropping the Miss USA pageant and cutting ties with the ties with the Miss Universe Organization, which Donald Trump co-owns, after some ugly comments the 2016 presidential candidate made about Mexicans.
The Yonkers school district will get an additional $25 million in state aid to avert layoffs. The money originally was to come from a $100 million fund for struggling upstate schools, but the rest of the cash isn’t in the Big Ugly.
A unanimous Court of Appeals panel said the Taxi and Limousine Commission, under former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, didn’t “exceed its authority” when it designated the Nissan NV200 as the vehicle for the city’s entire fleet.
Lawmakers won’t approve a plan by Assemblywoman Earlene Hooper to force Nassau County to direct some of its sales tax revenue to two villages in her district. Instead, the Assembly will extend Nassau’s authorization to collect the tax with no strings attached.
Hedge-fund billionaire Daniel Loeb — one of the biggest and most feared investors on Wall Street and a vocal backer of same-sex marriage — posted a joke speculating about Hillary Clinton’s sexuality on his personal Facebook page.
Mario Biaggi, a longtime New York congressman who was forced to resign after two corruption convictions has died in his Bronx home at the age of 97.
Jun 25th - 5:19 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule. The Legislature is back in session, awaiting bill language for the end-of-session “Big Ugly.” The Assembly is due in at 9:30 a.m., the Senate at 11 a.m.
At 9:30 a.m., members of The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey’s board of commissioners hold board and committee meetings in New York; Four World Trade Center, 150 Greenwich St., Manhattan.
At 10 a.m., former Gov. David Paterson discusses disabilities, discrimination and education while delivering a commencement address to children who attended a public charter school in Queens; Q. 704 Merrick Academy, 136-25 218th St., Queens.
Also at 10 a.m., NYC Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen makes opening remarks at the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership’s inaugural Make It in Brooklyn Innovation Summit; Theatre for a New Audience, Polonsky Shakespeare Center, 262 Ashland Pl., Brooklyn.
Also at 10 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio attends the graduation ceremony at Boys and Girls High School in the school’s auditorium, 1700 Fulton St., Brooklyn.
At 10:30 a.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Sen. Adriano Espaillat, NYC Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and other community and government officials discuss the release of a report including economic statistics for the Inwood and Washington Heights neighborhoods; La Marina catering facility and restaurant, 48 Dyckman St., Manhattan.
Also at 10:30 a.m., Thruway Authority Executive Director Robert Megna, state Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald and the New NY Bridge Mass Transit Task Force give a media update on the implementation of short-term transit recommendations, Dominican College, Rosary Hall, 470 Western Highway, Orangeburg.
At 11:30 a.m., Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance announces charges against two major narcotics organizations in Washington Heights; Manhattan DA’s Office, 80 Centre St., 8th floor, Manhattan.
At noon, Minister Kirsten John Foy, Northeast Regional Director and other NAN leaders and clergy hold a press conference denouncing Robert E. Lee Street (in Brooklyn) and Confederate flag paintings (in the state Capitol), at the main gate of Fort Hamilton Army Base; Fort Hamilton Pkwy & 101st St.; Brooklyn.
At 2 p.m., the NAACP announces the filing of lawsuit against New York employers for illegal discrimination against job applicants with felony convictions; City Hall steps, Manhattan.
At 3:15 p.m., de Blasio hosts a press conference with NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, YM & YWHA of Washington Heights and Inwood, 54 Nagle Ave., Manhattan.
At 5:30 p.m., 2014 Republican candidate for LG and Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss will appear at Glenville Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle’s Summer Steak Roast, Water’s Edge Lighthouse Terrace, Glenville, NY.
At 6 p.m., Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr. and Sen. Jeff Klein will host the borough’s official kickoff to the year’s Independence Day Celebrations, the annual “New York Salutes America” boardwalk festival and fireworks extravaganza at Orchard Beach.
At 6:30 p.m., LG Kathy Hochul speaks at the City Honors School commencement ceremony, Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle, Buffalo.
At 7:15 p.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray appears on NY1’s “Inside City Hall” with Errol Louis.
Though their leaders had announced a framework end-of-session deal with the governor just over 24 hours earlier, rank-and-file lawmakers left the Capitol yesterday without a final agreement, and without passing any bills. They’re due back at work today.
The talks trying to turn the tentative agreement into a final agreement were reportedly not pretty. Cuomo and Senate Republicans had been convinced that omnibus legislation was to be given final approval Wednesday. But Assembly Democrats were holding out to bolster a law providing rent-control protections for some 2 million New York City apartment dwellers.
Instead of passing the so-called “Big Ugly,” the Assembly and Senate instead took up measures that while not trivial would be considered secondary to items such as New York City’s rent laws and the state’s 2 percent property tax cap – both of which are expected in the final package of bills.
The rocky relationship between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio played a significant role in this session. Rather than collaborate on mutual goals, like higher wages and immigrants’ rights, the state’s two most powerful Democrats spent much of the year at odds with one another, and – at various turns – with the Legislature.
An anonymous Cuomo administration official slammed de Blasio for failing to understand how Albany works, saying: “He is more politically oriented in terms of his approach…and then he makes it almost impossible for him to achieve success.”
De Blasio quietly rejected an offer from state Senate Republicans that would have boosted wages for the city’s lowest-paid workers in exchange for his support to increase cop and firefighter pensions. The deal would have hiked the minimum wage to $11.50 an hour in New York City.
A corrections officer recently placed on administrative leave after the escape of two convicted killers from a maximum-security prison in northern New York has been arrested. (Recall that the governor once said he would be “shocked” if a guard was involved in helping the escapees).
A attorney representing Officer Gene Palmer said his client had no knowledge they were trying to break out and didn’t know meat he gave them had contraband hidden inside it, allegedly placed there by Joyce Mitchell, who has also been charged with assisting convicts Richard Matt and David Sweat with their escape.
The governor insisted the $250 million for nonpublic schools in the framework deal is “new money,” but several groups say the cash would simply repay long-standing debts that the state had owed to those schools anyway.
MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast was confirmed by the state Senate for a new term at the helm of the agency he has led for the last two years. During his confirmation hearing, Prendergast made the case for why the authority needs more money from the state for its five-year capital plan – an issue the Legislature doesn’t plan to take up.
Judge Susan Phillips Read, one of two Republicans on the state’s highest court, will resign in August, giving Cuomo another opportunity to shape the court 16 months earlier than expected. Having served 12 years, Read would not have been forced to resign until January 2017, when her 14-year term ends. Her departure leaves Judge Eugene F. Pigott Jr. the sole Republican on the seven-member panel.
Jun 24th - 5:09 pm
The never-ending session is still….never-ending. The catchphrase around the Capitol today is that the framework deal announced yesterday by the governor and legislative leaders was apparently more “frame” than “deal.” So far, nothing is in print, and no “Big Ugly” bills have been passed. We’ll keep you posted. Until then, bring on the headlines!!
Telling reporters that they were “royally screwed,” tenant activists and a Democratic NYC councilman blasted Gov. Andrew Cuomo for failing to bolster rent regulations as much as they had hoped.
After yesterday’s “deal that isn’t a deal” press conference, the governor got on the phone to New York magazine’s Chris Smith to sell the “fantastic package” he had just announced.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio was reportedly offered a deal by the Senate Republicans to raise the minimum wage for New York City in exchange for supporting a police pension proposal, but rejected the offer.
Gun rights advocates are disappointed that Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan didn’t hold out for changes to the SAFE Act.
Cops fear that fugitive prisoners David Sweat and Richard Matt may be armed with weapons stolen from hunting camps in the woods surrounding the Clinton Correctional Facility from which they escaped.
The search for Matt and Sweat is focused on a 75-square-mile area in Franklin County, though authorities can’t be sure the pair has not gotten outside the perimeter they’ve set up.
Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton called on Cuomo to allow the closure of Lansing’s coal-fired power plant, which is currently operating now with assistance from a state-imposed surcharge that New York State Electric & Gas Corp. customers must pay on their monthly bills.
Former NYC Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota said he stepped down as a member of CUNY’s board of trustees after receiving a phone call from Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office, but insisted he left on good terms.
Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle was the only member of the Democratic conference to attend Monday’s DACC fundraiser at Yankee stadium in the Bronx. (He also chairs the political committee).
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries is calling for Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn to rename an avenue named after Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
Sen. John Sampson’s attorney insists the government’s case against his client is not a political corruption case.
Susan Brown Bloomberg, ex-wife of billionaire former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, has listed her duplex penthouse at 41 Bond St. in Manhattan for $11.7 million.
The House has passed legislation including an amendment sponsored by Rep. Brian Higgins that requires the Department of Homeland Security to study the risks of shipping highly enriched liquid uranium across the Peace Bridge.
A NYCLU report found transgender and gender nonconforming youth in public schools across New York are facing “serious and pervasive discrimination and harassment,” and the state isn’t doing enough to protect them.
The Onondaga County Civic Center and the Edward Kochian County Office Building were evacuated today due to bomb threats.
Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick played some kickball today.
Assemblyman Jim Tedisco proposed limiting the legislative session to three months.
Ironman apologized to Syracuse 70.3 finishers for putting the Rochester skyline on the race medals, and promised replacements soon.
Hoffman’s rebirth as Huck Finn’s Playground made the New York Times. “Can an old amusement park be an economic engine?” We’ll find out.
Jun 24th - 3:31 pm
There’s a general consensus around Albany that NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio got the short end of the stick in the so-called framework deal announced yesterday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders, but the mayor is trying to put a positive spin on things, saying today there’s still time for things to change while the deal remains open.
Speaking to reporters earlier today, de Blasio heaped praise on the Assembly Democrats, (even though his support among conference members has reportedly been eroding steadily over the past several weeks), saying they have been “consistently responsive to the city’s concerns,” and adding: “They’ve been serious, they’ve been resolute, and they’ve gotten a lot done, particularly on issues like rent regulation.”
De Blasio went out of his way to thank Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, who stressed during his own chat with reporters that the framework deal is just that – a framework – and nothing has been nailed done just yet.
The mayor said there are “very promising signs” at the Capitol when it comes to rent regulation, and that 421a is “very much on the table.”
“There’s a real dialogue happening on that right now,” de Blasio continued. “So I think we all need to step back and see where this process is leading us…And, you know, we don’t know if the session is going to end today, tomorrow, or some other day, but, you know, we’re focused right now on what’s going on with both the rent issue and the 421-a issue.”
De Blasio was asked whether it was a mistake for him to campaign on behalf of, and raise money for, the Senate Democrats in their failed effort to re-take the majority, given the fact that it angered the Republicans and made them predisposed against his Albany agenda. His response? “No.”
(It should be noted that the Senate Republicans aren’t the mayor’s only problem – or even his biggest problem – at the Capitol these days. His on-again, off-again relationship with the governor appears to be very much off, and some Democratic lawmakers who are disappointed with the rent deal as it currently stands are accusing Cuomo of siding with the Senate GOP against the Assembly Democrats during negotiations in large part to spite the mayor).
The mayor was also asked about the fate of his affordable housing plan if the 421a tax abatement program for real estate developers lapses. (The framework deal includes a four-year extension, but the whole thing will expire if the labor unions and real estate industry fail to reach a prevailing wage agreement within six months). Again, de Blasio was reluctant to accept that the framework is the final word on this issue, saying:
“There’s a real dialogue going on right now on 421-a. Our focus is on greatly intensifying the affordability that can be achieved through 421-a. I’ve spoken to this issue many times, as to the vision we have for making 421-a a real vehicle for greater affordability for New Yorkers. Some very serious discussions are happening right now and we have to see where that leads us.”
Capital NY’s Laura Nahmias reported earlier this afternoon that some Assembly Democrats are pushing for changes to the rent agreement, including an increase in the threshold for vacancy decontrol, though the governor’s office denied that was the case.
Jun 24th - 5:23 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule. The Legislature is awaiting bill versions of the framework “Big Ugly” deal announced yesterday by the governor and legislative leaders, so lawmakers can start passing them and bring the 2015 session to an end.
The Assembly is scheduled to be at work at 9:30 a.m., the Senate at 3 p.m.
At 8 a.m., AARP officials discuss Wednesday’s release of the organization’s survey about financial security and retirement savings of city residents approximately ages 40 to 70, who are members of the baby-boom generation and Generation X; seventh floor, Information and Technology Building, Baruch College, 151 E. 25th St., Manhattan.
At 9 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul delivers welcoming remarks at the New York State Preparedness Training Center’s “Raven’s Challenge Exercise,” 5900 Airport Rd., Oriskany.
At 10 a.m., members of the NYC Campaign Finance Board, or NYCCFB, hold a public meeting; boardroom, 12th floor, 100 Church St., Manhattan.
At 11 a.m., elected officials, medical professionals, advocates and Dr. J (former basketball player Julius Erving) promote donation of bone marrow, peripheral blood stem cells and umbilical cord blood, and outline “Jaden’s Law” legislative proposals for health care professionals to provide information about donation and registration, City Hall steps, Manhattan.
Also at 11 a.m., tenants and advocates will hold a press conference to respond to the announced framework deal on rent laws, which they say do not offer the necessary protections to keep apartments affordable for low and moderate-income New Yorkers, outside Cuomo’s Manhattan office, 633 Third Ave.
Also at 11 a.m., the New York Civil Liberties Union will hold a teleconference to release a report revealing the serious and pervasive discrimination and harassment faced by transgender and gender non-conforming youth in New York public schools across the state.
At noon, AG Eric Schneiderman, NYC Council members and members of Make the Road New York, the New York City Coalition Against Hunger and Service Workers International Union Local 32BJ and airport workers call for The Port Authority to increase benefits and wages for regional airport workers; Ditmars Boulevard and 23rd Avenue, Queens.
At approximately 11:50 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio makes an announcement, P.S. 50, 433 East 100th St., Manhattan.
At 1 p.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray speaks at a mental health provider and advocate roundtable, Morris Black Community Counseling Center, conference room, Pergament Enterprises Mall, 2795 Richmond Ave., Staten Island.
At 3 p.m., state Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball will join ValleyCats management and state and local leaders at a press conference to announce a new Taste NY partnership, Joseph L. Bruno Stadium, 80 Vandenburgh Ave., Troy.
At 5:30 p.m., McCray participates in a public forum on the on Mental Health Roadmap, P.S. 48, gymnatorium, 1050 Targee St., Staten Island
At 6 p.m., Hochul speaks at the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York annual meeting, UJA-Federation Building, 130 East 59th St., 7th Floor Conference Hall, Manhattan. (Assemblymen Phil Goldfeder and Walter Mosely will be honored).
At 6:30 p.m., Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga perform during a fundraiser to benefit the Hillary for America campaign fund; The Plaza hotel, 768 Fifth Ave., Manhattan.
Also at 6:30 a.m., former Democratic Rep. Michael McMahon will hold a campaign kickoff/fundraiser for his Staten Island DA run, Li Greci’s Staaten, 697 Forest Ave., Staten Island.
At 7 p.m., religious leaders participate in musical interfaith vigil to mark one week since the Wednesday, June 17, shooting at a church in Charleston, South Carolina, that killed nine people; West End Presbyterian Church, 165 W. 105th St., Manhattan.
Also at 7 p.m., de Blasio and McCray attend and speak at the 2015 LGBT Pride Month reception, 200 Eastern Pkwy., Brooklyn.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders announced a “framework” deal to end the 2015 legislative session that extends the downstate rent laws and mayoral control (though only for one year), as well as the property tax cap (with some changes). Assemblyman Sheldon Silver, the former speaker, called the agreement “still fluid” last night, adding: “There are fine lines when you actually draft the bill.”
The mayoral control extension will only be for one year – a political blow to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, who sought to make the law permanent.
Also in this year’s Big Ugly: A $1.3 billion property tax rebate program, with checks going out (conveniently) right before next year’s elections, $250 million for nonpublic schools (but not the education tax credit), a transparency requirement for the state Education Department on testing and teacher evaluations and a shuffling of charter schools, with more made available in NYC.
The 421a extension agreement includes significant changes to affordable housing requirements that are similar to those proposed by de Blasio and championed by REBNY, which represents major developers and is one of the state’s most powerful special interest groups.
Cuomo and lawmakers were unable to strike a deal on a pair of criminal-justice issues, including reforms to the state’s system for investigating and prosecuting incidents involving police officers and their use of force. Instead, the governor said he would follow through on his pledge to appoint a special prosecutor — AG Eric Schneiderman — for police-involved cases while he and lawmakers take another crack at the issue next year.
Also not included in the Big Ugly: A proposal to revamp the disability pension system for NYC’s uniformed work force – a priority of police and fire unions, was omitted from the agreement.
Late-inning efforts by some lawmakers to change the SAFE Act also were unsuccessful, and the fate of a measure that would lift New York’s ban on MMA remains uncertain.
Through measures inserted into the state budget this spring, both the Assembly and state Senate are now set to dole out millions of extra dollars to schools worth of so-called “bullet aid” — outside the state’s normal education funding process. Most of the Assembly’s dollars will go upstate, while the bulk of the Senate’s cash will be targeted to NYC.
A group of 71 Assembly Democrats led by former Speaker Silver had complained in a letter to the Democratic National Committee that the April 26 primary fell during Passover week. Silver announced yesterday the date was changed to April 19.
A group of prominent Jewish doctors from New York State and Duke University have published an Op-Ed in The Jewish Week criticizing the de Blasio administration’s stance on metzitza b’peh, the circumcision ritual that involves orally suctioning blood away from the penis.
De Blasio’s surprise Monday night announcement to add almost 1,300 new cops to the NYPD came just two weeks after a 1 Police Plaza sitdown between him and Bill Bratton, his handpicked police commissioner.
Hedge fund manager and charter school advocate Daniel Loeb and his wife, Margaret Munzer Loeb, will host a fund-raiser for Cuomo at their residence in East Hampton on July 11.
Jun 23rd - 5:29 pm
It was a busy day at the Capitol. To recap: The legislative leaders met early behind closed doors with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, emerging to tell reporters that they still had things they needed to work out. No deal yet. But progress was being made.
Then – quite suddenly – the press corps was summoned to the Red Room, where the leaders and Cuomo announced a “framework” deal to end the session, but declined to provide much in the way of details because Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan hadn’t yet had the opportunity to brief their respective conference members.
Then the governor left for his daughter’s graduation from high school, saying his “piece” in this particular play was done. And the leaders are now left to hash out the final details – where the Devil resides, as you well know – and then sell this agreement to the rank-and-file lawmakers.
There was nothing in print as of early this afternoon when the framework deal was announced. The five-day rent regulation extension passed last week by both houses of the Legislature expires at midnight. Some optimists are suggesting the Legislature might be able to start passing bill language for the Big Ugly as early as tomorrow, which would require a message of necessity from the governor to circumvent the required three-day aging process.
That seems like a stretch. But, hey, this is Albany, and stranger things have happened. While we wait for this picture to become a bit clearer, here are some headlines to consider:
Duane “Dog” Chapman, better known as Dog the Bounty Hunter, and his crew are following the manhunt for the two escaped prisoners from Clinton Correctional Facility. “The reward out there is good,” he said.
Lyle Mitchell, husband of Joyce Mitchell, who has been charged with helping Richard Matt and David Sweat escape, said his wife told him she got in “over my head” with the break-out plot, and insisted she never had sex with either convict.
PEF members ousted their president of four years, Susan Kent, replacing her with Wayne Spence, who will lead the second largest state workers union for the next three years.
Surprise! The rebate checks that are part of the $1.3 billion tax relief plan in the Big Ugly will be delivered in September 2016 – just in time for the elections!
Mayoral control of the Buffalo school district was not included in this year’s Big Ugly – though it never had much in the way of a “political life” in Albany to begin with.
Senate Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous’ attorney argues it is “impossible” to say the lawmaker’s bout with cancer isn’t relevant to the case without knowing what prosecutors’ arguments will be at trial.
NYSUT, the state teachers’ union, and its national sibling, the AFT, appear to be at odds over a proposal for state oversight in Rockland County’s troubled East Ramapo school district.
So far, the East Ramapo monitor bill is stalled as the session stumbles to an end. Sen. David Carlucci is asking Gov. Andrew Cuomo to intercede.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said he will not add any new religious holidays to the school calendar following Lunar New Year, irking Hindus who had hoped students and teachers could stay home for Diwali.
Bloomberg Philanthropies, the charitable organization founded by former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, announced it has chosen cities across the United States to receive grants of up to $1 million to support public art projects.
Hillary Clinton has emerged from the rocky launch of her second presidential bid with a firm grip on Democratic voters and leads over three potential Republican rivals, a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds.
Rep. Elise Stefanik has a new job on Capitol Hill: She’s been tapped by Republican leaders to help the party understand and appeal to millenials.
The site of the Stonewall Inn, a gay club and bar where 1969 riots played a significant part in the modern gay-rights movement, was designated a city landmark by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission.
The Nassau County Superior Officers Association has endorsed Republican Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray for Nassau district attorney – more than two months before an expected Democratic primary where voters will select her opponent.
AG Eric Schneiderman supports putting a woman on US paper currency, but advocates removing Andrew Jackson from the $20 instead of “the great New Yorker” Alexander Hamilton from the $10.
Cuomo announced that maple syrup production in New York hit a 70 year high, which means the state retains its standing as nation’s number two producer of maple syrup (behind Vermont).
Cornell University’s Department of Biomedical Engineering will become its own independent school after it received a $50 million gift.
Beer giant Anheuser-Busch announced plans to invest $1.5 billion in its U.S. operations – including $4.5 million at its plant just outside Baldwinsville.
Jun 23rd - 5:25 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany and the New York City area with no public schedule. The Legislature is back in Albany to try to resolve the never-ending 2015 legislative session. The Assembly is scheduled to be in at 2 p.m., the Senate at 3 p.m.
At 7:30 a.m., tenant advocates who spent the night in Albany’s Academy Park to bring attention to the rent regulation battle will breakfast at Westminster Church, 262 State St., and then return to the park for a rally at 9 a.m.
At 8:30 a.m., Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams, chair of the Housing and Buildings Committee, delivers opening remarks during the Building Owners and Managers Association International Board of Directors meeting, 11 Penn Plaza, Manhattan.
At 9 a.m., NYC elected officials and community groups representing public health, drug treatment, mental health, and legal aid providers, and individuals directly affected by current drug policy hold a ally in support of Intro 748, which would create an Office of Drug Strategy, to be immediately followed by a NYC Council hearing on the bill, City Hall steps, Manhattan.
At 9:30 a.m., members of the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission’s Research Department are scheduled to discuss proposed landmark designations for The Stonewall Inn and other properties during a public meeting; ninth floor, 1 Centre St., Manhattan.
At 9:45 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a press conference regarding the Lunar New Year, P.S. 20 – Atrium, 142-30 Barclay Ave., Queens. (NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina will also attend).
At 10 a.m., Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, joined by local brewers, will push for legislation to cut taxes for Hudson Valley small breweries, Newburgh Brewing Company, 88 Colden St., Newburgh.
At 10:30 a.m., AG Eric Schneiderman makes a public health announcement, 250 Broadway, Manhattan.
At 11 a.m., Superstorm Sandy survivors and advocates call for changes to New York’s insurance practices to protect policyholders, City Hall steps, Manhattan.
At 11:30 a.m., Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone will sign a local version of the Toxic Free Toys Act into law, H. Lee Dennison Building, Plaza, 100 Veterans Memorial Highway, Hauppauge.
At 2 p.m., Housing Works announces a lawsuit against a major real estate company for allegedly discriminating against housing applicants living with AIDS, City Hall steps, Manhattan.
At 2:30 p.m., following a scheduled court appearance by an NYPD officer accused of shooting and killing unarmed 28-year-old Brooklyn resident Akai Gurley on Thursday, Nov. 20, the mother of Gurley’s daughter, Kimberly Ballinger, and attorney Scott Rynecki hold a news conference; Kings County Supreme Court-Criminal Term, 320 Jay St., Brooklyn.
At 4 p.m., Local 372 and NYC student groups urge de Blasio to fund free lunch for all public schools, City Hall steps, Manhattan.
At 6 p.m., Farina attends a meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy, Long Island City High School, 14-30 Broadway, Queens.
In his first public comments since June 14, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said lawmakers are “close” to an accord that could close out the legislative session, and outlined areas of disagreement between the Democrat-dominated Assembly and Republican-led Senate.
Concerned about a growing suspicion among Democrats and activists that he is siding more with the Republicans on rent than the party he leads, the governor placed a surprise personal call last week to Michael McKee, the dean of New York’s tenant advocates, whose commentary on Cuomo over the years has not always been kind.
McKee remained unmoved, saying: “There is no one in the tenant movement who believes Andrew Cuomo is on our side…They don’t call him the prince of darkness for nothing. I don’t dislike him as a person. I just think he’s crazy.”
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s $2 billion gambit to goad Senate Republicans into moving on rent regulations by linking the program’s future to revenue bills affecting nearly 50 counties upstate and on Long Island was deemed “unacceptable” by Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan.
Heastie said a controversial education tax credit being pushed by the Senate Republicans and Cuomo is likely off the negotiating table, but refused to completely rule it out.
They may be at loggerheads over rent regulations, but lawmakers have eagerly come to bipartisan agreement on boosting pensions for government employees. The Legislature passed four bills last week to sweeten the pensions of deputy sheriffs in Nassau and Suffolk counties, and to aid local police, firefighters and court officers.
The hunting camp in the Adirondacks where authorities believe escaped killers Richard Matt and David Sweat may have been hiding out is owned by a group of correction officers. However, a resident in the area cautioned about jumping to any conclusions based on that information.
John Stockwell, who co-leases the camp with a group of fellow officers, went to check on it (armed with a shotgun) and reportedly saw a man that could have been one of the escaped convicts running out the back.
Cops raided the cabin on Saturday and matched DNA from Matt and Sweat to evidence seized there, including a pair of grungy, prison-issued white boxer shorts. Also found: boots, bloody socks and the fingerprints of at least one fugitive.
The escapees seemed to be taking a page from the playbook of Ralph Phillips, known as Bucky, a convicted murderer who escaped from a jail outside Buffalo in 2006 and eluded capture for months by breaking into unoccupied homes, lodges and hunting camps.
“The region around Dannemora remains a primary focus of our investigation,” State Police Maj. Charles E. Guess said at a news conference Monday, the 17th day of the search. The Allegany County communities where there was an unconfirmed sighting of the escaped killers were searched and have been declared clear, police said.
Cuomo said some 1,000 law enforcement officers are now involved in the search for Matt and Sweat, adding: “We won’t stop” until the two are found.