Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule.

President Donald Trump will receive his daily intelligence briefing in the morning, and will then hold a cabinet meeting.

In the afternoon, the president will give a statement on Jerusalem.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio today will visit and deliver remarks to NYPD Traffic Enforcement Agents. This event is closed to members of the press.

At 8 a.m., the NYC Economic Development Corp. hosts the 2017 NYC Digital Health Forum, New York Genome Center, 101 Sixth Ave., Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul delivers remarks on ending the AIDS epidemic at the NYS Department of Health Summit, Empire State Plaza Convention Center, Albany.

At 10 a.m., the NYC Deferred Compensation Plan Board meets, 40 Rector St., Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., Chancellor Betty A. Rosa and Regent Beverly Ouderkirk will visit World of Inquiry School No. 58 with Rochester City School District Superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams, 200 University Ave., Rochester.

Also at 10 a.m., state Sen. Marisol Alcántara and Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa celebrate their bill, The Suicide Prevention Act, becoming law, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, chairwoman of the Assembly Committee on Aging, holds a budget hearing, Legislative Office Building, Hearing Room B, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., the Assembly Veterans’s Affairs Committee Chair Michael DenDekker will hold a public hearing to review the $1 million in funding included in the 2017-2018 budget for veteran-to-veteran support services and other veterans’ programs that are under the jurisdiction of the committee, LOB, Hearing Room C, Albany.

At noon, Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy rallies with advocates in support of stronger policies and incentives to promote conversion of 126,000 homes per year to comfortable, efficient electric heat pumps, state Capitol, Albany.

Also at noon, African-American civilian employees of the FDNY announce a civil rights class-action lawsuit seeking sweeping reform of the current system that has permitted discrimination, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at noon, Regina Schwartz, director of the NYC Public Engagement Unit, and New York City Health Department Deputy Commissioner Sonia Angell open a new health insurance enrollment center, 25-05 Queens Plaza North, Queens.

Also at noon, Hochul announces the grand opening of the Central NY Welcome Center, Destiny USA, 9090 Destiny USA Dr., Syracuse.

Also at noon, state Sen. David Carlucci will hold a consumer protection forum on cashless tolls, given media reports of drivers receiving significant fines and late fees when using cashless tolling at the new Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, Nanuet Public Library, 149 Church St., Nanuet.

At 1 p.m., New Yorkers with developmental disabilities, their parents and caregivers and a bipartisan delegation of state legislators rally to urge Cuomo and the state Legislature to accelerate the process and ensure that direct support professionals receive the living wage they are entitled to, state Capitol, second floor, Albany.

At 5:30 p.m., the NYC Commission on Human Rights, in partnership with CUNY School of Law, the New York Women’s Foundation and the city Department of Consumer Affairs holds a public hearing on sexual harassment in the workplace, Dave Fields Auditorium, second floor, CUNY School of Law, 2 Court Square, Queens.

At 6 p.m., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and NYC Councilmen Brad Lander, Ben Kallos and Mark Levine attend the Rabbi Marshall Meyer Risk Taker Awards, Community Church of New York, 40 E. 35th St., Manhattan.

At 6:30 p.m., Commissioner Fidel F. Del Valle of the NYC Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings kicks off the Commissioner’s Community Roundtable series of events with this inaugural event for Bronx residents, Bronx Community Board 7, 229A E. 204th St., Bronx.

At 7:30 p.m., CUNY Television features NYC Councilwoman Adrienne Adams and Council members-elect Justin Brannan, Carlina Rivera and Alicka Samuel discussing the future of politics and public policy in New York City, CUNY TV studios, 365 Fifth Ave., Manhattan.

Headlines…

President Donald Trump has decided to formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and begin what is expected to be a years-long process of moving the US embassy to the contested city, fueling unrest across the Middle East.

The move fulfills a 2016 campaign pledge, but breaks with the longstanding international consensus to refrain from recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital until it brokers a peace agreement with the Palestinians

Rob Goldstone, the British publicist who arranged a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer during the 2016 presidential election, will go before the House and Senate Intelligence Committees as soon as next week.

Trump’s improvisational, and often impulsive, political decision making has become so routine that Republican leaders now accept that there will be days when he suddenly endorses and telephones candidates – including one accused of sexual misconduct with teenage girls.

Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, who has been openly critical of Republican Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore, made a donation to Moore’s Democratic rival, writing on the $100 check: “Country over Party.”

Former White House strategist Steve Bannon stumped for Moore in Alabama, railing against GOP leaders in Washington, the media and some of the candidates critics, telling supporters: “If they can destroy Roy Moore, they can destroy you.”

Bannon slammed Mitt Romney for dodging the draft during the Vietnam War — an attack that conveniently failed to mention his old boss, Trump, did the same.

Now disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein relied on powerful relationships across industries to provide him with cover as accusations of sexual misconduct piled up for decades.

Actress Lena Dunham claims that she tried to convince Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign not to accept money from Weinstein because he was a “rapist.”

Magazine editor Tina Brown also said she told someone close to Clinton during the 2008 campaign that she felt it was “unwise to be so closely associated with” Weinstein.

Michigan Democratic Rep. John Conyers Jr., under intense pressure to resign amid multiplying allegations that he sexually harassed former employees, announced that he would leave Congress immediately, and he endorsed his son John Conyers III to succeed him.

Lawyers clashed in a Manhattan courtroom over whether a defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who has accused Trump of unwanted sexual advances should be allowed to proceed in state Supreme Court.

The Office of House Employment Counsel brokered a settlement in 2006 over allegations that Queens Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks fired a staffer in retaliation for reporting that she was sexually assaulted at a business tied to a campaign contributor.

Cruise lines, craft beer and wine producers (even foreign ones), car dealers, private equity, and oil and gas pipeline managers did particularly well in the congressional frenzy to rewrite the tax code. And perhaps the biggest winner is the industry where Trump and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, made their millions: commercial real estate.

Western New York won’t have a direct voice in the House-Senate negotiations intended to result in a massive tax reform deal that aims to cut rates while slashing a key tax break that the Empire State enjoys, even though Rep. Tom Reed, a Corning Republican, and Rep. Brian Higgins, a Buffalo Democrat, both sit on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

Allowing taxpayers to use the proposed $10,000 deduction for property taxes also for state income and sales taxes is one option on the table as Congress begins to hammer out differences in the House and Senate tax bills, a key lawmaker said.

More >

Extras

President Trump told Israeli and Arab leaders he plans to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel – a symbolically fraught move that would upend decades of American policy and upset efforts to broker peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Germany’s Deutsche Bank has received a subpoena from the US special counsel investigating possible collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s office spent $3.2 million during the first few months of his investigation into Russian election interference. The Justice Department has spent $3.5 million to support the probe, though the special counsel’s office says that money would have been spent anyway if Mueller had not been appointed.

Besieged by allegations of sexual harassment, Democratic Rep. John Conyers resigned from Congress, bringing an abrupt end to the civil rights leader’s nearly 53-year career on Capitol Hill.

The top editor for the National Enquirer, Us Weekly and other major gossip publications, Dylan Howard, openly described his sexual partners in the newsroom, discussed female employees’ sex lives and forced women to watch or listen to pornographic material, former employees told The AP.

Russian athletes will be allowed to compete at the upcoming Pyeongchang Olympics as neutrals despite orchestrated doping at the 2014 Sochi Games, the International Olympic Committee said.

Trump has been questioning the validity of his infamous Access Hollywood tape, but his vice president’s wife, Karen Pence, reportedly has her own opinion of the man caught boasting of sexually harassing women: “reprehensible – just totally vile.” (Pence’s spokeswoman has denied this in a tweet).

On the week host Matt Lauer was fired because of sexual misconduct charges, NBC’s “Today” show beat its rivals at ABC for the first time in three months.

State AG Eric Schneiderman, leading a coalition of 15 state attorneys general, today filed a lawsuit against the EPA and its administrator, Scott Pruitt, for failing to meet the Clean Air Act’s statutory deadline for designating areas of the country impacted by unhealthy levels of ground-level ozone (commonly referred to as smog).

Harvard Law Prof. Alan Dershowitz: ” I think we have to stop criminalizing political differences on both sides. Hillary Clinton shouldn’t be locked up. Donald Trump shouldn’t be prosecuted for any crimes. If you don’t like what they did, don’t vote for them. That’s the answer; democracy.”

FEMA has reportedly told some employees who pulled in beefier paychecks after working overtime to respond to the series of natural disasters that hit the U.S. earlier this year they may need to return part of their extra pay.

The House has passed Rep. John Katko’s bill to raise overtime limits on Secret Service agents who have taken on extra duties this year that include protecting President Donald Trump and his large family.

The number of arrests made at the U.S.-Mexico border hit its lowest level since 1971, new Homeland Security figures show.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo suggested the Republican tax plan would “rape and pillage” New York congressional districts, drawing a rebuke from GOP House members with whom he’s frequently clashed.

The NYC Council reversed course and said the press would no longer be barred from its side of City Hall. Council spokeswoman Robin Levine said only the speaker’s suite of offices would be off limits.

Former Syracuse Mayor Tom Young is likely to testify at the federal corruption trial of two Cor Development executives if a judge allows defense lawyers to present arguments about Cor’s positive effects on the community.

Nassau County Executive-elect Laura Curran will reinstate the position of deputy county executive for economic development to jump-start new housing, transportation and retail projects and to attract new businesses to the region.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney: “New rule: after today, the Republican Party can choose to support massive new debts and it can choose to support politicians who abuse kids, but it cannot lecture the rest of us about it.”

Rep. Elise Stefanik publicly opposed drilling for oil and gas in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge after ads from the Wilderness Society targeted her and 12 other Republican lawmakers, asking them to vote against the Senate’s GOP tax bill including a rider for Arctic drilling.

A publicly funded campaign for NYC Council, launched by a longtime staffer for Brooklyn state Sen. Marty Golden, spent $13,000 on a business in which Golden has a substantial financial interest.

Cuomo has appointed infrastructure consultant Paul Karas, who most recently served for four years as vice president and manager of RS&H Inc., a transportation buildings infrastructure consulting firm, to be commissioner of the state DOT.

Onondaga County lawmakers voted today in favor of raising the legal age to buy tobacco in the county to 21. The vote was 11-5. One legislator was absent. Before the bill can become law, a public hearing must be conducted.

Travelers using LaGuardia Airport are in for another jolt this weekend when six airlines move to different terminals during the ongoing airport reconstruction project.

Gallivan: Senate GOP Won’t Retaliate After Cuomo Picks 2018 Sides

From the Morning Memo:

There has been considerable speculation regarding the Republican response to the – apparently failed – peace deal floated by allies of Gov. Andrew Cuomo that aimed to reunify the warring Democratic factions in the state Senate.

The timing of the plan, announced last week, was curiously, since it wouldn’t technically go into effect until after an agreement on the state budget – due April 1 – is reached, leaving the Republicans in charge of the chamber during a crucial negotiation period.

That didn’t sit well with progressives, who question Cuomo’s motives – particularly after he made a promise in 2014 to help bring the Democrats together in order to land the Working Families Party line for his bid for a second, four-year term, and then never delivered.

And observers wondered if the governor had also shot himself in the foot with the Republicans, already under pressure after big GOP losses in the most recent elections, potentially spurred by an anti-Trump wave that could become a tsunami in 2018.

What incentive do the Senate Republicans have to play ball during the upcoming budget talks, which all sides agree are going to be challenging due to a growing multibillion-dollar deficit, if the governor has already signaled whose side he’ll be on in the rematch for control of the chamber next fall?

But Sen. Patrick Gallivan, a Buffalo Republican, said during a CapTon interview last night that he and his colleagues are going to put politics aside and continue working on behalf of their constituents, regardless of what the governor has done.

“I think one of the things, at least in my experience in my seven years in the Senate with the majority or the co-majority for two of the years, where we’ve been successful is that we’ve always put government first,” Gallican said.

“We’ve put governing first, and I think we have to continue to do that. And I think if we continue to do that…all of the individual sitting members who ultimately come up for re-election next November, I think they are in a good position to hold their seats.”

“Clearly, if our message is government first, putting people first, we can make a good case as we identify other candidates to move back into some of the seats that Republicans held before.”

Asked if any of his fellow Republicans would be interested in seeking revenge on Cuomo by stalling on certain aspects of the budget, or refusing to cooperate complete, Gallivan replied:

“You look at why people are upset; you look at the way some people act, and it’s certainly not becoming of them as an elected official and not becoming of them in the job that they’re supposed to doing. So, I think you put government first, and politics takes care of itself.”

Deputy Senate Majority Leader John DeFrancisco, a Syracuse-area Republican who is mulling a challenge to Cuomo next fall, recently said it’s “premature” to suggest the IDC would sever its power-sharing deal with the GOP and re-join – or at least realign – with the regular, mainline Democrats, despite the fact that both sides initially signaled a willingness to do so.

Within days of the plan’s initial announcement, however, it already appeared to be crumbling, with progressives like Cuomo’s 2014 primary challenger, Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout, refusing to support the idea, and calling on others on the left to do the same.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule.

This afternoon, Vice President Mike Pence will travel to the U.S. Capitol to participate in the Senate Republican Policy Lunch.

In the evening, the VP and Second Lady Karen Pence will attend the Congressional Ball.

At 9 a.m., Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara’s 2017 Student Cabinet is set to meet at Clarkson University’s Capital Region Campus in Schenectady ahead of the upcoming legislative session, 80 Nott Terrace.

At 10 a.m., NYC Council members hold a public hearing on lead paint removal at NYCHA, Council chambers, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., Assemblywomen Rodneyse Bichotte and Michele Titus and state Sen. James Sanders Jr. hold a press conference with the Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise Coalition on Article 15A, which is scheduled to expire in spring 2018, Legislative Office Building, Room 130, Albany.

At 11 a.m., NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli will discuss the NY ABLE Program following Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro’s presentation on the “ThinkDIFFERENTLY” initiative, 84 Patrick Lane, Suite 130, Poughkeepsie.

Also at 11 a.m., the Assembly will hold a public oversight hearing on funding in the 2017-2018 budget for the New York State Council on the Arts, Legislative Office Building, Hearing Room C, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., Assembly members Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Rodneyse Bichotte, Fred Thiele Jr. and Michele Titus and state Sen. James Sanders hold a public hearing examining the 2017 MWBE Disparity Study and the overall MWBE program, Legislative Office Building, Hamilton Hearing Room B, Albany.

At 11:50 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will deliver remarks at the Cities Thrive Conference, New York Law School
School Auditorium, 185 W. Broadway, Manhattan.

At 12:20 p.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray will deliver a “call to action” at the second annual Cities Thrive Conference, marking the end of the two-day event, New York Law School Auditorium, 185 W. Broadway, Manhattan.

At 12:30 p.m., the state Department of Health’s Emergency Medical Services for Children Advisory Committee meets, 875 Central Ave., Albany.

At 1 p.m., Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda will announce legislation that will prohibit the state DMV from cancelling, suspending, or rescinding drivers’ licenses issued to youth enrolled in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program when it ends in March, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 1:30 p.m., Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez, together with federal, state and NYC partners, will announce the conclusion of major long-term investigation, Brooklyn DA’s office, 350 Jay Street, 19th floor, Brooklyn.

At 2:30 p.m., oral arguments are set to begin regarding the Trump legal team’s motion to dismiss a sexual harassment case against the president, 111 Centre St., Room 352, Manhattan.

At 3 p.m., state Sen. David Carlucci and members of New York State United Teachers call on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill that authorizes the boards of education in union-free school districts and central school districts to establish wards for the purpose of school board elections, 20 S. Main St., New City.

At 4:30 p.m., state Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball will join Cornell Cooperative Extension of Broome County and Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo to celebrate the grand opening of the Agriculture Development Center, the newest component of a multi-phase project to support the agricultural sector, 840 Upper Front St., Binghamton.

At 6 p.m., Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner hosts a town hall focusing on the congressional tax reform plan, Syracuse City Hall, 233 E. Washington St., Syracuse.

At 7 p.m., de Blasio will participate in a town hall meeting with NYC Councilman Eric Ulrich, P.S./M.S. 114 Belle Harbor School, 400 Beach 135th St., Belle Harbor, Queens.

Also at 7 p.m., LG Kathy Hohcul delivers remarks at the Orange County Partnership’s annual dinner, Anthony’s Pier 9, 2975 US 9W, New Windsor.

Also at 7 p.m., the Gertrude and Morrison Parker West Side Republican Club hosts Mark Meckler, founder of the Tea Party Patriots and president of the Convention of States Project, for a discussion of holding a national constitutional convention, The Jewish Center, Blue Room, 131 W. 86th St., 10th floor, Manhattan.

Headlines…

The U.S. Supreme Court allowed the third version of President Donald Trump’s travel ban to go into effect while legal challenges against it continue – a victory for the administration after its mixed success before the court over the summer, when justices considered and eventually dismissed disputes over the second version.

A former top counterintelligence expert at the FBI, now at the center of a political uproar for exchanging private messages that appeared to mock Trump, changed a key phrase in former FBI Director James Comey’s description of how former secretary of state Hillary Clinton handled classified information.

The White House’s chief lawyer told Trump in January he believed then-national security adviser Michael Flynn had misled the FBI and lied to Vice President Mike Pence and should be fired.

The brazen assertion by one of Trump’s lawyers that a president cannot be found guilty of obstruction of justice signaled a controversial defense strategy in the wide-ranging Russia probe, as the president’s political advisers are increasingly concerned about the legal advice he is receiving.

Trump dramatically scaled back two sprawling national monuments in Utah, cutting Bears Ears to 220,000 acres from 1.5 million and slicing the 2-million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante in half.

The decision to reduce Bears Ears is expected to set off a legal battle that could alter the course of American land conservation, putting dozens of other monuments at risk and possibly opening millions of preserved public acres to oil and gas extraction, mining, logging and other commercial activities.

The outdoor clothing brand Patagonia is joining environmental groups and Native American tribes in the fight against Trump’s attempt to scale back national monuments.

Democratic Michigan Rep. John Conyers Jr., the longest-serving member of the House, who faces allegations that he sexually harassed former employees, plans to announce today that he will not seek re-election, according to a family member who now plans to run for his seat.

Trump is reportedly considering creating a private network of spies that would be controlled directly by him and his CIA chief, in order to counteract the supposed “deep state” in the national security apparatus that is opposed to the commander-in-chief.

A New York judge will hear oral arguments this afternoon about whether a defamation lawsuit, filed by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on Trump’s show “The Apprentice,” who said that he kissed her and grabbed her when she went to see him in 2007 about a possible job, should be allowed to proceed.

Trump strongly endorsed Roy Moore, the Republican nominee for a United States Senate seat here, prompting the RNC to restore its support for a candidate accused of sexual misconduct against teenage girls.

Rachel Witlieb Bernstein, one of six women who reached a settlement with Bill O’Reilly over harassment allegations, sued the ex-TV anchor and Fox News for defamation and breach of contract, saying that public statements he and the network made violated the settlement and portrayed her as a liar and politically motivated extortionist.

MSNBC has reportedly cut ties with contributor Sam Seder over a 2009 tweet about rape. Seder’s contract will not be renewed when it expires in February.

The U.S. Senate tax bill offers a huge tax cut for corporations, lower rates for the wealthy, and a big victory for Republicans and the White House. It also aims an economic dagger aimed at high-tax, high-cost and generally Democratic-leaning areas — most notably New York City and its neighbors.

While Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his counterparts from California and New Jersey seemed dead-certain about the tax bill’s intent, there are still an array of questions about how states would respond. None of the three Democrats have ofered concrete plans on what action their states might take if the tax bill were to become law.

A legal challenge against the measure may be a possibility when and if it is signed into law, Cuomo and California Gov. Jerry Brown said. But the immediate focus is on encouraging Republicans to reconsider before the final version of the bill is approved.

More >

Extras

The U.S. Supreme Court gave President Trump another major win by granting his administration’s request to fully reinstate the third version of his travel ban.

The president defended his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, by invoking his 2016 election opponent, saying: “Hillary Clinton lied many times to the FBI, and nothing happened to her. Flynn lied, and it destroyed his life, and I think it’s a shame.”

Trump formally endorsed Alabama U.S. Senate candidate Roy Moore, following a phone call between the two men.

Trump said he would dramatically reduce the size of a vast expanse of protected federal land in Utah – a rollback of some two million acres that is the largest in scale in the nation’s history. The move is likely to trigger a legal battle that could alter the course of land conservation in the U.S.

Democratic congressional leaders Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi said they accepted the president’s invitation to meet about year-end legislative priorities. The pair will meet with Trump, as well as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, on Thursday.

A Republican requirement that Congress consider the full cost of major legislation threatened to derail the party’s $1.5 trillion tax rewrite last week. So lawmakers went on the offensive to discredit the agency performing the analysis.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments tomorrow in a case that asks whether a Christian baker in Colorado can legally ignore his state’s non-discrimination law by refusing to bake a wedding cake for a same-sex couple.

While maintaining that he didn’t do anything wrong, Rep. Blake Farenthold, a Texas Republican, said he plans to pay back the $84,000 settlement the Congressional Office of Compliance paid out to settle a sexual harassment complaint between him and a former staffer.

A woman who claims actor Danny Masterson raped her says she tried to discuss his employment with a Netflix executive — and was promptly told the company did not believe Masterson’s accusers.

A woman who entered a confidential settlement agreement with Bill O’Reilly in 2002 while at Fox News charged in a lawsuit that the “serial abuser and coward” smeared her as a liar, breaking the terms of their deal.

At least two New York City police detectives are in Los Angeles working the department’s investigation into Harvey Weinstein, authorities confirmed to The Hollywood Reporter.

The warring law partners behind Cellino ​& Barnes, the Buffalo-based personal injury firm know for its “Don’t wait, call 8” jingle, now have dueling toll​-​free phone numbers.

With weeks left in the tenure of NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, chunks of City Hall’s east wing that have historically been accessible to members of the press were blocked off with no explanation given.

A $2 million study ordered by Cuomo to examine whether a tunnel is an option to replace a section of the aging Interstate 81 in Syracuse has determined that it would be feasible but it would cost between $3 billion and $4.5 billion and take between nine and 10 years to build.

“This study reaffirms the previous work done by the New York State Department of Transportation and what many in our community have long suspected: a tunnel option would take nearly a decade to build and have an outsize price tag.” outgoing Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said in a statement.

An investigation by WNYC News found two previous allegations of sexual harassment at The Takeaway by the show’s former host, John Hockenberry, that were not reported to top station executives.

Reinvent Albany released an analysis showing that in 22.67 percent of FOIL lawsuits, plaintiffs were initially or ultimately denied attorneys’ fees even while FOILers won requested records and agencies had no reasonable basis for denying them.

Mike Fishman, a former secretary-treasurer of the influential SEIU who once served four terms as president of 32BJ, has been hired as a senior adviser to Cuomo’s 2018 reelection campaign and the state Democratic Party.

Since taking office in 2014, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has added more than 25,000 employees to the city payroll and spending has increased nearly 20 percent, including $300 million a year for universal pre-K and $75 million for 1,300 new police officers.

Lake-effect season will arrive in the Buffalo Niagara region this week, according to National Weather Service forecasters.

The Southampton Town Board is considering relaxing restrictions on short-term rentals for some special events as it prepares for the 2018 U.S. Open golf tournament at Shinnecock Hills, an official said.

The New York State Educational Conference Board, a coalition of state education organizations, is calling for a $2 billion increase in school aid in the 2018-19 state budget, despite a looming deficit and uncertainty over federal spending.

Over the weekend, American Airlines came to an agreement with the pilots’ union to man the approximate 15,000 flights between Dec.17 and 31 that had been without pilots.

The New York Giants are parting ways with head coach Ben McAdoo and General Manager Jerry Reese.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public events scheduled.

President Donald Trump this morning heads to Salt Lake City, UT, where he will meet with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints leaders and tour The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Welfare Square.

In the afternoon, Trump will give remarks at the Utah State Capitol, after which he will return to Washington, D.C.

At 9 a.m., NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer delivers remarks at the UFT rally for Puerto Rico, outside the Alexander Hamilton Custom House, 1 Bowling Green, Manhattan.

At 9:05 a.m., First Lady McCray will kick off the second convening of Cities Thrive, a network of nearly 200 cities committed to driving mental health reform on local and national levels, New York Law School, Auditorium, 185 West Broadway, Manhattan.

At 9:30 a.m., JustLeadershipUSA and #CLOSErikers will hold a rally outside the Brooklyn Bridge-City Hall subway stop, preceding the City Council oversight hearing on the closure of Rikers Island jails.

At 10 a.m., Assembly Standing Committees on Environmental Conservation and Health, and the Subcommittee on Oversight of the DEC, hold a joint public hearing to examine water quality issues and to review implementation of the $2.5 billion in water infrastructure funding contained in the 2017-18 budget, 250 Broadway, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., Rep. Tom Suozzi hosts an “Aerospace and Defense Industry Supply Conference” aimed at helping this critical industry on Long Island grow and remain competitive, Tilles Center, LIU Post, 720 Northern Blvd, Brookville.

At 11 a.m., Rep. Dan Donovan and Staten Island Postmaster John Tanna will honor U.S. Postal Service Letter Carrier Lisa Sweeney for saving the life of Marie Boyer, an 87-year old woman on her mail route, Staten Island.

Also at 11 a.m., residents, the NYCLU and clergy announce the results of lawsuit against NYC on plans to build affordable housing in the 31 acre site known as the Broadway Triangle area in Brooklyn, in front of the Supreme Court, 60 Centre St., Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Commissioner of Social Services Al Dirschberger and others cut the ribbon on the completely remodeled Social Services portal on the first floor of the Edward A. Rath county office building, Buffalo.

Also at 11 a.m., Brooklynites with developmental disabilities, their parents and caregivers, a bipartisan delegation of state legislators and community leaders rally to urge Cuomo and the state Legislature to ensure that direct support professionals receive a living wage, St. Francis College, 182 Remsen St., Brooklyn.

Also at 11 a.m., Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., city and state prosecutors and state officials announce a joint effort to combat wage theft in the construction industry, 80 Centre St., 8th floor training room, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., Minister Kirsten John Foy, northeast regional director of NAN; along with NAN leadership, clergy, community stakeholders and activists” will “protest the FDNY hiring of racist son of former commissioner,” 9 Metrotech Center, Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn.

At 11:15 a.m., Reps. Brian Higgins and Chris Collins, state Sen. Robert Ortt, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster and others unveil the results of a rider survey and economic study on Discover Niagara Shuttle’s impact on the economy, Castellani Art Museum, Niagara University, 5795 Lewiston Road, Niagara Falls.

At 11:30 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill will hold a media availability regarding crime statistics, Muster Room, 250 W 135th St., Manhattan.

Also ay 11:30 a.m., State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia will deliver remarks at the 33rd Annual Religious and Independent School Educators Conference, Albany Marriott, 189 Wolf Rd., Albany.

At 1 p.m., AG Eric Schneiderman and FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel will discuss fake comments that have corrupted the FCC’s public comment process on net neutrality, and call on the commission to cooperate with the AG’s investigation, 120 Broadway, Manhattan.

At 3:45 p.m., CUNY faculty and staff represented by the Professional Staff Congress march and protest to demand CUNY management negotiate a contract for faculty and staff, CUNY Grad Center, 365 5th Ave., Manhattan.

At 5:15 p.m., LG Kathy Hochul delivers remarks at the United Community Civic Association’s annual Christmas tree lighting ceremony, McManus Memorial Park, 81st Street & Grand Central Service Road, Queens.

At 6 p.m., Stringer delivers remarks at the Blackboard Awards for Schools, at the NYIT auditorium, 1871 Broadway, Manhattan.

At 6:15 p.m., Hochul delivers remarks at the Elmhust tree lighting ceremony, Clement Clarke Moore Homestead playground, Broadway between 45th Avenue & 82nd Street, Queens.

At 6:30 p.m., activists participate in a discussion on the upcoming NYC Council speaker’s race, the influence of money on elected officials and the impact on local communities of legislation and policies favorable to the real estate industry, LaGuardia Community College, 31-10 Thomson Ave., Room E242, Queens.

At 7 p.m., de Blasio appears on NY1.

Also at 7 p.m., Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas will host the second in a series of public forums on the 2018 Budget proposal, Mount Vernon High School, auditorium, 1200 California Rd., Mount Vernon.

Also today, de Blasio and NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray will deliver remarks at the (closed press) Cities Thrive holiday reception at Gracie Mansion. In addition, the mayor will deliver remarks at the Queens County holiday party, which is also closed to members of the media.

Headlines…

As the FBI’s Russia investigation draws closer to him, President Trump unleashed an extraordinary assault on the nation’s premier law enforcement agency, calling it a biased institution whose reputation for fairness was “in tatters.”

Former acting attorney general Sally Yates hit back, also on Twitter, saying: “The FBI is in “tatters”? No. The only thing in tatters is the President’s respect for the rule of law. The dedicated men and women of the FBI deserve better.”

Trump’s attorney claimed he wrote a tweet about disgraced former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn that appeared on the president’s personal Twitter feed Saturday and raised legal red flags.

Trump said in a tweet that he never asked former FBI Director James Comey to stop investigating his ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn, issuing a fresh denial amid a shifting timeline on when he may have known that Flynn had lied to the FBI.

With government funding set to expire Friday, Republicans are moving toward passing a two-week stopgap measure to avoid a looming government shutdown. But the path in the coming weeks is treacherous, with obstacles on both sides of the aisle as lawmakers push their own priorities, some unrelated to government spending.

Although polls show that the tax measure nearing the finish line in Congress is unpopular, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell predicted that it will ultimately prove a political winner, with voters feeling positive effects next fall – just in time for the 2018 midterm elections.

The Justice Department’s Office of Inspector General is reviewing the role played in the Hillary Clinton email investigation by Peter Strzok, a former FBI deputy director who was removed from the staff of Special Counsel Robert Mueller earlier this year, after Mueller learned that Strzok had exchanged anti-Trump texts with a colleague.

Trump is reportedly giving his staffers secret assignments by calling them to his private residence in the evening and telling them to hide his orders from chief-of-staff John Kelly.

Billy Bush has pushed back at Trump’s reported statements suggesting that the voice on the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape is not his, writing in a NY Times OpEd that the president did indeed make the comment in the presence of Bush and seven other men.

In one of the largest transactions of the year, CVS Health said it had agreed to buy Aetna for about $69 billion in a deal that would combine the drugstore giant with one of the biggest health insurers in the United States and has the potential to reshape the nation’s health care industry.

Federal officials have opened an investigation into activities by senior White House counselor Kellyanne Conway following a complaint that she violated ethics laws when she slammed Democrat Doug Jones — who is battling Republican Roy Moore to become Alabama’s next U.S. senator — on national TV.

Democratic senators attacked Republicans for passing tax cut legislation just hours after the bill was released, saying it would add more than a trillion dollars to the nation’s deficit if it becomes law.

McConnell yesterday seemed to back off Moore, whom he had previously said should resign, saying now that Alabama voters should make the final decision whether the Republican candidate is elected to the Senate.

Rep. Sander Levin, a Michigan Democrat who is currently the longest-serving Jewish member of Congress, announced he would not seek reelection after more than three decades in office.

The Metropolitan Opera suspended legendary conductor James Levine after a report that the classical music maestro had allegedly molested a teen boy in the 1980s, and two more alleged victims came forward and accused him of abuse.

Peter Gelb, the general manager of the Met, announced that the company was suspending its four-decade relationship with Levine, 74, and canceling his upcoming conducting engagements after learning about the accounts of the three men, who described a series of similar sexual encounters beginning in the late 1960s.

Bots, sophisticated computer programs used for mass online purchases, have already driven up ticket prices for Broadway shows and top concerts and are now turning their sights on the season’s hottest toys and games, said U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.

More >

The Weekend That Was

President Trump in a series of tweets early today continued to rail on the Russian probe, defending his firing of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, saying the FBI’s reputation is “in tatters” over the “dishonest” Hillary Clinton investigation and urging people to sue ABC over an incorrect report involving him.

Trump changed his story on why he fired Flynn, now suggesting he knew at the time that Flynn had lied to the FBI as well as to Vice President Mike Pence about his contacts with Russians during the presidential transition.

The apparent admission that he knew Flynn fibbed to the feds before he asked then-FBI Director James Comey to go easy on him could land Trump in hot water, several critics warned.

The president questioned whether Flynn was the victim of a “rigged system,” suggesting he had his life “destroyed” for lying to the FBI, while former Democratic rival Hillary Clinton has got off free after deleting emails.

The fall of Flynn, who was once so close to Trump that he was considered a viable prospect to be his vice-presidential running mate, came on a day that should have been a moment of triumph for the president.

The Senate’s investigation into Russian election meddling is crafting a possible obstruction of justice case against Trump, the panel’s top Democrat, Dianne Feinstein, of California, said.

Emails, coupled with interviews and court documents, show Flynn was not a rogue actor, as the White House has suggested, but rather was in close touch with other senior members of the Trump transition team both before and after he spoke with the Russian ambassador, Sergey I. Kislyak, about American sanctions against Russia.

Chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross was suspended for four weeks without pay over his faulty reporting on Flynn, ABC News said.

A forthcoming book, “Let Trump Be Trump,” paints a portrait of a campaign with an untested candidate and staff rocketing from crisis to crisis, in which campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and a cast of mostly neophyte political aides learn on the fly and ultimately accept Trump’s propensity to go angrily off message.

Congressional Republicans, buoyed by the Senate’s approval early Saturday of a landmark tax overhaul, expressed confidence that final legislation would be sent to the president by the end of this month, though significant differences remain between the two bills.

U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican, said there is no guarantee she will vote for Republican tax reform legislation once it comes out of a conference committee with the House, despite her support of the Senate version.

Cuomo said the Senate version is no better than the House bill passed earlier this month that would end state and local tax deductions, which would particularly hit high-tax states like New York, though it does retain property tax deductions of up to $10,000 a year.

The bottom line appears to be that the emerging federal tax reform plan will be bad for New York — but that it could have been far worse. What could have been a nightmare for most homeowners now looks to be more like a nightmare for the state’s high-end homeowners and, eventually, for New York state finances.

Republicans are preparing to use the swelling deficits made worse by the tax cut package as a rationale to pursue their long-held vision: undoing the entitlements of the New Deal and Great Society, leaving government leaner and the safety net skimpier for millions of Americans.

Hours after the pre-dawn passage of a $1.5 trillion tax cut, Trump suggested for the first time Saturday that he would consider a higher corporate rate than the one Senate Republicans had just endorsed, in remarks that could complicate sensitive negotiations to pass a final bill.

A senior FBI agent was removed from the staff of Russia special counsel Robert Mueller earlier this year after Justice Department investigators began reviewing whether the agent exchanged messages critical of Trump, federal authorities said.

The agent, Peter Strzok, is considered one of the most experienced and trusted FBI counterintelligence investigators. He helped lead the investigation into whether Clinton had mishandled classified information on her private email account, and then played a major role in the probe into links between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

Alec Baldwin returned to “Saturday Night Live” as Trump – along with some unwelcome ghosts from the President’s past in the show’s own rendition of Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.”

Protesters made their voices heard in New York City Saturday as Trump visited for political fundraisers.

House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi said Nevada Rep. Ruben Kihuen should resign after a report of a sexual misconduct during his 2016 campaign.

Legendary Metropolitan Opera conductor James Levine molested an Illinois teenager from the time he was 15 years old, sexual abuse that lasted for years and led the alleged victim to the brink of suicide, according to a police report obtained by The NY Post.

The opera plans to open an investigation into the allegations against Levine, whose accuser is now middle-aged, and contacted the police department in Lake Forest, Illinois, in October of 2016 to report that he’d had sexual contact with the conductor when he was under age 18.

Met officials acknowledged they had been aware of the police report since last year, but said that Levine had denied the accusation and that they had heard nothing further from the police. They decided to begin the investigation after receiving media inquiries about Levine’s behavior.

Geoffrey Rush announced Saturday he’s stepping down as president of Australia’s screen industry academy, days after a theater company revealed it had received a complaint against the Oscar-winning actor of “inappropriate behavior.”

The governor declined to attend an anti-Trump rally organized by his office after the peace plan for the state Senate Democrats floated by his allies was not well received by the left and appeared to be falling apart.

Narcotics dealers selling chemically altered mixtures that contain the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl can face weaker punishments because of a loophole in state law that exempts certain drug mixes from being illegal controlled substances.

Cuomo returned to hurricane-crippled Puerto Rico Saturday to tour the island’s recovery efforts, and he’s calling on the federal government to swiftly pass a large aid package.

It was Cuomo’s third trip to Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria devastated the island.

A Manhattan private equity director was killed by a shark while scuba diving off the coast of Costa Rica, authorities said.

Four fraternity members from New York City are expected to be sentenced tomorrow after they pleaded guilty to charges that stemmed from the death of a Baruch College freshman who fell unconscious during a hazing ritual at a weekend retreat in rural Pennsylvania four years ago.

Support is building among MTA board members for reconsideration of planned fare increases in 2019 and 2021, even though the agency faces new financial pressures to pay for an expensive overhaul of the ailing subway system.

De Blasio will headline a political fundraiser in Iowa without knowing who’s paying up to $2,000 to see him speak or where the cash will go – despite promising to stay away from “dark money.”

The three-count indictment of Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel Abelove has county political leaders looking at potential candidates for the office, which is up for election in 2018.

Hundreds of felony cases handled by Abelove’s office were never presented to a grand jury, and nearly 40 percent were dismissed when they were returned to local municipal courts as a result of the inaction.

For the second year in a row the number of new diagnoses of H.I.V. infections in men who have sex with men dropped in New York for 2016, after a decade where the rate of new infections refused to budge. The number of new infections in the overall population fell as well.

A coalition of seven unions agreed to back three out of eight candidates vying to be New York City Council speaker – Mark Levine, Donovan Richards and Ritchie Torres – but not Corey Johnson and Robert Cornegy.

At least some of the city workers who fixed and repainted walls with possible lead paint in New York City public-housing apartments after the units had gone years without required inspections weren’t federally certified to perform the work.

A former FDNY commissioner’s son who resigned his EMS job in disgrace over his racist and anti-Semitic rants on Twitter has been hired as a city firefighter.

The number of violations issued to NYC dog owners who fail to pick up after their pooches has plummeted.

The co-defendant of former Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota asked that he keep his high-powered attorney in their cover-up case at government expense.

Democrat Errol Toulon Jr. may be declared the winner of the Suffolk County sheriff’s race this week, but a party poll six weeks before the election had him down by a 24-point margin.

On the heels of tense budget discussions at Niagara Falls City Hall, elected leaders not often seen together since the Seneca casino slot revenue controversy started – Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster and Seneca President Todd Gates – got together for a holiday celebration.

Western New York political operative Steven Piegeon and two others were indicted Friday on felony Election Law charges stemming from alleged illegal campaign coordination in Erie County.

Embattled Housing Authority chair Shola Olatoye is working overtime to keep her job — by getting paid underlings to mount a public relations campaign on her behalf before an oversight hearing next week.

A Long Island cop testified Friday that the wife of former US Sen. Al D’Amato appeared to be suffering from delusions when she called police claiming “intruders” were pointing “green lasers” at the couple’s Lido Beach home.

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office confirmed on Twitter Friday that the missing teenager who reportedly left Florida with a high school soccer coach has been found safe in New York.

Buffalo’s housing market is rebounding, but the recovery so far is largely confined to a handful of neighborhoods in a slice of the city, according to a consultant hired by the Brown administration.

Inclusionary zoning is one of the tools a consultant is recommending Buffalo consider to help create affordable housing and increase economic and racial diversity in certain neighborhoods. But the recommendation comes with caveats.

Depending on whom you ask, Hamburg’s outgoing highway superintendent offered his services to or asked for a job from the man who beat him on Election Day. Either way, Highway Superintendent Tom Best Sr. will leave office at the end of the year and Ted Casey will take over Jan. 1.

A woman has complained to police that someone’s been defecating outside her home. And besides asking police for help, there’s an advertisement in the Orchard Park PennySaver warning the culprit to stop.

Caitlyn Frisina, 17, and her soccer coach, Rian Rodriguez, 27, had a romantic relationship, but she was afraid to leave the country with him, according to a Jacksonville, Fla., news station that obtained an arrest warrant affidavit for Rodriguez.

A nationwide shortage may be making Christmas tree shoppers nervous, but in New York the supply is assured.

Francis J. “Frank” Duggan, a lawyer and federal official who spent years as a pro bono advocate on behalf of families of the victims of the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, died Nov. 1 at his home in Alexandria, Virginia. He was 79.

Extras

President Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. about conversations with the Russian ambassador last December during the presidential transition, bringing the special counsel’s investigation into the president’s inner circle.

Flynn has promised “full cooperation” in the special counsel’s Russia investigation and, according to a confidant, is prepared to testify that Trump directed him to make contact with the Russians, initially as a way to work together to fight ISIS in Syria.

Democratic lawmakers reacted to the news about Flynn by resurfacing his past “lock her up” comments about former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called reports that the White House is planning to oust him “laughable.”

Trump backed Tillerson up on Twitter, calling reports that he would be leaving soon “fake news”.

Trump’s tax reform push has handed Democrats a “golden opportunity” to get past the party’s internal divisions that have raged since last year’s election, Clinton’s and Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign managers argue in a joint memo.

Clinton commented on longtime NBC host Matt Lauer’s firing, saying she believes in the concept of karma a little more “every day.”

An attorney for Rep. John Conyers Jr. said the embattled Michigan Democrat would make a decision in the coming days about whether to resign amid allegations of sexual harassment.

Ironically, in getting revenge on blue states by eliminating the state and local tax deduction (SALT) in the new federal tax bill, the Republican Congress and Trump may be giving all of those states every incentive to legalize recreational marijuana today – and eventually legalize other drugs too.

Rep. Blake Farenthold, a Texas Republican, reportedly used taxpayer money to settle a sexual harassment claim brought by his former spokesman — the only known sitting member of Congress to have used a little-known congressional account to pay an accuser.

Pamela Anderson is standing by her statements that women “know what you’re getting into if you’re going into a hotel room alone” during a Thursday interview on sexual harassment with Megyn Kelly.

Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel Abelove was indicted today following an investigation into his handling of a fatal police-involved shooting.

The co-defendant of former Suffolk District Attorney Thomas Spota asked that he keep his high-powered attorney in their cover-up case at government expense.

Cuomo directed state resources to assist the city of Cohoes after the massive fire yesterday.

Days after announcing she is reconsidering a run for Congress in 2018, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner announced a forum next week to hear from local residents about congressional Republicans’ tax plan.

Frank Fowler Jr., the Syracuse police chief’s 26-year-old son, is back in jail, facing a new drug charge, according to police records.

Sen. David Valesky, one of eight breakaway Democrats who control the balance of power in the state Senate, says he’s open to the idea of reuniting with mainstream Democrats, but sees no reason to rush things.

Former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato and his estranged wife were in Mineola court today fighting over temporary custody of the couple’s children while they go through divorce proceedings.

To mark World AIDS Day, Cuomo announced the number of people newly diagnosed with HIV in New York State has fallen to historic lows, with the number of new cases of HIV dropping nine percent from 2015 to 2016.

Sen. Tony Avella and animal-rights activists are raising concerns over the state’s most recent plans to protect mute swans.

Paul Smith’s College’s annual crime statistics report shows a large jump in reported rapes over the past year, a fact that college officials believe points toward a rise in reporting rather than a rise in sexual assault.

Onondaga Nation Chief Irving Powless Jr. died Thursday at the age of 88.

The ice skating rink on the Empire State Plaza opened for the season today.

Here and Now

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

This morning, President Donald Trump will receive his daily intelligence briefing, and will then meet with Prime Minister Fayez al-Sarraj of Libya.

In the afternoon, Trump will have lunch with Secretary of Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

In the evening, the president will give remarks at the White House Christmas reception.

At 9:30 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul celebrates the opening of of Damien Center on World Aids Day, 728 Madison Ave., Albany.

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

Also at 10 a.m., the NYC Housing Authority holds its monthly board meeting, 250 Broadway, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., the Assembly will examine the impact of the 2017-2018 enacted budget on the Judiciary and the statewide administration of justice, Assembly Hearing Room 1923, 19th Floor, 250 Broadway, Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., the Empire State Plaza ice skating rink will open, with the season’s first Free Skate Friday courtesy of Hannaford Supermarkets, OGS Executive Deputy Commissioner Joe Rabito will speak, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., members of the Riders Alliance distribute “Subway Delay Action Kits,” a new toolkit for Queens riders to address continuing subway delays by becoming transit activists, Queensboro Plaza subway station, near Queens Plaza North and 27th Street, Queens.

At 11:30 a.m., de Blasio will deliver remarks as the keynote speaker at End AIDS NY 2020, Kings Theatre, 1027 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn.

At 1 p.m., Hochul delivers remarks and cuts the ribbon at the opening of Tioga Downs Casino and Resort, 2384 W. River Rd., Nichols.

At 6 p.m., the Gay Men’s Health Crisis is joined by other organizations in hosting the 26th Out of the Darkness World AIDS Day candlelight vigil, New York City AIDS Memorial, St. John’s Lutheran Church, 81 Christopher St., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., Spectrum News NY1 hosts a live debate with the eight candidates for New York City Council Speaker, CUNY TV studios, 365 Fifth Ave., Manhattan.

At 7:30 p.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina will receive an award from North Shore Animal League America for the DOE’s work on the Comfort Dog Program, Grand Hyatt, 109 E 42nd St., Manhattan.

This evening, de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray will deliver remarks at Yvette and Una Clarke’s Birthday Party, (closed press).

Headlines…

The Senate GOP’s fast-moving effort to overhaul the tax code hit an unexpected roadblock last night, with the collapse of a plan to win over recalcitrant lawmakers with a promise to limit the impact of the legislation on the federal deficit.

Republicans were making major changes to the bill up to the last minute, including one that would roll back some of the tax cuts after six years to appease deficit hawks. The first revamp of the tax code in three decades – a top political priority of President Donald Trump – would affect nearly every American and business.

Senate Republicans’ $1.5 trillion tax cut would not “pay for itself” according to a report released by the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation. The report is a significant setback for Republicans, who have asserted that the tax cuts would grow the economy enough to cover the cost of the plan.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said that she can’t support a GOP tax reform bill unless it partially restores the deduction for state and local taxes that the current proposed legislation would eliminate. Her vote is needed to pass the measure.

Trump said the acquittal of an undocumented immigrant accused of murder in San Francisco was “disgraceful.”

The fallout continues for music mogul Russell Simmons in the wake of multiple women accusing the Def Jam Recordings co-founder of sexual misconduct. HBO severed ties with him, though his show with the network will go on.

Lawyers for Matt Lauer are working on landing the shamed anchor a $30 million golden sexual parachute following his NBC firing.

Top NBC News execs received complaints about Lauer’s alleged sexual misconduct long before he was fired for harassment — but chose to protect him, current and former staffers told The NY Post.

Though he was seen by many viewers as wholesome and friendly, before Lauer was fired from his job at NBC, the ‘Today’ anchor had a history of off-color comments about women.

Bette Midler renewed an allegation of 1970s sexual misconduct against Geraldo Rivera – a day after Rivera called the news business “flirty” amid Lauer’s dismissal.

The president issued a proclamation to mark World AIDS Day without mentioning the LGBT community, the segment of the US population most disproportionately affected by the disease.

American diplomats called off Trump’s “working visit” to the UK less than 48 hours after he drew international ire over retweeting the leader of a British far-right group.

Trump repeatedly made phone calls to top Republican Senators over the summer, urging them to deep six the Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Longtime Trump friend and GOP consultant Roger Stone says New York radio host Randy Credico “merely confirmed” to him last year that Wikileaks founder Julian Assange had emails he planned to release about Hillary Clinton.

The White House has developed a plan to force out Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, whose relationship with President Trump has been strained, and replace him with Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director, perhaps within the next several weeks, senior administration officials said.

Several of the young men who accused disgraced former Democratic Rep. Eric Massa of sexual harassment were secretly paid nearly $100,000 in taxpayer funds in exchange for their silence.

At least nine women have come forward accusing playwright Israel Horovitz, father of Adam Horovitz, who co-founded the hip-hop group Beastie Boys in the 1980s, of sexual misconduct.

Apparently, the White House really is a dump — with work orders https://nypost.com/2017/11/30/turns-out-the-white-house-is-a-real-dump/ of mice and cockroach infestations in the West Wing, broken toilet seats in the Oval Office and numerous other problems.

More than 900 young immigrants applying for a renewal of temporary work permits had their applications rejected because of mail problems, a number far greater than immigration lawyers had thought earlier this month.

More >

Extras

Matt Lauer expressed “sorrow and regret for the pain I have caused” in a statement this morning, his first public comments after NBC News fired the star “Today” show anchor amid allegations of inappropriate sexual behavior with colleagues.

Foreigners must pass a good-character test to be allowed to buy land in New Zealand, and while Lauer’s purchase of a 16,000-acre farm there was approved earlier this year, the country’s Overseas Investment Office is revisiting his case in light of his firing.

People who are shocked by the allegations against Lauer are now saying evidence of his poor treatment of women was hiding in plain sight: his widely criticized performance during a presidential forum last September.

NBC host Megyn Kelly invited Lauer and his accusers onto her show, stating she remains “committed to telling people’s stories if they choose to come forward.”

Four days after she was panned for calling Rep. John Conyers, D-Mich., an “icon” in the wake of sexual harassment allegations against him, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called on the veteran congressman to resign.

Also calling for Conyers to resign are House Democratic Caucus Leader Joe Crowley, of Queens, and House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer.

Republican Rep. Joe Barton, Texas’ most-senior member of Congress, announced he won’t seek re-election after a naked photo of him circulated online and a conservative activist released past messages of a sexual nature from him.

Embattled Minnesota U.S. Sen. Al Franken is facing a new allegation of inappropriately touching a woman after an Army veteran accused him of groping her during a USO Christmas tour in the Middle East more than a decade ago.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said society is at a “watershed moment” on how it views and deals with sexual harassment with change becoming imminent in light of the recent scandals in entertainment and politics, adding: “I think this is a reckoning.”

Assemblywoman Sandy Galef wants Gov. Andrew Cuomo to establish a task force to address sexual harassment in state government, which would review existing policies and make recommendations for a uniform standard to handle claims and investigations involving all state workers and officials.

Rex Tillerson will remain as U.S. secretary of state, the White House spokeswoman said, amid reports Tillerson will be removed in favor of Mike Pompeo, who is currently CIA director.

Staffers for the U.S. Senate Republicans’ campaign arm seized information on more than 200,000 donors from the House GOP campaign committee over several months this year by breaking into its computer system, sources tell POLITICO.

Two of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s deputy mayors are leaving in a major shake-up for his second term.

Advertisements from the Wilderness Society are asking Rep. Elise Stefanik to vote “no” on the Republican tax bill passed by the Senate Budget Committee on Tuesday because of a provision in the bill for oil and gas drilling in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The governor has signed into law a bill requiring health insurers to cover 3-D mammography for breast cancer screenings.

Bill Hammond notes the governor signed the mammography bill “despite a lack of evidence about the long-term efficacy of the procedure.”

Radio giant Cumulus Media Inc., which owns hundreds of U.S. radio stations including in Syracuse and Buffalo, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection to reduce more than $1 billion in debt.

In 2016, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department gave out 850 pistol permits – more than double the number it gave out in 2015 and nearly triple what it gave out in 2014.

The Regional Plan Association, whose board includes business and civic leaders, called today for a “subway reconstruction public benefit corporation” that would have “a focused mandate, streamlined authority, and sufficient funding to rebuild the entire subway system within 15 years.”

Walmart has removed a controversial T-shirt with a simple message — “Rope. Tree. Journalist. SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED” — from its website, after the Radio Television Digital News Association sent the largest retailer in the U.S. a note flagging the shirt’s message.

Mastercard Inc. will hire 470 people as the world’s second-largest payments network expands its technology hub in New York City.