Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin

Here and Now

Please note: Due to the holiday, there will be no “Extras” tonight or “Here and Now” tomorrow. There will also be no “Morning Memo” in your inbox (if you’re a subscriber) tomorrow morning.

These regular features – along with some light blogging, as dictated by the news cycle – will return on Thursday. Have a safe and happy celebration! – LB

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

At 7:25 a.m., Donald Trump will be interviewed by Curtis Sliwa on 970 AM.

At 11 a.m., Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York, celebrates Mass at George Motchan Detention Center , for the inmates and staff; 15-15 Hazen Street, East Elmhurst, Queens.

From 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., approximately 1000 students from Satmar Hasidic academies in Kiryas Joel, protest against current efforts by the Israeli government to draft their counterparts into the Israeli army; march down Second Avenue from 47th to 42nd Streets, ending with a rally across from the Israeli Consulate, Manhattan.

At 2:30 p.m., Mayor Bloomberg thanks volunteers serving meals at the Annual Christmas Eve Lunch for the Homeless at City Hall Restaurant, 131 Duane St., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., Time Warner Cable News NY1′s “Road To City Hall” features Richard Steier from The Chief-Leader. (There is no Capital Tonight this evening or tomorrow night).

At 11:50 p.m., Bloomberg attends midnight Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Fifth Avenue between 50th and 51st streets, Manhattan.

Headlines…

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said if the sexual harassment allegations against Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak are true, then “I think there should be no other choice but a resignation.”

The next complaint to be filed against Gabryszak is coming from a woman who is still on his staff. Caitrin Kennedy is in her third month as his director of community relations, earning about $38,000 a year.

Kennedy said in the past three months, Gabryszak has invited her to a couples massage session, suggested she become pregnant, mentioned that he would like to join her in a hot tub and allowed a man to call her a “fox” at the office. Her boss also talked about fantasy football teams he had named for oral sex and female genitalia.

The Buffalo News says Gabryszak has just two options: “Issue a forceful and plausible denial or resign.” (Following his attorney’s advice, the assemblyman is currently saying nothing).

Betsy Hart, who worked in communications for President Ronald Reagan, says de Blasio’s spokeswoman Lis Smith can date whoever she wants, but should think twice about her choice of former Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

Media strategist Alexis Grenell thinks differently, writing: “Regardless of her taste in men, Lis Smith has the right to make her own decisions. Her relationship with Eliot Spitzer is entirely irrelevant to her qualifications as Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s spokeswoman.”

And Andrea Peyser disagrees, saying: “If de Blasio continues to stand by Eliot’s unsavory love interest, his credibility as this city’s righteous voice for those without money, power and sexual corruption is shot to hell.”

Chris Smith chronicles how Mayor Bloomberg “gave” the city de Blasio.

Bloomberg leaves a sprawling legacy as he winds down his 12 years as the mayor of New York City.

His return to New York City for a second tour as police commissioner may create an awkward situation for Bill Bratton, who sits on the boards of two companies who hope to do business with the city, and is a senior adviser to a third. He is resigning all three positions.

De Blasio reached to Wall Street for a top aide, naming a managing director at Goldman Sachs Group as deputy mayor for housing and economic development.

Republican state senators George Maziarz, Patrick Gallivan, Mark Grisanti and Mike Ranzenhofer are urging Cuomo to personally intervene to help save the Western New York Children’s Psychiatric Center in West Seneca.

Rep. Chris Gibson donated his “shutdown” pay of about $5,400 to Catholic Charities.

According to Rep. Paul Tonko’s office, the congressman donated his shutdown pay in three equal parts of $1,550 to the Regional Food Banks of Northeastern New York in Latham, Leatherstocking Honor Flight in Cobleskill and the Northern Rivers Family Services Development Department in Albany.

More >

Extras

Another female aide to Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak is coming forward to complain about his allegedly lurid advances

In a symbolic move, President Obama has signed up for health care coverage through an online exchange.

He also extended today’s sign-up deadline by a day.

…The state followed the federal government’s lead and extended its exchange deadline, too.

NYC Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio appointed a Goldman  Sachs executive, Alicia Glen, as the deputy mayor of housing and economic development.

Glen said the de Blasio administration will shift focus away from the large-scale projects that blossomed under Mayor Bloomberg and move towards those that address the problem of income inequality.

De Blasio refused to discuss the “private” life of his spokeswoman, Lis Smith, who is reportedly dating former Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

De Blasio’s campaign manager Bill Hyers defended her on Twitter.

Smith did not attend her boss’ press conference today, and the mayor-elect would not speculate on whether she’ll be joining his administration.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo admitted to playing budget “hooky” in 2011 – and getting busted.

A pay raise bill for Nassau County elections commissioners was poised to pass, but pulled at the last minute.

AG Eric Schneiderman issued a warning to potential gougers looking to take advantage of people in the regions hit by the recent ice storm.

A “Christmas miracle” for Interfaith Medical Center.

Outgoing NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly can’t see any failures in his 12-year tenure.

Kelly will join the Council on Foreign Relations as a distinguished visiting fellow.

A man was shot and killed a block away from the governor’s mansion in Albany.

Rep. Tim Bishop lost a staffer to the private sector.

Registration is now open for Cuomo’s fourth annual State of the State address on Jan. 8, 2014.

Reshma Saujani, who has lost two elections so far, says she plans to run a third time for a yet-undetermined office.

RIP Stan “Brooksie” Brooks. City Hall won’t be the same without you.

Here and Now

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

Members of the governor’s cabinet will continue to deliver toys and coats to needy New Yorkers across the state:

At 9:45 a.m., ESDC CEO and Commissioner Ken Adams will be at ELMCOR Youth and Adult Activities, 107-20 Northern Blvd., Corona, Queens.

At 10 a.m., Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner and CEO Darryl Towns will be at the Grand Street Settlement, 80 Pitt St., Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., OGS Commissioner RoAnn Destito, Johnson Park Center, 26 Johnson Park, Utica.

At 11:30 a.m., NYPA President and CEO Gil Quiniones will be at the House of Hope, 22 East Fairview Ave., Valley Stream.

At 2 p.m., Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation Commissioner Rose Harvey will be at Project Hospitality, 100 Park Ave., Staten Island.

Also at 11 a.m., Sen. Michael Gianaris introduces legislation cracking down on suspended drivers in deadly crashes; 61st Street and Northern Boulevard, Woodside, Queens.

At 11:30 a.m., Mayor Bloomberg cuts the ribbon on the first phase of the permanent Times Square Plaza and street reconstruction with NYC DOT Transportation Commissioner Sadik-Khan, Broadway Pedestrian Plaza, between 42nd and 43rd Streets, Manhattan.

At noon, NYC Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio makes an announcement, MILGO/BUFKIN, 68 Lombardy St., Brooklyn.

At 1 p.m., Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver holds a news conference regarding the state DREAM Act. He will be joined by members of the Assembly majority and advocates, 250 Broadway, 23rd Floor, Manhattan.

At 1:30 p.m., Eleanor’s Legacy will join Gloria Steinem; President of NOW-NYS Zenaida Mendez; President of NOW-NYC Sonia Ossorio and women elected officials and women leaders from organized labor, health, and community organizations in support of Melissa Mark-Viverito for NYC Council speaker, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 4:45 p.m., Bloomberg donates blood in partnership with the NY/NJ Super Bowl Host Committee, Emigrant Building, 49-51 Chambers St., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., Time Warner Cable News NY1′s “Road To City Hall” features NYC DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan.

Headlines…

Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who is still married to Silda Wall, is dating his former NYC comptroller spokeswoman, Lis Smith, who is now the mouthpiece of NYC Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio’s transition.

A spokeswoman for Spitzer, 54, did not deny his relationship with Smith, 31, saying the former governor is a “friend” of Smith’s and “holds her in high regard.”

The state Legislature’s black and Hispanic lawmakers want Cuomo to reject his own commission’s call for $2 billion in tax relief, saying New York can’t afford that much revenue reduction.

Some advocates are getting nervous that Cuomo won’t be pushing for his Women’s Equality Act in 2014 because it’s an election year, and wonder if he’ll even mention it during next month’s State of the State address.

Cuomo is expected to break a self-imposed cap on education spending for the second year in a row.

The Moreland Commission referred its investigative findings about Relief Resources Inc. — a Brooklyn-based storefront charity that took in nearly $3 million in legislative grants but did not seem to provide many services — to US Eastern District Attorney Loretta Lynch and AG Eric Schneiderman for potential prosecution.

Donald Trump says he’s ready to take over Cuomo’s massive $4 billion Tappan Zee Bridge construction project, getting the job done “for peanuts’’ by rebuilding, rather than replacing, the existing structure across the Hudson River.

Trump told Andrea Peyser Cuomo is a “weird dude” who is “controlled” by his former brother-in-law and anti-fracking environmental activist RFK Jr.

The state’s teacher evaluation system is off to a bumpy start, with principals complaining about the additional time it adds to their already jam-packed days, parents upset over testing and teachers saying the process seems like a game of “gotcha.”

More >

The Weekend That Was

An ice storm wrecked havoc in Western and Northern New York.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo declared a winter ice storm emergency for those regions.

NYC Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio hired Cuomo’s commissioner of the Office of Children and Family Services, Gladys Carrion, to head the city’s Administration for Children’s Services, calling the protection of youths one of government’s most crucial roles.

Asked if he might hire any Republicans, de Blasio joked: “Let’s not get crazy about this diversity idea.”

The governor and his cabinet members have been traveling the state to distribute donated toys and coats to needy New Yorkers this holiday season.

Cuomo’s approval of a new food bill is receiving praise from agricultural, conservation and environmental organizations statewide.

This past year was full of ups and downs for Cuomo and the state Legislature.

De Blasio offered a pointed critique of his predecessor, Mayor Bloomberg, calling his legacy “decidedly mixed.”

Bloomberg stuck around this weekend to tout his record of creating affordable housing in the Bronx.

While in the Bronx, the mayor thanked the wrong borough president.

He also made his “Saturday Night Live” debut early Sunday, ensuring that, just under the wire, he would not become the first New York City mayor since Abe Beame never to appear on one of the city’s most iconic cultural institutions.

The Bloomberg administration will not make any decision about a plan to lease some open spaces on public housing land to private developers and will instead leave it to the new mayor — who has objected to the initiative.

Oneida Indian Nation attorney Michael Smith told U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence Kahn the nation has indicated it will not oppose the Cayugas from pursuing a gaming license and building a casino in its 10-county exclusivity zone.

A group of environmental organizations are filing a lawsuit in state Supreme Court to challenge the Cuomo administration’s decision to convert the coal-fired Dunkirk power plant to natural gas.

Families of some of the 270 people killed in an airliner bombing 25 years ago gathered for memorial services Saturday in the U.S. and Britain, honoring victims of an attack that killed dozens of American college students and created havoc in the Scottish town where wreckage of the plane rained down.

Mazel tov to Gail Debra Steiner, a former assistant counsel in the Cuomo administration, who was married this weekend.

Extras

President Obama declined to say whether 2013 had been the worst year of his tenure during a White House news conference today.

Weeks before the Jan. 8 vote to replace NYC Council Speaker Chris Quinn, Democratic Club of El Barrio/East Harlem founder and district leader John Ruiz is planning to celebrate Mark-Viverito’s inheritance of the gavel.

State Sen. Andrew Lanza urged a Times Square boycott after American Atheists posted an ad in the Crossroads of the World stating “Nobody needs the ‘Christ’ in Christmas.”

Mayor Bloomberg says his biggest regret from his entire 12-year term in office is his failure to institute nonpartisan elections in New York City.

…and he hasn’t quite forgiven Staten Island Chuck for that finger bite back in 2009.

“No one expected me to like people. I like people.”

Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak, now facing sexual harassment allegations, spoke out against workplace bullying and harassment in 2012.

Gabryszak has spent the past seven years in Albany and is a career public servant.

A decade of Albany sex scandals.

Assemblywoman Sandra Galef ripped the “inappropriate behavior” in the Legislature. “As lawmakers, we make the laws with the expectation that we, of all people, will follow these laws. We must be held to a higher standard.”

Calls for the Nassau County Legislature to hold hearings into the scandal that led to the departure of Police Commissioner Thomas Dale are growing louder.

Donald Trump took to Twitter to suggest Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino not run for governor in 2014.

The Cuomo administration awarded pre-K grants, but didn’t issue a press release announcing that fact.

A fight over the Buffalo Council presidency could have an impact on who the city’s next mayor is.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says de Blasio starts out with an improved NYC economy and excellent credit rating, but challenges remain.

The father of the Indian diplomat charged by US Attorney Preet Bharara has threatened to fast until death if he doesn’t drop the charges against her.

Begging His Pardon, Again and Again

ICYMI from today’s Morning Memo:

Yesterday, President Obama announced he had commuted the sentences of eight federal inmates who were convicted of crack cocaine offenses – the first time retroactive relief had been provided to a group of inmates who likely would have received shorter sentences under current sentencing guidelines.

It was a notable move by a man who hasn’t made much use of his clemency powers since he took office in 2009. And it made me think of another executive who hasn’t exercised those powers much – not even in the case of drug offenders, on whose behalf he used to be an outspoken advocate.

I’m speaking, of course, of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has issued zero pardons or clemencies to date.

Now is the time of year governors typically act on clemency and pardon requests – if they act at all. It’s a traditional holiday season “gift” to reunite long-serving prisoners with their families. In response to an inquiry about whether the governor will be breaking his streak this year, Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi told me simply: “All requests are reviewed.”

That doesn’t sound terribly promising, but it’s better than last year, when a similar question went completely without a response.

Back in the days after his failed 2002 race for governor and his successful comeback run for state attorney general in 2006, Cuomo was a champion of reform of the state’s strict, Rockefeller-era drug laws.

The most draconian elements of those laws (life sentences for the highest level, Class A, drug offenders, have since been dropped, thanks to former Republican Gov. George Pataki) and some additional changes for lower level offenders, who make up the highest percentage of prisoners doing time on drug charges, were enacted former Democratic Gov. David Paterson.

Whether or not a governor decides to give out pardons and/or clemencies is entirely up to him. He’s under no legal obligation to do so, and it’s a practice that slowly fell out of favor over the years – probably due to a fear of being seen as soft on crime – until Paterson took office.

Gov. Al Smith, a noted prison reformer, was a veritable commutation and pardon machine, granting several hundred of each during his tenure in the governor’s office in the early 1900s. Gov. Hugh Carey granted 155 pardons and commutations over the course of his two terms.

The current governor’s father, Mario Cuomo commuted the sentences of 37 people over 12 years, while Eliot Spitzer gave out just one. Pataki commuted the sentences of 32 prisoners and granted one pardon – posthumously – to the comedian Lenny Bruce.

Paterson revived the practice, pardoning 24 people on Christmas Eve 2010 – the year before Cuomo took office. Most of those pardons focused on immigrants here on work permits who were unable to apply for citizenship because they had been convicted of criminal offenses.

Paterson set up a special panel that reviewed over 1,000 cases, many of which were still open when Cuomo succeeded Paterson in January 2011. Also in 2010, Paterson issued a controversial commutation to John White, an African-American man who was convicted of manslaughter in the 2006 shooting of a white teenager, Daniel “Dano” Cicciaro Jr.

The first pardon Paterson granted took place soon after he took office back in 2008. It went to hip-hop artist Ricky “Slick Rick” Walters, who was convicted of attempted murder in 1991, released from prison in 1997, and was in danger of being deported to Britain, where he was born and raised until the age of 11.

Paterson, who during his brief tenure as governor issued a total of 35 pardons and three clemencies after receiving close to 2,000 applications, said the power to do so weighed heavily on him.

“There’s a pizza parlor I no longer go into because the owner wanted one,” the former governor told NYT columnist Jim Dwyer in 2011.

“I have a doctor I no longer see because he wanted a pardon for his son in a Medicaid fraud case. The son had been convicted but he hadn’t even been sentenced yet. In another case, a prominent entrepreneur wanted a pardon for an employee who also hadn’t been sentenced yet.”

Drug law reform advocates like Tony Pappa are again ramping up their efforts to get Cuomo to grant relief to some purportedly deserving inmates. Pappa received a 15-to-life sentence under the Rockefeller Drug Laws and served 12 years in Sing Sing until Pataki granted him clemency in 1996.

“I know that Gov. Cuomo knows about the Rockefeller Drug Laws because he stood shoulder to shoulder with us trying to repeal them in the past,” Pappa wrote on the Huffington Post this week.

“He knows of the injustice that these bad laws created, affecting tens of thousands of individuals including innocent family members. The holiday season is a traditional time for executives to use their power of clemency or pardons to show mercy to people who are imprisoned under unjust laws. These are people who have already served enormous amounts of time but are stuck in prison and have no legal remedies in which to use to regain their freedom.”

“Once again I am asking Gov. Cuomo to please use his executive clemency powers to free those who deserve a second chance in life.”

Counting today, there are six days remaining until Christmas and 12 days left in 2013. Cuomo’s time for heeding Pappa’s call is growing short.

De Blasio Keeps Up UPKNYC Drumbeat

NYC Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has released the second video in as many days in his official campaign to convince Albany to give him the power to tax wealthy city residents and use the revenue to fund universal pre-kindergarten and after-school programs.

This video features a number of high-profile individuals – US Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers, US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC’s Morning Joe – touting de Blasio’s plan.

The Case Against Gabryszak (Updatedx3)

Here’s the notice of claim filed against Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak by an attorney representing three of the Western New York Democrat’s former female staffers who allege he created a hostile work environment by making repeated comments of a sexual nature.

The women claim they complained to top aides in Gabryszak’s office, and in one case, the assemblyman’s communications director, Annalise Freeling, was told by her supervisor, Adam Locher, that “Dennis could get carried away from time to time,” and if she didn’t like his behavior, she could “always look for another job.”

As reported by the Times Union this morning, two other women are expected to come forward in the near future with similar allegations against the assemblyman.

The three women who have made this claim are seeking loss of future and current income and health benefits, as well as compensation (an unnamed amount) for their emotional distress and mental “anguish” due to the assemblyman’s “outrageous and inappropriate behavior.”

The Assembly writ large is named, but no allegations are made – unlike in past sexual harassment cases – against the speaker, Sheldon Silver, for knowing about this situation or failing to do something about it.

UPDATE: Silver spokesman Mike Whyland tells Capital’s Jimmy Vielkind that the speaker had no knowledge of the claims against Gabryszak and the trio of aides who are makign this allegations never filed a formal complaint about his behavior or brought this issue to the attention of the Ethics Committee.

UPDATE2: Whyland told me the speaker’s office will be forwarding whatever it receives from the state attorney general’s office to the Ethics Committee, which will be opening a formal investigation into this matter. The committee, which is already working on Manhattan Assemblyman Micah Kellner’s sexual harassment case, will likely hire an outside investigator, in keeping with a policy the speaker instituted in May in response to criticism of his handling of the sexual harassment allegations brought against former Assemblyman Vito Lopez.

UPDATE3: Here’s Whyland’s official statement:

“The allegations contained in the Times-Union against Assemblymember Gabryszak are very disturbing and will immediately be referred to the ethics committee for a full investigation. The Assembly is committed to a safe and respectful work environment for all its employees and we take all allegations very seriously.”

Notice of claim filed vs. Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak, allegding hostile work environment. by liz_benjamin6490

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City and Albany, Dutchess, and Suffolk Counties.

At 10:45 a.m., he’ll attend the funeral of State Trooper David Cuniff, Grace Fellowship Church
20 Delatour Rd., Watervliet.

At 2 p.m., the governor will distributed donated toys, coats and school supplies at the Catharine Street Community Center, 152 Mansion St., Poughkeepsie.

At 3:30 p.m., he’ll do the same at Island Harvest, 40 Marcus Blvd., Hauppauge, Long Island.

Throughout the day members of Cuomo’s cabinet will also be delivering donated toys, coats, and school supplies to communities in need around the state.

NYC Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio is in the city with no public schedule.

At 8 a.m., Mayor Bloomberg will join John Gambling for the final weekly Friday radio show of his term, WOR 710 AM.

At noon, Bloomberg, MTA officials, and other dignitaries celebrate the impending completion of the 7 Subway Extension by taking a ceremonial first ride; 11th Avenue at 34th Street, Lower Mezzanine subway platform, Manhattan.

Also at noon, leading progressive groups (the WFP, FPI, AQE, Strong Economy for All, NYers for Fiscal Fairness) hold a conference call to release a new report criticizing the recommendations of the Pataki-McCall Tax Relief Commission.

Also at 2 p.m., the Fair Elections Campaign holds an “A Penny a Day Keeps Corruption Away” event, intersection of North Front Street and Wall Street, Kingston.

Also at 3:30 p.m., carolers from NYPIRG, New Economy Project and Demos call on New York City to join U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren to end discriminatory employment credit checks, 1271 6th Ave., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., Sen. Ruben Diaz holds his Christmas Party 2013, Maestro’s Caterers, 1703 Bronxdale Ave., Bronx.

Also at 7 p.m., outgoing NYC Comptroller John Liu attends the 1199 SEIU holiday party, Sheraton New York Hotel & Towwers, 811 7th Ave., Manhattan.

Also 7 p.m. (and at 10 p.m.), Time Warner Cable News NY1′s “Road To City Hall” features Rep. Charles Rangel and Stanley Crouch.

Headlines…

Three former female staffers of Western New York Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak have filed a complaint against him, saying he created a hostile working environment with repeated comments of a sexual nature. They say they complained to top aides in the office who did nothing.

After a meeting at Erie County GOP HQ, Carl Paladino gave Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino an ultimatum: Call for the ouster of Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos or I’ll run for governor in 2014.

Cuomo’s Mandate Relief Council posted a thin report online without any formal announcement. Its single recommendation is to align state special education requirements with federal ones.

Trying to harness the widespread electoral and celebrity support that delivered him to City Hall, NYC Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio unveiled his newest campaign, to win a tax on high-earning New Yorkers to vastly improve the city’s prekindergarten and after-school programs.

The furor over the arrest and detention in New York of an Indian diplomat, and a subsequent statement by Secretary of State John Kerry expressing regret over the incident, caught US Attorney Preet Bharara’s office by surprise and put him on the defensive.

NYSUT took its battle against the state’s 2 percent property tax cap to court, arguing that the mechanism is unconstitutional. The cap, one lawyer claimed, equates school districts with local sewer systems — both of which are funded by property taxes subject to the spending limit.

Dan Garodnick’s advisers admit they have an uphill climb in the speaker’s race. They declined to dispute Melissa Mark-Viverito’s 30-member endorsement count and won’t provide one of their own, but insist they can peel away some members from her over the next three weeks.

“In Ms. Mark-Viverito, 44, the new mayor will get a legislative partner whose outspokenness against inequality matches, if it does not sometimes exceed, his own.”

Bronx Councilman Jimmy Vacca received several letters calling for him to drop out of the hotly contested Council speaker’s race — or be murdered.

New York City’s taxi industry is not sad to see the Bloomberg era go.

During her final stated Council meeting as speaker, nearly everyone – including her erstwhile rivals – had something nice to say about outgoing Speaker Chris Quinn.

Quinn got emotional during the long goodbye.

New York’s City Council voted to extend its public smoking bans to electronic cigarettes, the increasingly popular battery-powered devices at the center of a growing national public-health policy debate.

More >

Extras

The next debt ceiling debate is right around the corner.

The Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty has agreed to reform its internal controls in the wake of a bribery scheme involving its former executive director, state officials announced.

Rep. Charlie Rangel was so excited about his re-election announcement that he asked a reported to dance with him. (She declined).
 
Queens Democratic Chairman/Rep. Joe Crowley says it was premature for NYC Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito to declare victory in the speaker’s race. “It reminds me a little bit of George Bush on the aircraft carrier,” he said. “This has a ways to go still.”

Onondaga County GOP Chair Tom Dadey on Donald Trump: “Now, is that the guy who throws his name out there so he can sell ties and shirts and always throws his name out there as a political opportunist?”

Bill Stepien, one of NJ Gov. Chris Christie’s top officials, will not be returning to the administration and will instead join the Republican Governors Association, which Christie now heads.

Christie dismissed the George Washington Bridge traffic jam scandal as “not that big a deal.”

Democrats at the Nassau Board of Elections tried to hire the father of the central figure in a political controversy that brought down the police commissioner, but pulled back the job offer after party attorneys argued that it created perception problems.

The Buffalo News has a searchable database of economic development grants.

The state Health Department directed all health care workers who have not received flu shots to immediately start wearing face masks because the flu is now widespread in New York

If Hillary Clinton returns to the White House, former President Bill Clinton might be the “first mate.”

Brian Schweitzer, the former governor of Montana and a potential 2016 contender, says his fellow Democrats should have an election “not a coronation” in the next presidential primary — a direct shot at Clinton.

The next NYC schools chancellor will decide on whether CUNY applications for public school students should be free.

Here’s Unshackle Upstate’s 2014 policy agenda.

Cuomo is asking the New York state department to create a multilingual public education campaign to make sure immigrants understand their rights.