Liz Benjamin

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Here and Now

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

President Obama is in New York City tonight to attend several fundraisers, including the DNC’s annual LGBT gala and an event hosted by Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour.

From 8 a.m. to noon, NYC’s deputy mayor for housing and economic development, Alicia Glen, speaks during a conference about potential commercial and residential real estate development in Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens, organized by Crain’s New York Business; JW Marriott Essex House New York hotel, 160 Central Park South, Manhattan.

At 8:30 a.m., State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli delivers opening remarks at the New School’s “Confronting NYC’s Retirement Crisis” conference, 65 West 11th St., Manhattan. Also speaking: NYC Public Advocate Tish James and Comptroller Scott Stringer.

Also at 8:30 a.m., NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg and state DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald speak at the New York Build Congress forum, 1335 Ave. of the Americas, Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., parent groups hold a press conference pushing for the state to withdraw from the Common Core, LCA Room (130), Legislative Office Building, Albany.

Also at 10 a.m., the NYS Association of Counties, NYS Conference of Mayors and NYS School Boards Association hold a summit on shared services, Maureen Stapleton Theater, Hudson Valley Community College, 80 Vandenburgh Ave., Troy.

At 10:30 a.m., Westchester County Executive and GOP candidate Rob Astorino will be a guest on Live from the State Capitol with host Fred Dicker.

At 11 a.m., Westchester County Independence Party members will reveal “shocking new details” about Astorino’s “corrupt scheme” to secure their nomination, The New York Times Square Sheraton Hotel, Conference Room J, Executive Conference Center, 811 Seventh Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 11 .m., Robert Castelli makes an announcement about his intentions to run for the State Senate, 11 Main St., South Salem.

At noon, state lawmakers and American Red Cross hold press conference advocating for Briana’s Law, Million Dollar Staircase, state Capitol, Albany.

At 1 p.m., the NYS Business Council hosts a global trade forum, Suite 17, 12 Corporate Woods, Blvd., Albany.

At 1:30 p.m., 1,000 low-wage workers and advocates will descend on Albany to urge the Senate and Assembly to pass legislation that would raise the state minimum wage to $10.10, index it for inflation, and allow cities and counties to set their wages 30 percent higher than the state’s minimum, Million Dollar Staircase, state Capitol.

At 2 p.m., Assemblywoman Amy Paulin and Sen. Andrew Lanza will speak at a rally of human rights advocates in Albany to promote a bill that cracks down on sex trafficking, MIllion Dollar Staircase, state Capitol.

At 2:15 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina make an announcement, CMSP 327, Goble Place between Inwood and Jerome Avenues, the Bronx.

At 6 p.m., a Town Hall for candidates of NY-21 will be held at the VIEW Arts Center, 3273 NYS Route 28, Old Forge.

Also at 6 p.m., GetEQUAL, Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project (QUIP), Immigration Equality and Make the Road NY call on Obama to extend administrative relief to undocumented immigrants. Gotham Hall, 1356 Broadway, Manhattan.

Also at 6 p.m., City & State holds its “40 Under 40″ reception, Taste, 45 Beaver St., Albany

At 7 p.m., GOP LG candidate and Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss will attend and deliver remarks at the state Conservative Committee’s Annual Dinner, Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers, Metropolitan Ballroom, 2nd Floor, 811 Seventh Avenue at 53rd Street, Manhattan. (Astorino will also attend, and is scheduled to speak at 6 p.m.)

Also at 7 p.m., representatives of the NYC Department of Education receive comments about a proposed “Citywide Contracts for Excellence Plan” during the start of a public hearing scheduled to continue in each borough on four dates through Wednesday, June 25; Stuyvesant High School, 345 Chambers St., Manhattan.

Also at 7 p.m., Stringer and deputy comptrollers hear testimony about NYC’s Hurricane Sandy recovery efforts as Stringer hosts a hearing of his office’s Sandy Oversight Unit; Goldie Chu Community Room, second floor, Two Bridges Tower, 82 Rutgers Slip, Manhattan.


A federal judge said he won’t dismiss the bribery indictments against state Sen. Malcolm Smith and two co-defendants, and will decide today if the case will be delayed or will end in a mistrial. The decision rests largely on the summer schedule of 15 jurors.

There’s no deal so far on modifications to the state-mandated teacher evaluation system. A sticking point is how many years and for which school years the state would remove Common Core-aligned test scores from consideration in the teacher evaluations.

The Rev. Al Sharpton criticizes veteran Harlem Rep. Charlie Rangel and other members of the old guard of black politicians for failing to groom successors.

Upon his return to the NYPD, Commissioner Bill Bratton is searching for ways to apply his old playbook, developed in the high-crime early 1990s, to a safer city filled with New Yorkers who have never known it any other way.

The Buffalo School Board voted 7-2 to oust Superintendent Pamela C. Brown, paying her a year’s salary, plus a $10,000 bonus and a $2,000 consulting fee for voluntarily leaving the district. She will also receive cash for her unused vacation time.

Westchester County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino believes state lawmakers should spend less time in Albany and less time in office, according to a 10-point ethics reform plan he rolled out statewide.

More >


NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will sing “I Love LA” on Jimmy Kimmel Live to settle a Stanley Cup bet.

Steven Spinola will step down as president of the Real Estate Board of New York at the end of 2015, capping off 30 years as the city’s top real estate lobbyist.

To celebrate Moody’s upgrading the state’s credit rating to its highest level in 50 years, Gov. Andrew Cuomo got legislative leaders a cake.

A federal judge will leave it up to jurors to determine whether to declare a mistrial in state Sen. Macolm Smith’s corruption case. He’ll poll them tomorrow.

“There are a lot of odd people, Yiddish-speaking oddballs or alleged Yiddish-speaking oddballs.”

Syracuse Common Councilor Jean Kessner has taken the first steps toward her threat to run a Democratic Party primary against the lone Central NY IDC member, Sen. David Valesky.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner wrote a letter to GOP Senate Leader Dean Skelos, calling on his to allow GENDA to the chamber floor for a vote.

De Blasio kicked off a universal pre-K “Day of Action” rally inside Tweed courthouse, declaring that he hoped free pre-K would spread “like wildfire” across the country.

Anti-Common Core advocates, mainly from Long Island, will rally in the well of the LOB tomorrow to push New York to withdraw from the standards altogether.

The state’s Environmental Facilities Corp. will loan up to $511 million to the new Tappan Zee Bridge project - a move that will help with the financing of the $3.9 billion project.

Rep. Richard Hanna on his primary opponent, Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney: “I’m not interested in debating someone who is incapable of a forthright debate about the reality of my record.”

El Diario La Prensa, the nation’s oldest Spanish-language daily newspaper and the largest in New York, handed out pink slips to 12 staff members late last week.

A bill that would permit the research of industrial hemp and would make New York the 16th state to ultimately grow it has passed the Legislature and is headed to Cuomo’s desk.

The investigation into the disappearance and capture of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl in eastern Afghanistan will be led by the former deputy commander of Fort Drum.

Hillary Clinton is still seeking to stay above the fray of the Keystone XL  Pipeline debate.

Manhattan is experiencing a surge in new office construction, but whether the economy will generate the office jobs to keep vacancy rates from rising remains a question.

The Buffalo School Board today is expected to finalize its termination agreement with Superintendent Pamela C. Brown and appoint high-ranking administrator Will Keresztes as interim superintendent.

An Albany-based hedge fund, Paradigm Capital Management, reached a $2.2 million settlement connected to retaliating against a whistleblower.

Former NYC Councilman Sal Albanese explains his long-shot 2013 bid for NYC mayor.

Tkazyik Drops 41st SD Bid, Backs Serino (Updated)

And then there was one.

Poughkeepsie Mayor John Tkazyik has ended his bid for the GOP line in the 41st SD, throwing his support to the latest entry into the race, Dutches County Legislator Susan Serino. Tkazyik is the third Republican to end a campaign in what was once a crowded – not to mention messy – Republican primary, and his decision to vacate the field leaves Serino unopposed in September.

In a statement annonucing his decision this morning, Tkazyik basically said he was acting in the interest of party unity and maximizing the GOP’s chances of maintaining control in the Senate. But he also acknowledged that since the Republican, Conservative, and Independence parties have all united behind Serino, his chances of victory were slim to none.

“After due consideration, I’ve concluded that I don’t want to forestall nor complicate in any way a general election campaign in which we must prevail,” Tkazyik said. “Therefore I’m withdrawing as a candidate for the New York State Senate, with a heart full of gratitude to all those who have expressed their faith and confidence in me to do the right thing.”

“Today this is the right thing to do, and from here forward I’ll continue to lead the fight for responsible government that reveres the great principles on which our nation was founded. I wish Sue Serino much success in the upcoming election, and I urge all my friends and supporters to enthusiastically support her candidacy.”

Dutchess County Legislature Chairman Rob Rolison and County Comptroller James Coughlan were initially also battling for the GOP nod, but both have since ended their respective campaigns. Serino was a late add, but she quickly gathered the support of party leaders.

This isn’t good news for Democratic freshman Sen. Terry Gipson, who is a top target of the Republicans this fall. The GOP is very interested in winning back the seat Gipson won in a squeaker from veteran former Sen. Steve Saland, whose “yes” vote on gay marriage earned him the endorsement of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, but also the ire of Conservatives. The presence in the November election of Neil DiCarlo on the Conservative line split the vote on the right for Saland, and provided Gipson with a narrow path to victory.

But as the Conservatives and Republicans – not to mention Independence Party leaders – appear united behind Serino this time around, Gipson has a tougher road to hoe, though Cuomo has pledged to support the Democrats’ push to take back the Senate, so perhaps he’ll be more helpful to Gipson in the newbie senator’s re-election bid.

UPDATE: DSCC Executive Director Josh Cherwin sent the following statement:

“Hudson Valley taxpayers cannot afford Sue Serino and her out of touch policies in the State Senate. During one of the harshest winters in recent memory, Sue Serino took a notorious vote to raise energy taxes on Dutchess County residents and increase the cost of providing heat for homeowners and small businesses. Terry Gipson has fought tirelessly to make the Hudson Valley more affordable for hardworking men and women, helping secure funding to repeal the Dutchess energy tax and bringing real property tax relief to middle class families.”

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule. The countdown to the scheduled end of session on June 19th (Thursday) begins.

A federal judge in White Plains could declare a mistrial in the corruption and bribery case of Sen. Malcolm Smith today.

Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout will be in Albany today to discuss her planned Democratic primary challenge to Cuomo. She’ll be joined by her LG running mate, Columbia Law Prof. Tim Wu.

At 8:40 a.m., Westchester County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino will be a guest on MSNBC’s Morning Joe.

At 8:50 a.m., a taped interview with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio airs on on HOT 97.

At 9 a.m., De Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina kick off a “Day of Action” where staff will be preparing for an annual outreach drive to make parents aware of pre-K options in their neighborhoods, Tweed Courthouse – Rotunda, 52 Chambers St., Manhattan.

Also at 9 a.m., GOP LG candidate and Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss will make a presentation to students on bullying and safety at the Pine City Elementary School, 1551 Pennsylvania Ave., Pine City.

At 10 a.m., Astorino will unveil his first major policy initiative – a “comprehensive ethics plan” – at a press conference in front of the Teddy Roosevelt Statue, 79th Street and Central Park West, Manhattan.

At 10:15 a.m., Assemblywoman Nily Rozic, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, advocates and executives discuss a new report that calls for employers to adopt policies to promote “workplace flexibility,” during a news conference attended by Stringer’s wife and two sons; steps, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 10:45 a.m., U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan meets with Arizona State University President Michael Crow and Starbucks C.E.O. Howard Schultz, Main Auditorium, Times Center, 242 West 41st St., Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., Sen. Gustavo Rivera, Assembly Member Karim Camara, national immigration reform advocates, community leaders, faith leaders and legal experts announce a new campaign to push states to extend full equality to millions of noncitizen residents in the US, Battery Park, Lower Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., the NYS Troopers PBA will endorse Republican John Cahill for attorney general, east Capitol steps, Albany.

At 2 p.m., Astorino will continue the announcement of his first major policy initiative at a press conference on the west steps of the state Capitol, Albany.

At 5:30 p.m., Stringer testifies at the Rent Guidelines Board hearing at Emigrant Savings Bank building, 49-51 Chambers St., Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., Astorino will host a fundraiser with the Herkimer GOP, Crystal Chandelier, 4579 Route 28, Herkimer.

Also at 6 p.m., Moss will attend and deliver keynote remarks at the Genesee County Republican Committee Annual Reception, Terry Hill 5122 Clinton Street Rd., Batavia.


The session is scheduled to end this week without much in the way of achievement, but for political reasons, lawmakers might return for a special session after the petitioning period ends in July.

GOP gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino will pledge today to end the Legislature’s sessions in April, halt the lawmakers’ scandal-ridden “per diem’’ payment system, and make new lawmakers join a less-costly state pension system.

Cuomo has outlined a series of concerns to lawmakers that must be addressed before he’ll even consider signing the bill to legalize medicinal marijuana – including a ban on the smoking and sharing of the drug.

The first GOP attack ad of the campaign, called “Cuomo’s New York,” starts airing today. It will strike back at the governor’s months-long, multimillion-dollar “Start Up NY” TV ads that tout New York’s alleged economic turnaround.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer is calling for truck drivers across the country to have black-box-style recorders in their cabins to ensure they are abiding by federal regulations.

New York’s notoriously high taxes – and how to lower them – could play a big role in this year’s gubernatorial race between Astorino and Cuomo.

…and speaking of taxes, the dust-up over the assessment of Lily Pond – the tony home that belongs to Cuomo’s girlfriend, Sandra Lee, where the couple lives in Westchester County – has become a campaign issue for Astorino.

Undocumented immigrants in New York could become “state citizens” with a slew of benefits from driver’s licenses to voting rights under a bill to be introduced today.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has tried to forge better ties with New York City’s corporate elite in his first six months in office, but he still encounters deep skepticism in the business world, from small firms to Wall Street.

A charter school network’s plan to double in size over the next few years could reignite a war over classroom space in New York City – only this time with the ground rules already tilted against the mayor, thanks to a new law passed in Albany this spring.

More >

The Weekend That Was

The Post-Star endorsed Matt Doheny in the NY-21 GOP primary race.

At the end of a school year riven by debate over education policy, upstate New Yorkers place their faith in teachers and their doubts with the state’s rollout of the Common Core educational standards, according to a new Times Union/Siena Research Institute poll.

A federal court judge plans to decide tomorrow if state Sen. Malcolm Smith and two defendants’ political corruption trial will continue.

Rep. Charlie Rangel’s supporters claim that NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, a vocal supporter of Sen. Adriano Espaillat, called out the NYPD to break up their peaceful demonstration in Harlem.

A bill that would allow licensed massage therapists from other states and countries to provide hands-on instructions at education programs in the state is on Cuomo’s desk.

Hundreds of demonstrators marched across the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday to call for tougher gun-control laws in an event underwritten by former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

After marching in the Brooklyn Pride Parade Saturday, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said: “(Y)ou will see Chirlane at this parade or me at this parade, but you will not see us at a parade that excludes members of the LGBT community.”

Phil Reisman called GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino’s LCA rebuttal video a “rare tour de force,” adding: “(Gov. Andrew) Cuomo tries to make fun of himself, but he just can’t seem to pull it off. Beyond verbal noogies, his heart isn’t in it.”

Bob McCarthy reports Cuomo’s would-be Democratic primary opponent, Zephyr Teachout, will address local teachers union and parent groups in Buffalo this week.

Chris Smith notes the effort by de Blasio and the WFP to take their progressive movement national, which includes a pitch to land the next Democratic National Convention for Brooklyn.

The Common Core, as seen through the experience of one nine-year-old Brooklyn student, Chrispin Alcindor, who used to get top grades, but is now struggling and at the bottom of his class under the new curriculum.

US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was a surprise attendee at Hillary Clinton’s Costco book signing in Northern Virginia.

Even before a California court ruling on teacher tenure rocked the education world last week, a group of Buffalo parents were talking about a similar lawsuit.

The Democrat and Chronicle calls for a productive end to the legislative session, saying lawmakers and the governor “owe it to constituents to have something meaningful to show for the past six months in Albany.”

The NY Post supports the Education Tax Credit, and the DN gives credit to Cardinal Dolan for continuing to push the issue.

The Western New York real estate market is red hot. Prices are at all-time highs, with the annual average price topping $146,000.

Cuomo has nominated a former staffer from his days as attorney general to lead the New York State Board of Elections’ new compliance unit – Risa Sugarman, currently the deputy commissioner of the criminal investigations division for the Department of Taxation and Finance.

Rangel: “I feel like an old fire horse that was just about to leave and the gong rang and, damn it to hell, I’ve felt better these last couple years than I’ve felt in a long, long time.”

Rock star and cancer survivor, Melissa Etheridge, who played a concert on Saturday at the The Egg, called on Cuomo and the leaders of the state Senate to pass the Compassionate Care Act.

Republican strength in this year’s House and Senate races could hurt the party’s presidential chances by stalling the changes in style and policy advocated after Mitt Romney’s defeat in the 2012 presidential campaign.

Romney harped on Clinton, calling the foreign policy she and the Obama administration pursued during her time as secretary of state a “monumental bust.”

David Paterson was caught up in a casino bid-rigging scandal when he was governor, and now he’s an adviser for a gambling operator vying to open a $400 million casino north of NYC.

State regulators have approved a deal that will re-energize a western New York power plant, repowering the Dunkirk power plant using natural gas instead of coal.

Extras is creating a team to “Hold Governor Cuomo Accountable” to the deal he cut with the WFP.

The governor’s office will move “in the near future” to convene a minimum-wage board to study what raise should be given to tipped workers, according to an administration source.

Ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner, felled by a sexting scandal, recently favorited a tweet on Tinder being the new “ultimate sext” app, and then said he had done it by accident.

Crystal Collins, a Mount Vernon district leader, is running to replace Westchester and Bronx Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson – who is herself reportedly seeking Mount Vernon’s mayoralty.

Green Party NY-21 candidate Matt Funiciello has launched a campaign website.

Bloomberg LP CEO Dan Doctoroff said NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s team lacks the broad vision to appreciate the merits of a new Olympics bid.

Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer contribued $5,000 to the congressional campaign of Sen. Adriano Espaillat, which employs his girlfriend, Lis Smith.

…Spitzer’s father also contributed to Espaillat’s campaign, even though the senator was critical of the former governor when he ran for NYC comptroller in 2013.

John Catsimatidis is raising campaign cash for AG Eric Schneiderman.

In the home stretch of the NY-13 primary, Rep. Charlie Rangel has raised and spent more than his main rival, Espaillat.

Former Sen. Antoine Thompson will reportedly mount a primary challenge to Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, marking a “major milestone” in WNY politics.

Sen. David Valesky says he’s prepared for a possible primary challenge from Syracuse Councilor-at-Large Jean Kessner.

Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos wants the Democratic-led Assembly to act on legislation to curb the growth of heroin use in the state.

Yonkers Mayor Michael Spano was admitted to St. John’s Riverside Hospital for tests after experiencing flu-like symptoms.

An investigation by Schneiderman found the Syracuse City School District suspends students at a higher rate than almost every other district in the country.

JCOPE announced a SUNY Cortland laundry clerk paid a $4,672 fine for improperly accepting sports apparel, tickets and tips.

A son of the oldest living member of the Rockefeller family, Richard Rockefeller, died after the small plane he was piloting crashed into a neighborhood near Westchester County Airport.

The 2014 New York State Fair results are in, and two Finger Lakes wineries took top honors in the commercial wine competition.

Trying to Rein In Teachout (Updated)

The Working Families Party, which launched Zephyr Teachout’s New York political career, is now trying desperately to prevent her from moving forward without its support in opposition to the candidate it chose over her: Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Since Teachout lost the WFP endorsement to Cuomo at the party’s convention outside Albany on May 31, party leaders have tried several times to talk the Fordham Law professor out of her desire to challenge Cuomo in a Democratic primary.

Two sources with knowledge of the WFP’s efforts confirmed that there have been several meetings in recent weeks with Teachout and former members of the party’s staff who are now committed to helping her in her quixotic quest. That includes the WFP’s former field director, Mike Boland, who was so upset over the party’s decision to back Cuomo over Teachout that he quit his job to run her campaign.

As Nick noted earlier, the WFP is doubling down on its support of Cuomo, issuing a statement this afternoon urging “progressives” to support him in the Democratic primary (should one materialize) and vote for him on the WFP line in November.

The NY Post reported this morning that Teachout planned to begin circulating petitions today in order to get onto the September primary ballot. Technically speaking, she needs to collect 15,000 valid signatures from registered Democrats across the state, but the rule of thumb to survive challenges from the opposition – and it’s a safe bet that in this case, there will be challenges – is to colect three times the required amount to provide a cushion.

Teachout has not yet officially announced her campaign.

As of this morning, she was still hedging, telling me in a brief conversation on Twitter that due to the tight political calendar, she needed to circulate petitions and plan a campaign while also trying to decide whether she wanted to run at all. “If I do this, I’ll do it right,” she wrote. “If not, no harm no foul. Tx.”

UPDATE: Teachout confirmed in an exclusive interview with BuzzFeed that she will indeed challenge Cuomo. Her LG runningmate will be Tim Wu, a Columbia Law professor known for his advocacy of net neutrality. The BuzzFeed story makes the following very good point:

“Though Teachout’s campaign can prove disruptive to Cuomo’s early election season, it has one silver lining for the incumbent. Without a primary challenger, Cuomo would have to return a percentage of donations he received. With Teachout’s entry, Cuomo will be able to accept maximum donations for both the primary and general election cycles.”

De Blasio Enlists Hasidic Leaders To Pressure Carlucci (Updated)

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently enlisted ultra-Orthodox Jewish leaders in Sen. David Carlucci’s district in the effort to get the Hudson Valley lawmaker to abandon the IDC and re-join the regular Democratic conference, a source familiar with the mayor’s actions confirmed.

While de Blasio did not reach out to the leaders himself, he did ask people affiliated with him to do so on his behalf. A second source confirmed that leaders in New Square, the all-Hasidic village in the town of Ramapo, Rockland County, were contacted.

However, Carlucci said today (through a spokeswoman) that he has not been contacted by any Jewish leaders and was not aware of de Blasio’s ask.

“There’s a lot of important work to accomplish during this final week of session, and I’m focused on getting things done for my constituents and the people of New York State,” Carlucci said in a statement. “I look forward to running on my record of accomplishments as a member of the Independent Democratic Conference.”

The source familiar with de Blasio’s effort said the mayor is very committed to trying to bring the IDC back into the Democratic fold – a requirement in order to achieve the goal of a Democrat-controlled Senate, which was part of the endorsement deal de Blasio helped broker between the Working Families Party and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The reunification effort is multifaceted and involves threatening IDC members with primary challenges (some of which are further along than others) if they don’t agree to end their power-sharing deal with the Republicans.

While IDC Leader Jeff Klein and the conference’s newest member, Queens Sen. Tony Avella, already have announced challengers with well-established campaigns and supporters – former NYC Councilman Oliver Koppell and former NYC Comptroller John Liu, respectively – primary challengers to the other three members have only just recently started to emerge.

On Staten Island, MTA Board member Allen Cappelli has confirmed he’s mulling a challenge to Sen. Diane Savino. In Syracuse, Common Councilor-a-Large Jean Kessner said today that she’s starting to circulate petitions for a potential run against Sen. David Valesky, and called on the senator to agree to return to the traditional Democratic conference within the next 24 hours. (Valesky rejected this call, saying he would not engage in “extortion politics”).

Earlier this week, Democatic activist and Clarkstown Town Councilwoman Stephanie Hausner said she’s eyeing a primary challenge to Carlucci, and union officials have increased their pressure on the senator to abandon his fellow breakaway Democrats. Carlucci has since said he has no immediate plans to leave the IDC, and will make decisions about his political future after the legislative session ends next Thursday.

Carlucci’s home Democratic organization, the Rockland County party, has declined to endorse him for re-election. The DN’s Ken Lovett reported that Carlucci has urged his fellow IDC members to negotiate some sort of deal with the regular Democrats, but at least one other IDC member – Savino – denied that claim.

UPDATE: Several readers with intimate knowledge of the complexities of Orthodox Jewish politics called in to comment on this post.

One said the community is “beyond pissed” with the governor for calling for more oversight of the troubled East Ramapo School district, leading to the appointment by the state Education Department of a fiscal monitor. So, the idea that New Square leaders would do anything at this moment that might help the governor – like pressure an IDC member to return back to the Democrats and perhaps hasten the Democratic takeover of the Senate – is not realistic.

Candidate Teachout?

From the morning memo:

Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout is a step closer to mounting a Democratic primary challenge against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, circulating nominating petitions to get her name onto the September ballot.

Teachout, as you’ll recall, unsuccessfully challenged Cuomo for the Working Families Party nod, forcing him to agree to the labor-backed party’s demands in exchange for its endorsement.

Teachout, who worked on former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean’s 2004 presidential campaign, but was relatively unknown in New York political circles, was empowered by the fact that she received just over 41 percent of the weighted WFP convention vote.

She refused to go away quietly, saying she would consider a long-shot – and largely ideological – challenge to Cuomo on the Democratic Party line.

The NY Post reported this morning that Teachout “announced her campaign team” at a meeting of the Village Independent Democrats in NYC last night.

According to the paper, WFP field director Mike Boland plans to resign his post to run Teachout’s campaign, and he told the Democratic club’s members that her petitions would start circulating today.

The headline on the Post story was: “Professor Plans to Challenge Gov. Cuomo in Dem primary.” But Teachout herself called that a bit premature.

“Just to be clear, the headline is a little misleading: no final decision has been made,” Teachout told me during a brief exchange on Twitter this morning. “I have a few more days to decide. Thanks!”

However, Teachout did not deny that she is circulating petitions, saying:

“Because of the calendar, I must plan to run while deciding whether to run. If I do this, I’ll do it right. If not, no harm no foul. Tx.”

Teachout originally gave herself until this past Monday to decide if she would go ahead with a primary challenge to Cuomo. (Unlike with the WFP line, she would not need permission from party leaders to run because she is a registered Democrat, so the threshold to ballot access – while still daunting – is slightly lower).

But last week, Teachout extended that deadline, saying she needed more time to determine whether she could put together the resources to mount a “credible” campaign against the powerful, well-funded and relatively popular (according to public opinion polls) incumbent governor.

In the meantime, Teachout has been making the rounds of the Democratic clubs in New York City. She was at VID last night, and on Wednesday night, pitched her candidacy to members of the Three Parks Independent Democrats.

Three Parks President Elizabeth Kellner said in an email that Teachout told club members she would make a decision about her campaign by the end of next week.

Also present that night were former NYC Comptroller and mayoral candidate John Liu, who is mounting a primary challenge to IDC member Tony Avella, of Queens; and former NYC Councilman Oliver Koppell, who is primarying IDC Leader Jeff Klein in the Bronx.

Unlike Teachout, both Koppell and Liu have the WFP’s support.

Club members also heard from former NYC Councilman Robert Jackson, who is running for the Senate seat Adriano Espaillat will vacate if he wins his June 24 primary challenge to Rep. Charlie Rangel; and Jamie Kemmerer, a political activist and executive director of the Bay Ridge Democrats, who plans to challenge GOP Sen. Marty Golden in November.

“We wanted to inform our membership about opportunities to help in some other crucial races which affect the progressive agenda which we support,” Kellner wrote.

“One of our district leaders pointed out that if the four Senate candidates who appeared at our meeting were all elected, the ‘real’ Democrats would become the majority in the state Senate.”

Prior to the WFP’s convention, polls showed that Cuomo’s lead over Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino would shrink considerably if a nameless third party candidate made it onto the ballot.

To date, however, there has been no polling (that I’ve seen, anyway) on how Cuomo would fare if a left-of-center candidate challenged him in a Democratic primary.

Here and Now

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

At 8:30 a.m., GOP AG candidate John Cahill has breakfast with local community leaders at the Radisson Hotel, 125 Denison Parkway East, Corning.

Also at 8:30 a.m., Westchester County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino participates in Staten Island Small Business roundtable discussion, Annadale Terrace, 813 Annadale Rd., Staten Island.

At 9:30 a.m., Sen. Adriano Espaillat, Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa and statewide groups hold a news conference protesting conditions in school trailers, P.S. 48, 4360 Broadway, Manhattan.

At 10 a.m. Astorino visits the Mt. Loretto Friendship Club Senior Center, 6581 Hylan Blvd., Staten Island.

Also at 10 a.m., U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, New York City Councilman Dan Garodnick and others speak at a Stuyvesant Town-Peter Cooper Village Tenants Association demonstration, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., Nassau County low-wage workers and their families will urge Sen. Jack Martins to join with Cuomo and Senate Democrats in supporting minimum wage legislation, 252 Mineola Blvd., Mineola. (Martins’ district office).

Also at 10 a.m., Rep. Dan Maffei; Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner; Dr. Rick White; local community leaders participate in a Juneteenth flag raising event, Syracuse City Hall, 233 East Washington St.

At 11 a.m., IDC Leader Jeff Klein and others hold a new conference to announce new gun-control legislation, Vidalia Park, 180th Street between Vyse and Daly avenues, the Bronx.

At noon, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee hold a fundraiser, The Plaza Hotel, Fifth Avenue at Central Park South, Manhattan.

Also at noon, lawmakers and firefighters hold a news conference pushing for legislation dealing with building collapses, Albertson Fire Company, 100 IU Willets Rd., Albertson.

Also at noon, Sen. James Seward tours Herkimer schools and holds news conference to protest funding levels, 801 West German St., Herkimer.

1 p.m. Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and M.T.A. leaders (including potential Senate candidate Allen Cappelli) host a public forum on the Access-A-Ride Program, New Lane Neighborhood Senior Center, 70 New Lane, Staten Island.

At 2 p.m., Cahill meets with Tioga County Sheriff Gary Howard, 103 Corporate Dr., Owego.

At 6 p.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli hosts a celebration of Caribbean Heritage Month, Brooklyn Law School, 10th floor, The Subotnick Center, 250 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

At 7 p.m., Astorino attends and delivers remarks at the St. Michael’s Ukrainian Catholic Church Ribbon Cutting, 21 Shonnard Pl., Yonkers.


Prof. Zephyr Teachout told a Manhattan Democratic club that petitions to advance her Democratic primary challenge to Gov. Andrew Cuomo will be circulating beginning today.

The governor said he’s open to temporarily changing the state’s teacher-evaluation system to account for concerns about the Common Core, but said a full moratorium would be “overkill.”

Board of Regents chancellor Merryl Tisch said she would consider supporting changes to the teacher evaluation law for educators who performed poorly during the rating system’s first two years, but generally believes it’s time for the rating system “to be a go.”

Cuomo on the Compassionate Care Act: “It’s a good idea if done right. If it is not implemented correctly…it’s a real problem from a public safety, public health point of view.”

Despite Cuomo’s reservations, the medical marijuana bill was moved out of the Senate Finance Committee over Chairman John DeFrancisco’s objections. It’s now in Rules, putting it one step closer to a vote by the full house.

“It’s in three-way negotiations with the governor’s office, and we will have a final product in time for the end of this legislative session,” Compassionate Care Act sponsor Sen. Diane Savino told reporters.

A federal judge said he may declare a mistrial in state Sen. Malcolm Smith ongoing federal corruption trial because some 9,000 texts and phone conversations recorded by the FBI were not shared with defense attorneys during discovery.

Some 300 of those conversations took place in Yiddish, which could take weeks to translate.

Cuomo is the state’s biggest beneficiary of the so-called LLC loophole, raising millions of dollars through a campaign finance fluke he has pledged repeatedly to close.

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