Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin

Here and Now

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

At approximately 7 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will appear live on CNN’s New Day to discuss winter weather preparedness.

At 8:15 a.m., New York Law School hosts CityLaw Breakfast with Success Academy Charter Schools CEO Eva Moskowitz, 185 West Broadway at Leonard Street, Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., Deputy Secretary of State for Local Government Dede Scozzafava outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Seneca Falls Recreation & Parks, 35 Water St., Seneca Falls.

Also at 10 a.m., the NYC Council Transportation Committee holds a hearing on de Blasio’s proposal regarding horse-drawn carriages in Central Park, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., state Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Oneida City Council Chamber, 109 N Main St., Oneida.

At 11 a.m., Canal Corp. Director Brian Stratton outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Northeast Classic Car Museum, 24 Rexford St., Norwich.

At noon, state Department of Civil Service Executive Deputy Commissioner Lola Brabham outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Saratoga State Park Offices, 19 Roosevelt Dr., Saratoga Springs.

Also at noon, Upstate Revitalization Initiative Director Richard Tobe outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Downtown Central Library, Ring of Knowledge, 1 Lafayette Sq., Buffalo.

Also at noon, state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Sam Roberts outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, SUNY Sullivan, 112 College Rd., Loch Sheldrake.

At 1 p.m., de Blasio holds a media availability, New York City Office of Emergency Management, 165 Cadman Plaza East, Brooklyn.

Also at 1 p.m., the Assembly Committee on Real Property Taxation holds a public hearing to evaluate New York City’s real property taxation system in its totality, and discuss improvements that could be made through state legislation, 250 Broadway, Manhattan.

At 1:30 p.m., LG Kathy Hochul outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Tillman’s Historic Village Inn, 14369 Ridge Rd., Albion.

Headlines…

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio have promised to set aside their differences and cooperate on responding to the major snowstorm expected to slam into the five boroughs and Long Island.

The Long Island Rail Road said it will be ready for the first major snowstorm of the season, even if it means awakening the force of its most powerful weapon: “Darth Vader.”

Washington, D.C. could get walloped with two feet of snow.

Evan Siegfried, a Republican strategist and commentator, suggests in the NY Post that there’s only one way to settle the fight between de Blasio and Cuomo: The governor should primary the mayor in 2017.

The Republican-led Senate’s riposte to Cuomo’s proposed budget laid bare some of the biggest points of contention in their education agendas — restoring cuts in school aid and the creation of a tax credit for school donations. More here.

After years of struggle over state funding for Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Cuomo last week proposed the first state budget in years with no cuts in aid to the Buffalo research hospital. The reason may lie in a trip last year to Cuba.

De Blasio revealed an $82.1 billion preliminary spending plan, including federal and state aid for the coming fiscal year — a $3.5 billion overall spending increase from the $78.5 billion budget plan approved by the City Council last June for the current fiscal year.

The mayor called his budget proposal “responsible” and said it “protects fiscal health through reserves.”

Public defenders and criminal justice reformers are concerned about Cuomo’s proposal to overhaul the state’s bail system, which is similar to a plan de Blasio recently unveiled.

When de Blasio announced a deal last weekend to limit horse carriages to Central Park while banning pedicabs in the park below 85th Street, it came as a surprise to the city’s 837 licensed pedicab drivers.

Park and animal rights advocates joined forces yesterday to protest the compromise plan to move the horse carriage industry to stables inside Central Park.

The two developers who pushed de Blasio to get rid of Central Park’s horse carriages tried to build support for a proposed deal on the issue, disputing allegations that their cause is about real-estate opportunities and has been aided by contributions they made to a political group tied to the mayor.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano’s chief deputy has repaid more than $200 that he charged to Mangano’s campaign committee for a visit to a Denver strip club last October.

Members of an Assembly workgroup tasked with developing internal reforms nine months ago by Speaker Carl Heastie are preparing to unveil their proposals soon, though an exact release date has not been set.

More >

Extras

New York officials are urging caution ahead of a major snowstorm that’s expected to sweep across the Tri-State area this weekend, hitting Long Island, New York City and parts of New Jersey. More here.

NYc Mayor Bill de Blasio laid out a $82 billion preliminary budget for FY 2017 that has a few new initiative, including $5.4 million to improve ambulance response times.

Budget insiders took notice of the especially sharp critique of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new fiscal plan by the financial and legal experts who work for the Senate Republicans.

De Blasio is concerned by the news that Cuomo’s proposed budget relies on $650 million that some budget experts contend rightly belongs to New York City.

The state Senate today honored the late David Bowie for his long career as an influential musician, actor, activist and fashion trendsetter.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner became the third prominent Democrat to endorse Colleen Deacon over two party rivals in the race for the NY-24 seat.

The sister-in-law of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who was convicted of corruption charges in December, no longer works for former Sen. Alfonse D’Amato’s Park Strategies firm.

No vote was taken today by the Erie County Legislature on moving up the bar closing time from 4 a.m. to 2 a.m., with those opposed to voting on the issue saying the public has the right to be heard.

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg unveiled his line-up for a climate risk disclosure task force he was chosen to head last month.

The Bloomberg-funded Maine Moms Demand Action says it has collected enough signatures to attempt to bring New York-style gun control to the state this November through a citizen-initiated referendum.

When pitted in a three-way race with Bloomberg, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump gets 37 percent of voters, Democrat leader Hillary Clinton gets 36 percent and the former mayor, an independent, gets 13 percent in a Morning Consult poll.

The bedrock of Hillary Clinton’s support — liberal women — is beginning to fracture thanks in part to the renewed swirl around her husband’s dalliances and alleged sexual misconduct, and what many see as her complicity in discrediting the women who spoke out against him.

Former President Bill Clinton, campaigning for his wife in New Hampshire yesterday, bluntly admitted how much more difficult than expected her race for the Democratic presidential nomination has become.

AG Eric Schneiderman is challenging a $100 million fee charged by the four men overseeing the late billionaire Leona Helmsley’s estate — saying that the “grossly excessive” amount results in an eye-popping wage of $6,437 an hour or $250,000 per month for each executor.

Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, a Utica Democrat, will not run for the NY-22 seat Republican Rep. Richard Hanna is giving up at the end of the year, instead decided to seek re-election to his current seat.

Former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky looks on the bright side of the ongoing feud between Cuomo and de Blasio, saying: “Progressive policies are the result, intended or unintended, of the bitter personal fight.”

New York City Marathon organizers might have run afoul of the law, a whopping $11 million lawsuit claims.

More than 58 million tourists visited NYC last year, breaking an all-time high. Officials said this is the sixth consecutive year of record tourism growth.

With a slew of mandated annual reports due this month, the Authorities Budget Office is out with a list of 139 Public Authorities that have failed to file on time.

The Health Department singled out Upstate University Hospital as a “success story” in a report issued today on the rate of infections patients picked up across New York during 2014.

The Utica area still is getting a new hospital, local officials declared. But it’s not clear where the money’s coming from.

Republicans Optimistic About NY-3

From the Morning Memo:

A surprise retirement announcement by Rep. Steve Israel was met with glee by national Republicans, who count the Democratic congressman’s Long Island district as one of their most likely potential pick-ups in the entire Northeast this election season.

According to an NRCC field memo obtained by CapTon, the Democrats “have a serious problem” in NY-3, despite Israel’s claim that the higher-than-usual turnout expected in a presidential election year will enable his party to retain his seat.

The memo sites a recently released survey by Harper Polling, which found Republicans hold a four percentage point lead on a generic ballot in the district, including a 48-21 lead among independents – a key swing bloc of voters.

National security and terrorism – issues on which the Obama administration isn’t polling terribly well as the moment – are the top concerns of 44 percent of likely voters. Also, the Democratic presidential frontrunner, Hillary Clinton, isn’t polling strongly in the district, with 52 percent of voters polled by Harper saying they view her unfavorably.

So far, three Republicans have filed paperwork laying the groundwork for a potential run for Israel’s seat: State Sen. Jack Martins, Assemblyman Chad Lupinacci and businessman David Gurfein. Also mentioned as a possible GOP candidate: Suffolk County Legislator Robert Trotta.

Officially speaking, the NRCC remains neutral in primaries, but GOP sources say national leaders are bullish about Martins, who had already met with them several times about a possible NY-3 run even before Israel announced he would be bowing out of the race.

Martins’ decision to pursue a congressional seat puts his current Senate colleagues in a bind, as they now need to find a replacement for him to run in a difficult election year when they’re fighting to retain control of the majority.

But Martins doesn’t seem terribly concerned about that, since his campaign strategist E. O’Brien Murray told the Long Island Press his client is “all in, no question about it,” and “definitely running.”

Meanwhile, the Democrats have a free-for-all on their hands in NY-3, with about a dozen would-be Israel replacements jockeying for position – including former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi, who just this week announced he had filed paperwork with the FEC to create a fundraising committee and explore a run.

Here and Now

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

At 8 a.m., Rep. Elise Stefanik speaks at the Warren County Economic Development Corporation breakfast, Great Escape Lodge, 89 Six Flags Drive, Queensbury.

At 9:30 a.m., DOT Commissioner Matthew Driscoll outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Hudson Valley Community College, Siek Campus Center, 80 Vandenburgh Ave., Troy.

At 10 a.m., Queens Borough President Melinda Katz delivers her 2016 State of the Borough address, Queens College, Kissena Boulevard and Horace Harding Expressway, Flushing, Queens.

At 10 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a media availability about preparations for the coming snowstorm, Spring Street Salt Shed
South west corner of Spring Street and West Street (across the street from 335 Spring Street), Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., TRIP releases a new report evaluating the current condition, use and funding of New York’s surface transportation system, AAA Hudson Valley, 618 Delaware Ave., Albany.

Also at 10 a.m., Sen. Jesse Hamilton, educators and mental health advocates hold a press conference on a bill that provides a critical link between New York youth and better mental health, LCA Room 130, LOB, Albany.

At 10:30 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, New York Institute of Technology, Harry Schure Hall Northern Boulevard, Old Westbury, Long Island.

Also at 10:30 a.m., Assemblymen Jim Tedisco, Steve McLaughlin and Pete Lopez call for passage of “Spirit of ‘76″ legislation for a rank and file revolt against the accumulation of power by legislative leaders, Assembly Chamber, state Capitol, Albany.

Also at 10:30 a.m., the PSC holds a public meeting, 19th Floor Board Room, Three Empire State Plaza, Albany.

Also at 10 a.m., Regent Beverly Ouderkirk will join leaders from NYSUT and teachers from throughout the state to celebrate excellence in teaching and the role of nationally certified teachers in leading improvement in struggling public schools, NYSUT headquarters, 800 Troy-Schenectady Rd., Latham.

Also at 10:30 a.m., Rep. Nydia Velazquez and Small Business Administration Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet announce the reopening of an SBA Disaster Loan Program, to provide assistance to businesses and homeowners that incurred damage from Superstorm Sandy, SBIDC Red Hook Office, 402 Van Brunt St., Brooklyn.

At 11 a.m., Canal Corp. Director Brian Stratton outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority  
Board Room, 1 Bridge Plaza, Ogdensburg.

Also at 11 a.m., state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Sam Roberts outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Oswego Common Council Chambers, City Hall, 13 West Oneida St., Oswego.

Also at 11 a.m., Rep. Louise Slaughter holds press conference on the VA’s failure to serve Rochester veterans, KBK Federal Building, 100 State St., Rochester.

Also at 11 a.m., the board of directors of the Buffalo Erie Niagara Land Improvement Corporation meets, 10th floor conference room, Room 1004, Edward A. Rath county office building, 95 Franklin St. Buffalo.

At noon, Hochul tours the Hispanic Counseling Center, 344 Fulton Ave., Hempstead, Long Island.

At 12:30 p.m., the Senate Committee on Investigations and Government Operations holds a public meeting, Legislative Office Building, Room 708, Albany.

At 1 p.m., the animal rights group Friends of Animals hold a rally in support of an outright ban of the carriage horse industry, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 1:45 p.m., Hochul announces a NYSUNY 2020 challenge grant recipient, Farmingdale State College, Campus Center, Ballroom A, 2350 Broadhollow Rd., Farmingdale.

At 2 p.m., Division of Veterans Affairs Director Eric Hesse outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, German Flatts Community Center, 555 State Route 5S, Mohawk.

Also at 2 p.m., ESDC Western Region Regional President Sam Hoyt outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Alfred State Student Leadership Center, 10 Upper College Dr., Alfred.

At 2:30 p.m., de Blasio and NYC Budget Director Dean Fuleihan deliver the FY 2017 preliminary budget address, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 5:30 p.m., de Blasio attends REBNY’s 120th annual banquet, Grand Ballroom, The New York Hilton, 335 Ave. of the Americas, Manhattan.

At 6:30 p.m., Rep. Hakeem Jeffries delivers annual State of the District address, discussing issues including affordable housing, community safety, job creation, and immigration reform, Long Island University, 1 University Pl., Brookyln.

Tonight, de Blasio plans to travel to Washington D.C. to attend a reception for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, weather permitting.

Headlines…

The Senate held a confirmation hearing for Cuomo’s choice for chief judge, Westchester DA Janet DiFiore, but did not hold a final vote on her appointment.

The Judiciary Committee members grilled DiFiore for two hours, focusing largely on her ability to act independently of Cuomo, and then unanimously approved her nomination.

During the hearing, DiFiore revealed that she owns a gun and holds a concealed carry permit. Also, Sen. Leroy Comrie, a Queens Democrat, told the DA: “You look much better than your picture.”

After Cuomo announced Republican Michael Garcia, the US attorney who brought down former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, to fill a sixth vacancy on the Court of Appeals, the Senate GOP announced it would hold a full house vote on DiFiore’s confirmation today.

Garcia, 54 years old, is a partner at a Manhattan law firm and leads an advisory board for fantasy-sports operator FanDuel, which is facing intense legal scrutiny nationwide – including in New York.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will unveil his next budget this afternoon. It will contain a $20 million annual increase in funding for security in major parks across the five boroughs and the expansion of a crime-fighting tool known as ShotSpotter, which uses sensors to detect gunfire, to cover 60 square miles across the city.

After a string of weeks in which City Hall has rolled out nearly a dozen new initiatives aimed at tackling the city’s homeless crisis, New York City residents are starting to feel slightly better about how de Blasio is handling the city’s homelessness problems, a new Q poll shows. But only slightly.

The paid family leave proposal Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled last week isn’t exactly what the Democrat-dominated Assembly was looking for, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said.

Cuomo may be proposing the largest investment in transportation projects in state history, but that’s not preventing criticism that the plan shortchanges upstate regions or glosses over important details about how the governor intends to pay for it.

The conservative Tax Foundation, in its annual report, found that New York once again had the highest tax burden of any state in the nation, with 12.7 percent of income going to support state and local taxes.

Two key state lawmakers – Sen. John Bonacic and Assemblyman Joe Lentol – have expressed concern over parts of Cuomo’s proposal to create a new office to investigate deadly incidents involving police officers, casting doubt on the ultimate viability of one of the signature items in the governor’s State of the State address.

A prominent animal rights group that led the campaign to ban horse-drawn carriages, NYCLASS, said it backs a new bill that would limit them to Central Park.

New York City officials and real-estate executives are resigning themselves – at least for now – to life without 421-a, a lucrative property-tax exemption program that for decades has fueled the construction of apartments across the city.

More >

Extras

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani just made a major decision to switch law firms, but the one-time GOP presidential contender says he’s still weighing an even tougher choice: whom to back in the 2016 race.

The NYC Council is set to introduce a package of bills that would broadly reshape the way the city handles low-level offenses such as public urination and drinking alcohol in public, in some cases removing them from the criminal justice system.

Maria Lehman, the Thruway Authority’s interim executive director, said a proposed infusion of aid from the state budget would be enough to freeze tolls and make repairs through 2020. After that, it’s unclear.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to transform the much-maligned Penn Station is already behind schedule. And it’s not clear what the hold up is.

The de Blasio administration has paid out a $45,000 settlement to Trayvon Christian, a black man who sued the city for racial profiling after he was arrested for purchasing a $350 belt at Barneys in 2013, after receiving a paycheck for a work-study job.

An average of 12.7 percent of New Yorkers’ income goes toward state and local taxes, once again the highest rate in the nation, according to a new report by the Tax Foundation.

Last year is now officially the hottest year on record, followed by 2014, 2010, 2005, 1998, 2013, 2003, 2002, 2006, and 2009.

Despite a slew of recent policies aimed at helping the homeless, 55 percent of New York City voters disapprove of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s handling of poverty and homelessness, according to a new Q poll.

Wendy Long, a conservative lawyer who ran unsuccessfully against US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in 2012, has begun talking to Republican leaders about challenging US Sen. Chuck Schumer this November.

The federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has set Feb. 12 as the deadline for public comments about KeyCorp’s planned deal for First Niagara Financial Group.

Attorney Ravi Batra, who resigned from JCOPE citing its lack of independence from Cuomo, praised Chief Judge-in-waiting Janet DiFiore’s stewardship of the panel.

A new report from a labor-backed advocacy group – the National Employment Law Project – claims a $15-an-hour minimum wage could be outdated in Westchester by 2021.

The state has instituted a new regulation, first proposed in November by the DMV, that will punish drivers who don’t pay overdue tolls or fees by seeking to revoke their state registrations.

The state Division of Human Rights has officially adopted regulations aimed at protecting transgender New Yorkers from discrimination and harassment.

The gun-rights group NY2A has delivered petitions to Senate leaders in opposition to IDC Leader Jeff Klein ‘s bill that would not only prevent the sale of guns to people on no-fly suspected terrorist list but allow for their confiscation as well.

Atlantic City is considering a bankruptcy filing after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed legislation aimed at shoring up the finances of the distressed casino resort.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg today launched Bloomberg Philanthropies’ 2016 Mayors Challenge, a competition to inspire Latin American and Caribbean cities to develop bold new ideas that solve major problems and improve city life.

Stefanik Launches Re-election Campaign

From the Morning Memo:

Republican Elise Stefanik today is formally announcing her re-election campaign in NY-21, a closely divided district in the North Country that the two political parties have traded back and forth for several election cycles running.

In a statement, the freshman lawmaker said her top priority since she was first elected in 2014 has been “keeping my promises to bring a new generation of leadership to Congress, and to demonstrate a new approach with a focus on accountability and transparency, accessibility through hundreds of community events to hear directly from constituents, and by prioritizing legislation that helps people to raise a family or make a living in the North Country, not make it harder.”

Almost two years ago, Stefanik became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress at the age of 30. She received considerable attention as a result, with fashion magazine spreads and numerous national newspaper and TV interviews.

She has parlayed that attention into a strong fundraising operation, with her campaign announcing it has raised $236,000 in the fourth quarter of 2015, and a total of $1.3 million last year – the highest off-year haul in NY-21 history.

Stefanik is starting her second congressional run with $928,000 on hand, her campaign said. The congresswoman plans to seek the Conservative and Independence Party lines as well as her own party’s line.

In 2014, Stefanik defeated Watertown investment banker Matt Doheny in the GOP primary, 61-39. That was Doheny’s third unsuccessful run, he had tried previously to take out Stefanik’s Democratic predecessor, Bill Owens, in 2010 and 2012. More >

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule. The Legislature is in session today and tomorrow, so state lawmakers are in Albany.

The first joint legislative budget hearing – on transportation this year, which is a non-traditional place to start – will be held at 9:30 a.m. in the LOB’s Hearing Room B.

At 7:30 a.m., Rep. Chris Gibson will deliver remarks and meet with constituents at the Ulster County Regional Chamber of Commerce Breakfast, Best Western Plus, Kingston.

At 8 a.m., NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton will address members and guests at the New York City Police Foundation’s “State of the NYPD” annual breakfast, Mandarin Oriental, Grand Salon Ballroom, 36th Floor, 80 Columbus Circle, Manhattan.

At 9:30 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul visits small businesses in Red Hook with Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President Carlo Scissura, 175 Van Dyke Street, Pier 41, Brooklyn.

At 10:30 a.m., community Leaders, local organizations and parents will gather on Wednesday morning to call on the Albany City School District Board of Education to renew its contract with Superintendent Dr. Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, Union Missionary Baptist Church, 3 Morton Ave., Albany.

At 11 a.m., the Assembly holds a hearing on providing affordable and high quality cable, broadband and telephone service, Hearing Room C, LOB, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., one week after Cuomo’s State of the State and budget address, Common Cause/NY, Citizens Union, and NYPIRG will assess his proposals for ethics, elections, and oversight, LCA Hallway, 3rd Floor, state Capitol, Albany.

At 11:30 a.m., Hochul tours the Broadway Stages Film and Television Production Facility with Rep. Carolyn Maloney, 355 Kingsland Ave., Brooklyn.

Also at 11:30 a.m., charter school advocates rally to call on equal funding with public schools, state Capitol, Albany.

Also at 11:30 a.m., Deputy Secretary of State for Local Government Dede Scozzafava outlines the governor’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Clarion Inn, 30 Lake Shore Dr., East Dunkirk.

At 1 p.m., the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on Cuomo’s pick for chief judge of the Court of Appeals, Westchester County DA Janet DiFiore, Room 124, state Capitol, Albany.

At 1:15 p.m., Scozzafava outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Jamestown High School, 350 East Second St., Jamestown.

At 1:30 p.m., Hochul outlines the governor’s 2016 State of the State address agenda, Bais Rochel High School, 177 Harrison Ave., Brooklyn.

At 2 p.m., Canal Corp. Director Brian Stratton outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Town Hall, Room 30, 30 Main St., Massena.

At 2:15 p.m., Hochul outlines the governor’s 2016 State of the State address agenda, Bais Rochel of Satmar, Central United Talmudical Academy, 401 Park Ave., Brooklyn.

At 5:30 p.m., Scozzafava outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Gialy’s Restaurant, 210 Pine St., Jamestown.

At 6:30 p.m., Deputy NYPD Commissioner of Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism John J. Miller will join Rich Lamb for a conversation on how the NYPD fights terrorism on WCBS, Newsradio 880, Adorama Live Theatre, 10th Floor, 345 Hudson St., Manhattan.

Also at 6:30 p.m., Gibson will deliver remarks and meet with constituents at the Columbia County 50 Club Meeting, Kozel’s Restaurant, Ghent.

Headlines…

Not long after NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan to shrink the horse-carriage trade in Midtown Manhattan, and relocate its animals into Central Park, it seemed that for every constituency satisfied by the deal, another was aggrieved — and determined to make the mayor hear about it.

NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said that critics of the city’s plans to convert a maintenance building into stables in Central Park should just accept that the city has the power to do it.

Harold Ickes, a veteran political consultant and longtime friend and mentor of de Blasio, delivered about $13,000 in donations last week to the mayor’s re-election campaign – the same day that one of his lobbying clients received the de Blasio administration’s go-ahead to hold a lucrative music festival in New York City.

The mayor’s approval rating has ticked up amid his concerted effort to convey a more forceful public image, and he now receives positive marks from half of New York City voters, according to a new Q poll. But support for de Blasio, who garnered a 50 percent job approval rating, remains polarized along racial lines, and voters are split on whether he deserves to win a second term in 2017.

De Blasio tried to cash in on GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz’s disparaging remarks about “New York values” with an e-mail that asks supporters to refute the Texas senator by contributing to the mayor’s re-election campaign.

Westchester County DA Janet DiFiore, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pick for chief judge of the Court of Appeals, will have her nomination put to a hearing today at the state Capitol, where the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee will have the opportunity to question her and examine her credentials before making a recommendation to the full Senate.

Cuomo boasted of $100 billion in big projects last week as part of his renewed focus on upgrading the state’s aging transportation system. But for all the fanfare with the Democratic governor’s annual State of the State and budget address, municipal-finance experts and transit advocates are asking exactly how officials will pay for – among other things – new subway cars, a revamp of New York Penn Station and upgraded roads.

Sen. John DeFrancisco is the king of the Senate – at least when it comes to raising money. The new deputy Senate majority leader, a Syracuse Republican who opposes most campaign finance reforms proposed this month by Cuomo, has more money in his campaign war chest than any of the 61 other sitting senators.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, in a preview of the State of the NYPD address he’ll deliver today, said training and patrol strategies have been revamped, resulting in fewer interactions with the public.

At the rate NYC is implementing its ambitious street safety agenda, Vision Zero, it will take an extra 31 years — to 2055 — to drive the number of preventable traffic deaths down to zero, a goal de Blasio wants to reach by 2024, according to the report from the non-profit, Transportation Alternatives.

Karen Weaver, the Democratic Mayor of Flint, Mich., endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, saying she’s the only candidate to reach out and offer assistance during the city’s water crisis.

Three weeks before New Hampshire’s presidential primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has jumped out to a 27 percentage point lead over Clinton in a poll of likely Democratic voters there released by CNN/WMUR last night.

Intelligence officials reviewing emails on Clinton’s private computer server from when she was secretary of state have found information they consider to be of a higher level of classification than “top secret,” according to a letter sent to lawmakers last week by the intelligence agencies’ inspector general.

More >

Extras

A documentary about the sexting scandal that derailed former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s 2013 NYC mayoral run is poised to give the Clinton campaign headaches once more, as the candidate’s top aide, Huma Abedin, who happens to be Weiner’s wife, features prominently in the film.

The New York Times was given an exclusive screening of the documentary before its premier this weekend at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, is backing Donald Trump for president.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry defended his erstwhile GOP presidential primary rival Sen. Ted Cruz’s swipe at Trump for embodying “New York values,” saying that “we all make fun of New York.”

The US Supreme Court will consider a legal challenge to President Obama’s overhaul of the nation’s immigration rules, determining the fate of one of his most far-reaching executive actions.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is breaking with tradition and will be delivering his annual State of the City address at night on Feb. 4 – hoping to broaden the traditional audience for his speech.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie once phoned Cuomo and told him to tell Pat Foye, the executive director of the New York and New Jersey Port Authority “to f–k off.”

David Bowie’s ashes could be scattered at the peaceful New York mountain retreat in the Catskills where he spent his final days.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced $2 million in new funding to support 50 new treatment beds to help New Yorkers with substance use disorders in upstate New York. The funding will support 50 new residential treatment beds in the Southern Tier, the Finger Lakes region or Western New York.

The Senate and Assembly Ethics Committees are not actually places where ethics reform legislation has ever been considered, because…Albany.

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani will join Miami-based law firm Greenberg Traurig as Global Chair of the GT’s cybersecurity and crisis management practice and senior advisor.

The de Blasio administration released a video featuring a voiceover by actor Ben Stiller urging more people to volunteer for its annual Homeless Outreach Population Estimate.

Recipient names and amounts for more than 3,000 state grants totaling more than $400 million, including more than 500 approved on the final day of the 2015 legislative session, were added to the Empire Center’s SeeThroughNY today.

Less than a week after he introduced a measure to legalize and regulate hoverboards, state Sen. Jose Peralta, a Queens Democrat, announced he is making substantial policy changes to the legislation.

The nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, Human Rights Campaign, endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.

The majority of the Women’s Equality Act – seven of eight provisions passed last year – took effect today.

Manhattan Councilman Dan Garodnick, who is term-limited out of the council in 2017, has raised a considerable campaign war chest (almost $1.5 million) split among three different accounts for a potential statewide run.

FERC approved the sale of two upstate New York power plants the same day Cuomo vowed the generators would “transition” away from coal or be closed by 2020.

Three Democrats are considering a run for retiring GOP Rep. Richard Hanna’s seat in NY-22, including Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, who plans to make a decision by the end of the month. A GOP primary is already underway.

Here and Now

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

At 9 a.m., Assemblyman Luis Sepúlveda joins state Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. and others to protest a Friday evening anti-Muslim attack in Parkchester by two assailants, in front of PS 119, 1075 Pugsley Ave., the Bronx.

At 9:15 a.m., NYC Councilman Ruben Wills makes an appearance in Queens County Criminal Court before Judge Kron, 125-01 Queens Blvd., Kew Gardens.

At 10 a.m., NYC City Councilman I. Daneek Miller joins Council members, RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum, UFCW Local 1500 and others to rally in anticipation of a vote on the Grocery Worker Retention Act, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., the state Office of Mental Health and the Dormitory Authority of New York State host the grand opening of the $350 million Bronx Behavioral Health Campus, Adult Building, 1500 Waters Pl., the Bronx.

At 10:30 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Sunnyside Community Services, 43-31 39th St., Queens.

At 11 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a press conference related to Vision Zero, Razi School, 55-11 Queens Blvd., Queens.

Also at 11 a.m., the horse carriage drivers hold a press conference, inside the Westside Livery Stables at 538 West 38th streets, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., state Sen. Jesse Hamilton, Assemblyman Ron Kim and others announce legislation to combat discriminatory enforcement and discuss Cuomo’s enforcement against nail salons, Mudan Restaurant, 136-17 39th Ave., Flushing, Queens.

Also at 11 a.m., wheelchair advocates join taxi, livery, black car and luxury car drivers, base owners and workers to call on the City Council to act on regulating the taxi and for-hire vehicle industry, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At noon, Hochul makes a clean energy announcement, New York Institute of Special Education, Board Room, 999 Pelham Pkwy., the Bronx.

At 1 p.m., Save Central Park Pedicabs will rally, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 1:30 p.m., Hochul tours Per Scholas to highlight the state’s investment in advanced manufacturing, 804 East 138th St., 2nd Floor, the Bronx.

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

At 2:15 p.m., Florid Gov. Jeb Bush, a GOP presidential candidate, will participate in a moderated conversation with Washington Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt to discuss his foreign policy agenda, Harold Pratt House, 58 East 68th St., Manhattan.

At 5:30 p.m., AG Eric Schneiderman and Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas will receive the ‘Champions in Fighting Corruption Award’ from the Long Island Progressive Coalition, UFCW 1500, 425 Merrick Ave., Westbury.

At 8 p.m., Hochul delivers remarks to the China General Chamber of Commerce, Waldorf Astoria, 301 Park Ave., Manhattan.

Headlines…

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio joined a 20-block march in Harlem yesterday to demand a $15 minimum wage following a Martin Luther King Jr. tribute hosted by the Rev. Al Sharpton at which the governor described the civil-rights icon as “a man of action.”

Sharpton invoked a racial stereotype to make a point about community involvement during his National Action Network’s King Day celebration. “Dr. King was about public policy,” he said. “…On your birthday, we’ll eat chitlins and watermelon and drink some sweet iced tea because that’s what you do. But on his birthday, on his holiday, we do what King does. We’re going to march.”

Cuomo insisted he can work productively with the mayor on combatting homelessness despite their long-running feud, and he said one of their biggest challenges is the expiration of the 4231-a tax abatement program to incentivize affordable housing development in NYC.

De Blasio said he is “deeply disappointed” a deal to save 421-a failed, and he plans to push the issue in Albany this session.

Cutting the number of horse-drawn carriages in New York City and keeping them entirely inside of Central Park will help ease traffic congestion in Midtown Manhattan, de Blasio said.

The carriage horse deal underlined the transactional side of a mayor who says he is on a mission to liberalize New York City, even as his efforts are propelled in part by wealthy contributors tied to special interests.

De Blasio’s plan to ban pedicabs from Central Park below 85th Street will put the final nail in the coffin of an industry loathed by most New Yorkers, advocates and drivers said.

Former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, a Democrat who is looking anew at a political comeback, said he is forming an exploratory committee and will begin raising money for a possible run for retiring Rep. Steve Israel’s Gold Coast House seat.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is paying $4,000 a month to his longtime friend Patrick Jenkins, a political consulant who is also a lobbyist with a long list of clients seeking help from the Legislature’s most powerful Democrat.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer said NYC would be awarded $176 million in federal funding for the proposed project, through a national contest created by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help communities recover from disasters and better prepare for them.

Cuomo is touting a massive infrastructure plan, but budget experts said much of the funding for the projects, estimated to cost $100 billion, remains unresolved. They also question what they said is a cost-shift from the State to New York City.

Efforts to sell the Kraft Heinz cheese factory in Campbell, slated to close sometime next year, are making progress. Cuomo and Schumer said that “several” companies have shown interest in purchasing the factory.

RIP Jeff Wise, a Saratoga Springs resident who most recently served as first executive director of the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs. He suffered a heart attack last week and died on Sunday.

More >

Extras

Former state Democratic Party Executive Director Charlie King, a longtime ally (and sometime foe) of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is creating a statewide committee to push the governor’s agenda this year. It will be called the Committee on Social, Racial and Economic Justice, and was unveiled at the Rev. Al Sharpton’s annual MKL Day event in Harlem.

After receiving support from Democratic party chairs in the district, Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout is “committed to making commitments in the next week” about whether to run in NY-19.

COR Development, the politically connected company developing the state’s nanotechnology hub in DeWitt and Syracuse’s Inner Harbor, gave Cuomo $50,000 in the past six months, making them Cuomo’s top donor in Central New York.

The State University Charter School Institute has opened a probe into whether a Success Academy charter school in Brooklyn improperly used its disciplinary policy to force out struggling students.

A bill with bipartisan support in the state Legislature would create a list of companies that are boycotting Israel and then deny them state contracts and investments from the state pension fund.

Cuomo’s chief counsel, Alphonso David, said the state has “strong concerns” about KeyCorp’s planned deal for First Niagara Financial Group, in a letter he sent to regulators.

Hundreds of Nassau County contracts worth a total of nearly $10 million have been awarded in recent years at amounts just dollars below the threshold for legislative approval. Many went to politically connected companies without competitive bidding, and were never openly discussed, debated or voted on.

Three elected officials – NYC Councilmen Corey Johnson and Mark Levin and Assemblyman Keith Wright – were among those arrested today while protesting at LaGuardia’s Terminal B this afternoon to push the Port Authority’s hand on a living wage and benefits for airport workers.

If a state commission tasked with educating New Yorkers about slavery has been active in recent years, it hasn’t left much of a record of its accomplishments.

Term-limited Suffolk Legislator Lou D’Amaro has decided against challenging Republican Sen. Phil Boyle despite entreaties from Senate Democrats looking to take the majority in November.

A state Appellate Division panel has determined exotic dancers employed by a Newburgh-area chain of gentlemen’s clubs are employees, thus sustaining previous administrative decisions that concluded Exotic Island Enterprises and Sliffer Enterprises were on the hook to pay additional unemployment insurance contributions.

Hundreds of New York adult day care centers including 80 on Long Island operate without state or local government oversight, leaving disabled adults and seniors “at potential risk,” according to state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

The annual Bob Evans Memorial Predator Calling Hunt, which last year raised the hackles of an animal rights group and others, was cancelled earlier this month due to lack of entries by the event’s registration deadline.

For the 10th straight year, Batavia Downs Gaming has increased its revenues, reporting a 7.37 percent jump in net winnings from 2014 that outperforms New York’s nine other gaming facilities.