Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin

Paterson’s Origin Story

From the Morning Memo:

Compliments of Caribbean News Now! comes a curious story about former Gov. David Paterson’s ancestry.

Apparently, the former governor made a recent trip to Port of Spain, Trinidad, flown in by the opposition People’s National Movement to attend a political rally. While on stage, Paterson justified his presence by saying that not only is New York home to the largest population of Trinidadians outside “T &T” as it’s known, but his family was originally from the area.

However, in a 2008 “New York Now” interview, Paterson said he traced his ancestry back to pre-Civil War African-American slaves in North and South Carolina on his mother’s side. His father was Afro-Jamaican, with roots in Carriacou, the largest island in the Grenada Grenadines.

A DNA test of the former governor’s blood, which was the focus of the extended TV interview with then-host Susan Arbetter, revealed that Paterson had white relatives on his father’s side from Scotland, Ireland and England. The test also found that at least one of the former governor’s progenitors was Jewish.

Also appearing at the PNM rally with Paterson was former Rep. Ed Towns, of Brooklyn.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is traveling to Rhode Island, and is slated to return to the city this evening. He has no public events scheduled.

Donald Trump is scheduled to show up for jury duty in NYC this morning, Manhattan Supreme Court, Room 452, 60 Centre St., Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., Sens. Ruben Diaz Sr. and Adriano Espaillat hold a meeting to discuss the current status of NYC’s efforts to cap the taxi industry, (the TLC commissioner is expected to attend), 1437 Longfellow Ave., the Bronx.

At 10:30 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul visits the Buffalo Bills training camp, St. John Fisher College, 3690 East Ave., Rochester.

At noon, Assemblyman Charles Barron and his wife, NYC Councilwoman Inez Barron, hold a press conference to introduce a bill banning grand juries in cases involving civilian deaths at the hands of law enforcement, (Eric Garner’s family and other victims’ relatives are expected to attend), City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 1 p.m., Hochul announces new state funding for the Lockport Flight of Five Locks, Below Canal Street on the Erie Canal, Lockport.

At 2 p.m., Hochul convenes the Western New York Regional Economic Development Council meeting, Cornerstone Arena, 34 Chestnut St., Lockport.

Headlines…

Police are investigating the fatal stabbing of actor Morgan Freeman’s step-granddaughter on a Manhattan street.

E’Dena Hines, 33, is related to Freeman by marriage. (Her grandmother was once his wife). A 30-year-old man, described by the police as her boyfriend, was taken into custody at the scene and hospitalized for a psychological evaluation, the police said.

Operatives for Vice President Joe Biden and former VP Al Gore have begun contacting top New York Democrats – virtually all of whom have endorsed Hillary Clinton – to see if they’re willing to switch allegiances in the race for president.

Mike Lupica says Biden should run for president “because his party would be better for it, and so would his country.”

More than 16,600 supporters of raising the minimum wage in New York for fast-food workers to $15 an hour provided public comment to the state Department of Labor by Saturday’s deadline, advocates say. The final decision, which is imminent now that the public comment period has closed, will be made by acting state Labor Department Commissioner Mario Musolino.

An Aug. 6 NYC Health Department order that every water cooling tower in the city be evaluated and disinfected to combat Legionnaire’s disease has taxed the resources of the limited number of companies that specialize in that work, frustrated some building owners who see it as an unnecessary expense and created confusion about what exactly the order requires.

The Buffalo Board of Education late yesterday announced that it has scheduled a special meeting for noon Tuesday in City Hall to vote on the appointment of Kriner Cash as the district’s next superintendent. The board also will authorize a contract and ask the state Education Department to review his credentials and issue the appropriate certification.

After a difficult week during which his longtime girlfriend Sandra Lee underwent another surgery to deal with infection following her breast-cancer surgery, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was spotted letting off some steam in the Hamptons.

Former state Sen. Shirley Huntley, who was released from prison last year after serving time for corruption, is in trouble again. The Queens Democrat owes nearly $751 in unpaid income taxes from 2012 to the state, officials confirmed. A tax warrant was issued by the state in December seeking to collect the money.

Due to a late Labor Day and four religious holidays, each of the first three weeks of public school classes in New York will have just three days of instruction.

Assembly Majority Leader Joseph Morelle, sponsor of a bill to lift New York’s MMA ban, said he intends to push for its passage within the first few weeks of the legislative session rather than allow it to languish until the end of the session as has happened in the past.

One person was killed and another was injured on Sunday when a small plane crashed on Long Island, leaving debris scattered across the tracks of the Long Island Rail Road near Hicksville and disrupting commuter service throughout the day.

Chautauqua County lawmakers will be considering legislation to ban products containing plastic microbeads. It would be the second county – after Erie – to take action on this issue.

More >

The Weekend That Was

A deadly small plane crash snarled Long Island Railroad service in both directions this morning after smashing into the train tracks in Bethpage.

Trump said it would be a “miracle” if Hillary Clinton is able to continue her run for president in the wake of the controversy surrounding her use of a private email server to conduct official business as Secretary of State — but if she does, he’ll beat her.

Trump turned the Iowa State Fair into a whirlwind campaign stop complete with an over-the-top entrance. A herd of children dressed in over-sized T-shirts emblazoned with his campaign logo surrounded the businessman after his personal helicopter landed in a private parking lot next to a baseball field about a mile from the fairgrounds.

Clinton was at the fair, too, where she was seen ordering a pork chop and a large lemonade. She did not respond to questions from reporters asking whether she had any reaction to Trump’s helicopter.

“This is like being back at the New York State Fair, surrounded by friends,” Clinton said.

The former secretary of state downplayed a federal probe into a private email server that she used while serving as a member of the Obama administration and repeated that she did not send or receive materials marked classified on the account.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has become Clinton’s chief rival and drawn tens of thousands to his rallies, pitched his policies to counter economic inequality from The Des Moines Register’s “soapbox” at the fair, while former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum donned a red embroidered apron to flip pork burgers over sizzling grills.

During a swing through New Hampshire Friday — about two months to the day since Trump launched his White House bid — the GOP front-runner promised details on his tax and immigration policies — soon.

President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton played golf together on Martha’s Vineyard Saturday ahead of an evening 80th birthday celebration for a mutual friend – the Washington power broker Vernon Jordan.

Trump will report for jury duty in NYC tomorrow. A Manhattan judge earlier this year fined The Donald $250 for ignoring five jury summonses since 2006.

A host of challenges are confronting the de Blasio administration in a messy second year: tension among aides; a perilous, often powerless relationship with the governor, a fellow Democrat; and the struggles of the mayor, a political operative by training, to control the perception of his stewardship.

The legionnaires’ outbreak that left 12 people dead may be contained, but the number of those infected keeps rising. Even though NYC has had no new cases since Aug. 3, the total number of infected people in the South Bronx has risen by three, bringing it up to 124.

Members of the Erie County Libertarian Party have filed a new civil suit challenging the constitutionality of New York’s pistol permit law, a gun control law dating to 1911 and the Tammany Hall days of New York City.

Two new units looking into the finances of political campaigns over the last year have found that six of New York’s best-funded political committees filed incomplete or faulty records while seven criminal referrals have been made in 129 other investigations.

Democrats in Nassau are facing their most challenging electoral landscape in many years. This fall, they’ll try to hold on to their last levers of county level power: the district attorney’s office and the ability to bargain when the Republican-led county legislature needs a supermajority for borrowing.

Changes to Nassau County’s flawed property tax assessment system pushed by politically connected taxpayer grievance firms have helped those companies win more challenges and increase their collected fees by millions of dollars, a Newsday computer analysis found.

Fred LeBrun: “Of all that Gov. Andrew Cuomo will have to answer for after he finally vacates his current post for whatever cave will have him, near the top has to be the damage he’s done to public schooling in New York.”

The NY Post looks at de Blasio’s patronage hires, of which – according to the paper – there are quite a few, filled with allies tasked with promoting the mayor’s progressive political agenda and preparing for his re-election bid.

Lt. James Hayes, the Staten Island firefighter who was shot twice Friday morning during a tense six-hour standoff with a criminal suspect in Mariners Harbor, was released from the hospital Saturday.

Democratic Staten Island DA candidate Michael McMahon has once again far out-raised his Republican challenger, Joan Illuzzi, according to the 32-day pre-primary filings.

Illuzzi has formally named former Borough President and Congressman Guy Molinari as her campaign chairman.

State Sen. Bill Perkins of Harlem has filed paperwork to run for the congressional seat being vacated by Rep. Charles Rangel after 23 terms. Rangel, 85, announced last year he would not seek re-election in 2016.

A Manhattan man claims he was kicked out as a member of Manhattan’s swanky Cipriani Club because he’s black.

An assistant principal at John Adams HS in Ozone Park, Queens, is accused of helping students on a Regents exam — on which nearly everyone in the class got almost all the answers correct.

Cuomo signed what is known as the three rod rule, which allows sportsmen to use up to three fishing lines at one time in freshwater bodies. The rule, which was set to expire at the end of this year, will now remain in effect through 2017.

Julian Bond, a former chairman of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a charismatic figure of the 1960s civil rights movement, a lightning rod of the anti-Vietnam War campaign and a lifelong champion of equal rights for minorities, died on Saturday night. He was 75.

Extras

NYC Mayor de Blasio spent two hours at a Brooklyn YMCA this morning, leaving his police and fire commissioners to deal with a Staten Island standoff in which a gunman shot a city firefighter.

Sergeants Benevolent Association President Ed Mullins said de Blasio should not have been fiddling around in Brooklyn while a building in Staten Island was burning and a maniac was shooting at police officers. “Even the Emperor Nero attempted to put the fire out in Rome,” Mullins said.

The suspected gunman, Garland Tyree, 38, was shot and killed in a firefight with police.

A group of influential Democrats believe de Blasio is grooming his wife, Chirlane McCray, to succeed him in 2021.

Two aides to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – Huma Abedin and Cheryl Mills – have agreed not to delete any work-related documents, following an order from a federal judge that they preserve the records, according to their lawyers.

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union endorsed Clinton for president, giving the front-runner for the Democratic nomination another boost from a major labor union.

The Clintons will turn their annual Hamptons vacation later this month into a fundraising opportunity for Hillary, the leading Democratic candidate for president.

Lashing out at the Obama administration’s “concessions” to Iran and Cuba, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida vowed a far tougher stance toward both countries if he’s elected president in 2016.

For the third straight day, Rochester’s titans of photonics attempted to clarify their collective position on which downtown building should house the headquarters of AIM Photonics.

Overtime for State Police and the state prison system surged 64 percent in June and July — an increase of more than $1 million a day — compared to the same period in 2014 because of a three-week manhunt for two escaped prisoners.

Grandchildren of murder victims will now be able to be reimbursed for counseling expenses under a bill signed into by Cuomo. The state Office of Victim Services already compensates parents, siblings, spouses and stepparents of homicide victims for counseling.

New York’s biggest public pension fund posted a quarterly return of less than one percent, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office announced.

Former NYC Council Speaker Chris Quinn sent a lengthy “what I’ve been up to lately” email to supporters, but says she has no intention of challenging de Blasio in 2017.

If American Pharoah runs at Saratoga on Aug. 29, it will be before a full house. NYRA announced today that the Travers Stakes is sold out in anticipation of the Triple Crown winner running at the historic, upstate track.

The governor also signed legislation that will require tattoo and body piercing studios in New York to use single-use needles and single-use ink for all their procedures.

Deputy Senate Minority Leader Mike Gianaris is on vacation in the Rockies.

Jenna Bush Hager gave birth to a second daughter, and named the baby Poppy in honor of her grandfather, former President George H.W. Bush.

The North Hempstead Democratic Committee has contributed $4,000 to the Independence Party Club of Nassau, according to July filings, amid a feud between the minor party and Nassau Democratic chairman Jay Jacobs.

AG Eric Schneiderman said he will join with a coalitions of attorneys general to defend in court the Obama administration’s plan to reduce power plant emissions.

Homeowners who want to buy solar panels should know that Albany, New York, has some of the highest solar panel costs in the state, even though prices decreased from last year.

Barron Proposing Grand Jury Ban

barronFrom the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has spent a lot of time talking up his naming of a special prosecutor – state AG Eric Schneiderman – to investigate any cases that occur over the next year in which unarmed civilians die at the hands of law enforcement.

Advocates wanted this.

Or, at the very least, they preferred it to Cuomo’s initial criminal justice reform proposal made in the wake of the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases, which called for an independent monitor to review these cases after the fact and determine whether a special prosecutor is warranted in instances where a grand jury refused to indict.

But the Schneiderman solution doesn’t go far enough for some – including Assemblyman Charles Barron, an outspoken (and often controversial) Brooklyn Democrat – who has decided to go a step further by proposing a bill to ban grand juries in police-related death cases altogether. More >

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in the New York City area with no public schedule. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is in the city with no public schedule.

At 8:30 a.m., 2016 Republican presidential candidate and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio speaks on ‘Restoring American Leadership, and his strategy ‘for dealing with tyrannical regimes’ at event hosted by the Foreign Policy Initiative, 3 West Club, 3 West 51st St., Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., the Coalition for Human Rights in the Dominican Republic march in support of Dominicans of Haitian descent who have lost their citizenship rights and in solidarity with Haitian migrants living in the Dominican Republic, Brooklyn Bridge.

Also at 9 a.m., Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie meets with Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, City Hall, 65 Niagara Sq., Buffalo.

Also at 9 a.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina delivers remarks at the Pre-K Summer Institute for teachers, Brooklyn College, Whitman Hall, 2900 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn.

At 9:30 a.m., Heastie joins Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes for a pastoral breakfast, Ture Bethel Baptist Church, Fellowship Hall, 907 East Ferry St., Buffalo.

At 10 a.m., 700 AARP members and AARP directors celebrate Social Security’s 80th Birthday at former President Roosavelt’s house, 47-49 E. 65th St., Manhattan.

At 10:15 a.m., Assemblyman David Weprin holds a media availability with the Chinese American Parent-Student Council, Hillside Avenue and Winchester Boulevard, Queens.

At 11 a.m., Sen. Jose Peralta and Assemblymembers Aravella Simotas and Francisco Moya get their IDNYC cards, DOHMH Corona IDNYC Center, 34-33 Junction Blvd., Queens.

At 11:30 a.m., Heastie tours the Central Park Plaza and Northland Corridor Industrial District, 145 Holden Ave. and 683 Northland Ave., Buffalo.

At noon, the NYC DOT demonstrates new multi-functional muni-meters which can be used for both commercial and passenger vehicles, Columbus Avenue between 75 th and 76th streets, Manhattan.

Also at noon, Rep. Louise Slaughter will announce that Rochester-based Harris Corp. is entering a bid for up to $7 billion in radio orders thanks to her work to change Army contracting rules, KBK Federal Building, 100 State St., Rochester.

At 12:30 p.m., Heastie tours the Buffalo Employment & Training Center, 77 Goodell St., Buffalo.

Also at 12:30 p.m., Rep. Chris Gibson will join RUPCO and members of the community to help celebrate the opening of the Lace Mill apartments, Lace Mill, Cornell Street, Kingston.

At 1 p.m., NYC Councilman Jumaane Williams cohorts the 4th annual Pre-Labor Day Senior Concert with Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein, Amersfort Park, Avenue I between East 38th and 39th streets, Brooklyn.

At 1:30 p.m., Heastie tours Bak USA, 425 Michigan Ave., Buffalo.

At 12:30 p.m., Rep. Paul Tonko attends medal ceremony honoring WWI veteran Owen Soraghan, Sr., 61 Columbia St., 4th Floor, Albany.

At 2:15 p.m., LG Kathy Hochul tours the Agriculture Discovery Center and the Little Hands on the Farm Exhibit at the Erie County Fair, 5820 South Park Ave., Hamburg.

At 3 p.m., Hochul delivers remarks Firemen’s Memorial Service held on the Erie County Fair’s Firefighters’ Day, Firemen’s Building, fairgrounds, Hamburg.

At 7:30 p.m., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer attends the Rucker Pro Tournament 50th anniversary event, Mural Pavilion at Harlem Hospital, 506 Malcolm X Blvd., Manhattan.

At 8:30 p.m., Brewer attends the NYC Black Pride award ceremony, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, 515 Lenox Ave., Manhattan.

Headlines…

A drastic increase this year in the number of students sitting out New York’s standardized exams has created another kind of test, one for state and federal education officials who must decide whether to punish school districts with low participation rates. And it is far from certain that they will.

The NYC Council unanimously passed new regulations to force building owners to register and test their cooling towers, aiming to combat future outbreaks of Legionnaires’ disease.

The legislation was developed by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and requires building owners to provide annual certification that their towers have been inspected, tested, cleaned and disinfected. Failing to do so could result in fines or even prison time.

De Blasio maintained that the outbreak, which has that has killed 12 people and sickened 122 others in the South Bronx, has been contained. “The corner has been turned,” he said during an appearance at Lincoln Hospital.

Cuomo plans to sign legislation today that will ban the sale of powdered or crystalline alcohol in the state.

After the Legislature rejected a move to give the state Education Department enhanced powers over the troubled East Ramapo school system, the department has appointed three experts to study the district’s operations and offer recommendations to the school board and the Board of Regents. The team will be led by former NYC Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott.

“We know when something stinks and somebody is trying to hand us a bill of goods,” said Walcott, who pledged to go to parent meetings, beauty salons and street corners to get real-time information on families’ grievances. “We know when an educational plan is not up to muster.”

Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers, the Roslyn-based company linked to the federal investigation of indicted Sen. Dean Skelos, has spent millions of dollars over the past two decades on campaign contributions and lobbying to try to influence medical malpractice and insurance laws.

New York is granting full state aid to the school district in northern New York that closed for two days in June while authorities searched for two killers who escaped from the nearby maximum-security prison.

The Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda School District gained statewide attention in April when it went to the brink of having the entire district opt out of standardized testing, and wracked up some costly legal bills in the process. The district used $15,108.90 worth of taxpayer cash to cover attorneys’ fees.

An analysis of state testing data for 48 Capital Region school districts shows that students here marginally outpaced the state averages when it comes to the third- through eighth-grade English Language Arts and math tests.

Pope Francis’ upcoming visit to the Big Apple will pose security challenges for the NYPD. “I’m loading up on the Excedrin already,” Police Commissioner Bill Bratton deadpanned.

More >

Extras

Supporters of Al Gore have begun a round of conversations among themselves and with the former vice president about his running for president in 2016 – the latest sign that top Democrats have serious doubts that Hillary Clinton is a sure thing.

Some Democrats are nearing full-on panic mode about Clinton’s candidacy.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official praised NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and his administration’s handling of the Legionnaires’ outbreak, refuting criticisms it acted too slowly.

The email server Clinton used when she was secretary of state was turned over to the Department of Justice yesterday around 4 p.m.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo won’t attend a meeting next week with U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, NJ Gov. Chris Christie and Sen. Cory Booker to discuss reviving Amtrak’s Gateway tunnel project under the Hudson River.

NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray got out of jury duty until 2018, saying she’s too busy to serve at this time.

De Blasio hailed the slight gains of New York City students on state math and English exams and said the administration would help decrease the city’s relatively small opt-out movement.

Joye Brown thinks acting Nassau County DA Madeline Singas should perhaps ask a special prosecutor to take over the local contract/corruption probes she has started.

A Florida state lawmaker moonlights as an Uber driver.

Trump’s company, the Trump Organization, owns DonaldTrumpSucks.com, along with thousands of other web addresses.

Hobart and William Smith Colleges are confident that they acted correctly in an incident which led to a second Title IX sexual violence investigation by the federal education department.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner sent a letter to the state legislative leadership urging them to support two pieces of legislation aimed at easing access to the ballot and a universal voter registration system, such as what Oregon has in place.

A new Public Policy Polling survey finds that there’s broad support for the Iran deal among voters in New York City and that Democratic elected officials will benefit politically, particularly within their party base, if they support the agreement.

The New York City and state teachers’ unions had starkly different responses to the release of the latest state exam scores, highlighting the divergent opinions on the Common Core academic standards and the opt out movement the unions have adopted.

The city of Syracuse fired a black Department of Public Works employee for using the N-word while on the job.

Sandra Lee is home from the hospital after her second breast cancer-related surgery and resting. She’ll have 24-hour nursing care and portable IVs for a while.

Cuomo pushed through an inflation-adjusted vacancy-decontrol threshold lower than the one former Gov. George Pataki put in place in 1997 because political backing for stronger rent protections has dwindled over the last 18 years, according to tenant advocates.

US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will headline the Women’s Day luncheon at this year’s State Fair.

The number of 311 calls about the homeless has jumped nearly 60 percent since de Blasio took office.

The Tioga County Legislature passed a resolution expressing its total support for the Snyder Farm Group’s effort to bring gelled propane drilling to the area.

A Finger Lakes winery – Geneva-based Ventosa Vineyards – has claimed the top prize in this year’s New York Wine & Food Classic competition.

Only 100 boys in the world are chosen to be a part of the prestigious Vienna Boys Choir – and 11-year-old Matthew Beach, of Endicott, is one of them.

A Tale of Two Outbreak Outlooks

zuckerFrom the Morning Memo:

The de Blasio administration has repeatedly sought to quell fears in NYC – especially the South Bronx – about Legionnaires disease, insisting the recent outbreak in the borough has been contained.

But the Cuomo administration, through it is now working with the mayor’s office to craft legislation to address water cooling towers – the main culprit in this outbreak, is not putting quite as positive a spin on the situation.

Speaking to NY1’s Zack Fink yesterday, state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker declined to say definitively that the outbreak has indeed been contained, with the worst of this situation behind us, though he did acknowledge there haven’t been any new cases diagnosed in recent days. More >

Here and Now

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

At 8:45 a.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina delivers the keynote address at City & State’s “On Education” forum, The New School Auditorium, 66 West 12th St., Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., the US Department of Urban Development and Enterprise Community Partners hold a symposium on preparing for disasters featuring NYC Department of Housing and Preservation Commissioner Vicki Been, Lisa Bova-Hiatt, interim executive director of the governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, HUD Regional Administrator Holly Leicht and others, NYU Kimmel Center, Rosenthal Pavilion, 60 Washington Square S., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., the New York City Campaign Finance Board holds a public meeting, 100 Church St., 12th Floor, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., NYC Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal joins advocates for people with disabilities to announce legislation making New York City more inclusive for the disabled, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie tours General Motors Tonawanda Engine plant with Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, 2995 River Road, Tonawanda.

At 10:15 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul tours Alstom Transit, 1 Transit Dr., Hornell.

At 11 a.m., Hochul tours the Federation Lofts and Arts Center, 38 Broadway Mall, Hornell.

Also at 11 a.m., after nine shootings in the City of Poughkeepsie this summer alone, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney will stand with the Poughkeepsie Police Department, City and Dutchess County officials, and community activists to urge the Department of Justice to help end the violence and invest in safety and jobs, 62 Civic Center Plaza, Poughkeepsie.

At 11:30 a.m., senior de Blasio administration officials will give a pen and pad briefing on the health and safety readiness of all sites hosting Pre-K for All, including recent inspection figures, violation updates and information on staffing levels, Committee of the Whole Room, 2nd Floor, City Hall, Manhattan.

At noon, NYC Council members including Brad Lander and Antonio Reynoso hold a press conference with advocates to hand out free reusable bags and to call for action from the mayor on a 10 cent charge on plastic bags, City Hall R train stop, Murray and Warren streets, Manhattan.

Also at noon, Heastie tours the Colored Musicians Club with Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, 145 Broadway, Buffalo.

Also at noon, Rep. Carolyn Maloney will gather with prominent members of the Greek financial and business communities to urge the US to take steps that can boost Greece’s economy, Atlantic Bank, 405 Park Ave., Manhattan.

At 12:30 p.m., Hochul visits the Ernie Davis Community Center to highlight the state’s support of summer meals programs, 650 Baldwin St., Elmira.

At 1 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a media availability after visiting with health care workers, HHC, DOHMH, DOB and OEM staff, community leaders, elected officials, and institutional partners to thank them for their ongoing efforts to contain the Legionnaires’ disease outbreak, Lincoln Hospital – Auditorium, 234 East 149th St., the Bronx.

Also at 1 p.m., clergy members, elected officials and advocates launch a campaign titled “Affordable Housing For All New Yorkers”, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 1 p.m., AG Eric Schneiderman will discuss a new report summarizing his office’s success in combating the foreclosure crisis in the Southern Tier, Binghamton City Hall, Mayor’s Conference Room, 4th Floor, 38 Hawley St., Binghamton.

At 1:15 p.m., Hochul and Chemung County Executive Tom Santulli host a discussion on issues, Elmira City Club, 320 East Church St., Elmira. (A media availability with the LG will follow).

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

Also at 1:30 p.m., state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia makes an announcement regarding East Ramapo Central School District, Cultural Arts Center Theater, Rockland Community Center, 145 College Road, Suffern.

At 2:30 p.m., Heastie tours Buffalo Central Terminal and Larkinville neighborhood, 495 Paderewski Drive, Buffalo.

At 3 p.m., Staten Island DA candidate Michael McMahon joins pet owners and animal rights advocates to announce plans to combat animal cruelty and abuse, Silver Lake Park, 700 Victory Blvd., Staten Island.

At 3:30 p.m., Hochul convenes a roundtable with business owners from the Tioga Chamber of Commerce, CPSI Biotech, 171 Front St., Owego. (A media availability with the LG will follow).

5:30 p.m. – Heastie meets with local officials and community leaders, Buffalo Chophouse, 282 Franklin St., Buffalo.

Headlines…

A large number of students opting out of New York state exams – about 220,000 or 20 percent, up from 5 percent in 2014 – raises doubt about the validity of the results and may make them unsuitable to evaluate teachers or schools, according to a Syracuse University professor.

More than half the students in five WNY school districts opted out of the state math and ELA tests this spring. Students who did not take the tests were more likely to be white and from a low- or average-need district, the state said. They were less likely to be economically disadvantaged or English language learners.

The release of the scores showed some of the 25 Buffalo schools facing the threat of an outside takeover may be headed in the right direction. But there were cautionary words from state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, who has already put Buffalo on notice that she will intervene if the district cannot figure out how to turn these schools around.

New York charter school advocates praised the sector’s performance on state English and math exams and criticized NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio for what they called district students’ lackluster performance on the tests.

The statistical model the state Education Department uses to evaluate teacher performance is inaccurate and unreliable, an attorney argued yesterday in state Supreme Court in Albany, in a case believed to be the first of its kind challenging New York’s law on educator job ratings. More here.

As former Memphis City School Superintendent Kriner Cash receives his first local introduction as the potential new head of Buffalo schools tonight, The Buffalo News reviewed his leadership in the Southern city that cemented his reputation as a man of change.

Dozens of parents, teachers and community members attended a meeting last night to hear Albany Superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard’s plan for William S. Hackett Middle School in Albany, which is in receivership as one of the state’s 20 persistently failing schools.

Rep. Chris Gibson, who’s considering a 2018 run for governor, called Cuomo a “bully” who has alienated voters. He also said it would be a challenge for a Republican like him to take on the Democratic incumbent due to New York’s voter enrollment.

The Nassau district attorney’s office has subpoenaed records related to the awarding of a $12 million cleanup contract to a company that gave money to the political club run by County Executive Edward Mangano’s top aide on the day the deal was completed.

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer slammed the de Blasio administration’s response to Legionnaires’ disease Wednesday, saying officials didn’t move quickly enough to tackle the outbreak.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio created a $150,000-a-year job to boost his national immigration agenda, and then gave the post to the live-in girlfriend of one of his most trusted aides, Emma Wolfe.

IDC Leader Jeff Klein and Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj will introduce legislation that strengthens penalties for those who possess or distribute synthetic marijuana.

More >

Here and Now

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

The late TWC News reporter William “Bill” Carey Snee will be laid to rest in Auburn today following a funeral mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse. (Police are warning motorists of difficulty parking downtown due to the service).

The NYS Education Department will release the results of the April 2015 Grades 3 through 8 math and ELA tests at some time this morning.

At 9:15 a.m., Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Assemblyman Sean Ryan route Buffalo’s Inner (Canalside) Harbor.

At 9:45 a.m., Heastie holds a media availability, Canalside Boardwalk, near the bike ferry, Buffalo.

At 10 a.m., the NYC Department of Probation holds a town hall event called One Message Many Voices – an anti-violence summit for youth, Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

Also at 10 a.m., the Department of State Fire Prevention and Building Code Council holds a public meeting, Empire State Plaza Convention Center, Meeting Rooms 2 and 3, Albany.

At 10:30 a.m., state Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball will kick off the state’s first Taste NY Culinary Tour to showcase the quality and diversity of the state agriculture, he’ll make four stops at Wegman’s Organic Farm, Herndale Farms, Climbing Bines and Birkett Mills, New York Wine & Culinary Center, 800 S. Main St., Canandaigua.

At 10:45 a.m., US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand discusses her fight for new measures to ensure schools prepare for and prevent asthma attacks, 910 East 172nd St., the Bronx.

At 11 a.m., Heastie and Assembly members Crystal Peoples-Stokes, Robin Schimminger and Ryan tour the Buffalo Niagara Medical Center Campus, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Elm and Carlton streets, Buffalo.

Also at 11 a.m., members of the NYRA reorganization Board of Directors meets, Holiday Inn, Exacta Room 232 Broadway, Saratoga Springs.

At noon, IDC Leader Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj and community leaders and health officials announce a crackdown on the sale of synthetic marijuana and legislation to create criminal penalties and strengthen civil penalties for the sale of “K2,” Jacobi Hospital, side of Building 6, 1400 Pelham Parkway S., the Bronx.

At 12:15 p.m., AG Eric Schneiderman will make remarks on foreclosure relief efforts in Western New York and the Southern Tier, Robert Jackson Center, 305 E. 4th St., Jamestown.

At 1 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina make an education announcement, P.S. 19 Asher Levy, 185 1st Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 1 p.m., the newly formed Taxi Medallion Owner/Driver Association holds a rally for “fairness and respect,” asking to including in the decision-making process about Uber and other for-hire apps, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 1:30 p.m., GOP 2016 presidential hopeful Dr. Ben Carson meets with a group of business, community and religious leaders to discuss his renewed vision for an “inclusive and revived America,” Sylvia Soul Food Restaurant, 328 Malcolm X. Blvd., Manhattan.

Also at 1:30 p.m., Heastie, Ryan and Niagara District Councilman David Rivera tour Hispanic United Buffalo, 254 Virginia St., Buffalo.

At 2:30 p.m., Heastie meets with members of People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) and tours state-funded housing projects, 456 Massachusetts Ave., Buffalo.

At 3 p.m., Senate Deputy Minority Leader Mike Gianaris reads to the Queens Library’s summer readers at the Broadway branch, 40-20 Broadway, Long Island City.

At 3:20 p.m., Heastie tours the West Side Refugee Community which begins at the WASH Project, 417 Massachusetts Ave., Buffalo.

At 5 p.m., NYS GOP Chairman Ed Cox will hold a media availability with Central New York GOP chairs and then attend the Oswego County GOP Annual Clambake held at the same location, 916 Riverside, Central Square, Hastings.

Also at 5 p.m., LG Kathy Hochul will deliver remarks and present awards at the Governor’s Wine Cup, New York Wine and Culinary Center, 800 S. Main St., Canandaigua.

At 5:30 p.m., Heastie attends the Buffalo-Niagara Partnership reception, 665 Main St., Suite 200, Buffalo.

Also at 5:30 p.m., the Commission on Judicial Nomination holds open discussions on the nomination process for the upcoming vacancy of the seat held by Association Court of Appeals Judge Susan Phillips Read, New York City Bar Association, Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Sen. Jesse Hamilton, NYC Councilman Carlos Menchaca and others launch the United Against Violence Task Force, 260 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn.

At 6:30 p.m., the NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board holds its monthly public meeting, Community Mediation Services, 89-64 163rd St., Queens.

Headlines…

For days after the June prison break by Richard Matt and David Sweat, Clinton Correctional Facility officers carried out what seemed like a campaign of retribution against dozens of inmates, particularly those on the honor block, an investigation by The New York Times found. More than 60 inmates have filed complaints with Prisoners’ Legal Services of New York.

A Rikers Island inmate has Legionnaires’ disease, New York City officials said, quickly adding that it was unlikely the case was connected to an outbreak in the South Bronx that has killed 12 people since early July.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, facing criticism that their political infighting could damage their response to the Legionnaires’ outbreak in the Bronx, agreed to craft joint regulations for responding to the disease that has killed 12 and infected more than 100.

The owners of a Bronx hotel identified as a potential source of Legionnaires’ disease hit the roof, slamming the “game of one-upsmanship” between city and state officials for sowing misinformation about the health scare.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer,seeking an end to the standoff over financing new Hudson River rail tunnels, proposed creating a nonprofit corporation to oversee the project and to assemble the billions of dollars needed to build new tunnels. More here.

Schumer, so far the only US Senate Democrat opposing the Iran nuclear deal, said if Congress rejects the agreement, the US could force its allies and Iran back to the negotiating table through “secondary sanctions” on European businesses, prompting Secretary of State John Kerry to respond: “Are you kidding me?”

Democratic senators say Schumer’s opposition to the deal won’t prevent him from becoming their next leader.

The state education department plans to install a monitor to oversee East Ramapo schools, but the monitor won’t have veto power over the school board’s actions, a person familiar with the matter said.

Any malicious sexual contact by prison guards against inmates may amount to a constitutional violation, a federal appeals court ruled, noting how standards of decency have changed in the past two decades.

Cuomo’s girlfriend, Sandra Lee, underwent surgery yesterday for complications following her double mastectomy in May. The Food Network host had the procedure at Mount Sinai Roosevelt, and was in the recovery room after two hours with the governor by her side.

Martin T. Reid, chairman of the Rensselaer County Legislature, is scheduled to be arraigned today when a sealed indictment is opened charging him with crimes related to his receipt of more than $15,000 in state unemployment benefits while he was also collecting a government salary.

Niagara Falls landlord Ralph Pescrillo swims in a sea of debt and complaints and owes millions in taxes and bills. He’s the reason local officials are revamping their foreclosure auction procedures, but he still receives subsidies from the state for houses in poor shape.

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