Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin

The Holiday Weekend That Was (So Far)

President Trump posted a short video to his Twitter account today in which he is portrayed wrestling and punching a figure whose head has been replaced by the logo for CNN.

The wrestling video, which was also posted to the official @POTUS Twitter account, stirred criticism, disbelief and dumbfoundedness. Some journalists denounced its portrayal of violence as dangerous, saying it could incite attacks or threats against news media employees.

In a speech on Saturday at a faith rally in Washington, Trump was met with cheers when he referred to CNN as “garbage journalism,” adding: “The fake media tried to stop us from going to the White House. But I’m president, and they’re not.”

Trump lashed out at the more than two dozen states that have objected to a presidential commission’s sweeping request for voter data, accusing them of circumventing public scrutiny over potential voter fraud.

Senate Republicans aren’t “getting anywhere” with their plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, Sen. Rand Paul said today, even as a top White House aide projected the bill was “getting close” to a vote.

Vice President Mike Pence is not alone in feeling uncomfortable being alone with members of the opposite sex who are not his wife, a new poll found.

The Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center gunman, Henry Bello, had a slow journey to the medical profession, which was punctuated by bankruptcy, at least two arrests and recent sojourns in homeless shelters.

The extent of injuries suffered in the Bronx-Lebanon Hospital Center shooting became clear on Saturday as doctors scrambled to save the lives of their colleagues.

Just two hours before his deadly rampage, Bello ranted to the Daily News in an email — blaming the medical center for ruining his dreams of furthering his career.

A doctor who appears to have been Bello’s intended target said he has no idea why he would have been singled out.

The assault rifle Bello used to blast his former co-workers had been purchased less than two weeks earlier from Upstate Guns and Ammo in Schenectady.

Friday’s bloodbath was the latest black mark on a sprawling medical center that mainly cares for the poor and receives most of its funding from taxpayers in the form of state Medicaid.

Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente has declared a state of emergency in Oneida County due to the damage caused by Saturday’s flooding.

More than 20 of Brooklyn’s elected officials penned a letter to Cuomo urging him to rescind his plan to grant Long Island commuters a 25 percent fare reduction and instead use the funds to repair the subway system’s ailing signals.

Cuomo announced ramped up efforts to enforce no wake zones along the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River shoreline this weekend.

The de Blasio administration said a record-breaking 715 businesses are offering paid, private-sector internships this summer through Ladders for Leaders, the city’s workforce-development program.

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro repeatedly used one word to describe the governing challenges that state government has experienced this year: adversarialism. And without mentioning him by name, Molinaro was referring to his potential opponent in 2018, Cuomo.

The number of state workers who earned a salary and a pension last year plummeted 44 percent, but there were still 48 people who raked in more than $200,000 from double dipping, state records show.

The Grassroots political club has worked to elect dozens of politicians over the past three decades, including Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. Now the East Side organization finds itself under the microscope of state and federal investigators, who two weeks ago took documents from the organization’s headquarters using a warrant.

Some members of New York’s congressional delegation are multi-millionaires with investment properties, while others are burdened with thousands in credit card debt and multiple mortgages.

Though the current Congress is the most diverse in history, people working for Democratic senators are overwhelmingly white and mostly women, according to a first-of-its-kind report on diversity in some congressional offices.

Frank Bruni: “Hieronymus Bosch painted a torture chamber where mutant beasts snacked on human flesh. Dante conjured fire, ice and a devil with three faces. If either man lived in New York City today, he’d know better. Hell is the subway at rush hour.”

George Canon, the Newcomb supervisor who rose from abject poverty to take a leading role in shaping policy in the Adirondack Park and was known as “Mr. Adirondack,” was laid to rest on Saturday.

Photo identification evidence can now be legally entered at trial in New York, meaning that a photo array used by police in questioning a witness can now be introduced as evidence in a criminal case.

The Legislature passed a proposed constitutional amendment that would create a 250-acre land bank for the Adirondack and Catskill parks, decreasing the time it takes to get smaller projects on state Forest Preserve land approved.

A bill intended to crack down on puppy mills and unscrupulous pet dealers masquerading as not-for-profit animal shelters is headed to Cuomo’s desk.

The Cuomo administration has budgeted $13 million for fighting invasive species this year and next, and is offering $2 million in grants to towns and organizations for early detection and rapid response.

Presumptive Republican challenger Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis blasted Democratic New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “appalling” decision to make taxpayers foot the $2 million bill for legal fees tied to the corruption probes he faced.

De Blasio said he was “disappointed” that a bill to add more speed cameras around city schools didn’t come to a vote in Albany this session and said the city will now boost other Vision Zero efforts instead.

Some WNY towns are doing all they can to prevent large wind farms from blowing into their borders. Clarence and Tonawanda are crafting laws to prohibit all large-scale industrial-sized wind farms that generate power to sell back to the grid.

The so-called “Grand Lodge” once envisioned for Goat Island by Cuomo is no longer part of the state’s plan.

Erie Community College will spend more than $7 million over the next five years to install and implement a massive overhaul of its administrative computer systems. ECC officials are now asking Erie County legislators to approve the new Enterprise Resource Planning software for the college.

Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell W. Whitfield Jr. retired this week from the position he has held since 2010, citing health concerns, the need to assume more responsibility for caring for his aging parents and hoping to spend more time with his family.

When NASCAR’s top series visits Watkins Glen this summer, the race will have a new sponsor: “I Love New York,” the state’s tourism brand.

A grandmother from Orange is among a group of activists headed to jail after getting arrested for protesting the construction of a controversial gas power plant in Waywayanda.

Some of the roughly 1,400 gallons of non-hazardous glue that was spilled outside a warehouse Wednesday morning has reached the Mohawk River, the DEC said.

A New York dairy farmer cooperative has reached an agreement to buy a Kraft Heinz plant in the state’s Southern Tier, a move that will keep 125 jobs at the facility.


“Morning Joe” hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough responded to the president’s nasty and personal twitter attacks in a Washington Post OpEd, writing: “(W)e are both certain that the man is not mentally equipped to continue watching our show.”

According to the MSNBC anchors, senior White House officials reached out to them to offer their help in spiking a disparaging National Enquirer story, on the condition the pair call Trump to grovel for the favor and pledge to ease up on their adversarial coverage.

As a presidential candidate, Trump used his close alliance with the National Enquirer to attack his enemies. Now that he’s in the White House, he’s continuing to benefit from the tabloid’s support.

Trump’s new election commission is seeking sensitive personal data on every registered voter in the country – including names, birth dates, party affiliations, and partial Social Security numbers – without any explanation for how it will be used or what security measures are being taken.

The House intelligence committee, moving rapidly to interview a series of major witnesses in July, plans to bring forward another former Trump adviser – Michael Caputo, of Buffalo – to question as its investigation into Russia meddling reaches a new phase.

The House sergeant at arms has asked the FEC to allow all House members to use campaign funds for home security.

The White House released a list of staff salaries.

A man with a long coat and a rifle opened fire on multiple floors of a Bronx hospital this afternoon, shooting at least three people – all of them doctors.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has decided the taxpayers should foot most of the $2.3 million bill for the lawyers he hired to defend him in several campaign finance investigations.

The mayor put up a brief explanation of his decision on, saying that after “giving this a great deal of thought” he will submit a bill for $2 million for legal work “tied to my government service.”

After trying many approaches to dealing with his No. 1 frenemy, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, de Blasio finally found a method that worked: Keeping his mouth shut.

The mayor defended wearing that most offensive male fashion choice, cargo shorts for his workout sessions at the YMCA.

After suffering setbacks in lower courts, the plaintiffs behind a lawsuit seeking to overturn the so-called “LLC loophole” in election law have filed an appeal in the state Supreme Court’s appellate division.

Ryan Cooper: “Instead of recognizing the absolutely vital nature of the subway, (Cuomo) has been shockingly hostile to public transit in general, deliberately undermining and underfunding it from the beginning of his term.”

A reworked deal at the state Capitol yesterday will mean $55 million in aid to help victims of Lake Ontario flooding, instead of $90 million approved by the Legislature earlier this month.

Cuomo signed a Senate bill that prohibits low-level sex offenders from becoming drivers for ride-hailing companies Uber and Lyft.

Arresting people who jumped subway turnstiles has been a crucial tool of New York City policing, but now the Manhattan district attorney’s office will no longer prosecute most of the people charged with fare evasion in Criminal Court.

New York City tourism is expected to reach a record high in 2017, with close to 62 million visitors expected to roam the Big Apple this year. That’s 1 million more than last year, the sixth consecutive record-high year for tourism in the city and the first year where visitors broached the 60 million mark.

Non-essential construction-related lane closures will be suspended for Fourth of July weekend, Cuomo announced today.

Costs for the state’s air pollution control system, which under federal law must be paid for by polluting industries, keep sinking under a rising tide of red ink that taxpayers keep bailing out.

CSEA President Opens Door to 2018 Cuomo Endorsement

To say CSEA President Danny Donohue and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have had a rocky relationship is something of an understatement.

Donohue, who heads the second largest state workers union in New York, is a tough-talking sort, and has never been shy about expressing his opinions about the governor in public, particularly when he feels his members are getting the short end of the stick.

In 2014, while voicing opposition to Cuomo’s decision to close several hospitals, prisons and mental health institutes, Donohue called the governor a “moron” and a “monkey” in front of hundreds of union workers gathered outside the Capitol for a rally.

Not long after that incident, Donohue was a guest on Capital Tonight, and said his union, which didn’t back Cuomo during his initial run for governor in 2010, probably wouldn’t be backing him when he sought a second term in 2014, either.

Though CSEA didn’t go as far as its sister union, PEF, in backing Cuomo’s primary opponent, Zephyr Teachout, it declined to endorse him, as Donohue has foreseen – a move that helped convince the AFL-CIO to sit on the sidelines that year.

Even without union support, Cuomo went on to both win the primary and also defeat his GOP opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, in the general election.

But thanks to what appears to be a rather lucrative five-year contract deal – it’s hard to tell, exactly, because scant details on the agreement have been made public – Donohue appears to have had a change of heart where Cuomo and his political aspirations are concerned, though the union president’s newfound magnanimous attitude toward the governor likely won’t extend beyond 2018.

During a CapTon interview last night, Donohue said he hopes the new contract, which includes raises, longevity bonuses, overtime increases for some workers and no significant health care givebacks, will enable CSEA to “open a new page” with Cuomo. (CSEA members have yet to ratify the contract, and will be voting over the next several weeks. A decision is expected Aug. 8).

Donohue noted CSEA had endorsed Cuomo when he ran for AG, but then decided public employees “were the enemy” when he ran for governor, so there’s a lot of room for improvement.

“We are hoping that it’s a new beginning with the governor; he has a chance there,” Donohue said. “This contract is not overly generous…We think we’ve earned it. Now the question is can we administratively work together to get the kind of relationship he should have with his own employees, which at times he seems to forget.”

As to whether Cuomo should run for president, Donohue was sort of lukewarm on the idea, saying: “Andrew has proven he can do some things well, other things he can’t…Where I think he has fallen down, is can he put together the kind of coalitions he needs? You can’t be the conservative Democratic leader, that’s somehow inconsistent. Gay marriage and gun control have their points, but he lost the base.”

Donohue did stress that he would prefer “anybody” to the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: President Donald Trump.

Here and Now

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

The state Legislature is not in Albany, having completed to the so-called extraordinary session yesterday.

In D.C. this morning, President Donald Trump will speak to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey. Vice President Mike Pence will join President Moon of the Republic of Korea for a wreath-laying ceremony at the Korean War Veterans Memorial.

Pence and Trump will then hold an expanded bilateral meeting and joint statement with Moon, followed by a working lunch. Later in the day, Pence will participate in a meeting with Labor Secretary Alex Acosta.

In the afternoon, the president and First Lady Melania Trump will depart the White House for Joint Base Andrews, en route to Bedminster, NJ.

At 5:50 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will appear on Hot 97.

At 9 a.m., NYC Administration for Children’s Services Commissioner David Hansell and city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene First Deputy Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot are joined by Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio for the 2017 Infant Sleep Summit, New York Academy of Medicine, Hosack Hall, first floor, 1216 Fifth Ave., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., NYC Councilman Andy King speaks at the College of Mount Saint Vincent’s Graduation Ceremony, 6301 Riverdale Ave., Bronx.

At 11 a.m., Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon hosts her annual Senior Resource Fair, co-sponsored by state Sens. Velmanette Montgomery and Daniel Squadron, with guests New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, St. Francis College, 180 Remsen St., Brooklyn.

At 11:45 a.m., de Blasio will hold a press conference regarding Fourth of July security, One Police Plaza, Joint Operations Center, 2nd Floor, Manhattan.

At 12:30 p.m., NYC Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal moderates a panel on tenant harassment at Pa’lante’s Demystifying Housing Conference, Adam Clayton Powell Jr. State Office Building, third floor, 163 W. 125th St., Manhattan.


President Trump lashed out at the appearance and intellect of Mika Brzezinski, a co-host of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” drawing condemnation from his fellow Republicans and reigniting the controversy over his attitudes toward women that nearly derailed his candidacy last year.

More than three dozen Republicans and Democrats in Congress issued tweets of their own expressing disgust, calling the remark “unpresidential,” “vile, sexist and unbecoming of an American leader,” “divisive,” “unhinged and shameful” and “amazingly graceless.”

Brzezinski and her co-host and significant other Joe Scarborough have postponed their July 4 vacation in response to Trump’s attacks. They had planned to take today off to start their getaway early, but will shave a day off their holiday to fire back.

Whit House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the president’s crude tweet, arguing that he was the real victim because of all the abuse he gets from the media.

The NY Daily News pulled no punches, devoting its cover to the incident, and saying Trump has “descended to newly squalid depths, in line with a surge of administration attacks against news outlets,” with his “astonishingly infantile burst of trash talk.”

A limited version of the Trump travel ban went into effect last night, and senior Trump administration officials promised it would not unleash the same chaos caused by the first version.

Late at JFK, it appeared to be a typical travel night with no visible protests against the order.

Creating a fresh challenge for Senate Republicans trying to muster support for their health care bill, the CBO said projected Medicaid spending would be 35 percent lower after two decades.

Top Senate Republicans considered keeping President Barack Obama’s tax increase on wealthier people’s investments and using the money to bolster their proposed health care subsidies in a bid to mollify moderate GOP lawmakers and salvage the party’s struggling bill.

Trump will meet next week with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, the White House national security adviser said, announcing highly anticipated talks amid escalating tensions over Moscow’s interference in the 2016 election and a series of inquiries into whether the president’s associates colluded with Russia.

The Republican-led House pressed ahead with legislation to crack down on illegal immigration, a key priority for Trump.

The Legislature and governor ended the extraordinary session by granting a two-year extension of mayoral control over New York City’s schools, ending months of uncertainty over Mayor Bill de Blasio’s leadership of the nation’s largest school system and its 1.1 million students a day before it was to expire.

De Blasio has agreed to do more to help charter schools open or expand as part of the Albany deal that extended his authority over city schools.

The omnibus extraordinary session package also provides a financial incentives to entice Vernon Downs racino and harness track to remain open; offers $55 million in relief for Lake Ontario communities ravaged by flooding; tweaks a law to allow New York City first responders to receive an accidental disability pensions even if they don’t receive a federal Social Security disability pension; and creates a 250-acre forest land bank to allow for certain public utility projects under a constitutional amendment.

The new Tappan Zee Bridge will be known as the Gov. Mario Cuomo Bridge under legislation approved by state lawmakers and signed by Cuomo’s own son, current Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Here’s a nonscientific online poll on whether the public actually supports the idea of renaming the bridge for the late former.

In Manhattan for the MTA Genius Transit Challenge, a competition seeking proposals to fix the subway system and awarding $1 million prizes for each of three categories, Cuomo declared a state of emergency to suspend procurement rules for the MTA and speed up the repair process.

More >


President Donald Trump lashed out at Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski with unusually harsh personal attacks on the co-hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” calling Scarborough “psycho” and Brzezinski “crazy” while mocking her appearance.

Chris Cillizza: “The White House spin here – he punches back when punched – is not even close to good enough…This is bullying, plain and simple. And, it’s bullying by a powerful man against a woman because of her looks. He also attacked her intelligence and her sanity.”

First Lady Melania Trump, who has said she wants to make a campaign against cyberbullying a key part of her time in the White House, is defending her husband’s widely-condemned Twitter attack against Brzezinski and Scarborough.

Trump attacked the New York Times for publishing what he called a “false story” about his role – or lack thereof – in trying to pass the health care bill. “They don’t even call to verify the facts of a story,” he wrote on Twitter.

The State Department issued new guidelines last night to American embassies and consulates on applying a limited travel ban against foreign visitors from six predominantly Muslim countries. Parents, including in-laws, are considered “close family” ties for people seeking to come to the U.S., but grandparents are not.

Trump has yet to make inroads with the American public beyond his party’s faithful, and his approval rating stands at 37 percent, according to a NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll.

Vice President Mike Pence’s chief of staff will depart the White House in the coming weeks and will be replaced by a long-serving aide, in the first major staff change of his office, officials said.

Some small private airports in New Jersey say the flight restrictions that accompany Trump’s visits to his Bedminster golf club are putting a damper on their businesses.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who doesn’t recruit House Democratic candidates, made a rare exception by encouraging Anthony Brindisi to run against Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney in NY-22.

Brindisi, who got to know Tenney when they served neighboring districts in the state Assembly, said he hopes the congressional campaign will be about issues, and not marked by caustic personal attacks. “(N)ame-calling never created a single job in this district and doesn’t help the middle class,” he explained.

Planned Parenthood sent a letter to the state Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference asking its members to stop implying they had received endorsements from the organization.

Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino, a former Republican state assemblyman who has criticized his Democratic successor for tens of thousands of dollars in tax liens against her, also had an outstanding tax lien against him — at least until Tuesday.

Streetsblog: “It’s going to take sustained attention, not just a few months of theatrics, to sort out the MTA’s systemic problems. The sooner Cuomo starts taking that seriously the better.”

Aetna, the insurance giant founded in Hartford, Connecticut, where it has been for the past 164 years, announced that it would move its headquarters to New York City, due in part to nearly $10 million worth of property and sales tax credits, among other benefits.

One of Hempstead Village’s newest police officers, whom Mayor Don Ryan has described as his godson, was arrested seven years ago and served five days in jail, according to court records.

James “Bone” Bayse, former New York Ski Educational Foundation Program Director at the Gore Mountain Ski Center in North Creek, is the mountain’s new general manager, ORDA announced.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is perhaps still in Albany, but his office hasn’t released a public schedule yet.

Some state lawmakers are still in Albany after what was supposed to be a quick one-day “extraordinary” session to address extending mayoral control of the New York City school system.

The day quickly morhped into a marathon, behind-closed-doors negotiation between the governor and legislative leaders on a whole host of issues left unresolved during the regular session.

At the end of the day, during which rank-and-file lawmakers did a whole lot of not much, legislation was introduced just before midnight that included a two-year extension of NYC mayoral control as part of wide-ranging deal.

The agreement also reportedly included, among other things, improved pension benefits for some NYC cops and firefighters, extension of local taxes, and renaming the new Tappan Zee Bridge for the late former Gov. Mario Cuomo.

In addition, deals seemed likely on a relief package to Vernon Downs, a suffering racetrack and casino outside Utica; a new land bank for Adirondack road construction; and $50 million for flood victims on Lake Ontario.

The Assembly passed the grand bargain measure by a vote of 115-15 around 1 a.m. this morning, but the Senate, which had adjourned earlier in the evening, was not expected to consider the bill until later in the afternoon today. (A Senate GOP spokesman would not confirm the deal, saying only that things were moving in the “right direction).

Among those unhappy with the way things went down was Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb, who said in a statement issued at about 1:30 a.m. that the extraordinary session had been “nothing to celebrate.”

“There is no victory in completing work that should have been done weeks ago,” Kolb added. “No one deserves applause for passing bills in the middle of the night out of public view.”

“The entire Legislature returned to Albany ready to act, but instead sat idly for hours because four men in a room had no plan, no bills and no clue.”

Ditto, said Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who issued this statement:

“One would think things in Albany couldn’t get more chaotic or dysfunctional, yet it always seems to get worse.”

“We once again are forced to return to the Capitol and sit around with no clear answers. The longer we sit here and wait for the behind-closed-doors negotiations to drag on and on the bigger the disservice we are doing to the people of New York.”

“This session should have been about doing our jobs and the unfinished business from the Legislative session.”

In D.C. this afternoon, Vice President Mike Pence will travel to the U.S. Department of Energy to introduce the president at the Unleashing American Energy event.

A fuller calendar of the day’s events appears at the end of this post.


With his bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act in deep trouble, Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, raised an alternate possibility: Either Republicans come together, or he would have to work with Democrats to shore up the deteriorating health law. In other words: bipartisanship.

McConnell is aiming to send a revised version of his health-care bill to the Congressional Budget Office as soon as Friday as he continues to push for a vote before Congress’s August recess.

President Donald Trump promised a “great, great surprise” on the Senate Republican health care bill as McConnell worked to restart the stalled legislation.

Trump’s personal lawyer is postponing a plan to file a complaint against former FBI Director James Comey with the Justice Department, which was supposed to have centered on Comey’s testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

House Republicans railed against the Pentagon’s transgender policy, but ultimately did not move to reverse the policy during a debate on the annual defense bill.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city’s fight against the opioid epidemic would be endangered by the U.S. Senate’s proposed health care bill.

De Blasio sent a letter to the U.S. Justice Department asserting that NYC was cooperating with immigration officials to the extent required under federal law and that the city should not, as the Justice Department has argued, forfeit a $4.3 million federal law enforcement grant.

A day after a subway train derailed in Manhattan, two supervisors who oversaw track work on the route were suspended as the Metropolitan Transportation Authority came under scrutiny for its safety performance.

A liberal former state lawmaker (Richard Brodsky) and a conservative fiscal watchdog (EJ MCMahon) have joined forces — calling on the state to redirect billions of dollars in unspent legal settlement money to help fix the subways.

Angry subway riders rallied last night outside Cuomo’s Midtown Manhattan office to demand a credible plan to fix the city’s crumbling subway system.

More >


So far the extraordinarily not-so-special session is turning out to be a bust, though the night is young, when one is speaking of state Capitol time. Heck, lawmakers till have several hours of daylight during which they could come to some sort of agreement that would extend mayoral control of the NYC school system, which is set to sunset at midnight Friday.

The trouble is, now that they’re here, lawmakers – and the governor – are gumming up the works by trying to stuff all sorts of unrelated issues into the mayoral extension bill, some of which weren’t all that terribly prominent during the final days of the regular session.

Anyway, while we’re all waiting for something to happen, here are some headlines to keep you busy…

The Coast Guard is backing off a contentious proposal to put 10 commercial shipping anchorages on the Hudson River stretching from Yonkers north to Kingston.

Two New York City subway supervisors were suspended without pay today – a day after a derailment in Manhattan that injured 34 people and was blamed on a piece of unsecured replacement track, the transit authority said.

Former Gov. George Pataki: “The MTA is an authority where the governor has a majority of appointees. So, ultimately, accountability lies on the governor.”

“Cuomo has provided the citizenry with all of the tools it needs to demonstrate that the subway is in dire need of investment and repair. If he’s smart, he’ll pretend that was his plan all along.”

The major cause of subway delays is a factor that basically did not exist 15 years ago: overcrowding. Subway ridership has risen dramatically since the 1990s, from about four million people using the system daily to almost six million.

Staten Island Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis – the Republican frontrunner challenging Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio – blamed both de Blasio and Cuomo for the current “transit crisis” in the aftermath of this week’s derailment.

Straphangers stuck on the derailed train are lining up to sue the subway system that made their morning a living hell.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has reached an agreement to receive memos written by former FBI Director James Comey detailing his interactions with Trump, Chairman Richard Burr said.

The reporter who accused White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders of inflaming the public against the media at a press briefing, Brian Karem, says he did it because he’s tired of being bullied by the administration.

Karem, executive editor of the Montgomery County Sentinel, conceded he may have lost his temper, but said it was a “long time coming.”

Two former press secretaries to Presidents George W. Bush and Bill Clinton said the White House should embargo all video from press briefings for later use, preventing the video from being broadcast live.

Real estate developer and Republican Paul Massey bowed out of the NYC mayoral contest just hours after a bruising round of questions at a Crain’s Breakfast Forum in Midtown.

Transit advocates fed up with the mounting downstate subway crisis will host a protest rally outside Cuomo’s Manhattan office this evening.

After years of tolls, traffic, and frustration for some, the conversation around the future of tolls at the Grand Island Bridges is seeing movement, thanks to Supervisor Nate McMurray.

Construction worker Carlos Cardona, who developed a respiratory illness from working at the World Trade Center site in the weeks after the 9/11 attack won a stay of deportation after the Daily News highlighted his plight, and Cuomo gave him a pardon.

Sen. Jim Tedisco today honored three Schenectady-area residents who were involved in a dramatic rescue Sunday of a girl who dropped 25 feet from a ride at the Six Flags Great Escape amusement park near Lake George.

With more than a hundred firefighters from across the state watching, Syracuse’s fire chief rejected a state union’s decision to censure him.

Shortly after 12:01 a.m. tomorrow, an unknown Uber or Lyft driver will make history when he or she arrives curbside outside a Capital Region establishment.

More than 20,000 drivers are expected to give rides for Uber and Lyft when the apps launch, according to the state Department of Motor Vehicles.

Copy editors at the New York Times who face possible layoffs sent a letter to their editors protesting the newspaper’s proposed changes, and taking aim at the “humiliating” process of forcing those who might be on the chopping block to re-apply for their jobs.

A daredevil who died after plunging over Niagara Falls in an apparent stunt with an inflatable ball might have brought a boa constrictor along for the ride.

Here and Now

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

The Legislature is in Albany for an “extraordinary” session.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will make radio appearances today, participate in a call with mayors from across the country about health care reform efforts in D.C., and then travel to Philadelphia, PA. He will return to New York City in the evening.

In Washington this morning, President Donald Trump will lead a tribal, state, and local energy roundtable.

In the afternoon, Trump will participate in a meet-and-greet with the Chicago Cubs, and will then meet with immigration crime victims to urge passage of House legislation “to save American lives.”

In the evening, Trump will depart the White House en route to the Trump International Hotel, where he will give remarks at the RNC dinner.

A fuller calendar of the day’s events appears at the end of this post.


The primary purpose of today’s extraordinary session in Albany is to address the looming lapse of mayoral control of New York City’s public schools, an issue that failed to gain consensus before the Legislature’s scheduled session ended last week.

…But other issues – like the sales tax extensions for suburban and upstate counties set to expire in November – are highly likely to come up.

“I would hope that we don’t do simply an extension of mayoral control,” said state Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco. “There are many, many other issues out there that have to be resolved, such as upstate taxes, the sales taxes, the…personal income tax in New York City.”

While lawmakers are set to return at 1 p.m. — a week after they ended the regular session without a deal on mayoral control — it’s unclear if they will actually take up the mayoral control (or any other) legislation.

Senators traveled to the White House on yesterday after Republican leaders delayed plans to vote on legislation to partially repeal and replace Obamacare this week because they hadn’t locked down the necessary number of votes.

During their meeting at the White House, Trump told the GOP senators: “(W)e’re going to talk and we’re going to see what we can do. We’re getting very close.” But until yesterday, he has been largely on the sidelines of this particular debate.

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell called the meeting “very helpful,” and expressed optimism the Senate would eventually pass a bill to repeal Obamacare, though it’s going to take a “little bit longer.”

McConnell faced resistance from across his conference, not only from the most moderate and conservative senators but from others as well. Had he pressed forward this week, he almost surely would have lacked the votes even to begin debate on the bill.

A once-quiet effort by governors to block the full repeal of the Affordable Care Act reached its climax in Washington yesterday, as state executives from both parties — who have conspired privately for months — mounted an all-out attack on the Senate’s embattled health care legislation hours before Republicans postponed a vote.

Trump singled out a female journalist during a phone call with the new Irish prime minister, Leo Varadkar, telling Varadkar, “She has a nice smile on her face. So I bet she treats you well.”

Sarah Palin, former vice-presidential candidate and ex-Alkaska governor, filed a defamation lawsuit against The New York Times Company, saying the newspaper had published a statement about her in a recent editorial that it “knew to be false.”

Paul Manafort, who was forced out as Trump’s campaign chairman last summer after five months of infighting and criticism about his business dealings with pro-Russian interests, disclosed that his consulting firm had received more than $17 million over two years from a Ukrainian political party with links to the Kremlin.

GOP consultant Roger Stone, a Trump loyalist, is set to testify before the House Intelligence Committee as part of its Russia election meddling probe in late July, according to his attorney.

The MTA said a preliminary investigation determined the cause of yesterday’s subway derailment, which injured dozens of people, was an improperly secured piece of equipment on the tracks. In other words, “a human error, not a track defect.”

Cuomo was in New York City around 9 a.m. yesterday, a spokeswoman confirmed, but did not go to the scene of the derailment at 125th Street, which city officials said happened around 9:45 a.m. Instead, he headed back to Albany, offering no response at all to the incident until hours after it occurred.

De Blasio didn’t go to the derailment scene, either, seeming to almost willfully ignore the incident, and leaving it to the new MTA chairman, Joe Lhota, to brief reporters.

Cuomo’s popularity — currently at its highest levels in years — largely rests in New York City and the surrounding suburbs. The last thing he’ll need when seeking a third term next year is angry commuters looking for someone to blame, experts and politicos say.

Jim Dwyer says the “spitball fights” between the mayor and the governor over who’s responsible for the MTA are not going to fix the subway for beleaguered riders.

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U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell delayed the vote on the Republican leadership’s health care bill until after the July 4 recess.

Two subway cars of an A train derailed this morning at the 125th Street station in Harlem, causing dozens of injuries. As many as 34 people were hurt, with six transported to nearby hospitals, officials said.

Newly-minted MTA Chairman Joe Lhota said an emergency break was to blame for the derailment.

Sen. Mike Gianaris has launched a (well-timed) petition calling on Cuomo and state legislators to address weeks of chronic delays and historic failures throughout the MTA system upon their return to Albany.

EJ McMahon: “(T)o a degree unheard of at any time in the past 65 years, New York’s state treasury is swimming in excess cash that ideally could, and should, be devoted to projects like fixing the subways.”

Ken Lovett: “The coming summer of hell for commuters could morph into an election year train wreck for Gov. Cuomo in 2018 if things don’t improve, insiders warn.”

State Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi plans to announce tomorrow that he will challenge Rep. Claudia Tenney in the 2018 election, according to two Democratic sources familiar with his decision.

The Court of Appeals dismissed the bulk of a lawsuit contending the state hasn’t lived up to a 2006 court mandate to increase funding for New York City schools by $1.9 billion, and by extension, funding for school districts throughout the state.

The president used the resignations of three CNN journalists involved in a retracted Russia-related story to resume his attack on the network’s credibility.

Hillary Clinton divulged details about her third memoir, out this fall, and shared her post-election reading list to attendees at the American Library Association conference in Chicago, saying it’s the “most personal” nook she has written.

Actor Alec Baldwin said that he will be bringing back his famous Trump impersonation to “Saturday Night Live” this fall.

Trump’s business will be paid millions of dollars to release the owner of a Toronto hotel complex from using his name.

The stock value of the Australian biotech firm Rep. Chris Collins championed to fellow lawmakers plummeted today, costing the New York Republican $17 million as investigators continue probing his relationship with the firm.

A pro-Trump outside group is stepping up its attacks on GOP Sen. Dean Heller over his opposition to the Obamacare repeal plan — a stunning act of retribution against a politically vulnerable member of the president’s own party.

House intelligence committee Chairman Devin Nunes said he is still being “fully read-in” on the House Russia investigation and can retake control of the probe at any time, if he wanted to. But for now, he’s staying away.

Maurice Hinchey, who served the Hudson Valley for 38 years as a state assemblyman and congressman, has frontotemporal degeneration, a rare and terminal neurological disorder, his family announced.

The governor signed a bill into law that permits wine ice cream to be sold in smaller containers.

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, has added to his legal team one of the nation’s most prominent trial lawyers, Abbe D. Lowell, his lawyers said. (Lowell once represented former state Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno).

By focusing on quality-of-life issues, Republican New York City mayoral candidate and assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis is highlighting concerns about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s management capabilities that have dogged him during his first term.

Katie Wilson, an Essex County Democrat, is planning a challenge to Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik, next year, making her the second Democrat to enter the NY-21 race well in advance of the midterm elections.

De Blasio said he “does not see” Rikers Island being closed ahead of the 10-year time frame he proposed in his recently unveiled plan to shut down the sprawling detention complex, though he would be “surprised pleasantly that changes are happening quicker.”

Activists and voters in Jackson Heights slammed Sen. Jose Peralta for declining to show up at a town hall meeting they held last night at the Jewish Center of Jackson Heights, and in his absence, turned the event into a briefing on what they said were Peralta and the IDC’s failures in Albany.

The largely ambitious Saranac Lakes Wild Forest unit management plan includes a few cases of the state simply acknowledging what many people already use.

Happy 90th to a NYC icon, (the) Strand bookstore.

Here and Now

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

So far, state lawmakers have no plans to return to Albany to address unfinished business, though there’s a report the governor will be calling a special session as early as tomorrow – specifically to address mayoral control of the NYC school system, which sunsets Friday at midnight.

The bill Cuomo would reportedly send to the Legislature would extend NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s control of the schools for a single year, and would not include any other issues – like charter schools, which the Senate GOP has been pushing, or a measure to rename the new Tappan Zee Bridge in honor of his late father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo – because the governor reportedly wants to “keep it clean.”

There would, however, be a separate bill in which Cuomo seeks an agreement to allow some police officers, firefighters and members of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, which includes corrections officers, to qualify for enhanced accidental disability pension benefits, according to an anonymous administration official who spoke to the New York Times.

That’s a measure Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Brooklyn Sen. Marty Golden tried unsuccessfully to get passed earlier this year.

In Albany today, Carl Paladino is scheduled to take the stand in the state Education Department hearing on a petition to remove him from the Buffalo School Board, as is board member Larry Quinn, a Paladino ally.

In D.C. this morning, President Donald Trump will speak with President Emmanuel Macron of France, meet with National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, and then speak with Prime Minister Leo Varadkar of Ireland.

A fuller calendar of the day’s events appears at the end of this post.


The U.S. Supreme Court cleared much of President Donald Trump’s travel ban to take effect this week and agreed to hear arguments in the fall, giving the president at least partial vindication for his claims of sweeping power over the nation’s borders.

Trump called the decision a “clear victory for our national security.” The ban on people entering the U.S. from six mostly Muslim countries can be applied for now to everyone except people who have a “credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States.”

Refugee admissions, which were the main source of new residents moving to Buffalo and other upstate cities in recent years, could slow dramatically as a result of the court’s decision.

The White House charged late yesterday that Syria seemed to be making preparations for a chemical attack and warned strongman Bashar Assad that he and his regime “will pay a heavy price” for any mass slaughter of civilians.

The Senate Republican health care bill would leave 22 million more Americans uninsured in 2026 than under President Barack Obama’s health care law, the Congressional Budget Office estimated, in a blow to GOP leaders’ hopes of pushing the plan through the chamber this week.

Two Republicans – Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky – that they would vote against even debating the health care bill, joining Nevada Sen. Dean Heller, who made the same pledge on Friday. Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson hinted that he, too, would probably oppose taking up the bill on a procedural vote expected as early as Tuesday, meaning a collapse could be imminent.

Then-candidate Trump was “joking” when he publicly asked Russia to hack Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said.

Three CNN employees have handed in their resignations over a retracted story linking Trump to Russia, the network announced.

Lynne Patton, a longtime Trump ally named chief of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s regional office in New York and New Jersey, is defending her qualifications.

The U.S. Supreme Court broke for its summer recess without an anticipated retirement announcement from the 80-year-old Justice Anthony Kennedy. He could still make the call at any time, but the last day was seen as the most likely time.

Day three of the hearing to remove Carl Paladino from the Buffalo School Board began with School Superintendent Kriner Cash taking the stand and testifying that Paladino’s public comments about the teacher contract hurt the district and its future contact negotiations. He was one of two witnesses, and was questioned for three hours.

In response to a request made by three newspapers – The Buffalo News, the NY Post and the NY Daily News – court documents that have been kept secret in the legal fight between law partners Ross M. Cellino Jr. and Stephen E. Barnes will soon be unsealed, State Supreme Court Judge Deborah A. Chimes stated.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo told the state’s members of Congress that he would propose a “Faso-Collins” tax on counties to make up for the loss of county funding for Medicaid under an amendment proposed by Reps. John Faso and Chris Collins.

Amid considerable unfinished business in Albany, Cuomo held a campaign fundraiser in Manhattan that was headlined by former VP Joe Biden.

“It’s not enough to criticize the current administration,” Cuomo said without mentioning Trump by name. “What we (Democrats) have to demonstrate in this country is we got the message in November and that we have reconnected with the middle class.”

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