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Posts by Liz Benjamin
Jun 17th - 5:00 pm
We’re still on end-of-session watch. This was supposed to be lawmakers’ last working day in Albany, according to the calendar agreed upon by legislative leaders (neither of whom are still in their leadership posts) months ago. But due to an ongoing stalemate over the expired NYC rent regulations, the 2015 session is still going strong. It’s likely to be a late night. While we’re waiting for the logjam to break, here are some headlines…
The search to replace New York’s former top financial regulator, Benjamin Lawsky, has attracted the involvement of one of the banking industry’s harshest critics: US Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has been making calls to advocate for Consumer Finance Protection Bureau Director Rohit Chopra.
A growing number of purple states could be swinging away from Hillary Clinton, a new Q poll shows.
Lawmakers may de-link and make permanent the state’s cap on property tax increases, but at the same time add some exceptions to the 2011 law.
EJ McMahon: “It would be ironic, to say the least, if Senate Republicans— – who have previously positioned themselves as tax cap champions – were to become instruments of its unraveling.”
Yesterday was the second vote for nine school districts in New York whose budgets first failed on May 19. Seven passed, but due to an anomaly in the tax cap, two did not.
The marijuana industry has a pesticide problem. Many commercial cannabis growers use chemicals to control bugs and mold. But the plant’s legal status is unresolved.
“It’s so obvious that our bail system—excuse the expression—is totally ass-backwards in every respect,” New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman said.
The deadline for US Attorney Preet Bharara to ask the US Supreme Court to consider an appeals court ruling that could taint his legacy as the policeman of Wall Street has been extended from July 2 to Aug. 1.
Development along the Buffalo River is picking up more steam, as Carl Paladino and investment partner Victor Liberatore teamed up to bid $2.17 million for waterfront property next to the RiverWorks entertainment facility.
AG Eric Schneiderman and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the first arrest of a landlord as a result of work by the Tenant Harassment Prevention Task Force, an multi-agency initiative launched in February.
The husband of Joyce Mitchell, the woman charged with assisting Richard Matt and David Sweat escape from Clinton Correctional Facility, had no idea she was working to spring them — or that she wanted the convicts to kill him, according to the local DA.
The State Police released “progression pictures” of what Matt and Sweat might look like after going more than a week without shaving.
Rep. John Katko says the federal medical device tax made it impossible for Welch Allyn to compete, forcing the Skaneateles Falls manufacturer to agree to a buyout by a Chicago company.
A petition with nearly 30,000 signatures of New Yorkers opposing more charter schools was rolled out at the state Capitol by the members of AQE, NYSUT, the Strong Economy for All Coalition, and the UFT.
Compliments of City & State: Eight New York elected officials and power players over the age of 80.
Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin is having some fun as he and his colleagues wait for the session to end.
Despite the Senate’s best efforts, there’s still no official state mineral.
Jun 17th - 2:27 pm
The battle over the so-called “toxic toy bill,” which would ban or force disclosure of harmful chemicals in some children’s products and sporting equipment, has taken a nasty turn, with green advocates at odds with one another and one organization in particular exerting political pressure on lawmakers to take up a recently amended – and some say weaker – version of the legislation.
The New York League of Conservation Voters, which has steadily increased its political spending in recent years, this morning sent an email to members of the Assembly who it backed in the last election cycle, reminding them that this issue is the group’s “top priority for the 2015 session, and as you may recall this was specifically communicated to you in 2014 when you applied for NYLCV’s endorsement.”
“As someone endorsed by NYLCV in your last election, I would appreciate the courtesy of a call as soon as possible today from you, or a member of your staff, to ‘clear the air’ so we can move this important bill now without further delay,” wrote Joshua Klainberg, senior vice president of NYLCV/NYLCV PAC.
In a brief interview this afternoon, the NYLCV’s Jordan Levine said the email was not intended as a threat, but rather as a “reminder” to lawmakers that “we hold them accountable for their promises.”
The only problem with that logic is that the bill for which lawmakers were asked to express their support has changed. The new version, which has been agreed to by both the NYLCV and the Retail Council of New York State, takes the DEC out of the equation as an enforcement agency, putting the bulk of the responsibility in the hands of the Department of State and the Department of Health.
Critics say the State Department lacks the scientific expertise and enforcement capability of the DEC, though it does have a consumer protection division. Supporters of the amended version say the Cuomo administration has indicated a willingness to provide more resources to DOS to enable it to adequately enforce the act – should it pass both houses and be signed into law by the governor.
Cuomo backed the Child Safe Products Act in his State of the State address this year. The administration played a role in negotiating the amended version of the bill with the Senate Republicans, but hasn’t yet made a formal statement of support for the measure.
The amended version, recently introduced by Sen. Phil Boyle, a Long Island Republican, also pre-empts local measures passed by Albany, Westchester and Suffolk counties, and would do the same with a proposal that was recently introduced – but has not yet been passed – in New York City.
Environmental Advocates of New York, which also included the Child Safe Products Act among its top priorities for this session, has not formally opposed the new version of the bill, but did email lawmakers yesterday expressing its disapproval. The organization had listed the original act as a “super bill” – a top-weighted item when EA is putting together its annual voters guide (it doesn’t issue formal endorsements – but it is not supporting the amended legislation.
The Senate bill is still in committee, and does not have a same-as in the Assembly yet. Assemblyman Steve Englebright, chair of the chamber’s Environmental Conservation Committee, told Capital NY that the new version is unlikely to pass in his house because it has too many provisions that are favored by the industry – though he did say he remains open to some tweaks.
The original Child Safe Products Act passed overwhelmingly in the Assembly earlier this year, and the Senate has been under intense pressure to follow suit – especially since it long had more than enough sponsors (42) to secure its passage it had been allowed to the floor, where 32 votes are necessary to approve legislation.
Earlier this week, however, the 24 Senate Democrats who had been sponsoring the act all pulled their names off of it in a show of protest to the amended version of the bill.
UPDATE: Some Democratic senators’ names remain on the bill, despite the fact that they reportedly planned to pull off en masse. However, pulling sponsorship is a process, and the list has been changing by the hour.
Jun 17th - 8:05 am
From the Morning Memo:
Though the stalemate over the NYC rent laws has prevented lawmakers from reaching a so called “Big Ugly” deal at the Capitol, plenty of lower-level bills are getting passed – including a measure that would expedite access to medical marijuana for a select group of extremely sick children in New York.
But that bill was already in trouble before it even got anywhere near Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk.
The start of its problems: The need for a chapter amendment, which became clear not long after its passage by the Senate in a 50-12 vote this past Monday. (The Assembly had already acted).
Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo revealed this wrinkle during a CapTon interview last night, saying: “There might have been a mistake in the original drafting; it has to be taken back up.”
That could be a bit tricky, given how close we are to the end of session. Depending on the timing, the governor might have to issue a message of necessity on this fix, and it’s widely believed that his signature on the bill wasn’t a sure thing to begin with.
I reached Assemblyman Richard Gottfried, the chamber’s Health Committee chairman and longtime medical marijuana advocate, on the phone yesterday. He downplayed the chapter amendment, saying there is a “typo” in the bill that refers to a special certification under subdivision 6 of existing law, when it’s actually subdivision 9.
“If it becomes law as-is, there would be no harm,” Gottfried said. “Nevertheless, we printed a chapter. I don’t know if we have the time or need to do it. It’s really just fixing a typo.”
Advocates who have been pushing the Cuomo administration on this issue for some time, noted there’s no same-as bill in the Senate for the Assembly chapter amendment, which was quietly introduced not long after the original bill was passed by the upper house.
But they also insisted that the “technical error” in the bill is not the biggest hurdle it faces.
“While the governor is unlikely to sign, we have from now until Dec. 31 before he must take action, and the timeline could be shorter if the Assembly sends him the bill beforehand,” said Gabriel Sayegh of the Drug Policy Alliance.
“Any deaths of these kids during this period is on the governor, and that’s totally macabre and awful, and also true. We hope it doesn’t take another death to compel the governor to act.”
Sayegh said this emergency access bill would be “totally unnecessary” if Cuomo had used his discretionary authority to assist people in accessing med mar before the statewide program established under the Compassionate Care Act passed by the Legislature last year is expected to be up and running in early 2016.
Gottfried said the Cuomo administration has been assuring him it is moving as fast as possible on this issue.
But he is skeptical of that, noting that the governor – who has never been a big fan of medical marijuana, even though he signed the Compassionate Care Act into law – has never personally met with the families of kids suffering from seizure disorders who believe they would benefit from access to Cannabis oil.
Gottfried said he has “no idea” of how Cuomo intends to act on the expedited medical marijuana bill, which was opposed by one of the original sponsors of the Compassionate Care Act, Sen. Diane Savino, who characterized it as a vehicle for advocates seeking full legalization of pot in New York.
Cuomo’s office has already said its efforts to get permission from the federal government to import med mar from outside the state on an emergency basis before New York’s program is up and running has been denied.
Gottfriend believes the governor could use a 1980s-era law, which he briefly proposed reviving, that would allow the state Health Department to distribute marijuana to hospitals. Lupardo suggested that New York might also follow the “no harm, no foul” lead of other states, which don’t prosecute individuals who bring med mar across state lines.
But Gottfried rejected that suggestion, saying: “I would not expect the governor to be interested…his whole orientation on medical marijuana has been very different than that.”
Gottfried also said there have been no discussions of a possible override if Cuomo vetoes the expedite medical marijuana bill. Officially speaking, the governor’s press office response to the measure was:
“Our top priority has always been to deliver relief to those in pain. We will review the legislation in the context of implementing the Compassionate Care Act and complying with existing federal statutes.”
Jun 17th - 5:24 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule. Today is the last scheduled day on the 2015 session calendar, but with no deal on the expired NYC rent regulations in sight, lawmakers are not likely departing Albany today.
From 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., International Cannabis Association officials present the “Cannabis World Congress & Business Exposition,” or “CWCB Expo,” which begins with workshops and is scheduled to continue through Friday with conference sessions and exhibits; The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center of New York, 655 W. 34th St., Manhattan.
At 8:30 a.m., Manhattan BP Gale Brewer speaks to New York Building Congress members during the trade organization’s breakfast forum; West Lounge, Metropolitan Club, 1 E. 60th St., Manhattan.
At 9 a.m., NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver joins with designers for a discussion on parks equity, The Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Pl., Manhattan.
At 9:30 a.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray delivers remarks at the Committee for Hispanic Children and Families white paper presentation and panel, 1601 Broadway, 7th Floor, Room 701-702, Manhattan.
At 10 a.m., New York’s Responsible Play Partnership brings a groundbreaking problem gambling awareness series to the Capital Region, Schenectady County Community College, Van Curler Room, 1st Floor Elston Hall, 78 Washington Ave., Schenectady.
At 11 a.m., Brooklyn BP Eric Adams will announce his plans to camp overnight outside Cuomo’s Manhattan office, along with tenants and concerned New Yorkers, in protest of the inability of Albany leadership to strengthen the city’s rent regulations, Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.
Also at 11 a.m., good government groups, fiscal watchdogs, civil rights organizations, school and municipal organizations/associations and unions from across New York State will join together to urge the state to make intelligent refinements to the property cap, outside the state Senate chambers, 3rd Floor, state Capitol, Albany.
At noon, advocates and members of the Assembly will urge Cuomo to use his political power to strengthen and renew the rent laws, War Room, 2nd Floor, state Capitol, Albany.
At 1 p.m., Chief Ron Siarnicki, executive director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, FDNY Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro and others hold a press conference on National Stair Climb, FDNY Ladder Company 20 and Division 1 Firehouse, 251 Lafayette St., Manhattan.
At 2 p.m., MTA Chairman and CEO Tom Prendergast and the president and chief executive of railroad crossing safety organization Operation Lifesaver Inc., Joyce Rose, outline an initiative intended to improve the safety of railroad crossings in the region; 30th floor, 2 Broadway, Manhattan.
At 5 p.m., during a panel discussion on “Fighting Human Trafficking on the Front Lines: New York State Courts and Their Law Enforcement Partners,” state Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman delivers introductory and welcoming remarks and moderates, while the society’s founder and former chairwoman, former Chief Judge Judith Kaye, delivers closing remarks; NYC Bar Association, 42 W. 44th St., Manhattan.
At 6 p.m., the New York County Lawyers Association hosts a panel discussion on the evolution of marriage equality in New York State, New York City County Lawyers Association, 14 Vesey St., Manhattan.
Also at 6 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at the American Jewish Committee’s annual meeting, AJC Regional Offices, 8th Floor, 165 East 56th St., Manhattan.
Bill Hammond: “When New York’s rent laws expired Monday night, something else died with them: the myth of Gov. Cuomo as the great and powerful wizard of Albany.”
A day after the rent laws expired, the governor and legislative leaders met behind closed doors to try and end the standoff but emerged with little visible progress.
Legislative leaders said they saw no “blueprint” for an overall deal. Assemblyman Keith Wright, a Harlem Democrat who chairs his chamber’s housing committee, issued a statement declaring “we’re getting nowhere fast” on rent negotiations.
Juan Gaonzalez: “There should be wanted posters put up all over Brooklyn for Republican Martin Golden and Democrat Simcha Felder. The two provided the slim 32-30 margin in the Senate for what tenants’ advocates have labeled ‘dream legislation for landlords.'”
Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams said tenants should be “very concerned,” but added: “We haven’t quite reached a full crisis yet.”
It’s three years until the next gubernatorial election, but already tenant groups are plotting to oust Cuomo in retaliation for the failure to get a rent deal.
Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie reached a three-way agreement on the provisions of legislation to combat sexual assault on college campuses across the state. The full Legislature still has to vote on it.
The agreement would establish a statewide definition of “affirmative consent,” and define consent as a “knowing, voluntary and mutual decision among all participants to engage in sexual activity.”
Cuomo’s definition of “affirmative consent” has changed significantly since he first proposed that colleges must use the “yes means yes” standard for adjudicating sexual assault allegations.
A de Blasio administration official, Lincoln Restler, said that an Eliot Spitzer-spearheaded housing development in Williamsburg, Brooklyn is “offensive”, and called into question whether the former Democratic governor is really a progressive.
For the seventh time in the past six years and the second time this year, the state Senate passed a bill to lift the ban on MMA. Senators voted 49-13 in favor of a newly revamped bill that would legalize the violent combat sport while setting up a $50,000 accident insurance requirement for fight cards and allowing the state Athletic Commission to regulate amateur fights.
All 24 state Senate Democrats who sponsored a bill to regulate toxic chemicals in toys and children’s products have abruptly withdrawn their support. The action came as Sen. Phil Boyle planned to introduce a reworked version that would pre-empt local bans that a growing number of counties have passed, and that New York City lawmakers recently introduced.
Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg grabbed the limelight from his successor ahead of yesterday’s Cornell Tech groundbreaking on Roosevelt Island — announcing a last-minute $100 million donation that dominated local news coverage.
Jun 16th - 5:06 pm
The 2015 session is technically scheduled to end tomorrow, but many things remain unresolved – including, most notably, the NYC rent regulations, which expired at midnight last night. With no rent deal in sight, lawmakers are preparing to remain in Albany at least through Thursday, and possibly later. Meanwhile, there are a lot of smaller bills in need of addressing, and so it could be a late-ish night for lawmakers tonight, with the Senate likely to be in session until 9 p.m., and the Assembly looking at 11 p.m. While the debates and the voting continue, here are some headlines to peruse:
Real estate mogul and TV reality star Donald Trump launched his 2016 presidential campaign, ending more than two decades of persistent flirtation with the idea of running for the Oval Office.
Over the course of the roughly 40-minute speech, Trump took shots at immigrants and every country imaginable, lobbing insults at several nationalities, and repeatedly slammed President Obama and the nation’s leaders as “stupid” and “losers.”
The US Senate blocked a years-long push to reform how the military prosecutes sexual assault cases. Senators voted 50-49 on the proposal, spearheaded by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, that would remove military sexual assault cases from the chain of command.
Chris Smith: “(W)hatever the policy outcomes this week, this has been anything but a rational season in Albany.”
The expiration of rent regulations continues to be a major concern but has not presented the “nightmare scenario” he had warned of, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
A proposal to allow dogs to dine in outdoor cafes throughout New York is headed to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk.
The uniform definition of affirmative consent contained in “Enough Is Enough” legislation agreed to by legislative leaders and Cuomo is almost a third as long as the language adopted by the SUNY system last fall.
The fate of the education tax credit bill may ultimately be decided in court.
One of the two nuclear reactors at the Indian Point nuclear center shut down again yesterday, just weeks after it returned to service following a transformer fire that drew the concern of Cuomo and other elected leaders.
As the search for two convicted killers who escaped from the Clinton Correctional Facility continues, fears that the trail has gone cold are increasing.
Using Joyce Mitchell in their getaway plot was like the “backup plan” for escapees Richard Matt and David Sweat, Clinton County Sheriff David Favro told CNN.
Actress Edie Falco wrote a letter to Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, urging him to pass the trap-neuter-release bill that is intended to address the problem of feral cat communities in New York.
Assemblyman Phil Ramos, a Long Island Democrat, sent a letter to constituents saying education tax-credit backers and parochial and charter school supporters are misleading the public with their widespread mail and phone campaign.
De Blasio, who rose to prominence promising a sharp break from the past and hasn’t spoken to his predecessor since taking office, found himself in an unusual position today: honoring the legacy of Mike Bloomberg.
EJ McMahon does not approve of the plan to bail out the Yonkers school district with additional state aid.
Eliot Spitzer criticized the EB-5 visa program at a Brooklyn real estate panel, saying the idea of foreign investors “buying” a path to citizenship “rubs me the wrong way.”
The Binghamton police officer who formally accused the city police chief of sexual discrimination has withdrawn the complaint she filed with the New York State Division of Human Rights.
The FDA gave the food industry three years to eliminate artery-clogging, artificial trans fats from the food supply, a long-awaited step that capped years of effort by consumer advocates and is expected to save thousands of lives a year.
Jun 16th - 2:01 pm
The current impasse down at the Capitol had veterans of the Albany game recalling past end-of-session stalemates and how they were resolved.
Back in the days when both houses of the Legislature had leaders with a number of years under their belts – namely, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno – two-way deals to jam the governor were not out of the question.
That’s not to say it was commonplace for Bruno and Silver to join forces. More frequently, it was Bruno siding with his fellow Republican, former Gov. George Pataki, against the speaker, who saw it as it duty as the lone Democrat in the room to hold out as long as possible on all manner of liberal and downstate priorities. (Like, say, rent control).
But the two leaders did see fit to work together from time to time. Back in 2003, for example, the Assembly and Senate overrode the governor’s budget vetoes for the first time in two decades, increasing state taxes over Pataki’s opposition to restore billions of dollars in spending on schools, hospitals, nursing homes and localities.
Several longtime Capitol watchers have suggested that for all his bluster and finger-pointing, it is Gov. Andrew Cuomo who is the biggest problem in the negotiations over the rent laws, which are holding up action on pretty much everything else at the moment, and therefore preventing this seemingly never-ending session from coming to its highly anticipated conclusion. (Highly anticipated because, if for nothing else, everyone is anxious to get out of town and put this tumultuous and controversial session in the rearview mirror).
If Cuomo is really the problem, then Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan could try to undercut him by striking a deal of their own. The trouble is, they are so diametrically opposed on the question of the rent laws, thanks in no small part to the Senate GOP’s deep debt to the downstate real estate interests, that getting to a place of agreement could be a very heavy lift.
Also, since both Flanagan and Heastie are new and have something to prove to their respective conferences and constituencies, it makes a two-way negotiation that much more difficult – not to mention the fact that Cuomo would probably not be happy about getting left out.
There’s also the matter of what to do after they jam the governor in the off chance that he vetoes their deal. Given the tight margin of power the GOP has in the Senate, and override could be difficult – unless, that is, the Senate Democrats, who have been exercising their independence from Cuomo a lot this session, decide to play ball.
There’s also the possibility of the Senate Republicans jamming the Assembly by simply passing everything they feel like addressing and leaving town, giving their colleagues across the Capitol little choice but to work with whatever it is they left behind.
Due to the fact that it is considerably smaller than the Assembly, the Senate tends to work a lot more quickly, and has fewer late nights – though it certainly has seen its share of epic debates, thanks to Sens. John DeFrancisco and his verbal sparring partner, Liz Krueger.
Bruno employed this tactic back in 2007 when he and then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer were at loggerheads over campaign finance reform – an issue off which the governor refused to budge. Bruno responded by passing the bare minimum and letting his members go home, leaving quite a number of big ticket items on the table, and even backing out of a previously agreed upon three-way deal on Wicks Law reform.
Spitzer was, not surprisingly, furious, and he embarked on what he called an “Unfinished Business” tour, calling out local senators in their home districts, and urging “everyone who cares about good government to call their state senator and urge him or her to get back to work.” The Senate did end up returning to the Capitol for a one-day session in July, though the Assembly did not participate. And the bad blood between Bruno and Spitzer remained, sparking the infamous Troopergate scandal.
So far, the Senate Republicans do not appear ready to take any drastic measures, though sources say members are pretty well fed up with the governor and the situation at hand.
Jun 16th - 5:25 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule. Two days remain on the official 2015 session calendar.
At 9:30 a.m., tenants, advocates from Alliance for Tenant Power, NYC Council Members Jumaane Williams, Daneek Miller, Antonio Reynoso, Helen Rosenthal and others blast Cuomo for the failure to extend and strengthen the NYC rent laws, City Hall steps, Manhattan.
At 10 a.m., members of the NYC Council’s Women’s Caucus, representatives of local health organizations and other supporters of a “Women’s Health Initiative” criticize current budget proposals to fund women’s health services during the next fiscal year; steps, City Hall, Manhattan.
Also at 10 a.m., oral arguments for the Eric Garner Grand Jury Appeal begin, with NYC Public Advocate Tish James and members of the Legal Aid Society, the NYCLU and Staten Island NAACP, 45 Monroe Pl., Brooklyn.
At 10:30 a.m., former NYC Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott delivers the commencement address at Kingsborough Community College, 2001 Oriental Blvd., Brooklyn.
At 10:30 a.m., state Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball participates in the “Great American Milk Drive” to celebrate Dairy Month, Price Chopper Supermarkets, 1879 Altamont Ave., Schenectady.
At 11 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for Cornell Tech’s Campus on Roosevelt Island, FDR Four Freedoms Park. (NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will also attend, and is scheduled to speak at 10:30 a.m.)
Also at 11 a.m., Donald Trump makes an announcement that could be an entrance into the 2016 presidential race, 725 5th Ave., Manhattan.
Also at 11 a.m., one day after announcing his 2016 presidential bid, former GOP Florida Gov. Jeb Bush holds a town hall in New Hampshire, Adams Memorial Opera House, 29 W Broadway, Derry.
At noon, Hochul and NYC Councilman Ben Kellos tour small businesses on Roosevelt Island, 546 Main St.
Also at noon, as the rent laws expire, tenants and advocates will camp out in front of Cuomo’s NYC office to protest his “premeditated inaction” to the crisis, 633 3rd Ave., Manhattan.
Also at noon, Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr. will host a press conference to address the concerns of Elder Abuse and spread awareness about the problem, Grand Concourse, the Bronx.
At 1 p.m., the Rockefeller Institute and the Government Law Center at Albany Law School host a forum on Silver v. Pataki, Albany Law School, 80 New Scotland Ave., Albany.
At 4 p.m., de Blasio holds a public hearing on, and signs into law, Intros 736-A, 511-A, 440-A, 198-A, 315-A, and 641-A, Blue Room, City Hall, Manhattan.
At 6 p.m., Brooklyn BP Eric Adams will co-host a Roadmap for Mental Health public forum with NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray and NYC Health Commissioner Mary Bassett, offering remarks on the urgency of addressing New Yorkers’ mental health, Borough Hall community room, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.
At 6:30 p.m., the NYCLU is hosting a small reception with Jim Obergefell, the lead plaintiff in the ACLU marriage equality case, Obergefell v. Hodges.; WilmerHale, 7 World Trade Center, Manhattan.
At 7 p.m., Dr. Timothy Quill, director of the Center for Palliative Care and Clinical Ethics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine, will present the inaugural Barbara Swartz End of Life Choices Lecture, 2 West 64th St. (at Central Park West), Manhattan.
The NYC rent regulations have expired after the Senate and Assembly failed to reach a deal to extend them, passing different bills before the midnight deadline.
Also unresolved were negotiations over the future of the 421a program, which gives developers generous tax breaks in exchange for creating affordable housing.
Just six days before 421a expired, the New York City Department of Buildings issued a flurry of permits for the construction of a 40-story rental tower and shopping complex a few blocks from the Coney Island boardwalk. It was part of a flurry of activity as developers tried to get in under the wire.
“I have 70,000 of these units in my district,” said Sen. Gustavo Rivera, a Bronx Democrat. “People are going to wake up tomorrow morning not knowing what could happen to them. It’s a disgrace.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement: “While the Legislature needs to act immediately, New York tenants should know that this state government will have zero tolerance for landlords that seek to exploit those who live in rent regulated units.”
Residents of rent-regulated units will be able to continue to pay the below-market rent until their leases expire. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio vowed to “throw the book” at any landlord who seeks to remove a tenant prematurely, and urged New Yorkers feeling unfairly pressured to phone 311 to file complaints. NYC Public Advocate Tish James has set up her own tenant hotline at (212) 669-7250.
Assemblyman Nick Perry, a Brooklyn Democrat, has been elected the next chairman of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus. Perry, who born in Jamaica and first elected to the Assembly in 1992, edged out Assemblyman Walter Mosley, who in 2012 won the seat vacated by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries.
The Senate voted 50-12 late last night in favor of a bill to require the state to expedite access to medical marijuana. The legislation, which has already passed the Assembly, will now head to Cuomo’s desk.
Among other bills getting final, two-house approval were measures making it harder for state agencies to delay in the courts the appeals process involving Freedom of Information requests and extension of a state law that permits the City of Buffalo to sell bonds at private sale.
The state Board of Regents agreed to amend the state’s controversial new teacher evaluation system by allowing what could be a yearlong delay in implementation, and placing less emphasis on student test score results when it comes to judging teachers. No one was terribly satisfied with the changes, which Regent Roger Tilles called “lipstick on a pig.”
“I don’t believe any of us is very happy with the evaluation system we are obligated to enforce by law,” Board of Regents Vice Chancellor Anthony Bottar said.
The state Education Department is cracking down on absentee teachers. Starting in the fall, all school districts will be required to provide extensive data on poor teacher attendance, which studies show has a greater impact on minority schools.
The state Inspector General’s Office will investigate the breakdowns that led to the escape of two inmates from a maximum security prison in Dannemora on June 6. Cuomo called for the probe as the search for the escapees was in its second week with no confirmed sightings of the pair, Richard Matt and David Sweat – both convicted murderers.
Clinton County Sheriff David Favro speculated that Joyce Mitchell would have wound up dead if she hadn’t backed out of meeting Sweat and Matt with a getaway car when they climbed out of a manhole beyond the prison walls. He said the two men “played on her emotions.”
Assemblyman James Tedisco has proposed a Prisoner Privilege Limitation Law, which would bar anyone convicted of the most serious felonies from being assigned – like Matt and Sweat were – to “honor programs” that let them interact with civilian workers and wear civilian clothing behind bars.
Jun 15th - 5:19 pm
It’s a game of hurry-up-and-wait at the state Capitol as the midnight expiration deadline for the NYC rent laws looms. So far, we have seen neither hide nor hair of the governor, though he is indeed in Albany (according to his public schedule, released this morning), and legislative leaders have yet to reach a rent-related deal.
The Assembly has approved a two-day extension to buy a bit more negotiating time, while the Senate passed its eight-year extension measure, which the Assembly has rejected. So, while we’re waiting around for something more to happen – or not – here are some headlines to consider:
Two days before the scheduled end of the 2015 legislative session, Gov. Andrew Cuomo still hasn’t put into print his criminal justice proposals – including one addressing grand jury action in police violence cases – leaving advocates uncertain about their chances of success.
The federal government intends to deny a request from the state Education Department to test students with disabilities based on their developmental level rather than their chronological age.
Sen. Kenneth LaValle, a Long Island Republican, has left his job at a law firm, though he said it had nothing to do with the swirl of controversies centering on lawmakers’ sources of outside income.
A “consensus” on changes is near among the sponsors – Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle and Sen. Joe Griffo – on a bill that would legalize MMA in New York. A vote could come sometime this week.
AG Eric Schneiderman, a former state senator, implied that the deadlock on the rent laws, which expire at midnight, is symbolic of business as usual at a Capitol viewed as dysfunctional for much of the last decade.
A labor coalition that supports a prevailing wage mandate for construction workers at developments getting 421-a tax abatements slammed the Senate Republicans’ proposal as “a bill straight off the real estate industry’s wish list.”
Senate Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous was supposed to return to Albany today after a lengthy absence while he recovered from a post-surgery blood infection in Florida, but he wasn’t feeling up to the drive. He’s expected at the Capitol tomorrow.
Federal prosecutors are hoping to exclude mention of Libous’s fight with cancer during his upcoming trial for making false statements to the F.B.I.
Democratic Assemblyman Phil Ramos says he is “seriously considering” a bid to challenge Republican Rep. Peter King next year, creating a potential rivalry with Suffolk Presiding Officer DuWayne Gregory, who’s already seeking the nomination.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush made his 2016 presidential bid official when his campaign website was published shortly before his scheduled announcement this afternoon.
Try as he might to emphasize that he is his own man and not his father or his older brother, who both served as president, Bush could not shake the echoes of the past as he launched his own run for the White House.
Hillary Clinton wore a sky blue Ralph Lauren pantsuit at her campaign rally on Roosevelt Island this past week. Here’s why that matters.
Escaped convict Richard Matt is an amateur artist, and among his portraits is a black-and-white likeness of Clinton.
There’s a lot of speculation as to where Matt and his fellow escapee, David Sweat, have gone. Theories: Canada, a nearby Indian reservation, or…Italy.
A California-based filmmaker is hoping to secure financial support for a documentary focusing on the debate over whether the NFL’s Washington Redskins should change its name due to concerns that it is racist and offensive to Native Americans.
Wayne Barrett’s piece on the long-standing connections between former US Senator-turned-lobbyist Al D’Amato and new state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan is very much worth a read.
Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick seems poised to cruise to his seventh term as the county’s top prosecutor in the November elections, but a last-minute Democratic challenger might yet emerge.
Rebecca Martin, a former de Blasio administration staffer running for an open Queens City Council seat vacated by Mark Weprin, has won the first labor endorsement of the race from the Teamsters Joint Council 16.
Following a court battle with the Empire Center, and amid a separate political fight with unions over the size of disability pensions, the de Blasio administration released the latest FDNY pension information Friday evening.
In another legislative strike in the fight over power generation on Long Island, Sen. Carl Marcellino is pushing a bill that would create a “repowering advisory committee” to make recommendations on the Northport, Barrett and Port Jefferson power plants.
A new journalism startup funded by anti-gun advocate and former NYC mayor Mike Bloomberg debuts this week promising to change the debate on guns in America. Called The Trace, the website will track news about guns in the nation.
Despite all the tension at the Capitol, it’s good to see some people haven’t yet lost their sense of humor.
Jun 15th - 5:15 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule. Technically speaking, the Legislature has just three working days remaining in the 2015 session, but some lawmakers are predicting they’ll be in Albany through the end of the week.
The downstate rent regulations and 421a, the tax abatement program for NYC developers, expire today unless legislative leaders reach a deal to extend them.
In national news, former Republican Florida Gov. Jeb Bush will announce his entrance into the 2016 presidential race today in Miama, Fl.
At 7:30 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio appears live on WCBS 880.
At 9 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul attends a fast food worker rally prior to the second wage board public hearing (at 10 a.m.) on raising wages in the industry, Helen & Martin Kimmel Center for University Life, 60 Washington Square S., Manhattan.
Also at 9 a.m., the Board of Regents meets, Education Department Building, 89 Washington Avenue, Albany.
At 10:30 a.m., Rep. Nita Lowey holds a press conference highlighting FDA approval of facility in Pearl River to produce new flu vaccine, Protein Sciences Corporation, Pearl River Manufacturing Facility, Building 211, 401 North Middletown Rd., Pearl River.
At 10:40 a.m., former Gov. George Pataki, a 2016 GOP contender, is a guest on WTPL New Hampshire Wake Up Show with Peter St. James. (Pataki has resumed campaign events after suspending them last week following a life-threatening stroke suffered by his son-in-law).
At 11 a.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina speaks about “Lessons from America’s Largest School System” at The Atlantic Education Summit, Newseum Knight Conference Center, 7th Floor, 555 Pennsylvania Ave., Washington, D.C.
Also at 11 a.m., Queens elected officials and organizations announce the upcoming free Immigration Resource Fair, co-sponsored by BP Melinda Katz, Immigrant Advancement Matters and the Queens Library, Flushing Library, Third Floor International Resource Center, 41-17 Main St., Flushing, Queens.
At 11:30 a.m., Pataki will attend the Republican Women Lilac Luncheon, Grappone Conference Center, 70 Constitution Ave., Concord, NH.
At noon, supporters of the Westchester County Home Owners Coalition hold a news conference to express support for a state legislative proposal intended to increase hiring of female police officers and police officers of minority descent; city police department’s 50th Precinct, 3450 Kingsbridge Ave., the Bronx.
At 12:45 p.m., AQE and 60 parents from Buffalo and NYC will gather on the steps of the state Education Building to ask the Board of Regents to hear them when deciding on the fate of struggling schools that could be placed under receivership, 89 Washington Ave., Albany.
At 1 p.m., families of victims in police killings will hold a press conference to again urge rejection of inadequate justice reforms, and demand Cuomo issue executive order for special prosecutor, state Capitol, 2nd Floor (in front of the governor’s office), Albany.
At 1:30 p.m., AG Eric Schneiderman will speak at a “Debt Collection and Dialogue” symposium co-hosted by his office and the FTC, SUNY Buffalo State, Burchfield Penney Art Center, 1300 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo.
At 2 p.m., Hochul tours the research labs at the state Department of Health’s David Axelrod Institute of Public Health, 120 New Scotland Ave., Albany. (This event is closed to the press).
Also at 2 p.m., Pataki tours downtown businesses in Manchester, NH.
At 2:30 p.m., de Blasio holds a media availability, Blue Room, City Hall, Manhattan.
Also at 2:30 p.m., 32BJ, airport and office cleaning workers and government officials hold a rally to publicize negotiations to replace a contract scheduled to expire Thursday, Dec. 31, and mark Monday’s 25th anniversary of a Friday, June 15, 1990, march by janitors in Los Angeles; Bryant Park, Sixth Avenue and 41st Street, Manhattan.
At 3 p.m., activists will hold the final Moral Monday of the 2015 legislative session, War Room, 2nd Floor, state Capitol, Albany.
From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., members of the NYC Rent Guidelines Board continue public meetings leading up to the board’s scheduled Wednesday, June 24, vote on proposed guidelines for potential rent increases for rent-controlled apartments; room 200, Queens Borough Hall, 120-55 Queens Blvd., Queens.
At 6 p.m., de Blasio and Farina speak at the DOE’s Big Apple Teacher Recognition Awards, Manhattan Supreme Court, 60 Centre St. #5, Manhattan.
At 7 p.m., Hochul the 3rd annual Bronx Day in Albany, Hart Lounge, the Egg, Empire State Plaza. (The event starts at 5 p.m., and is hosted by IDC Leader Jeff Klein, Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj, Bronx BP Ruen Diaz Jr., the Bronx Overall Economic Development Corporation, the Bronx Tourism Council, and the Bronx Chamber of Commerce and Marketing & Advertising Solutions).
With frustrations rising and questions multiplying, Gov. Andrew Cuomo will announce today a formal investigation by the state inspector general into “all factors” involved in the escape of two convicted murderers from a maximum-security prison in Dannemora.
Assembly Corrections Committee Chairman Daniel O’Donnell hasn’t ruled out a potential hearing into the factors that might have played into the successful June 6 escape of Richard Matt and David Sweat from the Clinton County Correctional Facility.
The massive manhunt for the escapees has been hampered by State Police secrecy, inter-agency rivalries, and the disrupting involvement of the governor on the first day of the breakout, law-enforcement sources tell Fred Dicker.
Schools in Dannemora, which have been closed since late last week due to the ongoing (and so far fruitless) search for Matt and Sweat, will reopen today with an “enhanced” law enforcement presence. Children are encouraged to wait inside until their buses arrive.
The search shifted yesterday as law enforcement officers moved their search past Cadyville and westward toward the Saranac area. Joe Gerardi, the Saranac Town Supervisor, said he has been searching his sheds and garage with a loaded shotgun in hand. He said residents are both frustrated and resilient.
The escape is rekindling a debate over Cuomo’s funding for state prisons. The governor has overseen a gradual reduction in the state’s inmate population, which peaked at roughly 71,000 in 1999 and now stands at 52,000. And he has moved to close more than 10 prisons, an action he has said he is proud of.
Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio issued stern warnings to New York City landlords who harass or displace tenants upon the potential expiration today of rent regulations. There’s still no deal in sight.
De Blasio called the lack of a rent agreement “outrageous,” adding: “This is just unacceptable. There are over two million New Yorkers right now who woke up this morning not knowing what was going to happen to their future because Albany is not acting.”
“I’m someone who believes we need fundamental change in Albany,” de Blasio said. “We need public financing of elections. We need a different kind of leadership in the Senate. We shouldn’t be surprised that time and time again issues aren’t dealt with in this current status quo in Albany – it just doesn’t work.”
While pushing his agenda in Albany, de Blasio has increasingly leaned on unlikely allies: New York City’s business elite. In recent weeks, he has held strategy meetings with top executives at City Hall and asked corporate figures to make calls to state leaders on his behalf.
Cuomo and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie are both casting blame on the Republican-led State Senate for preventing them from bolstering rent regulations.
The governor wants to set up a $100 million funding pot for struggling upstate schools. His call comes at the same time he is pushing an Education Investment Tax Credit that has been called by public school advocates a way to help only private schools. The two proposals are not formally linked.
Jun 14th - 7:02 pm
Escaped murderers Richard Matt and David Sweat reportedly were planning to kill the husband of Joyce Mitchell, the woman arrested for helping spring them from the Clinton County Correctional Facility.
Mitchell allegedly told investigators she had agreed to a plan that she would pick Matt and Sweat up after they broke out of prison, take them to her house, where they would kill her husband and then flee with them to an undisclosed location in Vermont, a law enforcement source told the Times Union.
Matt and Sweat may have rehearsed their escape for up to five weeks before the actual breakout, according to Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie.
A Plattsburgh hardware store manager said the tools Mitchell is said to have given two missing murderers would likely not have been enough to make their escape.
The duo’s escape was aided by lax security at an employee checkpoint, poor supervision of correction officers and a botched internal investigation into Mitchell’s personal relationship with one of the inmates, according to interviews with law enforcement sources and state correction officials.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said: “We don’t know if (Matt and Sweat) are still in the immediate area or if they are in Mexico by now.”
After her arraignment Friday night, Mitchell was moved from Clinton County jail to Rensselaer County Correctional Facility in Troy to avoid being a “distraction” to the manhunt, authorities said. She’s due back in court tomorrow in Plattsburgh.
Today is Sweat’s 35th birthday. He may be spending it fending off hunger and overnight cold in densely forested, unfamiliar terrain thick with swarming bugs, poisonous plants, skunks and black bears.
It’s a safe bet that lawmakers, correction officers’ unions and the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision — the agency that runs state prisons — will take a hard look at overtime, staffing and other conditions in the 3,000-inmate prison in the aftermath of the escape.
Clinton County Correctional Facility has been on lockdown since Matt and Sweat escaped, which has other inmates’ wives worried and on edge.
At least eight of the 17 members of the Board of Regents appear ready to try to modify or amend the teacher-evaluation plan passed by the Legislature and are set to vote on the plan during their meeting this coming week. Another two members of the board are said to be on the fence.
The fact that Democrat Steve Casey and Republican Chris Grant worked together behind the scenes on political campaigns, connected with former Erie County Democratic Party Chairman Steve Pigeon on some campaigns and received payments without directly reporting their consulting work to the state have raised red flags for investigators and AG Eric Schneiderman.
Senate Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous, who is receiving treatment for the spreading cancer that he says will ultimately kill him, intends tomorrow to personally make a push to pass Lavern’s Law.
Cuomo is proposing a $28 million bailout for the Yonkers school district in Westchester County, using money from a new $100 million fund to help failing schools in upstate.
Bill Clinton rejected the notion that his wife, 2016 Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, provided any political favors to donors to their family foundation during her time as secretary of state. “She was pretty busy those years,” the former President said during an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union”.
Flanked by her husband and her daughter, Chelsea, Clinton delivered a speech on Roosevelt Island that focused on the economy, her résumé and her possible place in history as the successor to barrier-breaking President Obama.
Clinton used the first public rally of her presidential campaign to align herself with the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, saying she wanted to ease income inequality and would push for expanded paid family leave, universal preschool and other liberal priorities.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio skipped Clinton’s speech to attend a street-naming ceremony for a fallen police officer held 10 miles away in Brooklyn.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican who hasn’t yet entered the 2016 fray, said Clinton’s speech sounded like it was written by “liberal political consultants,” adding he doubts whether the former secretary of state knows the concerns of “real Americans.”
Foreign trips Christie took in the past several months as he has contemplated a run for president cost $124,000 in taxpayer-funded security expenses and photography, according to administration figures.
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush plans to formally launch his 2016 bid tomorrow. Today, he unveiled his campaign logo and a catchy video.
With tomorrow’s deadline looming, state legislators introduced three bills adjusting the 421-a tax abatement program and rent regulations affecting millions of tenants in New York City.
Nearly one third of the members of the state Assembly have signed onto a letter calling on their colleagues to let the 421-a tax abatement program expire if substantial changes are not made to New York City’s rent laws.
The New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board urged a state judge to compel the Staten Island district attorney to hand over the minutes of the grand jury proceedings in the death of Eric Garner.
Interviews and previously undisclosed documents obtained by The New York Times provide new details and a fresh understanding of how the seemingly routine police encounter that ended in Garner’s death began, how it hurtled toward its deadly conclusion and how the police and emergency medical workers responded.
The number of people employed by New York City taxpayers will reach a record high this month — 282,767.
Federal prosecutors mocked ex-state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s attempt to get his corruption charges dismissed, writing in court papers that the payments he received were kickbacks whether they were handed over as “cash in a suitcase or disguised as referral fees.”
Mayor Eric Garcetti signed into law on Saturday an ordinance that makes Los Angeles the biggest city in the nation to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Hiking the minimum wage to $15 an hour for food-service workers would boost paychecks in the city by $1.3 billion a year, a new analysis by NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer found.
A union representing SUNY police officers is claiming a not-yet-public draft of a bill addressing sexual assault on college campuses would require a $10 million state expenditure.
Though labor unions criticize the LLC loophole as a method for circumventing individual campaign contributions and call for its closure, they use affiliates to pump millions of dollars into the political system, creating a double standard – according to critics.
The local Democratic Party withdrew its support for Toby Shelley as a candidate for Onondaga County executive in response to comments about racial profiling attributed to Shelley in a recent newspaper interview.
In hopes of undercutting her Democratic opponent, Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney’s supporters are helping a third candidate for county executive, Baldwinsville resident Oscar Peterson, who is circulating petitions to challenge Shelley for the Conservative Party nomination.
Former LG Bob Duffy, now president and CEO of the Rochester Business Alliance, penned an OpEd in favor of making the property tax cap permanent.
Republican Albany County legislator Christine Benedict kicked off her campaign for town supervisor by focusing on the very topic challenger and current Supervisor Paula Mahan sites as her strongest asset — development.