Liz Benjamin

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Al Gore, who served two terms with former President Bill Clinton, politely but firmly declined to declare his support for Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, saying it’s still too early to be endorsing or picking a favorite.

Undefeated UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey is coming out swinging in support of Clinton’s Democratic primary opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

The Progressive Agenda, the nonprofit group launched by NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to advance his national political agenda, is canceling its plans for a presidential forum in Iowa next month.

At a meeting with Wall Street analysts today, the owners of FitzPatrick nuclear plant reiterated their plan to shut down the power plant by early 2017 and made no mention of any potential to reverse the decision.

Compassionate Care NY and the Drug Policy Alliance launched a billboard campaign to have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) added to the list of conditions covered by New York’s medical marijuana law.

Former Assembly ​S​peaker Sheldon Silver was so eager to receive the legal fees generated by asbestos victims that a top lawyer at the firm where the assemblyman was of counsel testified he had to personally deposit checks into Silver’s bank account.

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis will chair New York operations for Republican Marco Rubio’s presidential campaign.

De Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito attended a private meeting with a vocal Bronx community group that opposes plans already underway for a FreshDirect in the borough and has long demanded an audience with the mayor. The meeting did not appear on either of the two officials’ public schedules.

Federal prosecutors will not seek prison time for former state Senate Deputy Majority Leader Thomas Libous, citing a cancer expert who says he has a year or less to live.

Sen. Patty Ritchie said it’s “outrageous” that the city of Montreal plans to move ahead with a plan to dump about 2.1 billion gallons of raw sewage into the St. Lawrence River.

Lawyer Margaret Murphy is seen as a “superstar” by her fellow Democrats after she raised $100,000 for tonight’s Buffalo fundraiser for Clinton.

New York Medicaid Director Jason Helgerson was among nine public officials honored by Governing magazine as among the most “outstanding leaders in state and local government.”

If the DEC doesn’t approve permits soon, the proposed Constitution natural gas pipeline in the Southern Tier and Schoharie Valley could be delayed another year, the project’s developers say.

Department of Financial Services Acting Superintendent Anthony Albanese is offering up a plate of ideas for improved cyber-security among regulated industries such as banks.

Absentee ballots have been counted in the Broome County DA’s race, and Democrat Gerald Mollen, head of the state DA’s Association, has lost to his Republican challenger, Steve Cornwell.

Mollen’s loss means Rockland’s Thomas Zugibe will become head of the DA’s Association sooner than anticipated.

After an officer was badly slashed by inmates on Rikers Island last week, the union representing most Department of Correction employees is seeking a temporary restraining order in an effort to put a stop to a new use of force investigation policy at one of the island’s jails.

Two NYC Council communication directors will depart this week to join Marathon Strategies, a growing public relations and research firm in New York and Washington D.C.

Asked if his rival, Sen. Adriano Espaillat, should stop trying to run for the seat he’ll be vacating next year, Rep. Charlie Rangel replied: “Oh hell no. I just hope that he recognizes that he has to acknowledge that he’s not running for the Senate.”

A Troy man pleaded guilty to his involvement in a fatal accident that killed a well-known local environmental advocate, Amy Stock.

Multiple law enforcement and city and state consumer protection agencies jointly announced a broad-ranging indictment of nine fuel oil companies in a multi-year scheme to shortchange New York City residents, businesses and city agencies for the costs of heating oil to the tune of $18 million a year.

Seddio Remembers Lopez’s ‘Legacy’ (Updated)

Former Assemblyman Vito Lopez is being remembered today as a man who died under a cloud, a once powerful lawmaker who ruled the Brooklyn Democratic Party with an iron fist and chaired the influential Assembly Housing Committee, only to see his career come crashing down amid a sexual harassment scandal.

So firm was Lopez’s hold on his Democrat-dominated borough that elected officials and would-be elected officials alike would routinely make the pilgrimage to the taxpayer-funded Ridgewood-Bushwick Senior Center picnic he threw every year, and those with the power to do so approved hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of NYC and state member items that the assemblyman used to build his senior services empire.

Usually, the death of a political figure of the stature Lopez once enjoyed sparks an avalanche of statements from fellow pols, all expressing condolences to the family and singing the praises of the deceased. In this case, however, only former Assemblyman Frank Seddio, who took the reins of Brooklyn’s Democratic operation after Lopez fell from grace, has chosen to formally state his feelings regarding the disgraced late assemblyman.

Seddio said he had been friends with Lopez for over 30 years and was “saddened” by his death.

“His legacy is the work he did for the poorest residents of Bushwick and Ridgewood, where thousands of people live in affordable housing on lots that were once burned out and garbage-filled,” the chairman continued. “He was the foremost champion of affordable housing before it became the cause that it is today.”

“As he faces the judgment on the value of his life, my hope is that all the good work that he did will outweigh the unfortunate way in which his career ended.”

UPDATE: Statement No. 2 just landed in my inbox, it’s from Sen. Martin Malave Dilan, another Brooklyn Democrat:

“I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my friend Vito Lopez after a long, brave battle with cancer. What he accomplished for communities long underserved and overlooked should not be soon forgotten. He forever changed the face of the neighborhoods he represented and I am proud to have partnered with him on his vision. I will truly miss his friendship and my thoughts and prayers are with his loved ones today.”

1199 SEIU Losing Longtime Political Director

From the Morning Memo:

Kevin Finnegan, who has served as the political director for powerhouse health care workers union 1199 SEIU for the past seven years, confirmed yesterday that he plans to soon leave the post, but won’t depart until after his replacement is found and settled into the job.

Finnegan said he will return to the New York City law firm where he is a partner, Levy Ratner, which specializes in labor issues, but he has no idea exactly when his last day on the job with 1199 will be.

“I’ve been thinking about leaving and talking about leaving for the past two years,” Finnegan said during a brief phone interview. “I just want to move on.”

“But I’ll stay around as long as they need me, and I’m not going far…I expect, depending on who they finally decide on, that I may be spending just as much time in Albany as I usually do – at least this year.”

Finnegan long served as the general counsel to the labor-backed Working Families Party, and served several times as the party’s placeholder candidate for NYC mayor while officials worked out their endorsement issues. He said he remains particularly dedicated to the “Fight for $15″ campaign, and will see it through – either from his current post with 1199, or from his law firm. More >

Gibson: DFS Probe of Health Republic ‘Not Satisfactory’

From the Morning Memo:

The state Department of Financial Services investigation into the imminent demise of the Health Republic co-op is a good first step, Rep. Chris Gibson says, but does not replace the need for an independent, outside review of the type he first called for last week.

“It’s not satisfactory in my view,” the Republican congressman said during a CapTon interview last night. “The fact that DFS is looking into Health Republic makes sense to me, and that’s part of their responsibilities, but we need to know more than that…Given the gravity of this situation, there needs to be an independent review of the oversight responsibilities here.”

During a conference call with reporters last week, Gibson asked state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to look into Health Republic’s financial woes, which are causing the shutdown of the nation’s largest health care insurance co-op, leaving some 200,000 New Yorkers – including 20,000 of his constituents – scrambling for coverage.

Asked whether DiNapoli will heed the congressman’s call, a spokesman said the comptroller’s office is “closely monitoring state and federal inquiries into this matter,” adding: “We’ve communicated with federal officials and stand ready to assist.”

The Cuomo administration announced over the weekend that the deadline for those impacted by Health Republic’s closure to sign up for new coverage has been extended to Nov. 30, and DFS will be examining how this mess came to be. More >

Here and Now (Updated)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City. Today is NOT Veterans Day; it’s tomorrow. Sorry for the early morning confusion.

Democratic 2016 frontrunner Hillary Clinton is in Buffalo tonight for a fund-raiser at the Hyatt Regency that is on track to be the most lucrative presidential cash-raising event in WNY history.

The Senate Republicans are meeting today in Albany for a pre-2016 session organizational meeting.

The GOP 2016 hopefuls debate again tonight, this time in Wisconsin.

The 70th Annual Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner takes place tonight in Manhattan. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will among the many attendees.

A full list of the day’s events appears at the end of this post.


In one of her most significant actions as state education commissioner, MaryEllen Elia has granted Buffalo Superintendent Kriner Cash unprecedented power to make changes at the district’s most struggling schools, bypassing the teachers union contract and sparking a likely court battle.

New York motorists can thank the alleged misdeeds of big financial institutions for a decision by the Thruway Authority to freeze tolls along the statewide highway system during 2016.

The Thruway Authority announced that a new task force will examine whether to raise tolls for the crossing that is being built to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge.

In testimony during former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s corruption trial in lower Manhattan yesterday, prosecutors produced a document from January 2004, requesting a $250,000 grant for a mesothelioma research center out of Columbia University run by Dr. Robert Taub. More here and here.

Deputy Assembly Budget Director Victor Franco testified he would “hide” public money Silver allocated to himself from a spreadsheet listing allocations to all members of the Assembly, as was standard at the time.

Silver’s alleged scheme to use his public post to enrich himself started rolling when a cancer doctor poached a client for him from another lawmaker who considered the now-tainted speaker a friend, according to evidence introduced the assemblyman’s trial.

The judge overseeing the corruption case of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, in Federal District Court in Manhattan indicated during a pretrial hearing that she was inclined to allow prosecutors to present certain wiretapped conversations at trial.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano’s heavily redacted public calendar shows no local appearances on dates that travel records obtained by Newsday indicate he was scheduled to take vacations arranged and paid for by indicted restaurateur Harendra Singh.

Albany County is the fifth local government in the state to ban the sale of personal care products containing microbeads, tiny abrasive plastic beads common in toothpaste and cosmetics that wash into the nation’s waterways.

New York received a D- in the Center for Public Integrity’s state integrity rankings for 2015. The numeric score of 61 the Empire State received ties it for 30th on the list, which is part of the Washington D.C.-based organization’s State Integrity Investigation.

A giant indoor marijuana farm is up and running in Long Island City, Queens, the most tangible sign yet that the state’s new medical marijuana law is about to take effect.

The state’s education lobby is calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers to allocate an additional $2.2 billion next year for the schools — an increase the groups claim is necessary due to the state’s efforts to constrain property taxes.

Members of the public spoke before representatives of the governor’s Common Core Task Force during a listening session at Binghamton University last night – one of 10 regional sessions that were organized to receive public input on the controversial curriculum, which New York adopted in 2010.

Democratic 2016 frontrunner Hillary Clinton held three rallies in New Hampshire after she officially filed for the state’s first-in-the-nation presidential primary.

More >


Democrat Hillary Clinton made it official today in Concord, NH, when she filed for the state’s first-in-the-nation 2016 presidential primary.

Interest in Clinton’s Buffalo fundraiser tomorrow has been so high that organizers had to move the event to a bigger room at the Hyatt Regency, and now expect to raise at least $300,000.

In 2012, while Clinton was finishing her last full year as secretary of state, aides kept her abreast of stories about Cuomo’s potential presidential ambitions, according to recently released emails.

The political arm of the League of Conservation Voters endorsed Clinton, calling her “the most effective leader to stand up to Big Polluters and push forward an aggressive plan to tackle climate change and get it done.”

Clinton’s primary opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, filed a bill that would allow states to end their marijuana prohibitions without federal government interference, the acting administrator of the DEA called the plant “bad” and “dangerous.”

Rookie Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Long Island Republican, turned out to be the only member of New York’s congressional delegation from either party to vote against the deal that ended Washington’s latest fiscal drama.

New Yorkers who are frustrated with homeless people begging on city streets should stop giving them money, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said.

Federal prosecutors say there was no such thing as a “wall” between former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and clients at Ruskin, Moscou Faltischek, the Long Island law firm that employed him, despite claims to the contrary.

In order to replace retiring Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and avoid a vacancy for the next court term, the governor would have to nominate a candidate, and the full Senate would have to return to Albany prior to the start of the 2016 session.

The federal judge in the upcoming corruption trial of Skelos and his son, Adam, said she expects to admit evidence that the two strategized about using questions about the finances of Cuomo’s girlfriend to weaken him in budget talks.

A Rich Products subsidiary that oversees Buffalo Bisons events was selected by Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. to manage programming on the Outer Harbor for the next three years.

Proposed changes to a property-tax break called 421-a—most notably a requirement that all developers include affordable housing in new projects receiving the benefit—would not stifle construction activity in New York City, according to a study released today.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and members of New York’s congressional delegation are calling on House Speaker Paul Ryan to convince the Republican House majority to permanently extend the 2010 Zadroga Act.

Al DelBello, who spent 20 years in elected office before becoming a private sector power broker, should have his name added to the Westchester County Airport, one county lawmaker says.

Cognizant of the need to protect Thoroughbred race horses from cardiac related deaths, the state Gaming Commission is rolling out portable equine heart monitors.

Developer Extell has put up for sale a block of 38 rental apartments in One57, the 1,004-foot-high tower on West 57th Street ranked as the city’s most expensive condominium. The price: about $250 million.

A company that has long sought to convert salt caverns on the shoreline of Seneca Lake into a storage facility for liquefied petroleum gas is celebrating last Tuesday’s election results, arguing they’re a rebuke of environmental activists that have intensely fought the project.

The head of Simmons Machine Tool Corp. worries the company is in danger of losing a contract to make equipment for the Metro-North Railroad, which would give his out-of-state competitors an edge in winning more business in the future.

A Syracuse surgeon says he treated John Lennon the night the iconic singer was fatally shot, but others have for years taken the credit for trying to save his life.

A University of Virginia fraternity has sued Rolling Stone magazine for $25 million in damages over a discredited article about a 2012 gang rape at the fraternity.

Six world championship belts were stolen from the International Boxing Hall of Fame last week, according to Canastota Village Police.

Here and Now

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

At 9:30 a.m., NYC Deputy Mayor Richard Buery and Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan, Education Committee chair, visit P.S. 88 Seneca Pre-K, 60-85 Catalpa Ave., Ridgewood, Queens.

At 10 a.m., Brooklyn BP Eric Adams will honor Brooklyn’s military heroes at his “Start Strong, Finish Strong” resource fair for veterans, organized in partnership with United States Army Garrison Fort Hamilton and others, Brooklyn Borough Hall courtroom, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

At 10:30 a.m., education groups hold a press conference outlining their funding request for the 2016-17 budget, Albany.

At 11 a.m., state Division of Veterans Affairs Director Eric Hesse and Major General Patrick Murphy, the adjutant general of New York, open an exhibit posthumously honoring an Albany resident (Henry Johnson) awarded the Medal of Honor this year, War Room, second floor, state Capitol.

At 11:30 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a media availability on the Zadroga Act, City Hall Plaza, Manhattan.

At noon, NYC Public Advocate Tish James announces measures to expand affordability of child care, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at noon, Crain’s New York Business honors former LG Richard Ravitch, Maimonides Medical Center’s Pamela Brier, The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Emily Rafferty and others at its Hall of Fame Luncheon, Plaza Hotel, 768 Fifth Ave., Manhattan.

At 12:15 p.m., Rep. Kathleen Rice, US Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, Nassau-Suffolk Building and Construction Trades Council President Dick O’Kane, and Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano will hold a media availability to discuss the importance of apprenticeship programs, Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant administrative building, substation #4, East Rockaway.

At 1 p.m., the Thruway Authority Board meets, Thruway Authority headquarters, 200 Southern Blvd., Albany.

Also at 1 p.m., the NYC correction officers union will hold a press conference “following the vicious attack on a correction officer by two Rikers inmates,” City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 3 p.m., Sen. Terrence Murphy kicks off a Cell Phone for Soldiers drive in partnership with AT&T and United for the Troops, 691 E. Main St., Shrub Oak.

At 5 p.m., environmental activists speak before the Albany County Legislature’s scheduled vote on a local microbeads ban, Albany County Courthouse Lobby, 16 Eagle St., Albany.

At 6 p.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina delivers remarks at pre-K family forum, Children’s Museum of Manhattan, 212 West 83rd St., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., Manhattan BP Gale Brewer speaks at a New York Historical Society program and reception for “Debt of Honor,” New York Historical Society, W. 77th St., Manhattan.

Also at 7 p.m., NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer and Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal will co-host a town hall meeting, Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center, West 65th Street, Manhattan.

At 7:30 p.m., Rep. Grace Meng holds a forum on efforts to recover valuable artwork stolen from victims of the Holocaust, Jewish Center of Kew Gardens Hills, 71-25 Main St., Kew Gardens Hills, Queens.


Ken Lovett: “Hard-charging US Attorney Preet Bharara’s crusading reputation could take a major hit if his office can’t win convictions against (former Assembly Speaker Sheldon) Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, whose separate corruption trial is set to begin Nov. 16.”

Fred Dicker: “(NYC Mayor Bill) de Blasio is so reviled across the state that Senate Republicans are planning to use criticism against Hizzoner to boost their candidates in next year’s campaigns — and they’ll use critiques leveled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to help demonize him.”

Assemblyman Ron Kim helped craft a bill protecting nail salon workers from labor abuses and potentially dangerous chemicals, but now – after receiving tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions from salon owners – opposes it.

The NYT editorial board singles out two of the seven candidates to replace outgoing Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman – Gail Prudenti and Caitlin Halligan – saying they “stand out” from a list of “highly capable” and “well-respected” lawyers.

Democratic 2016 frontrunner Hillary Clinton is expected to take in at least $250,000 during a brief fundraising visit to Buffalo tomorrow.

Cuomo has pushed the legislature to enact a series of ethics reforms in response to scandals and public pressure, but public integrity in New York is worse today than it was three years ago, according to a new 50-state analysis.

The state is extending the deadline for Health Republic customers to sign up for a new insurance plan following the health insurance co-op’s collapse and ordered shutdown by state and federal regulators.

Also, the Department of Financial Services announced it is investigating the failed co-op’s financial reports to the agency.

The gun used to kill Police Officer Randolph Holder in East Harlem is the former service weapon of an ex-South Carolina state trooper who reported it stolen from his car in 2011 — just four months after he got it back following another theft.

In response to the killing of Holder, Brooklyn Sen. Marty Golden, an ex-NYPD officer, has introduced a bill to make it harder for career criminals to get into diversion programs.

De Blasio’s pre-school-for-all push has been so successful it is putting a financial crunch on pricey private schools, according to a new report.

The expiration of key parts of the Zadroga Act protecting the health care of 9/11 first responders is a “moral outrage,” US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” She accused some lawmakers of “putting politics before people” by failing to renew funding for treatment centers dedicated to those who worked at Ground Zero.

More >

The Weekend That Was

Vice President Joe Biden is coming back to New York. He’ll visit Syracuse University on Thursday to deliver remarks at an event aimed at raising awareness about sexual assaults on college campuses.

Anonymous Cuomo aides say the governor’s top priority is being anti-NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, and he has even buried the hatchet with his erstwhile Democratic frenemies, AG Eric Schneiderman and state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

After coming under fire for making himself scarce to the press, de Blasio acknowledged he was engaging in a new media strategy that would sometimes involve less accessibility to reporters.

Tom Wrobleski: “The fact is, de Blasio has treated the press with contempt since Day One. It’s about time we all got fed up with it.”

People with AIDS and parents of children with severe epilepsy are pressuring Cuomo to sign legislation giving critically ill patients early access to medical marijuana before New York’s new medical cannabis program begins.

The latest plan to fix health care in Brooklyn was to tap a Cuomo insider: James Introne, a former state deputy secretary of health who retired in June 2013. A DOH spokesperson said Introne was hired to help manage “the transformation of the health care system in central and eastern Brooklyn.”

De Blasio’s spokeswoman Karen Hinton told the DN that the mayor has ordered a total overhaul of the entire referral process to make it faster and easier for NYCHA to evict or exclude residents who are committing crimes on authority properties.

Relying on the secrecy of limited liability companies, white-collar thieves are targeting pockets of New York City for fraudulent deed transfers, leaving the victims groping for redress.

NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito says she’s prepared to engage in civil disobedience while pushing the federal government to assist Puerto Rico with its fiscal crisis and that such a strategy may make sense.

Speaking a day after he returned from Puerto Rico, de Blasio blasted “vulture hedge funders” who he said were part of the reason the embattled island was in such dire financial straights.

Since taking over as the third president of PEF in four years, Wayne Spence has been busy putting out fires and quelling intra-union battles.

From fights over turf to competition for doctors, patients and money, Kaleida Health and Catholic Health are locked in a fierce fight for Western New York supremacy.

Rep. John Katko ranks among the 10 most vulnerable House members in the 2016 election, and his bid for re-election is considered a “tossup” against a Democratic opponent, according to Roll Call.

After almost three years as Staten Islanders’ liaison to the governor’s office, Paul Duffy has left the role. He is the new law secretary for Surrogate’s Court Judge Hon. Robert Gigante.

In 2013, Oyster Bay Town Republican Supervisor John Venditto defeated his Democratic opponent in a landslide with 70.4 percent of the vote. That sense of invincibility vanished last week, when Bayville attorney John Mangelli, a virtual unknown running on the Democratic line, ended election night 68 votes ahead of the nine-term incumbent.

Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. is giving out grants, from $808 million worth of criminal penalties against three international banks, for public and private criminal justice programs in New York and around the nation.

New York, New Jersey, the Port Authority and federal officials are reportedly now hammering out a framework for a new entity dedicated solely to building a new rail tunnel connecting New Jersey commuters to their jobs in midtown Manhattan.

The Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority stands to lose about $3.6 million a year in federal funding – and agencies statewide would lose $100 million – thanks to a little-noticed amendment to a House transportation bill that passed last week.

Bob McCarthy notes the highlights of the not-so-boring 2015 elections in Western New York.

Kyle Smith: “We take the corruption for granted, and always have. Shame on us. Every time Albany announces its annual budget, you should be studying it as carefully as you’d study your ex’s face at the class reunion.”

The Staten Island Advance says an idea that was considered politically unthinkable just a few years ago when then-NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg proposed it has quietly gained well-deserved support among elected officials whose influence is needed to help it move forward.

Columnist Sean Kirst bids goodbye to the Syracuse Post-Standard – and his loyal readers – after working there for 27 years.

Republican Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney believes party politics do not matter so much at the local level. Her re-election last Tuesday with almost 60 percent of the vote may prove it.

A female FDNY recruit has graduated from the Fire Academy after her instructors fudged on her strength, agility and running requirements, insiders say.

Former North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan endorsed Clinton in Rock Hill, SC when the National Federation of Democratic Women met.

Clinton declared her support Saturday for loosening regulations on marijuana and reclassifying the drug as a Schedule 2 substance, citing the benefits it could pose for medical research.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio’s campaign released statements for his Republican Party-issued card, hoping to quiet accusations that the GOP 2016 hopeful used party money to pay for trips, meals and gifts for him and his family.

Republican 2016 candidate Donald Trump gave “Saturday Night Live” viewers a glimpse of all the winning that would happen if he’s elected. He poked fun at his insult-laden Twitter feed. He danced in an imitation Drake music video. And Larry David called him a racist.

Opponents of Glen Cove’s huge waterfront redevelopment have filed suit to delay the proposal, alleging the city planning board broke state law by not requiring new environmental studies of what had primarily been industrial land.

A state appellate court panel has upheld a lower court’s decision to toss a lawsuit brought by conservative activist Robert Schulz that attempted to shape the makeup of a state constitutional convention — if the people of New York ever decide to hold another one, that is.


TransCanada pledged to seek another permit for its Keystone XL pipeline after the Obama administration rejected the project, ending a seven-year review that had become a flash point in the debate over his climate policies.

Disgraced former Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith surrendered to prison today in rural Pennsylvania after a failed bid to stay out of jail pending appeal of his corruption conviction.

Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. wants to run for the NYC Council in 2017.

Gerald Mollen, the Broome County district attorney and head of the state District Attorneys Association, is on the brink of losing his re-election in a closely contested race, resulting in a possible vacancy in the association’s top leadership position.

The US intelligence community reportedly has retreated from claims that two emails in Democratic 2016 frontrunner Hillary Clinton’s private account contained top secret information.

The US Supreme Court agreed to take up the case of the Little Sisters of the Poor, a group of Catholic nuns facing tens of millions of dollars in IRS fines because they cannot, according to their faith, include contraceptives in their employee health plan.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio struck back at claims made by the US Justice Department that the policy of clearing homelessness encampments – one pursued by the NYPD and other local law enforcement agencies nationwide – may be unconstitutional.

Joyce Mitchell, the former Clinton Correctional Facility worker who pleaded guilty to aiding the escape of two inmates in June, will also have to pay nearly $80,000 in restitution.

The State Assembly’s Republicans are planning to return to the Capitol later this month, and they’re asking Democratic Speaker Carl Heastie to gavel the chamber into a formal session to consider several outstanding bills.

Citing the recent deaths of police officers in the line of duty, Pat Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said a draft contract proposal is an insult to the men and women of the NYPD that he represents.

Veteran Cuomo aide Joe Rabito, currently one of three deputy directors of state operations, is set to succeed Bob Megna as executive director of the Thruway Authority.

Two big snowflakes show up on the map that a society of the nation’s meteorologists compiled to illustrate the most extreme winter weather on earth during 2014. Over the Himalayas – and Buffalo.

Rep. Louise Slaughter has launched a new campaign website for her planned 2016 run.

NJ Gov. Chris Christie’s supporters are attacking the poll selection process used to determine which Republican presidential candidates will make the main GOP debate stage Tuesday, but argue that he’ll still shine in the undercard forum.

The state Teachers Retirement System expects to lower pension costs by 13.96 percent for school districts, the second straight year of declines, as a result of favorable investment returns.

Rep. John Katko says his favorite movie is “Dumb & Dumber” because he loves to laugh.

Katko is the only New Yorker on Roll Call’s list of the Top 10 most vulnerable House members headed into 2016.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg will run millions of dollars in political television ads against four state attorneys general who are suing the Obama administration over new regulations on carbon emissions from power plants.

Two new apple varieties developed at Cornell – the SnapDragon and the RubyFrost – are now hitting the market.

NYSUT All In On Fight for $15

From the Morning Memo:

The statewide teacher’s union, NYSUT, is doubling down on its support for a statewide $15-an-hour minimum wage boost, even as school business officials warn that the increase would put districts in a financial bind and could even cost jobs.

“Unions and coalition groups across New York State have announced a push for $15 for all workers. It is essential that we all stand together and show our solidarity,” the union wrote to its members in an “action” notice on its website. “Join NYSUT’s $15 for Everyone movement!”

NYSUT is planning a series of “$15 for Everyone” rallies across the state next Tuesday, with events scheduled for Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, New York City, Binghamton, Poughkeepsie and Kingston.

The state Association of School Business Officials recently said that while the governor’s minimum wage push is well meaning, it could put added pressure on already cash-strapped districts, which employ thousands of minimum wage workers and have difficulty raising revenue on their own thanks to the tax cap.

A statewide minimum wage increase would cost districts an estimated $276 million, according to the association, which surveyed its members on the subject.

That would translated into an average property tax hike of 2.6 percent – unless the state ponies up more education aid to help districts cover the additional cost.

Increasing aid – specifically through finally fully funding the CFE settlement – is exactly what NYSUT wants to see the state do, according to union spokesman Carl Korn.

NYSUT would also like the Cuomo administration to relent on the issue of the tax cap, approving changes that make it easier for districts to break it if necessary without requiring approval from a supermajority of voters.

“Depending on how you do the math, they’re approximately $5 billion behind in funding CFE,” Korn said. “And the tax cap has proved not only undemocratic but unworkable. It strips away local control from New Yorkers who may want to invest more in their schools and in the people who are the foundation of their schools.” More >