Liz Benjamin

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Homepage: http://nystateofpolitics.com


Posts by Liz Benjamin

Extras

Federal regulators have signed off on an initial permit for a proposed pipeline that would feed a natural gas-fired power plant caught up in U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s latest probe.

The director of the F.B.I. said that he would not be rushed into finishing his agency’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails on an election timetable. And he would not say whether the inquiry would be wrapped up by the November presidential election.

Long Island Republican Sen. Tom Crocci has introduced a bill that would increase legislative oversight of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s appointees to regional economic-development councils which have handed out billions of dollars in state aid.

Donald Trump said he’s thinking about setting up an investigative commission in the wake of his proposal to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States, and floated former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani as someone who might lead it.

Anna Kaplan one of five Democrats seeking to replace retiring Rep. Steve Israel, is launching her first TV ad tomorrow, saying her immigrant background makes her the best candidate to take on Donald Trump’s “hateful” stand on immigration.

Rus Thompson, the political activist from Grand Island, is accused of voter fraud in connection with the town’s September primary for supervisor and Town Board.

Cuomo today announced that the first school district funding requests from the $2 billion Smart Schools Bond Act, passed in 2014, have been approved.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio fielded more than two hours’ worth of questions at a town hall meeting in the Bronx last night – his first in the borough, and home to Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., who is mentioned as a possible de Blasio challenger in 2017.

Media giant Bloomberg gave $361,675 to the campaign fighting to keep Britain in the European Union, according to a watchdog that regulates election financing.

Political insiders say Republican Nassau Comptroller George Maragos has met with Nassau Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs about the possibility of running for county executive as a Democrat next year — though neither will confirm the discussions.

Cuomo announced the beginning of the suspension process for 575 New York-registered vehicles as part of the state’s crackdown on persistent toll violators.

The unemployed coal miner who confronted Clinton was proud of the voice he was able to provide for West Virginia during its week in the national political spotlight. (For the record, he didn’t vote for her).

A growing middle class, along with aging baby-boomers, is fleeing New York, state and federal records reviewed by Gannett New York showed.

Syracuse athletic director Mark Coyle stunned members of the Syracuse athletic department by leaving the school after less than a year in charge. He’s taking a position at Minnesota for “family reasons.”

Ride-sharing services Uber and Lyft this week showed reluctance to subject drivers to government mandated background checks. As New York considers allowing such services, that reluctance could have a ripple effect.

More than a year has passed since the Lancaster School District stopped being the Redskins. The schools’ sports teams and mascot are now the Legends. But the hostile divide over the mascot change has never been bridged.

The New York Times reviews “Weiner,” a documentary about former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s failed attempt at a political comeback by running for NYC mayor in 2013.

Shark Girl is back.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule. The Legislature is in session in Albany. (It’s a “getaway” day).

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump makes a stop on Long Island today, while his Democratic counterpart, Hillary Clinton, campaigns in New Jersey.

NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray is in Washington, D.C. and meeting with members of congress to discuss mental health. She will also lead a panel discussion on children’s mental health with Reps. Grace Napolitano and John Katko.

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

Headlines…

Donald Trump, fresh off claiming delegates in the West Virginia and Nebraska primaries yesterday, will drop in on Long Island for the third time in about a month, headlining a $200-a-plate fundraiser tonight for Nassau Republicans.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders celebrated his West Virginia primary win at a rally is Oregon, telling supporters: “We are going to fight for every last vote,” and vowing to take his campaign to the party’s convention in Philadelphia in July.

VP Joe Biden says he’s “confident” that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic nominee for president, and also will win the general election.

Two state agencies that supported and provided key approvals for state energy projects involved in a federal investigation into improper lobbying and undisclosed conflicts of interest – NYSERDA and the PSC – have been subpoenaed as part of the probe.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio stepped up his effort to discredit investigators who asked prosecutors to probe his fundraising tactics—and leaked their memo on the subject. But he stopped short of publicly fingering Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

A defiant de Blasio said he doesn’t care that JCOPE is taking his now defunct political nonprofit group to court for not cooperating in its probe. “They want to go to court, they can go to court,” the mayor told reporters.

A senior member of de Blasio’s administration was involved in talks with a private nursing-care company about the fate of a Lower East Side health-care facility as far back as 2014, according to emails and people familiar with the matter.

Cuomo said he doesn’t regret failing to ask his former top aide Joe Percoco to identify the private consulting clients he worked for during the seven months he was away from the Executive Chamber in 2014 — the same period in which Percoco was serving as the campaign manager of the governor’s re-election effort.

“If you’re a state employee, you know the ethics rules,” Cuomo said. “You know the legal regulations. The onus is on you to follow them, not for you to be questioned and then follow them.”

Percoco, whose sources of income after he left government are a key question in the federal probe, left the public payroll just as he and his wife were undertaking upgrades on their Westchester home, and has a permit to construct a home theater.

The governor said he has not been subpoenaed personally in the Buffalo Billion probe, but will cooperate “100 percent” with U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s investigation.

Cuomo sought to distance himself from lobbyist Todd Howe, who has long-standing ties to the Cuomo family and is at the center of Bharara’s probe, insisting Howe was mere a casual acquaintance whom he knew mainly though political events. “I wouldn’t call us close friends,” the governor said. “He worked for the state for a number of years, but I had no knowledge of his personal situation.”

Federal investigators are seeking information from the Cuomo administration on two companies represented by Howe: STV Group, a Manhattan engineering and architectural consulting and design firm; and 3Gi Terminals LLC, a Syracuse intermodal infrastructure company seeking to create an “inland port” in the area.

The NY Post says the Buffalo Billion scandal may turn out to be Cuomo’s version of the Bridgegate mess that scuttled NJ Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential aspirations.

A federal judge ruled that prosecutors must release a list of people who were believed to have been connected to plans to close New Jersey approach lanes to the George Washington Bridge in 2013 but who were not charged with a crime.

Cuomo said he would not defend a state law that excludes farmworkers from the right to unionize, hours after the state was sued by a dairy worker who claimed he had been fired for meeting with labor organizers.

Donna Lieberman, the executive director of the civil liberties organization that brought the suit, said it was now looking forward to achieving a court-ordered settlement to establish protections allowing farmworkers to organize.

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Extras

Neither Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz nor U.S. Rep. Hakeem Jeffries would say today if they plan to back NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s eventual reelection bid, as investigations into the mayor’s fundraising practices continue to unfold.

Jeffries called for the Democratic National Committee to give Gov. Andrew Cuomo a chance to address the nation at its convention in July, despite an escalating Justice Department investigation into one of the governor’s key economic development initiatives and one of his closest aides.

Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are running neck and neck in the key swing states of Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, according to a Quinnipiac University survey released today.

UFO enthusiasts have declared Clinton the first “E.T. candidate.” Despite her trademark caution, she has shown surprising ease plunging into the discussion of the possibility of extraterrestrial beings.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg: “Trump marches to his own drummer it would seem, and so far, that drummer has been playing the right tune to get him this far.”

London Mayor Sadiq Khan slammed Trump’s “ignorant” view of Islam, after the Republican presidential contender suggested Khan could be exempted from a proposed temporary ban on Muslims entering the U.S.

Sheri Lederman, the Great Neck, Long Island teacher who went to court last year to fight the state’s test-score-based teacher evaluation system has won part of her case.

Absentee ballots have been counted, and confirm incumbent Carl Paladino as the winner of the Park District Buffalo School Board seat by a 132-vote margin. Paladino widened his 107-vote margin from last week’s election by picking up 89 absentee ballots while Hutch Tech senior Austin Harig got 64.

Court delays in the Bronx — so troublesome that state officials had to create special courts to clear a backlog of felony cases — remain unresolved and have “fatally undermined the right to trial” for tens of thousands of people charged each year with low-level offenses, according to a lawsuit filed today.

Even as investors bailed out on SolarCity after the company’s latest earnings disappointment, top state officials remained confident their $750 million bet on the solar energy systems installer will pay off for the Buffalo Niagara region.

Long Island Republican Sen. Carl Marcellino said he’s running for re-election, squelching scuttlebutt that he would retire.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand appeared in her first Democratic primary season TV ad on behalf of NY-1 candidate Anna Throne-Holst.

NY-3 Democratic contender Steve Stern attacked his primary foe, former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, for in the past backing taxpayer funded “abstinence only” birth control education.

Cuomo announced completion of a years-long effort to buy and preserve 69,000 acres of timber lands in the heart of the Adirondacks. The land was originally held by the Finch, Pruyn paper company and was transferred to the Nature Conservancy which has been selling the land to the state in portions.

The Apollo Theater, a Harlem institution since the early part of the 20th century, has tapped a standard-bearer for the hip-hop generation to serve as its next executive producer.

The Point on Saranac Lake – a 75-acre, all-inclusive resort – made Conde Nast Traveler’s list of where to see the world’s best sunsets.

At a time when state taxes from traditional gambling like lotteries and casinos are flat or declining, a majority of states are now seeking to regulate — and possibly raise revenue from — daily fantasy sports sites.

The state’s beekeepers produced 3.6 million pounds of honey in 2015 — an increase of 9 percent over the previous year’s total, according to statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Essex County.

The Legislature is in session in Albany.

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

Headlines…

JCOPE asked a court to compel the Campaign for One New York, a political nonprofit connected to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, to hand over documents related to its lobbying and fund-raising activities after the group’s lawyer declared last week that he would not comply with the panel’s subpoena.

Disclosure forms filed by the Campaign For One New York show it accepted numerous contributions from companies that did business with the city or wanted something from his administration. Investigators want to know if donors received preferential treatment from the city in exchange for contributions to the group, which was created to promote the mayor’s policy agenda.

Despite the mayor’s claims to the contrary, City & State found some details of his nonprofit groups and their interactions with City Hall remain private or virtually inaccessible to the public, and oversight of them appears muddled with largely voluntary compliance.

A Long Island Republican wants the state Board of Elections to expand an investigation into the use of county party committees by de Blasio and his team to help Senate Democratic candidates in 2014.

Peter Cutler, a longtime Democratic Party insider in Erie County and former Cuomo administration aide, says he has been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors looking into the expanding Buffalo Billion economic development investigation, and plans to cooperate fully with the probe.

In a statement, Cuomo’s counsel said the governor has “full confidence” in three top-level staffers subpoenaed by the U.S. attorney’s office – Bill Mulrow, Jim Malatras and Andrew Kennedy – calling them “nothing more than victims or witnesses to a potential crime.” The statement didn’t mention ex-top Cuomo aide Joe Percoco or two other officials named in the subpoena: Cutler and NYPA President and CEO Gil Quiniones.

In 2013, William Eimicke, a Columbia University professor and former aide to then-Gov. Mario Cuomo, joined a key contracting board controlled by SUNY Polytechnic Institute. The same year, he served as a paid consultant to COR Development, a Syracuse-area developer that sought and received a lucrative contract from a closely related board.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli said the state needs more accountability when giving out economic development funds, noting this year’s budget again relies heavily on lump sum appropriations that have little oversight regarding their allocation.

Watertown officials say the federal investigation of Syracuse-based COR Development Co. and its partners involved with redeveloping the former Mercy hospital site shouldn’t interfere with the project’s schedule.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced that Renssealer County District Attorney Joel Abelove, who had been handling the inquiry into a fatal police shooting of an African-American man in Troy, would step aside, clearing the way for the AG’s office to investigate the case.

For the first time, New York City is explicitly prohibiting restaurants and bars from refusing alcoholic drink orders to mothers-to-be, with new guidelines that say doing so would represent discrimination under the city’s Human Rights Law.

A political organization funded by a top hotel-trades union has helped develop the Share Better campaign – a multifaceted lobbying effort to persuade New York City politicians to curtail Airbnb, according to emails and records reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Facing numerous investigations into his administration and campaign, de Blasio announced that the city will attempt to make services more accessible to its citizens by retooling its websites.

Bertha Lewis, a black activist with deep ties to de Blasio, is giving a civic award to NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, raising eyebrows in political circles because Stringer is being mentioned as a possible challenger to the mayor’s 2017 re-election.

More >

Extras

Presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump has tapped his erstwhile opponent-turned-supporter, NJ Gov. Chris Christie, to lead his transition team if he wins the presidential election.

The U.S. Justice Department filed a lawsuit charging that North Carolina’s bathroom law violates federal civil-rights law – a move that came hours after the state’s officials filed their own suit saying the department was trying to rewrite national law by attacking them.

The U.S. Department of Education released a resource guide today to give colleges and universities alternatives to asking for criminal history on college applications – a question that has been shown to prevent an estimated 70 million citizens from pursing higher education.

Rep. John Katko stands out among House members elected to Congress in 2014 for his reliance on campaign contributions from special interest groups, according to an analysis by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. He ranks 7th among 58 new House members for the amount of PAC cash he received last year.

Steven Croman, who owns more than 140 Manhattan apartment buildings, has been accused in a lawsuit of harassing his tenants and has been a regular on “worst landlords” lists, was charged today with 20 felonies.

One year after launching a task force to look into abusive work conditions in nail salons throughout the state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered the payment of $2 million to hundreds of workers who have been denied overtime and paid less than minimum wage.

Evangelist Franklin Graham hit back at New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent call for New Yorkers to essentially boycott popular fast food chain Chick-fil-A over the company’s stance on marriage, saying the mayor’s comments sounded like “bullying” and “intolerance.”

Under Cuomo, New York is in a close race with California in setting ambitious climate goals, and in some ways, may be on the verge of pulling ahead of its West Coast rival.

Several defects — though only one considered critical — were found during recent railroad track inspections in the Hudson Valley between Albany and Rockland County.

Filmmaker Michael Moore, a liberal activist and avowed supporter of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, says he’ll support Hillary Clinton if she’s the Democratic presidential nominee.

Clinton only needs 17 percent of the remaining available convention delegates to clinch the Democratic nomination.

Bradley Tusk, who ran ex-NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s 2009 re-election campaign, says he feels “forced” to vote for Clinton, though he doesn’t really want to, because he doesn’t think Trump would be a good choice for president.

Syracuse native and Syracuse University alumna Megyn Kelly offered a preview of her highly-anticipated interview of Trump, which will air May 17, and also revealed the emotional toll the candidate’s attacks and death threats from his supporters took on her.

Julia Ioffe has filed a report with the D.C. police department over the anti-Semitic threats that she received — many from apparent Trump supporters — after writing a penetrating profile of Melania Trump in GQ.

Republican Assemblyman Jim Tedisco plans to announce Thursday his candidacy for the state Senate seat being vacated by longtime Republican Sen. Hugh Farley.

Suffolk County Sheriff Vincent DeMarco writes in a Newsday OpEd that it’s time for scandal-scarred Suffolk County DA Thomas Spota to step down, saying he was “well-intentioned” when he took office, but “became part of the culture he sought to replace.”

Ever since Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms Park opened on Roosevelt Island four years ago, City Hall has been arguing with the nonprofit group that built and runs the park over whether it is fully accessible to the disabled. The little-known dispute has now reached an impasse.

Environmental advocates are calling on state lawmakers to use the final six weeks of the session to develop and pass legislation requiring lead and copper water testing at the tap in New York schools and, if necessary, remediation of contamination.

Fayetteville is considering a proposal that would allow village residents to keep chickens on their property – in part to help reduce the local tick population.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City and Albany with no public schedule. The Legislature is in session in Albany, (Assembly at 2 p.m., Senate at 3 p.m.)

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

Headlines…

Cash-strapped ex-Cuomo aide Joe Percoco, now at the center of a federal corruption probe, submitted resignation papers when he left the public payroll to run the governor’s re-election campaign, but then didn’t go through with leaving, making his decision to take private consulting clients problematic upon his return.

Citing an anonymous source, Fred Dicker reports Percoco told potential clients he had the administration’s OK to represent outside private clients that had business before the state — despite never receiving it from the counsel’s office.

The FBI reportedly raided the homes of Percoco (Westchester County) and lobbyist Todd Howe (Washington, D.C.) two weeks ago. A Manhattan federal judge approved search warrants for at least three locations, a source told the NY Post.

Former staffers to the late Gov. Mario Cuomo are outraged and disheartened by federal and state investigations into alleged political corruption by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration that have cast a harsh light on them. But some aren’t surprised, saying the current Cuomo’s leadership style and habit of circumventing the process is different from his father’s approach – and dangerous.

State Senate Democrats today will unveil a 15-point college accessibility initiative they say could stem rising higher education costs while also helping students graduate on time.

NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray yesterday — the mayor’s 55th birthday — sent out an e-mail blast urging supporters to snap up tickets to a Thursday evening fundraiser. The mayor, who is facing multiple state, federal and city investigations, is reportedly having trouble selling tickets.

While de Blasio was soliciting campaign contributions from billionaire John Catsimatidis, lobbyists for one of the tycoon’s companies were pushing to secure legislation that could mean big bucks, in a potential conflict of interest, critics charged.

Winning over New York City’s most conservative borough – Staten Island – has become a mission for de Blasio.

NYC’s police union today will begin airing a radio ad accusing de Blasio of shortchanging cops.

Seeking stricter gun control legislation, a crowd of moms, joined by actresses Julianne Moore and Melissa Joan Hart, marched across the Brooklyn Bridge into lower Manhattan behind a “MOMS DEMAND ACTION” banner yesterday.

Forcing special needs and English language learners to take high stakes standardized tests is “abusive,” Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa told parents and community leaders at a forum held last week.

New York schools are struggling with new state regulations on how to teach students who are learning English as a second language, which cover everything from how those students are identified to what kinds of teachers they are entitled to.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer called for a probe into troubled Coney Island Hospital after an exposé by the NY Post detailed major problems with the way the facility cares for children.

Schumer called electronic cigarettes “ticking time bombs” as he urged the Food and Drug Administration to use its new authority to probe — and possibly recall — the devices.

Mayor Stephanie Miner, who recently presented her 2016 budget, will discuss the city’s financial situation with state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli today.

Brooklyn DA Ken Thompson’s chief of security resigned early last week after being dressed down by his boss, who thought the chief wasn’t doing enough to protect the DA against angry protesters since he recommended a no-jail sentence for ex-cop Peter Liang in the fatal shooting of Akai Gurley.

More >

The Weekend That Was

Hillary Clinton confirmed the FBI has not yet contacted her to schedule an interview over her use of a private email server during her tenure as secretary of state. “No one has reached out to me yet,” she said on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

“I made it clear that I’m more than ready to talk to anybody, anytime,” Clinton reiterated, “and I’ve encouraged all of my assistants to be very forthcoming.”

“For a lot of people, again, who take their vote seriously and who really see this as a crossroads kind of election, I am asking people to come join this campaign,” Clinton said. “And I’ve had a lot of outreach on Republicans in the last days who say that they are interested in talking about that.”

amNY to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders: “On behalf of your constituents, we’ve had it. We’re all fed up with corruption…The legislative session ends June 16. You’re all on the clock. And all of us are watching.”

One of the homeless shelters run by Housing Enterprise for Less Privileged (HELP), founded by Cuomo in 1986, racked up 31 critical incidents last year — the most of any of the so-called Tier 2 family shelters in the city, according to a review of internal records by the Daily News.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio joined the Rev. Al Sharpton Saturday to again chalk up his recent string of troubles to people who don’t agree with his policies. The mayor hinted at the federal and criminal probes buzzing around his and his allies fund-raising efforts and stood by his belief that the investigations are purely political in nature.

As federal and state investigations swirl around de Blasio, potential challengers to his 2017 re-election bid have started assessing the political climate and gauging the odds of unseating the incumbent.

The future of the SUNY Polytechnic Institute’s Colleges of Nanoscale Science and Engineering is imperiled amid state and federal investigations into potential bid-rigging. And it comes as SUNY Poly has sought to rapidly expand into Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Utica.

The NY Post: “For US Attorney Preet Bharara…the idea of probing Gov. Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion must’ve been a no-brainer. After all, having the government hand a billion dollars in taxpayer money to the private sector is dubious in itself — never mind the opportunities it offers for corruption.”

Despite federal and state probes into government pay-to-play schemes, New York’s Democrats are offering wealthy donors access to bigwigs at the party’s national convention in exchange for contributions. The explanation: Everybody does it.

Trading on his connections as a Cuomo family loyalist, lobbyist Todd Howe was seen by many as a reliable conduit to the governor’s office. Now, amid a sprawling federal investigation into the Cuomo administration’s marquee economic development projects, he has emerged as one of its top focal points, and he has a long history of personal financial troubles.

The Panel for Educational Policy, a 13-person body that votes on billions of dollars in school spending, is under-trained in financial oversight and pressured to do whatever de Blasio asks, members say.

State Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa, who was featured Saturday as a speaker at the United Federation of Teachers annual Spring Conference in Midtown, told the Daily News it only makes sense for the mayor to continue calling the shots for public schools.

More public school teachers are getting tenure under the union-friendly de Blasio administration, statistics released by the city Education department show.

Trump is once again raising former President Bill Clinton’s marital infidelities, a preview of how the billionaire businessman is likely to respond to general-election attacks from Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and her allies about his treatment of women.

“She’s married to a man who got impeached for lying,” Trump said of Clinton. “He was impeached and he had to go through a whole big process and it wasn’t easy. He was impeached for lying about what happened with a woman.”

Trump also said Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment and “take your guns away.”

Now that Trump has become the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Long Island Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin is touting his ties to the New York businessman — despite the fact that Democrats also are using that connection to attack him.

When Clinton became a grandmother, it transformed her – not just because of this “new wonderful child,” as she says in a pair of videos just in time for Mother’s Day, but because she got to watch daughter Chelsea Clinton transform into a mom, too.

The federal subpoena received by the Cuomo’s administration in late April seeks information about any actions taken by certain Executive Chamber officials that might have benefited several major developers in New York.

Fred LeBrun: “After two terms of watching how this governor works, in the shadows, with as little accountability as he can get away with, it is small wonder the culture he’s created hasn’t caught up with him earlier. And, it’s hard to imagine a notorious micromanager like Andrew Cuomo being caught totally blind by the doings of his brother Joseph, and very old friend Todd.”

Racism is to blame for Puerto Rico’s dire fiscal situation, according to de Blasio.

A special grand jury will convene in Buffalo next week to weigh evidence gathered in an 18-month probe of political operative G. Steven Pigeon that now also involves a State Supreme Court justice.

John Michalek has been a state Supreme Court judge since 1995, and has an unblemished record. But for the past week, Buffalo’s legal community has been buzzing about his relationship with Pigeon – a political operative whose dealings are under investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office, federal prosecutors, the State Police and the FBI.

Bob McCarthy: “‘Did I ever send an email to Steve Pigeon?’ so many New Yorkers are asking today. ‘Did I ever ask a favor? Did I ever write something to come back and haunt me?’ It’s a nervous Sunday all right.”

Donn Esmonde says Carl Paladino could usher in a new “era of harmony” on the Buffalo School Board by quitting the post to which he was just re-elected.

Steve Cuozzo to de Blasio: “Your suggestion that we avoid Chick-Fil-A because of the company president’s negative view of same-sex marriage made me gag.”

In an unusual move, New York City first lady Chirlane McCray is scheduled to head to Washington, D.C., to advocate for more funding for mental health work in New York and to tout the city’s success in handling the issue.

The rancorous debates around race and immigration have made this year’s presidential race a fraught one for many U.S. immigrants. Bhojwani’s mission is to change the conversation by getting some of them into politics through the nonpartisan, New York-based New American Leaders Project.

Cuomo is supporting a legal challenge to North Carolina’s new law limiting the rights of LGBT people. He says the state will file an amicus brief in support of the lawsuit filed by Lamba Legal, the ACLU and Equality North Carolina seeking to overturn the law.

Emergency rooms in Buffalo area hospitals are preparing for a deluge of opioid patients after the shutdown of Gosy & Associates in Amherst – one of the busiest pain-management practices in New York State, treating thousands of patients.

Western New York’s weird weather poses challenges for the enhanced weather station – one of just 17 across the state – the Cuomo administration plans to construct at the University at Buffalo’s North Campus.

The U.S. Military Academy has launched an inquiry into a photo showing 16 black, female cadets in uniform with their fists raised – an image that has spurred questions about whether the gesture violates military restrictions on political activity.

Cuomo has earned admiration from local leaders who say he understands issues faced by the Adirondack Park’s economically stressed hamlets better than some of his predecessors did. But some environmental advocates say his administration has placed local desires for easy recreational access ahead of wilderness protection.

Extras

Lobbyist and longtime Cuomo family ally Todd Howe’s name and biography were deleted from the website of his Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna today as he is under scrutiny by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office.

Mayor Bill de Blasio began the first of what will become a regular Friday appearance on “The Brian Lehrer Show” this morning, with a discussion of the multiple investigations into the mayor’s fundraising tactics and the forthcoming departure of his press secretary.

The Campaign For One New York, the 501(c)(4) group de Blasio started to advance his political agenda at the start of his mayoralty, is refusing to comply with a subpoena sent in recent weeks by JCOPE seeking information about the group’s donors.

Former Staten Island Rep. Michael Grimm was released last week from jail after serving seven months for felony tax evasion – a “horrible experience” that he said he’s happy to leave behind.

Hillary Clinton’s campaign is trying to seize on the turmoil Trump’s ascent has caused within the Republican Party — actively reaching out to gain the support of influential GOP leaders, including former elected officials and retired generals disillusioned by their party’s standard-bearer.

Clinton sent a message of support today to a transgender woman who recorded herself being verbally assaulted on the New York City subway last Thursday.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg told members of his company’s Washington bureau that he doesn’t expect Bloomberg Politics managing editors Mark Halperin and John Heilemann to remain with the news organization after the 2016 election, according to sources familiar with the meeting.

Bloomberg refers to Halperin and Heilmann as “Haldeman and Ehrlichman” – a reference to two of Richard Nixon’s most notorious deputies who eventually went to jail over the Watergate scandal.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman today announced the sentencing of the remaining three defendants in an elaborate bid-rigging conspiracy that illegally steered multi-million dollar public works contracts for Monroe County to favored and connected companies.

He faces up to 20 years behind bars, but former state Sen. John Sampson has asked a federal judge to go easy on him by sentencing him to just a year and a day in prison. Also, Sampson wants to be sent upstate to Otisville camp — the same minimum-security prison where ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has asked to serve his time.

Deputy Senate Majority Leader John DeFrancisco explained why he refused to meet with advocates for child sex abuse victims and instead ate pizza with the Syracuse University women’s basketball team. (He says he was a victim of “gotcha” journalism).

A midlevel court has rejected a teachers’ union claim that New York’s property-tax cap is unconstitutional, marking another defeat for the union trying to upend the law.

A group representing the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, Democracy for American, endorsed Eric Kingson in the Syracuse-area’s three-person primary for Congress.

A national sex abuse victims group criticized Bishop William Murphy of the Diocese of Rockville Centre for refusing to suspend from ministry a priest who is accused of abusing two children in a parish where he worked.

Jonah Reider, the Columbia University student who started a supper club in his dorm room, has been asked to leave the university-owned apartment where he lives and works.

Natalie Morales is taking on new roles at NBCUniversal, moving to Los Angeles this summer to host “Access Hollywood” and become West Coast anchor for “Today.”

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule. The Legislature is not in session.

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

Headlines…

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has retained a prominent criminal defense lawyer to help him cooperate with state and federal corruption probes into City Hall and his fundraising. The lawyer, Barry Berke of the Manhattan firm Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, was previously retained to represent de Blasio’s campaign, and is a mayoral appointee to the Lincoln Center board of directors.

Berke, who represented disgraced former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik in his unsuccessful battle against corruption charges, charges $850 an hour, but de Blasio’s campaign – not the taxpayers – will be picking up the tab for his services.

De Blasio’s chief spokeswoman, Karen Hinton, abruptly announced that she would quit after a year on the job. Hinton said in a statement she wants to spend more time with her teenage daughter, and that she would stay with the administration through the end of budget negotiations for the upcoming the fiscal year, which begins July 1.

The timing of Hinton’s departure has raised eyebrows, though the de Blasio administration insists it has nothing to do with the multiple investigations by local, state and federal agencies.

The feds and the Manhattan DA are now probing whether straw donors contributed to de Blasio’s 2013 campaign for City Hall. Investigators want to know if people were reimbursed or given cash to pass along to the campaign in their names, in an effort by the actual donors to avoid the city’s $4,950 cap on individual contribution, sources said.

De Blasio’s prospects of getting the Legislature to renew his control of New York City’s schools were thrown into doubt yesterday, when the leader of the State Senate, John Flanagan, issued a statement harshly criticizing the mayor’s performance at a hearing on the issue.

Investigators sought to question an official at the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation and requested agency documents about a contract that was awarded to a local company after the firm’s owner donated $100,000 to a nonprofit affiliated with de Blasio.

A mystery business, Chris Pitts LLC, has emerged near the center of the federal probe into former top Cuomo aide Joe Percoco outside business interests. Pitts, whose firm paid Percoco’s wife, Lisa, $200,000 between 2012 and 2014, is not a well-known figure in New York politics.

Todd Howe, the Washington-based lobbyist who is under federal investigation and has close ties to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has quietly been added to a state ethics website as a lobbyist for entities also tied up in the probe.

State officials have been formally banned from speaking with Howe. In a memo dated Monday, Cuomo’s counsel, Alphonso David, advised agency leaders that the directive was being made “in light of ongoing investigations.”

After two years of debate, the NYC Council voted 28 to 20 to require certain retailers to collect a fee on each carryout bag, paper or plastic, with some exceptions. De Blasio has expressed support for the measure.

New York state’s highest court adopted Delaware’s defendant-friendly standard for shareholder suits challenging controlling-party buyout deals, saying in actions targeting go-private mergers, courts should apply the business judgement rule as long as certain shareholder protections are met.

Former Nassau County Legislator Jeff Toback will run for the South Shore Assembly seat vacated after Todd Kaminsky’s Senate victory but may face a crowded Democratic primary.

Erie Community College students will pay an additional $138 per year in tuition, plus more in student fees, under a 2016-17 budget plan unanimously approved by the college’s trustees. Tuition, currently $4,595 per year, would increase by 3 percent to $4,733, pending approval by both the Erie County Legislature and the SUNY board of trustees.

The FDA announced sweeping rules that for the first time will extend federal regulatory authority to e-cigarettes. The new regulations include banning the sale of the nicotine-delivery devices to Americans younger than 18 and requiring people who buy them to show photo identification to prove their age.

A defamation lawsuit that 2010 Libertarian candidate for governor Warren Redlich brought against Carl Paladino and Michael Caputo will be allowed to go to trial in New York City.

The temporary closing of Dr. Eugene J. Gosy’s Amherst medical office after his criminal indictment last week – cutting off hundreds, if not thousands, of his panic-stricken patients from their opioid medications – has created a public health crisis in Erie County.

Four public hearings have been set for the Long Island Rail Road main line expansion project that would extend from Floral Park to Hicksville. In addition, MTA officials today will open an information center on the south platform at the Mineola train station.

More >

Extras

House Speaker Paul Ryan says he’s “just not ready” to support presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Trump’s response: “I am not ready to support Speaker Ryan’s agenda. Perhaps in the future we can work together and come to an agreement about what is best for the American people. They have been treated so badly for so long that it is about time for politicians to put them first!”


Trump loves
taco bowls – and Hispanics!

The New York City Council voted 28-20 to require certain retailers to collect a fee on each carryout bag, paper or plastic, with some exceptions, with Mayor Bill de Blasio expressing support for the measure.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is expected to name his former top aide Steven Cohen to vice-chair the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, once its existing occupant, Scott Rechler, departs.

Investigators looking into de Blasio’s fundraising practices are now scrutinizing his 2013 campaign for possible straw donors, checking to see if they were either reimbursed for their contributions or given cash to pass along to the campaign in order to skirt the city’s donation limits.

NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito expressed confidence that de Blasio followed legal fundraising guidelines during his 2013 campaign and while raising for a nonprofit to push his agenda.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan wasn’t impressed by de Blasio’s appearance at the mayoral control hearing at the state Capitol this week.

The Investigative Post: “Questionable dealings by officials managing the Buffalo Billion didn’t begin or end with the selection of a politically wired developer to oversee the construction of the SolarCity plant in South Buffalo.”

The New York State Department of Financial Services has approved the application of Gemini Trust Company, founded by investors Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, to trade digital currency ether on its bitcoin exchange.

Day-care centers in New York may soon have to pay higher fines for penalties if Cuomo has his way. Under the governor’s proposal released this week, the maximum fine for serious violations would increase from $500 to $5,000.

Hillary Clinton can’t recall doing any favors for Trump while she was in office.

Long Island Rep. Pete King, who briefly toyed with running for president himself, still has issues with Trump, but endorsed him anyway.

Lake Placid News: “With only one week left until USA Luge CEO Jim Leahy gives a presentation to his board of directors with a recommendation whether to move the organization’s headquarters from Lake Placid to Park City, Utah, we’re concerned about the silence from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.”

The Onondaga County District Attorney’s Office has been ordered to rehire a worker who says she was fired for helping the victim of an abusive man with connections. The abuser was a son of the DA’s chief investigator.

New York state will file an amicus brief in support of overturning a North Carolina law that critics say violates the civil rights of LGBT people by prohibiting municipalities from issuing ordinances that allow transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with.

NY-19 Democratic candidate and Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout in the Washington Post: “We need to revive the traditional understanding of corruption, overturn Citizens United and continue the long American fight for freedom from powerful interests.”

Republicans brought Flower Hill Mayor Elaine Phillips to meet GOP senators this week at the state Capitol, a sign, sources said, of her potential candidacy to run for a seat currently held by Sen. Jack Martins, who is running for Congress.

Betty Ann Canizio-Aqil, a Board of Elections chief clerk in Brooklyn, is expected to be suspended after a vote by the board’s commissioners – the second BOE official to be suspended over New York’s primary day snafu that led many voters to be turned away at the polls.

To mark Foster Care Awareness Month, the Fostering Youth Success Alliance is leading a coalition of New York-based advocates to reminding college age youth in care to apply for state funding to help pay for expenses such as tuition, housing and travel costs associated with college.

The Central New York corrections officer who was under investigation for a scam in which fellow COs billed their insurance for hearing aids but got high-end ear buds or noise suppressors has been arrested and pleaded guilty.

Overhauling New York’s criminal defense system for the poor should be a top priority for state lawmakers and Cuomo during the current legislative session, New York State Bar Association President David Miranda said.