Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin


“(Convict David) Sweat told investigators that he and (Richard) Matt had joked that while it had taken Andy Dufresne, the character in the movie played by Tim Robbins, 20 years to escape, it would take them only 10 years.”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will not be taking leaders of the e-hail company Uber up on their offer to debate his proposal to cap their ability to add more cars while the city studies the impact of new cabs on traffic congestion.

Seeking to increase transparency in the luxury real estate market, the de Blasio administration has imposed new disclosure requirements on shell companies buying or selling property in New York City.

The East Ramapo school board’s apparent move toward replacing the district’s superintendent is a positive step, according to Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo met privately Friday night with about 35 business and government leaders in the Syracuse area about their entry in the state’s $1.5 billion economic development competition.

Despite support for and appreciation of the special prosecutor mandate, Cuomo faces a crisis of trust from many members of the state legislature’s Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Caucus.

Hillary Clinton was a no-show at this weekend’s wedding of the same-sex couple featured in her April launch video, but there appear to be no hard feelings.

Kerri O’Brien, who has served as deputy commissioner of licensing at the Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control, has been tapped by Cuomo to serve as head of the state Liquor Authority.

Outgoing DEC Commissioner Joe Martens seems to be enjoying his 400-mile bike ride along the Erie Canal.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani says he believes Donald Trump is actually helping Republicans by garnering more interest in the primary race.

Former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver has spent over $1.5 million in campaign funds on attorneys since January. His campaign committee also reported a loss in its savings through a $183,738 “unrealized investment loan” with Fidelity, and $290,870 in incoming cash from investments.

Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous called a federal judge as a character witness in his federal corruption trial.

Paul Smith’s College in the Adirondacks wants to change its name in exchange for a $20 million donation. (This is not a move universally supported by the school’s alumni).

State GOP Communications Director David Laska has accepted “a very exciting offer” to provide private equity consulting for a London firm that is getting its New York City office off the ground.

AG Eric Schneiderman and US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand are pushing federal and state legislation to ban microbeads in personal care products.

Freshman Democratic Sen. Marc Panepinto pressed state Workers Compensation Board officials to take action favored by his multi-million-dollar law firm, and it’s unclear whether he sought approval from the Legislative Ethics Commission before doing so.

Former Rep. Tim Bishop, a Long Island Democrat who lost to Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin last year, has been named a board member of the state Environmental Facilities Corp., an unpaid post.

Republican Hempstead Supervisor candidate Anthony Santino has outraised his Democratic challenger Rita Kestenbaum by about $345,000 in the January-to-July reporting period. His largest contribution came from ex-Sen. Chuck Fuschillo’s old campaign committee.

This happened.

Wage War?

ICYMI from today’s Morning Memo:

The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that the governor’s latest wage board is poised to recommend hiking the hourly pay of New York’s fast food workers all the way to $15, and the state’s Labor Commissioner is expected to sign off on that recommendation.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo more or less confirmed as much yesterday during a question-and-answer session with reporters at his third annual summer Adirondack Challenge in Indian Lake.

“Whatever the wage board comes back with, it has to be – basically – accepted by the commissioner of the Department of Labor, period,” the governor said.

This has been expected since Cuomo created the board back in May after failing to get the GOP-controlled state Senate to accept his budget proposal to boost the state’s hourly wage – already set to rise to $9 from $8.75 on Dec. 31 – to $11.50 in New York City and $10.50 elsewhere in the state. Though he was careful never to explicitly direct the three-member body on the $15-an-hour target, it was quite clear that’s what Cuomo was aiming for.

Cuomo made the case for a higher fast food worker wage in a New York Times OpEd. At a subsequent rally, he said the state is subsidizing big fast food restaurants like McDonald’s to the tune of $700 million a year – in part by providing health care coverage and other public assistance to its workers – and called for New York to get out of the “hamburger business.”

And, as if any additional proof was necessary, LG Kathy Hochul then made several additional appearances at “Fight for $15″ rallies held prior to wage board gatherings.

In June, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, the wage board’s chairman and a longtime Cuomo ally, said he and his fellow members clearly believed “a substantial” increase was needed to bring fast food workers up the economic ladder – despite persistent opposition from the business community, which often found itself drowned out at public hearings that served more or less as labor rallies.

Business Council President & CEO Heather Briccetti has questioned the legality of a unilateral raise for a single industry, and said legal challenges could be in the offing. The Cuomo administration, however, insists it is well within the governor’s power to make this move.

This is unchartered territory.

As the Syracuse Post-Standard reported over the weekend, New York will be serving as a sort of a test case here. It will be the first state to give a raise to just one segment of the hourly wage workforce. Other cities – like LA And Seattle – have boosted their minimum wage to $15 an hour, but those increases applied across the board.

Cornell University economic Richard Burkhauser, a minimum wage expert who does not support the $15 an hour increase, called the wage board’s impending decision “a wonderful social experiment.” He predicts the price of fast food will go up as a result, and some establishments will go out of business.

It would be a mistake to think that the minimum wage battle will end with the wage board’s decision. This is an issue that polls very high – a vast majority of New Yorkers are in favor of seeing a statewide hourly wage increase (though perhaps not to as high as $15) – and next year is a key election cycle for the Senate Republicans.

Cuomo pledged yesterday to “keep pushing” for a higher minimum wage for all industries.

“This is only the first step,” he said. “Because we need to raise the minimum wage. It is just not possible to live on the current minimum wage – especially not in high cost areas of the state. So I am going to keep pushing.”

The minimum wage issue, as you’ll recall, is a signature piece of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign to bridge the income inequality gap – a message he has preached not only here in the Empire State, but across the country.

De Blasio’s initial push for the power to raise the minimum wage inside city lines fell flat in Albany.

If Cuomo manages to convince the Senate Republicans to go along with yet another wage boost (and remember, the one they agreed to in 2013 has not yet been fully implemented), he’ll no doubt become a hero in the eyes of many on the left – a segment of the Democratic Party with which the governor has had significant differences.

Though the Senate GOP appears dug in on this issue at the moment, much to the relief of its business community allies, there is precedent for an election-year turnaround.

In December 2004, the Senate – then under the leadership of Majority Leader Joe Bruno – overrode a veto of a minimum wage hike by a fellow Republican, then-Gov. George Pataki, boosting the hourly rate to $7.15 by January 2007.

The legislation in question was being carried by then-Sen. Nick Spano, a Republican in a marginal lower Hudson Valley district whom Bruno very much wanted to protect.

Earlier in 2004, the labor-backed Working Families Party endorsed Spano over his Democratic challenger, then-Westchester County Legislator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, providing him with the razor-think 18-vote margin necessary to win re-election.

Two years later, the WFP sat out a re-match between Stewart-Cousins and Spano, which Stewart-Cousins subsequently won. (She’s now the minority leader of the Senate – the first woman to hold that post – who is often at odds with Cuomo. Spano did time on a federal tax evasion charge, and is now a lobbyist who supports Cuomo).

It’s unclear if new Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan could be convinced to give on the minimum wage in 2016.

That might help the Republicans in the general election – especially in a presidential year when more Democrats will be coming out to vote than usual – but would no doubt further inflame the conservative grassroots, which is already not a fan of Flanagan due to his “yes” vote on the SAFE Act.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule. This evening, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will depart New York City and fly to Rome, Italy to attend Pope Francis’ event “Modern Slavery and Climate Change: The Commitment of The Cities.”

The corruption trial of Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous continues in White Plains. A jury deliberates on the fate of former Senate Majority Leader John Sampson in Brooklyn.

At 8 a.m., the state Board of Regents meets, Education Department Building, 89 Washington Ave., Albany. It’s agenda can be found here.

9:15 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul delivers opening remarks focused on the governor’s record on worker protections at the Teamsters annual conference, Fort William Henry Resort and Conference Center, 48 Canada St., Lake George. (A media availability will follow at 9:40 a.m.)

At 10 a.m., Rep. Chris Gibson will join campus leaders from across the region to announce legislation that increases opportunities for high school students seeking an early start on college, Bertelsmann Campus Center, Bard College, Annandale-On-Hudson.

Also at 10 a.m., Hochul tours the the Fort William Henry Museum to promote “I Love NY” tourism in the Adirondack region, 48 Canada St., Lake George.

At 10:15 a.m., AG Eric Schneiderman and US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will announce a new push to ban plastic microbeads in personal care products, Long Island Maritime Museum, 86 West Ave., Sayville.

At 11 a.m., de Blasio and members of the administration will hold a press conference at the Office of Emergency Management to discuss safety in the extreme heat, 165 Cadman Plaza E., Brooklyn.

Also at 11 a.m., Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr. will join The Bronx Dominican Parade Committee Directors Felipe Febles and Rosa Ayala to officially announce the celebrations and events that will lead up to the 26th Annual Gran Parada Dominicana de El Bronx, Bronx County Building Rotunda, 851 Grand Concourse, the Bronx.

At 11:30 a.m., Sen. Tim Kennedy, Assemblywoman Angela Wozniak, and Cheektowaga Town Supervisor Mary Holtz will outline suggested changes to a local intersection that has claimed two lives and become a public safety hazard, Harlem Road and Walden Avenue, Cheektowaga.

At 1 p.m., NYC Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, yellow cab drivers, labor leaders and activists call on Uber to end its “racially divisive” and “negative” campaign, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 4 p.m., Town Hall with Sen. Lindsey Graham, a 2016 GOP contender, on the Iranian Nuclear Deal. Former Sen. Joe Lieberman, Sen. John McCain, as well as local leaders from the New York area will attend, 3 W. 51st St., Manhattan.


Over the past six months, AG Eric Schneiderman raised hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of campaign cash from donors using the LLC loophole that he has pushed to close.

Dan Janison: “Depending on how a pair of court fights come out, the newly minted Women’s Equality Party has hit either a speed bump or a brick wall en route to putting its preferred candidates on the November ballot.”

New York state’s fast-food wage board on Wednesday is expected to recommend raising the fast-food minimum wage to $15 an hour, and the state’s labor commissioner is expected to approve that recommendation.

Cuomo announced a new “I Love NY Cash and Travel” $2 scratch-off ticket that offers winners free trips to the Adirondacks, Cooperstown, the Finger Lakes, Niagara Falls and New York City.

During his third annual Adirondack Challenge yesterday, Cuomo borrowed a fishing rod and caught an eight-inch brook trout that was then released.

The June 26 shooting death of escaped convict Richard Matt is under legal review by the Franklin County district attorney’s office. Acting DA Glenn MacNeill is investigating several aspects of both the death and the escape route, separate and distinct from work under way by Clinton County District Attorney Andrew J. Wylie.

Though local DAs may not like the governor’s executive order appointing the AG a special prosecutor in police-related deaths of unarmed civilians, the TU says it’s “needed to restore public confidence.”

Saying “the security of our nation and the security of Israel are threatened,” former US Sen. Alfonse D’Amato urged his successor, Sen. Chuck Schumer, to vote against President Obama’s nuclear-arms pact with Iran. The Republican ex-lawmaker called the deal “absurd,” saying he would be voting “no” if he were still in office.

Republican 2016 hopeful Donald Trump is not only not apologizing to US Sen. John McCain for saying the Arizona lawmaker isn’t a war hero, but also isn’t pulling out of the race despite criticism from fellow GOPers.

Former President George H.W. Bush has been released from a Maine hospital after falling at his summer home and breaking a bone in his neck.

New York has added 1.1 million people to Medicaid since the state health exchange opened last year in the national effort to connect the uninsured with low-cost coverage. More than 6.2 million New Yorkers are now enrolled, almost one-third of the state’s 19 million people.

More >

The Weekend That Was

Gov. Andrew Cuomo was in Indian Lake today for his annual Adirondack Challenge competition. The day’s scheduled activities included whitewater rafting, golfing, canoeing and a motorcycle ride.

While at the challenge, Cuomo announced four efforts to boost upstate tourism: the “I LOVE NY Cash and Travel” lottery ticket; $2 million for campgrounds in the Catskills and Adirondacks; a new Adirondack Park website and mobile app; and an extended, outdoors-specific I LOVE NY marketing campaign.

While it remains uncertain if Cuomo will seek a third term in 2018, his biannual campaign finance records make it clear that a number of interests still see a benefit in funding his political endeavors. Many of those companies and individuals have business before the Cuomo administration.

In the wake of two high-profile political corruption cases allegedly involving major New York City real estate developers, some of those same developers helped fund a $1.9 million Albany lobbying effort this year for the lucrative tax break program known as 421-a.

Hillary Clinton’s father, about whom she rarely talks publicly, exerted a powerful – if sometimes bruising – influence on her.

Hundreds of people converged on a lawn in front of the federal courthouse in Brooklyn on Saturday to demand that federal civil rights charges be filed in the death of Eric Garner. The rally was sponsored by the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.

At the rally, Sharpton said that the Garner family can no longer look towards the city for justice. “We cannot depend on local law enforcement,” he added. “In the name of Dr. King and others, we’re asking the federal government to come in and bring justice for Eric Garner.”

Republican 2016 hopeful Donald Trump said there was nothing heroic about the more than five years Sen. John McCain spent in a North Vietnamese POW camp, souring even his staunchest Republican supporters.

Trump said McCain “is a war hero because he was captured. I like people who weren’t captured.” The comment drew some boos from the audience at a conference of religious conservatives in Iowa.

Trump refused to apologize for his remarks, saying instead that McCain owed Trump supporters an apology for calling them “crazies.”

Clinton’s response: “Donald Trump, finally a candidate whose hair gets more attention than mine. But there’s nothing funny about the hate he is spewing at immigrants and families — and now the insults he has directed at a genuine war hero, Sen. John McCain.”

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani says people have tried to draft him into running again for his old job. He doesn’t plan to do so, even though he believes NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s policies are “very destructive.”

Is Team Cuomo behind some of the negative press de Blasio and his aide, Karen Hinton, have received lately?

President Obama attended “Hamilton” at Broadway’s Richard Rodgers Theatre with daughters Malia and Sasha on Saturday. Prior to the show, they visited Central Park.

Fred LeBrun believes the governor’s low poll numbers and the SAFE Act are “intertwined.”

US Sen. Chuck Schumer is keeping a low profile – unusual for him – when it comes to discussing the Iran deal.

“This is one of the most serious decisions any member of the House or Senate is going to have to make,” Schumer said. “I’m going to go over this agreement with a fine-toothed comb, looking at it extremely carefully.”

Former NYC Councilman Sal Albanese faces a $10,000 fine by the Campaign Finance Board for exceeding the $14,850 contribution cap put on candidates to their own campaigns after loaning his 2013 mayoral campaign $170,000.

If there was any question how serious the state is about taking control of Buffalo’s schools, new Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia made clear her intentions to Buffalo School Board members late last week. Her message in a nutshell: fix the schools, or I will.

Cuomo accepted $250,000 in campaign cash from LLCs linked to a developer with interests in upstate Hasidic community Kiryas Joel less than a week after he vetoed a bill that would have limited development there.

New York is moving to expand a ban on synthetic marijuana to keep with drug makers who create new chemical recipes to evade the existing law.

The Erie County IDA adopted a pay equity policy that makes it the only one in the state that, beginning in September, will require companies to certify that they are complying with state and federal equal pay rules in order to receive tax breaks.

New York is poised to become a test case for raising the hourly wages for workers in a single industry. No one knows the long term impact of this, because no other community has ever done it.

RIP Van Miller, the longtime voice of the Buffalo Bills and television sports anchor, who arguably became the most versatile play-by-play man in Buffalo sports history. He died Friday afternoon at the age of 87.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City.

At 8 a.m., the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce presents “State of Development in Manhattan, East Side Rezoning” featuring Manhattan Councilman Dan Garodnick and a panel of experts, New York Law School, Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., jury instructions are to be given and deliberations will begin in the corruption trial of Brooklyn Sen. John Sampson, Judge Dora Irizarry; Brooklyn Federal Court; 4A-South, Brooklyn.

At 9:15 a.m., hip-hop mogul and activist Russell Simmons will ride to City Hall in the NYCLASS electric Horseless eCarriage to urge Mayor Bill de Blasio to keep his longtime promise to ban horse carriages in New York City, 260 Broadway, Manhattan.

Also at 9:15 a.m., de Blasio hosts a press conference with HUD Secretary Julian Castro, highlighting the announcement of ConnectHome, a new initiative with communities, the private sector, and federal government to expand high-speed broadband to low-income families living in HUD-assisted households, East Side House Mott Haven Community Center, 375 East 143rd St., the Bronx.

At 9:30 a.m., Sen. Adriano Espaillat, New York City Council Members Mark Levine and Ydanis Rodriguez and others call for the rapid expansion of Select Bus Service, including the completion of a dedicated bus lane across 125th St., Amsterdam Ave. and 125th St., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul outlines Cuomo’s legislative accomplishments for seniors at Assemblywoman Sandra Galef’s 2015 senior forum, Cortlandt Town Hall, 1 Heady St., Cortlandt Manor.

At 10:30 a.m., ARP members from the Monroe County area deliver 9,000 petitions each to the Rochester offices of US Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, urging them to oppose any Congressional effort to block a proposed federal rule that would close the loophole allowing financial advisers to put their own interests first in recommending retirement savings investments, Federal Building, 100 State St., Rochester.

At 11 a.m., Cuomo makes an announcement, Hostos Community College, 450 Grand Concourse, the Bronx.

At 11:30 a.m., the Association of Flight Attendants and CWAhold a system-wide Day of Action to call on United Airlines “to negotiate a fair contract for Flight Attendants in a time of record profits”, including a picket at LaGuardia Central Terminal B, Queens.

At 11:45 a.m., Hochul and Sen. George Latimer tour the Rye Brook senior community center, 222 Grace Church Rd., Portchester.

At 1:15 p.m., Hochul tours the the United Way of Westchester and Putnam 2-1-1 call center to showcase customer service assistance for residents, 336 Central Park Ave., White Plains.

At 4 p.m., amid growing concern over that the homelessness crisis is spiraling out of control, 200 advocates and concerned New Yorkers will rally, march, and hold an all-night sleep out to demand that de Blasio dedicate 15,000 units of real affordable housing for homeless families. Rally at the First Houses, followed by a speaking program from 5:30 and 7 p.m. at Seward Park Urban Renewal Area, Delancey and Suffolk Street, Essex Crossing Development, where an all-night sleep out will also take place, Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., Cuomo speaks at the Bronx County Democratic Committee Annual Dinner, Marina del Rey Caterers, 1 Marina Dr., the Bronx. (de Blasio is also scheduled to attend and speak).

At 8 p.m., Hochul honors the month of Ramadan at Manhattan BP Gale Brewer’s Iftar dinner celebration, 3940 Broadway at 165th Street, Manhattan.


NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is Italy-bound for the second summer in a row. The mayor, who has traveled extensively across Europe and the United States during his 18 months in office, is set to fly to Rome next week to address an international gathering of mayors and environmental leaders at the Vatican.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo took in $5.2 million in campaign donations the past six months and used $100,000 of it to pay legal fees. He also paid out nearly a quarter of a million dollars in 2014 campaign bonuses – including $120,000 that went to his campaign manager and longtime aide, Joseph Percoco.

The $5.2 million Cuomo raised is a lot of money, but it’s his smallest haul for the first half of a year since 2008, when he was state attorney general.

Cuomo had a number of prominent donors who lined up behind him. Some of them included Wall Street executives: Daniel S. Loeb, Philip A. Falcone and Ronald O. Perelman, who each cut a $25,000 check to the governor’s campaign.

Cuomo ended the six-month period with $12.7 million still on hand. AG Eric Schneiderman, who has been mentioned as a potential 2018 primary challenger against Cuomo in 2018, is expected to report having raised about $2 million in donations since January, leaving him with $2.3 million in his coffers.

A new Siena College poll showed Cuomo’s favorability numbers have slipped to 49-44. That marks the first time he has dipped below 50 percent favorability in a Siena poll since becoming governor in 2011. It’s also the first time he’s been sub-50 since 2007, when he was attorney general.

Cuomo made a rare trip outside New York to tell a gathering of the NAACP in Philadelphia, PA that his state is working to restore public trust in law enforcement following the deaths of unarmed civilians at the hands of police.

The governor also traveled to Buffalo to announce plans for the Western New York Workforce Development Center – a new hub that will focus primarily on training for careers in the advanced manufacturing and energy sectors. The center will inhabit a 100,000-square-foot building at 683 Northland Ave., which has sat vacant for 25 years. More here.

Allies of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos have begun raising funds for his legal defense, establishing a website and sending out letters seeking contributions.

The state Senate Republican Campaign Committee shoveled $50,000 into the re-election coffers of its disgraced former leader just two weeks after he was busted on federal corruption charges.

NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito raised a whopping $289,160 over the past six months for her 2017 campaign, dwarfing the anemic $17,350 that de Blasio raised over the same time period.

David Sweat has been discharged from the infirmary at the maximum-security Five Points Correctional Facility in Romulus in Seneca County and will be housed in the Special Housing Unit Formal disciplinary charges have been filed against him in relation to his escape. A hearing officer will determine the extent of Sweat’s misconduct and, if appropriate, impose a penalty including continued placement within the 150-bed, 23-hour confinement unit.

Clinton County DA Andrew Wylie plans to pursue escape charges against Sweat, prompting some residents to question what could be gained from prosecuting a convicted murderer who is already serving a life sentence.

More >

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Philadelphia, PA and Erie County.

The corruption trial of Senate Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous, a Republican, continues in White Plains federal court. The corruption trial of former Senate Majority Leader John Sampson, a Democrat, continues in Brooklyn federal court.

At 8:30 a.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli will speak at the Long Island Association’s special executive breakfast, 300 Broadhollow Rd., Lower Level, Melville.

At 10 a.m., Cuomo addresses the NAACP 2015 annual convention, Pennsylvania Convention Center, 1101 Arch St., Philadelphia, PA.

Also at 10 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul speaks at the 2015 Common Ground Alliance’s 9th annual forum on bolding vibrant communities in the Adirondacks, Mount Sabattis Pavilion and Recreation Area, 1100 Deerland Rd., (South Hill Road), Long Lake.

Also at 10 a.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray will formally release her baby book “Love Is/El Amor Es.” She and Deputy Mayor Richard Buery will read the book aloud at the Brooklyn Central Library, 10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn.

At 11:30 a.m., McCray reads aloud at the Jackson Heights Library with Deputy Mayor Buery, 35-51 81st St., Jackson Heights, Queens.

At 11:45 a.m., Hochul tours the View Arts Center to showcase cultural attractions, 3273 NY-28, Old Forge.

At noon, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a press conference with NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, Cardinal Spellman High School, 1 Cardinal Spellman Pl., the Bronx.

Also at noon, customers, advocates and phone workers will join elected officials for a press conference before they testify at a hearing about the status of the telecommunications industry in New York City, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 12:30 p.m., 1199 SEIU nursing home workers at the Michael Malotz Skilled Nursing Pavilion hold an informational picket for “quality care and good jobs,” 120 Odell Ave., Yonkers.

At 1 p.m., McCray and Buery read aloud at the Harlem Library, 9 West 124th St., Manhattan.

At 1:15 p.m., Hochul tours the Herkimer diamond mine to spotlight women entrepreneurs and Adirondack businesses, 4626 State Route 28 North, Herkimer.

At 1:30 p.m., Cuomo makes an announcement, 683 Northland Ave., Buffalo.

At 2 p.m., Sen. George Amedore, Assemblywoman Patricia Fahy, Albany County Executive Dan McCoy and Guilderland Town Supervisor Ken Runion will join members of the Clark family for the dedication of the Todd J. Clark Memorial Highway, Town Hall, 5209 Western Turnpike (Rt. 20), Guilderland.

At 7 p.m., the New Kings Democrats hold their annual True Blue Party, Larry Lawrence Bar, 295 Grand St., Brooklyn.


In a rare trip outside state lines, Gov. Andrew Cuomo today will address the NAACP’s national convention in Philadelphia Wednesday about his recent appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate cases where police kill unarmed and other civilians.

State AG Eric Schneiderman plans to report $2.3 million in cash on hand in his campaign account, underscoring the Democrat’s efforts to prepare for a possible gubernatorial bid.

Speaking at an interfaith church service last night marking the one-year anniversary of Eric Garner’s death, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said the incident has helped move the city forward and usher in significant changes within the NYPD.

De Blasio sought to create a balance in his remarks, saying “all lives matter,” “black lives matter” and “blue lives matter.”

Members of the Garner family say their $5.9 million settlement with the de Blasio administration, which the comptroller’s office described as the largest settlement in the history of the city over a killing by police officers, will not end their push for police reform.

Juan Gonzalez calls the immigration reform plan unveiled on rival Hillary Clinton’s home turf in NYC yesterday by Maryland Governor and 2016 Democratic candidate Martin O’Malley the “boldest” proposal yet put forth by any White House contender.

A group of Brooklyn elected officials led by Borough President Eric Adams are set to meet tonight to map out a plan to push for changes next year to the rent regulation law, though it’s highly unlikely the GOP-lead state Senate will revisit the issue.

Some are interpreting the wording of the new rent law to actually make it more difficult for landlords to deregulate apartments when rent reaches the established threshold, much to the chagrin of those property owners.

In his opening statement at Sen. Thomas Libous’ federal corruption trial, Assistant US Attorney Benjamin Allee alleged that Libous told the law firm’s partners that if they hired his son Matthew, he would steer so much business their way “they could build a new wing on their office.” More here.

US Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand each said they will carefully consider the details of President Obama’s nuclear agreement with Iran before determining whether to support the deal.

Clinton called the deal “an important step in putting a lid on Iran’s nuclear program” – a sharp departure from the 2008 presidential campaign when she blasted Barack Obama’s stance on dealing with rogue powers like Tehran as “irresponsible” and “naïve.”

More >

Here and Now

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

The federal corruption trial of Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous continues in White Plains.

At 7 a.m., President Obama will speak about the Iran nuclear deal.

At 10 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul convenes a meeting of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, 200 Wegmans Market St., Rochester.

At 10:30 a.m., Hostos Community College President David Gómez, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., and representatives from GrowNYC host a press conference to launch the Hostos Green Market, Hostos Community College, 149th Street and 500 Grand Concourse, in front of the Memorial Garden, the Bronx.

At 11 a.m., former Maryland Governor and 2016 Democratic presidential contender Martin O’Malley holds an immigration roundtable, New York Immigration Action Fund, 137 W. 25th St., Floor 12, Manhattan.

At 11:30 a.m., the Garner family and Rev. Sharpton will call on New Yorkers to attend a Saturday rally in Garner’s memory and confirm a settlement over his death with the de Blasio administration, National Action Network’s “House of Justice”, 106 West 145th St., Harlem.

At noon, Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. sponsors a Red Cross blood drive in front of his district office, 900 Rogers Pl., the Bronx.

At 1:30 p.m., Hochul and Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren Tour the North East Area Development/Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School to highlight student achievement, 630 N. Goodman St., Rochester.

At 3:30 p.m., Members of the UFCW Local 2013 will join with elected officials and faith and community leaders, holding a rally for gender equality and equal pay and delivering letters of support to the management of Quality King, Bellport, Long Island Headquarters, 33 Sawgrass Dr., Bellport.

At 6 p.m., the state Athletic Commission holds a public meeting, state Department of State, 123 William St., Manhattan.

Also at 6 p.m., Brooklyn BP Eric Adams and civil rights attorney Norman Siegel will host their first town hall to investigate cases of tenant harassment throughout Brooklyn, Borough Hall Courtroom, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

At 7 p.m., Families for Safe Streets and Transportation Alternatives host a vigil for victims of traffic violence, Union Square Park North, Manhattan.

At 7:30 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio attends a CORL Interfaith worship service in Garner’s memory, Mt. Sinai United Christian Church
16 Pike St., Staten Island.


New York City reached a settlement with the family of Eric Garner, agreeing to pay $5.9 million to resolve a wrongful-death claim over his killing by the police on Staten Island last July. The deal was reached just a few days before the anniversary of Garner’s chokehold death at the hands of NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo.

The Garner settlement is the largest ever for a wrongful-death case against an NYPD officer. But it is the not the first time the city has reach an agreement in connection with a high-profile case.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said the NYPD has come a “long way” since Garner’s killing.

A son-in-law of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, Marcello Trebitsch, pleaded guilty to running a $6 million Ponzi scheme. As part of his plea agreement, Trebitsch agreed to pay back more than $5.9 million to the victims. His sentencing has been scheduled for Nov. 2.

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer is recommending investing in technology to track repairs in the city’s public housing similar to the CompStat program that the Police Department uses to map and respond to crime. The proposal came following an audit by his office that found many repairs in public housing were still being made at a glacial pace, if at all.

Tom Wrobleski says de Blasio “just doesn’t get Staten Island – still,” citing his “insultingly condescending tone” with a Staten Island Advance reporter at a recent press conference.

Tom King, the head of New York’s National Rifle Association affiliate, reversed his initial position on the SAFE Act MOU between the Senate GOP and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, saying it does little – and possibly nothing – to lift restrictions on ammunition sales.

Senate Democrats may head to court to block the MOU, which the conference’s deputy leader, Queens Sen. Mike Gianaris, called “completely outrageous and not legally correct.”

De Blasio was a no-show at the Manhattan Democratic Party’s “Demmy Awards” last night, where Cuomo was honored with a “progressive leadership award.” Party sources told the NY Post the mayor was invited, but cancelled early in the day.

The event was protested by demonstrators wearing black-and-white striped prison costumes, who called on the governor to exercise his power of clemency more.

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A son-in-law of indicted former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver pleaded guilty today to operating a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors out of nearly $6 million over seven years.

Hillary Clinton, who represented Wall Street as the junior senator from New York, has grown weary of its excesses. In her first policy speech since declaring for the presidency earlier this year, Clinton railed against irresponsible banks, ineffective regulators, and exploitative employers.

Former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno has seeded a new political action committee with $500,000 of legal fees that were reimbursed to his campaign committee.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio slammed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s SAFE Act MOU with the Senate Republicans, arguing that the recent shooting of black churchgoers in Charleston, S.C. proved the need for strong regulations on firearms. “We just cannot go backwards on gun safety,” he said. “That’s the bottom line.”

House Speaker John Boehner will come to the Capital Region for the second time in less than a year to raise money for Rep. Elise Stefanik, who was elected last fall to represent NY-21.

Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous’ political campaign spent $206,197 on attorney fees over the past six months, according to its latest disclosure filing.

Barring a last minute adjournment or an unlikely subsequent appeal, the federal prosecution of Michael Grimm will end on Friday when US District Court Judge Pamela Chen sentences the former congressman on his guilty plea to a single count of aiding and assisting in the preparation of a false and fraudulent tax return.

Thomas Wilmot — the Rochester-based mall magnate whose company, Wilmorite, is behind the Lago casino — has suspended “continued construction” on the casino until its legal issues are resolved.

De Blasio has selected Ellen Hoffman to become president of the New York City Tax Commission.

…the mayor also recently hired two close allies for positions in his administration: Joni Kletter is his new general counsel for City Legislative Affairs, and Justin Brannan took an intergovernmental affairs position with the Department of Education.

After stewing over the weekend about the SAFE Act MOU, conservative Republicans and gun-rights advocates renewed their vow to launch primary campaigns against several Republican senators who support the agreement.

The Siena College Research Institute is teaming up with the Rockefeller Institute of Government to poll awareness of the upcoming vote for the 2017 Constitutional Convention.

Nearly three years after being walloped by Hurricane Sandy, the New York City Police Museum remains closed — and will stay shuttered for the near future as the city and feds haggle over the cost of repairs.

NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will travel to Arizona this week to participate in a panel discussion about progressive politics and local government at the Netroots Nation conference.

Cuomo today warned New Yorkers of scams surrounding Pope Francis’ scheduled September visit, urging those interested to only get tickets from verified sources.

Following in the footsteps of his predecessor, Rick Perry, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott is making New York the first stop on his plans to travel around the U.S. and world to woo companies to Texas.

The comic Jackie Mason has formally endorsed Donald Trump for president, saying the real estate developer is “the only guy who tells the truth, and it threatens all of them.”

Former Gov. George Pataki, who is also a 2016 GOP contender, called Trump a “promoter” and a “celebrity figure,” adding: “It is important that we discuss border security and controlling the border, but to demonize people like he did with the Mexicans who are here…doesn’t make sense.”

Iowa Rep. Steve King, a conservative influencer in the early caucus state, is standing behind Trump and said his remarks are catching fire.

Trump’s victory lap over the recent escape of Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was interrupted today by a death threat issued from a Twitter account allegedly belonging to the notorious Mexican drug lord’s son. Trump said he’ll be contacting the FBI, but not backing down.

Add Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s name to the long – and growing – list of Republican presidential candidates.

Politics have turned upside down in the Old Westbury village elections.

NYS GOP To Clinton: What About Those 200,000 NY Jobs?

Earlier today, Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton delivered a speech in New York City calling for a “growth and fairness” economy, saying the growing income inequality gap is dragging the country down.

In response to Clinton’s appearance, state GOP Chairman Ed Cox issued a statement accusing the candidate of making “empty promises,” dredging up a campaign promise she made all the way back in 2000, when she first ran to be the junior US senator from New York.

“(U)pstate New York is still waiting on the 200,000 jobs that Hillary Clinton promised to create when she ran for Senate,” Cox said. “It’s not a coincidence that the states with the best job growth numbers are run by Republican Governors instituting tax reform and pro-growth policies at the local level.”

This is a well loved old chestnut for the New York Republicans, and it was also seized upon by then Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign during the 2008 Democratic presidential primary.

While it’s true that Clinton never did deliver on her 200,000 jobs promise, that has never hampered her ability (or not yet, anyway) to win votes in New York.

Is The SAFE Act MOU Even Legal?

The controversy continuing to swirl over the memorandum of understanding between the Senate GOP and the Cuomo administration that appears to halt (at least for the moment) development of the SAFE Act’s ammunition database really hinges on one central question: Does the document have any legal standing?

Zack Fink touched on this question in his blog post/memo item earlier today, noting that the MOU appears to try to subvert a law passed by two houses of the Legislature and signed by the governor through a non-legally binding agreement between one house of the Legislature and a top Cuomo aide – something that, at least to my memory, has never been done before.

The Cuomo administration has repeatedly insisted that this MOU does not other than codify an already existing situation. The database doesn’t yet exist due to the fact that the State Police, which is charged with creating it, has said it is incapable at this time of bringing it to fruition.

According to the governor’s office, the database project is still ongoing – although when, exactly, it will be up and running remains a mystery, and how it can get up and running without the say-so of the Senate GOP – which isn’t likely to approve as long as it controls the chamber – is also under.

The Assembly and Senate Democrats say they’re investigating their options for a potential legal challenge to the MOU. Over the weekend, I made some calls, looking for someone who would be able to opine on whether this thing has a legal leg to stand on, and the response I encountered (as so often occurs in these cases) was: Ask your Dad. (That would be Dr. Gerald Benjamin, a SUNY New Paltz political science professor and expert on all things state government related).

So, I did. And here’s what he said:

The executive has discretion in enforcement of the law. By analogy, if a budgeted program is demonstrated to be ineffective or suspect, he or she may not spend the money pending revision or investigation. No MOU is constitutionally required with either house or both houses for such an action to be taken, though it may be sought for political purposes. In fact, entering into an MOU may provide a troublesome precedent for the executive branch at a later time.”

“(State Operations Director Jim Malatras’) signature suggests that this is an administrative matter, and may be a hedge against precedent. The governor did not sign.”

“Conditioning resumption of administration of a law on one house approval is suspect. If approval is withheld by the Senate, that portion of the law is effectively rendered void. This constitutes a de-facto one house legislative repeal. It also gives away executive authority; precedent again. Repealing the law requires the conventional process: action by both houses and gubernatorial approval.”