Liz Benjamin

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Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is in California.

At 9:15 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul tours the New York Bean processing facility, 2905 West Main St., Caledonia.

At 10 a.m., members of the NYC Campaign Finance Board hold a public meeting; boardroom, 12th floor, 100 Church St., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr. and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie co-host the 2nd annual labor breakfast with state AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento, NYC Central Labor Council President Victor Alvarez and TWU Local 100 President John Samuelsen, Bronx County Building, Veterans’ Memorial Hall, 851 Grand Concourse, the Bronx.

At 10:30 a.m., Hochul tours Noblehurst Farm and Creamery, 1840 Craig Rd., Pavilion.

At 11 a.m., Sen. Adriano Espaillat, ranker on the Senate’s Housing Committee, and NYC Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez call for an end to the deregulation of NYC’s one million rent regulated units and an end to massive rent increases for the units’ 2.5 million tenants, City Hall, steps, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., Environmental Advocates of New York and partner organizations call on Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan to bring up bills with more than 32 sponsors for votes, LCA Press offices, 3rd floor, State Capitol, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., LIRR President Patrick Nowakowski, Sen. Jack Martins and Westbury Mayor Peter Cavallaro detail travel alternatives for 40,000 LIRR customers facing major delays Saturday & Sunday because of a bridge demolition project, Southside of Ellison Avenue Bridge, Westbury.

At noon, Wildlife Conservation Society spokesman John Calvelli, Diaz Jr., Deputy Manhattan BP Joseph Garba, state Sen. Jose Peralta and Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda outline a proposal to direct part of the city hotel occupancy tax to subsidize each borough’s local tourism promotion efforts; in front of the Zoo Center, the society’s Bronx Zoo, 2300 Southern Blvd., the Bronx.

Also at noon, advocates, NYC Council members, laundry workers and residents criticize the cleanliness of commercial laundry facilities in the city as a public health threat, including facilities that serve hospitals, hotels and restaurants; steps, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 12:30 p.m., de Blasio will participate in a lecture with former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich at the Goldman School of Public Policy at University of California, Berkeley, Freight and Salvage, 2020 Addison St., Berkeley, CA.

At 1 p.m., Hochul speaks at a “transformational announcement” regarding Letchworth State Park, 1 Letchworth State Park (one mile south of Castile entrance), Castile.

Also at 1 p.m., Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster will be joined by Lockport Mayor Ann McCaffrey, Assemblyman John Ceretto and a representative from the AG’s office to discuss the importance of protecting local communities from the burden of vacant and abandoned properties, outside 560 College Ave., Niagara Falls.

Also at 1 p.m., NYC Council members join the New York City Alternatives to Incarceration/Reentry Coalition to call for increased funding for their citywide programs and services for those in the criminal justice system, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 2:45 p.m., Hochul and Livingston County Chamber of Commerce President Laura Lane tour small businesses in Mount Morris, Charred Grill Restaurant, 36 Main St., Mount Morris.

At 4:30 p.m., de Blasio will speak at Santa Clara University, where his daughter, Chiara, is a student, Santa Clara University – Recital Hall, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA.

At 5 p.m., elected officials, including NYC Public Advocate Letitia James, NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark Viverito and Assemblyman Keith Wright, march and rally with tenants and supporters to call for urgent reforms to rent laws, Foley Square, Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., Manhattan BP Gale Brewer speaks during a panel discussion about the “421-a” tax incentive program, presented by the American Planning Association’s regional chapter; Rudin Family Forum for Civic Dialogue, NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, second floor, Puck Building, 295 Lafayette St., Manhattan.

At 6:30 p.m., NYC officials and state lawmakers join Dominican Day Parade Inc. officials as they introduce members of the nonprofit organization’s new board of directors and Community Advisory Committee, in preparation for the scheduled Sunday, Aug. 9, parade; 809 Restaurant, Bar & Grill, 112 Dyckman St., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina delivers the address at the Manhattanville College graduate & doctoral commencement, Manhattanville College, 2900 Purchase St., Purchase.


As search crews pored over a derailed Amtrak train that killed seven and injured scores, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and more than two dozen of his counterparts from across the country rallied in front of the U.S. Capitol to call for increased transportation funding.

De Blasio thinks the solution to America’s transportation funding woes lies in taxing the rich. “If you ask me where I think we should get revenue that could have a transcendent impact on our country, no one here will be shocked if I say there’s several ways I think we should be taxing those who have done very well,” he said.

In an ironic twist, while the mayors held their press conference outside the Capitol, inside the U.S. House Appropriations Committee voted down several amendments that would have increased funding for Amtrak.

Democratic lawmakers in Washington angrily demanded an increase in Amtrak funding, calling the accident a result of congressional failure to support the rail system. Republicans refused, defeating the request in a morning committee hearing and accusing Democrats of using a tragedy for political reasons.

“It’s not just our trains, it is our bridges that are failing,” said Rep. Steve Israel, a Long Island Democrat. “It is our highways that are crowded and filled with potholes. It is our runways at our airports…We are divesting from America.”

An engineer jammed on the emergency brakes just seconds before the fatal Amtrak derailment, but the train — traveling at 106 miles an hour, more than twice the speed limit — slowed only slightly, federal authorities said, before hurtling off its tracks.

Victims of the derailment include a 20-year-old midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy, an Associated Press employee, a technology executive, a CUNY administrator and a Wells Fargo employee.

New teacher evaluations would be delayed in New York and tying school aid to the evaluations would be dropped under legislation introduced by Assembly Democrats.

The de Blasio administration wants to partially restore disability benefits for newly hired cops and firefighters seriously injured on the job – a move quickly rejected as inadequate by the unions representing those workers.

At the mayor moves to court Silicon Valley, Internet titans including Facebook, Google and Twitter this week have issued a public rebuke of the de Blasio administration on an ostensibly obscure subject: municipal taxi policy.

A week after longtime lawmaker William Scarborough pleaded guilty to claiming $40,000 in bogus travel expenses, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie announced new rules governing the reimbursement system.

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A speeding Amtrak train heading from Washington, D.C. to New York City killed at least seven people when it derailed while going over 100 mph in a curve — even though there was a speed restriction of 50 mph.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent members of the New York National Guard and state officials will to Pennsylvania to aid the response after the crash.

Less than a day after the deadly crash, House Republicans voted to chop $260 million from Amtrak’s budget, saying the reduction was necessary to stay under the cuts Congress and the president agreed to four years ago.

Due to a respiratory infection, Sandra Lee has postponed her breast cancer surgery, which had been scheduled for tomorrow, until early next week.

Lee recorded a video diary for People magazine about her life since her diagnosis.

The state-owned oil company of Azerbaijan secretly funded an all-expenses-paid trip to a conference at Baku on the Caspian Sea in 2013 for 10 members of Congress – including two New Yorkers, Reps. Yvette Clarke and Greg Meeks – and 32 staff members.

Schenectady Republican state Sen. Hugh Farley is set to get a primary challenge from a 33-year-old Realtor, Christian Klueg of Northville, Fulton County. (Assuming, that is, that Farley seeks re-election in 2016, which he has not confirmed).

First, Republicans mocked Hillary Clinton for not yet winning the endorsement of her own former campaign manager, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio. Now, they’re tweaking her for embracing his progressive agenda.

Clinton will head into the 2016 presidential election with another semi-official super PAC in her corner.

The Auburn Citizen chastises Sens. Jim Seward and Michael Nozzolio for supporting Long Island’s John Flanagan for Senate majority leader over the upstate candidate, Sen. John DeFrancisco, of Syracuse.

Sen. Cathy Young explained why she backed Flanagan over DeFrancisco, saying she had done so in the name of “stability,” adding: “We blocked New York City from taking control of New York state government. New York City Democrats were planning a procedural move to take control of the Senate.”

Young said there was no “arrangement” for her backing of Flanagan, though senators have said she could be in line to become Senate deputy majority leader, should something happen to Tom Libous.

Bill Hammond: “In his first 24 hours as majority leader of the state Senate, Long Island Republican John Flanagan has already proven a master of one skill that’s critical to the job: talking a lot without saying very much.”

Gotham Gazette took a look at Flanagan’s “fundraising velocity” since he joined the Senate in 2003 after many years in the Assembly.

A report from the industry-backed New York Gaming Association showed the biggest drop in aid to education in 2014 since the racinos opened in 2004.

A group of security officers employed by the Buffalo City School District have filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that they were not properly compensated for overtime work.

The state Senate today passed legislation that would change the state heath law to allow restaurants to let customers bring their pet dogs into outdoor dining areas. (Cats, sadly, were left out of this legislation).

Assembly Democrats have introduced legislation that would delay the development and implementation of new teacher evaluations, as well as no longer tie school aid to the new standards.

The Division of the Budget announced the re-launch of the Open Budget website (, with new interactive features that will help New Yorkers understand their budget.

Here’s Assemblyman Felix Ortiz doing his hands-on legislator thing.

How is this fair? Brooklyn is getting a Wgeman’s, while Albany is still going without.

Here and Now

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

At approximately 8:20 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will appear live on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” with Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett to discuss the bipartisan push for a six-year transportation authorization that significantly increases federal transportation investments.

At 9 a.m., the National Commission on Hunger hosts public hearing on how to ensure Americans have access to sufficient, healthy food, 411 State St., 2nd Floor, Albany.

Also at 9 a.m., the NYS Association for Affordable Housing hosts its annual New York City conference, featuring Jamie Rubin, executive director of the governor’s Office of Storm Recovery, New York City Council members Brad Lander and Jumaane Williams and city officials, Marriott Marquis Times Square Hotel, 1535 Broadway, sixth floor, Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal and Sen. Kemp Hannon join the AARP and advocates to call for the passage of the CARE Act, legislation aimed at helping family caregivers, LCA Pressroom, Room 130, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

At 11 a.m., New York State Tourism Advisory Council members hold a public meeting; conference room, 37th floor, 633 Third Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., scouts and scouters from Boy Scout Councils from across New York will gather today in Albany to present their report to the state, The Well, LOB, 198 State St. (Sen. John DeFrancisco and Assemblyman Michael Cusick will accept the report).

Also at 11 a.m., health advocates will announce a new coalition to advocate for legislation and policies that will protect New York State residents from the dangers of e-cigarettes, LCA Press Room (130), LOB, Albany. Assemblywoman Rosenthal and Sen. Hannon are scheduled to attend.

At 11:45 a.m., NYC officials including Sanitation Commissioner Kathryn Garcia, the director of the “GreeNYC” public education program, Roya Kazemi, Environmental Protection Commissioner Emily Lloyd and Mayor’s Office of Sustainability Director Nilda Mesa introduce a campaign promoting reusable bags, bottles and mugs, titled “B.Y.O.,” Union Square West and 15th Street, Manhattan.

At noon, LG Kathy Hochul speaks at the 94th Annual New York Building Congress Luncheon, Midtown Hilton, 1335 Ave. of the Americas, Grand Ballroom, 3rd Floor, Manhattan.

Also at noon, Sens. Martins and George Amedore, co-chairs of the Senate’s Task Force on Workforce Development, will hold a public forum to examine ways to bridge the employment gap and help connect people with in-demand jobs, LOB, Hearing Room A, Albany.

At 1 p.m., de Blasio holds a press conference with a bipartisan coalition of mayors to call for passage of a long-term transportation bill by Congress, Capitol Hill – Area 10, 1st Street NE between Independence Avenue and East Capitol Street, Washington, D.C.

Also at 1 p.m., Brooklyn BP Eric Adams and NYC Councilman David Greenfield will rally outside Bnos Zion of Bobov High School, a private Jewish all-girls school in Borough Park, in support of legislation that would advance safety for all schools in New York City, 5000 14th Ave., Borough Park, Brooklyn.

At 3:15 p.m., Hochul tours the Jewish Home Lifecare nursing home facility, 149 West 105th St., Manhattan.

At 6:30 p.m., members of the NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board hold a regularly scheduled monthly public meeting; Friends of Crown Heights Educational Centers Inc., 671 Prospect Pl., Brooklyn.

Also at 6:30 p.m., former Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout speaks on ethics at a lecture, The Cooper Union, the Great Hall in the Foundation Building, 7 E 7th St., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and broadcaster Charlie Rose discuss Kissinger’s experiences during World War II, during an event at the Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the Holocaust organized to mark this week’s 70th anniversary of the Tuesday, May 8, 1945, end of the war in Europe, known as V-E Day; Edmond J. Safra Plaza, 36 Battery Place, Manhattan.

Also at 7 p.m., Hochul, Sen. Hochul, Toby Ann Stavisky and NYC Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz tour small businesses in Queens, corner of Ascan Avenue and Austin Street, Forest Hills.

At 8 p.m., Manhattan Democratic Party chairman/Assemblyman Keith Wright is scheduled to speak to Three Parks Independent Democratic Club members during the club’s monthly meeting, including a discussion of low-income housing and zoning laws; ballroom, Hostelling International-New York, 891 Amsterdam Ave., Manhattan.


At least five people were killed and over 140 people hurt after an Amtrak train, headed from Washington to New York City and carrying 238 passengers and five crew members, derailed and rolled onto its side in the Port Richmond section of Philadelphia last night.

“It is an absolute, disastrous mess,” Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter said of the crash site. “I’ve never seen anything like this in my life.”

Modified Amtrak service is being provided between Washington and Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Philadelphia, and New York and Boston. There will be no service between New York and Philadelphia, but New Jersey Transit will honor Amtrak tickets between New York City and Trenton.

Sandra Lee’s decisions to be tested for breast cancer and how to treat it reflect increasingly personal choices in a field of medicine in which information is weighed in an highly individualized manner.

Lee has been diagnosed with ductal carcinoma in situ, or DCIS, a condition that not all doctors define as cancer, according to Dr. Stephanie Bernik, chief of surgical oncology at Lenox Hill Hospital.

Cuomo said he would “take some personal time” to assist with Lee’s recovery, though he did not say how long. “I want to be with Sandy to support her in any way I can,” he said.

Lee said her longtime boyfriend, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has been “extremely supportive” in the past several weeks, during which she has already had a lumpectomy. She plans to have a bilateral mastectomy this week and said Cuomo is “going to be in the operating room with me.”

The Cuomo administration moved last night to withhold funding from some of New York City’s homeless shelters because of their poor conditions, sparking a fight over near-record homelessness in the city.

The governor appeared with Cardinal Timothy Dolan on Long Island and in Buffalo yesterday to call on lawmakers to approve the controversial Education Investment Tax Credit, which has a new family-friendly name: the Parental Choice in Education Act.

While previous versions of the bill have failed, Cuomo’s new effort incorporates features that he hopes will lead to passage before the Legislature adjourns in June. He blamed prior failure on “political powers in Albany” who have so far stymied its passage.

Cuomo recalled his days as a student at St. Gerard Majella, which is now closed, and Archbishop Molloy HS, both in Queens.

New Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said that he would support laws extending rent stabilization, housing tax breaks and mayoral control of city public schools before the Legislature adjourns next month.

A political group run by close allies of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Campaign for One New York, has attracted the interest of a state ethics planel, which is concerned that the group could be violating lobbying rules, according to two people familiar with the inquiry. Representatives from JCOPE have contacted the group in recent weeks to ask why it has not yet registered as a lobbyist.

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After Sandra Lee’s breast cancer shock, the governor whisked her away to Turks and Caicos for three days, telling People magazine: “(She) needed a break and we needed to be in a place that allowed us to focus on her and how we would handle her diagnosis.”

This marks the second serious personal crisis that the governor has faced in recent months; his father, Mario M. Cuomo, the former governor, died on New Year’s Day, just hours after his son was inaugurated.

Speaking in Washington, D.C., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio called US Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, “a powerful voice” in the fight against inequality – praise that comes as he seeks to push the Democratic Party to the left in the 2016 presidential primary.

De Blasio also outlined his agenda in an email blast, urging supporters to sign on.

Success Academy CEO Eva Moskowitz is going after the de Blasio administration again — this time over timely payments to her charter schools.

Moskowitz mocked the mayor and made a direct plea for policy changes during the Manhattan Institute’s annual Hamilton Dinner last night.

State officials are backing off their court battle against the EPA’s rejection of a plan to use clean water funding to pay for part of the Tappan Zee Bridge.

New Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan: “Sometimes, with the winter we’ve just had, I think, ‘are we really going through climate change?'”

The state’s leading gun group is not happy with the selection of Flanagan to lead the Senate, and said it would consider primaries next year against GOP senators if they don’t seek changes to the SAFE Act.

Flanagan, who voted “yes” on the SAFE Act, now says he’s open to modifying the law, but expressed doubts that would fly with the Democrat-led Assembly and Cuomo.

Sen. Mike Nozzolio once introduced a bill to make Upstate the nation’s 51st state because he said New York City leaders were ignoring the region. Yesterday, he voted for Flanagan over the upstate majority leader candidate, Sen. John DeFrancisco, of Syracuse.

Nozzolio and Sen. Jim Seward think Second Amendment advocates should give Flanagan some time before passing judgment.

US Attorney Preet Bharara will deliver the Pace Law School commencement address this Sunday, and also receive an honorary degree from Dean David Yassky.

Verizon and Sprint have agreed to multi-state settlements that will include refunds to consumers and resolve charges that the companies engaged in mobile “cramming,” where they place third-party charges on cellular phone bills that the customers didn’t authorize.

As students begin preparing to cram for end-of-the-year tests, Cuomo is making a legislative crunch-time push to get an education investment tax credit through the Legislature.

AG Eric Schneiderman wrote an OpEd urging New York to “lead” on criminal justice reform.

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer is holding his first fundraiser for his 2017 re-election committee on June 9.

US Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand are opposing “fast track” legislation that would require Congress to vote up or down on trade deals without amending the deals. See the vote tally here.

With the Redskins name gone, Lancaster students came up with seven potential new nicknames and logos. They are: the Alphas, Legends, Dragons, Pride, Jaguars, Red Hawks and Knights.

Contrary to initial reports, Assemblyman David Weprin is seriously considering running for his his old NYC Council seat, recently vacated by his brother, Mark Weprin, who used to hold david Weprin’s Assembly seat.

This actually happened.

Ithaca Bingo!

Business Council Considers Wage Board Challenge

From the Morning Memo:

Heather Briccetti, president and CEO and the state Business Council, is questioning the legality of the governor’s latest wage board, which will consider a pay hike for fast food workers, and said a lawsuit could be in the offing.

“We’re looking at it, and I certainly think it’s open to challenge,” Briccetti said during a CapTon appearance last night.

“It appears to be something that’s rightly within the realm of the Legislature. Currently, the minimum wage is in statute, so you would think to alter it, you would need a statutory change.”

Advocates have long pushed for governors to circumvent the Legislature and unilaterally raise the state’s minimum wage through a wage board. And governors have long insisted they don’t have the power to act in such a board manner.

But the Cuomo administration feels secure that a narrowing focused board – like the one convened solely to contemplate wages in the fast food industry – is, in fact, legal.

Briccetti said she does not believe the statute “ever contemplated using a wage board to go above the statutory minimum wage,” but also admitted “when you look at it, it doesn’t appear to prohibit it.”

Briccetti was a member of Cuomo’s last wage board, which ended up raising the hourly wage for the state’s tipped workers from $5 to $7.50 by the end of this December.

Briccetti was the lone “no” vote on that three-member board. She said she found the experiencing of serving “a frustrating exercise,” and would not have agreed to repeat it – had she been asked, which she was not.

The fast food wage board members, tapped by acting state Labor Commissioner Mario Musolino are: Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, SEIU Secretary-Treasurer Mike Fishman and Kevin Ryan, an Internet entrepreneur and vice chairman of the Partnership for New York City.

Though Ryan is supposed to be representing the business community as a whole, Briccetti said she does not know him, and voiced concern that upstate fast food interests are not being adequately represented.

“The people who we’re talking about are generally local, and they don’t make a lot of money,” Briccetti said, saying the governor’s “rhetoric” on fats food CEOs making millions of dollars doesn’t hold true for most franchise owners, who are “barely making in the six digits – if that.”

The latest wage board is due to make its final recommendations in July.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City and on Long Island, where he’ll be joined by Cardinal Timothy Dolan for two events.

At 8 a.m., The vice chairman of The Port Authority and chairman and chief executive of RXR Realty LLC, Scott Rechler, discusses the authority’s priorities and recent changes, as well as regional business prospects, while speaking at the ABNY breakfast; Trianon Ballroom, New York Hilton Midtown hotel, 1335 Sixth Ave., Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani meets with 10 soldiers from the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF, who were wounded during “Operation Protective Edge” in the Gaza Strip in July and August 2014, as part of the conclusion of their 10-day tour sponsored by local nonprofit IDF auxiliary organization Belev Echad; Tiberias restaurant, 45 E. 34th St., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., Cuomo makes an announcement with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, North Hempstead “Yes We Can” Community Center, 141 Garden St., Westbury.

Also at 10 a.m., Sen. Phil Boyle and Assemblyman Phil Steck will join sponsors and business advocates to call for passage of a bill that would limit the state Liquor Authority’s use of its “improper conduct” clause when a New York business isn’t granted access to due process, LCA Press Room, Legislative Office Building Room 130, Albany.

At 10:30 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at a Roosevelt Institute-sponsored event that also Nobel Prize winning economist and professor Joseph Stiglitz and US Sen. Elizabeth Warren, National Press Club, 13, National Press Building Leasing, 529 14th St. Northwest, Washington, D.C.

At 11:30 a.m., legislators, labor leaders and business advocates call on Cuomo to fill the budget gap for statewide transit capital plans, LOB, LCA Press Room (130), Albany.

Also at 11:30 a.m., dozens of Airbnb hosts will meet with legislators in Albany to advocate for “fair and responsible regulations” for home sharing in New York, Million Dollar Staircase, state Capitol, 3rd Floor, Albany.

At noon, NYC Council members, SEIU Local 31 officials, tenants of public housing properties, workers from the community centers and senior centers attend a rally to call for city officials to continue employing more than 100 union workers in jobs at community centers and senior centers operated by NYCHA that are expected to be transferred to other city agencies, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at noon, NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray makes an announcement with Dr. Ram Raju, HHC Bellevue Hospital Center – South Lobby, 462 1st Ave., Manhattan.

At 1 p.m., Cuomo makes an another announcement with Dolan, Eggertsville Youth and Community Center, 4110 Bailey Ave., Eggertsville.

At 1:30 p.m., Assistant Assembly Speaker Felix W. Ortiz will be joined by colleagues Ellen Jaffee, Phil Palmesano and supporters to address the crisis in organ donation rates in the state, LCA Press Room (130), LOB, Albany.

At 3 p.m., de Blasio unveils the Progressive Agenda to Combat Income Inequality, House Triangle – East Front, Washington, D.C.

At approximately 6:30 p.m., Congressman-elect Dan Donovan will be sworn into office, House Floor, Capitol Building, East Capitol Street, NE & First St. SE, Washington, D.C.


As a Long Island Republican – Dean Skelos – relinquished his position as Senate president, and the leadership job went to another Long Island Republican – John Flanagan.

In a day of drama in the state capital, Flanagan squeaked through the 63-member Senate with 32 votes — a bare majority. There are 32 Republicans, but Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous is recuperating from surgery in Florida. It was left to Brooklyn Democratic Sen. Simcha Felder, a Skelos ally, to provide the winning vote.

“It was the right decision to step aside,” said Skelos, who is facing federal corruption charges. “I was a distraction.” The senator said he decided to step down after an “obnoxious” news photographer went into his son’s backyard last week, and his 2-year-old grandson fell and split his lip.

Sources tell Tom Precious that Sens. Cathy Young and Michael Nozzolio were the sole GOP senators west of Syracuse to vote for Flanagan to replace Skelos. Also, Gov. Andrew Cuomo made it clear that he preferred Flanagan to the more conservative and outspoken Sen. John DeFrancisco.

Seventeen senators in the Senate GOP conference are from Upstate, the same number needed to win the conference vote. “Many people assumed that many of the Upstaters were going to go in my corner,” DeFrancisco said. “And I think some didn’t. Really, that was sort of the difference…there were a couple that I was counting on that certainly didn’t go that way.”

Sources tell the Daily News the closed-door leadership conference vote was 18 for Flanagan, 15 for DeFrancisco.

Flanagan was 25 and a second-year law student when his father — Assemblyman John Flanagan Sr., a well-respected Republican from Long Island — died of a heart attack while jogging near the family’s home in Suffolk County. It was just a few weeks before the 1986 election, and the younger Flanagan entered the race and easily won his father’s seat.

Citing the time constraints of his new job, Flanagan said he has resigned from the Long Island law firm where he was of counsel.

Flanagan said Libous, who is fighting a federal corruption charge of his own and recovering in Florida from surgery related to his terminal cancer, will remain his No. 2. “Tom Libous may be in Florida, but he is no shrinking violet,” the new majority leader said. “He’s on the phone all the time.”

Cuomo’s approval rating dropped to its lowest mark since he took office in 2011, according to a new Wall Street Journal-NBC 4 New York-Marist poll. Just 37 percent New York voters think he’s doing a good or excellent job, down from 44 percent in October. His approval rating is higher among New York City voters – 44 percent – and equal to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s approval rating in a similar poll.

While it is true Cuomo has had to deal with more official emergencies than his father, the rate is actually similar to that of other recent governors, an average of about three per year, according to records of official disaster/emergency declarations by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

When de Blasio and US Sen. Elizabeth Warren appear together today at the National Press Club in Washington before he unveils his Contract with America for the left, it will be the latest step in the Democrats’ primary within the primary: liberals’ effort to figure out how to push Hillary Clinton to the left.

De Blasio defended his recent trips across the country, saying it is important for him to influence the broader conversation on the nation’s wealth gap in order to secure expanded federal funding for New York City.

More >


New Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, who was just 25 years old when he succeeded his father in the state Assembly, is seen as someone with politics in his DNA.

Both Flanagan and his now-vanquished rival, Sen. John DeFrancisco, accepted campaign contributions from companies related to downstate developer Glenwood Management and its founder Leonard Litwin, which played a key role in the Skelos and Silver corruption scandals.

The final count of the closed-door conference vote in which Flanagan bested DeFrancisco to succeed Skelos as majority leader was note released, but several senators said it was close.

There’s already a fake John Flanagan Twitter account.

“I’ve had more experience probably than any other governor in the history of New York in dealing with emergencies,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, suggesting perhaps he had done something “wrong to offend Mother Nature.”

Cuomo urged patrons of NYC nail salons to ask if workers are being paid the minimum wage, and pick a different salon if the answer is no.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called on government at all levels to combat the “scourge” of sexual assault on college campuses, and praised Cuomo’s push for new standards applied to all state campuses as a “bold and vital action” that should be mirrored nationwide.

Meet the wage baord members who will decide if fast food workers in New York deserve a raise: Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown; Mike Fishman, secretary-treasurer of SIEU; and Kevin Ryan, chairman and founder of Gilt, a flash-sale website.

A religious leader and former director of the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty was sentenced to a year of weekends in jail for his role in a $9 million scam centered on a longtime friend of ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Sen. Daniel Squadron to Sen. Michael Ranzenhofer, chair of the chamber’s Corporations Committee: My bill to close LLC loophole is pending in your committee, when will it be taken up?

Despite revelations last week that the governor’s officials have steered state housing bond work to his campaign contributors in apparent defiance of federal pay-to-play rules, New York state officials announced they are giving those same donors even more lucrative business.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will travel to Washington, D.C., and California next week after three recent trips to Midwestern states – but he’s still only made two public appearances on Staten Island so far this year.

De Blasio, who has settled labor contracts with 75 percent of the municipal workforce, last week raised salaries for tens of thousands of private workers operating under city-funded contracts.

The mayor called the Skelos scandal a “sad moment” for Albany, but vowed to continue campaigning for financial assistance for the city from the Republican-run state Senate, even though he’s not terribly well liked by the GOP conference.

A field of Democrats is already emerging to replace Queens Councilman Mark Weprin, who suddenly announced today he is resigning his seat to take a position with the Cuomo administration. Weprin’s brother, Assemblyman David Weprin, is not among them.

Actor Morgan Freeman on marijuana: “Legalize it across the board.”

Hillary Clinton has filled a major communications position in the campaign, tapping Xochitl Hinojosa as director of coalitions press. Hinojosa worked at the Department of Labor and is the daughter of the Texas Democratic Party chairman.

Bill Clinton does not plan to do any campaign activities for his wife in 2015, including fundraisers for her campaign or allied super PACs.

Retired Suffolk County Police Det. Sergeant Terrance Hoffman will repay the state and local Police and Fire Retirement System $465,647, as part of his sentence today for defrauding the retirement system in a double-dipping scheme.

Skelos Out, Flanagan In (Updated)

After spending about two hours behind closed doors, the Senate Republicans appear to have selected Long Island Sen. John Flanagan as their new leader, replacing now former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who was forced to give up his leadership post in the face of federal corruption charges.

Sen. Phil Boyle, a Long Islander like Skelos and Flanagan, confirmed the news in a tweet, in which he congratulated “my friend and colleague (Flanagan) on his ascension to Maj. Leader of the NYS Senate.” The tweet was quickly erased, but not before is was widely retweeted by members of the state Capitol press corps, and various Capitol watchers.

Nick Reisman, who has been monitoring the Senate Republicans’ closed-door confab, also says he has independely confirmed the news of Skelos’ demise, and Flanagan’s rise.

UPDATE: The first official statement on the leadership changeover in the Senate comes from Sen. Ken LaValle, another Long Island Republican, who had been a staunch Skelos supporter.

“I approached this matter with the goal of doing what is in the best interest of the people who elected me to represent them,” LaValle said. “This last week we have gone through the very involved process of selecting a new Majority Leader. Our Conference is comprised of intelligent, hard working individuals from across the state.”

“I fully support the Conference’s decision to elect my friend, and colleague, Senator John Flanagan as the New York State Senate Majority Leader. I believe that Senator Flanagan’s selection is in the best interest of not only the people of the First Senatorial District but residents from across New York State. I congratulate Senator John Flanagan, and know he will be a great Majority Leader.”

Sources say that Skelos has agreed to give up his leadership role, but will not at this point be resigning the Senate entirely – a decision that no doubt brought his colleagues a measure of relief.

Flanagan’s apparent victory comes at the loss of Sen. John DeFrancisco, of Syracuse, who was also in the running to replace Skelos, and has been far more public in campaigning for the job. Flanagan last week was one of 16 senators to sign on to statement of loyalty to Skelos that was distributed by the then-majority leader’s office. DeFrancisco’s name did not appear on that list.

At this moment, Senate Republicans remain behind closed doors in their conference room on the state Capitol’s third floor. There is so far no word as to who who serve as Flanagan’s No. 2 – or even if the currnet occupant of that post, Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous, of Binghamton, will be forced to give it up.

Libous cannot ascend to Skelos’ majority leader post, as he might normally do, due to the fact that he, too, is fighting a federal corruption charge. Also, Libous is battling terminal cancer, and is currently in Florida, where is he recuperating from back-to-back surgeries related to his cancer.

Sen. Cathy Young, of Olean, initially was mentioned as a potential replacement for Skeos. Young, who heads the Senate GOP’s fundraising arm, reportedly wanted to strike a deal with Flanagan that would have exchanged her support for the No. 2 post in the chamber.

There were numerous reports over the weekend that Skelos had been refusing to heed mounting calls to step aside from his seat unless the majority leader post remained on Long Island, in Flanagan’s hands. There was a furious upstate-downstate battle, which also pitted some of the more conservative (and anti-gun control) members against more liberal members – like Flanagan – who voted “yes” on the controversial SAFE Act.

Skelos also reportedly threatend to resign his seat altogether if he didn’t get his way in the leadership fight, which would have left his fellow Republicans in a significant lurch, due to their razor-thin 32-seat majority, which is cushioned only slightly by the addition of Democratic Sen. Simcha Felder, of Brooklyn, who reportedly would have contemplated going back to the Democrats if the GOP no longer controlled the chamber outright.

It remains to be seen if Flanagan can weather criticism of being seen as Skelos’ hand-picked successor. Also, the Daily News reported in March that Flanagan has voted on bills that benefitted the clients of a firm where he is of counsel. But the senator has insisted he is not involved with those clients and there is no conflict of interest present because he does not represent any clients with business before the state.

Flanagan’s ascension leavesommittee he chairs – Education – without a leader at a time when education remains a very hot topic at the Capitol, thanks to the ongoing debate over the state’s teacher evaluation system and Common Core-related tests.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City.

Senate Republicans are expected to conference behind closed doors at 11 a.m. at the state Capitol in an effort to work out their leadership battle.

It’s possible the GOP will cancel today’s 3 p.m. session if their meeting does long and/or senators deadlock on the question of who should replace Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos if he steps down and/or is ousted by his colleagues.

The Democrats, who are plotting another effort to force a leadership vote on the floor, would likely complain. But remember: The Assembly Democrats cancelled more than one session while they struggled to determine is former Speaker Sheldon Silver should continue to lead in the face of federal corruption charges, and if not, who should take his place.

At 9 a.m., Adam Haber, the Democrat who unsuccessfully challenged GOP Sen. Jack Martins in 2014, and “concerned Nassau County residents” to “call on Martins to withdraw his support for…Dean Skelos as Senate majority leader and demonstrate the negative impact that keeping Skelos in power would have on Nassau County residents,” Martins’ District Office, 252 Mineola Blvd., Mineola.

At 9:30 a.m., Rep. Chris Gibson will meet with participation in government students, Eldred High School, Route 55, Eldred.

At 10 a.m., Rep. Paul Tonko, state Canal Corporation Director Brian Stratton and Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane attend the raising of the first steel beams for construction of the Mohawk Valley Gateway Overlook Pedestrian Bridge, intersection of Bridge Street and Gilliland Avenue, Amsterdam.

Also at 10 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul joins Cuomo for an announcement about the Enough is Enough campaign, Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), David Dubinsky Student Center, Sub-Basement, 227 West 27th St., Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., members of the state Firemen’s Association, state Association of Fire Chiefs and the state Association of Fire Districts outline their legislative priorities, Meeting Room 5, Empire State Plaza Convention Center, Albany.

At 11:30 a.m., community, environmental, worker, tenant and good-government groups call for the adoption of the Moreland Commission Plan to End Corruption, outside the Senate chamber, state Capitol, 3rd Floor, Albany.

Also at 11:30 a.m., Gibson will help honor RSVP volunteers, Villa Roma Resort & Conference Center, Villa Roma Road, Callicoon.

At noon, Hochul speaks at the Bottomless Closet Annual Spring Luncheon, Hilton New York, 1335 Ave. of the Americas, Manhattan.

At 12:30 p.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray appears on HuffPost Live to discuss mental health.

At 1:30 p.m., following a visit to Corona Family Residence, a homeless facility in Queens, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio makes an announcement, 38-01 112th St., Flushing.

At 2 p.m., the Assembly is scheduled to go into session, Assembly chamber, state Capitol, Albany.

Also at 2 p.m., officials from the Alliance for Tenant Power and the Real Rent Reform Campaign, government and union officials and low-income and moderate-income residents outline plans for advocacy events promoting renewal of state rent control laws scheduled to expire Monday, June 15, including proposed changes to the laws; steps, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 6:30 p.m., Eva Moskowitz of the Success Charter Academy Schools and George Kelling, co-author of the Broken Windows theory, will be honored at the Manhattan Institute’s Alexander Hamilton Awards Dinner, at Cipriani 42nd Street, 110 East 42nd St., Manhattan.


Embattled Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is expected to step down from his leadership post any day – perhaps during a closed-door meeting this morning with his Republican members. If he doesn’t, he could face the ultimate humiliation of being removed — with help from the Democrats — as leader during a public vote on the floor of the Senate.

By last night, at least nine Republican senators had publicly called for Skelos to step down, representing a significant slice of the 33-member conference, which rarely shows its diverging views in such a stark fashion.

Skelos’ replacement – likely Sen. John Flanagan, of Long Island; or Sen. John DeFrancisco, of Syracuse – will take over a conference that has been fractured unlike any time in decades. And the direction the Republicans go could have a profound impact on issues being negotiated in the waning weeks of the legislative session.

In an interview yesterday, DeFrancisco said Republicans would discuss the situation today and “after that, we’ll know who the leader is.”

“Dean probably sees the handwriting on the wall at this time,” said an influential Republican senator with a vote on the matter. That senator said it would be bad for Skelos’ “legacy” to bow out completely or let his colleagues take the gavel from him.

While many members of the rank-and-file in both houses have been charged or convicted of crimes over the years, it’s the Legislature’s leadership structure that some say makes it easy for those at the top to commit abuse.

Adam Skelos had some trouble as a teenager, moving from high school to high school. And he relied on his increasingly powerful and politically connected father as he got older to help him get jobs – and keep them.

In a move designed to improve his relationship with the Legislature, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has hired ex-Assemblyman Mark Weprin, a Queens NYC councilman well-liked by his former colleagues, to serve as his deputy secretary for legislative affairs. Weprin will resign his seat to take the job.

An audit to be released today by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli raises “real doubts” about the value of Cuomo’s $200 million-plus “Start Up NY’’ advertising campaign to attract businesses to the state.

Cuomo ordered emergency measures to combat the wage theft and health hazards faced by the thousands of people who work in New York State’s nail salon industry. A new, multiagency task force will conduct salon-by-salon investigations, institute new rules that salons must follow to protect manicurists from the potentially dangerous chemicals, and begin a six-language education campaign to inform them of their rights.

AG Eric Schneiderman will propose legislation today requiring health insurers to provide cost-free birth control — even for men.

IDC Leader Jeff Klein wants to extend by five years the law authorizing mayoral control over the New York City school system, with some key changes – including requiring the mayor to appoint a parent of a charter school student to the advisory Panel for Educational Policy.

Part of the Indian Point nuclear power plant complex remained offline yesterday after a transformer fire created another problem: thousands of gallons of oil leaking into the Hudson River, according to Cuomo.

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The Weekend That Was

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on the aftermath of this weekend’s transformer fire at Indian Point: “There is no doubt but that oil did escape from the transformer, there is no doubt that oil did go into the holding tank and exceeded the capacity of the holding tank, and there is no doubt that oil was discharged into the Hudson River. Exactly how much, we don’t know.”

Who will be leading the Senate GOP conference after tomorrow remains an open question, though Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is reportedly saying he might be willing to step aside if a fellow Long Islander – Sen. John Flanagan – is tapped to replace him.

Tom Precious: “(Skelos) will cease to be the head of the Senate Republicans on Monday. The only question is whether he pulls the plug on his leadership reign on his own, or whether his fellow Senate Republicans depose him…The betting by every Republican who discussed the matter was that Skelos will take the voluntary route.”

The other contender for Skelos’ job, Senate Finance Chairman John DeFrancisco, is the 68-year-old the son of a house painter, and has never lost a political race in four decades in public office. He’s also never been the subject of a criminal or ethical investigation in his political career.

A ninth Senate Republican – freshman Terrance Murray – publicly called for Skelos to relinquish his majority leader’s post.

Adele Malpass, the chairwoman of the Manhattan Republican Party, called for Skelos to resign his leadership role, and suggested Sen. Cathy Young, as Olean, as a replacement, saying a woman in charge would shake-up the “old-boy network” in Albany.

The 421-a exemption, dubbed “New York City’s most expensive real estate tax break” by the NYC Independent Budget Office, has been at the center of the corruption scandals of both the Skelos and ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. It will cost the city $3 billion in tax revenue from fiscal 2012 through the fiscal year that ends next month.

The NYT says the latest spate of corruption at the Capitol gives Cuomo the opportunity to be a “hero” and push through real reform of the NYC rent laws – starting by doing away with the 421-a program.

Wayne Barrett notes that many Senate Republicans own homes in Florida – “especially in the 45-mile southwest corridor between Fort Myers and Naples, where they reportedly hang out in gated golf-course communities and do Senate business. Lobbyists have figured it out and bought homes there as well, including the three alluded to in the complaint against Skelos.”

Republican donors to the Senate want the leadership battle resolved ASAP.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie watched last weekend’s Mayweather-Pacquiao bout at the waterfront condo of Buffalo political operative Steve Pigeon.

Rep. Chris Gibson, who might be eyeing a gubernatorial run in 2018, said Cuomo should “lead by example” and impose term limits on himself, declining to seek re-election to a third term.

Carol Burris, principal of South Side High School in Rockville Centre for 15 years and an outspoken critic of the Common Core standards and related testing, is leaving the district in June to fight what she says are harmful educational reforms.

Fast food workers were pleased by Cuomo’s populist rhetoric last week on covering a wage board to raise their hourly wages after showing a somewhat lackluster interest in the issue for several years.

A Republican lawyer from Albany with no public works experience has been tapped for a top post at the Erie County Water Authority that pays more than $132,000.

The Cuomo administration has set aside $2 million to invest in new high-tech businesses owned by minorities and women. The initiative is meant to expand opportunities for entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds and promote economic growth around the state.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is headed to California on Thursday to give talks at Santa Clara University — his daughter’s school — and the University of California-Berkeley. He leaves for the coast Wednesday — after a two-day trip in Washington.

Hillary Clinton’s latest campaign video is a Mother’s Day themed affair. In it Clinton pays homage to her own mother, celebrates the birth of her granddaughter, and shifts into the issue of paid family leave.

Clinton will headline two fundraisers in her hometown of Chicago on May 20.

Tom Wrobleski writes of the political “chaos” that looms when Staten Island DA Dan Donovan departs for D.C.

A leading scientific journal has run a lengthy correction clarifying that a Syracuse University professor and his co-authors were paid by the gas industry on a recent study on fracking.

An army of about 300 angry moms marched across the Brooklyn Bridge and converged on City Hall Saturday to call for tighter gun-control laws and blast America’s apparent lack of “gun sense” one day after fallen NYPD police officer Brian Moore was laid to rest during a teary funeral.

Former Monroe County DA Mike Green won’t run for his old job in the fall. Green, the commissioner of the state Department of Criminal Justice Services, had been considered a potential Democratic candidate to face incumbent District Attorney Sandra Dooley, who switched parties in January and is running for re-election as a Republican.

It has been a tough couple of years for eastern Wayne County’s economy. But a local business owner hopes to turn that around with a proposal to transform a shuttered plant into a medical marijuana growing facility.