Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin

Friday News Dump: Long-Awaited START-UP Report Released

Remember when I said we were planning to call it a day to get an early start on our holiday weekend festivities, barring any breaking news of the “Friday news dump” variety?

Well, the dump has landed.

Actually, I’m not sure if we can call it a “dump,” officially speaking, since the news-making report in question wasn’t actually formally released, but rather posted quite quietly on the Empire State DEvelopment website. (Kudos to our colleague at Newsday, James T. Madore, for catching this one).

The report in question is an annual progress report on the governor’s much-touted – or much-criticized, depending on who’s talking – START-UP NY economic development program, established in 2013, that allows new or expanding companies with ties to participating institutions of higher education to operate without paying most state or local taxes for 10 years.

START-UP took effect Jan. 1, 2014, with the first tax-free zones approved in March of that year and the first companies admitted into the program two months later. According to its first progress report, companies participating in the program created just 76 jobs, and invested just $1.7 million, as of the end of 2014.

Meanwhile, an audit released by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office in May 2015, questioned the efficacy of the Cuomo administration’s decision to spend millions of dollars advertising START-UP NY when it clearly wasn’t doing much in the job-creation department.

START-UP NY supporters and Cuomo administration officials defended the program, saying it was still young and needed more time to get established to demonstrate its effectiveness. Hence, the anticipation of the release of Progress Report No. 2.

That report was due out at the end of this past March, but didn’t actually show up until today. So, now we know that START-UP NY created 332 jobs in 2015 and has 159 participating businesses that have, according to ESD, invested $11.4 million in the state and received $1.2 million worth of tax breaks.

That information, by the way, was inserted into a footnote – in very small type – at the bottom of Page 10 in the 16-page report.

(What is it about Page 10, anyway?)

Extras

We’re ready to get an early start on this holiday weekend – barring any 5 p.m. Friday news dumps. There will be light-to-no blogging over the next three days. No Capital Tonight on Monday, July 4, for those of you in our viewing area. Also, no morning headlines or memo on Monday, either. If there’s major news, we will, of course, be here to cover it for you. Let’s all hope not, though. Have a safe, fun and happy Fourth! Get outside and enjoy the sun!

U.S. Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch said she would accept whatever prosecutors and the F.B.I. director decide on charges related to Hillary Clinton’s email server.

Lynch acknowledged that her meeting with former President Bill Clinton this week has “cast a shadow” over the justice department’s investigation.

Clinton is reportedly scheduled to meet with the FBI Saturday about her email server.

With just more than two weeks until the Republican National Convention opens in Cleveland, Donald Trump’s preparations for what is usually a polished and highly choreographed affair are looking a lot like his campaign itself: chaotic, freewheeling and unpredictable.

Trump’s campaign announced two major hires as he ramps up his staffing heading into the general election. including polling strategist Kellyanne Conway.

Hillary Clinton penned a goodbye to “The Toast” – a literary and feminist corner of the Internet that is closing down today after three years.

There’s a statue of Clinton in Albania.

After tensions between the rank-and-file police union at the NYPD and the board that hears police misconduct complaints spiked under its former chair Richard Emery, his successor — mayoral counsel Maya Wiley — is stepping in as both antidote and lightening rod.

E.J. McMahon: “Yesterday marked the end of a second straight sub-par fiscal year for most of the nation’s state and local public pension funds, including all five New York City funds and the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System (NYSTRS).”

There has long been “bad blood” between G. Steve Pigeon and state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, even before the latter indicted the former on corruption charges this week.

Three prominent New Yorkers – former Gov. George Pataki, hedge fund manager Harry Wilson and former LG Richard Ravitch – are among those being considered for a spot on the federal Puerto Rico fiscal control board.

When Syracuse Superintendent Sharon Contreras got the call from a recruiter about the top post in Guilford County, N.C, she says, she knew the timing was right for her to leave Syracuse.

Crain’s published its inaugural list of power couples in the New York business world.

Dan Clark investigates the veracity of Michael Caputo’s claim that Trump was outspent by his closest primary opponents, and finds it mostly holds water.

The panhandling fake Buddhist monks are back in Times Square.

A Syracuse waste and recycling worker must end his fake plumbing business and pay back eight customers $8,224.38, a judge ordered.

Marchione Meets Quietly With State, Local Officials on PFOA

From the Morning Memo:

Sen. Kathy Marchione, a Capital Region Republican who has come under fire for her response to the PFOA water contamination crisis in her district – particularly for her refusal to call for or hold hearings on the matter – is trying to do some damage control.

The senator announced in a press release sent out shortly before 11 p.m. last night that she took part in a “very productive meeting” with state Operations Director Jim Malatras, DEC representatives and local officials from the Village and Town of Hoosick Falls and the Town of Petersburgh to address the ongoing health crisis in those communities.

“Working together, having an honest conversation, we achieved a great deal of positive outcomes and real results,” the senator said.

Those results, according to Marchione, include :

- Securing a water filtration system for the Berlin School;

– Submission of a preliminary engineering report to improve and expand the existing municipal water system in Petersburgh – a water system that will cost approximately $8.5 million – and the State’s willingness to explore such a new system;

– Continuation of the policy of “if you want it, you get it” of POET carbon filtration systems for individual personal wells for Town of Petersburgh residents, just as Town of Hoosick residents received;

– Agreement that State will pay (and then seek reimbursement from Saint-Gobain) $46,000 for costs of a Hoosick water system feasibility study to expand Hoosick Falls’ municipal water system;

– Agreement for funding to hire an Environmental Engineer for the Town of Hoosick so the community can be assured of an independent analysis;

– State paying for six months of water for Town of Petersburgh residents, same as received by Hoosick Falls residents;

– State will work with company to help relieve municipal employees regarding distribution of water;

– Future bio-monitoring and blood testing for the Village Hoosick Falls, the Town of Hoosick and Town of Petersburgh residents was discussed;

– Local on-site blood testing for Petersburgh residents which will commence on July 23rd at the Petersburgh Community Center;

– Continuation of an independent health cancer study conducted by Mt. Sinai;

– Clarification on how carbon filtration systems will be maintained for home use; and

– Finalization of a confidentiality agreement for Hoosick Falls private wells.

Still no mention of hearings, though.

The senator said these developments represent “important progress,” but are “not the end of this effort. She did not elaborate.

Here and Now

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

We’re expecting a slow day as many people get an early start on the three-day 4th of July holiday weekend – unless, of course, some intrepid elected official takes advantage of the Friday, mid-summer holiday weekend and gives us a 5 p.m. news dump.

At 11 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will attend and deliver remarks at the NYPD graduation, Madison Square Garden, 4 Pennsylvania Plaza, Manhattan. (A media availability will follow at 12:30 p.m.)

At 4 p.m., the Republican candidate in NY-4, Phil Rosenthal, hosts a “pro-Israel” rally in response to a “pro-BDS rally,” corner of 42nd Street and 7th Avenue, Times Square, Manhattan.

Headlines…

State AG Eric Schneiderman and federal officials made clear that the indictment of G. Steve Pigeon is just the beginning of an investigation that is ongoing.

The former state Supreme Court judge Pigeon allegedly bribed, sought out the operative due to his influence with his longtime friend and ally, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, though it now appears the two aren’t as close as they used to be.

The Buffalo Billion investigation has not prevented Ciminelli Real Estate Corp. from getting the chance to transform an Elmwood Village neighborhood that is losing Women & Children’s Hospital of Buffalo as its anchor institution.

Although most New York voters give the state Senate and Assembly a C-minus grade for its accomplishments, a plurality would vote to re-elect their senator and Assembly member this year, according to a Siena College poll released yesterday.

Robert De Niro is conjuring the legacy — and the stand-up jokes — of comedians like Rodney Dangerfield, Henny Youngman and Milton Berle while praising the natural beauty of New York’s Catskills region.

Cuomo participated in a white water rafting race as part of his first-ever Catskills Summer Challenge which included boating, biking, hiking, fly fishing, motorcycle touring, resort games, sporting competitions, and visits to tourist attractions in Delaware, Sullivan, Ulster, and Greene Counties. (His team won, naturally).

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer appealed to the head of the Federal Highway Administration to help ease parking lot congestion during concerts at the $50 million Lakeview Amphitheater.

Former Rep. Dan Maffei’s seven-month wait to start a new job with the Federal Maritime Commission ended last night after the U.S. Senate confirmed his appointment to the post.

State Assemblyman Keith Wright conceded defeat in the Democratic congressional primary to replace retiring Harlem Rep. Charlie Rangel, shaking hands with the winner, Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who is on track to become the first Dominican immigrant to be elected to Congress.

“We’ve left it all on the battlefield, and certainly, now, it’s time to come together,” said Wright, who lost to Espaillat by 1,200 votes. “I want him to be successful. We all need him to be successful…We are one community.”

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner delivered a sermon about poverty, racism and justice during an ecumenical service at Skiddy Park last night.

Onondaga County voters are almost evenly split over whether the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County governments should merge, according to a new Siena College poll.

Vice President Joe Biden said he has spoken to Bernie Sanders and received assurances from the Vermont senator that he will endorse his erstwhile primary rival, Clinton, for president.

Biden will join Clinton next Friday at a campaign event in Scranton, Pennsylvania. Biden was born in Scranton, and Clinton’s father grew up there.

Defeated by Donald Trump in the 2016 primaries and derided by fellow Republicans for his subsequent embrace of his erstwhile rival, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has quietly emerged as one of the most influential advisers to his party’s presumptive presidential nominee and one of the leading contenders to be his running mate.

President Barack Obama signed a rescue package for financially strapped Puerto Rico, which is facing more than $70 billion in debt and a major payment due today.

More >

Extras

Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter removed one of the final barriers to military service by lifting the Pentagon’s ban on transgender people serving openly in the armed forces.

Foreign leaders have made no secret of their disdain for Donald Trump — and now French President Francois Hollande has made it explicit, endorsing Hillary Clinton for the White House.

A week after Democrats staged a nearly 26-hour sit-in demanding a vote on gun control measures, Speaker Paul Ryan said the House will vote next week on legislation to block suspected terrorists from buying guns

Defections from the de Blasio administration continue with the departure of Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Emily Lloyd and Office of Sustainability Director Nilda Mesa.

This morning, de Blasio announced that City Hall would be lit orange to mark the final day of National Gun Violence Awareness Month. Not to be outdone, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced an hour later that 1 World Trade Center would also be lit orange.

And after decades of strutting through the halls of power in Buffalo, Albany and Washington, the welcome mat was withdrawn for Western New York attorney and Democratic operative G. Steve Pigeon. The Buffalo News looks back at the highs and lows of his career.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a letter with the Federal Communications Commission regarding its proposed rulemaking to establish privacy rules for Broadband Internet Access Service providers, offering several recommendations designed to maximize consumer choice, transparency, and security.

Appearing with Cuomo today in the Castkills, where he owns property, actor Robert De Niro rattled off several one-liners made famous by the comedians who regularly appeared at area resorts in the mid-20th century.

Assemblyman Keith Wright conceded the NY-13 primary to Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who is now a near sure thing to replace retiring Harlem Rep. Charlie Rangel.

New York ski mountains had an historically tough winter season due to the lack of snow, according to ORDA’s annual report.

Cuomo last week approved the diversion of millions of gallons of Great Lakes water to the small city of Waukesha, Wisconsin, a few miles west of Milwaukee.

Consultant Bradley Tusk says Airbnb’s political maneuvering and battles with governments in California and New York will become a “cautionary tale” to companies in the future, motivating them to start slow and take regulation seriously.

An unscheduled meeting between the U.S. attorney general and former President Bill Clinton at an airport in Phoenix on Monday could present some unwanted political problems for both.

Cuomo signed a bill giving the state greater oversight of the deeply divided East Ramapo school system, with the district getting a $3 million boost in state funds.

The Shinnecock Indian Nation’s tribal trustees expressed “frustration and outrage” over the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision this week not to hear their case asserting land claims in Southampton, Long Island.

A Schneiderman spokesman said that the primary day hotline established by the AG’s office for voters to report problems received more than 40 calls from around the state on Tuesday, which he called a “normal volume.”

New York regulators are requiring banks to maintain programs to monitor and filter transactions for possible money-laundering and transactions with entities and nations subject to trade sanctions.

As the Syracuse school district reels from Superintendent Sharon Contreras’ unexpected announcement of her departure, a look down Interstate 90 suggests the road ahead could be a rough one.

Faso: Teachout A ‘Leftist Elitist’

As mentioned in an earlier post, congressional candidates who made it successfully through the primaries this past Tuesday wasted no time in turning their attention to their respective general election opponents.

In the case of the NY-19 primary winners – Democrat Zephyr Teachout and Republican John Faso – the verbal barbs started flying just hours after the polls closed and both defeated their opponents by wide margins.

Teachout and Faso sniped at one another in their victory speeches, with him noting right off the bat that he and his wife have lived in the district for decades, (unlike Teachout, who is a recent transplant), and her deeming him an Albany insider beholden to rich special interests who contributed to his campaign.

Today, the candidates are at it again, with Faso’s campaign manager Dain Pascocello releasing a lengthy “state of the race” memo, in which he paints Teachout as an inexperienced and out-of-touch liberal elitist.

“Professor Teachout has a radical ‘progressive’ agenda that has nothing in common with the values of the 19th Congressional District,” Pascocello wrote. “She is simply looking for a perch to launch a national crusade for taxpayer-subsidized elections and other left-wing causes.”

“In fact, she’s already called for higher taxes on individuals and small businesses; she supports an energy plan that would increase our electricity costs; she promises a single-payer health care system that would further destroy our health care and economy; and she wants to force federal gun restrictions that would take away the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding citizens.”

“In short, Professor Teachout is a leftist elitist who thinks she knows better than we do.”

Pascocello also reiterates the “carpetbagger” criticism, lumping Teachout in with retiring Rep. Chris Gibson’s 2014 Democratic opponent, Sean Eldridge, who purchased an expensive home in the district with his husband, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, and then spent the bulk of his unsuccessful (and poorly run) campaign fending off accusations that he was trying to buy his way into Congress.

Teachout, meanwhile, sent out a fundraising email today that landed in my inbox only minutes after Faso’s memo, asking donors to help shore up her finances to prepare for what she expects will be a hard fought = and nasty – general election race.

” We have to be ready for my opponent John Faso, a lobbyist, to run a very negative campaign, and for his SuperPACs to throw everything AND the kitchen sink at me,” Teachout wrote. ” believe that the future of our country lies in our people, not in big money donors and lobbyists who seek to divide us for their profit. I believe in the great American spirit of democracy, where every person’s voice matters, not just that of billionaires.”

“So we are building from anger to hope, from community to isolation. We are building a strong, broad, resilient, spirited and grounded grassroots fighting force, ready for anything that John Faso’s SuperPACs throw our way!”

This race promises to be one of the most hotly contested in the state this fall. Unlike Gibson, who has gone to great lengths to portray himself as a political pragmatist, both Teachout and Faso are strongly associated with the left of center and right of center, respectively, which could make it difficult for them to appear to a key voting bloc: independents.

Pigeon Indicted

Ryan Whalen reports:

A well-known Western New York political operative with ties to high-profile Democrats, including former President Clinton and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, faces nine separate charges in connection with a bibery case involving a now-former state Supreme Court judge. G. Steven Pigeon pleaded not guilty to all counts in state Supreme Court this morning. This is the culmination of a long and well-documented public corruption investigation by the state attorney general’s office.

Pigeon faces two counts of bribery, six counts awarding misconduct and one count of grand larceny. The indictment handed up by a special grand jury two days ago was unsealed in court earlier today. Pigeon’s attorney Paul Cambria waived a reading of the indictment. If convicted on all counts Pigeon could face up to 15 years in Prison. Cambria said he doesn’t expect this case to get to sentencing.

“The prosecution says it has a strong case, made stronger yesterday when state Supreme Court Judge John Michalek took a plea deal and admitted to taking bribes from Pigeon,” said Paul Cambria, defense attorney.

The prosecution said its case is stronger because of the cooperation agreement it reached with state Supreme Court John Michalek, who pleaded guilty to two felonies Wednesday and agreed to resign his seat on the bench. He is continuing to cooperate with investigators in hopes of avoiding time behind bars.

“I will not stand for this kind of brazen contempt for the rule of law and the interests of everyday New Yorkers. Anyone who breaches the public trust will be held accountable by my office. Our investigation is ongoing,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.

Most of the charges in the Pigeon indictment involve the series of favors exchanged between him and the judge, including an attempt on at least one occasion by Pigeon to get Cuomo to appoint Michalek to an associate judgeship in the Appellate Division.

The charge of grand larceny involve an unnamed attorney whom Pigeon allegedly extorted for about $5,000. That same attorney was appointed by Michalek as a receiver at Pigeon’s request, even though Schneiderman said he only had about two years of experience.

The prosecution asked the judge set bail at $25,000. Despite the defense arguing Pigeon has known about this investigation for a year and a half and was no threat to flee, the judge set bail at $10,000 cash. The defense had a bondsmen at court and was processing the bond immediately after the hearing.

Pre-trial motions need to be in by Aug. 16.

NRCC Questions Deacon’s Independence

Now that the congressional primaries have passed and the general election battles are set, (for the most part), candidates in contested races across the state and their respective supporters have turned their attention to the opponents against whom they’ll be facing off in November.

That includes the NRCC, which today slammed Colleen Deacon, a former aide to U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand who won a three-way Democratic primary in NY-24 on Tuesday, suggesting that she’ll be ltitle more than a rubber stamp for the Democratic conference and its leader, California Rep. Nancy Pelosi, if she succeeds in ousting freshman Republican Rep. John Katko.

NRCC spokesman Chris Pack noted that Deacon’s campaign has so far received $18,700 in contributions from “Pelosi & Company.” During the primary, Deacon was endorsed by the DCCC and a number of so-called “establishment” Democrats – including her former boss – while one of her opponents, Prof. Eric Kingson, was viewed as the candidate of the party’s liberal wing, backed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

Pack also pointed out that during a Capital Tonight interview back in April (watch it here), the candidate said the following when I asked her whether she would be able to break from the Democratic leadership if she makes it to D.C., and if so, then on what:

“…a lot of what the Democratic platform is what I stand for so I don’t know necessarily why I would break away from, umm, why I would want to break way from any of the issues, you know, anything specifically.”

That sort of blind loyalty is just the sort of thing that voters in the closely divided NY-24 have demonstrated a dislike for, throwing out former Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei (the first time), for example, when he failed to demonstrate a sufficient degree of independence from his fellow House Democrats.

On the flip side, Katko has tried hard to portray himself as a pragmatist who is willing to work across the aisle to get things done, and he is struggling not to ally himself too closely with the GOP’s controversial presumptive presidential nominee, Donald Trump, refusing to formally endorse him. Of course, the Democrats are making things difficult for Katko by pointing out at every turn that he’ll be running on the same ticket as Trump in November.

Here’s what Pack had to say, officially, on Deacon’s ties to Pelosi:

“It should alarm voters that Colleen Deacon could not think of a single issue where she would break from Nancy Pelosi to work in a bipartisan fashion for Central New York. If Colleen Deacon and Nancy Pelosi had it their way, they would undo all of the bipartisan accomplishments that John Katko has secured for Central New York during his short time in office.”

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Sullivan County.

At 9 a.m., the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey holds a public board meeting, 2 Montgomery St., Jersey City, New Jersey.

At 10 a.m., Sens. Jose Peralta and Toby Ann Stavisky and Assemblywoman Alicia Hyndman announce a bill to provide a car insurance premium reduction for noncommercial vehicles equipped with a dashboard camera, 90-02 Queens Blvd., Queens.

At 10:15 a.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray will provide the keynote address at the Broome Street Academy Graduation, Tribeca Performing Arts Center, 199 Chambers St., Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., Cuomo makes an announcement at the 2016 Catskill Summer Challenge with special guest, actor Robert DeNiro, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, 200 Hurd Rd., Bethel. (LG Kathy Hochul is one of the elected officials who will also be on hand).

Also at 10:30 a.m., Erie County Clerk/state Senate candidate Chris Jacobs holds a press conference to call for ride sharing to be available in Buffalo, Thomas R. Beecher Innovation Center on Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, 640 Ellicott St., Buffalo.

At 11 a.m., Rep. Nita Lowey and advocates for gun violence prevention and women’s justice hold a roundtable as part of the National Day of Action to Prevent Gun Violence, Rep. Lowey’s office, 222 Mamaroneck Ave., Suite 312, White Plains.

At noon, Bronx County District Attorney Darcel Clark, Richmond County District Attorney, Michael McMahon and New York City Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson celebrate the baselining of $22 million for district attorneys in the city budget, Bronx Supreme Court, 851 Grand Concourse, the Bronx.

Also at noon, McCray will tour the Montefiore Wellness Center at Waters Place with the U.S. Surgeon General, Deputy Mayor Palacio and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Basset, Waters Place, the Bronx.

Also at noon, Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson and a candidate for her seat, Jamaal T. Bailey, make a joint announcement, steps of Mount Vernon City Hall, 1 W Roosevelt Sq., Mount Vernon.

At 1 p.m., AG Eric Schneiderman makes an announcement, Main Place Tower, Suite 300A, 350 Main St., Buffalo.

At 1:15 p.m., Rep. John Katko will join local leaders, community members, elected officials, and stakeholders at Fort Ontario and Safe Haven Holocaust Refugee Oswego to provide an update on legislation to advance the designation of the site towards National Park status, 2 E 7th St., Oswego.

At 2 p.m., NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance Jr. will host a press conference to announce charges in two cases relating to gang violence and narcotics trafficking, NYPD Headquarters, One Police Plaza, 2nd Floor Press Room, Manhattan.

At 3 p.m., Cuomo attends the 2016 Catskill Summer Challenge luncheon and awards ceremony, Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, 200 Hurd Rd., Bethel.

At 6 p.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and state Sen. Jeff Klein co-host the Bronx Fireworks Extravaganza and Empanada Eating Contest, Orchard Beach Pavilion, the Bronx.

At 6:30 p.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is an honoree at the Subway Surface Supervisors Association, Villa Barone Manor, 737 Throggs Neck Expy., Bronx.

At 7 p.m., Assembly members Clifford W. Crouch, Nicole Malliotakis and Ron Castorina Jr. attend forum on protecting the rights of people with developmental disabilities, I.S. 24 Myra S. Barnes Intermediate School, 225 Cleveland Ave., Staten Island.

Also at 7 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams host a town hall meeting to discuss gun violence prevention, Tilden Education Campus; 5800 Tilden Ave., Brooklyn.

Headlines…

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s top lawyer, Maya Wiley, is leaving City Hall next month amid multiple investigations into the mayor’s administration and fundraising activities.

Wiley is taking a job heading the NYPD Civilian Complaint Review Board, filling a two-month vacancy created by the resignation of its chairman, Richard D. Emery, in April. (The PBA is not at all happy about the move).

De Blasio’s social media director, Scott Kleinberg, abruptly quit after less than two months on the job — and took to Facebook to say he resigned “for the sake of my health and my sanity.”

“I ended up with political hacks, plus a boss who just couldn’t get. It was a bad combination for sure,” wrote Kleinberg, who was hired by the mayor fro the Chicago Tribune in early May.

A state Supreme Court judge, John A. Michalek, pleaded guilty to bribery in connection with the state attorney general’s investigation into his relationship with G. Steve Pigeon, a Buffalo-area political consultant with ties to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

For the first time since he began serving as a State Supreme Court judge in 1995, Michalek’s role in the courtroom was as an admitted criminal, one who pleaded guilty to felony crimes of bribe-receiving and offering a false instrument for filing in a court case.

Piegon himself is expected in court today. He’s accused of bribing Michalek, with help for a promotion; favors for two close relatives; Buffalo Sabres hockey tickets; and a seat at one of Cuomo’s fund-raisers in return for favorable treatment in court cases in which he and his acquaintances had an interest.

The case stems from a raid on the homes of Pigeon and two others on May 28, 2015 that resulted in seizure of personal computers and a trove of emails between Pigeon, Michalek and what insiders say are many others.

The two leading candidates to succeed Rep. Charles Rangel tread carefully, moving to calm tensions one day after preliminary election results showed state Sen. Adriano Espaillat ahead of Assemblyman Keith Wright in the Democratic primary.

Though Wright has not conceded the race, his allies began to signal they will accept unofficial primary results, which show their chief rival, Espaillat, had won and in all likelihood will go on to represent the district that includes Harlem, a historic base of black political power in America.

Former Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV, son of the legendary Harlem pol, spent the final hours of his losing bid for Rangel’s congressional seat on Tuesday pleading for donations in a bizarre email to people who hadn’t coughed up to his campaign.

While campaigns haven’t begun in earnest, there are signs that the issue of drug abuse will be a factor in at least some Senate races, and with good reason. A May poll by Siena College found that 92 percent of voters said combating heroin addiction before session ended was “important,” with 70 percent of that group saying that the issue was “very important.”

New York’s top banking regulator is set to publish today strict and long-awaited anti-money-laundering regulations to take effect in 2017. The new rules add stringent requirements for banks to curb illegal transactions by known terror organizations and other criminals.

Charities that donate to New York state’s lobbying nonprofits may be subject to sweeping new disclosure requirements under the provisions of an ethics bill that passed in the waning hours of the legislative session. While the measure would arguably begin to close a loophole, a number of other tactics to avoid disclosure may remain.

More >

Extras

President Obama will appear next week in North Carolina with Hillary Clinton, the 2016 campaigning debut for the figure expected to be the presumptive Democratic nominee’s most potent surrogate in the fall.

Clinton just edges out Republican rival Donald Trump in a new national poll out today, though most voters say neither of the White House contenders would make a good president.

Clinton’s top aide Huma Abedin said the former secretary of state’s use of a private e-mail server to conduct government business on at least one occasion got in the way of her boss’ work and left her frustrated, according to a transcript of the aide’s deposition released today.

State Supreme Court Justice John A. Michalek pleaded guilty to taking a bribe and filing a false instrument in a case involving political operative G. Steven Pigeon, and resigned his seat on the bench. Pigeon also will face charges in the case, and is scheduled to appear in court tomorrow.

It has been well over 48 hours since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling striking down Texas’ strict rules for abortion clinics, and Trump has yet to mention it. Evangelicals aren’t happy.

The Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office says three suspects have been indicted in the death of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s aide Carey Gabay last year.

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer is encouraging the de Blasio administration to provide free sunblock at public parks, pools, and beaches throughout the city.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s new social media director has quit — saying in a scathing Facebook post that he had to do it to save his own “health and sanity” from an office full of “political hacks plus a boss who just couldn’t get it.”

New York City has scored $179 million in federal grants to fight terrorism this year. But that could be the last large payment if Congress doesn’t restore the Obama administration’s proposed cut to a critical terror-fighting grant program in 2017.

Trump’s campaign aides are lining up a slate of iconic sports figures to appear at the GOP convention in Cleveland next month – including former Indiana University basketball coach Bobby Knight, and NASCAR chief Brian France.

Jon Cooper, the former Suffolk County legislator and major fundraiser for President Obama, will chair a new super PAC that will raise money to defeat Trump — but not to support Clinton.

U.S. District Court Judge Joseph Bianco set a July 11 hearing for Republican Philip Pidot’s lawsuit seeking to block state Sen. Jack Martins’ certification as the GOP candidate in the 3rd Congressional District and force a date for a party primary.

A State Supreme Court judge has placed a temporary restraining order on the Buffalo School Board for attempting to eliminate the controversial cosmetic surgery rider from the teacher contract without negotiating it with the union.

The NY-19 general election battle is now joined, and America Rising PAC slammed the Democratic nominee, “liberal Zephyr Teachout,” saying she’s “too extreme and unqualified” to represent the “moderate” district.

Rep. Charlie Rangel is “anxious” about the fact that his preferred successor, Assemblyman Keith Wright, is trailing Sen. Adriano Espaillat in the NY-13 Democratic primary to replace the veteran Harlem congressman. He said his own future is “not settled yet.”

One of the things Rangel will be doing in his post-congressional life is raising money for scholarships at City College.

The Rev. Al Sharpton backpedaled on a fiery, racially-tinged speech he made on Saturday and called for an end to “acrimony and rancor” in Rangel’s district.

In a response to an audit of the state’s “Preferred Source” contracting program, the not-for-profit New York State Industries for the Disabled accuses state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office of serving up “many inaccurate and incomplete findings” that failed to present a full picture of its work.

Extensive portions of the materials that Trump Institute students received after forking over their seminar fees, supposedly containing his special wisdom, had been plagiarized from an obscure real estate manual published a decade earlier.