Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin

Here and Now

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

The Legislature is back to work in Albany after an extended spring break, and both houses are in session this afternoon.

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is scheduled to be sentenced today for his federal corruption conviction.

The unusually contentious Buffalo School Board elections are tonight. Also, voters go to the polls in Indiana to cast ballots in primaries that could prove definitive in both the Democratic and Republican presidential nomination battles.

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

Headlines…

Gov. Andrew Cuomo defended his former aide’s acceptance of fees from entities with business before the state, saying it was “totally allowable” for Joe Percoco to have done so while serving as the governor’s campaign manager.

“I’ve known Joe Percoco for many years and he is a good man and I’d be shocked if he did anything wrong, but let’s get the facts and we can all make our own decisions,” Cuomo said. He also defended the Buffalo Billion program, which he said is doing “great work.”

Cuomo acknowledged Percoco had told him he planned to take on additional consulting work while also working on his boss’ re-election campaign. While the governor was aware his top aide would be taking on private work, he said he was not told of the specifics.

Federal investigators looking into the Buffalo Billion have requested information from SolarCity, the California-based rooftop solar energy systems installer, whose solar panel factory in South Buffalo is the keystone of the state’s high-profile economic development initiative. SolarCity is not the focus of the investigation, a company spokesman said.

COR Development Co. officials on Saturday denied ever paying a cent to Percoco. Yesterday, state officials released a disclosure form on which Percoco declared between $50,000 and $75,000 in income from the firm, but COR officials stood by their initial statement.

JCOPE received a federal grand jury subpoena seeking copies of Percoco’s financial disclosure forms more than a week ago. F.B.I. agents from the Buffalo office have executed search warrants at locations around Buffalo, Albany, New York City and Washington, several people briefed on the matter said.

Investigative Post Editor Jim Heaney, whose reporting prompted federal investigators to launch the Buffalo Billion probe, says Cuomo’s penchant for secrecy and misguided notion that the rules don’t apply to him or his administration has fostered a culture that enables corruption.

Former LG Bob Duffy, now chairman of Rochester’s AIM Photonics Leadership Council, is taking a wait-and-see approach to the Buffalo Billion probe, saying it seems built on a lot of “unnamed sources, which always concerns me.” Due to the lack of specifics, Duffy said he wouldn’t speculate on what the investigation means for Rochester.

Former New York City mayoral candidate and billionaire political donor-turned-radio host John Catsimatidis was interviewed by authorities as part of an investigation into NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s fundraising activities.

Catsimatidis has publicly acknowledged donating $50,000 to the Putnam County Democratic Committee at de Blasio’s request, and learning later that the cash had been funneled to Democratic candidates for state Senate. The businessman said his donations were “100 percent legal” and that he had “zero control and zero knowledge” over where the funds were directed.

De Blasio again denied criminal wrongdoing in his campain’s fundraising activities weren’t illegal and said that he thought he was being singled out in a series of investigations by people and organizations that don’t agree with his policies.

The mayor has endorsed legislation to restrict the role of lobbyists and others with business before the city from bundling donations for candidates.

Republican Rep. Chris Gibson, who in February announced he was considering a bid for New York governor in 2018, has decided not to run. He’s leaving politics altogether in favor of a career in academia.

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver will be sentenced today in a corruption case that brought to light his extramarital affairs with two women – a former staffer-turned-lobbyist and a former assemblywoman – details of which are still emerging.

The NYPD has revoked the gun carry permits of more than two dozen people who got them through a shady middleman indicted for bribing NYPD cops working in the department’s Licensing Division, sources tell the NY Post.

Voters will cast their ballots today to decide who fills six seats on the Buffalo School Board, but it could be days before some of the races are settled, due to a large number of write-in ballots that need to be hand counted.

The New York Times dings Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel Abelove, who is being sued by the state attorney general for flouting the governor’s executive order for an outside investigation in the case of a police officer in Troy who fatally shot a black motorist named Edson Thevenin.

More >

Extras

Donald Trump leads Hillary Clinton by 2 percentage points in a head-to-head matchup, according to a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey.

Clinton has brought on one of her closest advisers, Minyon Moore, for a top role in her campaign as the 2016 race moves closer to the general election.

Clinton raised about $26.4 million in primary funds for the month of April, her campaign announced, as well as $9.5 million for the DNC and state parties. She fell slightly short of the $29.5 million she raised in March.

Former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo Joe Percoco reported income from two companies that had business before the state and which contributed to the governor’s re-election campaign: COR Development Co. LLC, a developer; and CHA, a civil engineering firm previously known as Clough, Harbour & Associates LLC.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said it was “kind of cool” to be roasted by President Obama during his last White House Correspondents Association Dinner speech.

Saying he was making a “tough decision,” Puerto Rican Gov. Alejandro García Padilla announced the island would not make a more than $400 million debt payment due today.

Atlantic City, N.J., averted default by making a $1.8 million debt payment today, but its mayor warned the Jersey Shore resort town still faces serious trouble.

An Orange County activist group called on the state to halt all work on a proposed Hudson Valley power plant that’s been linked to a federal probe of the Cuomo administration.

Controversial attorney John Aretakis won’t get to make a victim impact statement at tomorrow’s sentencing of former Democratic Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

A deal to revive the controversial property-tax exemption program 421-a last year was much closer to being finalized than originally thought, according to REBNY President John Banks.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is pledging a full and thorough investigation into the April 17 shooting, and the subsequent investigation, that led to a grand jury exonerating a Troy police officer.

A long-awaited new academic building for Erie Community College’s North Campus in Amherst won’t be ready as expected by the fall of 2017. The delay stems in part from a bureaucratic holdup in the release of $15 million in state funds promised for the project.

For the first time in six years, Long Island has a Democratic state senator, as Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky of Long Beach was declared the winner of last month’s special election in the 9th Senate District to replace former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

Top national and state environmental and business organizations, actor Mark Ruffalo, and clean energy leaders launched a “New Yorkers for Clean Power” statewide campaign to increase the deployment of clean energy.

In 2011, then-newly-elected Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone was warned about James Burke, the man he wanted as his new police chief, and his potential connection to scandal, but appointed him anyway.

Lockheed Martin’s plant in suburban Syracuse has been awarded a $45 million contract by the U.S. Navy and Japan to provide sonar systems for anti-submarine warfare, according to the Pentagon.

A man who was 16 years old when he fatally strangled his girlfriend almost 40 years ago is entitled to a new parole board review that takes into consideration his age at the time of his crime, a divided upstate court has ruled.

Stewart’s is offering 50-cent ice cream cones for Mother’s Day.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City.

At 8 a.m., Crain’s New York Business holds a real estate conference, with New York leaders in real estate and government exploring issues impacting the city’s industry, Sheraton New York, 811 7th Avenue and 53rd Street, Manhattan.

At 8:30 a.m., Iris House holds its Annual Women as the Face of AIDS Summit to discuss current trends, challenges and successful programs in waging the war on AIDS, Bethel Gospel Assembly 2 East 120th St., Manhattan.

Also at 8:30 a.m., the SUNY Board of Trustees and its committees kick off two days worth of meetings, Westchester Community College
75 Grasslands Rd., Valhalla.

At 9:15 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio appears live on on Hot 97’s Ebro in the Morning.

At 9:30 a.m., Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Commissioner of Health Gale Burstein, U.S. Attorney for the Western District William Hochul and police chiefs make a plea for volunteers to help combat the region’s ongoing opioid abuse epidemic, Erie County Fire Training Academy, 3359 Broadway St., Cheektowaga.

At 10 a.m., the state Division of Community Services holds a Community Service Block Grant Advisory Council meeting, Department of State offices at 99 Washington St., Albany; and 65 Court St., Buffalo; and 123 William St., Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer will join Girl Scouts of the USA officials to mark the beginning of a yearlong celebration of the centennial of the Girl Scout Gold Award, Girl Scouts of the USA’s HQ (visitor center), 420 5th Ave., 17th floor, Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina will attend an event for “Just Say Hi,” a campaign to increase engagement with people with disabilities, Beacon High School, 521 West 43rd St., Manhattan.

Also at 10:30 a.m., Rep. Steve Israel and Suffolk Legislator Steve Stern make an announcement regarding the NY-3 race for Israel’s seat, North Hempstead Beach Park, 175 West Shore Rd., Port Washington, Long Island.

At 11:30 a.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and two Bronx Week 2016 honorees, actor Vincent Pastore and dance pioneer Eduardo Vilaro, will host a celebration of the “Best of The Bronx” to kickoff Bronx Week 2016, Mike’s Deli at the Arthur Avenue Retail Market, 2344 Arthur Ave., the Bronx.

At noon, Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages, NYC Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson and advocates announce a new “Black Immigrant Engagement Initiative,” New York Immigration Coalition, 131 W. 33rd St., Suite 610, Manhattan.

Also at noon, IDC Leader Jeff Klein, Sen. Terrence Murphy and community leaders will unveil “The Great American Bank Robbery: 40th State Senate District and Putnam & Dutchess Counties” report, detailing over $6 million in property value depreciation resulting from poorly maintained bank-owned homes and “zombie properties,” 54 Lakeview Rd., Carmel.

At 6:40 p.m., Cuomo attends the 10th Annual Spirit of ABNY Awards, Rainbow Room, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, Manhattan.

Headlines…

COR Development Co., which is being looked at by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office in conjunction with an inquiry into a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Joe Percoco, has given at least $250,000 to Cuomo’s campaign, plus, Steven Aiello, the son of the firm’s president, works for the administration.

Given how close Percoco and Cuomo have been for years, Albany insiders are finding it hard to believe the former would have done anything the latter didn’t know about, even though the governor was quick to throw his ex-right hand under the bus.

Though he left the administration months ago, Percoco has continued to push Cuomo’s agenda behind the scenes, even pushing lawmakers on the governor’s behalf to pass the recent budget deal.

Over the weekend, the Capitol’s denizens had time to consider how the revelation that Percoco as well as Cuomo-connected lobbyist Todd Howe were under investigation, and begin to puzzle out what it means for the final weeks of session — including the prospects for ethics reform.

Michael Kink and Jess Wisneski: “It’s hard to bring down the power of big money over politics when big money is swirling all around you. But Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and particularly Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan need to deliver real reforms on elections, voting and ethics — voters won’t stand for anything less.”

An LLC in Delaware, a state where the laws provide so much anonymity to businesses’ corporate founders that some tax experts compare it favorably to the Cayman Islands, played a role in the fundraising scandal involving NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s steering of contributions to help the Senate Democrats.

De Blasio’s fund-raising efforts are not the only target of state Board of Elections Chief Enforcement Officer Risa Sugarman. She told the Daily News that since the start of 2016, her office has referred three other cases for potential criminal prosecution, though she wouldn’t divulge the details. All told, she has referred 15 cases since her office opened in 2014, all but two of which are open.

Erie County prosecutors are asking questions about campaign donations to a Buffalo-based state Senate race in 2014 as part of a burgeoning statewide investigation into de Blasio’s fundraising.

The state’s seven top political consulting firms — including five that have been subpoenaed in financing probes — were paid a whopping $115.5 million combined over the past five years, a Daily News analysis showed.

State GOP Chairman Ed Cox and Conservative Party head Michael Long say that the next president should reappoint Bharara so he can keep going after corruption at all levels of New York government.

A former state official, Diana Hinchcliff, says she and a co-worker were fired to allegedly free up jobs for ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s “Barbie doll” mistress, ex-Assemblywoman Janele Hyer-Spencer, and a former legislative aide. An SED spokesman called that claim “all a figment of someone’s imagination.”

Silver will be sentenced in federal court tomorrow after being convicted in November on seven corruption charges. But it’s not clear just when the once-powerful disgraced former lawmaker will begin serving time if he is sentenced to prison as expected.

Port Authority Vice Chairman Scott Rechler plans to leave the embattled agency within months despite Cuomo’s strong objections. An insider told the NY Post Rechler’s PA role “was like walking into a churning whirlpool every day and he didn’t want to get sucked down like others have.”

U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer is calling for a federal investigation into an outdoor advertising company’s latest effort to target billboard ads to specific consumers.

A huge fire that sent plumes of smoke billowing into the skyline heavily damaged the historic Serbian Orthodox Cathedral of St. Sava in Manhattan yesterday.

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The Weekend That Was

A group of former state lawmakers-turned-cons – ex-Sens. Efrain Gonzalez, Shirley Huntley, Pedro Espada Jr. and ex-Assemblyman William Boyland Jr. – offer advice to their onetime colleagues now awaiting sentencing on corruption charges. Not one of them is terribly contrite about their misdeeds.

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver might leave town in disgrace when he is sentenced to prison Tuesday, but he won’t have to leave his wife in the cold. Federal prosecutors have backed off a request to make Silver forfeit his Lower East Side co-ops and his upstate home as part of the financial penalties.

Joseph Percoco, a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo now under federal investigation, might have pocketed as much as six figures from entities with business before the state.

Bob McManus: “Gov. Cuomo had seven days of smug last week, all at Mayor de Blasio’s expense — but that changed Friday when it developed that Andrew himself may be back in corruption-buster Preet Bharara’s cross hairs.”

Longtime de Blasio pal Kevin Finnegan — a former political director of the powerful SEIU 1199 hospital-workers union — found ways for labor groups to funnel cash to the mayor’s campaigns and causes in amounts above legal spending limits, a source tells the NY Post.

As Mayor de Blasio grapples with five separate investigations into his team’s fund-raising efforts, potential challengers who might have been scared to take on a sitting mayor – including Bronc Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr, – are now rethinking staying on the sidelines.

The mayor visited two Queens churches today to tout what he said were improvements his administration had made on snow removal, policing and other services for those communities, and making no reference to his campaign finance scandal.

President Obama took some satirical swipes at GOP presidential frontrunner Donald Trump and, more surprisingly, his ex-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and ended his final White House correspondents’ dinner by literally dropping the mic and departing with the words: “Obama out.” More here.

A remarkable range of leading Republicans, including Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina and Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona, have been emphatic publicly or with their advisers and allies that they do not want to be considered as Trump’s running mate.

Malia Obama, the older daughter of President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, plans to attend Harvard University beginning in the fall of 2017, the White House announced, waiting until her father leaves office to begin her college career.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz pulled out a strategic victory at Saturday’s Arizona Republican Party state convention, nailing down a large majority of delegates to the national convention amid cheating accusations from Trump backers.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders made a pitch to win over Democratic super delegates today by arguing that polls show he is a stronger candidate than frontrunner Clinton in the November presidential election against Trump or any other Republican.

Clinton drew ire from Native Americans on Saturday over her use of the phrase “off the reservation” in a CNN interview.

In another sign that Clinton is setting her sights on the general election, her campaign is preparing to hire staffers in some of the battleground states that will be most competitive in November.

City of Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren campaigned over the weekend in Indianapolis, Indiana for Clinton.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton stressed that collaboration between the NYPD and counterparts overseas is key to keeping New Yorkers safe from terror attacks. “The world is getting smaller,” he said on John Catsimatidis’ radio program. Clinton, in a separate interview, echoed that sentiment.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, who decided against a White House run himself, denounced what he called the “demagoguery” in the Republican and Democratic Parties in a commencement speech delivered on Saturday at the University of Michigan.

Common Cause/NY Executive Director Susan Lerner: “Unfortunately, much of the scrutiny trained on de Blasio feels selective — because the aggressive fundraising tactics of other politicians, particularly Gov. Cuomo, paralleled and in many ways paved the way for what the mayor would go on to do.”

De Blasio read from the illustrated children’s book “Secret Pizza Party” at the Woodside branch of the Queens Library Saturday alongside library boss Dennis Walcott and Queens Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer. The story follows the exploits of a wily raincoat-clad raccoon who is overly enthusiastic about keeping secrets and stealing pizza.

As de Blasio begins his bid for re-election next year, he will almost certainly be challenged on his record of police reform. As long as a culture in which obfuscation is regarded as an entitlement continues to dominate the department, he is vulnerable to the accusation that little has changed.

The mayor said he’ll back a 5-cent fee on shopping bags to reduce waste a day after NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito endorsed the controversial bill.

Brian Sampson of the Associated Builders and Contractors, Empire State Chapter: “The governor is making a mockery of competitive-bidding laws. His blind loyalty to big union bosses is irresponsible. Further, it’s killing affordable housing and good jobs, both of which are desperately needed in New York.”

Cuomo issued an order saying state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman does have the authority to investigate a local officer involved shooting of Edson Thevenin, a Troy man who died earlier this month.

New York is facing the pros and cons of a natural gas glut.

Retiring Rep. Charlie Rangel blessed Assemblyman Keith Wright’s bid to succeed him Saturday, slamming one of Wright’s primary opponents, Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who opposed Rangel two years ago, for not resigning his state Senate seat to fully commit to the race.

Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky, a Democrat, has emerged as the winner of the race for ex-Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos’ seat on Long Island, although as of Friday, his Republican opponent, Chris McGrath, had still not conceded.

A growing group of state legislators and the New York Racing Association Board are urging Cuomo to support a proposal that would transition NYRA to private, not-for-profit status and create a new Board of Directors that will include host community representatives from Queens and other respective track communities.

A super PAC with ties to the Oneida Indian Nation formally launched a campaign today against Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney and her Republican primary campaign in NY-22.

Move over pizza rat, Splinter and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are New York City’s new official family ambassadors for 2016. The city’s tourism agency NYC & Co. announced that the sewer-dwelling, pizza-chomping reptiles will star in ads to encourage families to explore the city.

Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, reiterated that he’s “one-quarter Coca-Cola” because he drinks at least five 12-ounce servings every day. He is unabashed about his love of – and investment in – junk food.

Cuomo has appointed Queensbury at-large Supervisor Ron Montesi, a Republican, to the New York State Soil and Water Committee, a panel that advises state government on water and soil conservation issues.

The family of a woman shot and killed by Syracuse police in February has filed a notice of claim against the city that alleges, among other things, that Sahlah Ridgeway was taken to a far-away hospital instead of the one closest, allowing her to bleed to death en route.

Henry Kissinger’s favorite banquette, the chairs that guests sat on when President John F. Kennedy celebrated his 45th birthday and even the pots and pans will go on the auction block when the Four Seasons closes in July.

Extras

A former top aide (Joe Percoco) and several others close to Gov. Andrew Cuomo are being probed for potential improper lobbying and “undisclosed” conflicts of interest having to do with the governor’s signature “Buffalo Billion” economic development program.

In a statement, Cuomo counsel Alphonso David said the governor has appointed Bart Schwartz, former chief of the Criminal Division of the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District, to conduct an “immediate full review” of the Buffalo Billion program, including all grants – part, current or future.

“Ensuring the integrity of the contracting process for this program is paramount, so that the Buffalo Billion and Nano program can continue creating new jobs and revitalizing upstate’s economy,” David said.

In a separate statement, Schwartz said the governor has made it clear he has a “zero tolerance” policy “for any violation of the public trust from any actor or entity,” and he has been told to “follow the facts.”

The attorney for Republican election officials in Nassau County said that Christopher McGrath, the party’s candidate in the special election in the 9th state senate district, had been “mathematically eliminated” in his race against Democrat Todd Kaminsky.

Dean Skelos’ attorneys have asked a federal judge to reject prosecutors’ proposed $500,000 – a sum that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office has argued would serve as a just counterweight to the fact that the former Senate Republican leader will continue to receive a public pension valued at $955,000.

Though it has been suggested her actions against NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio were politically motivated, state Board of Elections enforcement counsel Risa Sugarman has sounded the alarm over similar behavior in the past – and the targets of her previous efforts were not enemies of the governor.

WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show — a frequent venue for de Blasio — became hazardous territory this morning, with Lehrer and his callers subjecting the mayor to an onslaught of uncomfortable questions about the whirlwind of investigations enveloping his administration.

Scott Rechler said he has begun talking to Gov. Andrew Cuomo about “transitioning off” the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey board, where he’s served as vice chairman since 2011.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has hired a pricey pair of high-profile Manhattan attorneys to fend off subpoenas from Onondaga County DA William Fitzpatrick. The lawyers are each charging the city $850 an hour – more than three times what Syracuse officials typically pay for outside legal help.

Three teenage interns were among those exposed to a suspicious, white powder Thursday night at the Manhattan headquarters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, authorities said.

Hillary Clinton tread carefully on the controversial subject of education reform during a fundraising appearance on behalf of the Eagle Academies network of all-boys public schools in New York City today.

Cuomo wants New York to be the first state in the nation to extend Medicaid coverage to inmates who face serious health challenges immediately before they’re released from prison, which requires federal approval.

The number of $1 million earners in New York dropped for the first time since the recession in 2009, state records show.

Mark Green, NYC’s first public advocate, has written an autobiography, which The Times deems “reflective” and “frank (if sometimes defensive).”

U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer says Syracuse should be given a chance by the federal government to revive a program that for 20 years removed hazardous lead-based paint from city homes.

Lakewood, Colo., which has already surpassed Syracuse in terms of annual snowfall this year, is about to up the ante.

A new study says no traces of pesticides were found in lobsters collected in Long Island Sound in late 2014, boosting the belief that warming water temperatures is the main culprit in a huge lobster population decline.

Patrons at soup kitchens and food pantries probably don’t realize it, but depending on the day, they may be dining on some of the region’s most expensively produced fare – meat and vegetables from Dan Colen, an artist and Hudson Valley farmer who donates his entire output to several local food banks.

Here and Now

Happy Arbor Day.

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

At 7:45 a.m., the consortium for Computing Sciences in Colleges Northeastern Conference kicks off, Hamilton College, 198 College Hill Rd., Clinton.

At 8 a.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli delivers the keynote speech at the Fulton Montgomery Regional Chamber of Commerce breakfast, Holiday Inn, 308 N. Comrie Ave., Johnstown.

At 8:15 a.m., NY Law School’s CityLaw breakfast series features U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District Robert Capers, 185 West Broadway, Manhattan.

At 8:30 a.m., Democratic presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton headlines the Eagle Academy Foundation’s annual fundraising breakfast, Gotham Hall, 1356 Broadway, Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, City of Albany Forestry Division workers, volunteers from TD Bank as well as young adults from the South End, the Excelsior Conservation Corp, and the College of St. Rose plant 14 trees to replace others lost to the Emerald Ash Borer and old age, Lincoln Park, Albany.

At 9:30 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul convenes the WNY Regional Economic Development Council and makes a funding announcement, SUNY Fredonia, Room G204 ABC, 280 Central Ave., Fredonia.

At 10 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will appear live on WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show to discuss the 2017 executive budget.

At 11:15 a.m., Success Academy Founder and CEO Eva Moskowitz and parents of Success Academy students hold press conference to announce first court date in a lawsuit seeking to keep the network’s pre-K program running, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 11:35 a.m., a pre-taped interview with de Blasio on the executive budget will air on AM 970.

At noon, Hochul joins local elected officials for a groundbreaking at the Rochester Public Market, 280 Union St. North, Rochester.

At 12:45 p.m., DiNapoli visits serval local programs and businesses in Schenectady with Assemblymen Angelo Santabarbara and Phil Steck and Mayor Gary McCarthy and then holds a media availability in front of the Phyllis Bornt Library, 948 State St., Schenectady.

At 1 p.m., NYC Parks Commissioner Mitchell Silver and local officials cut the ribbon on a new $5.8 million horse riding arena at Ocean Breeze, 599 Father Capodanna Blvd., Staten Island.

At 2 p.m., Hochul delivers remarks at the installation ceremony for SUNY Brockport President Heidi Macpherson, SUNY Brockport Special Events Recreation Center, 350 New Campus Dr., Brockport.

At 5 p.m., Clinton attends fundraisers, with a “Conversation with Hillary” event at the Children’s Museum of New York, and an event in Queens with Democratic Reps. Joe Crowley and Grace Meng.

At 7 p.m., 135 moms, grandmothers, foster moms, aunts, and women sleep out on NYC streets to highlight the plight of homeless youth, 460 West 41st St., Manhattan.

Headlines…

Manhattan lawyer Mark Warren Moody has filed a class-action lawsuit against the state and city Board of Elections to overturn the closed-primary system, saying no one should be shut out.

On New York’s presidential primary election day last week, 1,445 people who were denied regular ballots at the polls in Onondaga County refused to take no for an answer – a much higher number than is typical.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio was barraged by a fresh round of questions about the investigation into his fund-raising, and reiterated: “(W)e hold ourselves to the highest standard of integrity. Everything we’ve done from the beginning is legal and appropriate.”

De Blasio said he looks forward to the “speedy conclusion” of federal and state probes into his fundraising activities, defending himself one day after his office said it had been subpoenaed.

Historians have been hard-pressed to find a mayor who, along with his administration and inner circle, was ever the subject of as many simultaneous investigations — five, at last count, conducted by as many different agencies — de Blasio now faces.

Contributions to housekeeping accounts for Democrats and Republicans alike have hit record levels in recent years, according to a report from the good government group Common Cause of New York.

Assemblyman Sean Ryan says he’ll decide in two weeks whether to give up his safe seat in the lower house and run for the seat being vacated by Sen. Marc Panepinto among considerable turmoil and a strong GOP candidate (Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs).

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has created a seven-member committee to search for the next New York State Police superintendent. He expects recommendations within a matter of weeks.

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb is calling on Cuomo to add an Assembly representative to that search committee. Sen. Patrick Gallivan, who chairs the chamber’s Committee on Crime Victims, Crime and Corrections and is a former sheriff, is on the panel.

In the hopes that it’s not over for Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, his local volunteers are watching Erie County election workers this week review the affidavit ballots that were filled out on primary day by voters whose status to vote was unclear.

The Second Circuit has backed Trump in an intellectual property lawsuit filed by a self-described “domainer” who registered domain names with the word “Trump” in them, saying that a district court correctly found the man’s actions violated a federal cybersquatting law.

A suspicious white powder mailed to Trump’s campaign office set off a scare at Trump Tower last night, and was ultimately declared not dangerous.

With the nation on the verge of a presidential election between the first woman to lead a major party and an opponent accused of misogyny, Trump and Hillary Clinton are digging in for a fight in which he is likely to attack her precisely because she is a woman.

In response to the GOP frontrunner’s comment this week that Clinton is the leading Democratic candidate due only to her so-called “woman card,” many took to social media with mock-ups of what those woman cards might look like.

Former House Speaker John Boehner called Texas Sen. Ted Cruz “Lucifer in the flesh” and said he wouldn’t vote for him if the Texas senator wins the Republican presidential nomination. Later commenting on the remark, Rep. Peter King, a Long Island Republican, told Newsday that Cruz “gives Lucifer a bad name.”

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Extras

Former House Speaker John Boehner described Sen. Ted Cruz as “Lucifer in the flesh” and said that he would not vote for the Texas Republican if he is the party’s presidential nominee. “I have never worked with a more miserable son of a bitch in my life,” Boehner said.

Cruz dismissed Boehner’s criticism of him, casting the remarks as just another example of the GOP establishment targeting him, and saying: “He allowed his inner Trump to come out.”

Speaking at a fundraiser for Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. at the home of a prominent real estate developer, Gov. Andrew Cuomo offered a warm endorsement of the up-and-coming Democrat – a possible challenger to his political rival NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.

De Blasio said again today that he’s confident he and his top aides have always acted appropriately and legally when it comes to his fundraising, adding: “There’s an investigation going on, we’re going to fully cooperate with that investigation.”

A federal appeals court in Manhattan upheld former Queens Councilman Dan Halloran’s conviction for taking bribes and arranging payoffs to help former state senator Malcolm Smith get on the 2013 Republican mayoral primary ballot.

KeyCorp and First Niagara Financial Group Inc. will sell 18 of First Niagara’s branches in the Buffalo, New York, area to resolve antitrust concerns that arose from KeyCorp’s $4 billion acquisition of First Niagara, the U.S. Department of Justice said.

Sen. Adriano Espaillat – one of several aspiring successors too retiring Rep. Charles Rangel – dismissed U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s decision to back Assemblyman Keith Wright for the seat, and insisted his endorsements from local elected officials are more important.

Rep. Charlie Rangel is expected to endorse Wright this weekend to replace him in Congress.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are discussing a “potential resolution” of the regulator’s investigation into the agency, bond documents published today show.

For all its ills, New York Penn Station can count one more: toxic contamination on at least two of its tracks.

Pilgrim pipelines opponents say they are buoyed by the state’s rejection of the proposed Constitution Pipeline on the grounds that the developer did not provide sufficient information on the potential impact on water quality.

Rep. John Katko is “disappointed” the DEC rejected the Constitution Pipeline project, calling it a “missed opportunity” to create jobs and lower-cost energy.

Unions whose members would have benefitted from jobs created by the pipeline project are also criticizing Cuomo for nixing it.

A U.S. Senate panel approved bipartisan legislation that would authorize $20 million to reimburse schools that test for lead contamination in drinking water.

The town of North Hempstead is suing Nassau County for the third time over tax revenue withheld to cover tuition reimbursement fees at the Fashion Institute of Technology, for a claim dating back more than a decade.

M&T Bank Corp. has hired former Assembly Majority Leader Paul A. Tokasz as its administrative vice president of government relations.

A half-dozen major Long Island executives who gave money to retiring Rep. Steve Israel’s 2014 re-election campaign are hedging their bets on the winner of the June 28 Democratic primary by donating to two different candidates, campaign filings show.

Democratic Rep. Paul Tonko and Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee have introduced federal legislation to crack down on the use of so-called ticket bot software used to snatch up large chunks of event tickets online faster than people can.

A complaint that a Buffalo police officer allegedly smashed a man’s head repeatedly against a truck window in a road rage incident is under investigation by Internal Affairs officers.

Winter is officially over! The state Office of General Services announced the start of the summer food vendor and farmers market programs on the Empire State Plaza and Harriman Campus.

Here and Now

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

At 8:30 a.m., NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton and U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson will hold a media availability at the Leadership in Counter Terrorism (LinCT) Conference, The Conrad Hotel lobby, 102 North End Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 8:30 a.m., New York City Economic Development Corporation members meet, 110 William St., Manhattan.

At 8:40 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul delivers remarks during Arc of Westchester’s employee recognition breakfast, Westchester Marriott, 670 White Plains Rd., Tarrytown.

At 9 a.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli is the keynote speaker at New York State Internal Control Association (NYSICA) Fraud and Risk Management Conference, Radisson Hotel, 205 Wolf Rd., Albany.

At 10 a.m., Hochul hosts a Mid-Hudson Roundtable on Women’s Leadership with College of New Rochelle President Judith Huntington and Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, College of New Rochelle, Maura Ballroom, 29 Castle Pl., New Rochelle.

At 11 a.m., members of the Port Authority board hold a public meeting, 4 World Trade Center, Manhattan.

At 11:45 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio Blasio will greet and thank volunteers at the 14th Annual CUNY/Daily News Citizenship NOW! Call-In event, Stella and Charles Guttman Community College, 50 West 40th St., Manhattan.

At noon, Common Cause/NY will hold a telephone press conference with reporters to release a briefing on contributions to party Housekeeping accounts in New York from 2013-2015.

At 2 p.m., Brooklyn Councilman Mathieu Eugene and advocates from Campaign for Children rally to restore funding for 31,000 summer program slots this year, in response to the failure to include funding for the programs in this year’s executive budget, Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

At 6 p.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray and Deputy Mayor Richard Buery will host a town hall with members of the Caribbean community to discuss mental health, New Dimension Seventh Day Adventist Church, 1062 Winthrop St., Brooklyn.

Also at 6 p.m., WE ACT for Environmental Justice and the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund host a NY-13 candidate forum to discuss environmental justice issues impacting Northern Manhattan residents, Manhattan Pentecostal Church, 535 West 125th St., Manhattan.

At 7:15 p.m., Hochul addresses WNY Area Labor Federation members, Lucarelli’s, 1830 Abbott Rd., Lackawanna.

At 7:30 p.m., NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer delivers the keynote address at the Los Sures annual fundraising reception, 213 North 8th St., Brooklyn.

Headlines…

Some of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s closest political allies have received subpoenas as part of coordinated federal and state investigations into his fundraising activities.

Among those hit with subpoenas from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. are Emma Wolfe, the mayor’s director of intergovernmental affairs, Ross Offinger, his top fund-raiser, and BerlinRosen, the consulting firm that works on the mayor’s political campaigns.

Maya Wiley, counsel to the mayor, released a statement saying: “City Hall has been subpoenaed by the New York County District Attorney’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District and we are fully cooperating with the investigation. The Mayor has not been personally served.”

The Suffolk Democratic Committee returned a $100,000 NYSUT campaign contribution during the 2014 election because the union sought to steer the money to Democratic state Senate candidate Adrienne Esposito in possible violation of state election law.

Bradley Tusk, former campaign manager for NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, in the NYDN: “To be clear, it’s still early in this scandal cycle, so we don’t know what will happen. But here’s my sense of the potential outcomes, in order from most to least likely.”

The revelation that it was Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s chosen enforcement counsel at the Board of Elections who sparked an investigation into de Blasio’s fundraising activities has raised a number of questions about motivation and independence.

Republican Donald Trump is mocking rival Ted Cruz’s decision to name Carly Fiorina as his vice presidential pick when the Texas senator’s campaign is stalling, saying: “Cruz can’t win, what’s he doing picking vice presidents?”

Trump, emboldened by fresh primary wins this week and pivoting toward a likely general-election fight, called for the U.S. to pull back from its global engagements, marking a decisive break from recent Republican orthodoxy.

Fading Democratic challenger Bernie Sanders began laying off hundreds of staffers across the country, just one day after the Vermont senator suffered a dismal performance in a pivotal string of Northeast primaries.

In an interview with the New York Times, Sanders acknowledged in the strongest terms yet that Clinton’s delegate lead might have closed off his path to the nomination, and he was less combative toward his party’s front-runner in his moment of apparent defeat, taking a tone of cold realism, if not quite resignation.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman says he will introduce legislation as part of his bid to crack down on the use of “bot” software that allows event ticket buyers to gobble up numerous seats for resale faster than individual people can.

Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against Joel Abelove, claiming the Rensselaer County district attorney “flagrantly violated” an executive order last week when Abelove’s office presented evidence in a fatal police shooting to a grand jury.

Former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos shouldn’t have to pay a big fine for his corrupt ways because only 12 percent of his career was tainted by allegations of criminality, his lawyers say in new court papers, using an apparently new doctrine.

University of Rochester President Joel Seligman has stepped down as co-chair of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that Monroe Community College President Anne Kress will replace Seligman, effective immediately.

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Extras

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz will name Carly Fiorina as his vice presidential running mate, according to two sources – a last-ditch move to regain momentum after being mathematically eliminated from winning the GOP presidential nomination outright.

Fiorina broke into song on the stage after Cruz announced her as his VP pick.

Republican front-runner Donald Trump delivered a foreign policy speech in which he vowed to put American security “above all else” if elected and warned allies they would be left to defend themselves if they don’t “pay their fair share.”

“There were paradoxes throughout Mr. Trump’s speech.”

Dennis Hastert, the Republican who for eight years presided over the House and was second in the line of succession to the presidency, was sentenced to more than a year in prison in the hush-money case that included accusations he sexually abused teenagers while coaching high school wrestling.

Local supporters of Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign will watch tomorrow when outstanding ballots from last week’s New York state primary election are tabulated, even as Hillary Clinton extends her lead over the Vermont senator in Erie County.

Sanders’ campaign started letting hundreds of field staffers go today, hours after five states in the Northeast voted and the Vermont senator fell further behind Clinton in the race for the Democratic nomination.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman filed a lawsuit against the Rensselaer County district attorney, claiming Joel Abelove, “flagrantly violated” an executive order last week when Abelove’s office presented evidence in a fatal police shooting to a grand jury.

Some of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s closest political allies have received subpoenas as part of coordinated federal and state investigations into his fundraising activities.

De Blasio may be bogged down in bad headlines, but that isn’t stopping him from fundraising for his re-election campaign. Comedian Louis C.K. will headline an event for the mayor on May 12th at Brooklyn Bowl.”

A CDTA bus driving team won’t be able to compete in a prestigious international competition because Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned non-essential travel to North Carolina to protest that state’s law on transgender people using public bathrooms.

State GOP Chair Ed Cox on Cuomo’s potential role in the mayor’s fundraising scandal: “He put a mickey in Spitzer; he put a mickey in Paterson, why shouldn’t he do it to de Blasio?”

JCOPE made a referral to state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office for “possible criminal prosecution” related to Upstate Medical University and its former president, Dr. David Smith.

Cuomo announced the opening of the canal system today — the earliest start of the canal navigation season since 1982.

A wildfire at Sam’s Point in the Minnewaska State Park Preserve has now scorched an estimated 2,000 acres. The fire is still smoldering and is considered an active brush fire in danger of reigniting if dry, windy weather continues

Nurse practitioners in New York can now refer Medicaid patients for gender-reassignment surgery, provided they have a background in psychiatric care, thanks to a new rule formally adopted by the state Health Department.

With legislators set to return to the Capitol on Monday, Uber is planning a post-budget push to have car-hailing apps expand into upstate, pledging to do “whatever it takes” to make sure everyone in New York has access to the ride-sharing app.

Environmental groups want Cuomo to veto a plan that would divert water from the Great Lakes to a suburban town in Wisconsin. The town of Waukesha wants to pump 10 million gallons of water each day from Lake Michigan.

Attorneys who have worked with Trump as a client and an adversary said his blunt and blustery persona on the campaign trail matches the businessman they know.

The Buffalo Zoo has a little lion. The as-yet unnamed male cub was born March 5 at the zoo, the only one of four in the litter to survive.

About 100 Bronx gang members responsible for multiple murders, including the slaying of a 92-year-old woman, were busted by the NYPD and federal authorities in the largest takedown in city history.

Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya announced that he will give present and future full-time employees shares in the company worth nearly 10 percent of the value of the company’s growth between now and when he sells the company or takes it public.

Here and Now

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

At 10 a.m., Sen. Daniel Squadron, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, New York Councilwoman Margaret Chin and community members rally to urge the city to continue comprehensive construction coordination, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., the SUNY Board of Trustees holds a special Executive Committee meeting, The SUNY Global Center, 116 E. 55th St., Seminar Room 202, Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray will deliver remarks at the Denim Day NYC Rally to End Sexual Violence with Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and LG Kathy Hochul, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., PSC CEO Audrey Zibelman, NYSERDA President and CEO John Rhodes, Halfmoon Town Supervisor Kevin Tollisen, EnterSolar Managing Director Peyton Boswell and other officials hold a ceremonial groundbreaking to kick off construction of the Halfmoon Community Solar Project, the first shared renewables solar project in New York, 205 Cary Rd., Mechanicville.

Also at 11 a.m., the National Park Service holds annual observance of the birthday of former President Ulysses S. Grant at the General Grant National Memorial, Manhattan.

At noon, the Assembly will hold a public hearing on worker safety programs in the state to examine best practices for workplace safety and evaluate opportunities for additional worker training, Assembly Hearing Room, Room 1923, 19th Floor, 250 Broadway, Manhattan.

Also at noon, former NYC mayoral candidate Rev. Erick Salgado holds press conference to call for the Taxi and Limousine Commission to end abusive tactics being used against New York City’s taxi drivers, Joe’s Place, 1841 Westchester Ave., the Bronx.

Also at noon, Donald Trump addresses the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

At 3 p.m., Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance, Jr. attends a ceremony to return 2nd century Buddhist sculpture to Pakistani officials, Manhattan DA’s office, 1 Hogan Place, 8th floor library, Manhattan.

At 5 p.m., Hochul addresses the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation Business Conference, Hilton Garden Inn, 1100 South Ave., Staten Island.

At 5:15 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasiomwill accept an award from the Ali Forney Center and deliver remarks at its 40 to None Day event, a national day to raise public awareness about LGBT youth homelessness, 321 West 125th St., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., de Blasio will participate in a tele-town hall with Queens residents to discuss his 2017 executive budget proposal.

Headlines…

A former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo – Joe Percoco – was reportedly included on a July 2014 memo that outlined a coordinated fundraising effort to help Democratic candidates for the state Senate, and on subsequent email updates about that effort.

Jim Dwyer: “(B)bewilderingly, Mayor Bill de Blasio and his crew are said to be in an exotic pile of legal trouble faced by virtually no other politicians who have done just about the same thing.” He also deems the state Board of Elections report on the mayor’s fundraising “remarkably assiduous in places, and filled with flagrant, or at least gaping, holes in others.”

Donald Trump swept all five of last night’s Northeastern state primaries, while Hillary Clinton won four of the five, losing Rhode Island to Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Next up: Indiana on May 3.

Clinton now has 2,141 delegates (with pledged and superdelegates combined), which means she is 90 percent of the way to the 2,383 delegates she needs to clinch the Democratic nomination, and it’s virtually impossible for Sanders to surpass her.

Looking past their fading rivals, Clinton and Trump taunted each other in dueling election-night events. Clinton chided the Republican’s penchant for harsh language by saying that “love trumps hate,” while Trump was more bluntly dismissive of Clinton, saying her appeal boiled down to her gender.

During his victory press conference at Trump Tower, Trump said Clinton has “nothing else going” besides the fact that she is a woman, and would only get “5 percent of the vote” if she were a man running for president.

By sweeping five states, Trump pulled only a few hundred Republican delegates short of the 1,237 he needs to win without a contested convention. If he wins both Indiana and California, the GOP frontrunner will be favored to win the nomination at the party’s convention in Cleveland.

Trump has managed to get his once-grounded Cessna jet back in the air, by selling it — to himself.

Ten months after departing JCOPE, Letizia Tagliafierro has a new job working for Gov. Andrew Cuomo: The former executive director of the ethics watchdog panel will serve as the governor’s special counsel for public safety.

The Wall Street Journal: “Behold Mr. Cuomo’s economic growth strategy: Destroy private high-paying energy and manufacturing jobs. Then create government programs that soak state taxpayers to compensate the victims and subsidize his politically favored industries.”

De Blasio unveiled his $82.2 billion executive budget with a presentation focused on savings extracted from city agencies, and a few new programs intended to address problems that arose over the past year, from snarled snowplows in Queens to voting woes in the presidential primary last week.

De Blasio’s budget increases spending on the troubled public-health system and other initiatives while adding to reserves in what he said was an increasingly uncertain economy.

The mayor said that he would earmark additional money for New York City’s third water tunnel to ensure that clean drinking water could be delivered to Brooklyn and Queens within 48 hours of an emergency shutdown of City Water Tunnel No. 2.

Trump’s attorneys urged a New York judge to bring in a jury to decide whether Trump’s business school defrauded customers out of $40 million – a bid state AG Eric Schneiderman opposes.

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