Liz Benjamin

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Convention Consternation

Later yesterday afternoon, the Westchester County Democratic Committee sent out an email informing recipients that a “mini convention” would be called by Chairman Reggie Lafayette for the purpose of selecting a candidate to run for the yet-to-be-called special election to fill the seat of departing state Sen. George Latimer, who will become Westchester County executive on Jan. 1.

The mini convention, according to this email, will be held Jan. 9 at the Westchester County Center in White Plains. All committee members (also known as district leaders) from towns and cities in the 37th SD will be eligible to vote, selecting between the following five announced Democratic candidates:

People for Bernie co-founder Katherine Brezler, Bedford Supervisor Christopher Burdick, West Harrison resident Mark Jaffe, Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer, and Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano.

The race for the district is key for the fragile unity deal between mainline Democrats and the Independent Democratic Conference. It is one of two open seats in the Senate that Democrats hope to fill in order to work toward a governing majority in the chamber.

The email raised eyebrows in a number of corners, since, according to an informed Democratic source in the district, the mini convention date has been changed three times now. Initially, committee members were told to expect to gather on March 21. Next, they were told the event would in fact be held at some yet-undetermined date in February.

The fact that the date keeps moving up has led some to speculate that party leaders are trying to orchestrate proceedings to benefit a preferred candidate, perhaps Mayor (and former Assemblyman) Mike Spano, who was the last to formally announced his candidacy.

The more quickly the convention is called, the thought goes, the less time lesser known candidates will have to circulate and make their respective cases to the local committee members.

But in a telephone interview this afternoon, LaFayette scoffed at the idea that he has a favorite candidate, noting that since he isn’t a 37th SD resident, he won’t even get to vote on who will carry the party’s banner into the special election.

LaFayette insisted that he had changed the mini convention date for two reasons: One, because accommodating several hundred people – up to 700 he said, counting all committee members and “onlookers” – at this time of year on short notice is difficult; and two, because he suspects the governor will call the special election sooner rather than later, and he wants whoever the candidate is to be ready to hit the ground running.

“We realized something in reading the law,” LaFayette said. “When the governor sets a date for a special election, ten days after that, you have to have all your paperwork and filing of nominating petitions in. So we have to be ready to be up and running.”

The chairman noted that in 2012, the governor called a special election to fill numerous vacancies around the state – including, ironically, the race for the seat vacated by now-Mayor Spano, who was succeeded by now-Assemblywoman Mayer – in early January. The election was held in March.

Some sources close to the race, too, have noted that Spano is close to both Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein and the governor. Spano’s brother Nick was ousted in a closely watched race by the now-Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. The Yonkers mayor and the Democratic leader in the Senate have had an at-times frayed relationship, one source noted.

As part of the much-maligned state Senate peace process designed to reunite the chamber’s warring Democratic factions, which was floated by allies of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the special election to fill Latimer’s seat would not be held until after the April 1 budget deadline.

This angered liberal activists, which has been pressuring the governor to call a special ASAP because they don’t want to see the Republicans continue to control the Senate through what is shaping up to be a protracted budget battle.

LaFayette said he has no insight about when Cuomo will announce the 37th SD special election, and has received no heads up on the subject.

“If someone had given us a heads up, we would not be in the position we are in now,” the chairman said. “So we are saying that in 2012, he called it (in early January). So, we’re going with that he may call it on the 3rd, or so. If he calls it later than that then fine, we’re still good.”

LaFayette called critics who have suggested he’s trying to rig the convention process “ignorant,” adding:

“For each date, we got a complaint. What I’m trying to realize it’s either someone who doesn’t like the Spanos, or are trying to make trouble. (Mike Spano) just announced. I think (Mayer) was first one out…so you know, it is beyond me how these rumors get started. I don’t even know who has traction.”

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Nassau County and New York City and will make an announcement.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will travel from Des Moines, Iowa back to New York City.

President Donald Trump this morning will receive his daily intelligence briefing, and will then hold a Cabinet meeting.

At 10:30 a.m., NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and NYCEDC tour proton beam therapy facility, New York Proton Center, 225 E. 126th St., Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., Cuomo makes an announcement, Belmont Park Race Track, 2150 Hempstead Turnpike, Elmont.

Also at 11 a.m., Hedge Clippers and their allies hold protests against TPG Capital for aggressively foreclosing on families in Puerto Rico, TPG Headquarters, 888 Seventh Ave., Manhattan.

At 12:30 p.m., LG Kathy Hochul recognizes the contributions of organized labor in the resurgence of WNY at the Buffalo Building Trades Holiday Party, Ironworkers Local 6 Hall, 196 Orchard Park Rd., Buffalo.

At 1 p.m., the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development and Councilman Donovan Richards unveil 100 percent affordable passive house multifamily building, 44-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd., Queens.

At 1:30 p.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray and NYC Health +Hospitals/Woodhull CEO Calliste host a press conference and ribbon-cutting ceremony where they will make an announcement about providing health services to the LGBTQ community, 760 Broadway, Brooklyn.

At 3 p.m., de Blasio will deliver remarks on the court decision allowing the Water Board to issue credits to homeowners, 952 Lorimer St., Brooklyn.

At 6 p.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina attends a meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy, The High School of Fashion Industries, 225 W 24th St., Manhattan.

Also at 6 p.m., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer sponsor an emergency teach-in on federal tax reform legislation, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 524 W. 59th St., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., de Blasio hosts a town hall with Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo for residents of the 35th Council District, University Settlement Ingersoll Community Center, 177 Myrtle Ave., Brooklyn.

Headlines…

The U.S. Senate early this morning passed a final version of the GOP tax plan, leaving Republicans and President Donald Trump within striking distance of the most sweeping overhaul of the tax code in decades and their top policy goal for the year.

As Vice President Mike Pence presided, the bill was approved with members voting 51-48 along party lines to adopt the conference report on the landmark legislation at close to 1 a.m.

The House had approved the bill earlier but will have to vote again today.

Amid the cheers and gavel-pounding among Republicans at the passage of the tax bill in the House, there was a Northeastern accent to the party’s dissenters, with nine lawmakers from New York and New Jersey bucking the consensus to vote no.

Democrats in the Senate persuaded the chamber’s parliamentarian that several minor provisions in the House bill violated Senate rules, forcing the House into an embarrassing second vote.

One of those provisions would allow 529 savings accounts, which are now used for college tuition, to help finance home schooling. Another would exempt a small tuition-free college in Kentucky from a new tax on endowments.

As the final vote approached in the Senate, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer gave his closing argument against the bill and scolded his Republican colleagues for talking during his remarks on the floor. “This is serious stuff,” he said. “We believe you’re messing up America. You could pay attention for a couple of minutes.”

EJ McMahon: “You don’t have to be a fan of the federal tax deal to realize its impact on states like New York has been misrepresented by most of its leading political critics.”

Western New York is on track for the second-best year on record for home sales, as prices and transaction volume continue to hit at or near their peaks. But the new federal tax reform legislation could put a damper on that in the future.

Inequality between the richest Americans and everyone else became a central issue in the 2018 election, and Democrats promised a “reckoning” for the boost to the wealthy in the tax bill.

Fifteen people chanting “kill the bill!” were arrested in front of the New York Stock Exchange while protesting the Trump administration’s proposed tax overhaul.

Congress will not hold discussions on former President Barack Obama’s immigration program, DACA, this year, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

A U.S. Senate panel rejected Trump’s nominee to run the Export-Import Bank.

Investigators are looking into whether the Amtrak engineer whose speeding train plunged off an overpass in Washington state, killing at least three people, was distracted by the presence of an employee-in-training next to him in the locomotive, a federal official said.

Preliminary information indicated that the emergency brake on the Amtrak train that derailed in Washington state went off automatically and was not manually activated by the engineer, a National Transportation Safety Board member said.

Two powerful House Republicans are asking the Justice Department to make senior FBI officials available to testify before Congress as early as this week, the latest salvo in an expanding confrontation between the GOP and the bureau.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing that the massive state Common Retirement Fund stop new investments of pension assets in companies connected to fossil fuels. The plan has its limitations: state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli runs the fund and Cuomo has zero control over it.

The governor vetoed a bill that would have allowed some public employees in Nassau County to receive “step” raises even when county wages are frozen – a measure that pitted public-employee unions against the Nassau Interim Finance Authority, the state-imposed county financial control board.

Cuomo vetoed a bill that would have extended the state’s tuition-free scholarships to for-profit institutions, allowing them to participate in the Enhanced Tuition Award that the legislature adopted earlier this year.

More >

Extras

After a long year of legislative face-plants and just one hour of debate, the House of Representatives voted to approve a massive overhaul of the nation’s tax system and knock out a key pillar of the Affordable Care Act: the individual mandate.

The House will re-vote on the bill it passed to much fanfare, fearing procedural violations in the version it already passed. The vote will likely take place tomorrow. The Senate has been expected to take up the bill later this evening.

Several protesters disrupted the proceedings briefly, chanting “kill the bill, don’t kill us,” “liars” and “shame” as they were removed from the House gallery overlooking the chamber. Undeterred, lawmakers proceeded to vote 227 to 203 on the bill.

Five of the 12 House Republicans who voted “no” on the tax bill today were New Yorkers: Reps. Lee Zeldin, Dan Donovan, Pete King, John Faso and Elise Stefanik. Yes voters: Reps. Tom Reed, Claudia Tenney, John Katko and Chris Colllins.

Two Federal Reserve officials, both former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executives, expressed doubt corporate tax cuts under consideration in Congress will lead to an investment or hiring boom.

Newly-released statistics show taxpayers paid more than $342,000 to settle workplace discrimination disputes at House lawmakers’ offices between 2008 and 2012, including nearly $175,000 for eight settlements related to sexual harassment and sex discrimination accusations.

A silicone-skinned Trump was finally added to the Hall of Presidents exhibit at the Walt Disney World’s Liberty Square area of the Magic Kingdom in Orlando.

Billionaire Carlos Slim is planning to sell more than half of his 17 percent stake in the New York Times Co. to U.S. hedge fund investors, reducing his sway over one of the world’s most influential publishers.

Microsoft, one of the world’s biggest software makers, says it has eliminated forced arbitration agreements with employees who make sexual harassment claims and was also supporting a proposed federal law that would widely ban such agreements.

The owner of a Dallas restaurant where Donald Trump Jr. had a photo taken of him and Sen. Ted Cruz holding a cake bearing a cartoonish image of Barack Obama has apologized to customers in the face of a threatened boycott.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has found a new villain for his ever-evolving narrative about the sorry state of the subway system: the state Legislature.

Cuomo is deploying “hundreds” of additional state police, National Guard troops and MTA and Port Authority cops to patrol the city’s transits hubs and crossings during the holiday season amid heightened concerns about terrorism.

Cuomo has vetoed a TV diversity bill that has been strongly backed by the Writers Guild of America East and Directors Guild of America, which would have provided tax incentives and allocated up to $5 million toward the hiring of women and/or people of color to write or direct television in New York.

Nisha Agarwal, commissioner of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, has been on medical leave from City Hall since August while battling a rare form of brain cancer. She suffered a stroke during surgery to remove the tumor, which initially left her unable to speak or walk, but she made it to D.C. to protest the tax bill.

The Transport Workers Union took out a series of digital, billboard and newspaper ads in Iowa — where NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is stumping this week — that show a grotesque caricature of the mayor as a bogus $3 bill.

Expectations that free SUNY tuition might lead to a surge in enrollment this fall didn’t materialize, records show. In fact, enrollment at the 64 SUNY campuses fell 1 percent from 2016 to this fall because the number of students at the state’s 30 community colleges continued to drop.

CNN morning co-anchor Chris Cuomo, the governor’s brother, will reportedly return – briefly – to the network’s primetime schedule in January, with a show focusing on Trump’s first year in office.

Michael Martino, a former newspaper columnist and editor who has done public relations work for both Democrats and Republicans, will be the new communications director for Democratic Nassau County Executive Laura Curran when she takes office Jan. 1.

Chele Chiavacci Farley, a Manhattan resident who leads the Republican State Committee’s fundraising efforts in New York City, and works as a private equity executive, has been talking to key Republicans about challenging Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand next year.

LIPA trustees approved a 2018 rate increase, gave the thumbs up to new method for compensating commercial solar energy projects and greenlighted a plan to issue up to $880 million in borrowing next year, when authority debt is projected to exceed $8.1 billion.

Troy City Councilman-elect Anasha B. Cummings, 29, is playing up his Santa Clause resemblance this holiday season.

County clerks across the state are seeking an emergency meeting with Cuomo and other leaders about a Jan. 31 deadline for re-certifying handgun licenses under the 2013 SAFE Act gun control law.

Jill Stein, the Massachusetts doctor who was the Green Party’s 2016 presidential nominee, says she’s cooperating with a request for documents from a US Senate committee investigating Russian meddling in the election.

Columbia County Sheriff deputies charged five protesters yesterday after they refused to leave Rep. John Faso’s District Office in Kinderhook.

Hillary Clinton wasn’t really singing backup on the “Yearly Show” special from the “The Daily Show,” but she did make a memorable cameo appearance.

Clinton’s favorability has hit a new low since her 2016 loss to Trump, according to a Gallup poll released today.

Upstate New York, the land of the reliably white Christmas, might not be white this year.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is traveling to Des Moines, Iowa.

The House is expected to vote today on federal tax reform. The Senate is likely to take up the bill soon after the House acts, with a final vote today or tomorrow.

President Donald Trump meets this morning with Secretary of Defense James Mattis.

This afternoon, Vice President Mike Pence will participate in the Senate Republican Policy Lunch, after which, he will participate in a series of meetings with lawmakers.

At 9:30 a.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. hosts the Bronx Borough President’s Annual Chess Challenge, The Bronx County Building, Veterans’ Memorial Hall, 851 Grand Concourse, the Bronx.

At 10 a.m., NYC DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg, elected officials and advocates announce DOT is closing the year with a record 25 miles of new protected bike lanes, and spotlight improvements to help commuters displaced when the L Train’s Canarsie Tunnel closes in April 2019, S. 4th Street and S. 5th Place, near the foot of the Williamsburg Bridge, Brooklyn.

Also at 10 a.m., #bfari2DirectCare holds rally in support of speeding up legislation to give a living wage for direct support professionals, Buffalo Museum of Science, 1020 Humboldt Parkway, Buffalo.

At 11 a.m., Cuomo makes an announcement, plaza at the Manhattan span of the RFK Bridge, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., #bfari2DirectCare holds rally in support of speeding up legislation to give a living wage for direct support professionals, Nassau Community College, College Center Building, 1 Education Drive, Long Island.

At noon, unions, community and religious groups protest against the GOP tax plan, corner of Broad and Wall streets, Manhattan.

Also at noon, NYC Hospitality and Tourism Association President and CEO, Vijary Dandapani, and Anthony Rinaldi of the Rinaldi Group, will be joined by city and state officials at a ceremony to celebrate the debut of the nation’s largest modular hotel being bulit, at 189 Bowery in Manhattan, and speak about the tourist boom in NYC.

At 12:30 p.m., Melissa Mark-Viverito holds her last pre-stated meeting as NYC Council speaker, Red Room, City Hall, Manhattan. (The meeting will follow at 1 p.m.)

At 1 p.m., LG Kathy Hochul makes an announcement, 200 Niagara Scenic Parkway North, Niagara Falls.

At 1:30 p.m., NYC Councilman Jumaane Williams, Mark-Viverito and the members of the Women’s Caucus honor Carolyn Butts, the founder and publisher of African Voices, with an official proclamation, City Hall, Council Chambers, Manhattan.

Also at 1:30 p.m., the NYC Board of Elections holds a commissioners meeting, 32 Broadway, 7th floor, Manhattan.

At 2 p.m., Hochul makes a holiday visit to the to Response to Love Center, 130 Kosciuszko St., Buffalo.

At 4:45 p.m., de Blasio holds a media availability, Des Moines Marriott Downtown, 700 Grand Ave., Des Moines, IA.

At 6 p.m., de Blasio will deliver remarks at Progress Iowa’s fifth annual holiday party, Temple for Performing Arts, 1011 Locust St., Des Moines, IA.

At 6:30 p.m., the District 13 Community Education Council presents a town hall meeting with New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, 170 Gates Ave., Brooklyn.

Also at 6:30 p.m., state AG Eric Schneiderman discusses carbon pricing and the state’s renewable energy future at NY Renews event, Thoughtworks, 99 Madison Ave., 15th floor, Manhattan.

Headlines…

President Donald Trump removed climate change from the list of worldwide threats menacing the United States, a shift that underscores the long-term ramifications of the “America first” world view he laid out in his new National Security Strategy.

A day before Republicans are expected to begin voting on their $1.5 trillion tax cut, the big question was not whether it would pass but why the lone Republican Senate holdout, Bob Corker of Tennessee, suddenly flipped his position to support a bill he once said was fiscally irresponsible.

After years of upbraiding and even threatening to abolish the Internal Revenue Service, Republicans must now depend on the agency to carry out their signature legislative accomplishment: a comprehensive revision of the tax code. The task is monumental.

The final Republican tax reform bill contains slightly more in tax relief for the middle class than did its earlier versions, but the wealthy remain the biggest winners in the plan, a nonpartisan tax analysis group concluded.

The authors of the tax bill cut off one prepayment move that many people had hoped to make while leaving at least two other options open.

On the eve of the House vote to approve the final draft of the GOP tax bill, Rep. Elise Stefanik said she would vote “no’’ because of limits placed on the state-and-local tax deductions upon which many New York taxpayers depend.

Also voting “no” is Rep. John Faso, who said: “While there has been positive progress, I still cannot vote for the conference committee package due to my overwhelming concern with the state and local income tax deduction.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo predicted New York Republicans will face “a real political comeuppance” as a result of their party’s plan to limit the deductibility of state and local taxes – a move he likened to state finances being hit by a bus.

With Congress nearing approval of a tax plan that could end up costing some New Yorkers money, Cuomo renewed a call for local governments to share services to cut costs.

The proposed federal tax overhaul will reduce tax incentives for homeownership, potentially depressing the prices of Long Island homes with high property taxes and spurring demand for already-scarce lower-cost homes and rentals.

Trump reportedly thought about dealing out quick justice to his U.S. Supreme Court pick., Neil Gorsuch, after learning that he criticized him.

The federal Office of Compliance turned down Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine’s request to provide the number of sexual harassment claims made against senators and the money spent on settlements.

A high-speed Amtrak train on its inaugural rush hour run derailed near Seattle, leaving at least three people dead, dozens of passengers injured and several train cars dangling from an overpass above a busy interstate.

All 12 of the train’s coaches and one of its two engines derailed. The National Transportation Safety Board said the train had been traveling more than twice the speed limit before it derailed, or at 80 miles per hour instead of the allowable 30 m.p.h.

The mayor of a city near the scene the crash warned earlier this month that the start of high-speed service was bound to end in disaster.

Trump quickly politicized the deadly train crash, tweeting that it showed the need for funding infrastructure — even though the rail line was basically brand new.

The Senate Intelligence Committee is looking at the presidential campaign of the Green Party’s Jill Stein for potential “collusion with the Russians,” a sign that the panel’s probe is far from over, even as allegations swirl that the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation is racing to a close.

The White House “We the People” petition site — where citizens lobbied for issues such as LGBT rights and the “construction of a Death Star” — was temporarily shut down, and supposedly with return – in a reconstructed form – next month.

A federal judge ordered the Trump’s administration to allow two pregnant immigrant teenagers in U.S. custody to obtain abortions.

The president said that the planned terror attack in Russia thwarted by a CIA tip could have left thousands of people dead had the US not given its rival the heads up.

More >

Extras

An Amtrak train derailed this morning while traveling over a highway outside of Tacoma, Washington, causing multiple injuries and fatalities.

This was the inaugural trip for the new Amtrak Cascades high-speed train route from Seattle to Portland. A local news station reported that 70 people were on the train at the time of the crash.

The president tweeted: “The train accident that just occurred in DuPont, WA shows more than ever why our soon to be submitted infrastructure plan must be approved quickly. Seven trillion dollars spent in the Middle East while our roads, bridges, tunnels, railways (and more) crumble! Not for long!”

The United States has vetoed a U.N. resolution that would have required Trump to rescind his declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

U.S. Delegate to the U.N. Nikki Haley voted against the resolution, using the United States’ veto power as a permanent member for the first time in more than six years. The Council’s other 14 members, including France and Britain, all voted in favor.

Three House Republicans – including Long Island Rep. Lee Zeldin – are demanding an investigation of what they say are leaks coming out of the House intelligence committee’s Russia probe.

Facing mounting evidence that Puerto Rico has vastly undercounted the number of people who died because of Hurricane Maria, Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló ordered that every death on the island since the calamitous storm be reviewed.

A coalition of groups opposed to Trump and his agenda has assembled more than 100,000 individuals pledging to protest should the president fire special counsel Robert Mueller.

At least four U.S. senators are urging Al Franken to reconsider resigning, including two who issued statements calling for the resignation two weeks ago and said they now feel remorse over what they feel was a rush to judgment.

Alex Kozinski, 67, a high-profile federal court judge in California, is retiring after multiple women accused him of sexual harassment, prompting a formal inquiry.

Matthew Petersen, Trump’s district court nominee who struggled to answer basic legal questions at his confirmation hearing last week, has withdrawn his nomination, a White House official said.

John Skipper has resigned as president of ESPN, citing substance abuse. He has been with the company since 1997, and overseen its growth from TV station to multimedia broadcast entity.

One of the governor’s top economic development advisers, Rob Simpson, president of CenterState CEO, in the Syracuse area ripped the Cuomo administration for short-changing Central New York’s plans for an inland port that development officials had hoped would create hundreds of jobs.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will close 14 New York City schools at the end of this academic year, nine of which are in the Renewal program for struggling schools, the Department of Education announced.

De Blasio is slated to fly to Des Moines tomorrow morning to give the keynote speech at a fundraising event for a left-leaning group in the state.

New York’s biggest police union, the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, is sending about a dozen officers to protest de Blasio in Iowa.

For the ninth consecutive year, Americans say “whatever” is the most annoying word or phrase used in casual conversation, but fewer Americans feel that way than in previous years, a new Marist poll finds.

The developers of the Adirondack Club and Resort project developers and caretakers of the Big Tupper Ski Area say they plan to open up the currently dormant ski mountain at the start of the 2018 season.

The state Commission on Judicial Conduct announced Christopher C. Clarkin, a justice of the Floyd Town Court, and associate justice of the Oriskany and Whitesboro Village Courts, Oneida County, will resign from office effective Dec. 31, and agreed never to seek or accept judicial office in the future.

A Bedford attorney, political newcomer Sarmad Khojasteh, is the first Republican to officially announce his candidacy in hopes of filling the 37th state Senate District seat that will soon be vacated by County Executive-elect George Latimer.

A new analysis commissioned by the Pew Charitable Trusts suggests that sprucing up the state’s 23 national park sites could generate significant job growth.

Infuriating inmate advocates, the state Department of Corrections has launched a pilot program that forces visitors to buy supplies for loved ones behind bars from five online vendors that they say overcharge for simple items.

Todd Palin, husband to former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, had to pull a gun on his own son on Saturday, a move that did not deter 28-year-old Track Palin from breaking a window and beating his father.

Here and Now

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

President Donald Trump will receive his daily intelligence briefing in the morning.

In the afternoon, the president will depart the White House en route to the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, where he will deliver remarks regarding the Administration’s National Security Strategy.

Later in the afternoon, Trump will meet with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

At 10 a.m., NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and mayoral senior adviser Gabrielle Fialkoff announce funds raised in aid of residents displaced by Hurricane Maria, 1680 Lexington Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., the Asian American Federation will partner with the Biking Public Project, Transportation Alternatives, and other advocates to hold the E-Bike Rally to Protect Immigrant Food Delivery Workers to protest de Blasio and the NYPD’s planned enforcement of electric bicycle regulations starting in January, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., Rep. Nita Lowey visits White Plains Hospital to call for CHIP reauthorization, White Plains Hospital, Davis Avenue and East Post Road, Centennial Room, White Plains.

At 3:30 p.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Rabbi Levi Shemtov of Chabad Lubavitch of Riverdale light the borough’s largest menorah, Bell Tower Park, West 239th Street and Riverdale Avenue, the Bronx.

At 4 p.m., LG Kathy Hochul visits “1917: How One Year Changed the World” exhibit in recognition of the 100-year anniversary of Women’s Suffrage, American Jewish Historical Society, 15 West 16th St., Manhattan.

At 4:30 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a public hearing and bill signing, for Intros. 799-B, 1376-A, and 1783 a package to provide commercial rent tax relief for certain small business owners; Intro. 1210-A requiring diaper changing stations in new and renovated buildings with public restrooms, regardless of gender; Intro 1241-A to create a watch list of rent regulated buildings housing tenants at-risk for eviction, City Hall, Blue Room, Manhattan.

At 5:45 p.m., Hochul delivers remarks at Assemblywoman Rebecca Sewright’s holiday party and toy drive, Hunter College, 695 Park Ave., Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and state Sen. Liz Krueger celebrate state Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins at a cocktail reception in her honor, 18 E. 85th St., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., de Blasio hosts a town hall meeting with NYC Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley and Queens BP Melinda Katz for residents of the 30th Council District, P.S./I.S. 113, 78-23 87th St., Queens.

Also at 7 p.m., a pre-taped interview with de Blasio airs on NY1.

Headlines…

President Trump said he’s not planning on firing special counsel Robert Mueller, whose been investigating whether Russian officials had colluded with the commander-in-chief’s campaign during the 2016 election.

First daughter and presidential adviser Ivanka Trump and her husband and fellow White House adviser Jared Kushner were hit with a lawsuit alleging illegal omissions on their public financial disclosure forms.

A lawyer for the Trump transition team said Mueller’s investigators improperly reviewed some emails from transition officials, an allegation that comes amid charges of bias by the special counsel’s probe.

“Not looking good, it’s not looking good — it’s quite sad to see that, my people were very upset about it,” Trump said when asked about the emails. “I can’t imagine there’s anything on them, frankly, because, as we’ve said, there’s no collusion, no collusion whatsoever.”

The House Intelligence Committee has several interviews scheduled today to kick off a packed week of witnesses in the panel’s Russia probe, including with Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the former head of the DNC.

Fresh off their victory in Alabama’s special Senate election, Democrats now enjoy their largest advantage in congressional preference in nine years, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, signaling a dangerous political environment for Republicans entering next year’s midterm elections.

The Republican-sponsored tax plan advancing through Congress will have dire consequences for mass transit in New York and other major cities, according to a new analysis from transportation advocacy groups.

The historic Republican tax overhaul might usher in a new period of instability in the tax code, because the plan is advancing with expiration dates that guarantee it will be revisited for years.

The tax bill on the cusp of being passed by Congress is not the grand simplification of the code that Republicans promised when they set out to eliminate tax breaks and cut the number of tax brackets.

A key provision in the Republican tax plan could dim the appeal of living in high-tax states like New York in favor of low-tax states like Florida. But research on the subject suggests high-tax regions won’t see a sudden or mass exodus.

Republican Sen. John McCain has returned home to Arizona after being hospitalized for a viral infection while battling brain cancer and will miss a crucial Senate vote on the GOP tax package, his office said.

Tennessee Republican Sen. Bob Corker said his sudden switch from a no vote to a yes vote on the GOP tax bill had nothing to do with a last-minute provision that could benefit his real estate empire.

The coming cut in the state and local tax deduction comes with a marriage penalty – just one of several family-unfriendly elements in a tax package that will, at first, lead to a tax break for most Americans and a 40 percent tax cut for corporations.

The details change almost daily, but the rumor won’t die: A credible news organization is preparing to unmask at least 20 lawmakers in both parties for sexual misconduct. Speculation about this theoretical megastory is spreading like wildfire across Congress and beyond.

EPA employees who spoke out about their concerns regarding the environment and the Trump administration, or their agency’s leader, Administrator Scott Pruitt, had their emails requested by a Virginia-based lawyer working with America Rising, a Republican campaign research group that specializes in helping candidates and conservative groups find damaging information on political rivals.

Less than a week after a man detonated a pipe bomb strapped to his chest in a crowded subway corridor in Manhattan, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer urged the federal government on Sunday to speed up the rollout of a technology that can detect concealed explosives in crowded areas.

Minutes after its midnight deadline to get the electricity back on at the world’s busiest airport, Georgia Power announced early this morning that power had been fully restored to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, where more than 1,000 flights were grounded just days before the start of the Christmas travel rush.

New York officials are revising the state’s guidelines for instruction at private K-12 schools, sparking concern among some religious and independent school leaders about possible government overreach.

Even with New York facing a multibillion-dollar deficit, state legislative Democrats are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to include a “fair and sustainable” revenue source for the cash-strapped MTA in his upcoming budget proposal.

Ken Lovett: “For Gov. Cuomo, his prickliness last week at a female reporter asking a question about sexual harassment in state government should be a case study for male politicians on how not to handle the hot-button issue — and could come back to haunt him, Democratic operatives say.”

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The Weekend That Was

The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin has called President Donald Trump to thank him for a CIA tip that has helped thwart a series of bombings in St. Petersburg.

A lawyer for Trump has accused the special counsel, Robert Mueller, of illegally obtaining emails and other records from the transition team, the latest in the mounting attacks by the president and his surrogates on Mr. Mueller’s investigation.

Alabama Senator-elect Doug Jones is already breaking with some prominent Democrats by refusing to call for Trump to step down over ongoing sexual harassment allegations. “I don’t think that the president ought to resign at this point,” he said.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services tried to play down a report that officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had been barred from using seven words or phrases, including “science-based,” “fetus,” “transgender” and “vulnerable,” in agency budget documents.

Republican lawmakers unveiled their historic tax-reform plan, a bill that slashes rates for the wealthy and businesses, gives smaller cuts to the middle class and eliminates the ObamaCare mandate that Americans buy health insurance or face a penalty.

Confident they’ve found the votes to pass a massive tax overhaul, Republican lawmakers have entered the next phase of their effort: attempting to sell the plan to a public that polling suggests is deeply skeptical.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said that 90 percent of Americans will be able to file their taxes on a postcard under the federal tax overhaul, which Trump predicted would be signed before Christmas.

Critics say the tax bill looms like a “dagger” over New York City – particularly the real estate industry – reducing breaks that many in the region heavily lean on, despite cuts for corporations and the wealthy.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the GOP tax bill starts an “economic civil war,” arguing that it punishes some states, such as his, disproportionately.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the GOP tax plan could force up to $25 billion in cuts to Medicare as soon as next year, considering predictions that the plan would add $1.5 trillion to the federal deficit over the next decade.

The final bill agreed to by Republican negotiators eliminates the tax incentive for private employers that subsidize their employees’ transit, parking and bicycle commuting expenses.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg said it’s “pure fantasy to think that the tax bill will lead to significantly higher wages and growth, as Republicans have promised,” adding: “Had Congress actually listened to executives, or economists who study these issues carefully, it might have realized that.”

Rep. Peter King and others from New York said they still could not support a bill with a $10,000 cap on deductions for state and local property, sales and income taxes instead of the current, fuller deductibility for those taxes.

Trump issued a glowing plug for a book that painted a chaotic picture of his presidential campaign, written by two former top campaign officials, Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie.

Celebrity chef Mario Batali addressed allegations of sexual assault and harassment in a tone-deaf newsletter that included a recipe for “pizza dough cinnamon rolls.”

Both Walmart and Target have announced plans to drop Batali-branded products from stores following accusations of sexual harassment against the celebrity chef.

“A Prairie Home Companion” has been given a new name – “Live from Here” – in the wake of creator Garrison Keillor’s acrimonious split with Minnesota Public Radio.

A second Metropolitan Opera House conductor has been accused of sexual misconduct, and nonprofits are increasingly turning to law firms to conduct investigations into such allegations.

A secretive, multi-million dollar taxpayer-funded slush fund used for years to pay off victims of sexual misconduct was tapped to settle a lawsuit against Queens Democratic Rep. Gregory Meeks.

Roger Stone, a political fixer and longtime Trump associate, was cleared of defamation allegations brought against him by 2010 New York gubernatorial candidate Warren Redlich in Manhattan Supreme Court.

Screening devices that detect suicide vests like the one that exploded in a New York City subway tunnel are being tested in a Los Angeles transit station, but Schumer said the TSA should speed up plans to deploy the technology nationally.

The biggest figures and institutions in entertainment have established a commission to be chaired by Anita Hill that intends to combat sexual misconduct and inequality in the industry in the wake of the huge wave of revelations spurred by allegations against Harvey Weinstein.

Pope Francis, 81, has blown out his birthday candle on an extra-long pizza at the Vatican to the delight of children.

Facing sexual harassment allegations, two of New York City’s major cultural institutions – the Metropolitan Opera and the NYC Ballet – have hired external law firms to conduct internal investigations.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand turned over the cash Trump said she was “begging” for during her campaign to the country’s largest anti-sexual violence organization.

Former Gov. David Paterson said he was trying to decide between Gillibrand and Cuomo when it came to choosing a replacement for then-U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, and decided on the former because only one of them had a certain political future without his help. “Andrew Cuomo was destined to go beyond where he was,” he said, “Kirsten Gillibrand, not necessarily.”

A sweeping measure calling for new tools to address sexual harassment and assaults was proposed by two female Republican senators. The bill includes prohibiting courts from accepting secret sexual harassment settlements by alleged harassers or their employers.

Clinton responded to a “Saturday Night Live” cast member, Pete Davidson, who recently got a tattoo of the former Democratic presidential candidate, saying she was “honored” by the gesture.

A female congressional candidate dropped out of the Kansas race over a 12-year-old lawsuit accusing her of sexually harassing a male subordinate, an unusual case of a woman facing the sort of misconduct allegations that have forced numerous men out of their jobs in recent weeks.

Relations between New York and Ontario are on thin ice! The Empire State’s north-of-the-border neighbor lashed out at Cuomo after he signed “Buy American” legislation.

A woman who says she was branded by a secretive sorority with apparent connections to NXIVM, a controversial self-help group in the Albany area led by Keith Raniere, was featured Friday night on ABC’s 20/20.

In his State of the State address, Cuomo will propose spending $11.5 million on Long Island to thwart gang recruitment by expanding after-school programs, vocational training and education efforts.

Two recipe books humorously take on the 2016 presidential candidates and the election’s aftermath.

Clinton wrapped up her book tour last week after months on the road promoting her tell-all memoir about the 2016 presidential election.

New York City is trying to push the limits of what is possible at its sprawling Rikers Island jail complex, following in the footsteps of Chicago’s Cook County Jail.

Animal rights group NYCLASS expects a new bill early next year to ban carriage horses outside of Central Park, and criticized outgoing NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito as “ineffective” since she and the mayor failed to pass an outright ban.

An incoming NYC Councilman-elect fired one of his Asian-American liaisons for posting racist and sexist remarks on Facebook last week.

City Hall initially canceled Mayor Bill de Blasio’s widely criticized jaunt to Germany after a cop was assassinated — but flip-flopped 13 hours later, ­e-mail records show.

NYC residents may soon be able to register to vote online under a City Council bill signed this past weekend by de Blasio.

A string of A-list writers hoping to demonstrate the power of the pen have written to Cuomo to urge the signing of a diversity hiring bill before its Dec. 18 midnight deadline.

Two more potential 2018 challengers to Republican Rep. Chris Collins have emerged, despite the fact that he’s in what’s widely considered the state’s safest GOP seat.

Grand Island Supervisor Nathan D. McMurray said he is being recruited by Democratic officials to run against Collins, and he’s considering it although he doesn’t live in the NY-27.

The NYPD set up a new team within its Special Victims Unit to handle the recent flood of sex-assault accusations against high-profile figures, because “they come up almost every day” in response to what’s been called the “Weinstein effect.”

Transportation activists and political opponents called for City Hall to yank state Sen. Marty Golden’s parking placard after a cyclist reported Golden waved his placard and claimed to be a cop in an effort to clear the bike lane, but de Blasio has remained silent.

The owners of Yonkers Raceway are considering various options as they look to develop the 100-acre site that’s home to Empire City Casino — including possibly moving the 118-year-old harness track to another location.

New data shows there’s been a surge in visitors to Buffalo on Saturday nights before a Bills home game with occupancy up by more than 60 percent on those weekends not impacted by heavy snow. The average guest count is 673. That’s up from 421 when the Bills are out of town.

Troy Chief James Tedesco, who announced his retirement last week, also revealed he’s suffering from ALS.

An Albany city police officer elected Albany County coroner in November may have to choose between the two professions.

Oyster Bay tweets no more. The town’s Facebook page also has been shuttered and its Instagram account closed. Instead, its social media presence will all be through Town Supervisor Joseph Saladino’s accounts, officials said.

Brookhaven officials are planning to create a registry of foreclosed houses to keep track of zombie homes and make it easier to find their owners.

Extras

Republicans have finished writing the final version of their tax bill, clearing the way for a floor vote that leaders say they are optimistic will pass – and at least one key Senate vote – Marco Rubio, of Florida – has gone from “no” to “yes.”

Long Island is No. 1 on a list of the top 10 metro areas in the US with the greatest share of homeowners who pay $10,000 or more in property taxes annually, and thus would be hit hardest by the federal tax bill.

President Trump escalated his criticism of the FBI over its investigation of possible links between Russia and his campaign, calling the inquiry a “very sad thing to watch.”

“It’s a shame what’s happened with the FBI,” the president told reporters before departing for an event at the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va. “It’s a very sad thing to watch.”

Trump isn’t saying whether he is considering a pardon for former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI.

“I don’t want to talk about pardons with Michael Flynn — yet,” Trump said. “We’ll see what happens. Let’s see.”

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he intends to force a vote on a bill that would preserve Obama-era net neutrality rules, which the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) decided to repeal this week.

Given the looming tax reform bill’s passage in D.C., the New York Conference of Mayors recently sent out guidance on whether taxing entities could take payment before Jan. 1 for 2018 taxes. That came after several municipal leaders, mostly downstate, sought advice.

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort will be released from house arrest while his criminal case is pending, a judge ruled, but he’ll have to remain under GPS monitoring, be home daily by 11 p.m., and get the judge’s permission to travel outside of southern Florida, where he’ll be living.

The House Ethics Committee announced it has launched an investigation into sexual harassment allegations leveled against Rep. Ruben Kihuen – a Nevada Democrat who is accused of sexually harassing a former campaign staffer.

Syracuse native Kelly Cutrone, a New York fashion publicist known for reality TV shows “The Hills” on “America’s Next Top Model,” has come forward as the 13th woman accusing music mogul Russell Simmons of sexual misconduct.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio parted ways with a key Democratic ally – Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie – by pushing ahead with a “millionaires tax” to fund the MTA — even if the federal tax overhaul is enacted.

Flamboyant lawyer Richard Luthmann, who once famously sought to resolve a civil lawsuit through “trial by combat,” was arrested by the FBI on a slew of charges, including kidnapping, kidnapping conspiracy, money laundering, brandishing a firearm to commit a crime, aggravated identity theft and extortion conspiracy.

A well-known women’s rights lawyer sought to arrange compensation from donors and tabloid media outlets for women who made or considered making sexual misconduct allegations against Trump during the final months of the 2016 presidential race.

The Department of Homeland Security is adding new requirements for countries that participate in the Visa Waiver Program as part of the Trump administration’s ongoing efforts to tighten border and travel security.

A Pennsylvania federal judge has blocked Trump’s repeal of an ObamaCare mandate that required employers to provide birth control coverage.

A White Plains neighborhood association is suing the city to stop a planned French-American School of New York campus at the old Ridgeway Country Club, calling the proposal “an absurdity.”

Actor William Fichtner, who grew up in Cheektowaga, but left the area after graduating from Maryvale High School in 1974 to go to college, first at Farmingdale State College, then Brockport, says: “(A)nybody that knows me knows that I’m a Buffalo guy..I love my hometown.”

A National Guard Black Hawk helicopter made an emergency landing this morning in Wyoming County.

The state’s top court ruled that judges will now be required — when asked — to instruct juries that witness identifications of suspects from a different race is less reliable than when people make IDs from their own race.

Laura Curran will take the oath of office to become Nassau’s next county executive on Jan. 1 in a ceremony outside her new Mineola office.

HGTV star Carter Oosterhouse is the latest in the entertainment industry to be accused of sexual misconduct.

Former Brooklyn assistant district attorney Tara Lenich’s counterfeit charge of an affair between her then-boyfriend and a fellow prosecutor ruined the other woman’s life and career, a new lawsuit charged.

After spending more than 40 years with the Troy Police Department, Chief John Tedesco intends to retire in January.

Extras

The FCC voted to dismantle landmark rules regulating the businesses that connect consumers to the internet, granting broadband companies power to potentially reshape Americans’ online experiences.

AG Eric Schneiderman called the FCC ruling “a blow to everyone who cares about a free and open internet,” and said he will lead a multi-state lawsuit to overturn.

Taxpayers will be able to deduct a limited amount – up to $10,000 total – of state and local income or sales taxes on their federal returns as part of the deal between Senate and House Republicans to finalize a major tax overhaul, Rep. Kevin Brady, a Texas Republican, said.

Many of the changes made to assuage the concerns of businesses and Republican lawmakers are expected to drive up the cost of the tax reform bill and will need to be paid for to ensure the legislation does not add more than $1.5 trillion to the deficit over a decade.

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, told congressional leadership that he will not support the latest version of the GOP tax bill if the legislation doesn’t make the child tax credit more generous – something that would drive the overall cost up still higher.

Despite several landmark legislative wins this year, and a better-than-expected relationship with Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan has reportedly made it known to some of his closest confidants that this will be his final term as speaker, and is not expected to remain in D.C. past 2018.

Trump’s son Eric echoed his dad’s recent attack on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, saying he renmembers “when she came into his office every three days to ask him for money and ask for major campaign contributions,” adding: “There is no one who wanted to get into his office more than Kirsten Gillibrand.”

The Walt Disney Company says it has reached a deal to buy most of the assets of 21st Century Fox, the conglomerate controlled by Rupert Murdoch, in an all-stock transaction valued at roughly $52.4 billion.

Omarosa Manigault, outgoing director of the White House Office of Public Liaison, hinted she plans to tell the public about inappropriate things she witnessed while a member of the Trump administration this year.

The New York Times announced that publisher Arthur O. Sulzberger will retire by Dec. 31 and name his 37-year-old son, Arthur Gregg (A.G.) Sulzberger as his replacement.

Freedom Caucus leader Jim Jordan will headline a fundraiser for Rep. Lee Zeldin in New York tonight — a last-minute, line-up addition that comes after Ryan backed out of an earlier Zeldin re-election event.

Former NBA star Dennis Rodman said he believes that if Hillary Clinton won last year’s presidential election, her approach to US relations with North Korea would be “more open-minded” than the Trump administration’s.

The NYC Council is launching an investigation into misconduct allegations against Bronx Democratic Councilman Andy King, who was the subject of a sexual harassment complaint two years ago.

The King probe is part of a broader investigation by NYC Council lawyers into possible sexual misconduct among staff and elected officials, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

The wife of a Kentucky lawmaker who killed himself after a sexual assault allegation surfaced this week defended her husband and said she will run for his seat because “these high-tech lynchings based on lies and half-truths can’t be allowed to win the day.”

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli released a report projecting state-funded debt will reach $63.7 billion by March 31, the end of the 2017-18 fiscal year. The New York’s total debt is the second-highest in the U.S. behind California, which has $87 billion in debt.

A federal judge sentenced former Ramapo supervisor Christopher St. Lawrence to 30 months in prison for fraud involving the financing of his pet project, the town’s $58 million baseball stadium.

Erie County Legislator Patrick Burke is emerging as front-runner among four Democrats scrambling to succeed Michael Kearns, who was recently elected to the Assembly, as county clerk in a special election early next year.

The Suffolk Legislature’s Public Safety Committee effectively killed a bill that would have given it oversight over money seized by county law enforcement agencies after opposition surfaced from Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and incoming District Attorney Timothy Sini.

Unshackle Upstate, a pro-taxpayer, upstate-focused advocacy and education organization, has released its 2018 advocacy agenda.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today announced that New York has been designated the first age-friendly state in the nation by the AARP and the World Health Organization.

A Utica judge ruled this week that Kevin Ward Jr.’s family can move forward with their claims against Tony Stewart.

Mahoney Still on Team Cuomo for 2018

Though a preferred candidate from her party has yet to emerge to take on Gov. Andrew Cuomo next year, Republican Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney says she remains firmly committed to supporting the state’s top Democrat for a third, four-year term.

“I joined this team in 2010,” Mahoney said during a CapTon interview last night. “It was an interesting path to the team with Governor Cuomo, but since then, he’s given me absolutely no reason to not be supportive. What he has done in Central New York is what he said he would do. What he’s done in upstate New York is what he said he would do.”

“As I said, if you measure our progress now compared to where we were, there’s just no denying the fact that we’re better off now. So, I am very much part of his team, and hoping I’ll get another few years to work with Governor Cuomo to continue some of the progress.”

So far, just one Republican – Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb – has formally announced his intention to challenge Cuomo in 2018. But a number of others are considering a bid for the GOP gubernatorial nod.

Mahoney, who has had an up-and-down relationship with the GOP – in part due to her willingness to twice cross party lines to support Cuomo – has played a number of key roles during the governor’s tenure in office.

She co-chaired Cuomo’s transition team after endorsing him for the first time in 2010.

The county executive also served on the now-defunct corruption-busting Moreland Commission, which drew the attention of former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara after the governor shut it down early in exchange for an ethics reform deal with legislative leaders. (No charges were ever brought).

Mahoney currently serving as chair of the state Thruway Authority, a position to which she was nominated by Cuomo in 2015 and is slated to hold through Jan. 1, 2020, (which also just so happens to be the next presidential election year).

The county executive has benefited from her strong working relationship with Cuomo. Yesterday, for example, Central New York was announced as the top winner in the latest round of Cuomo’s regional economic development council awards, garnering $86.4 million in state grants and tax credits for development projects.

Mahoney last night defended the economic development council program, which many of her fellow Republicans have dubbed the “Hunger Games,” because it pits regions against one another in the battle for state funds – a process critics say is inequitable and unfair.

The county executive, who in the past has been mentioned as a potential LG running mate for Cuomo, said she has no interest in leaving her current job, to which she was re-elected for a third term in 2015, (the governor returned the favor and endorsed her campaign that year), saying:

“I love the fact that I can have the impact I do on the community and still go home for dinner. My husband and I have our kids still for the most part in Central New York…I very much like the job that I have and hope Kathy (Hochul) is not going anywhere. She’s been great as chair of this regional economic develop process, and today as the big winner, we have nothing but praise.”

Mahoney, who, like Cuomo, has had a rocky relationship with outgoing Democratic Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, took a gentle swipe at both Miner and another Central New York elected official, Republican Deputy Senate Majority Leader John DeFrancisco, who are mulling potential challenges to Cuomo in 2018.

Mahoney said she saw some of the press coverage DeFrancisco and Miner received during their joint appearance Monday in Albany at the University Club in an event moderated by my dad, Prof. Gerald Benjamin, of SNUY New Paltz. Both Miner and DeFrancisco were critical of Cuomo, particularly when it comes to the method by which he has allocated economic development funds.

“They have announced their interest in governor, so I would take the criticism that they offer in the context of a political campaign,” Mahoney said of Miner and DeFrancisco. “I hope we don’t have an entire year-long campaign, but for some of us that are political junkies, we’re going to be starting early.”