Liz Benjamin

This user hasn't shared any biographical information


Posts by Liz Benjamin

Siena: Cuomo’s Numbers Up Heading Into SoS/Budget

One day before of his combined State of the State and budget address, a new Siena pol finds Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s standing with voters has improved slightly since last month and is now at its highest level since last July.

The governor’s favorable/unfavorable rating is 60-35, up a bit from 58-37 last month – just a few weeks after his re-election to a second four-year term in November. Cuomo’s job performance rating remains negative, 47-51, but has improved slightly from 42-57 in December.

Delving deeper into the latest numbers, Siena pollster Steve Greenberg said Cuomo is viewed favorably by more than three-quarters of Democrats and New York City voters and favorably by independents and downstate suburbanites. Upstate voters are evenly divided and Republicans are decidedly unfavorable in their views of the Democratic governor.

Even a majority of voters who view the current governor negatively have a favorable view of his father, the late former Gov. Mario Cuomo, who died on New Year’s Day, just hours after his son delivered his first of two inauguration speeches. Seventy-six percent of New Yorkers said they a favorable view of the first Gov. Cuomo, compared to just 14 percent who view him unfavorably.

At least 40 percent of those polled statewide believe education and jobs should be one of Cuomo’s top two priorities for the 2015 session. Those are definitely make the top of the to-do list for Democrats, while it’s taxes and jobs for Republicans and suburbanites and upstaters favoring all three.

New Yorkers gave a negative rating to public schools across the state when it comes to preparing students to be college or career ready, and they’re evenly divided on their local schools. Not surprisingly, there’s a regional divide on this issue, too, Greenberg noted, explaining;

“Majorities of downstate suburban and upstate voters say their local public schools are doing an excellent or good job of preparing students to be college or career ready, however, twice as many New York City voters say their local public schools are doing a fair or poor job of preparing students, not a good or excellent job.”

By a 15-point margin – and just shy of the magic 50 percent mark – voters say the implementation of the Common Core standards should be stopped. They also trust the state Education Department and the Board of Regents more than Cuomo of the Legislature when it comes to setting education policy, even though it was SED and the Regents that botched the Common Core implementation, causing widespread consternation in recent years.

Greenberg said 38 percent of voters trust SED the most to set education policy, followed by 23 percent who trust the Regents most, 18 percent who trust Cuomo, and eight percent who trust the Legislature.

Cuomo is widely expected to make education reform a main focus of his speech tomorrow. He’s been discussing the need for broad changes to the public education system – including giving the governor more control over setting policy – since before the November elections.

Seventy percent of voters support the idea of continuing the 2 percent property tax cap, and support cuts across both regional and party lines. Support is weakest in New York City (63 percent) and strongest among Republicans (79 percent).

New Yorkers remain unimpressed with the Senate and Assembly as government bodies, with the lower chamber’s favorable/unfavorable rating at 42-41, and the upper house at 45-44.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s negatives – 37 percent – outweigh his positives – 21 percent – with 42 percent of New Yorkers having no clue who the Manhattan Democrat is, despite the fact that he’s the longest-serving legislative leader in Albany.

As for Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, his split is: 13-18, with 68 percent saying they don’t know enough about the Long Island Republican to have an opinion about him.

Siena poll, 1/20/15 by liz_benjamin6490


NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is leaving for Paris tonight for a whirlwind, seven-event visit to honor the journalists murdered in the terror attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

De Blasio received an exuberant welcome this morning at an MLK Day celebration in Brooklyn – one of the warmest public receptions he has seen since the start of heightened tensions between City Hall and the NYPD.

Defying his critics in the police department and the media, de Blasio embraced the Rev. Al Sharpton – literally – on Sharpton’s home turf in Harlem.

Sharpton might be a publicly hound, but he draws the line at “Dancing with the Stars.”

You could say a lot of things about how Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s second term is shaping up, but “out of gas” is not one of them.

Pope Francis is coming to NYC.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer’s State of the Union guest will be the mother of Avonte Oquendo, the autistic teen whose death sparked efforts to better protect autistic children who wander away from caretakers.

The late former Gov. Mario Cuomo had a history of failing to support fellow NY Dems – a criticism some have also directed at his son.

The IDC released its 15-point policy agenda today - two days ahead of the full release of Cuomo’s Opportunity Agenda

A massive collection of documents related to Hillary Clinton’s policy work as first lady is set to go public this spring, just as her expected campaign to return to the White House could be ramping up.

Apearing at an anti-SAFE Act rally, Fulton County Sheriff Thomas Lorey called for his constituents to ignore letters from the State Police asking pistol permit holders to recertifiy their permits.

Former Gov. David Paterson will be the keynote speaker at the Glens Falls NAACP branch gala at 6 p.m. April 25 at the Queensbury Hotel.

There’s a blooper reel from now-Sen. Rich Funke’s TV career.

Former District Court Judge Paul Hensley, who was reprimanded in 2012 for attending illegal poker games, has gotten a $137,498 a year job in the Suffolk court system after losing re-election last fall.

A community college dean muses on Cuomo’s college loan forgiveness proposal, giving it a mixed review.

Actress and beauty queen Vanessa Williams is having a “destination wedding” – in Buffalo – this summer. She’s marrying Jim Skrip, a St. Bonaventure graduate who lives in Depew.

Tyson Foods’ closed Buffalo meat processing plant is on the market, with an asking price of $4.8 million.

Tickets are already available for the 93rd annual Inner Circle show, scheduled for March 28.

There’s a sarcasm index for US Supreme Court justices, and guess who scores highest? Antonin Scalia.

The Greater Syracuse Land Bank is expected to announce a new program that will allow police officers, firefighters and school teachers to buy homes in the city for half price as long as they live in them for at least five years.

Who’s Showing Up for Sharpton?

From the Morning Memo:

The Rev. Al Sharpton’s annual MLK Day celebration at his National Action Network HQ in Harlem is usually a must-do event for New York Democrats.

Sharpton has always been a divisive and controversial figure, but that generally hasn’t stopped all manner of Democratic elected officials and wannabes from making the pilgrimage to attend this lengthy and jam-packed event.

This year, however, things are a little stickier than usual.

Sharpton has been playing a key role in the ongoing rift between the NYPD and the de Blasio administration, with critics saying the mayor is far too close to the firebrand civil rights leader/TV personality.

Last week, Sharpton received his lowest Q poll favorability rating ever – 29-53 – and 51 percent of NYC voters said he’s a mostly negative force in the city (another new low).

Thirty-seven percent of poll respondents said Sharpton has too much influence with de Blasio.

Another lightning rod figure in the NYPD-de Blasio feud, PBA President Pat Lynch, didn’t fare much better in the Q poll, with an 18-39 percent favorability rating, and 43 percent saying he’s a mostly negative force.

A new Siena poll released this morning found a whopping 57 percent of New Yorkers (statewide) believe Sharpton is making community-police relations worse in NYC.

Forty-eight percent said the same of de Blasio, and 34 percent for Lynch.

Nearly half of New Yorkers said Gov. Andrew Cuomo is having little impact on community-police relations, even though he has sought a peacemaking role in the fight between de Blasio and the NYPD.

Thirty-two percent of Siena poll respondents said the governor is making things better, while 38 percent said the same of NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, despite the fact that he has largely stuck by the mayor as this drama plays out.

Considering these poll numbers, it’s no wonder the de Blasio administration was reluctant to confirm until fairly late in the game that the mayor would indeed be attending Sharpton’s MLK ceremony this afternoon.

Sharpton is also planning multiple events today with the family of Eric Garner, the Staten Island man whose chokehold death – and subsequent refusal by a grand jury to bring charges against the NYPD officer involved – sparked the ongoing uproar over policing in NYC.

Also planning to attend Sharpton’s event today are US Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.

The event does not appear on Cuomo’s official public schedule, released last night by his press office.

According to that document, the governor will be in New York City and Albany today. At 2 p.m., he’s scheduled to receive a final report from the Commission on Youth, Public Safety and Justice in the Red Room in the state Capitol.

Updated: After the Morning Memo was sent out, a Cuomo spokeswoman confirmed the governor will be calling in to the Sharpton event from Albany.

The governor announced the commission in his 2014 State of the State address, and appointed its members last April The commission was supposed to provide the governor with “concrete, actionable recommendations regarding youth in New York’s criminal justice and juvenile systems” by the end of last year.

Chief among the commission’s tasks was to consider raising the age at which youthful offenders can be tried as adults.

New York is one of just two states that charges 16 and 17-year-olds as adults, a practice Cuomo has called “not right” and “not fair.” (The other state is North Carolina, and a push is underway to change the law there, too).

A “raise the age” announcement on MLK Day is sure to bring Cuomo accolades from criminal justice reform advocates as well as black and Latino leaders.

The governor is expected to proposal a host of criminal justice reforms in his State of the State/budget address Wednesday. He pledged a “soup to nuts” review of the system in the wake of the Garner grand jury decision.

Cuomo actually talked about raising the age during an MLK weekend kick-off event at Sharpton’s NAN headquarters last year. He called the issue a “civil rights crisis” and said it would be his “priority” to address it.

The governor hasn’t always made it to Sharpton’s MLK Day event. He skipped it in 2012, for example, opting to be at the holiday observance in Albany instead. And in 2011, an emergency root canal kept him from attending.

In 2013, Cuomo’s MLK weekend speech at NAN focused on the SAFE Act. It was Cuomo’s first time appearing as governor at Sharpton’s annual event, and he received a standing ovation from the mostly black audience.

And last year – the year Cuomo was seeking re-election to a second four-year term – the governor also showed up at NAN on MLK Day weekend, where he discussed “agitation freakiness” (among other things, as mentioned above).

The governor and Sharpton haven’t always seen eye-to-eye. Then again, it’s hard to find any elected official who agrees with the Rev. 100 percent of the time.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City and Albany.

At 9 a.m., the executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, Joel Berg, and City Council members mark the start of the coalition’s annual “MLK Serve-a-Thon” volunteer events at 15 city locations to mark today’s observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day; Broadway Community Inc., 601 W. 114th St., Manhattan.

At 9:30 a.m., an MLK remembrance ceremony co-sponsored by SUNY will be held at the Empire State Convention Center in Albany. The event is free and open to the public.

At 10:45 a.m., an MLK Day demonstration by critics of police treatment of minority residents will take place outside the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association of the City of New York HQ, 125 Broad St., Manhattan.

At 10:50 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers remarks at the 9th Annual Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Brooklyn Academy of Music, 30 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn. (US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is also scheduled to speak).

At 11 a.m., former NYC Mayor David Dinkins, former Gov. David Paterson and other officials are scheduled to participate in P.S. 175 Henry H. Garnet’s performance and speaking program to mark MLK Day, 175 W. 134th St., Manhattan.

At noon, a demonstration will be held at One Police Plaza, Park Row and Pearl Street, Manhattan.

Also at noon, Justice League NYC supporters participate in a #Dream4Justice march to the U.N.; beginning at Lenox Avenue and 110th street, Manhattan.

At 12:30 p.m., Brooklyn BP Eric Adams, Sen. Martin Malavé Dilan and Assembly Member Erik Martin Dilan, will introduce a legislative effort to spur volunteerism through the use of tax incentives, Fowler Square, Brooklyn.

At 1 p.m., Gillibrand and other community, government and religious officials speak during a free public service organized by The Baptist Ministers’ Conference of Greater New York & Vicinity; Convent Avenue Baptist Church, 420 W. 145st St., Manhattan.

At 1:10 p.m., de Blasio speaks at the Rev. Al Sharpton’s annual National Action Network Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day policy forum, 106 West 145th St., Harlem. (Many other elected officials are scheduled to attend, including Gillibrand and US Sen. Chuck Schumer).

At 1 p.m., Assemblywoman Barbara Clark, Sen. Leroy Comrie, Rep. Greg Meeks, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, City Council members, minority advocates and other community, government, political and religious officials are scheduled to participate in an MLK Day event featuring a keynote presentation by NY1 anchorwoman Cheryl Wills; Jamaica Center for Arts & Learning, 161-04 Jamaica Ave., Queens.

At 2 p.m., Cuomo receives the final report from the Commission on Youth, Public Safety and Justice, state Capitol, Red Room, Albany.

At 3:30 p.m., Sharpton joins the family of Eric Garner to lay a wreath site of the shooting deaths of Police Officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos; Myrtle and Thompkins avenues, Brooklyn.

At 8 p.m., Sharpton and the Garner family hold vigil at site where Garner was killed; Bay Street and Victory Boulevard, Staten Island.


Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage to $10.50 with an additional dollar per hour for New York City workers was met with criticism from both the left and the right.

“It’s too easy to say ‘get a job,’” Cuomo said as he unveiled the proposal. “When you get the job, the job has to pay enough that you can pay the rent, and you can pay for food, and it is a sustainable wage.”

The minimum wage increase was just one of 10 proposals that the governor unveiled in advance of his State of the State address in Albany on Wednesday, including expansions in job programs for urban youth, additional funding for homeless services and low-income housing, and assistance for food programs.

Ken Lovett: “Senate Republicans pose a significant roadblock to the governor’s plan to again hike the minimum wage, but Cuomo holds most of the cards. By including the measure in his state budget proposal, the governor has significant leverage to get the Senate GOP to bend to his will.”

A brownfields tax credit program that has been used to clean and re-develop polluted industrial sites will continue but with major changes, state officials told The Buffalo News. The new approach would limit the program’s two basic tax credits: one will be solely for remediation of polluted sites and the other for redevelopment, with restrictions, into new uses.

Though he has already rolled out a lot of key points from his upcoming speech, Cuomo still has much ground to cover – especially on criminal justice and education reform. Liberals are also hoping to hear the governor say he’ll tack further to the left during his second term.

More >

The Weekend That Was

As he continues to roll out top priorities of his State of the State/budget address, Gov. Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed raising New York’s minimum wage to $10.50 an hour and boosting the baseline for hourly pay in New York City to $11.50.

The measure stops short of giving NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio the control he has sought over raising the wages in the nation’s most populous city.

Labor unions close to Cuomo like the Hotel Trades Council and 32BJ SEIU cheered the latest minimum wage proposal, but the Working Families Party, long at odds with the more centrist governor, expressed reservations.

Also on the governor’s to-do list: A $50 million state program aimed at helping non-profits build housing and provide services for the poor. The effort will be headed up by Cuomo’s new Office of Faith-Based Services, which will be led by current Assemblyman Karim Camara, a Brooklyn Democrat and pastor.

Cuomo also said he wants to lower the tax rate for small businesses from 6.5 percent to 2.5 percent over a three-year period. When phased in fully the cut would reduce overall taxes by about $32 million for 42,000 taxpayers.

The new rate, if approved by state lawmakers, would be the lowest paid by small businesses since the tax was imposed in 1917.

Cuomo is also expected to announce during his speech Wednesday that he will lead a trade mission to Cuba in the coming months.

That will be one of the first high-profile visits by an American politician to Cuba since President Obama ended travel restrictions this week.

Although, a delegation of American legislators led by Sen. Patrick Leahy arrived in Cuba Saturday to discuss greater cooperation and remaining areas of disagreement – the first congressional delegation to visit the island nation since Obama’s announcement.

Cuomo said he plans to introduce legislation requiring universities to adopt an affirmative consent policy for sexual interactions at college campuses statewide.

The governor will also propose legislation to ease the debt burden of thousands of college graduates. The state would cover two years of loan payments for graduates of New York State colleges who make less than $50,000 a year, continue to live in the state and are enrolled in the federal Pay as You Earn program.

Seniors and singles would be big winners under Cuomo’s latest plan to help New Yorkers facing some of the nation’s largest property tax bills. Yet a two-income couple living next door to a single parent or a set of grandparents could miss out altogether.

The Syracuse Post-Standard calls Cuomo’s latest tax relief plan “timid,” though it thinks his $1.5 billion upstate economic development competition is “bold.”

The Rochester Democrat and Chronicle doesn’t appreciate the fact that the Flower City, which has a 16.2 percent poverty rate – the highest of 18 midsize cities across the US – has to compete for much needed revitalization funds.

Casey Seiler: “Unlike the filmic Thunderdome and the high-tech mayhem of Suzanne Collins’ “Hunger Games” books, no one will be physically harmed during Upstate Thunderdome. Whether someone will come away politically or socioeconomically wounded is another question.”

Also in the budget: $65 million over several years for three projects to expand research at Brookhaven National Laboratory, including one to help it land a lucrative federal nuclear physics facility.

Critics say the state Education Department’s failure to provide study materials in a timely manner for new, more rigorous certification tests doomed many new teaching candidates. Without the materials, colleges were unable to prepare them for the tougher exams. Some say those students should be allowed to take the old tests.

Hank Sheinkopf, a former adviser to President Bill Clinton, predicts “a tough road” for Hillary Clinton as she prepares to possibly announce a 2016 presidential campaign in coming months.

In an OpEd in the Manchester (NH) Union-Leader, former Gov. George Pataki says he fears “the risk of an attack on America today is greater than at any time since September 11.”

In his first public comments since speculation abounded that he was mounting a third campaign for the presidency, Mitt Romney was mum about his plans for 2016, but said the GOP must focus on making the world more secure, providing opportunity for all Americans and eliminating poverty.

A Columbia University senior who carries a mattress on campus to raise awareness about college rape will bring her message when she joins US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand at the State of the Union address.

After refusing to say whether he would attend the Rev. Al Sharpton’s annual MLK Day celebration in Harlem tomorrow, de Blasio’s office confirmed he will indeed be there.

An internal memo obtained by the Daily News shows PBA President Patrick Lynch has backed off his demand that de Blasio apologize for remarks he says demonstrate a lack of support for NYPD officers.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer says he is introducing legislation to make it illegal to build homemade bombs.

Anti-terror cops are still chauffeuring around New York City bureaucrats, even on the heels of terror ­attacks in France.

The three best new sites for a Buffalo Bills stadium are all on the fringes of downtown Buffalo, according to a long-awaited report commissioned by the state. The study also identifies a major renovation of Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park – or construction of a replacement next door – as viable possibilities without the potential for economic spin-off offered at the city sites.

The continuing uproar in the Finger Lakes region over storage of natural and liquefied petroleum gases in salt caverns at Seneca Lake shows no sign of resolution anytime soon.

Joye Brown says the governor is dragging his feet in appointing a successor to former Nassau DA Kathleen Rice, who departed to become a congresswoman. If he leaves Rice’s deputy, Madeline Singas, in charge until the next election, she’ll be the longest-serving temporary district attorney in Nassau since 1949.

Against a backdrop of tense times among police, protesters and elected officials, Cuomo is weighing a controversial bill that would alter disciplinary procedures for cops.

The Hunts Point Terminal Produce Market reached a tentative contract agreement on Saturday with more than 1,200 workers, averting a potential strike that could have disrupted the region’s supply of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Protesters at a march in Hicksville on Saturday challenged Cuomo to include millions of dollars in his budget for the DREAM Act – a program that would provide college tuition assistance to students who entered the country illegally as children.


The US Supreme Court agreed to resolve the national debate over same-sex marriage once and for all.

“Mayor Bill de Blasio must look with envy at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s approval rating ,” said Q pollster Mickey Carroll.

The NYT says there’s a “useful” role for Cuomo to play in helping mend the rift between de Blasio and the NYPD, as long as he acts as a partner, not a ”competitor” to the mayor.

The rift has sparked concern about safety in NYC, which, in turn, has some in the real estate industry ruminating on whether the situation could affect long-term investment decisions.

City Hall officials are refusing to say whether de Blasio plans to attend the Rev. Al Sharpton’s annual Martin Luther King Day day event on Monday.

After an hour of deliberation in the butt-injury trial of Rick Springfield, a jury found in favor of the 1980s rock icon.

Donald Trump admits he was never serious about running for governor of New York.

On the same day as Cuomo’s State of the State/budget address, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee will hold a “God, Guns, Grist and Gravy” fundraiser in NYC.

Following Cuomo’s property tax relief annonucement, the CBC reminds us of the “aspirational” nature of the protected $2 billion budget surplus.

House Speaker John Boehner’s staffers created 13 gifs of Taylor Swift to say Republicans knew there was trouble with President Obama’s plan to offer free community college tuition.

Longtime Hillary Clinton friend and fundraiser Alan Patricof says major Democratic donors are “tripping over themselves” to donate to the former secretary of state.

dispute over the right to canoe through privately owned waterways in the Adirondacks could soon land in the state’s highest court.

Hinting at his White House ambitions, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker suggested that the GOP look to governors in 2016.

Walker swiped at Clinton, portraying her as a creature as dysfunctional D.C.

The RNC announced its 2016 presidential debate schedule.

Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner’s effort to get the state DEC to take over, and pay for solving the urban deer problem in the city and surrounding communities has been rejected.

Venture capital funding for startups in upstate New York and the Albany area was down more than 65 percent in 2014 compared to the previous year.

NYC Councilman Rory Lancman, the primary sponsor of a bill that would make chokeholds illegal, said he hopes to amend the measure to make it more palatable to Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has vowed to veto it.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, who has no opponent yet for his fall re-election bid, has $1.4 million in campaign cash on hand.

The U.S. Navy has placed a $7.9 million order with Lockheed Martin in Salina to provide two sonar systems for its submarines, exercising an option on a contract worth up to $92.4 million.

NYCOM Official: Cuomo’s Anti-Local Gov’t Rhetoric ‘Offensive’

From the Morning Memo:

Local government officials don’t appreciated being scapegoated by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as he pushes for additional property tax relief.

That was the message delivered by New York State Conference of Mayors Executive Director Peter Baynes during a CapTon interview last night.

Baynes called Cuomo’s claim that local governments use taxpayers as a “piggybank” and refuse to cut costs, thereby driving up property taxes, was both “very offensive” and “totally inaccurate.”

“Local governments are not treating their taxpayers like piggybanks,” Baynes said. “Local governments, the cities and villages that I represent, kept their spending below inflation, below the state spending rate since 2008. So, they’re doing the hard work.”

Cuomo’s comments seemed directed more at school districts, which have been in his crosshairs for some time as he gears up to propose an overhaul of the state’s public education system.

But the governor has a habit of painting all local governments with a broad brush, Baynes said, so it’s hard to tell exactly who – if anyone – was the specific target of his criticism.

Baynes noted that the almost $1.7 billion property tax credit plan proposed this week by Cuomo hinges on the ability of municipalities to stay under the property tax cap passed by the Legislature during the governor’s first term.

But the majority of local governments and almost all the state’s school districts are already staying under the cap, which this year is limiting the growth of taxes to 1.56 percent.

“Rather than berating local governments and forcing them to do things they’re already doing, we’re hoping the governor, when the total budget comes out next week, will include things that get at the underlying causes of the high property taxes,” Baynes said.

That, in NYCOM’s opinion, would require the state to finally do some serious work in providing mandate relief and also to increase its aid to local governments, which has remained flat for several years.

By reducing costs and/or increasing revenue for local governments, Baynes said, officials would be able to provide tax relief to all property owners – including businesses – which Cuomo’s circuit breaker-style plan does not do.

Baynes was also lukewarm on the $1.5 billion economic development fund for upstate Cuomo announced yesterday, saying his members would likely prefer a program that provides less funding for everyone to a competition in which only three lucky winners can get up to $500 million.

Baynes said $1.5 billion could be spread around all seven upstate regions “in a way that’s enough for each of them to make a real difference instead of leaving four of them out in the cold.”

Here and Now

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

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is also in the city with no public schedule.

At 7:30 a.m., NYC Councilman Jumaane Williams, Assemblymen Nick Perry and Rodneyse Bichotte, anti-gun violence activists, community leaders and parents will announce the launch of a community-based anti-gun violence initiative, St. Therese Lisieux, 4402 Ave. D, Brooklyn.

At 9:30 a.m., Rep. Louise Slaughter will stand with Hickey Freeman employees to announce the introduction of the Reciprocal Markets Access Act (RMAA) and discuss her opposition to the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, Hickey Freeman, 1155 North Clinton Ave., Rochester.

At 10 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul makes an announcement, New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority
2634 Main St. Lake Placid.

Also at 10 a.m., Teamsters President James Hoffa will swear in Local 237 President Greg Floyd, various elected officials are expected to attend, Marguerite Feinstein Conference Room, 216 W. 14th St., Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., American Immigration Lawyers Association’s regional chapter Chair Neena Dutta and Rep. Grace Meng hold a news conference to discuss President Barack Obama’s planned executive actions concerning immigration enforcement, Meng’s district office, suite 1B, 32-26 Union St., Queens.

Also at 11 a.m., critics of NYPD police officials and police practices participate in a “Breaking Broken Windows” rally and “speak out” event sponsored by supporters of the Coalition to End Broken Windows, including the Police Reform Organizing Project or PROP; in front of the PBA’s office building, 125 Broad St., Manhattan.

From 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., representatives of the state’s health insurance exchange established as part of the federal health care overhaul, New York State of Health, offer assistance with insurance enrollment at a “Sign Up NY” booth at the Queens Center mall; near apparel retailer Forever 21 Inc.’s store, first level, 90-15 Queens Blvd., Queens.

At 3 p.m., Rep. Carolyn Maloney, India’s consul general in New York, Ambassador Dnyaneshwar M. Mulay, the chairwoman of the “Diwali Stamp Project” and others promote Maloney’s proposed resolution calling for the U.S. Postal Service to issue a commemorative stamp marking the observance of the Hindu harvest festival of Diwali; Consulate General of India-New York, 3 E. 64th St., Manhattan.

At 6:30 p.m., Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York, delivers opening remarks to mark the start of a “New York Encounter” cultural festival presented by the Roman Catholic lay movement Communion and Liberation; Metropolitan Pavilion event space, 215 W. 18th St., Manhattan.


Gov. Andrew Cuomo spent $100,000 from his campaign fund in December on a law firm that he hired to represent the governor’s office amid a federal investigation into the defunct Moreland Commission.

The governor, who is believed to have future presidential aspirations, also reported spending $75,000 last week on an Iowa-based consulting firm with ties to President Obama, Analytics Media Group. In November, he paid the firm $100,000. And his latest disclosure shows that he still owes $103,877 to the firm.

Cuomo entered 2015 with over $8.8 million in his campaign account – an apparent record for any New York governor at the beginning of a term – though his fundraising pace slowed significantly after the 2014 election.

Calling economic improvements in Buffalo “a national success story,” Cuomo proposed a program modeled on his Buffalo Billion initiative that will spend $1.5 billion on three other struggling upstate areas. Unlike Buffalo, other regions have to compete for the cash.

“If I just gave you the money, you wouldn’t do all the hard things you have to do to actually get the money,” the governor said. “And the competition amongst yourselves, I’m telling you, brings up the performance of everybody.”

New York’s top state court, controlled by Republicans for more than a decade, will likely have a wide Democratic majority after Cuomo nominated a longtime judge from Buffalo, Eugene Fahey, to a vacancy.

Fahey, whose early political career included terms on the Buffalo Common Council before and after his law school years, later won two elections to the State Supreme Court in Western New York. His work as a trial judge ranged from issuing a pivotal Peace Bridge ruling to arraigning a fugitive sniper murderer.

Fahey wrote the 2012 decision that rejected a challenge to the legalization of same-sex marriage a year earlier. Writing for a unanimous five-judge panel, he determined Cuomo’s closed-door meetings with members of the state Senate’s GOP conference did not violate the state’s Open Meetings law – and even if they had, such violations wouldn’t be sufficient to overturn the Marriage Equality Act.

The pro-charter school group StudentsFirstNY will release a TV ad today in response to NYSUT’s ad campaign launched yesterday. The new ad buy will reportedly be in the high six figures.

Cuomo’s new property tax relief plan will impact more than 1 million homeowners and 1 million renters, but it’s unclear whether co-op and condo owners would be affected.

Even though he isn’t apologizing for statements police union leaders say have undermined officers’ efforts to do their jobs, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has been more supportive of the NYPD in recent days, the head of the Detectives Endowment Association said.

By overwhelming margins, New York City voters objected to the back-turning protests and work slowdown that have roiled the Police Department, a new Q poll found. That’s an auspicious turn for de Blasio as he seeks to end weeks of open tensions between officers and City Hall.

More >


Though he has “great personal sympathy” for the governor after the loss of his father, NRCC Chairman Greg Walden wants a NY-11 special election called ASAP.

Greenetrack, Inc., one of the rejected Orange County casino bidders, filed a complaint with the state Comptroller’s Office alleging the approval of just three and not four casino licenses was illegal.

President Obama wants to help states create paid leave programs and to fund Labor Department feasibility studies on paid leave.

Chemung County Sheriff Christopher Moss, the 2014 GOP candidate for LG, said he plans to start a campaign committee and explore his own run for statewide office.

Democratic Monroe DA Sandra Doorley announced she is switching political parties and will run as a Republican for a second term.

In his final speech as governor of Texas, Rick Perry returned to one of his favorite subjects: Why New York was wrong to ban fracking.

Rep. John Katko joined “No Labels.” (His predecessor, ex-Rep. Dan Maffei, was a member, too).

Actor and peace activist Michael Douglas has been named as the second recipient of the Genesis Prize – a $1 million award that recognizes great contributions to Jewish culture across the globe.

Deputy Erie County Executive Richard Tobe is Cuomo’s new director of upstate economic development.

Former NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn was named one of the Harvard Institute of Politics’ spring fellows.

Quinn will split her time between Massachusetts and the Manhattan home she shares with spouse Kim Catullo, but she promised never to become a Red Sox fan.

Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr. is expected to head a group of Latino leaders on a weeklong mission to Israel, starting this Saturday night.

The lack of diversity among this year’s Oscar nominees is causing controversy.

EJ McMahon: “Cuomo’s proposal would not represent a property tax cut but a means-tested state personal income break.” Plus it treats the “symptom” and not the “disease” of high taxes.

Bill Clinton is really digging being a gradfather.

Eliot Spitzer’s Spitzer Engineering filed plans today for the second of two rental buildings slated for its waterfront Williamsburg project.

The NYC Council is pushing to spend $7.3 million in next year’s budget to buy new bulletproof vests for cops.

The number of people employed by the US solar industry grew more than 20 times faster than the national average employment growth rate in a year. (Ex-NYC Mayor Bloombegr is psyched).

Former NYC Rudy Giuliani said 2012 GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney should have been more aggressive on making the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in Benghazi an issue during the campaign.

Giuliani also believes former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is the frontrunner for the 2016 GOP nod and the “star of the field.”

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the new chairman of the House Oversight Committee, says he’s “100 percent supportive” of another presidential run by Mitt Romney.

Cuomo’s Gift To Upstate (Other Than Buffalo), Updated

From the Morning Memo:

The combined State of the State/budget address next Wednesday will contain reams of information – so much so that it’s highly likely some of the headlines the Cuomo administration is hoping for will get lost in the flurry of news about who got cut and who received more funding.

Mindful of this, the governor is rolling out some of his top proposals in advance, making sure they get the kind of attention he believes they deserve.

Yesterday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was on Long Island to announce his latest property tax relief plan: A close to $1.7 billion circuit breaker program that’s income-based, but also pegged to the 2 percent property tax cap.

The governor’s choice of venue – Hofstra in Suffolk County – for this announcement makes sense.

Not only does the island have some of the state’s highest property taxes, but Cuomo lost the county to his GOP opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, and so is looking to win back the hearts of suburban voters there.

UPDATE: A reader notes that Hofstra is in Nassau County, home to Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who had a rather lukewarm reception to Cuomo’s latest tax relief proposal. The governor DID win Nassau County in the November election, though not by a landslide. He got just over 52 percent of the vote to Astorino’s 44 percent (and change).

Today, Cuomo is scheduled to be in Rochester, (Monroe County, where Astorino also did quite well in November and Cuomo was the first Democratic gubernatorial candidate to lose since 1998), where sources confirm he will announce details of the $1.5 billion Upstate Revitalization Fund he talked about during his successful re-election campaign.

Rochester officials have been complaining for some time now about the lack of attention their city has received from the Cuomo administration, despite the presence of their former mayor, Bob Duffy, who served as LG during Term I.

Flower City leaders and other upstaters have been particularly chagrined about all the attention Cuomo has lavished on Western New York with the so-called “Buffalo Billion.”

Southern Tier officials, led by Republican Sen. Tom Libous, a close Cuomo ally, recently called for their own billion dollar economic development plan after they were hit with the double whammy of no casino license (though that may soon change) and no fracking.

Cuomo repeatedly explained that Buffalo had been ignored by Albany for too long and was in dire need of some extra TLC. Now that there are cranes in the air in the Queen City, the governor apparently is ready to turn his attention to other municipalities with fiscal woes and beleaguered economies.

Though $1.5 billion to share isn’t exactly the same as a whole $1 billion to themselves like Buffalo got, many upstate leaders will no doubt be praising this initiative.