Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin

Holiday Hours

Just a little note for those of you who haven’t already started your July 4th festivities.

There WILL be a Capital Tonight show this evening at 8 p.m. We’ll be chatting with Sen. George Latimer about how Yonkers ended up being the only school district that got cash in the Big Ugly deal ($25 million) after Gov. Andrew Cuomo had proposed a $100 million funded for struggling upstate schools.

Also, Latimer will talk about how the governor signed into law yesterday a pair of bills requested by Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano and fellow city leaders that allows the city to hike its sales tax and impose a separate tax on hotel rooms – both designed to assist the school district as it struggles with a major budget gap of $26 million due to a massive accounting error.

Also joining us will be Assemblyman John McDonald, who will be sharing his thoughts on the end of the session, which focused mostly on downstate issues (rent laws, mayoral control etc.) and didn’t result in much for upstate, other than the property tax cap and rebate program.

Albany County Executive Dan McCoy had a wish list of issues he hoped the Legislature would address this session. Some of them got done, others did not. He’ll be joining us to discuss.

And, of course, since it’s Friday, the Reporter Roundtable will be on hand to review the week’s headlines. With us will be Gannett’s Jon Campbell, who’s prepared to talk about all things fracking now that the state has officially banned the controversial natural gas drilling practice; Matt Hamilton of the Albany TU, who will talk a little bit about prison reform in the wake of the Clinton Correctional Facility escape by Richard Matt and David Sweat (Hamilton is from the North Country and has family working in the corrections system); and, of course, CapTon’s own Nick Reisman will be with us, too.

There will be very light blogging today, in light of the holiday weekend. And nothing again until Monday morning…unless someone gets really inspired or big news breaks.

In the absence of either of those things, have a great weekend! Be safe, and be well. See you back here in a few days. – Liz

Here and Now

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

At 1 p.m., Brooklyn BP Eric Adams offers welcoming remarks as competitive eaters including Joey Chestnut and Miki Sudo attend an official weigh-in ceremony for Nathan’s Famous Inc.’s “International Hot Dog Eating Contest,” scheduled Saturday, July 4, on Brooklyn’s Coney Island boardwalk; rotunda, Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

At 5 p.m., Rep. Chris Gibson will help the Fort Plain community celebrate Independence Day and honor Loring Dutcher, a 46-year member of the Fort Plain Village Board.

Also at 5 p.m., Rep. Elise Stefanik speaks at the Albany Saratoga Speedway, 2671 Rte 9, Malta.


Authorities are now saying escaped convict Richard Matt aimed his 20-gauge shotgun at an armed federal agent late last week but was shot and killed before he could pull the trigger. Previously, they said only that he had been armed and was shot when he refused orders to put up his hands.

Three days after Matt broke out of Clinton Correctional Facility, his daughter living in a Buffalo suburb received a letter from him. “I always promised you I would see you on the outside. I’m a man of my word,” he wrote, seeming to allude to his imminent escape. He also had Joyce Mitchell, the prison employee charged with helping Matt and David Sweat break out, establish a relationship with his daughter.

Matt’s body has returned home to the City of Tonawanda, where a private funeral service is expected to be held. Arrangements were made by his son, Nicholas Harris, to claim his father’s remains. He is frustrated that prison officials are not assisting in the cost of the funeral.

Reports diving deep into potential shortcomings in the system that may have allowed Sweat and Matt to escape from the state prison at Dannemora will give way to reforms meant to prevent future breakouts from 54 state correctional facilities.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton told 822 police academy graduates they are coming onto the job at a time of “great change,” and will be looked upon to “heal wounds with communities that feel we have not done enough to keep them safe.”

Internal e-mails reveal that City Hall tried to cover up a rift with the Rev. Al Sharpton after the civil-rights preacher blasted the NYPD at a public round-table last summer with de Blasio and Bratton.

Citing his pending trial on federal corruption charges, former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver declined to disclose his outside income for 2014, according to the JCOPE, which released financial disclosure statements yesterday for every state legislator.

Jim Dwyer says there’s more than enough blame to go around when it comes to the feud between NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Sharpton is backing de Blasio in his public criticism of the governor. But Assemblyman Matt Titone, a Staten Island Democrat, thinks the mayor’s words were not smart. “This is Politics 101,” he said. “If you think someone is vindictive and you threw a grenade at him, how does that help?”

Former US Sen. Al D’Amato offered to broker a peace agreement between de Blasio and Cuomo at a “pasta summit” at Rao’s, writing on his Facebook page: “All things can be worked out over meatballs and marinara!”

De Blasio aides hoped AG Eric Schneiderman, who has had his own differences with Cuomo, would serve as a surrogate for the mayor in his tiff with the governor, but the AG declined, saying he has to work with both of them.

The DEC’s release of a findings statement that banned tracking in New York started a 120-day clock for proponents to examine whether the ban has any legal holes. If a lawsuit isn’t filed by Oct. 27, state law says the decision can no longer be challenged.

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Former Virginia Sen. Jim Webb is jumping into the race for president, becoming the latest Democrat to try for a primary upset over frontrunner Hillary Clinton.

Former NYC Council Speaker Chris Quinn, now a Cuomo administration aide, says the Women’s Equality Party will “technically exist – so to speak – in the near future.”

Quinn will be the guest of honor at a political fundraiser in Irvington in Westchester County on July 23.

Presidential hopeful Donald Trump is a charlatan, a huckster and a clown who should be universally shunned, according to NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton told 882 academy graduates that their six-month training was better than the training he received when he became a police officer in Boston in 1970.

The cost of a Big Mac likely will increase in New York if the state decides to raise the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $15 an hour or more.

An investigation by AG Eric Schneiderman has found that Per Se, an ultraexpensive NYC restaurant, violated state labor law by portraying operational charges for private dining events as gratuities destined for employees’ wallets.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie will be attending the Great NYS Fair. (But not on Governor’s Day, his spokesman tells me).

Investigators are wrapping up their interviews with convicted murder David Sweat, who continues to reveal new details about what happened after he and Richard Matt escaped Clinton Correctional Facility on June 6.

Sweat said he and Matt bickered over Matt’s drinking and lack of physical fitness, which led to them splitting up.

Also, Sweat told investigators it was Matt, not him, who had sex with Joyce Mitchell, and also insisted it was Mitchell’s idea that the duo kill her husband, Lyle, in exchange for her driving the getaway car. (She has denied that).

Matt’s estranged son believes his father was wrongfully killed by the police. State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said Matt was armed with a shotgun and refused to drop his weapon when he was shot three times in the head.

The three-week manhunt for Matt and Sweat was good for the economy in parts of the North Country.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says the total economic impact of New York state’s tourism topped $100 billion last year for the first time.

Former Sen. Al D’Amato has offered to host a pasta summit at Rao’s to broker a peace agreement between Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The influence of Hillary Clinton’s right-hand woman, Huma Abedin, has grown significantly in the lead up to the 2016 campaign, and she is trying to transition away from so much time on the road as her boss’ “body woman.” She will soon start headlining events on Clinton’s behalf and speaking to donors.

Priorities USA Action, the super PAC expected to be the biggest outside force for Clinton’s campaign, pulled in $15.6 million during the first half of 2015, contributing to a pro-Clinton fundraising haul that now appears to be approaching $70 million for the year so far.

PEF President-elect Wayne Spence is now certified as the winner of the union’s recent leadership vote.

The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force has set up command centers in Buffalo and at other locations around the country to deal with possible terror attacks over the Fourth of July weekend.

If New York does not build more transmission lines, it will not be able to increase its reliance on renewable energy sources, the state’s independent grid operator has determined.

The NYC CFB has unveiled a new website in time for the upcoming July 15 filing deadline.

A dog named Diamond is running for mayor of Schenectady, and is not the first animal to seek the office.

Heastie Headed Upstate

From the Morning Memo:

When he was elected by his fellow Democrats to succeed former Speaker Sheldon Silver back in February, Carl Heastie, had limited experience with upstate.

The Bronx lawmaker had only made a few forays beyond Albany, and was a stranger to much of the Western and Northern regions of New York.

Upstate Democrats had tried – without success – to win some additional clout in the downstate-dominated chamber by backing Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, of Rochester, to replace Silver after the Manhattan assemblyman was toppled by a federal corruption scandal.

The number of upstaters in the majority conference has grown steadily over the years, adding to the diversity of opinions among Assembly Democrats, though they still tend to be dominated by the largely liberal views of the New York City members.

Heastie promised he would familiarize himself with upstate – both geographically, and from a policy standpoint – pledging a tour of the region as soon as he was able to break free from Albany.

The new speaker spent the past five months negotiating his first budget and negotiating his first end-of-session Big Ugly – both of which took a lot of time and energy, limiting his travel schedule.

But now that the 2015 session is over, Heastie is planning to make good on his promise. He’ll soon launch a two-week tour of upstate, aides said, paying a visit to ever district represented by a Democratic Assembly member.

The speaker’s itinerary is still being worked out, and will be largely dictated by the members themselves, according to Heastie spokesman Mike Whyland. This is in keeping with the new bottom-up management style that the speaker has adopted, part of the pledge he made to rank-and-file members who were anxious to break free of Silver’s often dictatorial leadership.

Heastie will likely start his tour in mid-July, and will be visiting the Hudson Valley and the Albany area, as well as Central, Western and Northern New York.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not yet released a public schedule for the day. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio remains somewhere in the Western US on a family vacation.

At 10:15 a.m., NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will be a live guest on the Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC.

At 11 a.m., New York Lottery representative Yolanda Vega presents an oversized check representing a $5 million top prize in the “Cash X100″ scratch-off ticket game to a Harriman resident who worked as a city firefighter in Queens before retiring, and participated in efforts to respond to the 9/11 terrorist attacks; 15 Beaver St., Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., NYC Councilman Andy King and Bronx residents criticize plans by the city Administration for Children’s Services to open a secure juvenile detention facility as part of the agency’s “Close to Home” initiative, saying the facility would violate zoning regulations; 3030 Bruner Ave., the Bronx.

Also at 11 a.m., Valley Agriceuticals unveils its Origin Health Center Medical Cannabis Dispensary, 955 Senator Keating Blvd., Building E, Rochester.

Also at 11 a.m., Rep. Chris Gibson attends Sen. George Amedore’s office open house, Suite 100, 721 Broadway, Kingston. (The two GOP officials are sharing office space).

Also at 11 a.m., Albany city officials hold news conference announcing new broadband study, rotunda, Albany City Hall, 24 Eagle St., Albany.

At 11:30 a.m., Sen. Daniel Squadron and the US National Park Service will announce this weekend’s Independence Day festivities and mark the 250th Anniversary of the Stamp Act Congress with a special presentation, Federal Hall National Memorial, Rotunda, 26 Wall St., Manhattan.

At 1 p.m., Rep. Carolyn Maloney and business professionals criticize federal lawmakers for failing to renew the charter of the Export-Import Bank of the U.S., which expired Tuesday, June 30; Maloney’s district office, suite 311, 1651 Third Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 1 p.m., Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus, Sen. Bill Larkin, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, Assemblyman James Skoufis, Orange County Legislator Chris Eachus and town of New Windsor Supervisor George Green commemorate the reopening of Forge Hill Bridge in New Windsor with a ribbon cutting ceremony, 169 Forge Hill Bridge, New Windsor.

From 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams and other demonstrators criticize potential deportations of residents of the Dominican Republic of Haitian descent, during a march and protest in NYC to coincide with similar “4-City March” events planned in Atlanta, Miami, Philadelphia and Port-au-Prince, Haiti; march begins at Union Square Park, University Place and 14th Street, Manhattan.

At 5 p.m., NYC Taxi & Limousine Commission CEO and Chairwoman Meera Joshi and Council members Margaret Chin and Peter Koo distribute materials to inform riders about unlicensed van services, Confucius Plaza (intersection of Division and Bowery streets), Manhattan.


Gov. Andrew Cuomo on NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s public criticism of him: “Everybody’s entitled to their own comments and their own feelings, and I’ll leave him to speak to his…I’ve known Bill, the mayor, a long time. I consider him a friend. He says what he says, I say what I say, and I’ll let him speak for himself.”

De Blasio and Cuomo stayed far away from each other yesterday, but turned to surrogates to fan the flames of their feud. The mayor’s aides not only reached out to supporters, but also provided them printed talking points to use, mayoral spokeswoman Karen Hinton confirmed.

Hinton, who became de Blasio’s press secretary in May, first worked for Cuomo when he was HUD secretary during the Clinton administration and is married to top former Cuomo aide Howard Glaser. She hasn’t been shy about issuing zingers at her former boss.

De Blasio’s decision to publicly vent his frustrations with Cuomo was “the culmination of months of private ire and careful strategizing at City Hall,” and a belief among the mayor’s advisors that the governor was “taking pleasure in blocking the city’s priorities in Albany.” Having tried everything else, de Blasio believed criticism was the last effective option.

Liberals who have long chafed under Cuomo’s centrist approach to governing were thrilled with de Blasio’s display. “Democrats are angry with a governor whose word is not trustworthy, and who pursues Republican policies,” said Zephyr Teachout, who challenged Cuomo in the 2014 Democratic primary. “This is a big moment for de Blasio. And for the state.”

Tom Precious: “The governor has a problem – a Democratic Party problem. And it goes far deeper than (de Blasio)…Once relegated to whispers, a growing number of Democrats no longer are afraid to publicly take on Cuomo.”

Alexander Burns and Thomas Kaplan write: “The mayor’s remarks this week, accusing Mr. Cuomo of governing through vengeance and fear, are likely to further embolden Democrats who have long chafed at what they characterized as Mr. Cuomo’s ironhanded methods and imperious personality.”

Publicly, most Democratic elected officials are declining to choose sides in the Cuomo vs. de Blasio spat. But Rep. Nydia Velazquez has a message for the top leaders of her party: “They need to put their high-level testosterone aside and get to the issues that are important to our state and our city. Come on. Grow up.”

The New York Times: “The immediate analysis focused not on the truth of what the mayor said, but on whether he was a fool and a noob for saying it, or whining, or showing weakness at playing Albany chess against a grandmaster. The important point is that everything he said is true.”

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani recalls when he was warring with then-Gov. George Pataki, a fellow Republican. He suggests de Blasio try diplomacy in dealing with Cuomo. “(S)it down and talk to him. Publicly attacking him? You’re not going to gain anything doing that. You’re going to lose that battle.”

Bob McManus: “Folks looking for a strong leader to stand up to Cuomo — and there are a lot of them, mostly from the extreme left wing of an already firm-left party — aren’t likely to be inspired by de Blasio’s blink-of-an-eye disappearance.”

“This is not about the difference between a wide-eyed idealist and a clear-eyed pragmatist. This is the difference between someone who is not a psychopath and someone who is,” an unnamed Democrat tells DN columnist Harry Siegel.

More >


Former Gov. George Pataki does not think it was “particularly smart” of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to publicly tee off on Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “There are always personal battles. You keep them behind the scenes.”

Liberal donor Bill Samuels, a frequent Cuomo critic, disagreed, saying: “It’s the only way to win, with Cuomo—is to attack.”

Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer told jurors she felt “uncomfortable” with the relationship between Sen. John Sampson and Edul Ahmad, a real-estate mogul who pled guilty to mortgage fraud and is the government’s key witness in Sampson’s federal trial in Brooklyn.

With the mass amount of road travel that typically occurs during the holiday weekend, Cuomo has paused construction to speed traffic on its way around the state.

Elected officials – including President Obama – weighed in on Twitter against the NYT suggestion that we all put peas in our guacamole.

Suzan Johnson Cook, a pastor and former Clinton Administration official, announced her candidacy to succeed outgoing Rep. Charles Rangel, adding her name to a growing field of Democrats seeking to replace the veteran Harlem congressman.

Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign raised at least $45 million during its first quarter – a figure that would mark a record start to presidential fund-raising.

A photo of escaped prisoner Richard Matt’s lifeless body was revealed last night by Buffalo TV station WIVB. The grisly image shows his bloody corpse in a wooded area near Lake Titus, where a resident reported shots fired at an RV.

The other escapee, David Sweat, who is still recovering from his gunshot wounds at Albany Med, claims to have been the mastermind of the duo’s prison break.

The short-term Big Ugly deal on 421-a has real estate developers gearing up for the next round of negotiations.

Rep. Pete King will not be seeking the 2016 GOP nomination.

Macy’s dumped The Donald, and is far from alone.

De Blasio, who is on vacation with his family, released this statement: “We are reviewing Trump contracts with the City. Donald Trump’s remarks were disgusting and offensive, and this hateful language has no place in our city. Trump’s comments do not represent the values of inclusion and openness that define us as New Yorkers. Our Mexican brothers and sisters make up an essential part of this city’s vibrant and diverse community, and we will continue to celebrate and support New Yorkers of every background.”

De Blasio spent the first morning of his vacation having breakfast with Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry, talking as “dads and husbands and public servants.”

John Dunleavy, the longtime chairman of the group that organizes the NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade, was ousted during a board meeting last night due to his opposition to letting gay groups participate.

Staten Island Councilman Steven Matteo was voted the NYC Council’s new Republican minority leader today.

Many residents of the New York City area were jolted awake by an emergency weather alert on their cellphones early this morning, prompting a flood of social media complaints.

Cue the selfies! The Obama administration ended the near 40-year ban on cameras and photos on the White House public tour.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo explain why cities will be “vital players” at the Paris climate talks.

Outgoing DEC Commissioner Joe Martens wanted to see fracking through to the end, and held out on departing the Cuomo administration until that occurred.

A young Republican activist from Great Neck who volunteered for Republican president candidates Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney in 2012 filed papers for a super PAC called “Second Chance” a week ago – from a federal prison in New Jersey.

A new audit by NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer on the troubled New York City Housing Authority reveals that more than 2,000 pubic-housing apartments remain vacant because of pending repairs.

Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer is going to China.

A fifth person has entered this year’s race for Niagara Falls mayor. Robert Pascoal, president of the Landlords Association of Greater Niagara, will be seeking the Republican line

An agreement last October for IBM to transfer its semiconductor manufacturing facilities in East Fishkill and Vermont to GlobalFoundries officially closed today, the companies announced.

De Blasio’s Friend In WNY

From the Morning Memo:

During a wide-ranging CapTon interview last night, Buffalo Sen. Marc Panepinto unleashed on the governor, saying he had “lined up with the Senate Republicans against the mayor of New York City” during the end of the 2015 session.

“Poor Mayor de Blasio,” Panepinto said. “There wasn’t one thing that the governor agreed with him on, even though they share a party affiliation.”

The senator’s comments echoed the mayor’s very public venting of his frustrations with the governor over the past six months, which included an accusation that the Senate Republicans were under Cuomo’s “control” when it came to thwarting NYC’s agenda.

Panepinto insisted he has a “great deal of respect for the governor, but he wants to rule the Democratic Party with an iron fist.”

“We’re a party of inclusion we’re a party of discussion…and it’s been my impression during my short time in state government that Governor Cuomo often doesn’t like those debates,” the senator said.

“I’ve been on the receiving end of some of those comments in private meetings, and I’m just hoping the governor learns from this legislative process that really we all are public servants..and there are other ideas that are also workable. His aren’t the only right ideas.”

The senator declined to elaborate on any private discussions he has had with the governor, though he did note that he’s a “labor guy” and an “economic populist” doesn’t believe Cuomo has “liked some of the things that I have to say.”

Panepinto was not endorsed by Cuomo last fall, and his victory against now-former GOP Sen. Mark Grisanti was one of the few bright spots for the Senate Democrats in their failed quest to re-take the majority – in which they received considerable assistance from de Blasio, but not much from the governor (despite his promises to the contrary).

Cuomo stayed out of the race because he felt he owed as much to Grisanti, the last of four GOP senators who voted “yes” on gay marriage to still be sitting in the chamber last fall. Grisanti ended up losing the GOP primary, and ran in the general election solely on the Independence Party line.

Grisanti has since been appointed by Cuomo, and confirmed by the Senate, to a judgeship.

“Senator Grisanti did very well,” Panepinto quipped. “He got an $84,000 raise, and he’s got a shorter commute right now…I think that was the governor paying him back…I don’t have a problem with the governor taking care of someone who was loyal to him.”

Families Continue To Pressure Cuomo On Special Prosecutor

From the Morning Memo:

Advocates and the families of individuals killed by law enforcement are not satisfied with the Big Ugly compromise struck by the governor and legislative leaders after the Senate and Assembly failed to pass Cuomo’s proposed criminal justice reforms.

In the absence of a deal, the governor reluctantly agreed to heed AG Eric Schneiderman’s call that he be appointed to serve as a special prosecutor in incidents that result in civilian deaths at the hands of law enforcement – but only for one year, and only for a narrow subset of cases.

As part of a larger criminal justice reform package proposed following the Eric Garner case on Staten Island and Michael Brown case in Ferguson, Missouri, Cuomo had wanted to create a monitor who would review the records of cases in which grand juries decided not to indict officers of wrongdoing and make recommendations as to whether a special prosecutor should be appointed.

The family members and advocates didn’t like that plan, and after meeting with Cuomo at the Capitol, extracted a promise from him that if it did not pass muster with state lawmakers, he would use his executive powers to appoint the AG to serve as a special prosecutor to handle these cases.

After the meeting, they launched a lobbying effort to convince lawmakers to reject the governor’s reform proposal, which would – they believed – result in them getting what they wanted by default.

Their effort was successful, and lawmakers failed to reach an agreement before the clock ran out on the 2015 session.

Cuomo subsequently said the one-year appointment of Schneiderman fulfills his promise to the family members, which include Eric Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr; and Constance Malcolm, mother of Ramarley Graham, a Bronx teenager who was shot and killed by NYPD Officer Richard Haste in 2012.

Haste was initially indicted by the Bronx DA for manslaughter, but a judge threw out the case on a legal technicality.

But the family members are not happy with the one-year limit on the AG’s special prosecutor duties, saying it calls into question what will happen to cases that fall outside that timeframe. Also, they want all police abuse cases included in the AG’s purview, and believe the scope Cuomo has outlined is too narrow.

The advocates have launched a series of videos calling on Cuomo to keep his commitment to them. One, which is running on NY1, features Carr. Another, provided exclusively to SoP, stars Malcolm who says straight to the camera:

“Governor Cuomo, I thought we had an understanding for you signing an executive order for a special prosecutor for all police killings, not for one year.”

“…Governor Cuomo keep the commitment you made to me and other New York families who have lost loved ones to police killing,” Malcolm continues. “Don’t backtrack. Be a national leader and advance equal justice. Cuomo do not backtrack. Keep your word to the families.

Here and Now

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

At 9 a.m., former Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, who was found guilty on corruption charges in February, will be sentenced, federal court, Judge Karas’s courtroom, Room 521, White Plains.

At 9:45 a.m., Rep. Kathleen Rice and local officials hold a press conference to call on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to approve South Nassau Communities Hospital’s request to open and operate a 24-hour Emergency Services Department in Long Beach, Long Beach Urgent Care Center, 325 East Bay Dr., (corner of Monroe Blvd.), Long Beach.

At 10:15 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul tours a minority-owned business celebrating its 25th anniversary with Sen. Toby Stavisky, Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz, Queens BP Melinda Katz, and NYC Councilman Paul Vallone, Crystal Window and Door Systems, 31-10 Whitestone Expressway, Flushing, Queens.

At 10:30 a.m., following a prayer breakfast in Harlem, pastor, presidential advisor and former Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom Suzan “Sujay” Johnson Cook, will announce her campaign to represent NY-13 (currently represented by retiring Rep. Charles Rangel), Settepani Harlem Restaurant, 196 Malcolm X Blvd., Harlem.

At 11:30 a.m., AG Eric Schneiderman will make a “major announcement” about affordable housing, Sunset Park Library, 5108 4th Ave., Brooklyn.

At 1:30 p.m., a coalition of elected officials, led by Assembly Deputy Majority Leader Phil Ramos, will protest GOP 2016 candidate Donald Trump’s anti-Mexican statements, calling on Macy’s to sever ties with the billionaire real estate developer and stop selling his products, Macy’s, 151 W. 34th St., Manhattan.

Also at 1:30 p.m., NYC Councilmen Dan Garodnick and Ben Kallos, Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney and Assemblyman Dan Quart discuss the release of a report about remaining construction of the planned Second Avenue Subway line of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s MTA New York City Transit agency; southeast corner, Second Avenue and 72nd Street, Manhattan.


The long-simmering tensions between NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo boiled over, as de Blasio went on the offensive less than a week after an anonymous Cuomo administration official (possibly the governor himself) called the mayor “bumbling and incompetent”.

“What I found was he engaged in his own sense of strategies, his own political machi nations, and what we’ve often seen is if someone disagrees with him openly, some kind of revenge or vendetta follows,” de Blasio told NY1’s Errol Louis.

The mayor is betting that he can outflank a governor who wields enormous power over his administration’s affairs, even as he needs him as a negotiating partner.

Ken Lovett says this level of hostilities between the NYC mayor and the NY governor hasn’t been seen since the early days of former Gov. George Pataki and ex-Mayor Rudy Giuliani, and believes de Blasio is taking a big risk, since the city remains a creature of the state.

John Podhoretz called de Blasio’s decision to publicly criticize Cuomo “refreshing, but nuts”, adding: “The use of the word ‘vendetta’ was…perhaps a bit much.”

After unloading on Cuomo, de Blasio departed for a nine-day family vacation to the Western and Southern US. City Hall didn’t specify which states they would visit or whether the family would travel by plane or car.

The Daily News editorializes: “(L)ecturing that Cuomo should be more a philosopher king than a transactor borders on egotistical dementia. In fact, although de Blasio doesn’t believe it because he came home from Albany without every last jot and tittle, the mayor made out well in Albany because Cuomo made deals with the Republicans.”

A “new leadership team” is being installed as part of a major shakeup at the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, from which Richard Matt and David Sweat escaped June 6. The superintendent and 11 other staffers have been suspended.

Matt’s brother believes that the prison escapee went straight to hell when he was shot and killed Friday in the Adirondacks. “That is where he deserves to be,” Wayne Schimpf told The Buffalo News, speaking at length for the first time since Matt was killed. “It might sound bad, but I am happy…For almost 20 years, there hasn’t been a day when I have not been afraid that he was coming to get me.”

Sweat, still recovering from his wounds at Albany Med and is in fair condition, has told investigators that he made the practice run to test the escape route the night before he and Matt broke out of prison. He also said they sawed holes in their respective cells six months before their departure.

Though it may have “shocked” the governor to learn corrections officers were involved in the breakout of Matt and Sweat, experts say fraternizing between inmates and guards is actually fairly common.

Upstate lawmakers said they were not surprised that their districts did not receive millions of dollars in extra school funding, despite an offer Cuomo made late in the legislative session. They never took the governor’s pledge seriously to begin with, some members told Capital.

More >

Martens to Depart DEC

One day after codifying the state’s fracking ban – the signature issue of his tenure at the helm of the DEC – the agency’s commissioner, Joe Martens, has informed his senior staffers that he plans to depart in July.

In an email being sent to all agency employees, Martens says it has been an “honor, an education and a gift” to head the DEC since 2011 – the first year Gov. Andrew Cuomo took office. He also informs staffers that his executive deputy, Marc Gerstman, will serve as acting commissioner “to ensure a seamless transition and continuation of the many initiatives we have in the works.”

An administrative source familiar with Martens’ plans says he will be returning to the Open Space Institute, of which he was president from 1998 to 2011, as a senior advisor.

“I could not be prouder of the way you responded to each and every emergency Mother Nature threw at New York State (and there were many),” Martens writes in his email. “Most recently, our Rangers and ECOs demonstrated their unique skills to help track down and bring dangerous felons to justice. I’m also proud of the leadership we have shown in virtually every one of our program areas.”

“…Throughout all of these initiatives, you continually worked to improve and streamline the way we do business,” the departing commissioner continues. “I am perhaps most proud of the way you have worked creatively with our local government partners as well as our stakeholders: business, agricultural and environmental, to solve problems. Collectively, we have put into practice the belief that when we work together, the public and private sector, we are all better off.”

Though he will likely be best remembered for heading the DEC during the long debate over fracking, which started during former Gov. David Paterson’s administration – in other words, before Martens took the helm – a number of other environmental initiatives were started or accomplished on the outgoing commissioner’s watch.

In his email, Martens mentions everything from lowering the cap on greenhouse gas emissions and securing funding for long-neglected flood control structures and coastal erosion projects to banning the sale and importation of elephant and rhinoceros ivory and undertaking “one of the largest additions to the forest preserve in the state’s history.”

“And, at long last, we concluded our review of hydraulic fracturing and decided that there was simply too many unknowns and the possible risks too great to allow it to go forward,” Martens concludes.

Martens is one of the few commissioners from Cuomo’s first term still on the job. Rumors of his departure have been circulating for some time, and it was once speculated that he might be replaced by former Sen. Mark Grisanti, a Buffalo Republican who was the last “yes” voting GOP senator still in the chamber until he lost his seat in the 2014 elections to Democratic Sen. Marc Panepinto.

Grisanti was recently nominated by Cuomo and confirmed by the Senate to a judgeship.

Last December, after the initial announcement that the Cuomo administration had decided to ban fracking in the Marcellus shale, I asked Martens during a CapTon interview if he had plans to depart his DEC post.

“I have no plans,” he responded with a laugh. “If I was going to leave, I would have left before this decision came out, because this took a lot of work.”