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Posts by Liz Benjamin
Jun 12th - 5:15 pm
Joyce Mitchell, the Clinton County Correctional Facility seamstress who officials said may have helped a pair of convicted murderers escape, will be arraigned on unknown charges tonight and processed at the jail in Plattsburgh, Sheriff David Favro told CNN.
Mitchell did not provide Richard Matt and David Sweat with power tools, but rather other contraband, Clinton County DA Andrew Wylie said.
Assembly Correction Committee Chairman Danny O’Donnell sent Cuomo a letter on Dec. 19 saying he’d recently visited Clinton Correctional Facility and that neither guards nor inmates felt safe.
The prison break has had the unusual side effect of being good for the North Country economy.
House Democrats rebuffed a dramatic personal appeal from President Obama, torpedoing his ambitious push to expand his trade negotiating power — and, quite likely, his chance to secure a legacy-defining trade accord spanning the Pacific Ocean.
A fragile Sen. Tom Libous has been cleared to return to the Capitol for the final days of the 2015 session after spending months in Florida recuperating from a blood infection he developed after undergoing spinal surgery.
After several candidates said they wouldn’t participate, the Iowa Republican Party announced the cancellation of this summer’s straw poll for GOP presidential hopefuls, breaking a tradition that began in 1979.
Now that he’s no longer speaker, Assemblyman Sheldon Silver has been able to vote however he wants on bills, which means he’s sometimes voting “no”, which he never used to do.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio used an appearance today at the Islamic Center of Brighton Beach in Brooklyn to urge residents to lobby state lawmakers to strengthen rent regulations.
The Alliance for Tenant Power, a left-leaning pro-tenant group, is circulating a meme and quote parodying Cuomo’s ties to scandal-scarred Glenwood Management.
NYC Public Advocate Tish James announced her office is preparing to offer legal services to the tenants of the more than one million apartments facing rent deregulation should Albany fail to renew the city’s rent laws by the expiration deadline on Monday.
Presidential frontrunner Hillary Clinton rolled out a biographical video portraying her as an indomitable fighter on the eve of a huge campaign rally.
Portland, Ore.-based music supervision agency Marmoset Music has taken on big campaigns for corporate clients like JC Penney, Coca-Cola and Levi’s in recent years. Its latest client is a big spender of a different sort: Clinton’s 2016 presidential campaign.
For some lawmakers extending and strengthening the rent laws is personal. Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, for example, regularly tangles with the “shitty landlord” who owns his rent-regulated Bronx apartment.
An extension of the 421a tax abatement program — rather than the adoption of reforms proposed by de Blasio — could cost NYC roughly 1,300 affordable apartments, according to data from the city’s Independent Budget Office.
Google Inc. is backing a new business with the goal of bringing innovation and new technology into cities. The initiative, called Sidewalk Labs, will be headed up by Dan Doctoroff, a former NYC deputy mayor who more recently was the chief executive officer of Bloomberg LP.
Secretary of State John Kerry was set to leave the hospital this afternoon, nearly two weeks after breaking his leg in a bicycling accident and raising questions about his future role in the Iran nuclear talks.
Marc La Vorgna, Bloomberg’s press secretary at City Hall and communications director at Bloomberg Media Group, is leaving the company to found his own firm. His first client: Michael Bloomberg.
The state Budget Division has completed the sale of $1.17 billion in income tax-backed bonds for an array of capital needs such as the state university system, school construction and environmental infrastructure needs.
Teachers in the Syracuse City School District will be getting a nearly 20 percent raise, on average, over five years. Today the school board approved a new contract, nearly a year after the old one expired.
Plans for the official retirement of the Lancaster Redskins mascot have been indefinitely postponed.
A 38-year-old bald eagle was found dead outside Rochester earlier this month after being hit by a car. Its band number showed that it’s the oldest one ever found in the nation — by five years — and was raised in New York in the late 1970s.
Today is President George H.W. Bush’s birthday. The 41st president is 91 years old.
Jun 12th - 5:14 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule. The Legislature left Albany yesterday, and is not in session.
At 8:30 a.m., Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr. joins United State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Chairman Ignacio Veloz and business leaders from New York and Puerto Rico to discuss ‘potential solutions for the financial crisis impacting the island, and to call for federal action to assist its government, Bank of New York Mellon, 101 Barclay St., Manhattan.
At 9 a.m., business leaders discuss international trade policy with Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, at an event hosted by Business Forward and the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, Wells Fargo, 375 Park Avenue, 3rd Floor, Westchester Conference Room, Manhattan.
At 10 a.m., NYC Public Advocate Letitia James joins advocacy groups to announce that her office is ready to provide legal assistance to tenants in rent regulated apartments in preparation for the possible expiration of state rent regulation laws, City Hall steps, Manhattan.
At 10:15 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will participate in a tele-town hall with local AARP members on the importance of renewing and strengthening rent regulation laws, which are set to expire on Monday.
At 10:30 a.m., OGS Commissioner RoAnn Destito, Veterans Affairs Director Eric Hesse, Assemblywoman Pat Fahy and Sen. George Amedore participate in a Women’s Veterans Day observance, Empire State Plaza South Concourse hallway overlooking the Vietnam Memorial Courtyard at entrance to Robert Abrams Building for Law and Justice, Albany.
At 11 a.m., Coalition for the Homeless and other groups call on Cuomo and de Blasio to create more supportive housing for the homeless, Office of the Governor, 633 3rd Ave., Manhattan.
At noon, Rochester Young Professionals and Rochester Rally for Ridesharing show local support for bills in Albany allowing taxi cab alternatives such as Uber and Lyft to operate upstate, Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park, 353 Court St., Rochester.
At 2 p.m., Sen. Marty Golden joins the 68th Precinct Community Council, business leaders, officials, community groups and members of the clergy in kicking off Summer of Support 2015, 333-65th St., Brooklyn.
At 3 p.m., Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky, Assemblyman Ron Kim and NYC Councilman Peter Koo join F&T Group and Chinese-American Planning Council to announce a free carnival for all children in northeast Queens, Mudan Banquet Hall at Queens Crossing, 136-17 39th Ave., 2nd Floor, Flushing, Queens.
At 3:15 p.m., LG Kathy Hochul tours businesses in Honeoye Falls with New York Conference of Mayors President and Village Mayor Rick Milne, 5 East St., Honeoye Falls.
At 5 p.m., POLITICO Chief White House Correspondent Mike Allen holds a Playbook cocktail conversation on policy, politics, and 2016 with Hillary for America’s Campaign Manager Robby Mook and Director of Communications Jennifer Palmieri, NYU Eisner & Lubin Auditorium, 60 Washington Square South, Manhattan.
After bloodhounds picked up a scent, more than 500 law enforcement officers searched for escaped convicts Richard Matt and David Sweat in dense woods off Route 374, about three miles east of Dannemora. They came up empty handed, though.
“We don’t know exactly what happened here to know we need systemic change,” Cuomo said of the prison break. “I can tell you this: anyone we find who cooperated with the escape or facilitated the escape, that is a crime in and of itself and we will prosecute those people to the fullest extent of the law.”
It has been almost a week since Matt and Sweat escaped, and caution and self-protection have been on the minds even of residents accustomed to living near the prison.
“You wonder how much longer: A day? Two days?” said Robin LaBarge, who lives in Morrisonville, N.Y., about 10 miles from the prison. “You know it’s going to happen eventually, but we’re on Day 6.”
A female worker from New York’s Clinton Correctional Facility who is being questioned by law-enforcement officials was reportedly the subject of a prior investigation regarding an alleged relationship with Sweat. The resulting report found there wasn’t enough evidence to take any action against the worker, Joyce Mitchell.
Mitchell “has been very cooperative since she was identified as an accessory to the escape,” Clinton County District Attorney Andrew Wylie told the Press-Republican.
A licensed engineer who has done work at the Clinton Correctional facility said the work by Matt and Sweat of cutting through a cell wall and a steam pipe was done with a high degree of professionalism. Larry Jeffords, owner of Jeffords Steel and Engineering in Upstate New York, said the convicts were either very proficient with the tools they used — or they had help.
Ticks, mosquitos and swarms of black flies are among the challenges facing both the escapees (assuming they’re still on foot somewhere in the North Country) and the officers searching for them.
A request to lock down the entire 3,000-inmate Clinton Correctional Facility after a brief melee involving three dozen inmates was rejected by the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision amid ongoing concerns about the potential overtime costs. The escape of Matt and Sweat occurred five days after the fight.
The escape of Matt and Sweat has brought back chilling memories for Lester Cossano, who was held hostage 36 years ago by a convicted rapist who broke out of another New York prison. “It’s very unnerving,” he said.
The tensions between the Jewish and black and Hispanic communities in Rockland County’s troubled East Ramapo school district were mirrored in the state Assembly, where lawmakers debated and ultimately approved by an unusually low margin a bill establishing state oversight of the public schools.
Saying he’s playing a “mediation role” during the end of the legislative session, Gov. Andrew Cuomo revealed to the New York Times that he’s still trying to link renewal of NYC rent regulations to the education tax credit. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie again rejected the idea of linkage.
Cuomo said he and legislative leaders in Albany are still discussing ways to overhaul the expiring 421-a tax abatement program, but indicated he remains skeptical anything substantial can be achieved before the session’s scheduled end next Wednesday.
Jun 11th - 5:07 pm
At her campaign rally on Roosevelt Island this Saturday, Hillary Clinton will directly address concerns that have emerged in the early weeks of her candidacy, telling voters they can trust her to fight for the middle class and stressing that she cares about their problems.
Police arrested several protesters this morning outside Cuomo’s Manhattan office, where a group staged a rally demanding an extension to rent stabilization.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants his (three) daughters to grow up to be millionaires.
In impeccable cursive, escaped prisoner David Sweat exchanged letters with a Binghamton reporter in 2010, politely declining to tell his side of the story that led to his life sentence.
“We’re following every tip, that’s all I can say,” Cuomo said of the ongoing search for Sweat and his fellow escapee, Richard Matt. “They could either be four miles from the prison, or they could be in Mexico. You just don’t know.”
US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is a big Amy Schumer fan, and believes some of her skits on the topic of sexual assault have helped push the conversation to a new level.
After a three-hour heated debate, the state Assembly today approved a bill that would install a state monitor at the troubled East Ramapo school district. The vote was 80-56.
Rep. John Katko, reacting to the NCAA’s sanctions against Syracuse University, is helping launch a new effort in Congress to make those who oversee college sports more accountable to students and the public.
Religious groups are paying for a $100,000 advertising campaign in the pages of major Jewish and Catholic publications, urging NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio to finance NYPD security agents for private schools.
Mayoral control of New York City schools might be extended for one, two or three years, Republican Sen. Marty Golden said.
The father of “Karate Kid” star Ralph Macchio expects to start offering rides this summer on a new 3,500-foot zip line in Lake George after years of battling with local officials.
A Buffalo City School District technician was sentenced today for claiming simultaneous work hours at two public school districts, according to an audit and investigation released by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.
Members of the bipartisan Caucus of Environmental Legislators made a final call for passage of six bills with broad support that have either passed one house or have yet to clear the committee stage. That includes the Child Safe Products Act and the Microbead-Free Waters Act.
It’s Rep. Charlie Rangel’s 85th birthday, and he’s using the occasion to raise money to settle his campaign debt.
Colleagues at a Democratic meeting sang “Happy Birthday” and presented a cake to Rangel, who is the third-oldest member of the House.
“Those in the criminal justice system should not be angry at me for standing in the gap they made in the first place,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said today during a speech in Buffalo.
The Working Families Party won’t rule out supporting Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for president after Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat, made it clear she would not run.
Rebecca Lynch, a de Blasio administration official and former Democratic district leader, said today she is running for Queens Councilman Mark Weprin’s seat.
Jun 11th - 5:15 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany and New York City. Four scheduled days remain in the 2015 legislative session.
At 9 a.m., the Rev. Al Sharpton will deliver the keynote address at the 27th Annual National Consortium on Racial and Ethnic Fairness in the Courts conference, Hyatt Regency Buffalo Ballroom, 2 Fountain Place, Buffalo.
At 10 a.m., members of the New York City Campaign Finance Board, or NYCCFB, hold a public meeting; boardroom, 12th floor, 100 Church St., Manhattan.
At 10:15 a.m., FDNY Deputy Chief Richard Alles of the Uniformed Fire Offers Association joins FDNY 9/11 victims to testify at a House Energy & Commerce Committee hearing on the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act, Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2123, Washington, D.C.
At 10:30 a.m., Queens County DA Richard Brown discusses the outcome of grand jury deliberations concerning Brian Moore, the 25-year-old NYPD officer who was shot Saturday, May 2, in Queens and died Monday, May 4; third floor, Queens Criminal Court, 125-01 Queens Blvd., Queens.
At 11 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at a press conference hosted by the AFT and the UFT, UFT HQ, 2nd Floor, Room A, 52 Broadway, Manhattan.
Also at 11 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul announces new training for law enforcement to enhance investigations of child abuse cases, Erie County Central Police Services Public Safety Training Academy, Erie Community College North Campus, Bretschger Hall, B714, 6205 Main St., Williamsville.
Also at 11 a.m., Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams, tenants, members from Alliance for Tenant Power, and other elected officials urge Cuomo to use his executive powers as the last resort to prevent massive evictions of rent-regulated tenants if rent laws are allowed to expire, City Hall steps, Manhattan.
Also at 11 a.m., religious leaders call on Cuomo’s Wage Board to back a $15 minimum wage for cooks and cashiers in the fast food industry, Dunkin’ Donuts, State Capitol, Albany.
At 11:30 a.m., Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh and state Sen. Phil Boyle and other members of the NYS Caucus of Environmental Legislators call for passage of key environmental legislation before the end of session, state Capitol, Million Dollar Staircase, Albany.
At 11:45 p.m., New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet speaks as Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications honors the newspaper’s late writer David Carr during the school’s ninth annual “Mirror Awards” ceremony; Cipriani 42nd Street event space, 110 E. 42 St., Manhattan.
At 2 p.m., Cuomo attends a “Fight for Fair Pay” campaign rally, New York Hotel & Motel Trades Council, 305 W. 44th St., Manhattan.
At 3:30 p.m., Valley Agriceuticals, LLC, one of the companies seeking one of the state’s marijuana licenses, holds a groundbreaking ceremony, 173 Dosen Rd., Middletown.
Also at 3:30 p.m., Reps. Charlie Dent, Joyce Beatty, John Katko and Bobby Rush discuss the introduction of legislation geared at protecting student athletes and reforming the National Collegiate Athletic Association, Rayburn House Office Building, Room 2358, Washington, D.C.
At 4 p.m., Assemblyman Michael Blake and Bronx consulting firm Majora Carter Group LLC President Majora Carter moderate Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr.’s annual “Bronx Tech Summit”; Savoy Room, second floor, The City University of New York’s Hostos Community College, 120 E. 149th St., the Bronx.
At 5 p.m., labor leaders from 1199 SEIU and DC 37 will join the Rent Justice Coalition and elected officials to testify and demand a rent rollback at the second Rent Guidelines Board hearing, Bronx Museum of Art, Lower Gallery, 1040 Grand Concourse, the Bronx.
At 6 p.m., members of Justice League NYC will gather to hold a public vigil honoring the life of Kalief Browder and to call for raising the age of criminal responsibility, Metropolitan Detention Complex, 125 White St., Manhattan.
At 6:30 p.m., Hochul address members of the International Snowmobiler Congress at their annual conference, Seneca Niagara Casino, 310 4th St., Niagara Falls.
Also at 6:30 p.m., de Blasio speaks at the 2015 Jewish Heritage Reception, Museum of Jewish Heritage – Events Hall, 2nd Floor, 36 Battery Place, Manhattan.
At 7 p.m., Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. and Assembly members Marcos Crespo, Luis Sepulveda and Michael Blake hold an Abrazo Boricua event with officials from Puerto Rico, Maestro’s Caterers, 1703 Bronxdale Ave., the Bronx.
At 7:45 p.m., de Blasio delivers remarks at the 2015 Puerto Rican Heritage Reception, New York County Supreme Courthouse, 60 Centre St., Manhattan.
Authorities shut down a major highway – Route 347 in Cadyville, about five miles from Dannemora – as they continue the search for two convicted killers who escaped from a maximum-security prison six days ago.
Officials confirmed a civilian employee at the Clinton Correctional Facility, Joyce Mitchell, is being questioned in connection with the breakout of Richard Matt and David Sweat. Mitchell “befriended the inmates and may have had some sort of role in assisting them,” State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said. He declined to give further details.
Mitchell reportedly made statements that were sufficient to result in her being indicted in connection with the escape. But her complaints of a panic attack, which sent her to the hospital instead of picking up the escapees, has prevented investigators from questioning her thoroughly.
The search for Matt and Sweat expanded to Vermont yesterday after officials said they had reason to believe – but no cornet evidence – the duo might have been headed there.
A recent major fight among inmates and staffing cuts at Clinton Correctional may have contributed to this incident, sources told the Plattsburgh Press-Republican.
After a recent fight involving 40 or more inmates, the normal procedure of a lockdown and search of every cell was reportedly denied by the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision due to high overtime costs. Also, due to cutbacks, the prison did not staff two guard towers in the vicinity where the escapees emerged from a manhole.
Transcripts from parole board hearings provide insights into Matt and Sweat.
With a mix of residents who work in uniformed and civilian jobs and a small number of relocated families of inmates wanting to be near incarcerated kin, Dannemora has long had a symbiotic relationship with the prison: The prison provides jobs; the community provides labor.
Cuomo acknowledged that the cloud of corruption over the state Capitol is making it harder to achieve end of session deals – especially when it comes to the NYC tax abatement program known as 421a.
Cuomo dealt a serious blow to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing plan by saying time has run out in Albany to revise 421a. “You can’t come up with a resolution in these next few days, and I am not going to attempt to,” the governor told reporters.
De Blasio insisted Albany was given plenty of time to consider his proposed changes to the tax abatements, and said again that the entire program should end rather than continue as it exists today.
The mayor, who is still not ready to endorse his former boss’ 2016 presidential bid, won’t be attending Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign-launch rally Saturday in New York City.
The NYC Council approved a new package of disability pension benefits for police officers and firefighters in what union representatives and some council members described as a surreptitious process. With little public notice other than an updating of the Council’s website, the legislation sped from de Blasio’s office to a Council committee to the full body in less than 24 hours.
Cuomo has sided with the police and fire unions in their pension battle with de Blasio. EJ McMahon says NYC taxpayers will lose if the mayor loses this fight.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie used campaign cash to cover the cost of his trip to Cuba with Cuomo. The state Board of Elections says this was perfectly legal and appropriate.
Jun 10th - 5:40 pm
Investigators think a woman who worked with Richard Matt and David Sweat at the Clinton Correctional Facility planned to pick up the convicted killers after they escaped but changed her mind at the last minute and went to the hospital instead.
Author Stephen King tweeted: “Okay, the Dannemora break was a bit like Shawshank. Sometimes life imitates art, that’s all. Except these are bad, bad boys.”
Matt and Sweat could be four times more likely to engage in violence than other escapees, according to one study.
Five trustees on the 23-person board of the Cooper Union for Advancement of Science and Art resigned in unison yesterday, effective immediately, amid an ongoing investigation by AG Eric Schneiderman.
NYC will not renew a multimillion dollar contract with Corizon Health, the company that provides medical care at the Rikers Island jail complex, and will transfer the care of inmates to the city’s Health and Hospitals Corporation.
NYC First lady Chirlane McCray made her first public pitch for mayoral control of city schools today, speaking at a parent forum on community schools in Brooklyn.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s playful sibling rivalry with his brother, CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, has received “The Daily Show” treatment.
The lengthy end-of-session to-do list – with no significant agreements yet in sight, has not deterred lawmakers from introducing numerous pension sweeteners for state and local public employees.
A lawyer who represented Westchester County legislators in two lawsuits against County Executive Rob Astorino has filed a lawsuit of his own, saying he’s owed $108,900 for his services.
Piper Kerman, author of the best-selling memoir “Orange is the New Black,” spoke out in favor of a so-called “ban the box” bill, which would bar private sector employers from asking whether applicants have been convicted of crimes before they are offered jobs.
Hillary Clinton has joined Instagram.
Michelle Kwan, the two-time Olympic medalist figure skater, has joined Clinton’s campaign as a full-time and permanent staffer. She will work on surrogate outreach and will engage surrogates “to help reach key constituencies and discuss the issues that matter most to working families.”
Bill Clinton says he will not do paid speeches if his wife is elected president.
Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani called President Obama’s troop withdrawal from Iraq “the worst decision so far of the 21st Century.”
Due to an unspecified “family emergency,” former Gov. George Pataki, a 2016 GOP hopeful, has cancelled all his campaign events in New Hampshire this week.
Calls are increasing to shut down START-UP NY, one of Cuomo’s signature initiatives that allows some businesses to operate tax free for 10 years if located near state college campuses.
US Sen. Charles Schumer called for restoration of a federal funding stream to support upstate hospitals like Albany Medical Center, which treats trauma patients in a 25-county region.
Mark Poloncarz has accepted the endorsement of the Working Families Party for his re-election as Erie County executive.
Cuomo today unveiled the newest license plates in the I LOVE NY Adventure Custom Plates series, which will make available for motorcycles nine designs that include hunting, fishing, and parks insignia.
Jun 10th - 5:30 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule. The Legislature has five scheduled days, including day, remaining in the 2015 session.
At 8 a.m., during the 9th annual NY Solar Summit,” NYC Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler and the president and chief executive of the NYSERDA, John Rhodes, deliver keynote speeches to city, federal and state government officials, executives and researchers; The City University of New York’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice, 524 W. 49th St., Manhattan.
At 9:15 a.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray will participate in and deliver remarks at a parent engagement forum, P.S. 335/M.S. 584 – 2nd Floor Library, 130 Rochester Ave., Brooklyn.
At 10:15 a.m., elected officials including Assembly members Jeffrion Aubry, Brian Kavanagh and Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson join others for a press conference to introduce a resolution declaring June gun violence awareness month in New York, Million Dollar Staircase, state Capitol, Albany.
At 10:30 a.m., members of the Assembly GOP conference will be joined by small business owners and advocates at a press conference to call for the shut down of START-UP NY, back of Assembly chamber, 3rd Floor, state Capitol, Albany.
At 11 a.m., dozens of state legislators will join the education advocates (from AQE, the UFT etc.) in calling for charter school accountability legislation, and no raise in the current cap on charter schools, LCA Press Room (130), LOB, 198 State St., Albany.
At 11:45 a.m., DNY Deputy Chief Richard Alles of the Uniformed Fire Offers Association will be joined by FDNY 9/11 victims suffering from cancer discuss their trip to D.C. tomorrow to testify about the future of the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Reauthorization Act, UFOA HQ, 225 Broadway, Suite 401, Manhattan.
At noon, over 1,000 New York City Firefighters and Police Officers will rally at the NY State Capitol in Albany to demand real disability protections for city firefighters and police permanently disabled in the line of duty, East Capitol Park, State Capitol, Albany.
Also at noon, a rally is held to call on the Senate to pass Child Safe Products Act attended by state Sen. Phil Boyle, Assemblyman Steve Englebright and Assemblyman Brian Kavanagh and others, Capitol Lawn, Albany.
At 12:30 p.m., a group of tenants and advocates will deliver thousands of petitions to Cuomo’s office demanding stronger rent laws., 2nd Floor, state Capitol, Albany.
Also at 12:30 p.m., actor Kathleen Turner joins Beth Shapiro, Executive Director of Citymeals-on-Wheels to ask members of the City Council for more funding to support the charity, City Hall steps, Manhattan.
At 12:45 p.m., representatives of NYC & Company including President and CEO Fred Dixon and the agency’s vice president of borough engagement and promotion, former Brooklyn BP Marty Markowitz, and Staten Island BP James Oddo introduce a “Staten Island Tourism Ready” initiative; Staten Island Borough Hall, 10 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island.
At 1 p.m., NYC First Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris and Singapore’s Senior Minister of State Lee Yi Shyan conclude the World Cities Summit Mayors Forum with a declaration presentation, Grand Hyatt New York, 109 E. 42nd St., Manhattan.
At 2 p.m. DEC representatives discuss a “State Wildlife Action Plan” for declining and rare wildlife species while opening a series of nine public information sessions scheduled statewide through Monday, June 29, as part of a comment period for the proposal scheduled to conclude Friday, July 17; Federal Office Building, 90 Church St., Manhattan.
At 3 p.m., LG Kathy Hochul speaks on a panel at the Clinton Global Initiative America closing plenary session regarding comeback cities, featuring Buffalo, Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel, 1550 Court Pl., Denver, CO.
At 3:15 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio hosts a press conference with NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, 44th Precinct, 2 East 169th St., the Bronx.
At 4 p.m., NYC Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo and former NYC Mayor David Dinkins and others hold a press conference for the 6th annual Father’s Day Pledge Against Violence, steps of City Hall, Manhattan.
At 6:30 p.m., the NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board holds its regularly scheduled meeting, The Lower Eastside Girls Club, 101 Avenue D, Manhattan.
Also at 6:30 p.m., City & State celebrates the “Albany Rising Stars” at a cocktail reception, City Beer Hall, 42 Howard St., Albany.
At 7 p.m., Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks will deliver the 2015 State of the County Address at Irondequoit High School, (this will be the last such address of her tenure), Irondequoit High School Auditorium, 260 Cooper Rd., Rochester.
If Clinton Correctional Facility escapees Richard Matt and David Sweat get their hands on guns, the chances of bloodshed are extremely high, according to law enforcement officials familiar with their backgrounds.
A dayslong manhunt for the two escaped killers prompted a burst of police activity as investigators combed acres of remote, swampy terrain about 35 miles from the prison where the men had been incarcerated. So far, however, Matt and Sweat remain on the lam.
“A report was called in by a citizen of two suspicious men walking down a very rural road in the southern part of our town in the middle of a driving rainstorm,” said Shaun Gillilland, the town supervisor in Willsboro. “When the car this person was in approached, they took off into the fields.”
The duo had access to the inner catwalks and passages of the maximum security prison where they were inmates for about a month before their escape, a law enforcement official familiar with the investigation told The Buffalo News. They also went through two feet of a brick wall to gain freedom.
Matt was convicted of torturing to death and dismembering a North Tonawanda businessman in 1997. His escape has sparked concerns locally and prompted an impromptu discussion yesterday by the Common Council about the problems with vacant housing in the city.
Matt won the heart of prison supervisor Joyce “Tillie” Mitchell so he could get the tools he needed to break out — and then vanished without so much as a thank you, sources told The NY Post.
Since Clinton opened in 1845, dozens of inmates have escaped over, under or through the prison’s thick walls, their exploits detailed in breathless, often sensationalistic, newspaper reports of earlier eras.
As state lawmakers enter the final days of the legislative session in Albany with several pressing issues to resolve, one topic appears to be off the agenda: the MTA, said it needs to spend $32 billion over five years to address vital capital needs, but is $14 billion short of that figure.
With just days until the controversial 421-a tax breaks expire, and no clear signs of an agreement, advocates on both sides of the issue are digging in. A coalition that includes REBNY is launching new advertising spots that will air on television and radio stations in New York City and Albany over the next week.
Emma Wolfe, a de Blasio aide, made the rounds at the state Capitol yesterday, as de Blasio’s prospects of getting what he wants on vacancy decontrol and 421-a dim.
Members of the Assembly Democratic conference are discussing a modified version of the governor’s proposal to address sexual assault on college campuses that still centers around “affirmative consent”, but includes a more specific definition of sexual contact and details an appeals process for those accused of assault.
The NYPD has a hard time hiring black men to become police officers because too many have criminal records, Commissioner Bill Bratton told The Guardian, a British newspaper with a New York bureau.
Jun 9th - 8:38 am
From the Morning Memo:
Outgoing state Financial Services Superintendent Ben Lawsky insists there has never been a rivalry between himself and state AG Eric Schneiderman, and brushed aside reports of tension between the AG and his boss, Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Asked if he believes Schneiderman is doing a good job in the AG’s office, where Lawsky once worked under Cuomo, the DFS commissioner replied:
“I do. You know, I’ve never seen us as in competition with the AG’s office. I’ve always seen it as complimentary. I have a nice relationship with Attorney General Schneiderman, both on a personal level and on a professional level.
I know that his view is the same as my view, which is the same as the governor’s view, which is when it comes to policing the markets, another hand on deck is always better.”
“And I think that we have not really clashed with them in any significant way during my entire four-year tenure. And I’m in a way very happy to say that. They’ve worked on certain areas, we’ve worked on other areas…It’s worked quite seamlessly, and I think it’s worked quite well.”
Lawsky downplayed the unusual five-page, 22-question survey distributed by the governor’s office to state agencies seeking an evaluation of Schneiderman’s performance.
The questionnaire was characterized as the latest salvo in an ongoing tit-for-tat battle between the governor and his fellow Democrat, Schneiderman, who have had a rocky relationship over the past four-plus years.
But Lawsky insisted Cuomo’s new counsel, Alphonso David, is “just wanting to get the lay of the land” between the counsel’s office and the executive branch, and said he believes the governor himself had no knowledge of the survey.
“I know there was a bit of a little storm over that last week, but I don’t think much of that,” Lawsky said. “I think it was just a new counsel just wanting to get their hands around a bunch of issues.”
When DFS was initially created, Cuomo tried to give it broad powers that would have cut into the heart of the AG’s jurisdiction – a move widely viewed as his reluctance to relinquish the authority of the office he had just departed.
Schneiderman and his allies beat back Cuomo’s attempt to let Lawsky investigate violations of the Martin Act – the sweeping state securities law employed for the first time by former AG Eliot Spitzer to police bad actors Wall Street.
But DFS did get a number of other powers to regulate and investigate the financial sector, which, in the eyes of many observers, put it in competition with the AG’s office.
Lawsky, who is departing his post later this month to start his own legal and consulting firm, said he has been asked by the governor for his opinion on who should succeed him at DFS, but declined to provide any details of that discussion.
As for his own future, Lawsky, who cut his teeth in the public sector by working for US Sen. Chuck Schumer, did not rule out a potential run for office in the future, but said at the moment, he is not planning to do so.
“It’s not at all in the front of my mind,” he said. “I’ve been really lucky to have this very interesting public service career for the first 20 years of my career, and I’m focused on the next five to 10 years in the private sector…Never say never, but if you asked me today, ‘Will you ever run for office?’ the answer would be: No.”
Jun 9th - 5:18 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule. Including today, six days remain on the 2015 legislative calendar.
At 9 a.m., US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker delivers the keynote address at the Future of Urban Innovation annual conference, Columbia University, Alfred Lerner Hall, 2920 Broadway, Manhattan.
Also at 9 a.m., Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan speaks at the lobby day of the New York State Association of Realtors, which is calling for an extension of the state’s property tax cap, Empire State Plaza, Meeting Room 6, Albany.
At 9:30 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks at the dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony of The Michael Kors Building at God’s Love We Deliver, 166 Ave. of the Americas, Manhattan.
At 10 a.m., Reps. Carolyn B. Maloney and Pete Sessions (of Texas) will propose a new coin to raise millions for the fight against breast cancer, The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, 60 East 56th St., 5th Floor, Manhattan.
Also at 10 a.m., the New York Farm Bureau, the New York State Humane Association and Assemblyman Bill Magee hold a press conference calling for passage of a bill to reduce animal abuse, Legislative Office Building, LCA Press Room, Room 130, Albany.
Also at 10 a.m., Rep. Chris Gibson speaks at The Albany Academy commencement, 135 Academy Rd., Albany.
At 10:30 a.m., Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and his colleagues will ask for a stronger version of the pension forfeiture bill being introduced by the Assembly Democrats, back of the Assembly chamber, 3rd Floor, state Capitol, Albany.
At 11 a.m., NYC Council members and supporters of immigrant advocacy organization Make the Road New York and the New York City Coalition for Adult Literacy criticize the mayor’s budget proposals for adult literacy and “English for Speakers of Other Languages” programs, and call for increases in funding; steps, City Hall, Manhattan.
Also at 11 a.m., de Blasio attends and speaks at the NYPD Medal Day Ceremony, One Police Plaza – Plaza 5, 2 Lafayette St., Manhattan.
Also at 11 a.m., the Shooters Committee on Political Education announces FOIL requests on the SAFE Act, Legislative Office Building, LCA Pressroom, Room 130, Albany.
At noon, hundreds of New York Taxi Workers Alliance members, taxi and for-hire-vehicle drivers, are holding a motorcade to Albany and a rally upon arrival to oppose legislation that would assist apps like Uber, outside the state Capitol, Albany.
Also at noon, the New York Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers, parent advocates, and prevention, treatment & recovery advocates from across the state call on the Assembly leadership to allow a crucial heroin-prevention piece of legislation on the floor for a vote, LCA Room (130), LOB, Albany.
At 12:30 p.m., NYC Council members, advocates and women with disabilities hold a news conference to express support for city budget proposals intended to make city health services more accessible to women with disabilities, and publicize difficulties obtaining screenings for breast cancer and cervical cancer; steps, City Hall, Manhattan.
Also at 12:30 p.m., the Alliance for Tenant Power joins state Sens. Adriano Espaillat, Gustavo Rivera and Liz Krueger and Assembly members Keith Wright, Brian Kavanagh, Richard Gottfried, Nily Rozic, Felix Ortix and Charles Barron to call for repeal of vacancy decontrol, State Capitol, Million Dollar Staircase, Albany.
At 1 p.m., Assembly members Patricia Fahy and John McDonald, and Sen. Tony Avella will join environmental allies in discussing the importance of the Petroleum Storage Surety bill, LCA Press Room (130), LOB, Albany.
At 1:15 p.m., the Assembly honors Season 8 “The Voice” winner and 111th AD resident (Fultonville in Montgomery County) Sawyer Fredericks, Assembly chamber, 3rd Floor, state Capitol, Albany. (The Senate will follow suit at 2 p.m.)
At 1:30 p.m., during the opening session of the “World Cities Summit Mayors Forum,” de Blasio, U.N. Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson and Singapore’s Senior Minister of State Lee Yi Shyan welcome international mayors and officials; Grand Hyatt New York hotel, 109 E. 42nd St., Manhattan.
At 2 p.m., cvil rights attorneys, good government groups, religious leaders and public school advocates join in a press conference in opposition to Cuomo’s education tax credit, LCA Press Room (130), LOB, Albany.
At 4 p.m., former Gov. George Pataki, a 2016 GOP contender, is a guest on Your World with Neil Cavuto, Fox News.
At 5:30 p.m., Brooklyn BP Eric Adams will host a hearing on Access-Friendly NYC, his initiative to improve accessibility for seniors and people with disabilities, Brooklyn Borough Hall courtroom, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.
At 6 p.m., Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray, and representatives of the city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene discuss city efforts to draft a “Mental Health Roadmap,” while hosting the first of five planned public hearings about the plan, including one hearing scheduled in each borough; Bronx Borough Hall, 851 Grand Concourse, the Bronx.
At 7 p.m., the LCA Show – “The Gov Boat” – takes place at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center, Albany.
For Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the Clinton Correctional Facility breakout represents both a genuine law-enforcement challenge — how to chase down a pair of killers in a remote corner of the state — and an unexpected break from the deepest political doldrums of his time in office.
Cuomo said that the escape was looking more and more like an inside job. “I think they had help,” he said. “I don’t think they could have acquired the equipment they needed to do this without help.”
Escaped killer Richard Matt was once offered $100,000 to kill a wealthy California businessman’s wife, her parents and a lawyer — but he instead ran to the feds and ratted the man out.
As investigators seek accomplices who may have helped Matt and his fellow escapee, David Sweat, break out of the maximum-security prison in the North Country, many other questions remain about their brash, elaborate plan.
Matt and Sweat hatched their escape plan while working in the prison tailor shop, sewing Metro-North uniforms. Investigators are now grilling civilian employees and private contractors working at the prison – including Joyce Mitchell, who works as an industrial training supervisor in the tailoring department – to see whether any of them provided the duo with tools.
Matt’s only son finds it hard to believe authorities failed to take greater precautions in making sure his father remained behind bars. “You know he has escaped before. He has a genius IQ. I can’t believe they let this happen,” said 23-year-old Nicholas Harris.
A middle school student in the Liverpool Central School District has a link to Sweat, and the district is working with investigators.
Matt and Sweat had been assigned to a special honor housing block, which may have increased their opportunities to escape.
Speaking before the screening of an anti-sexual assault documentary in Albany, Cuomo said he is “acutely aware of the women’s movement” because he and siblings have had 13 girls out of 14 children. He’s hopeful the Legislature will pass his plan to combat sexual assault on college campuses.
“Campuses tend to cover up these crimes,” Cuomo said. “Campuses are businesses, they are brands, they don’t want newspaper stories with rapes happening on their college campuses.”
With the session clock ticking, the notorious Albany negotiating tactic of lumping together thorny items to get them all passed — in a measure sometimes labeled a “Big Ugly” — rather than holding individual up or down votes appears to be in play.
The state Senate approved a bill that would amend several elements of the SAFE Act gun control act — including changes long sought by conservatives who despise the 2013 legislation. Generally following party lines, the measure passed 35-26. It has dim prospects in the Democrat-led Assembly.
Jun 8th - 5:02 pm
Soon after becoming Assembly speaker, Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, pledged to restore trust in Albany by enacting ethics reform. But a close review of his campaign disclosure records suggests he has frequently used political donations to burnish his lifestyle, spending on everything from a go-go club to karaoke.
An administrative law judge determined that while the pole dancing at Nite Moves on Route 9 can be considered art and, in turn, exempt from taxation, no such exception can be allowed for the dances in the establishment’s private rooms.
The latest Rasmussen poll finds that in a hypothetical matchup, Hillary Clinton earned 69 percent support among Likely Democratic voters, while 20 percent favored former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, 5 percent liked some other candidate and 6 percent were undecided.
A private foundation controlled by Bill and Hillary Clinton donated $100,000 to the New York Times’ charitable fund in 2008, the same year the newspaper’s editorial page endorsed the former secretary of state in the Democratic presidential primary.
Following a blind item in Fred Dicker’s column questioning the whereabouts of top Cuomo aide Joe Percoco, the administration revealed he has returned to the office, more than a month after undergoing hip surgery.
Former Gov. George Pataki has support from 11 percent of New York state Republicans in a crowded 2016 GOP presidential primary field, according to a new Q poll. That puts him in a tie for the lead among the 16 declared or likely candidates included in the poll.
One of the convicted murderers who broke out of Clinton Correctional Facility, 48-year-old Richard Matt, has escaped from custody twice before.
State Police say they are now pursuing 300 leads in their effort to capture Matt and his fellow escapee, David Sweat, who are the subject of a manhunt stretching across the United States and into at least Mexico and Canada.
Public schools were open today in Dannemora, where the prison is located, but children were being kept indoors. State Police swept the schools yesterday, and remained on campus to provide security.
The Columbia University doctor who was allegedly involved in a criminal patient-referral scheme with former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is suing to stop Columbia University from ending his employment there next month.
Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara will recognize and introduce a resolution honoring “The Voice” winner and 111th AD resident Sawyer Fredericks at 1:15 p.m. tomorrow.
US Sen. Chuck Schumer is calling for the International Trade Commission to impose tariffs on Chinese produced tires, which he said are threatening the jobs of workers in Western New York.
Elected officials pointed to the death by suicide of Kalief Browder, a man who was jailed at Rikers Island as a teen while awaiting a trial that never happened, as a reason to press forward with reforms at the infamous jail and to the city’s mental health system.
A federal appeals court is considering whether former Gov. George Pataki – one of a growing list of 2016 GOP contenders – should be held responsible for an illegal sex offender confinement program that was disbanded in 2006.
With the local economy firing on all cylinders, NYC will finish its fiscal year this month with a budget surplus of $3 billion, according to an analysis by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.
Carl Paladino’s Second Amendment supporters turned out this past Saturday for his rally against Sen. Catharine Young, but so did the Olean senator’s supporters – and they had a slight edge.
Comments Paladino, a Buffalo School Board member, made at the Olean rally about the large foreign population at the University at Buffalo – referencing “damn Asians” – has community organizations defending the school’s diverse student body. “I apologize to all Asians for the coarseness of my remark and selecting them as my example,” Paladino said. “That wasn’t the point I was trying to make.”
New York’s smoking rates among teenagers and adults have hit record lows, Cuomo announced. Over the last four years, the smoking rate among high school students has dropped 42 percent to just 7.3 percent of youth who said they smoke.
Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner said city officials see no legal reason why a scrapyard could not be operated at the former Roth Steel site near Onondaga Lake, though she, like others, would prefer to see the parcel put to a different use.
Jun 8th - 8:02 am
From the Morning Memo:
Assemblyman Peter Abbate, a Brooklyn Democrat with strong labor ties, recently signaled his full support of a controversial education tax credit measure, pledging to vote for it should it ever be allowed out of committee by Speaker Carl Heastie.
Abbate, who chairs the Committee on Governmental Employees and is also a member of the Labor Committee, expressed his support in a May 13 letter to the bishop of Brooklyn, Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio, who has been pushing for the tax credit for several years.
In the letter, Abbate cited his own parochial school roots as motivation for his position on this bill. (UPDATE: The letter appears below).
“As a product of Regina Pacis, Bishop Ford and St. Johns University, this bill is something that I have a personal understanding of and appreciation for,” the assemblyman wrote.
“I am sure you are aware of all I have done to support the parochial schools, senior centers and churches in my district. I am very proud to say that I do stand with all the families in my district, and have the record to prove it.”
Abbate, who is not a sponsor of the tax credit bill, also expressed his hope that he and the bishop can “get on the same page regarding this legislation,” and offered to assist the bishop in determining “more productive ways to channel your energies than lobbying for sponsorship.”
“I have many ideas to organize and assist you in getting this done,” Abbate concluded.
In a recent OpEd that ran in a local Brooklyn/Queens newspaper, DiMarzio singled out Heastie, Abbate and Assembly Education Committee Chair Cathy Nolan, (a Queens Democrat and another Catholic school graduate), saying they are “keeping parents from having reach school choices.”
“Why? Because of special interest teachers’ union leaders who don’t want parents to have a choice of which school their child attends,” the bishop wrote. “…Some lawmakers want to have it both ways – they say they are with us, but refuse to lift a finger. The time for action is now.”
A number of Assembly Democrats have been under fire for failing to support the education tax credit, which has been repackaged by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as the Parental Choice in Education Act, and is one of the governor’s top end-of-session priorities.
Some Democratic lawmakers have cried foul after being targeted by robocalls and mailers accusing them of putting themselves before New York schoolchildren by approving a legislative pay raise commission as part of the budget deal, but failing to back the governor’s tax credit proposal.
Lawmakers say the campaign trying to get them to move on this issue is having the opposite effect, causing support to erode in the conference.
Heastie used to sponsor tax credit legislation, but pulled his name from the measure – as he did with all bills – when he ascended to become speaker, replacing Assemblyman Sheldon Silver, a Manhattan Democrat who has been hit with federal corruption charges by US Attorney Preet Bharara.
Heastie has repeatedly insisted there is not sufficient support in his conference to move the tax credit legislation out onto the floor for a full house vote, where some backers believe it might have enough votes – between Democratic backers and Republican members – to pass.
In order to move the bill out of conference, 76 of the 150 Assembly Democrats have to be willing to vote “yes.”
Senate Republicans have already passed a version of the tax credit, and there is speculation that the issue could be linked by Cuomo to renewal and strengthening of the NYC rent laws – a significant end-of-session priority for the Assembly Democrats – in the so-called “Big Ugly,” the ball of deals on unrelated issues that is expected to come together before lawmakers leave Albany later this month.