Liz Benjamin

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Here and Now

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

At 8 a.m., Rep. Elise Stefanik speaks at the Warren County Economic Development Corporation breakfast, Great Escape Lodge, 89 Six Flags Drive, Queensbury.

At 9:30 a.m., DOT Commissioner Matthew Driscoll outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Hudson Valley Community College, Siek Campus Center, 80 Vandenburgh Ave., Troy.

At 10 a.m., Queens Borough President Melinda Katz delivers her 2016 State of the Borough address, Queens College, Kissena Boulevard and Horace Harding Expressway, Flushing, Queens.

At 10 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a media availability about preparations for the coming snowstorm, Spring Street Salt Shed
South west corner of Spring Street and West Street (across the street from 335 Spring Street), Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., TRIP releases a new report evaluating the current condition, use and funding of New York’s surface transportation system, AAA Hudson Valley, 618 Delaware Ave., Albany.

Also at 10 a.m., Sen. Jesse Hamilton, educators and mental health advocates hold a press conference on a bill that provides a critical link between New York youth and better mental health, LCA Room 130, LOB, Albany.

At 10:30 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, New York Institute of Technology, Harry Schure Hall Northern Boulevard, Old Westbury, Long Island.

Also at 10:30 a.m., Assemblymen Jim Tedisco, Steve McLaughlin and Pete Lopez call for passage of “Spirit of ‘76″ legislation for a rank and file revolt against the accumulation of power by legislative leaders, Assembly Chamber, state Capitol, Albany.

Also at 10:30 a.m., the PSC holds a public meeting, 19th Floor Board Room, Three Empire State Plaza, Albany.

Also at 10 a.m., Regent Beverly Ouderkirk will join leaders from NYSUT and teachers from throughout the state to celebrate excellence in teaching and the role of nationally certified teachers in leading improvement in struggling public schools, NYSUT headquarters, 800 Troy-Schenectady Rd., Latham.

Also at 10:30 a.m., Rep. Nydia Velazquez and Small Business Administration Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet announce the reopening of an SBA Disaster Loan Program, to provide assistance to businesses and homeowners that incurred damage from Superstorm Sandy, SBIDC Red Hook Office, 402 Van Brunt St., Brooklyn.

At 11 a.m., Canal Corp. Director Brian Stratton outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority  
Board Room, 1 Bridge Plaza, Ogdensburg.

Also at 11 a.m., state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Sam Roberts outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Oswego Common Council Chambers, City Hall, 13 West Oneida St., Oswego.

Also at 11 a.m., Rep. Louise Slaughter holds press conference on the VA’s failure to serve Rochester veterans, KBK Federal Building, 100 State St., Rochester.

Also at 11 a.m., the board of directors of the Buffalo Erie Niagara Land Improvement Corporation meets, 10th floor conference room, Room 1004, Edward A. Rath county office building, 95 Franklin St. Buffalo.

At noon, Hochul tours the Hispanic Counseling Center, 344 Fulton Ave., Hempstead, Long Island.

At 12:30 p.m., the Senate Committee on Investigations and Government Operations holds a public meeting, Legislative Office Building, Room 708, Albany.

At 1 p.m., the animal rights group Friends of Animals hold a rally in support of an outright ban of the carriage horse industry, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 1:45 p.m., Hochul announces a NYSUNY 2020 challenge grant recipient, Farmingdale State College, Campus Center, Ballroom A, 2350 Broadhollow Rd., Farmingdale.

At 2 p.m., Division of Veterans Affairs Director Eric Hesse outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, German Flatts Community Center, 555 State Route 5S, Mohawk.

Also at 2 p.m., ESDC Western Region Regional President Sam Hoyt outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Alfred State Student Leadership Center, 10 Upper College Dr., Alfred.

At 2:30 p.m., de Blasio and NYC Budget Director Dean Fuleihan deliver the FY 2017 preliminary budget address, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 5:30 p.m., de Blasio attends REBNY’s 120th annual banquet, Grand Ballroom, The New York Hilton, 335 Ave. of the Americas, Manhattan.

At 6:30 p.m., Rep. Hakeem Jeffries delivers annual State of the District address, discussing issues including affordable housing, community safety, job creation, and immigration reform, Long Island University, 1 University Pl., Brookyln.

Tonight, de Blasio plans to travel to Washington D.C. to attend a reception for the U.S. Conference of Mayors, weather permitting.


The Senate held a confirmation hearing for Cuomo’s choice for chief judge, Westchester DA Janet DiFiore, but did not hold a final vote on her appointment.

The Judiciary Committee members grilled DiFiore for two hours, focusing largely on her ability to act independently of Cuomo, and then unanimously approved her nomination.

During the hearing, DiFiore revealed that she owns a gun and holds a concealed carry permit. Also, Sen. Leroy Comrie, a Queens Democrat, told the DA: “You look much better than your picture.”

After Cuomo announced Republican Michael Garcia, the US attorney who brought down former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, to fill a sixth vacancy on the Court of Appeals, the Senate GOP announced it would hold a full house vote on DiFiore’s confirmation today.

Garcia, 54 years old, is a partner at a Manhattan law firm and leads an advisory board for fantasy-sports operator FanDuel, which is facing intense legal scrutiny nationwide – including in New York.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will unveil his next budget this afternoon. It will contain a $20 million annual increase in funding for security in major parks across the five boroughs and the expansion of a crime-fighting tool known as ShotSpotter, which uses sensors to detect gunfire, to cover 60 square miles across the city.

After a string of weeks in which City Hall has rolled out nearly a dozen new initiatives aimed at tackling the city’s homeless crisis, New York City residents are starting to feel slightly better about how de Blasio is handling the city’s homelessness problems, a new Q poll shows. But only slightly.

The paid family leave proposal Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled last week isn’t exactly what the Democrat-dominated Assembly was looking for, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said.

Cuomo may be proposing the largest investment in transportation projects in state history, but that’s not preventing criticism that the plan shortchanges upstate regions or glosses over important details about how the governor intends to pay for it.

The conservative Tax Foundation, in its annual report, found that New York once again had the highest tax burden of any state in the nation, with 12.7 percent of income going to support state and local taxes.

Two key state lawmakers – Sen. John Bonacic and Assemblyman Joe Lentol – have expressed concern over parts of Cuomo’s proposal to create a new office to investigate deadly incidents involving police officers, casting doubt on the ultimate viability of one of the signature items in the governor’s State of the State address.

A prominent animal rights group that led the campaign to ban horse-drawn carriages, NYCLASS, said it backs a new bill that would limit them to Central Park.

New York City officials and real-estate executives are resigning themselves – at least for now – to life without 421-a, a lucrative property-tax exemption program that for decades has fueled the construction of apartments across the city.

More >


Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani just made a major decision to switch law firms, but the one-time GOP presidential contender says he’s still weighing an even tougher choice: whom to back in the 2016 race.

The NYC Council is set to introduce a package of bills that would broadly reshape the way the city handles low-level offenses such as public urination and drinking alcohol in public, in some cases removing them from the criminal justice system.

Maria Lehman, the Thruway Authority’s interim executive director, said a proposed infusion of aid from the state budget would be enough to freeze tolls and make repairs through 2020. After that, it’s unclear.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to transform the much-maligned Penn Station is already behind schedule. And it’s not clear what the hold up is.

The de Blasio administration has paid out a $45,000 settlement to Trayvon Christian, a black man who sued the city for racial profiling after he was arrested for purchasing a $350 belt at Barneys in 2013, after receiving a paycheck for a work-study job.

An average of 12.7 percent of New Yorkers’ income goes toward state and local taxes, once again the highest rate in the nation, according to a new report by the Tax Foundation.

Last year is now officially the hottest year on record, followed by 2014, 2010, 2005, 1998, 2013, 2003, 2002, 2006, and 2009.

Despite a slew of recent policies aimed at helping the homeless, 55 percent of New York City voters disapprove of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s handling of poverty and homelessness, according to a new Q poll.

Wendy Long, a conservative lawyer who ran unsuccessfully against US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in 2012, has begun talking to Republican leaders about challenging US Sen. Chuck Schumer this November.

The federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency has set Feb. 12 as the deadline for public comments about KeyCorp’s planned deal for First Niagara Financial Group.

Attorney Ravi Batra, who resigned from JCOPE citing its lack of independence from Cuomo, praised Chief Judge-in-waiting Janet DiFiore’s stewardship of the panel.

A new report from a labor-backed advocacy group – the National Employment Law Project – claims a $15-an-hour minimum wage could be outdated in Westchester by 2021.

The state has instituted a new regulation, first proposed in November by the DMV, that will punish drivers who don’t pay overdue tolls or fees by seeking to revoke their state registrations.

The state Division of Human Rights has officially adopted regulations aimed at protecting transgender New Yorkers from discrimination and harassment.

The gun-rights group NY2A has delivered petitions to Senate leaders in opposition to IDC Leader Jeff Klein ‘s bill that would not only prevent the sale of guns to people on no-fly suspected terrorist list but allow for their confiscation as well.

Atlantic City is considering a bankruptcy filing after New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed legislation aimed at shoring up the finances of the distressed casino resort.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg today launched Bloomberg Philanthropies’ 2016 Mayors Challenge, a competition to inspire Latin American and Caribbean cities to develop bold new ideas that solve major problems and improve city life.

Stefanik Launches Re-election Campaign

From the Morning Memo:

Republican Elise Stefanik today is formally announcing her re-election campaign in NY-21, a closely divided district in the North Country that the two political parties have traded back and forth for several election cycles running.

In a statement, the freshman lawmaker said her top priority since she was first elected in 2014 has been “keeping my promises to bring a new generation of leadership to Congress, and to demonstrate a new approach with a focus on accountability and transparency, accessibility through hundreds of community events to hear directly from constituents, and by prioritizing legislation that helps people to raise a family or make a living in the North Country, not make it harder.”

Almost two years ago, Stefanik became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress at the age of 30. She received considerable attention as a result, with fashion magazine spreads and numerous national newspaper and TV interviews.

She has parlayed that attention into a strong fundraising operation, with her campaign announcing it has raised $236,000 in the fourth quarter of 2015, and a total of $1.3 million last year – the highest off-year haul in NY-21 history.

Stefanik is starting her second congressional run with $928,000 on hand, her campaign said. The congresswoman plans to seek the Conservative and Independence Party lines as well as her own party’s line.

In 2014, Stefanik defeated Watertown investment banker Matt Doheny in the GOP primary, 61-39. That was Doheny’s third unsuccessful run, he had tried previously to take out Stefanik’s Democratic predecessor, Bill Owens, in 2010 and 2012. More >

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule. The Legislature is in session today and tomorrow, so state lawmakers are in Albany.

The first joint legislative budget hearing – on transportation this year, which is a non-traditional place to start – will be held at 9:30 a.m. in the LOB’s Hearing Room B.

At 7:30 a.m., Rep. Chris Gibson will deliver remarks and meet with constituents at the Ulster County Regional Chamber of Commerce Breakfast, Best Western Plus, Kingston.

At 8 a.m., NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton will address members and guests at the New York City Police Foundation’s “State of the NYPD” annual breakfast, Mandarin Oriental, Grand Salon Ballroom, 36th Floor, 80 Columbus Circle, Manhattan.

At 9:30 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul visits small businesses in Red Hook with Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President Carlo Scissura, 175 Van Dyke Street, Pier 41, Brooklyn.

At 10:30 a.m., community Leaders, local organizations and parents will gather on Wednesday morning to call on the Albany City School District Board of Education to renew its contract with Superintendent Dr. Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard, Union Missionary Baptist Church, 3 Morton Ave., Albany.

At 11 a.m., the Assembly holds a hearing on providing affordable and high quality cable, broadband and telephone service, Hearing Room C, LOB, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., one week after Cuomo’s State of the State and budget address, Common Cause/NY, Citizens Union, and NYPIRG will assess his proposals for ethics, elections, and oversight, LCA Hallway, 3rd Floor, state Capitol, Albany.

At 11:30 a.m., Hochul tours the Broadway Stages Film and Television Production Facility with Rep. Carolyn Maloney, 355 Kingsland Ave., Brooklyn.

Also at 11:30 a.m., charter school advocates rally to call on equal funding with public schools, state Capitol, Albany.

Also at 11:30 a.m., Deputy Secretary of State for Local Government Dede Scozzafava outlines the governor’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Clarion Inn, 30 Lake Shore Dr., East Dunkirk.

At 1 p.m., the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on Cuomo’s pick for chief judge of the Court of Appeals, Westchester County DA Janet DiFiore, Room 124, state Capitol, Albany.

At 1:15 p.m., Scozzafava outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Jamestown High School, 350 East Second St., Jamestown.

At 1:30 p.m., Hochul outlines the governor’s 2016 State of the State address agenda, Bais Rochel High School, 177 Harrison Ave., Brooklyn.

At 2 p.m., Canal Corp. Director Brian Stratton outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Town Hall, Room 30, 30 Main St., Massena.

At 2:15 p.m., Hochul outlines the governor’s 2016 State of the State address agenda, Bais Rochel of Satmar, Central United Talmudical Academy, 401 Park Ave., Brooklyn.

At 5:30 p.m., Scozzafava outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Gialy’s Restaurant, 210 Pine St., Jamestown.

At 6:30 p.m., Deputy NYPD Commissioner of Intelligence and Counter-Terrorism John J. Miller will join Rich Lamb for a conversation on how the NYPD fights terrorism on WCBS, Newsradio 880, Adorama Live Theatre, 10th Floor, 345 Hudson St., Manhattan.

Also at 6:30 p.m., Gibson will deliver remarks and meet with constituents at the Columbia County 50 Club Meeting, Kozel’s Restaurant, Ghent.


Not long after NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan to shrink the horse-carriage trade in Midtown Manhattan, and relocate its animals into Central Park, it seemed that for every constituency satisfied by the deal, another was aggrieved — and determined to make the mayor hear about it.

NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said that critics of the city’s plans to convert a maintenance building into stables in Central Park should just accept that the city has the power to do it.

Harold Ickes, a veteran political consultant and longtime friend and mentor of de Blasio, delivered about $13,000 in donations last week to the mayor’s re-election campaign – the same day that one of his lobbying clients received the de Blasio administration’s go-ahead to hold a lucrative music festival in New York City.

The mayor’s approval rating has ticked up amid his concerted effort to convey a more forceful public image, and he now receives positive marks from half of New York City voters, according to a new Q poll. But support for de Blasio, who garnered a 50 percent job approval rating, remains polarized along racial lines, and voters are split on whether he deserves to win a second term in 2017.

De Blasio tried to cash in on GOP presidential hopeful Ted Cruz’s disparaging remarks about “New York values” with an e-mail that asks supporters to refute the Texas senator by contributing to the mayor’s re-election campaign.

Westchester County DA Janet DiFiore, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pick for chief judge of the Court of Appeals, will have her nomination put to a hearing today at the state Capitol, where the Republican-led Senate Judiciary Committee will have the opportunity to question her and examine her credentials before making a recommendation to the full Senate.

Cuomo boasted of $100 billion in big projects last week as part of his renewed focus on upgrading the state’s aging transportation system. But for all the fanfare with the Democratic governor’s annual State of the State and budget address, municipal-finance experts and transit advocates are asking exactly how officials will pay for – among other things – new subway cars, a revamp of New York Penn Station and upgraded roads.

Sen. John DeFrancisco is the king of the Senate – at least when it comes to raising money. The new deputy Senate majority leader, a Syracuse Republican who opposes most campaign finance reforms proposed this month by Cuomo, has more money in his campaign war chest than any of the 61 other sitting senators.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton, in a preview of the State of the NYPD address he’ll deliver today, said training and patrol strategies have been revamped, resulting in fewer interactions with the public.

At the rate NYC is implementing its ambitious street safety agenda, Vision Zero, it will take an extra 31 years — to 2055 — to drive the number of preventable traffic deaths down to zero, a goal de Blasio wants to reach by 2024, according to the report from the non-profit, Transportation Alternatives.

Karen Weaver, the Democratic Mayor of Flint, Mich., endorsed Hillary Clinton for president, saying she’s the only candidate to reach out and offer assistance during the city’s water crisis.

Three weeks before New Hampshire’s presidential primary, Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont has jumped out to a 27 percentage point lead over Clinton in a poll of likely Democratic voters there released by CNN/WMUR last night.

Intelligence officials reviewing emails on Clinton’s private computer server from when she was secretary of state have found information they consider to be of a higher level of classification than “top secret,” according to a letter sent to lawmakers last week by the intelligence agencies’ inspector general.

More >


A documentary about the sexting scandal that derailed former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s 2013 NYC mayoral run is poised to give the Clinton campaign headaches once more, as the candidate’s top aide, Huma Abedin, who happens to be Weiner’s wife, features prominently in the film.

The New York Times was given an exclusive screening of the documentary before its premier this weekend at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, the 2008 GOP vice presidential nominee, is backing Donald Trump for president.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry defended his erstwhile GOP presidential primary rival Sen. Ted Cruz’s swipe at Trump for embodying “New York values,” saying that “we all make fun of New York.”

The US Supreme Court will consider a legal challenge to President Obama’s overhaul of the nation’s immigration rules, determining the fate of one of his most far-reaching executive actions.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is breaking with tradition and will be delivering his annual State of the City address at night on Feb. 4 – hoping to broaden the traditional audience for his speech.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie once phoned Cuomo and told him to tell Pat Foye, the executive director of the New York and New Jersey Port Authority “to f–k off.”

David Bowie’s ashes could be scattered at the peaceful New York mountain retreat in the Catskills where he spent his final days.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced $2 million in new funding to support 50 new treatment beds to help New Yorkers with substance use disorders in upstate New York. The funding will support 50 new residential treatment beds in the Southern Tier, the Finger Lakes region or Western New York.

The Senate and Assembly Ethics Committees are not actually places where ethics reform legislation has ever been considered, because…Albany.

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani will join Miami-based law firm Greenberg Traurig as Global Chair of the GT’s cybersecurity and crisis management practice and senior advisor.

The de Blasio administration released a video featuring a voiceover by actor Ben Stiller urging more people to volunteer for its annual Homeless Outreach Population Estimate.

Recipient names and amounts for more than 3,000 state grants totaling more than $400 million, including more than 500 approved on the final day of the 2015 legislative session, were added to the Empire Center’s SeeThroughNY today.

Less than a week after he introduced a measure to legalize and regulate hoverboards, state Sen. Jose Peralta, a Queens Democrat, announced he is making substantial policy changes to the legislation.

The nation’s largest LGBT civil rights organization, Human Rights Campaign, endorsed Hillary Clinton for president.

The majority of the Women’s Equality Act – seven of eight provisions passed last year – took effect today.

Manhattan Councilman Dan Garodnick, who is term-limited out of the council in 2017, has raised a considerable campaign war chest (almost $1.5 million) split among three different accounts for a potential statewide run.

FERC approved the sale of two upstate New York power plants the same day Cuomo vowed the generators would “transition” away from coal or be closed by 2020.

Three Democrats are considering a run for retiring GOP Rep. Richard Hanna’s seat in NY-22, including Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, who plans to make a decision by the end of the month. A GOP primary is already underway.

Here and Now

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

At 9 a.m., Assemblyman Luis Sepúlveda joins state Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. and others to protest a Friday evening anti-Muslim attack in Parkchester by two assailants, in front of PS 119, 1075 Pugsley Ave., the Bronx.

At 9:15 a.m., NYC Councilman Ruben Wills makes an appearance in Queens County Criminal Court before Judge Kron, 125-01 Queens Blvd., Kew Gardens.

At 10 a.m., NYC City Councilman I. Daneek Miller joins Council members, RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum, UFCW Local 1500 and others to rally in anticipation of a vote on the Grocery Worker Retention Act, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., the state Office of Mental Health and the Dormitory Authority of New York State host the grand opening of the $350 million Bronx Behavioral Health Campus, Adult Building, 1500 Waters Pl., the Bronx.

At 10:30 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul outlines Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State agenda, Sunnyside Community Services, 43-31 39th St., Queens.

At 11 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a press conference related to Vision Zero, Razi School, 55-11 Queens Blvd., Queens.

Also at 11 a.m., the horse carriage drivers hold a press conference, inside the Westside Livery Stables at 538 West 38th streets, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., state Sen. Jesse Hamilton, Assemblyman Ron Kim and others announce legislation to combat discriminatory enforcement and discuss Cuomo’s enforcement against nail salons, Mudan Restaurant, 136-17 39th Ave., Flushing, Queens.

Also at 11 a.m., wheelchair advocates join taxi, livery, black car and luxury car drivers, base owners and workers to call on the City Council to act on regulating the taxi and for-hire vehicle industry, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At noon, Hochul makes a clean energy announcement, New York Institute of Special Education, Board Room, 999 Pelham Pkwy., the Bronx.

At 1 p.m., Save Central Park Pedicabs will rally, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 1:30 p.m., Hochul tours Per Scholas to highlight the state’s investment in advanced manufacturing, 804 East 138th St., 2nd Floor, the Bronx.

Also at 1:30 p.m., the NYC Council holds its stated meeting, Council Chambers, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 2:15 p.m., Florid Gov. Jeb Bush, a GOP presidential candidate, will participate in a moderated conversation with Washington Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt to discuss his foreign policy agenda, Harold Pratt House, 58 East 68th St., Manhattan.

At 5:30 p.m., AG Eric Schneiderman and Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas will receive the ‘Champions in Fighting Corruption Award’ from the Long Island Progressive Coalition, UFCW 1500, 425 Merrick Ave., Westbury.

At 8 p.m., Hochul delivers remarks to the China General Chamber of Commerce, Waldorf Astoria, 301 Park Ave., Manhattan.


Gov. Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio joined a 20-block march in Harlem yesterday to demand a $15 minimum wage following a Martin Luther King Jr. tribute hosted by the Rev. Al Sharpton at which the governor described the civil-rights icon as “a man of action.”

Sharpton invoked a racial stereotype to make a point about community involvement during his National Action Network’s King Day celebration. “Dr. King was about public policy,” he said. “…On your birthday, we’ll eat chitlins and watermelon and drink some sweet iced tea because that’s what you do. But on his birthday, on his holiday, we do what King does. We’re going to march.”

Cuomo insisted he can work productively with the mayor on combatting homelessness despite their long-running feud, and he said one of their biggest challenges is the expiration of the 4231-a tax abatement program to incentivize affordable housing development in NYC.

De Blasio said he is “deeply disappointed” a deal to save 421-a failed, and he plans to push the issue in Albany this session.

Cutting the number of horse-drawn carriages in New York City and keeping them entirely inside of Central Park will help ease traffic congestion in Midtown Manhattan, de Blasio said.

The carriage horse deal underlined the transactional side of a mayor who says he is on a mission to liberalize New York City, even as his efforts are propelled in part by wealthy contributors tied to special interests.

De Blasio’s plan to ban pedicabs from Central Park below 85th Street will put the final nail in the coffin of an industry loathed by most New Yorkers, advocates and drivers said.

Former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, a Democrat who is looking anew at a political comeback, said he is forming an exploratory committee and will begin raising money for a possible run for retiring Rep. Steve Israel’s Gold Coast House seat.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is paying $4,000 a month to his longtime friend Patrick Jenkins, a political consulant who is also a lobbyist with a long list of clients seeking help from the Legislature’s most powerful Democrat.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer said NYC would be awarded $176 million in federal funding for the proposed project, through a national contest created by the Department of Housing and Urban Development to help communities recover from disasters and better prepare for them.

Cuomo is touting a massive infrastructure plan, but budget experts said much of the funding for the projects, estimated to cost $100 billion, remains unresolved. They also question what they said is a cost-shift from the State to New York City.

Efforts to sell the Kraft Heinz cheese factory in Campbell, slated to close sometime next year, are making progress. Cuomo and Schumer said that “several” companies have shown interest in purchasing the factory.

RIP Jeff Wise, a Saratoga Springs resident who most recently served as first executive director of the Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs. He suffered a heart attack last week and died on Sunday.

More >


Former state Democratic Party Executive Director Charlie King, a longtime ally (and sometime foe) of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is creating a statewide committee to push the governor’s agenda this year. It will be called the Committee on Social, Racial and Economic Justice, and was unveiled at the Rev. Al Sharpton’s annual MKL Day event in Harlem.

After receiving support from Democratic party chairs in the district, Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout is “committed to making commitments in the next week” about whether to run in NY-19.

COR Development, the politically connected company developing the state’s nanotechnology hub in DeWitt and Syracuse’s Inner Harbor, gave Cuomo $50,000 in the past six months, making them Cuomo’s top donor in Central New York.

The State University Charter School Institute has opened a probe into whether a Success Academy charter school in Brooklyn improperly used its disciplinary policy to force out struggling students.

A bill with bipartisan support in the state Legislature would create a list of companies that are boycotting Israel and then deny them state contracts and investments from the state pension fund.

Cuomo’s chief counsel, Alphonso David, said the state has “strong concerns” about KeyCorp’s planned deal for First Niagara Financial Group, in a letter he sent to regulators.

Hundreds of Nassau County contracts worth a total of nearly $10 million have been awarded in recent years at amounts just dollars below the threshold for legislative approval. Many went to politically connected companies without competitive bidding, and were never openly discussed, debated or voted on.

Three elected officials – NYC Councilmen Corey Johnson and Mark Levin and Assemblyman Keith Wright – were among those arrested today while protesting at LaGuardia’s Terminal B this afternoon to push the Port Authority’s hand on a living wage and benefits for airport workers.

If a state commission tasked with educating New Yorkers about slavery has been active in recent years, it hasn’t left much of a record of its accomplishments.

Term-limited Suffolk Legislator Lou D’Amaro has decided against challenging Republican Sen. Phil Boyle despite entreaties from Senate Democrats looking to take the majority in November.

A state Appellate Division panel has determined exotic dancers employed by a Newburgh-area chain of gentlemen’s clubs are employees, thus sustaining previous administrative decisions that concluded Exotic Island Enterprises and Sliffer Enterprises were on the hook to pay additional unemployment insurance contributions.

Hundreds of New York adult day care centers including 80 on Long Island operate without state or local government oversight, leaving disabled adults and seniors “at potential risk,” according to state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

The annual Bob Evans Memorial Predator Calling Hunt, which last year raised the hackles of an animal rights group and others, was cancelled earlier this month due to lack of entries by the event’s registration deadline.

For the 10th straight year, Batavia Downs Gaming has increased its revenues, reporting a 7.37 percent jump in net winnings from 2014 that outperforms New York’s nine other gaming facilities.

Here and Now

It’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day, which means many places are closed. Also, the weather is bad out there, with lots of snow on the ground, depending on where you live. Be careful.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not yet released his public schedule for the day.

At 10:30 a.m., AG Eric Schneiderman will speak at the Trinity Baptist Church’s MLK Day Interfaith Service, 808 East 224th St., the Bronx.

At 11 a.m., NYC Mayor de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray will deliver remarks at the 30th Annual Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Brooklyn Academy of Music, 30 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn. (NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is also scheduled to speak).

At 11:30 a.m., Mark-Viverito will speak at Convent Avenue Baptist Church’s Martin Luther King Day service.

At 2:45 p.m., de Blasio will deliver remarks at the National Action Network’s Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Policy Forum, House of Justice, 106 West 145th St., Manhattan. (Mark-Viverito is scheduled to speak at 1:15 p.m.; AG Scheiderman at 1:30 p.m.)

In the evening, de Blasio will deliver remarks at the St. Mary’s Episcopal Church’s Community Celebration in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.


The Central Park horse carriage industry would be significantly reduced – and its horses confined to a new stable within the park – under a deal announced late yesterday by the de Blasio administration. The agreement eases a longtime political headache for the mayor, who promised campaign supporters he would eliminate the industry on Day One of his first term.

There are currently 220 licensed horses in the city. That will drop to 110, carriage rides will now be confined to just Central Park and all of the private stables around the city would be forced to shut down by October of 2018.

In a Daily News OpEd, Gov. Andrew Cuomo calls on the Port Authority to raise the minimum wage for airport workers to $15 an hour, saying that will put “thousands of families on the path to financial independence and a brighter future.”

Ken Lovett: “Having seen his poll numbers drop as he’s warred with a big part of the Democratic base, some insiders say that the Cuomo who would dig in when publicly challenged in the first term is now quicker to cave when attacked by the left.”

Fred Dicker: “Cuomo’s latest assault on Mayor de Blasio — a ‘humiliating’ cut in state aid to the city — is prompting predictions that an infuriated de Blasio will reciprocate by backing efforts to dump the governor in 2018.”

Cuomo ally Janet DiFiore, the Westchester County DA, is expected to be confirmed this week as New York’s top judge, with the governor’s appointees now closing in on complete control of the state’s highest court.

As he prepares to be term-limited out, Manhattan Councilman Daniel Garodnick has created a statewide campaign account with an eye toward running for attorney general or comptroller if those jobs open up in 2018.

Hillary Clinton may have been flanked by former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders at the presidential primary debate last night in South Carolina, but she wanted voters to see her as shoulder-to-shoulder with another Democrat: the one living in the White House.

Sanders took a shot at Clinton’s past speaking engagements with Goldman Sachs tonight in one of his sharpest criticisms of her record on Wall Street yet. “The first difference is I don’t take money from big banks,” the senator said. “I don’t get personal speaking fees from Goldman Sachs.”

Clinton and Sanders also clashed over gun control during the debate – the last that will be held before the Feb. 1 Iowa caucuses and the Feb. 9 New Hampshire primary – while O’Malley struggled to insert himself into the action.

Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, a Manhattan Democrat, who has also carved out a niche in the field of tenant rights, is unapologetic about her work on behalf of animals. The number and breadth of animal-related bills coming up each year, she said, is a reflection of what New Yorkers care about.

In defending the reliability of its statistics, the NYPD highlighted how it defines crime categories – including shootings and murders. Those that are deemed by prosecutors to be justified are not counted in official statistics, nor is gunfire that misses its target.

The infamous “rubber rooms” are back in NYC.

By taking aim at the state over the Inner Harbor Project, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has added a chapter to her long-running clash with Cuomo over his upstate economic policies, which rely heavily on state funds to create new factories, technology centers and other major projects designed to generate jobs.

Establishing publicly financed elections in the City of Buffalo leads the Partnership for the Public Good’s policy agenda for the new year. The group released a set of 12 goals, ranging from reform of the criminal-justice system to raising the minimum wage.

The largest donation received by the state Senate Republican Campaign Committee in the second half of 2015 from an individual or corporation is almost 11 times the size of the second-largest: Chicago’s Kenneth Griffin gave the SRCC $109,600 in early December, according to the committee’s latest filing with the state Board of Elections.

Last week, UB got a boost from SUNY, which is providing $1.75 million for efforts to create several programs emphasizing applied learning and professional training for humanities students. The new academic offerings could help make arts and humanities students more employable.

Authorities are investigating the deaths of two college students and a former student at a house blocks from the SUNY Geneseo campus, about 35 miles south of Rochester.

A Muslim man who police say was assaulted in the Bronx in an apparent hate crime is speaking out along with many others in the community. The NYPD Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating and trying to find those responsible.

Counterfeit tickets to events of all kinds abound, but they’re relatively rare on Broadway – except in the case of popular shows like
“Hamilton.” Fake tickets to the hip-hop extravaganza show up at the door almost daily.

George Lois, an 84-year-old influential Madison Avenue art director and the creative force behind scores of famous advertising campaigns, is sending the collection of ad-related artifacts from his long career to CUNY.

The Weekend That Was

Hours before tonight’s first Democratic presidential debate of 2016, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders appeared on several political talk shows, with the former secretary of state accusing the Vermont senator of flip-flopping on the issue of gun control.

Clinton has widened her lead over Sanders to 25 percentage points, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds.

Karl Rove’s American Crossroads operation is hammering Clinton with a new ad in Iowa calling her a tool of Wall Street.

Shane Bauer, a former prisoner in Iran who is now a senior reporter at Mother Jones, called Clinton’s appeal for more sanctions “totally irresponsible” and accused her of constantly inflaming tensions with the country.

A top surrogate for Clinton is prepping a new attack in an intensifying and increasingly personal war against Sanders — calling on the 74-year-old to release his medical records before the Iowa caucuses on Feb. 1.

The Sanders campaign says the senator will release his medical records before he’s formally asked to do so, and his campaign manager insists Sanders is in “great health.”

Sanders’ chief of staff in his Senate office, Michaeleen Crowell, a 41-year-old policy wonk, has been playing the role of Clinton in her boss’ debate prep.

Florida Sen. Marco Rubio said he bought a gun on Christmas Eve — in case he has to defend his family from ISIS terrorists.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio slammed Sen. Ted Cruz, calling on New Yorkers to forego donations to the Canadian-born GOP presidential contender with a contempt for “New York values.”

NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray defended “New York values” in TIME magazine.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer has initiated a new campaign to force wireless cellphone companies to fix Long Island and New York City’s notorious dead zone spots by asking consumers to report on his website the locations where service is regularly dropped.

Retired Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, whose disabled son Ricky lives in a state-supported residence, has established a foundation building a free software application for families and caregivers with information about rights and resources for developmentally disabled New Yorkers.

Cuomo’s $100 billion list of proposals and projects reads like an expensive one, likely the grandest in New York state history. But a careful review of his budget proposal shows the Democratic governor is counting on money from federal, private or other sources and that the actual price tag for the state will be far less.

“With all the billions of dollars that were being thrown about — something for everybody — how we’re going to maintain a 2 percent cap on spending is beyond me,” said Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco, referring to Cuomo’s pledge to limit annual state spending increases. “It’s just totally beyond me.”

Former Gov. Mario Cuomo’s 1988 State of the State speech was remarkably similar – in both plans laid out and rhetoric employed – to the one his son just delivered.

Cuomo officials are examining how the State University of New York can incorporate CUNY’s four-year colleges and graduate schools, while slashing administrative costs at both institutions, sources tell the NY Post.

Tax and other records that are available show occasional connections to donors that might bring questions from the very same government watchdogs who often criticize the lack of transparency in political campaign contributions to parties and elected officials.

Construction-union officials involved in negotiating a deal with real estate leaders on worker wages said they didn’t reach an agreement needed to renew 421-a – a critical property-tax exemption program in New York City.

In his budget proposal, Cuomo said state aid to municipalities and cities, which hasn’t increased since 2008, would remain flat at $715 million for the upcoming fiscal year, and instead offers competition funds.

The number of assaults in New York City schools has increased more than 40 percent in the last year, according to a report from the pro-charter Families for Excellent Schools group.

The TU wants Cuomo to appoint an independent Moreland Act commission to investigate the state Department of Corrections and Community Supervision’s internal affairs unit, which is ruled by intimidation and fear or reporting wrongdoing.

Heavy snow is falling in Western New York, and also expected to accumulate significantly in Central New York.

The first black female district attorney in the history of New York said she’s chomping at the bit to start doling out justice. “I’m ready to get to work,” said Darcel Clark after she was sworn in as the new DA of the Bronx. “I want to let you know that I won’t let you down.”

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will report raising $1.6 million in campaign funds over the past six months, according to a source familiar with his campaign filing.

Cuomo has amassed a $16 million war chest for 2018 with big bucks from Hollywood, a Walmart heiress and New York City power brokers.

The NYT praised Cuomo’s “strong steps” toward criminal justice reform, but said he can “do more.”

New York’s ethics watchdog has doubled down on a proposal intended to require public-relations firms to register as lobbyists – not only if they talk to government officials on behalf of a client, but even if they communicate with the press. This raises first Amendment issues.

As a Brooklyn rape case has grown more complicated, some members of the community have found themselves torn between a gut reaction to support the 18-year-old alleged victim and nagging fears about a rush to judgment against the five teenagers accused of a heinous crime.

A political organization tied to de Blasio is largely spending money on outside consultants and trying to advance a national agenda, according to campaign disclosures released Friday.

De Blasio’s nonprofit took in $200,000 from a food-service union on the same day a mayoral ally in the City Council submitted legislation to protect the union workers’ jobs.

Sheltering homeless New Yorkers is more complicated than it seems – even in Buffalo, where the homeless population is considerably smaller than in NYC.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, reported he has raised $298,000 for his personal campaign fund during the past six months. In the six-month period before he became speaker, Heastie brought in just $48,000. That means donations were up more than 500 percent in the recent period.

Thomas J. Quatroche Jr., acting CEO of Erie County Medical Center since the hospital’s board of directors fired his predecessor in November, appears to have the board’s support to take the job on a permanent basis.

President Barack Obama has signed an emergency declaration following a request from Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder that would open the door for federal aid to deal with Flint’s water crisis.

Amityville Village’s general fund balance ended fiscal year 2015 in the black, the first time since 2008, according to an independent auditor’s report the village released last week.

Doug Selby is expected to leave his position at Auburn’s city manager at some point in the coming months – well before his contract runs out.


It’s official, the 421-a tax break meant to encourage the construction of affordable housing in NYC has expired.

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani to GOP presidential contender/Texas Sen. Ted Cruz: “Well if you’re willing to take our money, then show us the respect we deserve and earned and don’t try to divide us from our fellow Americans.”

Adding insult to injury, after insulting New Yorkers, Cruz sent them a fundraising email asked them for campaign contributions.

Long Island Republican Sen. Jack Martins abruptly canceled an Albany fundraiser this week, fueling speculation that he’s more than just considering running for Congress, according to state legislators and lobbyists who arrived at the event only to learn of its demise.

Uber wouldn’t face regulations or limits on its so-called surge pricing from the New York City Council, according to legislation introduced Friday by Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, marking a political win for the company.

A judge is blocking the Village of Owego’s taxpayer-funded poll on whether local residents favor abolishing their police force, saying the survey is likely an “improper and unlawful” non-binding referendum under state law.

Former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos spent $762,145 of his campaign funds on legal defense, and has $1.58 million remaining in his account.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie raised $298,000 over the past six months.

An advisory opinion that would expand the scope of individuals regulated by JCOPE has gained support and inspired opposition from those already registered with the commission and those who might be.

Rep. Chris Collins and Rep. Brian Higgins are asking President Obama to give the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station a new refueling mission many believe would help assure its future.

Assembly Republicans have formally invited US Attorney Preet Bharara to come to the state Capitol to discuss political corruption and get his “insight on the best ways to invoke meaningful change.”

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney signed a “meatless Monday” proclamation.

The DEC and DOH want the EPA to add the Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp. plant and other possible sources of contamination in Hoosick Falls to the National Priorities List under the federal Superfund program, and investigate contamination sources.

Laying the groundwork for a possible run for attorney general, state Sen. Mike Gianaris has reactivated a long-dormant campaign account and begun raising funds for a statewide campaign in 2018.

Oswego County Clerk Mike Backus, 32, the youngest county clerk in New York, will not add his name to the list of Republicans vying to replace retiring GOP Rep. Richard Hanna in NY-22, choosing to seek re-election instead, but Broome County Republican George Phillips has launched a campaign.

In the latest sign of New York City’s booming real estate market, the total market value for all property has crossed the trillion-dollar mark for the first time in history.

New York’s first legal hemp seeds are set to be planted after the State Department of Agriculture and Markets published the final regulations Wednesday.

Freshman Rep. Lee Zeldin has positioned himself as a foreign policy firebrand with his tough talk on taking out ISIS, but the Long Island Republican has skipped out from his assignment as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, which is charged with dealing with national security foreign policy.

Five new stores – representing more than 650,000 square feet of space – are set to open in Manhattan by 2018. Barneys New York will lead the push, opening a new store at its original location on West 17th Street in mid-February.

A new dinosaur is on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, and it dwarfs any other dinosaur the museum has ever exhibited.