Liz Benjamin

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Posts by Liz Benjamin

Here and Now

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

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is doing a round of live TV and radio appearances this morning related to the Eric Garner decision.

At 6 a.m., he’s on CNN’s “New Day,” at 6:20 a.m., he’ll appear on CNN en Espanol, at 7:15 a.m., he’ll be a guest on WBAI’s Morning Show (99.5 FM), and at 9:15 a.m., he’ll be on on PIX11 News.

At 9 a.m., SUNY chancellor Nancy Zimpher, CUNY chancellor James Milliken, UAlbany President Robert Jones and Albany schools superintendent Marguerite Vanden Wyngaard join President Obama, Vice President Biden, and first lady Michelle Obama for the White House college opportunity summit, Washington D.C.

At 9:30 a.m., the Rev. Al Sharpton and civil rights, community, religious leaders and elected officials hold a “policing summit,” National Action Network, 106 West 145th St., Harlem. A press conference will follow at 11 a.m., at which Sharpton will speak again about his Dec. 13 national march on Washington.

Also at 9:30 a.m., representatives of the state Office of General Services auction surplus highway equipment, property and vehicles; state Office of Mental Health, Kingsboro Psychiatric Center, 681 Clarkson Ave., Brooklyn.

At 10 a.m., NYS Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic & Asian Legislative Caucus Chair Karim Camara, NYC Council Committee on Public Safety Vanessa Gibson and NYS Assembly Task Force on New Americans CHair Marcus Crespo unveil list of legislative reforms that need action in Albany and discuss problem with current training of police officers when interacting with civilians, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., the Assembly will hold a public hearing to examine legislation to establish New York Health, a universal “single payer” health coverage plan to replace insurance company coverage, premiums, deductibles, copays, limited provider networks and out-of-network charges, Medical Alumni Auditorium, Weiskotten Hall, Upstate Medical University, 766 Irving Ave., Syracuse.

At 11:45 a.m., activists, fast-food workers and others call for increasing the minimum wage to $15 per hour and allowing workers to form unions without corporate opposition, as part of nationwide demonstrations, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 4 p.m., NYC Council Speaker Mark-Viverito, Councilman Corey Johnson and members of the Bronx delegation attend the City Council sponsored Affordable Care Act enrollment session, in the third floor Atrium and Bridge, at Hostos Community College, 475 Grand Concourse, the Bronx.

At 5 p.m., the Manhattan Democrats host a West Harlem Holiday Party and toy drive. Hudson Restaurant and Lounge, 712 W. 125th St., Manhattan.

Also at 5 p.m., Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz holds his annual winter holiday party/fundraiser, Statler City, Georgian Ballroom (2nd Floor), 107 Delaware Ave., Buffalo. (Tickets range from $60 to $500).

At 6 p.m., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Councilman Brad Lander, Assemblymembers Deborah Glick and Richard Gottfried and the Commissioner of Community Affairs Marco Carrion attend the 19th Annual Rabbi Marshall T. Meyer Risk Taker Awards at B’nai Jeshrun, 257 W 88th St., Manhattan.

At 7:30 p.m., Mark-Viverito is honored by New York Communities For Change, 395 Hudson St., Manhattan.

Headlines…

Protesters chanting, “No justice, no tree!” tried to storm Rockefeller Center to disrupt the annual lighting ceremony following a grand jury’s decision to not indict an NYPD cop in the death of Eric Garner.

That was just one of a wave of protests that took place across NYC after the grand jury’s decision was announced, coming barely a week after a grand jury found no criminality in the actions of another white police officer, Darren Wilson, who shot and killed Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old black man in Ferguson, Mo.

It was never supposed to be a chokehold that he used on Garner on July 17, NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo told the grand jury. It was a wrestling move. According to Pantaleo’s attorney, the officer never intended to injure or harm anyone.

Pantaleo, who was stunned by the grand jury decision, according to his attorney, is still being investigated by the NYPD’s Internal Affairs Bureau. Disciplinary action is likely.

US Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department will launch an “independent, thorough, fair and expeditious” civil rights investigation into Garner’s death.

Holder said that in addition to the department’s own investigation, it would also conduct a complete review of what local investigators gathered during their investigative process.

Eric Garner’s widow shouted two fiery words of rebuke when asked if she accepted Pantaleo’s words of condolence: “Hell no!” “The time for remorse was when my husband was yelling to breathe,” she said.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio responded to the grand jury decision with a strikingly personal speech that, in sober tones, encompassed his dual role: the keeper of law and order in the nation’s largest city, and a parent to children of color who had experienced firsthand the perception of police officers as both violators and protectors.

De Blasio announced the NYPD is accelerating its efforts to outfit nearly every patrol officer on the force with body cameras – a move he believes could improve accountability and transparency.

Reps. Greg Meeks and Hakeem Jeffries both questioned the significance of the implementation of body cameras by the NYPD, citing the video footage in Garner’s case that clearly showed the incident that led to his death, but didn’t lead to an indictment.

Despite the video evidence of Garner repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe” as officers tackled him the ground and choked him until he ultimately died, Rep. Pete King would not allow that excessive force had been used. “The fact of the matter is, if you can’t breathe, you can’t talk,” the Long Island Republican said.

The NYT editorializes: “Officer Pantaleo was stripped of his gun and badge; he needs to be stripped of his job. He used forbidden tactics to brutalize a citizen who was not acting belligerently, posed no risk of flight, brandished no weapon and was heavily outnumbered.”

The DN called the grand jury decision a “gross miscarriage of justice.”

Eric Garner‘s widow and mother spoke at a press conference last night held at the Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network House of Justice in Harlem. Both called for justice and peaceful protest.

Sharpton called for a national march on Washington on Dec. 13.

More >

Extras

A Staten Island grand jury has voted not to bring criminal charges against the white New York City police officer at the center of the Eric Garner case.

On Staten Island, decisions of “no bill” from grand juries, like that for NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo, are actually more common than in the rest of the state.

Fifty-four New York City police officers will begin wearing body cameras – some as soon as Friday – as part of a three-month pilot program NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said will improve the relationship between the NYPD and residents.

The city will eventually seek some of the $263 million President Obama wants to provide for up to 50,000 body cameras for police nationwide, though de Blasio would not put a dollar figure on how much it would cost the city to outfit all 3,500 NYPD officers.

Cuomo announced that he has appointed Maggie Miller chief information officer of the state Office of Information Technology Services.

Classroom observation – including feedback from students – will a “central issue” for the Legislature to consider next year as it seeks to fine tune controversial teacher evaluations, state Education Commissioner John King said.

As Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley weighs a 2016 presidential run, his political action committee has hired a new senior advisor – Bill Hyers, the man who executed de Blasio’s come-from-behind victory last year.

Sen. John Flanagan brushed off rumors that he’ll run next year for Suffolk County executive, saying he’s looking forward to returning to Albany as a member of the Senate GOP majority.

A coalition of anti-fracking groups launched the “Not One Well” campaign, designed to squash the possibility that Cuomo might move ahead with a limited pilot program that would allow fracked wells in Southern Tier.

As legislators consider a special session to give themselves a raise, a review of state payroll data shows that more than three-quarters of them already earn more than their frequently cited $79,500 statutory base salary.


AG Eric Schneiderman said
new federal immigration policies will make it voluntary in most cases for police agencies to detain immigrants in the U.S. illegally.

NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray has her arm in a sling and a bandage on her finger after a series of accidents over the holiday weekend.

Plans to create a cargo distribution hub at Stewart International Airport in New Windsor are moving ahead.

The federal government is extending the Medicare open enrollment period for beneficiaries in Western New York affected by last month’s severe winter storm.

A former money manager and one-time partial owner of the New York Islanders was sentenced to a decade in prison for a more than half-billion-dollar financial fraud carried out over more than a dozen years.

The regional administrator for the EPA said that Onondaga Lake is getting cleaner, but still has “a very long way to go.”

Former Babylon Town Democratic Chair Robert Stricoff, who last month withdrew from a $155,000 a year job offer as executive director of Suffolk’s Industrial Development Agency amid an ongoing prosecutor’s probe, has found another landing place.

Former New York Times Executive Editor Jill Abramson is back.

A bill that would permit hemp to be grown as part of an agricultural pilot program starting next year is awaiting action by Cuomo.

This year’s Christmas festivities at the White House includes a cookie tribute to First Dog Bo.

NYC Public Advocate Wants Special Prosecutor On Police Misconduct

Amid the many responses coming in the wake of a grand jury’s decision not to bring criminal charges against an NYPD officer in the chokehold death of a Staten Island man is a call from NYC Public Advocate Tish James for the governor and state attorney general “to create a special prosecutor in all cases involving police misconduct.”

“Like millions of New Yorkers, I am saddened by the grand jury’s decision not to indict in the Eric Garner case,” said James, who is the highest ranked African American citywide elected official in NYC. “Video footage of the incident clearly shows the banned chokehold that resulted in Mr. Garner’s death and the fact that there will be no public trial is shocking and unconscionable.”

“We must eliminate the inherent conflict of interest when a district attorney seeks to indict members of the police department…Additionally, I will be requesting that the proceedings from this grand jury be made public.”

“To all New Yorkers – our hearts may be hurt, but our spirits must never be broken and I urge us all to honor the memory of Mr. Garner through peaceful demonstration. My thoughts and prayers are with the Garner family and all those throughout our country who have died due to altercations with the police.”

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released the following statement, which doesn’t acknowledge James’ call:

“My heart and prayers go out to the Garner family. I understand and respect the anger and frustration that many are feeling right now, but I join Mayor de Blasio and the Garner family in calling for a peaceful response from anyone who may choose to exercise their right to protest.”

“As New Yorkers, we have a proud history of respectful and peaceful protests. Continuing that leadership is critical to moving forward together toward meaningful reform.”

So far, we have heard nothing from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which is a little odd, considering the wide variety of elected officials and leaders weighing in on the grand jury decision. But, then again, Cuomo was one of the few prominent elected officials NOT to release a statement in the wake of the Ferguson, Mo. grand jury decision not to bring charges against former Officer Darren Wilson in the death of unarmed teenager Michael Brown.

RIP Herman Badillo (Updatedx3)

Herman Badillo, a former congressman and Bronx borough president and the first Puerto Rican to have been elected to those posts, has died, according to the office of the current Bronx borough president, Ruben Diaz Jr.

Badillo, 85, was also the first Puerto Rican candidate for mayor of New York City – a position he was unsuccessful in seeking. He was an often controversial figure, but also a long-standing fixture in New York City politics.

UPDATE1: According to George Arzt, Badillo died this morning of congestive heart failure at New York Presbyterian Weill Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan. His funeral will be private, and will be held this Sunday at the Frank E. Campbell Funeral home on Sunday. Former NYC Mayor Giuliani and former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly are scheduled to speak.

Badillo, who lived on the Upper East Side, is survived by his wife, Gail, and a son, David, from his first marriage. Badillo’s first wife, Irma, died in 1996.

Diaz confirmed Badillo’s death in a statement in which he said he is “deeply saddenedby the passing of a man whom I looked up to as a role model and who represented Latinos, Bronxites and all New Yorkers as an exemplary public servant.”

“Herman Badillo was one of my inspirations as a young man of Puerto Rican descent who was born and raised in the Bronx and pursuing a career in politics,” Diaz continued. “He was a true Bronxite and the epitome of a passionate leader who truly cared for his community. Herman Badillo worked assiduously throughout his career to make a difference in the lives of countless individuals across our Borough and City.”

“Most importantly, Herman Badillo was both a mentor and a friend to me personally. Herman was always there to listen to questions and offer advice. He was a guiding voice early in my career, and he remained a rock throughout my time in elected office.”

“I, along with all 1.4 million residents of The Bronx as well as all the people whom he touched during his long work in public service, offer my thoughts and prayers to Mr. Badillo’s family.”

In 1970 Badillo was elected to the House from what was then the 21st congressional district in the South Bronx, becoming the first Puerto Rican to serve. He was re-elected for three subsequent consecutive terms. In 1986, he ran for state comptroller on the Democratic ticket led by then-Gov. Mario Cuomo. Badillo lost that race to the GOP incumbent, Edward “Ned” Regan, who died this past October.

He unsuccessfully sought the Democratic nomination for mayor of New York in 1969, 1973, 1977, 1981 and 1985, coming closest on his second attempt when he was defeated by then-New York City Comptroller Abe Beame in a runoff.

In 2001, Badillo unsuccessfully sought the Republican mayoral nomination, losing by a landslide to billionaire businessman and first time candidate Michael Bloomberg, who later won the general election, defeating Democratic NYC Public Advocate Mark Green.

In 1993, Badillo – still a Democrat at the time – ran a failed campaign for NYC comptroller on a “fusion” ticket with GOP mayoral candidate Rudy Giuliani. He also sought the Democratic nomination, but finished third in that race behind the incumbent, Liz Holtzman, and Alan Hevesi. Running in the general election on the GOP and Liberal Party lines, Badillo lost to Hevesi.

Badillo had a series of jobs with the Giuliani administration, serving as the mayor’s special counsel on education policy and as chair of the CUNY Board of Trustees.

UPDATE2: A reader reminds me that Badillo re-joined the Democratic Party in 2011 at the age of 82.

UPDATE3: Gov. Andrew Cuomo released the following statement in response to Badillo’s death:

“Today, New York lost one of its most cherished and revered citizens. Herman Badillo was a longtime public servant who dedicated himself to improving the lives of others. From his tenure as Bronx Borough President to his work leading the CUNY Board of Trustees, Herman was a shining example of how a dedication to civil service can make a difference in the world around us.”

“As the Bronx’s first Puerto Rican Borough President, Herman also embodied the spirit of diversity that defines New York today, and his legacy will live on for years to come. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I offer my condolences to his friends and family. He will be greatly missed.”

Here and Now

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

At 8:15 a.m., consultants and recent employees of gubernatorial campaigns speak during a “Campaign Round-table” presented by The New School’s Center for New York City Affairs; second floor, Theresa Lang Community and Student Center, Arnhold Hall, 55 W. 13th St., Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., the Port Authority’s chief financial officer, Elizabeth “Libby” McCarthy, reviews its third quarter financial and operational performance during a meeting of Committee on Finance members of the authority’s board of commissioners; 15th floor, 225 Park Ave. South, Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., NYRA’s Reorganization Board of Directors meets, NYS Empire State Development Corp., 633 Third Ave., 37th Floor Board Room, Manhattan. (Videoconference access available, state Capitol, Room 131, Albany).

Also at 10 a.m., Rebuild NY Now, a broad-based coalition seeking to raise public awareness about New York State’s infrastructure needs, along with local elected officials, members of organized labor, the Buffalo-Niagara Partnership and private local businesses, holds a press conference, English Pork Pie Company, 1216 South Park Ave., Buffalo.

Also at 10 a.m., “Diane Ravitch on the Uses and Abuses of Data in Education Reform,” in conversation with NY1’s Errol Louis and Baruch College’s Professor Andrea Gabor, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, 219 West 40th St., Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio holds a press conference about police body cameras, Police Academy, Ulmer Street, between 28 Avenue and Whitestone Expressway, Queens.

Also at 11 a.m., a coalition of environmental and anti-fracking organizations will come together to announce the launch of the ‘Not One Well’ social media/advertising campaign, LOB, Room 130, Albany.

At 1 p.m., AG Eric Schneiderman, US Attorney Bill Hochul, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, Sen. Tim Kennedy and Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz make announcements regarding the recent historic snow storm in Western New York, AG’s office, Main Place Tower, Suite 300A, 350 Main St., Buffalo.

At 2 p.m., Zephyr Teachout, Karen Scharff of Citizen Action of New York and the Working Families Party, Billy Easton of AQE, parents, community activists demand that state leaders focus on strengthening public education rather than “further its demise” through privately-run charter schools, LOB, LCA Press Room, Albany.

At 2:45 p.m., de Blasio holds a press conference and signs Intros 409-A, 378, 345-A, 348-A, 480, 216-B, 493-A, 356-A and 361-A, Blue Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System’s Staten Island University Hospital Executive Director Donna Proske, Sen. Diane Savino and NYC Councilwoman Debi Rose will be honored during a “Business Networking Awards” dinner; Nicotra’s Ballroom, Hilton Garden Inn New York/Staten Island hotel, 1100 South Ave., Staten Island.

At 8:55 p.m., de Blasio attends the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree, 610 Fifth Ave., Concourse Level, between 49th and 50th streets, Manhattan.

Headlines…

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will roll out details of a pilot program to outfit police officers with body cameras. Training for the body cameras begins today and the cameras will be operational by the weekend in certain precincts.

David Skorton, who has helped guide the NYRA through a multiyear cleanup, plans to step down as chairman today. He said in June he would soon depart for a job running the Smithsonian Institution, but it hadn’t been clear precisely when he would be leaving.

New New York County Clerk Milton Tingling said he sees the job as an opportunity to improve the justice system. “The juror pools in Manhattan, I don’t believe in my experience as a trial judge, are representative enough to what the population of Manhattan is.

With Ferguson, Mo. fresh in their minds, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton met with elected officials and clergy members on Staten Island to talk about possible reaction to a grand jury decision in the Eric Garner case.

Police officials are investigating whether the stepfather of Michael Brown, the unarmed black teenager fatally shot by a white Ferguson police officer in August, incited a riot by issuing an invective-filled call to action outside the police department Nov. 24, not long before protesters began smashing windows and burning cars.

Brooklyn College journalism professor Ron Howell: “Given New York’s reputation as a place of enlightenment and his own family history, Andrew Cuomo should have stood on higher ground than Missouri did. He should have sought a special prosecutor (in the Eric Garner case).”

In an impassioned defense of the imperiled horse-carriage drivers, actor Liam Neeson called it “unconscionable” for de Blasio to seek to deprive them of their livelihood.

The mayor’s push to fulfill a campaign pledge to ban the Central Park horse-drawn carriages pits him against a close ally: labor unions that helped propel him to office.

Cuomo is making good on one of the farm-related promises from his 2014 agenda. This Thursday in Manhattan, the state is convening a summit of agricultural, food, and distribution leaders to brainstorm ways to sell more Upstate produce in New York City.

Cuomo’s initiative to increase the amount of time students spend in the classroom has arguably been the least successful of his signature competitive education grant programs, with only six of the state’s roughly 700 school districts implementing the program.

As Cuomo came under criticism following a big New York Times report into his administration’s heavy-handed management of the Moreland Commission, one of his first moves was to hunker down with an official named in the story: Larry Schwartz.

Bill Hammond is not impressed with Zephyr Teachout’s attack against charter schools.

A pro-charter-school group released a report contending that at least 11 percent of students in New York attended a failing school this year, particularly in the state’s largest cities outside New York City.

Representatives of towns south and east of Buffalo buried by as much as 7 feet of snow two weeks ago formed a “task force” to begin planning a new response to the next storm. It all stems from major finger-pointing between officials of Erie County and towns and villages over how equipment was deployed during the storm.

AG Eric Schneiderman has asked banks and utilities to waive late payment fees for residents in western New York who were affected by the recent snow storm.

More >

What’s Next for Women’s Equality?

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 10-point Women’s Equality Act figured significantly in his successful campaign strategy for winning a second four-year term, and even served as the impetus for creation of a new political party.

Just as the future of the Women’s Equality Party remains uncertain, so does the fate of the governor’s 10-point plan, which remains DOA with the Senate Republicans – who now control the upper house – as long as it contains a controversial abortion rights plank.

Cuomo pledged in his election night speech that he would work in 2015 for passage of the Women’s Equality Act, “because discrimination and inequality against women stops in New York State.”

He did not elaborate – nor has he since – on how he planned to do that.

It’s even unclear at this point whether the Democrat-controlled state Assembly, which consistently stood firm on an all-or-nothing approach to the WEA as the Senate passed nine of its 10 planks, will continue to maintain that stance.

Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo said during a CapTon interview last night that the chamber’s women’s caucus, which is growing by nine members in 2015, has not yet had a chance to establish a position on the WEA for the coming legislative session.

Lupardo, a Southern Tier Democrat, said she was one of just a handful of female lawmakers who argued in favor of breaking up the WEA to pass individual bills.

“It was a package that was artificially put together, and on the domestic violence and on the trafficking issue in particular we should have taken those up,” the assemblywoman said.

It was the caucus, in fact, who recommended to the speaker that it not be broken up. I was unsuccessful in persuading my colleagues, but we go along with the group and that was their decision. I was in the minority.”

Lupardo said she believes the incoming assemblywoman “bring a certain earnest urgency toward getting this accomplished,” adding: “We do talk to each other, and I think that we have a very powerful voice when we get organized.”

The women’s caucus was particularly empowered in the fact of the sexual harassment scandal involving former Assemblyman Vito Lopez, the handling of which brought widespread criticism of Speaker Sheldon Silver.

That case continues to play out in the courts.

Breaking up the WEA with the understanding that a deal cannot be reached on the abortion plank in the short term would give the governor and legislative leaders an early win in 2015, though it might anger some in the abortion-rights/women’s rights movement.

However, even the advocates weren’t universally in favor of the all-or-nothing approach, just like they weren’t 100 percent on board with Cuomo’s creation of a women-specific political party.

Here and Now

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

NYC Council Speaker Mark-Viverito will travel to Washington, D.C. to meet with members of Congress. She will also meet with White House officials to discuss the president’s immigration plan and how New York City can assist with outreach efforts.

At 8 a.m., Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, former LG Richard Ravitch, Sen. Daniel Squadron, NYU administrators, city officials and investment executives discuss proposals to expand a “Nurse-Family Partnership” program in the state, during a news conference and panel discussion; room 914, Helen & Martin Kimmel Center for University Life, 60 Washington Square South, Manhattan.

At 9:30 a.m., AG Eric Schneiderman will announce a new effort to help New York homeowners at risk of foreclosure, Brooklyn Law School, Subotnick Center, 10th Floor, 250 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

At 10 a.m., with the US Senate expected to take up the annual National Defense Authorization Act before the end of the year, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will be joined by fellow lawmakers and by former Air Force Chief Prosecutor Colonel Don Christensen to renew the push for the Military Justice Improvement Act, Senate Visitors Center, Room 215, Washington, D.C.

At 10:15 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio makes an announcement, Ingersoll Community Center, Gymnasium, 177 Myrtle Ave., Brooklyn.

At 11 a.m., Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy will meet with US Attorney Loretta Lynch, President Obama’s nominee to be the next Attorney General of the United States, Room S-126, the Capitol, Washington, D.C.

At noon, Zephyr Teachout, former gubernatorial candidate; WFP NYS Director Bill Lipton; AQE Advocacy Director Zakiyah Ansari; public school parents, community leaders, and advocates “target hedge fund takeover of New York schools,” Tweed Courthouse, 52 Chambers St., Manhattan.

At 1 p.m., the New York Lottery’s Gretchen Dizer will present over-sized prize checks totaling $7,000,000 to three lucky Western New York residents, New York Lottery Customer Service Center, 165 Genesee St., Buffalo.

At 3 p.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina, de Blasio, New York Giants Chairman Steve Tisch, and wide receiver Victor Cruz, make an announcement, Erasmus Hall High School, Preston Tisch Gymnasium, 911 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn.

At 5:30 p.m., Israel’s Ambassador to the U.S. Ido Aharoni speaks as former NYC Mayor Bloomberg presents emergency volunteer charity American Friends of Magen David Adom’s humanitarian award to newscaster Barbara Walters during the organization’s annual benefit dinner hosted by MSNBC anchorman Willie Geist; The Lighthouse event space, Chelsea Piers, Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., state GOP Chairman Ed Cox and Congressman-elect Lee Zeldin will be honored during The New York Young Republican Club’s 102nd annual “Alumni Celebration”; law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, 46th floor, The MetLife Building, 200 Park Ave., Manhattan.

Headlines…

Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout is promising to remain a thorn in Cuomo’s side. The former gubernatorial challenger is re-joining forces with the Working Families Party today to fight her erstwhile primary opponent on charter schools.

New York state has identified 278 licensed gun owners who could lose their weapons because they are considered mentally unstable.

Stephen Younger, a prominent lawyer who headed up Cuomo’s transition team in 2010 and who is a regular donor to the governor, is one of seven finalists recommended to the governor for a spot on the state’s top court.

The Cuomo administration was rebuffed by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli this month when it sought a half-million dollars from a financially shaky oil spill cleanup fund to support planning, staff and equipment to deal with potential oil spills from Bakken crude rail shipments. The governor is now exploring ways to beef up the 36-year-old fund.

It remains unclear whether a special session will take place before the official start of the 2015 Legislative season, but here’s how it would work if it does.

Cuomo spent about $8 million in the weeks before and after his Nov. 4 re-election, outspending Republican foe, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, by more than 5-to-1.

All told, Cuomo spent more than $35 million on his successful bid for a second term.

Cuomo finished his re-election campaign with $9.2 million in the bank, Astorino, who has not ruled out another run in four years, has just under $55,000.

Cuomo’s committee has taken in $46.9 million over the past four years – the biggest haul of any governor in state history.

A Buffalo-area nursing home changed its account from last week of how one of its residents died after an evacuation prompted by heavy snowfall. It had said Ruth Snyder, 92, suffered a seizure, but then determined she had been confused with another patient.

As protests continue nationwide a week after a grand jury cleared a Ferguson, Mo. police officer in the shooting death of teen Michael Brown, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio met yesterday in Washington, DC with President Barack Obama and other officials (including the Rev. Al Sharpton) to discuss ways to improve relations between police and the communities they serve.

“The president referred to when he met my son Dante,” de Blasio said after the meeting. “Well I can tell you, I think every night about my son, making sure he comes home safe. So many people all over this country feel the same thing. We have to ensure that all our children are safe and living in justice.”

Obama said he wants to ensure the US isn’t building a “militarized culture” within police departments, while maintaining federal programs that provide the type of military-style equipment that were used to dispel racially charged protests in Ferguson.

The de Blasio administration is poised to introduce legislation next week that would eliminate the New York City horse-drawn carriage industry, fulfilling a promise by the mayor to animal-rights activists who played an important role in securing his campaign victory last year.

The mayor’s ban may spur a lawsuit.

In an effort to reduce the growing number of inmates with mental health and substance abuse problems in New York City’s jails, de Blasio announced plans to significantly expand public health services at almost every step of the criminal justice process.

More >

Extras

At a private Forbes magazine-sponsored discussion forum in June, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told an audience of wealthy philanthropists that state-mandated performance evaluations should be the basis for hiring, firing and tenure decisions.

Nearly 10,000 commuters faced a rude welcome to December this morning, when the MetroCards sent to them by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority proved worthless.

Despite a pre-election pledge to re-join the “regular” Democrats, Sen. David Carlucci says he’s staying with the IDC because he won’t let “partisan politics to corrupt our progress.”

North Country Democratic Assemblywoman Addie J. Russell has won re-election to her seat after a closely contested race with Republican John L. Byrne III that was ultimately decided by absentee ballots.

Before joining President Obama and others this afternoon to discuss continued tensions between police and the communities they serve in the wake of protests in Ferguson, Mo., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said it’s an issue the country must face “head on.”

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams does not try to hide his desire to one day be mayor of NYC.

Cuomo issued a proclamation in honor of World AIDS Day.

A publicized, one-day only Cyber Monday deal offered today by the state Parks Department that reduced the price of a 3-year Empire Passport ran into problems this morning when the department’s computer system crashed.

Kate Powers, who spent the past four years as legislative director for Department of Financial Services Superintendent Benjamin Lawsky, is leaving to join AG Eric Schneiderman’s office as senior policy adviser and director of legislative affairs.

Former NYPD Commissioner Bernard Kerik said two men who were fatally shot by police – Eric Garner and Michael Brown – would be alive if officers used stun guns, which he said should be carried by officers nationwide.

Elizabeth Lauten, communications director for Tennessee Republican Rep. Stephen Fincher, is resigning following her Facebook post blasting Malia and Sasha Obama for their provocative outfits and “classless” attitudes during the White House turkey pardoning ceremony last week.

The Cuomo administration issued a report crediting itself for proactively addressing the rise of oil trains.

You’ve heard of the Buffalo Billion and the Syracuse Billion, now courtesy of Sen. Brad Hoylman, comes the “5 Boro Billion,” a plan to assist the MTA.

One-third of the tickets to Bill Cosby’s previously sold-out shows at the Tarrytown Music Hall on Dec. 6 had been returned for refunds as of noon today, as rape and sexual-abuse allegations swirl around the comedian.

The NORAD Tracks Santa website launched today and features a mobile version, a holiday countdown, new games and daily activities, and more. The website is available in eight languages: English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Chinese.

Queens Councilman Danny Dromm, the lead sponsor of a bill to ban horse carriages in the city, said he thinks a majority of his colleagues will back the bill.

Syracuse ranks 4th in the state for taking surplus military equipment from the Department of Defense, records show.

Hillary Clinton has added several speeches to her January and February schedule, indicating that the likely 2016 presidential candidate will continue her lucrative paid speaking career into the new year.

A pair of activist groups, the Alliance for Quality Education and Center for Popular Democracy, is out with a guide — or rather suggestions — for better policing and monitoring finances of the state’s charter schools.

Teacher retirements in New York have increased 10 percent since 2010, while active staff members have fallen 5.5 percent over the same time period.

The number of new H.I.V. diagnoses has fallen to historic lows but much work needs to be done before H.I.V./AIDS is no longer an epidemic in New York City, de Blasio said.

Anthony Marshall, the son of legendary New York City philanthropist Brooke Astor, died on Sunday at the age of 90.

Here and Now

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

From 9 a.m. to noon, during “Strategies for Fighting Ebola: A Columbia University Summit to Help End the Epidemic,” diplomats, executives and health care professionals, including two doctors participating by videoconference from Africa, will discuss the outbreak; Columbia University Club of New York, 15 W. 43rd St., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., the NYC World AIDS Day Coalition will host a launch of the Governor’s Ending the Epidemic Campaign – a state plan to end AIDS in New York by the year 2020. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Public Advocate Tish James and other elected officials will attend, the Apollo Theater, 253 W. 125th St., Manhattan.

At 11:45 a.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña will tour a classroom with Deputy Mayor Richard Buery at P.S. 15 Roberto Clemente. She will then host a press conference to make an announcement, 333 East 4th St., Manhattan.

At 1 p.m., the Assembly will hold a public hearing to examine the availability and effectiveness of preventive services programs that promote family stability and protect children, Hearing Room C, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

Also at 1 p.m., the Assembly Ethics and Guidance committee meets, Room 714, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

At 2:50 p.m., de Blasio meets with President Obama, elected officials, community and faith leaders and law enforceement officials, Eisenhower Executive Office Building, 1650 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC.

At 5 p.m., a tree lighting and holiday celebration with Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, a Nutcracker performance from the American Ballet Theatre JKO School, and an appearance from Brooklyn Nets player Brook Lopez; 2 MetroTech Center, Brooklyn.

At 6 p.m., the NYC Health Department hosts The RED (Remembering-Empowering-Doing) Ball to mark World AIDS Day; 516 W. 42nd St., Manhattan.

Also at 6 p.m., Citizen Action of New York holds its 2014 Progressive Leadership Awards gala; Transport Workers Union Hall, 195 Montague St., Brooklyn.

Headlines…

President Barack Obama will discuss the situation in Ferguson, Missouri, today with his Cabinet, civil rights leaders, law enforcement officials and others. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will also be present.

IDC Leader Jeff Klein will introduce controversial legislation today to force NYC to alert communities before opening social service facilities in their neighborhoods. The senator said he was blindsided when the de Blasio administration opened a homeless shelter in his district without warning.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is slated to give a deposition Dec. 17 in the federal lawsuit brought by two sexual harassment victims of former Assemblyman Vito Lopez.

Lopez was expected to give a deposition next month, too, but recently informed his former aides Victoria Bur­hans and Chloe Rivera that he won’t be available to be deposed until at least Jan. 8 because of “medical reasons,” according to papers filed last week by plaintiffs’ lawyer Kevin Mintzer.

Also, the outlook for a legislative pay raise is “growing dimmer,” the DN’s Ken Lovett reports. A legislative source blamed the governor for trying to link the pay boost to charter schools and the DREAM Act. (See above link).

Shortly after he was first elected, Cuomo laid out an ambitious plan to reconfigure markets and support innovative projects that promised to make New York an undisputed leader in use of renewable energy. But as of the end of his first term, the state has yet to see significant progress toward the plan’s goals.

De Blasio is reportedly poised to make good on his campaign pledge to ban horse-drawn carriages from Central Park. He plans to offer displaced carriage drivers free green taxi medallions on the condition that they purchase handicapped-accessible cabs.

The Hotel Trades Council, which represents 32,000 hotel workers, is planning to spend tens of thousands of dollars to try to help Brooklyn get an edge over the other two finalists to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention – Philadelphia and Columbus, Ohio.

Long Island Association president Kevin Law is calling on New York City officials to tout “the assets that lie just to the east” as part of their drive to hold the 2016 Democratic National Convention in Brooklyn.

Fred Dicker: “State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, a Democrat long derided as weak and indecisive, is completing a hot-potato audit of Gov. Cuomo’s controversial ‘START-UP NY’ TV campaign that will make or break DiNapoli’s reputation for years to come, insiders agree.”

Thanks to a surge in tax revenues and a boost in state funding, de Blasio has added more than 3,000 people to the municipal workforce since taking office in January. There were 274,447 full-time municipal employees as of Sept. 30, up from 271,296 on Dec. 31 – a 1.16 percent increase.

Antipoverty groups that once stood as City Hall’s staunchest critics have lowered their voices since de Blasio took office, giving him the benefit of the doubt even as problems such as homelessness have worsened.

CNN’s Chris Cuomo tweeted that his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, is doing “well enough” in the hospital.

“As with every challenge he’s ever faced, he’s giving this his all,” Andrew Cuomo’s sister, Madeline, told The NY Post. “He is not one to give up.”

More >

The Holiday Weekend That Was

The family of 82-year-old Mario Cuomo – including Gov. Andrew Cuomo – spent Thanksgiving by the former governor’s bedside in an undisclosed downstate hospital.

Mario Cuomo’s condition and details on his heart condition weren’t disclosed. He entered the hospital a few days before the holiday.

Darren Wilson, the white police officer a grand jury declined to indict last week in the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Michael Brown, has resigned from the Ferguson, Missouri Police Department, his attorney confirmed.

Former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly said he believes police-community relations can improve in Ferguson when the police department diversifies its ranks to reflect the city it serves.

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani has some advice for US Attorney General Eric Holder as he weighs a legal response to the Brown shooting: Don’t make a federal case out of it.

Demonstrators massed inside and outside Macy’s on Herald Square on Black Friday in a bid to flex economic power following a Missouri grand jury’s decision not to indict a police officer in the fatal shooting of a black teenager.

Outgoing Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said the “inevitability” of Hillary Clinton’s second presidential candidacy is “off-putting to regular voters,” because people “read inevitability as entitlement.”

Doug Schoen, former pollster for Bill and Hillary Clinton, isn’t certain the former first lady and ex-secretary of state could win the presidency in 2016.

A judicial screening panel will deliver a set of seven nominees tomorrow to the governor to fill a pending retirement on New York’ highest court. Judge Robert Smith turned 70 this year, hitting the mandatory retirement age for the Court of Appeals. Per law, he must step down on Dec. 31.

Although Cuomo’s $18.7 million statewide weather initiative will help the state respond to events like floods or wildfires, it’s unlikely to live up to his grander expectations, meteorologists say.

President Obama’s sweeping executive actions on immigration present daunting logistical challenges across the nation, but especially in New York, which Cuomo has called “the gateway for immigrants worldwide.”

After a decade of growth, legalized gambling is starting to stumble, with fewer Americans spending their time and money at casinos, playing poker or buying lottery tickets, a UB study found.

Small Business Saturday, promoted by Cuomo, was a boon to owners forced to close up shop by the Buffalo storm.

When officials at the University of California at Los Angeles began negotiating a $300,000 speech appearance by Clinton, they asked for a discounted rate for public universities. They were told that figure was the “special university rate.”

Clinton’s representatives at the Harry Walker Agency exerted considerable control over her appearance at UCLA on March 5 and managed even the smallest details — from requesting lemon wedges and water on stage to a computer, scanner, and a spread of hummus and crudité in the green room backstage.

In Harrison, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino’s low-key approach to developing affordable housing – and complying with the federal fair-housing consent decree – will be put to the test.

Five months after passing unanimously in the Legislature — and a month after Cuomo said he wanted to sign it — a bill to protect doctors who treat Lyme disease with longer courses of antibiotics faces an uncertain future.

The campaign’s most recent financial disclosure report shows that Friends of Ed Mangano spent $56,000 on food and drink – an average $309.81 every day from Jan. 15 through July 14. That included $4,899 in bulk wine orders – about $816.52 a month.

The TU has questions about the “sordid episode” of the Cuomo administration’s botched attempt to force Dave Wick out of his post as executive director of the Lake George Park Commission.

A tractor trailer rollover near the Berkshire Spur Saturday morning caused the Thruway to be closed and required a response by hazmat teams.

Long Island’s towns and cities paid their workforce less in 2013 than in 2012, with payrolls totaling $692 million — a 4.7 percent decline from $726.5 million the previous year, a Newsday database shows.

Albany County legislative leaders have called a special meeting for Tuesday night to potentially approve a settlement of the three-year-old federal voting rights lawsuit against the county, according to four lawmakers who received notice of the meeting.

A judge has denied Monticello Mayor Gordon Jenkins appeal for his 2012 obstruction conviction. That decision means Jenkins will now have to report to the Sullivan County Jail next Friday to serve a 45 day jail sentence.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed legislation Friday that would have banned the practice of confining pregnant pigs in crates, an issue that symbolizes the competing interests facing the potential 2016 Republican presidential contender.