Nick Reisman

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Cuomo’s Office Offers Congrats To New PEF Prez

pefsignGov. Andrew Cuomo and the Public Employees Federation have not seen eye-to-eye in recent years.

But after Wayne Spence was sworn in as the labor group’s new president earlier today, Cuomo’s office released a conciliatory note of congratulations.

At the same time, the statement from Cuomo spokeswoman Melissa DeRosa signaled a hope for a more staid relationship with the union, which endorsed the governor’s primary opponent, Zephyr Teachout, last year.

“On behalf of the Governor, I want to congratulate President Wayne Spence as he assumes the responsibilities of leading the Public Employees Federation,” DeRosa said. “The Governor looks forward to a courteous and constructive dialogue with PEF under President Spence’s leadership, and is optimistic that it will be a welcome change from the rancor and destructive rhetoric of the past. The Governor will continue to strive for agreements that are fair to both employees and New York’s taxpayers. We look forward to working together in the future.”

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Cuomo Issues Executive Order For Turner Case

cuomonaacpGov. Andrew Cuomo’s office on Monday issued an updated executive order to empower Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office to review, investigate and potentially prosecute law enforcement officials in connection to the death of Raynette Turner.

Turner, a 52-year-old Mount Vernon woman, died in a holding cell on July 27 while she was awaiting arraignment.

Schneiderman earlier in the day on Monday announced he would investigate the death of Turner under the powers of an executive order Cuomo issued earlier this year that supersedes the local district attorneys when it comes to the deaths of civilians related to police and law enforcement. More >

Newly Elected PEF President Vows ‘Courteous Dialogue’ With Cuomo

spenceWayne Spence took the helm of the Public Employees Federation on Monday — leading an often fractious labor group of mostly white-collar state workers that has feuded with Gov. Andrew Cuomo during much of his first term.

Spence becomes president at a key time for the labor group: PEF’s contract is up for renewal, a year after its membership voted to endorse Cuomo’s primary opponent, Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout.

At the same time, Spence raised concerns — as have other labor leaders — over the ramifications of a pending decision in the Supreme Court case Fredericks v. California, which could determine whether employees are compelled to pay union dues.

Spence was elected PEF president this year ousting Susan Kent, who only two years ago defeated longtime PEF leader Ken Brynien following a particular arduous contract negotiation with the Cuomo administration. More >

Rice Opposes Iran Deal

riceIn an op/ed posted on the website of the 5 Towns Jewish Times on Monday, Democratic Rep. Kathleen Rice wrote that she opposes the multinational nuclear agreement with Iran.

Rice called the agreement “a risk I cannot support” even as she predicted it will ultimately be approved.

“This deal represents a pause, not an end, to Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapon,” Rice wrote in the op/ed. “While no deal or action – whether economic, diplomatic, or military – can ensure a disarmed Iran in perpetuity, this deal’s search for peace seems too willing to gamble on social progress in Iran, especially when Iranian leaders show little interest in helping to foster it – and even less in becoming anything near a responsible ally in the region.”

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Republicans Back Akshar For Senate

aksharRepublicans are backing Broome County Undersheriff Fred Akshar to replace former Sen. Tom Libous in the 52nd district special election, GOP officials on Monday announced.

“I’ve committed my life to making our community the best it could be,” said Akshar in a statement released by his campaign. “The families in our community deserve a strong, energetic voice. I plan to bring the same passion and dedication from my service in law enforcement to the State Senate.”

Akshar is entering a race that has drawn statewide notice after Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s early endorsement of former Broome County Executive Barbara Fiala, who was a member of his cabinet during his first term.

In what seemed like a nod to Fiala’s early criticism of Akshar’s lack of government experience, the campaign released the candidate’s resume, showing his eight years as a law enforcement official and graduation from the FBI National Academy in Virginia. More >

Schneiderman’s Office To Investigate Death Of Mount Vernon Woman (Updated)

schneidermanAttorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office on Monday announced it would investigate the death of Raynette Turner, a 42-year-old black woman who died on July 27 in a Mount Vernon holding cell.

The investigation is the first Schneiderman’s office is launching since Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued an executive order granting the attorney general special prosecutor status in police-related killings.

The executive order, which has been staunchly opposed by local district attorneys, gives Schneiderman’s office the authority to investigate and prosecute law enforcement-related deaths of civilians.

“My office’s Special Investigations and Prosecutions Unit will investigate the death of Raynette Turner, consistent with Executive Order No. 147 and a conforming order to be issued by the Governor at my request,” Schneiderman said in a statement

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Morelle, Upstate Lawmakers Oppose Lifting Of Perimeter Rule At LaGuardia

morelleMore than a dozen upstate Democratic lawmakers in the Assembly released a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday expressing “strong opposition” to lifting the so-called “perimeter rule” at LaGuardia Airport — a move they say could hurt the availability of regional at upstate airports.

The letter, sent by Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle and signed on to by 17 fellow Democratic conference members, was also sent to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which has oversight of the airports that serve the New York City region.

“More than ever, access to reliable and affordable air service is an essential component to the continued growth of Upstate New York’s economy,” Morelle said in a statement. “However, lifting the perimeter rule is a step in the wrong direction that would come as a major setback to regions across Upstate as travelers will be forced to contend with fewer available flight options at a significantly higher cost. I call on the Port Authority’s Board of Commissioners to act in the best interests of all who call New York home and oppose the lifting of the perimeter rule.”

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DeFrancisco Knocks Wage Board ‘Lunacy’

defranFrom the Morning Memo:

Don’t expect newly minted Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco to be a shrinking violet in his new role.

In an interview on Capital Tonight on Friday, the Syracuse Republican came out swinging at the wage board convened by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, decrying the move to increase the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $15 “lunacy” and a way to apply political pressure to opponents.

“To me, that is not democracy,” DeFrancisco said. “That position ought to be expressed and discussed in a reasonable way.”

The wage board’s recommendation must still be approved by Acting Labor Commissioner Mario Musolino, but there is little doubt that he would turn the proposal down after it was embraced by Cuomo at a rally following the announcement earlier this month. More >


The state Department of Health released a “score card” grading the 43 companies that sought medical marijuana licenses.

Among those companies winning a medical marijuana licenses is a woman-owned business.

Two dispensaries will be located in Erie County, but western New York companies were shut out from winning licenses, as was a Broome County-based firm.

Health insurance rates in New York are due to increase 7.1 percent, though private insurers wanted to raise rates even higher.

Upstate mayors are getting involved in the talks between the Communications Workers of America and Verizon in their ongoing contract dispute.

Former DEC Commissioner Joe Martens’s dip in Onondaga Lake earlier this month highlighted a disagreement between the state and federal government over the cleanliness of the lake.

The New York Archdiocese is starting a series of church mergers and closings, effecting 74 churches altogether.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams flew the Cuban flag over borough hall on Friday, part of an International Day of Friendship.

As the U.S. starts to normalize relations, Hillary Clinton while in Miami called for a lifting of the Cuban embargo.

Charting Donald Trump’s history of making racially insensitive remarks.

U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik insists she is focusing on her day job as a member of Congress and not her re-election.

Hillary Clinton versus The New York Times.

Spiedie Fest!

Labor Department Releases Fast-Food Wage Report

fastfoodThe state Department of Labor on Friday released its 25-page report outlining the wage board’s criteria for recommending a $15 minimum wage for fast-food workers.

The report lays out the rationale for increasing pay for workers in the fast-food industry as well as the chains that will be impacted by the pay increase.

All told, 137 different chains are impacted by the recommendation, ranging from McDonald’s and Burger King to more specialized outlets like Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks and Ben & Jerry’s. More >