Nick Reisman

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NY-3: Martins Elevated In NRCC’s “Young Guns” Program

From the Morning Memo:

Republican congressional hopeful Jack Martins was among the 11 GOP House candidates this week elevated in the National Republican Congressional Committee’s Young Guns program.

Martins, a state senator seeking the GOP nomination in the 3rd congressional district on Long Island, was designated with the “contender” status by the committee.

Reaching the status in the program requires candidates to reach certain fundraising and organizing benchmarks in a campaign in a show of candidate strength and viability.

“While our Republican majority continues to work hard to move our country forward, we know there is still more to be done,” said NRCC Chairman Greg Walden.

“These 11 candidates have proven themselves to be exemplary leaders in their communities and they are exactly the kind of leaders we need in Washington. I am confident these candidates will continue to run strong campaigns as they spread the message and values of the Republican party across the country.”

Martins is one candidate in a crowded race to succeed Democratic Rep. Steve Israel.

Five Republicans are competing for the GOP nomination in the district, including Philip Pidot and Assemblyman Chad Luppinacci.

Five Democrats are also running for what is shaping up for a battleground race, including former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi.

The primary is a closely watched one for Senate Democrats in Albany, given the potential pickup opportunity they would have with the western Nassau Senate district if Martins wins the June primary.

NY-13: Espaillat Endorsed By TWU

As rival Democrat Keith Wright is endorsed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in the campaign to replace Rep. Charlie Rangel, Adriano Espaillat was given the nod for the seat by the Transportation Workers Union Local 100.

The union has backed Espaillat’s previous bids for the 13th congressional district in 2012 and in 2014, both which came up short against Rangel, who is retiring at the end of the year.

“Adriano Espaillat has always stood with working New Yorkers, and for a better transportation network for our city,” said TWU President John Samuelsen. “From helping secure funds to rehab train stations right here in Upper Manhattan to fighting to stop funding cuts to the Second Avenue Subway, Senator Espaillat has proven to be true champion we can count on and I am proud to endorse him for Congress. We need Senator Espaillat in Washington to help build the transportation infrastructure our city needs for the next 100 years.”

Espaillat, a state senator, faces Wright and five other Democrats for the nomination contest in June.

Wright, a state assemblyman and former chairman of the Manhattan Democratic Committee, has been bolstered with a series of endorsements from elected officials, including Gillibrand and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

On Wednesday, Wright released an email to supporters touting the Gillibrand endorsement.

“Keith’s proven that he will fight for our neighborhoods and make sure that hard-working New Yorkers have a fair shot,” the email said. “His record of success and strong leadership has earned the support of many fellow New Yorkers – from the Bronx Democratic County Committee, to leaders from the Upper West Side, to labor organizations, to tenant leaders, and more, New York is uniting behind Keith.”

De Blasio Says He’s Cooperating With Federal Investigation

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio insisted Thursday his administration was cooperating with an ongoing federal and state investigation into his fundraising activities.

His comments to reporters in New York City come a day after top advisors to the mayor, including City Hall itself, were issued subpoenas as part of the ongoing inquiry.

“We hold ourselves to the highest standard of integrity. Everything we have done from the beginning is legal and appropriate,” de Blsaio said. “There’s an investigation going on. We are going to fully cooperate with that investigation.”

The investigation stems in part from de Blasio’s efforts in 2014 to help Democrats gain control of the state Senate.

Scrutiny is being placed on the common fundraising tactic of county committees receiving large contributions and then passing the money along to Democratic Senate candidates in an apparent effort to avoid fundraising limits. A committee backed by de Blasio’s political supporters, the Campaign For One New York, is also being eyed by investigators.

“We look forward to the speedy conclusion of it,” the mayor saod. “But we will fully cooperate. But since there is an investigation, I can’t go into any detail. That’s an ongoing process.”

The mayor himself has not been issued a subpoena.

However, a consulting firm with close ties to the mayor, Berlin Rosen, was issued a subpoena, including top political advisor Emma Wolfe.

Cuomo Names State Police Superintendent Search Panel

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is turning to some familiar faces for the search to replace retiring State Police Superintendent Joe D’Amico.

Cuomo’s office on Thursday unveiled the panel, which includes a former Erie County sheriff-turned-state lawmaker, a former lieutenant governor and an ex-New York City Police commissioner.

“The State Police play a vital role in ensuring the safety of New York’s families and communities,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Under the leadership of Superintendent D’Amico, the State Police have shown remarkable courage and discipline in their service, and I have tasked this search committee with identifying candidates who will build on that record for all New Yorkers. I look forward to receiving their recommendations in the weeks ahead.”

The search committee includes K2 Intelligence Chairman Ray Kelly, the former NYPD commissioner. Bob Duffy, now the chairman of the Rochester Business Alliance, served as lieutenant governor during Cuomo’s first term and was the mayor of Rochester as well as the city’s police chief.

Cuomo also named Mylan Denerstein, his former counsel, now a partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP, to the panel.

Former Sen. Michael Balboni, a former deputy secretary for public safety, is on the committee as is Thomas Zugibe, the Rockland County district attorney. Republican Sen. Patrick Gallivan, a former Erie County sheriff, and Rachel Small, the deputy secretary for public safety are on the panel as well.

D’Amico announced earlier this month he would step down from the top post at the State Police after his replacement is found.

Cuomo Vows To Enhance Rail Safety Crossings

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a statement on Thursday vowed to enhance safety at commuter rail crossings after a disabled vehicle was struck by a Metro-North train in Bedford Hills on Wednesday evening.

Cuomo, in the statement, called the accidents “all too frequent.”

Last year, a train crash struck a disabled car in Valhalla, killing six people, including the person in the car.

“These crossings have caused numerous deaths for years and it happens all across the state. I will not accept the premise that there is nothing we can do,” Cuomo said. “My administration has contacted the federal government, charged with approving grade modifications, and informed them that we must go forward immediately with new design features that create safer crossings.”

Those potential options include motion detectors, alerting cars through painting “danger” areas on the street, voice commands and public information campaigns, Cuomo said.

“I have directed the MTA, which has already been working on options, to have several plans presented next week and asked the federal government to cooperate with their approval in weeks, not months,” Cuomo added. “If we know this system doesn’t work well, we have to act with common sense to change it. And we must act quickly, because enough is enough.”

NYS Building And Trades Council Questions Pipeline Rejection

The New York State Building and Construction Trades Council in a statement this week was critical of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration rejecting the proposed Constitution Pipeline project that would have run through multiple counties in upstate New York.

The labor group is an affiliate of the New York City Building and Trades Council, which has been a private-sector union ally for Cuomo over the years.

“The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) denial of the permit that would have allowed the Constitution Pipeline to move forward is as disheartening as it is puzzling,” said President James Cahill. “The Southern Tier is dying, and now the prospect of 1,300 good-paying construction jobs has disappeared. Before long, another 3000 jobs are likely to vanish when Amphenol Aerospace and Raymond Corporation pack up their bags and move their operations to a state that can provide them with the low cost energy they need.”

The rejection of the pipeline has been praised by environmental groups given the concerns they raised over the construction’s impact on open space. The Department of Environmental Conservative last week said the pipeline’s backers did not meet the state’s standards for water quality. The DEC also insisted regulators met with the company to resolve the issues they had raised, but no agreement had been reached.

NY-19: Faso And Heaney Added To NRCC’s Young Guns Program

Two of the Republican candidates running for the GOP nomination in the 19th congressional district have been added to the National Republican Campaign Committee’s “Young Guns” program.

The NRCC added John Faso and Andrew Heaney to the list, which recognizes GOP challengers for hitting certain campaign-related benchmarks such as fundraising ability as well as communicating within the district.

“While our Republican majority continues to work hard to move our country forward, we know there is still more to be done,” said NRCC Chairman Greg Walden. “These 11 candidates have proven themselves to be exemplary leaders in their communities and they are exactly the kind of leaders we need in Washington. I am confident these candidates will continue to run strong campaigns as they spread the message and values of the Republican party across the country.”

Both Heaney and Faso, along with Bob Bishop, are in a three-way race for the nomination in the Hudson Valley district, which is being vacated by Republican Rep. Chris Gibson at the end of the year. Gibson is considering a run for governor in 2018.

On the Democratic side, Will Yandik and Zephyr Teachout are competing for the party’s nomination.

The 19th district has become a battleground seat in recent election cycles following the 2012 round of redistricting.

Akshar Declines To Endorse In Presidential Race

From the Morning Memo:

Freshman Republican Sen. Fred Akshar in a Capital Tonight interview on Wednesday declined to endorse in the race for president.

“I’m not. I appreciate you asking the question,” Akshar said. “But I’m not going to be making a public endorsement of a presidential candidate at this point. I think it’s my responsibility to work as hard as I can and not suggest they get behind one particular candidate or another.”

Akshar, a lawmaker elected last November in a special election to replace ex-Sen. Tom Libous, was seen at a rally for presidential candidate Donald Trump in Albany earlier this month.

Akshar was seated behind the stage at the Trump rally were a number of VIP figures were also sitting.

At the same time, Akshar tweeted a photo of himself shaking Trump’s hand. It was later deleted.

A non-endrosement in the race is in line with most of the Senate GOP conference, which has stayed quiet on the presidential race.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan has not endorsed either, but said he would back whoever becomes the Republican nominee.

Upstate Lawmaker Considers Ride Sharing A ‘Top Priority’

From the Morning Memo:

When lawmakers return next week for a final post-budget legislative push, the issue of bringing ride sharing apps like Uber and Lyft north of New York City will likely come front and center.

“In my opinion, it’s one of our highest priorities before the end of the session. If you think back to last year, it came up late in the session,” said Assemblyman John McDonald, a Democrat from Cohoes.

McDonald believes the present taxi businesses operating in upstate New York can co-exist with ride sharing services, but he says the taxi indsutry needs something of an upgrade.

“I don’t look at ridesharing as the threat to the (taxi) industry that most people think it is. Most of the taxi business here is medical transport. That’s what they do, 80 percent of it,” McDonald said. “We’re working on a parallel path with the taxi industry to Uber-ize them as well, bring them into the 21st century. It’s the technology.

McDonald says he wants a regional solution to the taxi issue, such as having them hailed through an app and licensed under one multi-county authority.

“We need more transportation options in the Capital Region,” McDonald said. “What better way to do that than to approve ridesharing but also bring our taxi industry into the modern day period?”

Whether this brings the taxi industry along in the ridesharing debate remains to be seen. For ridesharing supporters in the Legislature, the move could provide more options to upstate residents.

“We realize from a hospitality perspective, from an economic development perspective, we need to have a good, sound system in place,” McDonald said.

“If we can beef up the taxi industry and if we can bring ridesharing in in a responsible fashion that addresses the inusrance issues, that addresses the vehicle inspections and the access for people with disabilities, I think we’re doing a good thing for he public.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he’s supportive of a ridesharing measure and potentially have a statewide regulatory system in place.

Schneiderman Sues Rensselaer County DA Over Special Prosecutor Power

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office on Wednesday filed a lawsuit seeking to compel Rensselaer District Attorney Joel Abelove to comply with an executive order governing the investigation of police-involved deaths of civilians.

The case stems from the April 17 death of Edson Thevenin, who was shot and killed by a police officer in Troy following a car chase with law enforcement.

The suit claims a grand jury in Rensselaer County was convened without notice to the attorney general’s office and Abelove had presented evidence. The grand jury ultimately declined to indict the office involved in the shooting.

Schneiderman’s office claims Abelove had initially signaled he would provide information to the attorney general’s team to determine whether there was jurisdiction to purse the case against the police officer, but ultimately did not.

The suit claims Schneiderman’s office was on the ground in Troy the same day as the incident.

Gov. Andrew Cumom last year signed an executive order empowering Schneiderman’s office to assume the investigation and prosecution of cases in which civilians are killed during interactions with police as a special prosecutor. The order stemmed from multiple cases in which police killed unarmed civilians, but a grand jury chose to not indict the officers after being presented with evidence by local district attorneys.

Cuomo at the time said the effort was meant to remove doubts raised by police reform advocates that the prosecution was too close with police officers involved in the deaths.

“My office has worked collaboratively with district attorneys across the state in pursuit of that goal, conducting fair, comprehensive, and independent investigations in every case within our jurisdiction,” Schneiderman said in a statement.

“Unfortunately, as we’ve alleged today, District Attorney Abelove’s actions not only violate the law, but directly undermine the public’s confidence in law enforcement, making the jobs of police officers and district attorneys throughout the state more difficult.”

Cuomo this year proposed to make Schneiderman’s special prosecutor power in police-related death cases permanent, a move that faces opposition among Republican lawmakers.