Nick Reisman

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SD-37: Killian Blasts Voting Rights For Parolees

Republican Julie Killian is seizing on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order that would grant voting rights for those on parole, raising the issue to the pivotal state Senate race in the 37th district.

Killian was also critical of her Democratic opponent, Shelley Mayer, for supporting Cuomo’s order issued earlier this week.

“While I am a firm believer in criminal justice reform, this Executive Order is astonishing,” Killian said.

“Convicted, violent felons gave up their right to vote when they committed the heinous crimes for which they were incarcerated. Does Shelley Mayer believe that soon-to-be-paroled Terry Losicco, who savagely murdered an elderly woman from Somers after beating her invalid husband, should be rewarded with the right to vote? How about Herman Bell, the known cop-killer? If Bell is paroled, should he be eligible to vote this November? There are severe penalties for these kinds of violent crimes, and we should not reverse them without deliberation and with the stroke of a pen.”

As backed by Cuomo and announced at the National Action Network this week, the executive order would reinstate voting rights for more than 35,000 people on parole.

The special election to fill the Senate district in Westchester County is being held Tuesday.

SD-37: Biden Robos For Mayer

Former Vice President Joe Biden has recorded a robocall as part of a get-out-the-vote effort in the key 37th Senate district in Westchester County.

The call was first reported today by The Daily News.

The call seeks to boost turnout for Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer, who is seeking the Senate seat vacated earlier this year by Westchester County Executive George Latimer.

“Shelley is a fighter who will stand up and champion our values: common-sense gun reform, protecting women’s health and the environment and supporting our schools,” Biden says in the call.

Mayer is running against Republican Julie Killian. A Democratic victory in the race could potentially lead to the party taking control of the chamber later this month.

Report Examines CPV Lobbying Ahead Of Percoco Trial

From the Morning Memo:

A report being released Friday by the Public Accountability Initiative examines the money spent on the consulting and lobbying firm Mercury Public Affairs by Competitive Power Ventures as the trial of a former close aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo loomed.

The report highlights the money spent by CPV on lobbying and other public relations efforts as the trial of Joe Percoco approached last year.

The group’s survey ties the amount of money spent by CPV to the increased scrutiny of its power plant project in the Hudson Valley that played a key role in the case.

Percoco earlier this year was convicted of federal corruption charges that stemmed from efforts to secure economic development contracts in exchange for bribes and a low-show job for his wife.

“After the November 2016 indictment of Percoco, CPV’s state and federal lobbying efforts more than quadrupled,” the report found. “Whereas CPV spent $100,909 on lobbying in 2016, it spent $430,000 in 2017.”

The report also comes as Cuomo’s rival for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, Cynthia Nixon, has made the project an issue in her campaign.

CPV in a statement blasted the report, calling it “the latest political stunt by those who want to ignore the facts and the law.”

“CPV has met and exceeded every state and federal standard to operate this plant and build the pipeline needed to supply it with natural gas, winning hard-fought battles against the Cuomo administration in court as a result,” said Tom Rumsey, the company’s vice president for external affairs.

“When the CPV Valley Energy Center is operational on our primary fuel, we will be one of the most efficient and environmentally sound power plants in the country. For New York, that equates to a reduction in carbon emissions of an estimated half a million tons per year while bolstering grid reliability and providing critical revenue into local governments.”

The report was also criticized by Mercury itself.

The firm’s co-chairman, former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, who was the Democratic nominee for mayor of New York City in 2005, said in a statement, “This is such a reach, it’s ridiculous.”

The Percoco Connection – Final Report %5bfor SoP April 20 2018%5d by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Cuomo Says Driver’s Licences For Undocumented Immigrants A Local Issue

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday gave a non-committal answer when asked about whether access to state driver’s licenses should be given to undocumented immigrants.

Cuomo, speaking with reporters in Buffalo, said the issue was a local one.

“That is a county by county decision, or we would have to change the state law,” he said.

Advocates on Wednesday in Albany rallied with state lawmakers at the Capitol to push for the provision, which has also been embraced by Cuomo’s Democratic primary opponent, Cynthia Nixon.

The driver’s license issue has remained a controversial one for Albany to tackle. More than a decade ago, then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer proposed extending driver’s licences to undocumented New York residents. Spitzer later withdrew the proposal amid an outcry from Democrats and Republicans alike, but not before the issue was seen as tripping up Hillary Clinton in a presidential debate.

Cuomo has emphasized solidarity with the state’s immigrant community and contrasted his policies with those of President Donald Trump’s administration.

Pointing to his own family’s roots as Italian immigrants, Cuomo said earlier this month, “You want to deport immigrants start with me, because I’m an undocumented person.”

NY Unemployment Stays Flat In March

New York’s unemployment stayed largely flat in March at 4.2 percent, with the state’s private-sector job count increasing by only 200.

“New York State’s economy continued to expand in March as we reached a new, all-time high private sector job count and remained at our lowest statewide unemployment rate since before the recession,” said Bohdan M. Wynnyk, Director of the New York State Department of Labor’s Division of Research and Statistics.

The unemployment rate nationally is slightly lower, 4.1 percent.

New York City’s jobless rate also remains unchanged at 4.2 percent.

The Department of Labor in its announcement touting the jobs numbers pointed to the 8.1 million private sector jobs in the state, which it said was an all-time high.

Cuomo Doesn’t Back Bell’s Release

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday he opposes the release of convicted cop killer Herman Bell.

“If I were on the Parole Board I would not have made that decision,” Cuomo said. “The Parole Board is an independent board and I would not have made that decision.”

Members of the state Parole Board are nominated by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate.

Bell, convicted of killing two police officers in 1971, was granted parole in March. A state judge has put Bell’s release on hold pending a review after one of the officer’s widows petitioned to stop it.

Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, have blasted Cuomo’s executive order to extend voting rights to those who are on parole, a move the governor announced Thursday.

Cuomo Insists He’s Not Punishing WFP, Says Punishment Is Up To God

Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted in a news conference Thursday he was not out to “punish” the Working Families Party, saying such actions are “for God” to mete out.

At the same time, Cuomo insisted the split withing the WFP, which endorsed his primary opponent Cynthia Nixon on Saturday, was between the activist wing of the party and its founding labor unions, which have left the organization on the eve of meeting last weekend.

“I’m not going to punish. It has nothing to do with me,” Cuomo said. “Punishment is for God. Who unions should support or not support, that’s up to the unions. Nobody’s going to tell them what to do.”

WFP officials have said publicly that Cuomo has leveled threats against the WFP, telling them to “lose my number” if they endorsed Nixon and would find ways of pulling funding from the advocacy organizations that remain with the liberal ballot line. The groups are largely funded by labor organizations and cannot receive direct funding from the state.

Cuomo, however, said the schism within the party is solely between labor and advocacy groups, a split that has dated back several years before the Nixon primary challenge.

“The Working Families issue is an issue between the groups in the Working Families Party and the labor unions,” Cuomo said. “As the labor unions have said multiple times, the Working Families people are delusional if you tell them who to support.”

Cuomo has repeatedly said he is sticking with the labor unions in the dispute.

Over the last month, Cuomo has emphasized issues such as criminal justice reform, announcing an executive order that would allow people on parole the right to vote. At the same time, Cuomo has said the “facts have changed” on recreational marijuana, an issue that is being studied by the state, which was first announced in January. Nixon has called for a legalization of marijuana in New York.

“I have been doing the same thing since I entered public service,” he said. “I’m a very simple, consistent fellow.”

Cuomo Sticks With Labor

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been binding himself to organized labor ever more tightly as he faces a primary challenge from actress and education advocate Cynthia Nixon.

In an interview Wednesday on NY1, Cuomo insisted he did not work to initiate the split between labor and the activist wing of the Working Families Party, which endorsed Nixon last Saturday.

“It’s an intramural fight,” Cuomo said on “Inside City Hall.” “They said ‘I’m walking’ and I said, ‘I’m with you.’ I said, ‘I’m with organized labor, I stand with labor, I always have.’ I’m a consistent fellow.”

There had been tensions between the founding labor unions of the WFP and its constellation of advocacy groups in recent years. A range of labor groups have left the WFP, including the United Federation of Teachers, while 32BJ SEIU and the Communications Workers of America left this month.

Cuomo similarly expects labor will continue to back him, including its membership. New York remains the most unionized state in the country, even as membership has dropped elsewhere in the United States. Labor in New York, too, remains a potent vehicle for voter turnout.

‘The unions support me. I have virtually unanimous support among the unions,” Cuomo said. “The unions that were remaining in the WFP, 32BJ, Communications Workers of America, were with me.”

And Cuomo’s main theme of his campaign will likely remain focusing on his accomplishments as governor, saying he’s not interested in the abstract arguments.

“It’s not an intellectual debate,” he said. “It’s actually accomplishing things that working families need now.”

On Colbert, Nixon Gets A National Audience

From the Morning Memo:

Appearing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert Wednesday night, Cynthia Nixon threw some haymakers at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s tenure in office, acknowledged she only smoked marijuana twice and joked about her last night being something of a liability in politics.

“I’d rather be a good Nixon than the bad Cuomo,” Nixon joked.

In all, it was a relative tame appearance, with Colbert struggling at one point seemingly to explain the Democratic split in the state Senate between the mainline Democrats and the Independent Democratic Conference.

Cuomo this month brokered an agreement for Democratic unity in the chamber. But the appearance gave Nixon another national platform to discuss her primary bid against the two-term governor, who has led in polling over the last month since she announced her campaign.

“This is the kind of stuff we want to be doing in New York,” she said. “We want to be closing racial and economic inequity here and we’re just not.”

Rather than compare Cuomo to former President Bill Clinton and third-way Democratic politics from the 1990s and 2000s, Nixon drew another, less flattering comparison.

“He came up during the Mitt Romney time when centrism was the name of the game,” she said. “And, frankly, he doesn’t want to pay for stuff.”

Nixon drew the biggest laughs when Colbert asked her if she had ever smoked marijuana amid a discussion over legalizing the drug in New York.

“I think it’s important to let people know that I’ve only smoked pot twice in my life,” she said sheepishly. “It’s so embarrassing. It wasn’t for me. It’s very smokey.”

Nixon insisted, however, that her focus in the marijuana legalization argument was about stemming the inequalities when it came to enforcing drug laws.

“It’s a racial justice issue,” she said.

Advocates, Lawmakers Push For Driver’s Licenses For Undocumented Immigrants

State lawmakers and advocates for immigrant communities on Wednesday rallied at the Capitol to push for a well-known and historically controversial proposal: Giving undocumented New Yorkers driver’s licenses.

“We are talking about the day to day things that we all live through and are denied to many of our friends and neighbors,” said Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, a Bronx Democrat.

More than a decade ago, the proposal was championed by then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer, only to have him withdraw it months later after an outcry by Republicans and Democrats alike. Now, lawmakers argue it makes practical sense for undocumented residents to have the driver’s licenses.

“We want every resident of our state to have access to a driver’s license,” Crespo said. “We’re talking about farm workers. We’re talking about men and women who work in every industry in our state. We are talking about parents who have to take their kids to school.”

They also argue the money generated by licenses would give the state needed revenue, while also protecting people who live in at legal risk day to day.

“The revenues that it’s going to bring in, the amount of infrastructure that can be built this will bring that will benefit all New Yorkers as a result of those revenues,” said Assemblyman Phil Ramos.

But Republicans aren’t convinced, saying the proposal was bad idea when Spitzer made it and is a bad idea now.

“A driver’s license is a privilege, not a right,” said Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb. “We have laws for a reason. Laws to be followed by citizens. If you want to have the privileges of being a citizen of the United States New York than you need to follow the law, become a citizen.”

An added dimension to the debate over driver’s licenses is the primary challenge from Cynthia Nixon that Gov. Andrew Cuomo faces this year. Cuomo has been supportive of the proposal.

“We must make driver’s licenses in New York available to all of New York’s immigrants,” Nixon said on Saturday when receiving the endorsement of the Working Families Party.