Nick Reisman

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Gillibrand: Trump’s Response A ‘Sexist Smear’

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand pushed back against a tweet by President Donald Trump on Tuesday in which he suggested she would “do anything” for the political support of Bill and Hillary Clinton.

The tweet from Trump was in response to Gillibrand’s call for the president to resign after women who accused him of sexual assault and harassment re-told their allegations on Monday.

“I think the president was using a sexist smear to try to silence my voice and silence the voice of the many survivors who came forward yesterday,” Gillibrand told reporters. “He’s not going to silence me and he’s not going to silence them.”

Gillibrand has pointedly distanced herself from former President Bill Clinton in recent weeks, saying that in this era of understanding sexual harassment, he would have had to resign.

Gillibrand denied her comments on the former president were spurred by political opportunism.

“This is not about any one president or any one person,” she said. “Sexual violence is a scourge, it’s across all industries.”

Schneiderman Blasts Acting Consumer Board Chief

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Tuesday said his office and a coalition of attorneys general around the country would continue to enforce consumer protection laws amid turmoil at the federal Consumer Financial Protection Board.

Schneiderman, in a letter signed by the AGs, knocked the acting director, Mick Mulvaney, who took over the agency amid a leadership dispute with the departing, Democratic-nominated head.

The letter notes Mulvaney has been critical of the board’s functions and enforcement powers.

“Such statements about an agency that has helped millions of American consumers and achieved fundamental reform in a number of critically important areas of American commerce are categorically false, and should disqualify Mr. Mulvaney from leading the agency, even on an acting basis,” the letter states.

“As the top state law enforcement officials charged with investigating consumer complaints of fraudulent, deceptive and abusive financial practices in our respective states, we know from first-hand experience that the need for strong consumer financial protection is undiminished in the years since the financial crisis.”

Judge Won’t Move Buffalo Billion Case To Buffalo

A federal judge on Tuesday turned down a request from upstate developers and former SUNY Polytechnic President Alain Kaloyeros to hold their upcoming trial in western New York, according to court filings.

Denying the change of venue from New York City to Buffalo was part of a slew of denials in pre-trial motions made by defense attorneys over the last several weeks. The filing was made public Tuesday by U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Caproni.

Attorneys for the developers LP Ciminelli had argued that holding the trial in Buffalo would have made it easier for them to be closer to home. At the same time, their attorneys argued many of the alleged incidents that resulted in the fraud and bribery charges took place in western New York.

But Caproni was unconvinced.

“While the moving Defendants live with their families in Buffalo, and some witnesses reside in Buffalo, there are also important witnesses elsewhere. And while certain relevant events allegedly took place in Buffalo, other events relevant to the allegations against the moving Defendants took place outside of Buffalo,” she wrote.

Set to begin next year, the trials are expected to center on the web of influence used to secure contracts and other economic development projects as part of the state’s effort to create jobs. A former close aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Joe Percoco, will go on trial next month in connection with charges of fraud and receiving bribes.

Caproni also denied a series of motions that challenged pre-trial statements made by then-U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who was fired in March by President Donald Trump. That motion had been made for attorneys representing developers at COR Development.

Caproni wrote in her ruling that she found the argument that the grand jury was unduly swayed by Bharara’s comments — including his catchphrase “stay tuned” — unpersuasive.

“The statements and actions highlighted by the Syracuse Defendants do not constitute evidence of prejudicial preindictment publicity,” she wrote. “The public statements from the then-U.S. Attorney were properly qualified as allegations the Government intended to prove, did not express opinions of guilt, and were couched in generalities.”

Caproni by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Kolb Doesn’t Rule Out Primary For Nomination

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb on Tuesday became the first Republican candidate to officially enter the 2018 race for governor.

In an interview Tuesday morning, Kolb did not rule out a primary campaign if no preferred nominee emerges from the Republican convention later this year.

“I would hope that we would come out of the convention unified behind one candidate,” he said. “I think that’s best for everybody. But if that doesn’t work out and we have a primary, then we have a primary. We’ll see. That’s how democracy is.”

Kolb may have some company in the GOP field for governor, which may include businessman Harry Wilson, state Sen. John DeFrancisco and Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro. Former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra is also considering a campaign.

The last Republican primary, in 2010, was held between businessman Carl Paladino and former Rep. Rick Lazio, with Paladino ultimately emerging as the winner. He would lose to Democrat Andrew Cuomo that fall.

Wilson in particular is seen as a strong candidate by Republican chairman due to his personal wealth.

“If you look historically the wealthiest person doesn’t always win the race,” Kolb said. “Ultimately people don’t care about how much money you have. They care about whether you’re going to represent them.”

He added: “I don’t think the size of the bank account is going to determine the nominee.”

Kolb and Molinaro had previously hinted at a possible joint ticket. For now, Kolb says it’s up to Molinaro to enter the race.

“Marc has got to make his own announcement as far as what he wants to do,” he said. “We’ll have to wait for him to make that decision.”

Cuomo is seeking a third term next year. Kolb believes Cuomo is vulnerable, pointing to the upcoming corruption trial of the governor’s former aide, Joe Percoco.

“He’s not transparent in terms of our economic development policies,” Kolb said. “You have to pull teeth in terms of how these deals are constructed and who’s benefiting.”

Tenney Backs Bill Strengthening Hate Crimes Law

From the Morning Memo:

Rep. Claudia Tenney backed a bill Monday that would boost hate crimes provisions by increasing federal penalties for violent threats made against religious institutions.

The bill was approved Monday by the House of Representatives, classifying violent threats against institutions like churches, synagogues and other religious sites as hate crimes.

“Religious liberty is a founding principle of our nation and expressly granted to all citizens in the United States Constitution. Every American should have the ability to practice their faith without threat or fear of violence,” Tenney said.

Tenney pointed to threats made against Jewish Community Centers earlier this year in upstate New York, including facilities in Vestal, Dewitt and Albany.

“It was particularly disturbing that the threats targeted centers that serve such a large population, including children and seniors,” she said. “Any threat like this against a religiously affiliated institution is simply unacceptable, and the passage of today’s bill is a step in the right direction toward ending this violence and hate.”

Kaminsky Applauds Regents’ Diploma Decision

From the Morning Memo:

The decision by the state Board of Regents to provide a pathway for differently abled students to obtain a high school diploma was applauded this week by Sen. Todd Kaminsky, who had pushed for the issue.

Kaminsky had urged the Regents to take up the issue that offers an alternative from what he calls a “one-size-fits-all” path of securing a diploma through Regents exam scores.

Kaminsky has pushed the state Education Department for the last two years to consider different paths for earning a high school diploma that would boost students with developmental and learning disabilities.

The Regents had previously adopted the requirement that students pass five examinations in order to receive a high school diploma. There was a “safety net” option of earning a 55 or above on three of those exams.

But an alternative emerged: the CDOS Commencement Credential. But the credential isn’t recognized by the military and many employers.

“This major step will unlock a world of opportunity for kids whose potential has been stymied by an unyielding bureaucracy,” Kaminsky said. “I have met with far too many students who demonstrate a clear ability to succeed on the next level, but have been unfairly prevented from receiving a diploma. Some of these students may go on to change the world and I look forward to seeing what they will achieve.”

DeFran And Miner Agree To Disagree

One is a Democrat with an independent streak. The other is an outspoken Republican.

But Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner and Senator John DeFrancisco set aside their political differences on Monday to speak in Albany to speak on the issues and what’s wrong with New York.

“We think that to have a vibrant, civic dialogue is important and the fact that it’s been missing, we’ve all suffered for that,” Miner said.

Standing next to her, DeFrancisco leaned in and said, “Ditto.”

In a discussion moderated by SUNY New Paltz Professor Gerald Benjamin, Miner and DeFrancisco weighed in on issues like marijuana legalization, changing state government and infrastructure investment. In large part, they found common ground.

“If you’ve got roads and bridges that are unsafe and you’ve got sewer lines that are bursting, it’s a matter of priorities,” DeFrancisco said.

Miner agrees, saying the billions of dollars the state won in financial settlements should not have gone to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development programs.

“Not only was that money was that money squandered,” she said, “but it was doubly squandered because there were historically low interest rates and it would have allowed us to bond as twice as much.”

And both agreed there needs to be more participation in government by citizens, especially those who live upstate.

“I used to think that was because we weren’t paying attention,” Miner said. “Now I’ve gotten much more cynical about it. I think it’s because we’re not paying attention.”

Both Miner and DeFrancisco are considering running for governor against Cuomo, who is seeking a third term. Neither were ready to declare their intentions on Monday.

“I’ll make a decision as soon as I possibly can,” DeFrancisco said. “I don’t want to go on a fool’s errand, but on the other hand if there’s support there and there’s a reasonable chance to raise money and be a viable candidate, I’m going to go for it.”

Miner, who leaves office at the end of the year, is also weighing a bid for the seat held by Rep. John Katko.

“Right now I’ve got so much on my plate that has a really hard deadline,” iner said.

Cohoes Mayor Rebuffs Resignation Calls

Cohoes Mayor Shawn Morse in a statement Monday rebuffed calls from his fellow Democrats he resign amid allegations of physical abuse dating back to the 1980s.

In the statement, Morse touted the economic development efforts in the old mill town outside of Albany.

“My work as Mayor of Cohoes and as public servant remain at the utmost importance, as well as being a dutiful husband and father to my family,” Morse said.

“Our city and community has never been prouder or stronger. As the state’s fastest growing city two years in a row, we have secured more than $50 million in new economic development, more construction of market rate condominiums, rebuilding our infrastructure to accomodate new technologies and more jobs, and ultimately making Cohoes the best place to live, work, and raise a family. I have never allowed the naysayers and those who don’t believe in the Spindle City stop our progress and our future in the pursuit of being an All America City.”

State Police are investigating a 911 call made by Morse’s wife last month. The Times Union reported Sunday Morse has been accused of allegations that include dragging a woman by her hair out of a pharmacy owned by the family of Assemblyman John McDonald, who confirmed the incident to the paper. Albany County Democrats on Sunday released a statement calling on Morse to resign from office.

“Despite those looking to stop the momentum we have in Cohoes and attempting to downplay the incredible work my administration has accomplished in the past two years, I refuse to dignify news stories that are based upon unnamed sources, political opportunists, rumor and innuendo from thirty years ago,” Morse said.

“I respectfully urge those who have expressed their opinion to refrain from rushing to judgment on this matter based upon unnamed sources in a newspaper story. In the absence of a credible, sworn allegation that I engaged in wrongdoing, I respectfully request my fellow Democrats and the good people of Cohoes to keep an open mind and permit any such allegations to be resolved by the Courts, where I am entitled to the same measures of due process as any other citizen.”

DiNapoli Sees Budget Dominoes In 2018

A cascade of fiscal challenges awaits New York in 2018 that could ultimately snowball into fiscal headaches for local governments, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli on Monday warned during a stop in Glens Falls.

“I think we’re going to be in for a very, very tough budget process next year and a long-term changed landscape, not for the better, for New York state and our municipalities,” he said.

DiNapoli pointed to the negative impact that’s in store for New York should a tax overhaul package be approved in Congress by the end of the year.

At the same time, the state faces a $4.6 billion budget gap as revenue has slowed. DiNapoli added the state sends more in tax revenue to the federal government than it receives back in services.

“I see New York as a net loser,” he said. “It’s going to put a lot pressure on the state budget at a time when our revenue has also been falling short. By extension, that’s going to put a lot of pressure on state programs that support our local cities and our school districts and municipalities.”

The budget is expected to pass by the end of March, before the fiscal year starts on April 1.

Cuomo Urged To Expand LI Pine Barrens

Two environmental groups on Monday urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign legislation that would expand the Long Island Pine Barrens.

“In a time when national leaders fail to value our environment and what it means for our health and our economy, it is all the more important that New York leaders (from both sides of the aisle) work together to demonstrate true green leadership,” write the Environmental Advocates of New York and the Long Island Pine Barrens Society.

The groups in the letter note the legislation that expands the pine barrens is backed by Republican Sen. Ken LaValle and Democratic Assemblyman Steve Englebright.

At issue with the bill, however, is a proposal that would build a solar installation in the Central Pine Barrens. The groups argue the solar project could still be possible through a proposed land swap by the town of Brookhaven. The groups write that placing the solar project at that site and preserving the pine barrens would be a “win-win” for the state.

Protect the LI Pine Barrens (1) by Nick Reisman on Scribd