Assembly

Federal Prosecutors Eye Spring For Silver Retrial

A second trial for ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver could occur sometime in spring 2018, according to a letter filed on Friday by federal prosecutors.

Silver, a Manhattan Democrat, was granted a request on Thursday to delay the retrial as the U.S. Supreme Court may determine whether to toss the entire case.

In the letter to Judge Valerie Caproni, Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Jim wrote that due to the “logistical challenges associated with scheduling a month-long trial” prosecutor want a tentative retrial date of March, April or early May of next year, unless the Supreme Court denies Silver’s petition.

Silver was convicted in 2016 of fraud and corruption charges stemming from referral fees he received as an attorney at Weitz & Luxenberg. The conviction was tossed earlier this year, however, due to jury instructions that did not comport with the Supreme Court’s interpretation of a “theft of honest services” charge.

8.4.2017.Letter.vec.Retrial by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Heastie Knocks Trump’s Upstate Comments As ‘Beyond Reprehensible’

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie sharply criticized President Donald Trump’s comments about the upstate economy and encouraging people to leave their homes for other job opportunities as “beyond reprehensible.”

Heastie, a Bronx Democrat, is undertaking another summertime tour of the various upstate regions. He’s already held events in central New York, the Rochester area and in the North Country.

“Instead of working to unite this country, he has chosen a dangerous path that will only divide us,” Heastie said. “During my travels across upstate New York this summer and when I first became Speaker, I have found that our regions have much more in common than they are different. We all want good paying jobs, stable housing, great schools, and opportunities to grow and succeed.”

Trump, the first New Yorker to be elected president since Franklin Roosevelt, made his comments to The Wall Street Journal as a major technology manufacturer was planning to move jobs to Wisconsin.

“The President of the United States should be working to put in place policies that will allow every corner of this great country to grow and prosper,” Heastie said. “Instead, he has chosen to lead us down a destructive path that pits Americans against one another in a zero sum game that is corrosive to our democracy. In my travels, I have met so many good people who want to work to improve their communities and realize the American dream. That is my commitment to people across New York. President Trump’s uninformed comments are not what we need in order to help our citizens.”

James Endorses Moya For Council

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James endorsed on Thursday Assemblyman Francisco Moya’s bid for the city Council.

“Francisco Moya has been a champion for Queens families in the Assembly, and I am confident he will bring the same dedication to the City Council,” James said in a statement. “Whether it’s fighting to protect the rights of working families, pushing for more affordable housing, or standing up for criminal justice reform, Francisco has been, and will continue to be, a tireless advocate. I am proud to support Francisco in this election and look forward to working with him.”

Moya, a Queens Democrat, is running in a contested primary against disgraced former state Sen. Hiram Monserrate, who was removed from the Senate following a domestic violence charge in 2009.

Both are seeking the seat being vacated by incumbent Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland.

“It’s an honor to receive the endorsement from our Public Advocate Letitia James,” Moya said. “For Tish James, there has never been an issue too big or too small in our community. When our community bands together to fight unscrupulous landlords, address the lack of access to quality health service, or seek to quiet the airplanes overhead, our Public Advocate is there, leading the way. I look forward to working with Tish to address the needs of working families in Queens.”

Heastie: No ‘Overnight Fix’ For Transit

A quick fix to help the ailing New York City transit system isn’t available, but state and local officials should work together to solve the problem, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said Sunday in a radio interview.

“The train system here in New York City, the beginning of it I believe was built in the late 1800s,” he said. “I think a lot of money has to be invested in it.”

Speaking on businessman John Catsimatidis’s radio show, Heastie warned “an overnight fix” won’t solve the delays and derailments over the last several weeks along the subway system.

“There’s not an overnight fix that will get us out of this problem,” Heastie said. “I think it’s been decades and decades and decades that was I’d say less than suitable maintenance on the MTA.”

Heastie, however, said the Democratic-led Assembly was committed to finding more resources to solve the MTA’s woes. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pushed back against assertions he’s to blame for the mess on the subway, noting the state has vowed to spend billions on capital upgrades.

“I can understand why it’s so frustrating,” Heastie said of the delays.

“I do believe that there is absolutely a commitment on our part by the Assembly to try to help come up with the resources to get this done. I do believe the governor is there as well. I think this is something collectively that the state, the city and even our regional partners will have to work together to try to accomplish.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday took a trip on the subway to discuss ongoing problems with the trains.

NY1 reported this weekend there were 67,000 delays on the subway system in May alone, an increase of 17,000 from that time last year.

Caucus Meeting With Ex-AG Holder Postponed

A meeting between members of the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus and former Attorney General Eric Holder has been postponed after the influential labor union Hotel Trades Council raised concerns.

Holder, the first black U.S. attorney general, was due to meet with the caucus on Friday to discuss his work with the online booking site Airbnb, which had hired him last year to conduct a review of discrimination among hosts.

Caucus Chairman Nick Perry informed members in an email obtained by Capital Tonight Thursday evening.

“Please be advised due to logistical concerns, the Caucus meeting scheduled for Friday, July 21st has is being postponed,” Perry wrote in the email. “Updates will be shared when available.”

Holder was also expected to discuss redistricting reform efforts, part of a project with former President Obama.

The meeting with Holder, however, had drawn scrutiny from HTC, a politically key labor union that has supported efforts to curb Airbnb’s expansion in New York.

The union had indicated it would picket the meeting with Holder were to discuss Airbnb-related policy. State lawmakers have recently backed a provision that banned short-term advertising of rentals.

Perry in an email sent earlier this week to caucus members said the meeting with Holder was meant to be informational.

“As legislators, it is our responsibility to make informed decisions on policy,” he wrote in the earlier email. “And as a Caucus of fifty-six Members from all across the State of New York, we must allow for information-sharing so that we can work to achieve a consensus among our membership that runs the spectrum.”

Caucus Meeting With Holder Draws HTC Ire Over Airbnb

Former Attorney General Eric Holder’s meeting scheduled for Friday with the Black, Puerto Rican, Hispanic and Asian Legislative Caucus has drawn the ire of the politically key labor union Hotel Trades Council.

Holder is expected to address the caucus to discuss his work with online booking giant Airbnb. He was hired by the company last year to craft an anti-discrimination policy after racism issues were alleged against Airbnb hosts.

But sources on Thursday said a number of caucus members raised concerns with the meeting after the influential HTC signaled their opposition to it and threatened to not attend.

Caucus Chairman Nick Perry, a Brooklyn assemblyman, defended the meeting in an email to caucus members sent this week, saying Holder would address issues surrounding the company and discrimination as well as legislative redistricting.

“You may have heard that activists from the Hotel Trades Council have raised objections over our willingness to accept this meeting, and have threatened to picket the meeting,” he wrote in the email obtained by Capital Tonight.

“Please understand that I take a firm position that the Caucus maintain and enforce its right to learn about different sides of various issues that we must eventually take a position on. As legislators, it is our responsibility to make informed decisions on policy. And as a Caucus of fifty-six Members from all across the State of New York, we must allow for information-sharing so that we can work to achieve a consensus among our membership that runs the spectrum.”

Perry added the caucus “should never allow any group or person to strong-arm us into accepting or declining any meetings with any groups we schedule for informational purposes. Nor does any one meeting indicate an endorsement of any particular policy. Members are encouraged to attend the meeting on Friday and express their individual opinions.”

In a phone interview on Thursday, Perry reiterated the caucus needs to hear information from varying sources, even from those on issues they may disagree with. As for HTC, Perry said he hopes the situation can be defused through an understanding with the union.

“I am in the process of developing an understanding between us and what the goal is,” he said. “We have a lot of respect for the former attorney general as an African-American leader — that influenced those decisions about the meeting.”

Holder, the first black attorney general, is also working with former President Obama on redistricting issues — the next round will come after the 2020 census — and is expected to discuss that issue as well with caucus members.

Redistricting is especially important to caucus members, Perry said in the phone interview.

“We may have to fight for additional redistricting that provides for additional opportunities for potential caucus members to run for office,” he said.

Airbnb has faced hostile territory in the Legislature over the years after lawmakers backed a provision that banned short-term advertising of rentals.

32BJ Endorses Moya For Council Seat

The labor union 32BJ on Thursday endorsed Queens Democratic Assemblyman Francisco Moya for the New York City Council.

“Our members endorsed Francisco because of his history of standing up for his community in Queens, for immigrants and for all working New Yorkers during his tenure in the Assembly,” said 32BJ President Hector Figueroa.

“We know that he will be a voice for working people on the City Council and help keep our city a safe and welcoming home for working people and immigrants. Now more than ever, we need local government to stand up for those who are vulnerable and stand against the divisive rhetoric and anti-worker policies coming out of Washington.”

Moya is running in a contested primary against disgraced former state Sen. Hiram Monserrate, who was removed from the Senate following a domestic violence charge in 2009.

Both are seeking the seat being vacated by incumbent Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland.

Heastie Open To More Flood Relief Proposals

From the Morning Memo:

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie indicated Wednesday he was open to doing more to help communities impacted by flooding along Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.

Heastie was in the North Country region with Assemblywoman Addie Jenne to tour businesses and flood damage as well as attractions like Boldt Castle in the region as part of a statewide tour this summer.

“I was trying to see if there are structural things we can do to help with equipment purchases, particularly for businesses that operate on the water,” Heastie told reporters.

The Legislature approved a $55 million flood relief package earlier this month, part of an omnibus bill in an extraordinary session.

Heastie on Wednesday referenced damage caused by Hurricane Sandy in the New York City region as an example of flood damage recovery efforts that have remained an ongoing concern.

“For those of us downstate we saw the damages of Superstorm Sandy,” he said. “It just makes me want to ask a lot of questions. We can’t do anything to prevent Mother Nature from doing whatever it is she wants to do, but if there are things we can do to protect the residents and businesses we should continue to look into it.”

Heastie Tours Lake Ontario Flooding

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Tuesday toured flood damage in the Lake Ontario area as part of another leg on his summer regional tour of the state.

The trip, with Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle and Assemblyman Harry Bronson in tow, included stops in Irondequoit and a visit to the Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters’ Training Facility in Rochester.

“Visiting communities across the state offers us the opportunity to see the strengths of each community, but also the tough challenges,” said Heastie. “Today’s visit underscores that our $55 million investment in flood recovery for these communities was undoubtedly necessary and will help mitigate the damage and loss this region has faced. Similarly, at NRCC, we were able to see the tremendous potential for carpenters in the state and navigate our legislative agenda for the future.”

The Legislature approved a $55 million flood relief package earlier this month as part of an omnibus bill during an extraordinary session.

“In the wake of unprecedented flooding along the Lake Ontario waterfront, the State Legislature came together in a spirit of bipartisan cooperation to provide critical relief for the many lakeside homeowners and businesses struggling to contend with the devastation brought on by the rising waters,” Morelle said.

Silver’s Successor Fundraises After Conviction Reversed

From the Morning Memo:

Yuh-Line Niou, the Democratic lawmaker who holds Sheldon Silver’s lower Manhattan Assembly seat, released a fundraising appeal after the former speaker’s corruption conviction on Thursday was reversed.

“Our community is moving forward united—but I still need your help,” the fundraising email states. “We need to be ready to fight against the wealthy special interests and party bosses who are desperate to gain power again. We need to be prepared to protect our communities and fight for the changes we wish to see in our government.”

Niou had initially run for the seat after Silver was removed from office following his conviction on fraud charges, losing to Alice Cancel, who was seen as part of the former speaker’s political operation in the district.

Niou ran on the Working Families Party line in the April special election.

Later that year, Niou defeated Cancel in a Democratic primary and later won the seat in the general election.

In her fundraising note, Niou wrote a donation — suggested at $100 — would “send a message” New York is ready to pass ethics reform.

“As you know with today’s news, Sheldon Silver’s conviction was vacated, but the facts of his case remain unchanged. We know the importance of the rule of law in the age of Trump,” the email states. “No one should be above justice, and those in public service should be fighting for our community–not their own enrichment.”