Andrew Cuomo

With Some Snark, Cuomo Administration Reacts To Senate GOP Ethics Proposal

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office on Friday reacted to a bill that would require income disclosure of non-relatives who live with state officials.

The bill, submitted quietly by Senate Republicans on Thursday evening, would apply to Cuomo’s live-in girlfriend, Sandra Lee.

A Republican spokeswoman insisted in a statement that the bill was not targeting the Food Network star specifically, even if she would still be impacted by it.

Cuomo spokeswoman Melissa DeRosa, meanwhile, took a dig at the anonymous sponsorship of the bill, which was submitted to the Rules Committee without a formal sponsor.

“We’re happy to review any ethics proposal with the bill’s sponsor, whoever that may be,” DeRosa said.

Meanwhile, a separate administration official threw even more chin music toward lawmakers.

“It’s an interesting concept – if the bill’s anonymous sponsor ever comes forward, we may suggest expanding it to include all girlfriends, even those of married members,” the official said.

Sheriffs Urge Juvenile Justice Reform

A group of Republican and Democratic sheriffs from around the state on Friday urged state leaders to adopt a package of reforms to the juvenile justice system.

In letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to adopt the proposed changes, which include at the centerpiece a push to raise the age of criminal responsibility.

“Under the proposed legislation, the most serious offenders will continue to be prosecuted in the adult criminal courts. However, instead of using the same unsuccessful “one size fits all” solutions, the proposal before you calls for the creation of special Youth Parts of the adult courts that would offer appropriate sentences and services for young people, including incarceration,” the sheriffs wrote in the letter.

The reforms were first proposed by a panel convened last year by Cuomo also include changes to arrest procedures, removing youth from prisons that include adults and an expansion of services that would provide assistance to juveniles after their release.

The hope is the reforms will lead to reduce recidivism in the criminal justice system.

Those of us working in law enforcement know that these are the reforms New York desperately needs,” the letter states. “The public safety benefits to raising the age are overwhelming. Under the current system, youth housed in adult facilities are more likely to encounter criminal influences that will lead them to a permanent life of crime.”

Signing on to the letter: Sheriffs Craig Apple, Robert Maciol, Michael H. Zurlo, Colleen O’Neill, Barry Virts, Allen Riley, Ernest Cutting, Vincent DeMarco and Peter Convery.

Juvenile Justice Reform Letter by Nick Reisman

Senate Republicans Make An Ethics Target Of Sandra Lee (Updated)

A bill introduced in the state Senate on Thursday evening would require financial disclosure of live-in non-relatives — seemingly targeting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s girlfriend, Food Network personality Sandra Lee.

The bill was introduced quietly into the Senate Rules Committee and does not have an actual lawmaker sponsoring the legislation.

The bill would require financial disclosure statements to “include information on any person they reside with, rather than just their spouse and unemancipated children; requires timely compliance with requirements of this act by members of advisory entities prior to such entities being authorized to provide advice.”

Cuomo has dated Lee since 2005 and resides with her in a Westchester County home. If the two were married, Lee would likely have to disclose information on her business interests and investments, revealing potential business before the state.

The bill is just one of three measures that have surfaced in the last several hours taking apparent aim at Cuomo, which were first flagged by Capital New York.

Meanwhile, a separate bill backed by Staten Island Sen. Andrew Lanza and western New York Sen. Pat Gallivan would create new disclosure requirements for business entities with state contracts to report contributions.

And a third bill, sponsored by Sen. Carl Marcellino, would require state agency employees — members of the executive branch of government — to file financial disclosure forms.

The bills come after Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos told reporters he believed Cuomo should be subject to the same disclosure requirements and scrutiny as lawmakers.

“As we’re discussing disclosure certainly I think there’s going to be robust changes to the requirements of legislators in terms of disclosure,” Skelos, a Long Island Republican, told reporters. “But I think there also should be disclosure by the executive branch. There’s a lot of focus on the Legislature. But I should point out — Spitzer, Hevesi, David Paterson — there have been problems in all branches of government and we’re going to work on a bipartisan way to fix those problems.”

Updated: Senate Republican spokeswoman Kelly Cummings in a statement says the legislation is not targeting a specific individual.

“The language to broaden financial disclosure to include all members of the household was taken from a proposal submitted to the Legislature by the Governor. It is not targeted at any one person, but would apply to every policy maker in state government who files the financial disclosure long form.”

Cuomo Campaign Emails On ‘Enough Is Enough’

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s campaign sent an email to supporters on Friday urging them to contact their state lawmaker and urge them to support the “Enough Is Enough” campaign aimed at cracking down on campus rape and sexual assault.

“The terrible truth is that there is an epidemic of sexual violence on campuses. Both here in New York, and nationwide,” the email states. “This is not a new problem, but it is time and past time we did something about it.”

Cuomo’s legislation would require affirmative consent for sexual encounters and have all reports of rape and assault be directed to law enforcement, not be adjudicated by the college’s administration.

SUNY campuses have already adopted the uniform policy standards; Cuomo wants to extend the policy to private campuses.

“These reforms represent a powerful step forward in this fight,” the email from Cuomo’s campaign says. “Not only will it help to protect our students, but New York will serve as an example and leader to the rest of the nation. But I can’t do it alone. I need your help and support to urge the legislature to do the right thing. Please tell your legislator to support these reforms.”

In Report, Cuomo Points To Failing Schools

More than 109,000 students in New York are enrolled in one of the 178 schools deemed to be failing, according to a report from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office.

The report comes as Cuomo tries to make it easier for the state to take over troubled schools through his $142 billion budget proposal.

A school is considered failing based on being in the bottom 5 percent of schools statewide based on the combined English-Language Arts and math scores while not showing progress in test performance or have had graduation rates below 60 percent of the last three years.

Of the 178 schools on the failing list, 77 have held that designation for the last 10 years, with a quarter million students passing through the schools.

The broad majority of these schools — 9 out of 10 — are heavily minority or poor.

Cuomo is pushing a plan based on a Massachusetts law that would put a failing school into the hands of either a non-profit, another district or an appointed turnaround expert.

The full report can be found here.

NYSFailingSchoolsReport (1).pdf by Nick Reisman

Cuomo To Cuba On April 20 (Updated)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will lead a trade mission of state officials and business leaders to Cuba on April 20, his office on Thursday announced.

In doing so, Cuomo will become the first chief executive of a U.S. state to travel to the Communist country after President Obama announced diplomatic relations would be normalized.

“I am pleased to announce that New York will be the first in the nation to conduct an official state trade mission to Cuba since President Obama’s announcement,” Cuomo said. “This mission will be a tremendous stepping stone for our State’s relationship with Cuba, and will help open the door to a new market for New York businesses. Creating an environment that supports growth and economic development is one of our administration’s top priorities, and Global NY is the perfect example of how we’re taking that approach to the international stage. As the first state to launch a trade mission to Cuba in this new era, New York will continue to stand at the forefront of opportunity.”

Updated: Cuomo will not be the first governor to travel to Cuba, after all. Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon will be making the trip next week.

Cuomo announced in January he would lead the trade mission as part of a larger effort to promote New York business overseas.

The governor also plans to travel to Mexico, Israel, Italy, Canada and Japan as part of the trips.

The overseas trips could burnish Cuomo’s foreign policy credentials even as he is no longer considered a possible candidate for president in 2016.

Cuomo has insisted he would travel to Cuba strictly to discuss trade, namely the state’s agriculture sector, and not the country’s oppressive government.

He was questioned last month about Cuba’s record on human rights, especially its treatment of its gay citizens (Cuban leader Fidel Castro has previously acknowledged the “injustice” of the country’s treatment of gays and lesbians).

“There are issues that concern me about Cuba and issues that I would like to address, but you wear different hats and there are different purposes,” Cuomo said at the time. “This is going to be about a trade mission and meeting with trade ministers and trade relations in the agriculture sector. It’s not really conducive to having a conversation about locking up gays.

Cuomo And de Blasio: No Rivalry Here

Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted on Wednesday he wasn’t trying to upstage New York’s other prominent Democrat: New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Only a really twisted mind would come up with that one,” Cuomo said of the implication.

De Blasio traveled to Albany to testify before a joint Senate and Assembly legislative budget hearing.

In the middle of the testimony and while de Blasio was being grilled by state lawmakers, Cuomo across the street at the Capitol building held a cabinet meeting.

The meeting featured one of de Blasio’s main primary foes from 2013: Former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who is now a special advisor to the governor on campus assault and rape policy.

The second announcement at the meeting was a signature issue for de Blasio in 2014: Universal pre-Kindergarten in New York City. Cuomo at the meeting today highlighted his own efforts to extend universal pre-K not just to 4-year-olds, but 3-year-olds as well.

During a question-and-answer session, Cuomo would not support de Blasio’s push for a permanent mayoral control of city schools.

De Blasio brushed off the talk of a rivalry.

“I applaud him for focusing on pre-K,” de Blasio told reporters at a news conference.

Later, after meeting privately with Cuomo, de Blasio was similarly unphased.

“Look, there’s a process that happens up here over – you know, in the case of the budgets, it’ll be over the next weeks – in the case of legislative session, it’ll be over months – and there’s always a lot of give and take. So I think it was an open and productive conversation, meaning I have phrased a series of concerns, he was receptive, nothing was concluded – it’s a beginning – but I think, at least, I can say safely he heard very clearly that the city has a number of concerns,” de Blasio said.

Cuomo has previously insisted that he has one of the tightest working relationships with de Blasio in recent history.

Given that governors and mayor frequently feud — Rockefeller versus Lindsay, Mario Cuomo versus Koch, Pataki versus Giuliani — the bar is set rather low.

Cuomo: Ethics Problems For Legislature Different

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday sought to differentiate between ethics legislation being sought to address outside income of state lawmakers and what oversight might be needed for the executive branch.

“Structurally you don’t have the conflicts with the executive because you don’t have the opportunities with the executive,” Cuomo said.

As Cuomo pursues new ethics legislation in the state budget that would create new private income and client disclosure laws as well as the submitting of receipts for travel reimbursement, some lawmakers have called for similar pushes on the governor himself.

Cuomo has received at least $700,000 from a deal with HarperCollins to publish his memoir, which was released last year.

Cuomo has not released the terms of his contract with the company, whose parent NewsCorp received generous tax breaks last year.

The governor has disclosed ranges of outside income from the book with the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics.

He is also required to release the income information each year based on the updated filing.

But the terms of the contract or how much Cuomo could expect to earn year over year have not been revealed.

“Be real — it’s a book company that is NewsCorp,” Cuomo said. “You know that company. You know who owns it and it’s a book deal. You come up with some theory writing a book and then we’ll talk about it at that time.”

As for NewsCorp’s lobbying for tax breaks for online publishing, Cuomo said he was unaware the company sought the legislation.

“I have no idea what it is,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo, meanwhile, said he had not been subpoenaed by federal prosecutors in the ongoing federal investigation into the circumstances of the Moreland Commission shutting down.

But he would not say whether any current or former members his staff have received subpoenas stemming from the review into the governor’s involvement in the panel.

“I wouldn’t know if you were. It’s not anyone’s business other than the individual,” Cuomo said.

The governor’s office has hired a lawyer to represent the staff in the Moreland Commission inquiry.

Cuomo insisted, meanwhile, that despite the parade of corruption arrests and scandals, his administration has made progress on passing new ethics legislation over the last four years.

“We have preceded in leaps and bounds. Well, it’s not enough. That may be true,” he said. “But it’s also true we’ve made tremendous progress. I don’t know if it’s ever going to be enough unless you make structural change.”

Cuomo did win ethics legislation in recent years that included new income disclosure laws for state lawmakers and statewide elected officials as well as new crimes for bribery and public corruption.

Asked if there should be any concerns with his office over U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s probe, Cuomo said: “There shouldn’t be.”

PSC Won’t Say If It Will Vote On Cable Merger This Week

Regulators at the state Public Service Commission declined to say on Wednesday whether its board will vote to approve Comcast’s acquisition of Time Warner Cable.

Public Service Commissioner Chairwoman Audrey Zibelman at a meeting of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s cabinet said she was not prepared to say whether the approval of the cable merger would be on the agenda at the PSC’s meeting on Thursday.

“We have been working on it for the past seven months,” she said of the pending deal. “We’re reviewing it.”

Cuomo himself refused to weigh in on the merger.

Time Warner Cable is the parent company of Time Warner Cable News and NY1.

Zibelman did acknowledge the merge has “a huge amount of implications” for consumers in the state.

The Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, first announced in February, still faces scrutiny from regulators at the federal level over net neutrality guidelines as well as from the Department of Justice.

Cable regulators in other states, including California, have already approved the agreement.

“We’ve done everything we can to make sure when we make a decision it’s a decision that we can be proud of and that it’s going to serve the needs of the state,” Zibelman said.

New York’s approval is a key component to the merger being approved, given its market.

The state, meanwhile, is pursuing a $1 billion broadband expansion effort with $500 million coming from private industry.

‘Enough Is Enough’ Campaign To Highlight Campus Rape Reporting Policy

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced a campaign designed to promote his measure that would enact uniform policies for rape and sexual assault at private college campuses.

The campaign, called “Enough Is Enough,” will include Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul highlighting the policy push on college campuses.

SUNY previously adopted a uniform rape and assault policy that requires reporting directly to law enforcement and the adoption of “affirmative consent” for sexual intercourse.

The latest effort was rolled out at a cabinet meeting by Christine Quinn, the former New York City Council speaker who unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2013. Her one-time Democratic primary opponent, Mayor Bill de Blasio, is also in Albany today to testify on the state budget.

Cuomo insisted the key component of the policy at college campuses is meant to take the investigation out of the hands of college officials and under the purview of law enforcement.

“This is a possible crime and they are not criminal investigators,” Cuomo said of college officials. “They don’t handle crime scenes.”

Cuomo had campaigned last year heavily on women’s equality issues, promoting a 10-point package of bills that include pay equity and a codification of Roe v. Wade in state law.

The package passing a whole is unlikely to be approved in the state Senate this year given its Republican majority.

Cuomo today acknowledged the sensitivity of discussing the campus rape issue, comparing it to hot-button social issues such as gun control and same-sex marriage.

“The national dialogue is not as loud and pronounced as it should be,” Cuomo said.

He added that he hoped the assault policy adopted in New York would be replicated nationwide.

“It’s part of the bully pulpit of New York.” he said.