Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo: Focus On Puerto Rico, Not Feuds With Athletes

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a TV interview Saturday said President Donald Trump should be focusing on recovery and relief efforts following a devastating storm on Puerto Rico and not feuds with professional athletes.

Cuomo’s comments came in response to a question about the president on Friday criticizing NFL players who take a knee during the national anthem. At the Alabama rally, Trump said football team owners should remove those players from the field.

On Saturday morning, Trump said NBA player Steph Curry would not be welcomed at the White House after a report indicated the basketball star would not want to attend a ceremony hosted by the president.

Cuomo, interviewed on CNN, defended the right of athletes to express themselves, but called it a “secondary” concern to the issues facing Puerto Rico.

“First of all you can have your own political opinion. That’s the beauty of this country. You can have your opinion of people’s protest and about what people say. We also have something called the First Amendment, and that is the law and that is we respect and that’s what makes us special,” he said.

“That is a conversation that I think is frankly irrelevant or at least secondary to a conversation like what’s going on with Puerto Rico right now, where people are suffering, people may be dying. You want to use the power of the White House? Use the power of the White House to help Americans in need, now. Puerto Ricans are Americans.”

Cuomo was in Puerto Rico on Friday to bring storm relief supplies to the island. He had previously traveled to the Virgin Islands as part of a similar trip.

Cuomo Appoints Water Quality Council

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday announced appointees to a 12-member Drinking Water Quality Council, formed in the wake of a series of industrial contamination problems in upstate and suburban communities over the last several years.

The governor’s appointees include Health Commissioner Howard Zucker and Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos.

“New York is once again stepping up as the federal government continues to ignore its duty to provide clear guidance to protect drinking water quality,” Cuomo said.

“Using the best available science, and tapping an array of experts, this new Council will provide science-based recommendations for the development of regulations to assure that good quality drinking water remains available to all New Yorkers. Water quality is a national issue that requires consistent national standards, but New York can no longer afford to wait.”

All told, Cuomo had eight appointees to the board, with the Legislature appointing the other four members.

Cuomo’s office said the council’s “first task” will be to recommend what should be the maximum contaminant levels for chemicals the federal government has left unregulated, including PFOA, PFOS and 1,4-dioxane.

The council is scheduled to meet for the first time on Oct. 2 on Long Island at SUNY Stony Brook. A second meeting is scheduled for the Albany area later this year.

Catsimatidis Defends Loaning Plane To Cuomo

Businessman and prolific political donor John Catsimatidis on Friday defended making a plane available to Gov. Andrew Cuomo for a trip to visit the storm-ravaged Virgin Islands last week.

Catsimatidis, who has contributed to a variety of candidates over the years, including the governor, loaned the plane for the trip after the governor had approved legislation that would benefit a biofuels plant he owns, according to the Times Union this week.

Catsimatidis in the radio interview with Talk 1300’s Fred Dicker said he had not spoken to Cuomo about the bill and that it was his idea to contact ethics regulators at the Joint Commission on Public Ethics to receive approval for the trip. JCOPE approved the trip, which had the stated goal of providing humanitarian support in the wake of a hurricane.

“The truth? I didn’t even he was signing a bill,” he said. “Fred Dicker, you’ve known me for 20 years. I didn’t even know he was signing it.”

In the at-times pointed interview, Catsimatidis insisted repeatedly he did not have the biofuel-related legislation on his mind when the Cuomo’s office reached out to ask for the plane. He also insisted his lobbying team had not spoken to him about the issue “in months.”

He declined to say who from Cuomo’s office reached out to him about the plane, saying he “didn’t want to get anyone in trouble.”

“The truth? I didn’t even he was signing a bill,” he said. “Fred Dicker, you’ve known me for 20 years. I didn’t even know he was signing it.”

In addition to his stake in energy-related efforts, Catsimatidis also operates the Gristedes supermarket chain in New York City.

“I said to them I used to operate Grand Union stores in the Virgin Islands and I have a good feeling for those people,” he said, “but I said to them we have to seek permission from the powers that be to do that and we got the letter from JCOPE.”

Catsimatidis insisted that while he’s contributed to a variety of political candidates (and ran for mayor of New York City himself in 2013), has never received anything in return or asked for anything as a result of the contribution.

“I said the way people are these days everything has to be above board and I want to have permission,” Catsimatidis said. “Fred, you know me for a long time. I’m a straight guy. Have I ever gotten anything from anybody?”

He also noted he differs with Cuomo on several other energy-related issues, including the closure of the Indian Point nuclear power plant and the ban on hydrofracking.

Cuomo is in Puerto Rico on Friday to provide aid and assistance. He traveled there with a plan provided by Jet Blue.

Cuomo To Puerto Rico

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday is traveling to Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria battered the island this week.

Cuomo is traveling with a team of New York Power Authority engineers, translators, Department of Environmental Conservation drones and drone pilots and will also deliver emergency supplies.

The New York National Guard, which has assisted with other storm responses in Texas and Florida in recent weeks, is on standby and will go to the island as well.

Cuomo said the trip comes after Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosello asked for assistance.

The trip is the second one the governor has made in the wake of devastating storms in the Atlantic.

Last week, Cuomo traveled to the U.S. Virgin Islands on the plane of businessman John Catsimatidis, a prominent donor in New York political circles who has contributed to the governor’s campaigns.

Cuomo’s office in a statement said the plane for the Puerto Rico trip was being donated by Jet Blue.

“New York is home to more Puerto Ricans than any other state in the country, and our hearts break for our Puerto Rican brothers and sisters as they begin to rebuild after the unimaginable devastation of Hurricane Maria,” Cuomo said. “We are sending requested resources and personnel to help the island rebuild, and we stand shoulder to shoulder with the Puerto Rican community in their time of need.”

Cuomo has focused New York assistance for Puerto Rico before, including offering financial help as the island’s budget and debt crisis deepened. Cuomo at the time also urged Congress to approve a bankruptcy plan for the Puerto Rican government.

Seneca Nation Files Official Response To NY Demand For Arbitration

The Seneca Nation has filed its official response with the American Arbitration to New York State’s arbitration demand concerning an ongoing dispute over casino revenue sharing. In the papers, attorneys for the Senecas argue the issue is cut and dry.

They reject the state’s assertion that continued payments of a portion of slot revenues were implied when the compact between the two parties automatically renewed last year. In fact they said, a payment schedule on a sliding scale was clearly defined as “three finite” periods, the last of which specifically ended at Year 14 of the agreement.

“The Seneca Nation has faithfully honored the agreement we negotiated and signed in good faith in 2002,” Seneca Nation President Todd Gates said. “New York State has a documented history of Compact violations, despite collecting more than $1.4 billion from us over the past 14 years. Now, the state is trying to create a reality that does not exist. You can’t change the rules 15 years into a 21-year agreement. Enough with the political posturing and insults. Honor the agreement, just as the Seneca Nation has done.”

The Senecas also squarely rejected New York’s claim that ending revenue sharing while continuing to give the nation exclusive gaming rights in the western part of the state made no “commercial sense.” They argued the payments they’ve already made would average more than $66 million per year over the 21-year lifespan of the compact.

The Nation said in many years the state received nearly 50 percent of its net revenue. Attorneys said the more than $1.4 billion the state has collected makes the revenue-sharing payments “among the very highest in the country in both absolute and percentage terms.”

The filing also references an issue many observers believe is central to the dispute. In arguing their exclusivity rights are highly limited, the Nation referenced Video Lottery Terminal (VLT) facilities, often referred to as racinos, which operate in the heart of the exclusivity zone, as well as full scale non-Seneca casinos at the edge of the zone, specifically the new Del Lago casino near Rochester.

“The state’s position is unchanged,” Rich Azzopardi, a spokesperson for the governor, said. “The Senecas have an obligation to pay in exchange for exclusivity and they breached their obligation, they breached the compact.”

Finally, the Senecas said the state’s assertion that they’ve refused to meet on reasonable terms was “demonstrably inaccurate.” They attached numerous letters to the governor’s office they say prove Gates was willing to meet in good faith.

In late-August, it was Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-NY, who closed the door on a face-to-face meeting. He said counsel had advised him not to meet until an Erie County District Attorney’s Office investigation into whether the Nation eavesdropped on a state gaming official concluded.

Within the next 30 days, both sides will choose one arbitrator. Those arbitrators will choose a third to round out the panel.

The Nation objected to the state’s request for the panel to convene in New York City, arguing Western New York would be a better location.

9-21-2017 Seneca Nation Answer by Ryan Whalen on Scribd

Amazon Expands In NY, With Taxpayer Assistance

Online retail juggernaut Amazon will receive up to $20 million in tax credits in exchange for expanding its New York City footprint with a 359,000 square foot office.

The tax credits, from the Empire State Development’s Excelsior Jobs Program, are performance based. State officials on Thursday said the move wuold create up to 2,000 new jobs in finance, sales, marketing and information technology.

“Amazon’s further expansion in New York is proof positive that our strong economic climate, diverse workforce and talent, are helping to attract top-notch companies from around the world,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “We will continue to support the growth of this state’s business sector, which in turn supports economic growth and the creation of quality, good-paying jobs across the Empire State.”

Earlier this month, Amazon and New York officials announced plans for a distribution center which will also come with $18 million in tax credits.

Amazon is undergoing a rapid surge in growth in sectors such as groceries, clothing and other retail items. The Seattle-based company is considering a second headquarters in a new city.

Cuomo: Climate Alliance On Track

The U.S. Climate Alliance, a coalition of 14 states and Puerto Rico, announced Wednesday its members are on track to meet their targets under the Paris Climate Accord. This comes despite the fact, President Donald Trump pulled the country out of the international agreement earlier this summer.

According to the alliance’s progress report, states are on track to reach a 25-29 percent reduction from 2005 greenhouse gas emission levels by 2025. Between 2005 and 2015, members reduced emissions by 5 percent more than states that aren’t part of the coalition, the study also claimed.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-NY, is a co-chair of the coalition.

“While the federal government abdicates its responsibility on climate change, governors do not have the luxury of denying a scientific reality, and it is more important than ever for states to take collective, common sense action,” Cuomo said. “Today, New York State is picking up the mantle of leadership and raising the bar in the global fight against climate change.”

The alliance also announced the addition of North Carolina as its newest member. Altogether, the membership said it represents 36 percent of the U.S. population.

Meanwhile, Cuomo announced he is expanding NY Green Bank, a state-sponsored financial entity that helps support private sector investment into New York’s clean energy sector. The expansion will include raising new funds and assisting other states in establishing Green Bank offices.


Cuomo Calls On NY Congressional Delegation To Consider Impending Healthcare Issues

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-NY, called on the state’s congressional delegation to take several actions regarding healthcare in the coming days and weeks.

At a press conference Tuesday in New York City, Cuomo voiced his concern over scheduled cuts to Medicaid for so-called Disproportionate Share Hospital (DSH) payments. They are federal reimbursements to hospitals for uncompensated health care costs.

Cuomo said New York would lose $2.6 billion, roughly 16 percent of the scheduled cuts, if Congress doesn’t take action before October 1. He said of that $2.6 billion, the state would lose $1.1 billion in just 18 months.

“There is no way the state can pick up this cost. The state is already facing a $4 billion deficit going into next year, $4 billion deficit. There is no way we can close a $4 billion deficit and absorb an additional $1 billion, and then $2.6 billion cut. It is mathematically impossible,” he said.

The governor said the DSH cuts would affect about 3 million people served at more than 200 hospitals. The first and most severely affected would be public and safety net hospitals both of which serve uninsured and under-insured patients.

Cuomo said as concerned as he is about that issue, he’s even more concerned about the potential for Congress to pass the proposed Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill and repeal the Affordable Care Act. That, he said, would cost New York roughly $19 billion as the legislation plans to block grant Medicaid funds.

Cuomo said the state would essentially be punished for utilizing the system better than other states.

“I would not trade $19 billion for the flexibility because if they cut us $19 billion, if I was as flexible as a Gumby doll, we could not fund our healthcare system.”

The governor said the Republican healthcare proposal would also put 2.7 million New Yorkers at risk of losing their coverage, not to mention he has ideological disagreements about issues like defunding Planned Parenthood.

Cuomo Releases Results Of Compliance Study For Campus Sexual Assault Law

A New York study of its colleges and universities has found most schools are “significantly compliant” with the state’s law to protect students from sexual assault on campus. The governor’s office however, said there a number of concerns many institutions still need to address to come into full compliance.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the “Enough is Enough” law in 2015, which he called the “nation’s most aggressive policy” on the issue. The review of more than 240 schools found about 39 percent in full compliance and another 49 percent to be significantly compliant.

According to the report, 29 institutions were non-compliant, meaning their policies were deficient on the majority of elements. Schools with issues are required to submit an action plan within 30 days and submit documentation of full compliance within 60 days of notification from the state Office of Campus Safety.

The governor noted the study comes in the aftermath of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announcement she plans to revamp Obama administration guidelines regarding sexual assault and harassment.

“In New York, we know that sexual assault is a crime, and we will continue to hold our colleges and universities to the highest possible standards to ensure the safety of all New York students,” Cuomo said. “Regardless of the federal government’s dangerous actions to rescind Title IX protections, this state and this administration will continue to stand with and advocate for survivors, and we will not go backwards in the fight against sexual assault.”

The “Enough is Enough” law required colleges to adopt a uniform definition of affirmative consent, an amnesty policy to encourage students reporting sexual assaults, and comprehensive training for administrators, staff and students. The governor’s office said the study was just a preliminary review based on information the colleges and universities submitted.

A second phase, it said, will include an in-depth review of practices beyond documentation.


EnoughisEnoughPreliminaryReport_September192017 by Ryan Whalen on Scribd

Rochester Immigration Attorney: Cuomo Executive Order Not Needed

From the Morning Memo:

A Rochester-area immigration attorney said Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent executive order, which prohibited state agencies and law enforcement officers from inquiring about immigration status, really wasn’t necessary because it’s already illegal for officers to ask questions of that nature.

“Local, state law enforcement has no business asking about anything regarding immigration status unless it relates to the crime that they’re investigating,” attorney Anthony Guidice said.

Guidice suggested the executive order was likely more politically motivated than anything else – a sentiment publicly shared by several upstate sheriffs. At the same time, however, Guidice said State Police troopers, in particular are notorious for making immigration-related inquiries.

Both the Erie and Monroe county sheriffs, (both Republicans), have spoken out against the executive order, although it’s unclear if the action would even apply to their agencies.

Giudice said it seems to be an admission they’re willing to break the law, but he admitted it’s hard to fight that sort of thing in court.

“If Erie County and Monroe County are saying outright that we’re going to overstep our authority, there’s really very little anybody can do it,” he said.

Outside of the general anxiety of his clients, Guidice said very little has actually changed so far under the Trump administration, despite its hardline stance on immigration matters – including the president’s recent targeted of DACA.