Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo Admin Mulls Legal Injection Sites

From the Morning Memo:

As elected officials struggle to address the ongoing opioid crisis, one of the more controversial proposals has been legal injection sites, where addicts would have access to clean needles, medical staff, and a variety of information and services – including treatment options. 

Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick, a rising star in the Democratic firmament, was the first to float the idea back in 2016, citing evidence from other countries – including Canada – where such sites have existed for years, that these sites have helped reduce the numbers of people abusing heroin, and, more importantly, cut down on overdoses. 

Advocates who endorse this idea say it is merely one tool in what should be a wide variety of approaches to address this crisis. And they note that it’s important to keep people alive long enough for them to hit bottom and decide they want to finally get off drugs. 

Myrick’s idea drew him national attention, but it was widely panned by critics, particularly members of the Senate GOP conference, who basically shut down any possibility of discussing it as part of the state’s efforts to combat opioid abuse. 

Asked about Myrick’s proposal at the time, Gov. Andrew Cuomo basically ducked the question, saying he hadn’t heard about the details of the mayor’s plan and therefore didn’t have an opinion on it. (In case you’re wondering, Ithaca has not yet moved forward with the proposal). 

But Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, a Manhattan Democrat, seized on the idea, saying she would introduce legislation that would legalize supervised injection facilities in New York.

She noted that the governor accepted the recommendations of his own task force back in 2014 that was formed to propose a plan to end the AIDS epidemic in New York by 2020, which called for – among many other things – the establishment of legal injection sites.  

Though the governor embraced many of the task force’s recommendations, the legal injection site idea wasn’t among them. 

But that may be changing, according to veteran activist Charles King, the president and CEO of Housing Works, who co-chaired the governor’s task force. 

“I think we’re going to see that move forward, but we’re only going to see that move forward if the governor does as he’s had the courage to do in other instances and simply work around the Legislature and do it through executive order or regulation,” King said during a CapTon interview last night.

“And I know that many people criticize him for doing that,” King continued. “But frankly, when we can’t get the Legislature to focus seriously on public health measures – we couldn’t even get the Senate to allow…for expanded syringe access through the pharmacies.”

“And it’s not the amount of needles that we’re paying for that is the problem, it’s do we have enough distribution sites and are those distribution sites spread? We have counties across the state that don’t have a single place to go where you can get a clean needle.”

King said advocates have been having “good conversations” with both the state Health Department and the second floor about supervised injection sites, which he called “one important step” toward ending the opioid epidemic.

New York would have to move quickly to be the first in the nation to establish these sites, as a handful of cities across the country – including Denver, Colorado, Boston, Massachusetts, San Francisco, California and Seattle, Washington – are already exploring the idea. 

Moving in this direction would be in keeping with the leftward lean the governor has steadily taken in recent years as he is widely believed to be mulling a White House bid in 2020. 

Asked about King’s comments on CapTon, Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi would neither confirm nor deny that supervised injection sites are being considered by the administration, saying only: 

“We routinely engage with all stake holders and solicit their thoughts as we seek to end this epidemic in New York.”

Increasingly, Cuomo’s Office Led By Women

Key appointments and posts in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration — from press secretary to the state’s top jurist — are being staffed by women.

The appointments are in contrast to the governor’s first term, when top jobs and advisory roles in the executive chamber were held by men.

Now, Cuomo’s office is led by Melissa DeRosa, the first woman to hold the job of secretary, the top aide and advisory to the governor. At the same time, the executive deputy secretary job is held by Jill DesRosiers. Both replaced men who had held those roles.

The newly appointed director of operations, Cathy Calhoun, replaces Jamie Rubin, who had succeeded Jim Malatras and Howard Glaser.

The chief of staff job is now held by Linda Lacewell and the deputy chief of staff is Kelly Cummings.

Press Secretary Dani Lever replaced John Kelly, while first deputy press secretary is Abbey Fashouer, making two of three spokespeople in the governor’s office women.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul is the third woman to hold that job, having replaced Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy on the ticket. Cuomo also nominated his second term Janet DiFiore to replace Jonathan Lippman as the state’s chief judge.

“When making hiring decisions, The Governor doesn’t consider age or gender, he looks at qualifications and skill,” DeRosa said in a statement. “If every CEO hired in the same way as Governor Cuomo — based on talent and competence alone — the gender balance in corporate America, newsrooms, and industries across the country would look a lot more like that of our senior staff.”

Cuomo in 2014 ran on the newly created Women’s Equality Party ballot line. At the same time, his administration is facing a suit filed by a former state worker in western New York who alleges Sam Hoyt, a former top economic development official, sexually harassed her while in office. The suit charges the governor’s office was aware of the complaints, but did not act. Cuomo’s top counsel, Alphonso David, pointed to three separate investigations into the matter.

“All state employees deserve to be treated with respect,” David said. “We address every allegation of sexual harassment seriously and will continue to take all steps to detect and root out this unacceptable behavior.‎”

Cuomo Appoints Calhoun To Director Of Operations, Nominates Karas To DOT

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday rolled out a series of administration appointments and nominations, filling the state director of operations post with acting Transportation Commissioner Cathy Calhoun.

Paul Karas, former vice president and manager for a transportation consulting firm RS&H, has been nominated to become the next commissioner of the Department of Transportation. His appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.

“Over the past seven years, this administration has worked hard and made great strides toward creating a stronger and more just New York for all,” Cuomo said. “I am proud to welcome these talented and dedicated individuals to their new roles on our team where, together, we will continue to move this great state forward.”

Calhoun is filling the post left vacate by Jamie Rubin, who stepped down last week, but is leaving the governor’s office at the end of the year.

At the same time, Cuomo’s special counsel for public safety, Letizia Tagliafierro, will become the deputy secretary for interogovernmental affairs and special counsel to the governor.

Cuomo has been filling a series of high-profile positions in his administration with women. Secretary to the governor Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s top aide, is the first woman to hold the job.

She was replaced as chief of staff formally last week by Linda Lacewell, a longtime aide to the governor dating back to his time as attorney general.

Petitioner Against Mario Cuomo Bridge Says He’s Not Connected To Reclaim

On Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo blamed an advocacy group connected to conservative investor Robert Mercer for being behind a petition that supports rejecting naming the replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge after his father, the late former Gov. Mario Cuomo.

But the Port Chester resident who started the change.org petition said in an email to Capital Tonight he has no connection to the group, Reclaim New York.

“I have no connection to Reclaim New York. I have never met them or even heard the name ‘Mercer’ before,” said Monroe Mann, a Westchester attorney.

“Reclaim NY will confirm that I only found out about them about two weeks ago, when I googled Tappan Zee Bridge to find out when the name change occurred. My first contact with them was after most media had already interviewed me. This was nearly a week after I started the petition to see if they would help spread the word. And they did.”

Mann added that he was living in Florida in the last six months and only return a month ago to New York.

“Governor Cuomo continues to make this political. I just want our bridge back,” Mann wrote in the email. “It wasn’t some highly orchestrated master plan. It was one local guy watching tv who decided to speak up.”

Reclaim New York has criticized Cuomo for supporting the bridge being named after his father and has seized on the petition, which has more than 70,000 signatures. A c4 entity, Reclaim New York Initiative, funded a poll that included some leading questions showing voters in the area did not support the bridge being named after Mario Cuomo.

And the group has promoted the poll on its social media accounts and its website.

Reclaim New York has denied any involvement in the petition.

Still, the criticism for Cuomo has struck a nerve, which he said Thursday was “vindictive.”

“These are very ugly political times and they’re very partisan times between Republicans and Democrats,” Cuomo said. “You have an extreme conservative group running a campaign against my father’s name, which personally is hurtful.”

Cuomo Claim Roils House Republicans

From the Morning Memo:

There was little secret Gov. Andrew Cuomo was opposed to the Republican-backed tax bill that passed the House of Representatives on Thursday and wanted GOP lawmakers from New York to vote against it.

He publicly blasted the plan every chance he got and pressured New York Republicans in the House to oppose it over its capping and elimination of state and local tax deductions.

As final voting was taking place on Thursday, Cuomo told reporters in Sullivan County he had called the state’s GOP House delegation and got the same answer: They were voting for it because their party leaders told them to.

“I talk to all of them, and they all had the same line, ‘well, you know, my political leaders are forcing me to vote for it.’ You don’t work for your political leaders,” he said. “You work for the people who elected you and this was a betrayal of the people who elected them because this will hurt their constituents.”

Rep. Chris Collins, a key Republican supporter of President Donald Trump’s in Congress, quickly rebuked the governor.

“The Governor is lying, he never called or spoke to me. If he is lying about something as small as this, you can be assured he is lying about the tax reform legislation passed today,” Collins posted to Twitter.

Rep. John Katko’s office also said the claim Cuomo made was not accurate, either.

Rep. Claudia Tenney, another Republican who backed the tax bill posted, “This is false. @NYGovCuomo did not call. But if he did, I would have told him to stop wasting taxpayer’s money on phony self-promotional schemes that only benefit his friends and donors.”

“I knew the @NYGovCuomo was a bully, but I didn’t know he was an outright liar,” Rep. Tom Reed said. “A true leader tries to address the problems of the people they represent. Clearly the governor can’t lead our state out of its problems so how can he expect to be the leader of our nation?”

The governor’s office clarified in a statement that Cuomo was trying to make a broader point about “political pressure” being brought to Republicans to vote on the tax plan.

“The Governor’s point was the republican congress members he spoke to said they were under pressure from their political leadership‎ to vote yes‎,” said Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi. “Reed, Collins and the rest of the New York congress members who voted against their own constituents can try to deflect from this irresponsible vote, but it’s the governor who stood up for New York taxpayers and always will.”

The episode underscores what have been deepening tensions between Cuomo and Republicans who represent Congress in New York. Cuomo does enjoy a warm relationship with the state’s longest-serving Republican member, Rep. Peter King of Long Island, who he praised for voting against the legislation.

But the GOP lawmakers, including Rep. John Faso who voted agains the bill, have not taken well to Cuomo’s pressure campaign to vote against the tax measure.

Nixon Ratchets Up Rhetoric In Education Push

From the Morning Memo:

Actress and education advocate Cynthia Nixon is back to critiquing the state’s education policies and spending record under Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Nixon, who headlined a fundraiser for the union-aligned advocacy group Alliance For A Quality Education this week, issued a statement Thursday pushing for more school funding — fueling more talk that she will run for governor herself next year.

“I am deeply concerned that since he took office Governor Cuomo’s policies have only widened NY State’s tremendous inequality in education funding,” Nixon said. “We are 49 out of 50 when it comes to equitable funding. That’s a distinction that brings us shame. We need a Governor who is committed to providing all of our students with a quality education, not just those in high income zip codes.”

For now, Cuomo’s office is not criticizing Nixon. But they are pushing back on her claims when it comes to the governor’s education record.

“Ms. Nixon is a committed advocate, but is unfortunately wrong on the facts,” said Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi. “Under Governor Cuomo, state education aid has increased by $6.2 billion or 32 percent over six years, about 70 percent of which goes straight to high-needs schools. To be clear, every school district in New York is funded at a level above the national average. For New York City alone, aid has increased by a third – a more than $2.5 billion increase – and the city disperses the aid to specific schools.”

Cuomo Rails Against ‘Treasonous’ Tax Bill

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in two separate venues on Thursday railed against a Republican-backed tax bill that was approved in the House of Representatives, accusing the GOP lawmakers from New York voted for it of betraying their constituents.

“It’s treasonous,” Cuomo said in Sullivan County. “It’s modern-day Benedict Arnold.”

Cuomo has blasted the tax plan for the last several weeks over the plans to eliminate and limit the state and local deduction of taxes. The House bill approved earlier in the day limits the deduction of property taxes to $10,000 and the mortgage interest rate deduction to $500,000.

Cuomo has said the entire state will ultimately be harmed, not just high tax, expensive areas of New York.

Cuomo praised Rep. Peter King for voting against the bill, but also criticized Rep. John Faso, another no vote.

Cuomo said Faso should have sought to block the bill or declare “I’m out” — either leave Congress or the Republican Party.

Later in the day in Nassau County on Long Island, Cuomo continued to criticized the vote.

“They call it a tax cut. It is a tax cut for wealthy corporations,” Cuomo said. “It is going to devastate the families in New York state.”

In that gaggle with reporters, Cuomo criticized lawmakers for a “betrayal” and said the tax bill was targeted at Blue States like California and New York.

“This was a betrayal of the people who elected them because this will hurt their constituents,” he said. “They actually voted against the interests of their own constituents. There was no justification why they targeted New York.”

Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney, who voted for the bill, said in a statement the legislation approved Thursday did include key changes she had sought. She blamed Albany, and Cuomo, for the state’s tax troubles.

“I advocated so strongly for the SALT deduction because it shields New Yorkers from the oppressive burden Albany places on our taxpayers,” she said. “Albany politicians have zero respect for the taxpayers. Governor Cuomo and liberals in the Assembly continue to increase our bloated budget while hiking taxes on hardworking New Yorkers. Their harmful habits will never change.”

Cuomo Blames Mercer-Backed Group For Bridge Petition (Updated)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday in Sullivan County blamed an government advocacy group for a petition that opposes naming a new bridge spanning the Hudson River after his father, the late former Gov. Mario Cuomo.

“These are very ugly political times and they’re very partisan times between Republicans and Democrats,” Cuomo said. “You have an extreme conservative group running a campaign against my father’s name, which personally is hurtful.”

The group, Reclaim New York, has ties to Long Island investor Robert Mercer, the former backer of the right-wing website Breitbart News and a supporter of President Donald Trump.

The group itself has said it has nothing to do with the petition, though it did post a tweet in support of it and have promoted on their website. The c4 organization Reclaim New York Initiative also funded a poll showing opposition to the bridge naming that include some leading questions.

“I believe it’s mean, I believe it’s vindictive,” Cuomo said. They are rabid conservatives and they don’t like my father.”

Cuomo also argued that because the bridge is new, it should be given a new name.

“We very often pay tribute to elected officials,” he said.

The Port Chester resident who had launched the petition is a declared Republican, but insisted to The Journal News it wasn’t meant as a partisan project.

“To somehow think Mario Cuomo is more deserving than the Indians and the Dutch, it’s very perplexing,” Monroe Mann told the newspaer. “Taxpayer money should not be used to make a monument to one political party over another one.”

So far, the change.org petition opposing the bridge being named in honor of Mario Cuomo has nearly 75,000 signatures.

The bridge, a replacement for the Tappan Zee Bridge, will fully open to traffic traveling in both directions next year. The bridge’s naming was backed in a measure approved in July that also named a park after former Assemblyman Denny Farrell and a stretch of Hudson Valley highway after Republican Sen. Bill Larkin.

Mercer has increasingly popped up on Cuomo’s radar over the last several weeks. He was the subject a TV ad paid for by the state Democratic Committee that aired in the Westchester County executive. The ad knocked Republican Rob Astorino for receiving support a super PAC supported by Mercer.

Cuomo, speaking with reporters, bemoaned the state of partisanship that he says is stoked by such efforts.

“Mercer with his money just throws more coal on the fire of hate,” Cuomo said.

Updated: Reclaim New York spokesman Doug Kellogg responded, calling the governor’s claims “bizarre.”

“Like his claims about New York’s booming economy, just because the Governor says something over and over again doesn’t make it true.

We commend the initiative of the individual behind this petition. People are sick of backroom deals in the middle of night. It’s time for the Governor to accept reality, Hudson Valley residents are tired of Albany’s games whether it’s about a bridge name, tolls, taxes, or conspiracy theories.

Reclaim New York Initiative’s poll earlier this year showed clearly that Rockland and Westchester residents were offended by the way in which the bridge was named.”

Cuomo Slams House Tax Bill Ahead As Voting Begins

As the House of Representatives prepares its final round of votes before approving a $1 trillion tax package on Thursday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo got one last slam in against the measure and the New York Republicnas voting in favor of it.

The tax overhaul measure is a heavily lift for some GOP lawmakers from New York due to the caps placed on deductions for state and local taxes. Property tax deductions under the bill would be limited to $10,000. The mortgage interest deduction would be capped on new home purchases at $500,000.

While that does not cover many areas of upstate New York, it does impact the metropolitan area, where taxes and the cost of living is higher.

“I often say to the New York State Legislature that we are Democrats and we are Republicans, but we are New Yorkers first,” Cuomo said.

“Republican members, including Collins, Reed, Katko and Tenney, now have a choice between protecting the everyday New Yorkers who elected them or doing the bidding of their party bosses, corporations, and special interests.”

Five Republicans from New York — Reps. Lee Zeldin, Peter King, Dan Donovan, John Faso and Elise Stefanik — are voting against the bill.

“The House Republican tax bill is a targeted assault on New Yorkers that will deliver a catastrophic blow to our economy,” Cuomo said. “Any member from New York that votes for this bill is voting to take billions of dollars from middle class New Yorkers and send that money to corporations, billionaires, and other states.”

Astorino’s Indian Point Lawsuits Dropped

Outgoing Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino has dropped his lawsuits challenging the state’s push to close the Indian Point nuclear power plant.

Astorino, who lost his bid a for a third term last week against Democratic candidate George Latimer, had filed the suits in order to force the state to undergo an environmental review of the plant, based in Buchanan.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced earlier this year the state had reached an agreement with Entergy to close the Indian Point facility in the next several years, a long sought goal of the governor.

Astorino, who had challenged Cuomo in his 2014 re-election bid, questioned the decision to close the plant, its impact on the area’s tax base and where the New York City metropolitan region would receive its power once the plant was shut down.

“From the very beginning we said this was a frivolous and politically motivated stunt that put the long term safety of Westchester residents at risk,” said Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi. “The fact that he chose to end this charade now tells you everything you need to know.”

2017 11 16 AST Notice of Discontinuance (57265) by Nick Reisman on Scribd