How not to be late, a “self-help guide” for the chronically tardy NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.

For his final press conference of 2014, President Obama exclusively called on female reporters. The White House had planned it that way.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo will have a private swearing-in on New Year’s Eve in Albany. On New Year’s Day, he’ll host public ceremonies in NYC and Buffalo, home to his LG, Kathy Hochul.

Cuomo to the anti-frackers: “You did a great job of making your voice hear, and that’s what democracy’s all about. I actually enjoyed seeing it in action - I know it didn’t always seem that way.”

Sen. Tom Libous said he would be calling Cuomo this afternoon to ask for the fourth available casino license be awarded for a “true Southern Tier casino.”

The state Thruway Authority passed a 2015 budget that leaves a $36 million gap in funding, leaving a decision about whether to raise tolls on the superhighway system until next year.

According to EJ McMahon, the Thruway budget was slightly revised from the one originally proposed, but “continues to assume rising tolls through 2018.”

The executive director of Gracie Mansion has been chosen as First Lady Chirlane McCray’s new chief of staff after the embattled Rachel Noerdlinger stepped down last month.

Dan Doctoroff bid farewell this afternoon to Bloomberg L.P., where he had served as chairman and chief executive since 2008.

Sen. George Latimer’s house in Westchester County is in foreclosure proceedings.

In recommending a fracking ban, acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said he wouldn’t want his own kids to grow up near a well site. Turns out, he’s unmarried and has no children.

More than 1 million workers in New York will get raises this New Year’s Eve, when the state’s hourly minimum wage increases from $8 and hour to $8.75.

Richard Lipsky penned an OpEd for The Boston Globe about why Mark Wahlberg should be pardoned for a felony conviction he received when he was 16.

The Justice League NYC, which has been organizing protests since the Eric Garner grand jury decision, met with de Blasio today.

Soon-to-be-former conservative Rep. Michele Bachmann wants to be a full-time critic of everything Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Campaigns and political committees spent more than $1.5 million on private jets  to fly in Bill and Hillary Clinton to stump for various candidates during the  2014 midterms.

The NYT editorial board calls on Cuomo to “put his energies into a vigorous effort to pass the long-stalled” GENDA.

GlobalFoundries will look outside the Albany region to fill 300 openings for equipment engineer technicians in the coming year, until the pipeline of mid-skilled workers meets the business’ growing demands.

Here are twelve 2014 moments when de Blasio criticized the policies of his predecessor, former Mayor Mike Bloomberg, and attempted to show his moves in a new direction.

There’s a new area code in Suffolk County: It’s 934.

Cuomo has signed a bill into law to preserve the dark skies over the Adirondacks.

Libous Seeks 4th Casino License for S. Tier

From the Morning Memo:

Sen. Tom Libous, a Binghamton Republican, is among S. Tier residents reeling from this week’s news that the region lost out on two badly needed potential local job creators: Fracking and a casino.

Appearing on CapTon last night, Libous said he is “fired up” over the decisions. While a fracking ban seems definitive and difficult to challenge – though there is some talk of lawsuits, as Cuomo predicted – Libous does see a remedy for the casino situation.

“We’re not happy; there’s a lot of disappointed and angry people here, and I’m trying to figure out what our next step is,” the senator said.

“I’ve got my people looking to see if we can do something with that fourth license that wasn’t given…it would make sense to me that we might have an option at that,” Libous, the second most powerful GOP member in the Senate, continued.

“…It would be my goal to get local leaders together, and try to see if we can’t get that local license.”

“They said they would grant four, and the one in Seneca County is 120 miles away from us. I think it would be great if we could get that license, and that’s what we’re going to try to do. That’s the most realistic approach right now.”

Libous declined to blame Cuomo for the Gaming Facility Location Board’s decision, which he called “flawed” and “bad”, saying the casino legislation was purposely designed to prevent either the governor or lawmakers from influencing the process.

“Whether the governor had any input in that, that’s something you’d have to ask him,” said the senator, who has long maintained a close relationship with Cuomo (the governor even attended the senator’s son’s wedding in 2013).

“I don’t believe he did….the siting commission made a mistake. That’s what happened, and I’m not happy with their decision.”

Libous said that if the fourth license was awarded to Tioga Downs, a new casino would be up and running there within six months – faster than any of the other facilities that received licenses will be opening their doors.

Tioga Downs owner Jeffrey Gural was furious over the fact that the S. Tier was passed over for a casino in favor of Tyre in the Finger Lakes, and he was not shy about making his views public.

Libous plans to hold a press conference at 11 a.m. this morning to make his call for the fourth license public. But he may be tilting at windmills.

After the casino decisions were announced Wednesday, Gaming Facility Location Board Chairman Kevin Law was asked whether it was possible to go back and recommend a fourth license down the road.

Law responded: “We actually spent time really trying to figure that out. Do we want to say three at this time and maybe we’ll pick a fourth? No.”

“We reached a unanimous consensus that these three selections that we made have the best shot for success,” Law added. “There shouldn’t be a fourth.”

Also, during a stop in Sullivan County on his casino victory tour yesterday, Cuomo said he did not “anticipate” doing any more licenses.

The governor said he wants to make sure the casinos given the green light succeed and don’t have to worry about additional competition – other than what already exists in an increasingly crowded (and, from a national standpoint, troubled) gaming landscape.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will meet with members of the Justice League NYC, which has been organization protests following the Eric Garner grand jury decision. This meeting will be closed press.

At 8 a.m., ahead of a NYC Board of Correction public hearing, advocates of jail reform will hold a rally to protest the proposed creation of Enhanced Supervision Housing Units, 455 1st Ave., Manhattan.

At 10:10 a.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli will be Sen. David Carlucci’s special guest on the “Albany Report” radio show, exclusively on WRCR 1300 AM.

At 10:30 a.m., former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani makes his annual visit to Hale House Mother Hale Learning Center; 154 W. 22nd St., Manhattan.

At 10:40 a.m., US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will tour the Center for Agriculture and Natural Resources at the SUNY Cobleskill with President Debra Thatcher, culinary students, and instructors, 114 Rockland Lane, Cobleskill.

At 11:30 a.m., the Thruway Authority board meets at its headquarters to approve its 2015 budget, 200 Southern Blvd., Albany.

At noon, the Assembly will hold a joint public hearing to examine the adequacy of the fee schedule for medical provider reimbursement proposed by the Workers’ Compensation Board to be used under both the workers’ compensation system and the no-fault system and to determine its impact on access to quality treatment and return to work rates, Hearing Room B, LOB, Albany.

At 2:10 p.m., de Blasio speaks at the NYPD Promotions Ceremony, 1 Police Plaza, Manhattan.

At 5 p.m., a pro-police rally (and potential counter-rally) take place, City Hall steps, Manhattan.


Gov. Andrew Cuomo fired the first salvo in what’s shaping up to be a contentious battle over education reform, signaling he plans to push next year for sweeping changes – like making it easier to fire low-performing teachers and increasing the number of charter schools.

Cuomo made his intentions clear in a letter to the Regents chancellor and outgoing state education commissioner. NYSUT slammed the governor’s questions and the letter’s overall tone as showing “ignorance about what parents want and the real issues facing public education.”

Gerald Benjamin, director of the Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach at SUNY New Paltz, said it was unusual for the governor to release such a letter publicly rather than communicating privately with legislative leaders. “He’s playing hardball.”

DFS Superitnendent Ben Lawsky said he would ease record-keeping requirements in the state’s proposal for a virtual currency licensing regime and provide a transitional license for startups, but concerns remain that the final rule will set too high a bar for anti-money laundering compliance.

New York landowners blocked from cashing in on the natural gas boom by the state’s just-announced fracking ban may fight back in court, but experts say energy companies are unlikely to spend their money and time on lawsuits when they’ve already lost their investments.

Cuomo defended the state’s decision, saying it wasn’t worth jeopardizing the public’s health for the jobs the drilling could create.

Though he said he had nothing to do with the selection process, Cuomo took a mini victory lap yesterday of counties that won the casino sweepstakes. (Bad weather kept him from making it to Seneca County).

Southern Tier residents are reeling from the one-two punch of no casinos and no fracking. “The casinos went down, fracking went down – come on; this place is dead in the water now,” said Binghamton resident Pat Shea. “This whole area was thumbed at, snubbed, like it was nothing.”

It’s a totally different situation in the Catskills, where Monticello casino boosters are celebrating after winning one of the three upstate license recommendations announced this week.

Bob McManus: “The fruits of Andrew Cuomo’s first term went on display one after another this week — and what a withered bunch of grapes they turned out to be.”

State legislators, highway officials and even those stuck on highways for 30 hours during the November snowstorm in Western New York are expected to participate in the state Thruway Authority’s self-review of its performance now underway.

Federal prosecutors plan to sue New York City over widespread civil rights violations in the handling of adolescent inmates at Rikers Island, making clear their dissatisfaction with the city’s progress in reining in brutality by guards and improving conditions at the jail complex.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first-year agenda has faced next to no resistance in the City Council, a feat some say is inextricably linked to his successful effort to install his choice for council speaker, Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Police precincts across NYC are reportedly calling off their planned annual festivities because they can’t afford to take officers off the street while protests against police brutality continue to crop up almost nightly.

An organizer at NYC’s largest union, SEIU, surrendered to cops and was charged with busting an NYPD lieutenant’s nose during a videotaped mob attack on the Brooklyn Bridge.

More >


BuzzFeed will receive a $4 million tax break from the state to expand its Manhattan offices.

…The announcement comes on the heels of news that Buzzfeed has signed one of the year’s biggest leases in Midtown South, which has increasingly become a focal point for NYC’s tech and creative industries.

When it came to siting upstate casinos, the Gaming Facility Location Board played it safe.

PBA President Pat Lynch told officers to use “extreme discretion,” in response to what he said was a lack of support from City Hall and Washington after the Eric Garner grand jury decision.

Lynch also said NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio “thinks he’s running a f@#$ing revolution,” and called a protest of the Garner decision by black congressional staffers “stupid S@#!.”

Eva Moskowitz, founder and CEO of Success Academy Charter Schools, called off an anti-de Blasio press conference after the DOE agreed to find space for her network of expanding charter schools.

Seventy-six percent of New Yorkers disagree with de Blasio’s quest to ban horse-drawn carriages from Central Park, a Q poll found.

PETA named de Blasio its “person of the year.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the Lyme bill into law.

He also vetoed a bill that would have put a halt to state plans to eradicate a species of swan.

There will be no toll increase involved when the Thruway Board meets tomorrow to approve the 2015 budget.

Richard Nixon Nixon’s grandson, Christopher Cox, and his wife, Andrea Catsimatidis, heiress to the Gristedes supermarket fortune, are getting a divorce.

…and also, this.

The governor is holding an open house at the executive mansion on Dec. 31 instead of New Year’s Day. Tickets are available through a lottery.

“When I visit New York, I often get a headache from all the pollution. I notice that the governor hasn’t banned the use of cars.”

The four-year graduation rate for New York City students entering high school in 2010 reached 64.2 percent - a small uptick from 61.3 percent the previous school year.

Statewide, a total of 76.4 percent of students who started high school in 2010 graduated before June 2014 – up slightly from the 74.9 percent in 2009.

Rush Limbaugh thinks Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush would be the perfect ticket for 2016.

Florida Sen. Bill Nelson phoned Clinton recently to tell her to run for president again. (He expects his state to “decide the nation” in the race).

A Clinton adviser recently met with the head of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, the liberal issues group most closely affiliated with Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Grant Loomis, the deputy chief of staff for Rep. Chris Collins, has been named as the new vice president of government affairs for the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.

Former Gov. George Pataki thinks the NYPD is the best police department in the nation.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s press office has not yet released his public schedule. But he’s expected to make an appearance in Sullivan County, which won one of three casino licenses yesterday.

DFS Superintendent Ben Lawsky is in Washington, where he will deliver remarks on the new, revised, proposed BitLicense framework for regulating virtual currencies, as well as broader trends and issues in payments technology, Bipartisan Policy Center, 1225 Eye St. NW, Suite 1000.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is also in DC today. He will travel there after attending a Compstat meeting at 1 Police Plaza and a retirement breakfast for Nancy Bunche, house steward of Gracie Mansion. In Washington, the mayor meet with DNC leadership on New York City’s bid to host the 2016 Democratic National Convention.

At 10:30 a.m., NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito will appear in “Scrooge: A Christmas Story,” put on by the East Harlem Repertory Theater Company at Lehman College, the Bronx.

Also at 10:30 a.m., NYC Public Advocate Tish James, who chairs the Commission on Public Information and Communication, will hold a hearing to discuss ways of increasing public access to governmental information and data, 1 Pace Plaza (Pace University, Aniello Bianco Room, enter at 3 Spruce St., Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., outgoing state Education Commissioner John King delivers remarks to education department staff, Chancellor’s Hall, SED, 89 Washington Ave., Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., Monroe County Clerk Cheryl Dinolfo naturalizes 48 new US citizens, County Office Building Legislative Chambers, Room 407, 39 W. Main St., Rochester.

At 11:30 a.m., Sen. Jeff Klein unveils a new report on “Toxic Tidings: chemicals of Concern in Children’s Products”; 250 Broadway, 20th Floor, Room 2009, Manhattan.

At noon, Sen. Marty Golden joins family and friends of Pietro Joseph Scarso, a 5-year-old boy fighting Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, to highlight a public awareness campaign; 9321 Ridge Blvd., Brooklyn.

At 1 p.m., Chobani will be donating one million cups of Greek yogurt to New Yorkers in need this holiday season, 669 County Road 25, New Berlin.

At 1:30 p.m., Success Academy Charter Schools CEO Eva Moskowitz and others call on NYC leaders to provide space for Success Academy middle schools; City Hall Steps, Manhattan.

At 3 p.m., Rep. Chris Gibson will attend the ceremonial swearing-in ceremony for state Supreme Court Justice Lisa Fisher, Greene County Courthouse, Catskill.

At 6 p.m., the Dutchess County GOP hosts a holiday cocktail party, Christo’s, 155 Wilbur Blvd., Poughkeepsie.

Also at 6 p.m., members of the NYC Panel for Educational Policy hold a public meeting; Q. 450 Long Island City High School, 14-30 Broadway, Queens.

Also at 6 p.m., the Westchester County GOP and County Executive Rob Astorino co-chost a holiday party, Westchester Manor, 140 Saw Mill River Rd., Hastings-on-Hudson.

At 6:30 p.m., former Manhattan GOP Chair Dan Isaacs is scheduled to host a holiday party, Metropolitan Republican Club, 122 East 83rd St., Manhattan.

Also at 6:30 p.m., Assemblyman Karim Camara will moderate an Emergency Youth Town Hall on Police Brutality, 180 Remsen St., St. Francis College, Founders Hall Auditorium, Brooklyn.

Also at 6:30 p.m., Congressman-elect Lee Zeldin hosts a victory/holiday party, the proceeds of which will be used to retire his NY-1 campaign debt, The Luordo residence, 2 Hunters Way, Nissequogue, Long Island.

At 11:30 p.m., de Blasio appears on “The Colbert Report” on Comedy Central. (This interview was pre-taped).


After six years of review, New York finally has an answer on fracking in the Marcellus Shale: No.

New York is the first state in the US to ban the controversial natural gas drilling technique.

The fracking decision did little to change how Gov. Andrew Cuomo is viewed. Drilling opponents were thrilled with the move and praised him, while supporters insisted it was political motivated and lambasted him.

Cuomo – a famously hands-on governor – appeared to try to wash his hands of the fracking decision, insisting it had been made not by him, but by his health and DEC commissioners. (No one was really buying that).

The fracking decision is likely to help repair the governor’s relations with the left wing of the Democratic Party, which backed Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout against him in the September primary. Teachout issued a statement praising the decision.

You can read the DOH report on the public health impact of fracking, which was two years in the making, here.

The New York Times weighs in: “This was not an easy decision, but it was the right one.”

The Journal News called the decision “wise.”

When Conklin, N.Y., town supervisor Jim Finch heard the news, he began drawing up plans to secede from the state. “I’m serious,” said Finch, who oversees a town of some 5,000 people on the Susquehanna River just a few minutes’ drive from the Pennsylvania border. “New York City determines policy in the Southern Tier? That’s baloney.”

Rep. Tom Reed called the fracking decision “devastating” for the Southern Tier, which didn’t get one of four available upstate casino licenses, either. Sen. Cathy Young called it a “punch in the gut” for the region. (Both lawmakers are Republican).

Cuomo said he will work to develop an alternative economic plan for the Southern Tier region that is now cut off from the fracking industry after the state decided drilling was too risky.

A $300 million casino and resort planned for an old industrial site along the Mohawk River in Schenectady got the initial green light as one of three gambling centers to be licensed by New York state.

Orange County, a coveted potential casino location due to its proximity to New York City, drew the most bidders but received no licenses, even though the projects there would likely have been the most profitable in the state.

“We concluded that a license award to any of the six Orange County proposals would present too great a risk of precluding success to Sullivan or Ulster County,” said Gaming Facility Location Board Chair Kevin Law. “We also concluded that granting licenses to two casinos within the Catskills would negatively impact each other.”

The recommendation to license a casino in Sullivan – the heart of the once-bustling “Borscht Belt” resort region – will test the premise that blackjack and craps can breathe new life in an old summer haven known in its heyday for families, mostly Jewish, arriving packed in station wagons to enjoy fast-talking comedians and other entertainment, a la “Dirty Dancing.”

The awarding of a casino in Seneca County drew ire from Tioga Downs owner and applicant Jeffrey Gural, who said: “Bad day? I think the Southern Tier just got wiped out economically.” Lago developer Tom Wilmot said he plans to start construction ASAP.

More >


The US will restore full diplomatic relations with Cuba and open an embassy in Havana for the first time in more than a half-century after the release of an American contractor held in prison for five years.

Pope Francis, who celebrated his 78th birthday today, played a key role in brokering the US-Cuba deal.

A group opposing a new casino in the Finger Lakes is strongly considering suing the Gaming Commission to halt the Lago Resort & Casino development in Seneca County.

Jeff Gural, owner of both Vernon Downs and Tioga Downs racinos, said the people of the Southern Tier were “screwed” by the casino and fracking decisions.

Senate Deputy Republican Leader Tom Libous, of Binghamton, is very upset about the treatment the Southern Tier received.

As promised by acting Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, the agency’s public health review is now online.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave himself cover on fracking – and climate change – which may come in handy should he still harbor White House ambitions.

Attorney Tom West, who represented a gas company and landowner who sued to overturn local zoning bans, doesn’t expect a lawsuit bonanza in response to the fracking decision.

NYC’s leading Democrats – including Mayor Bill de Blasio – hailed the Cuomo administration’s decision not to allow fracking in the Marcellus.

Anti-fracking activist and actor Mark Ruffalo is happy.

A bill intended to enhance financial accountability at the Port Authority was sent to Cuomo, giving him until Dec. 27 to act on the measure before it becomes law.

After months of intensifying pressure to address rampant brutality and corruption at Rikers Island, de Blasio toured the troubled jail complex – his first visit since taking office.

New York City says it has ended its longstanding practice of sending 16- and 17-year-old inmates to solitary confinement for breaking rules.

The late David Garth’s relationship with the Cuomo family was “frequently adversarial.”

Several aviation and rail projects in Western New York will benefit from $26.8 million in statewide funding announced by Cuomo.

De Blasio is scheduled to meet with people who have been protesting the Eric Garner decision, and says they must “denounce violence.”

Fifty-seven percent of New Yorkers want the protestors – even those who are nonviolent – off city streets, a new Q poll found.

The same poll found 61 percent of voters support AG Eric Schneiderman’s call for his office to be given the power to handle cases in which unarmed civilians are killed by police.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s scheduled deposition in a federal lawsuit brought by two sexual harassment victims of former Assemblyman Vito Lopez has been postponed, raising the specter that a settlement in the case could be near.

Rep. Peter King really does not like his fellow Republican, Sen. Ted Cruz, calling the Texas lawmaker “one big self-inflicted wound.”

Cuomo professed ignorance of his administration’s effort to reclassify some 1,000 PEF workers, and also of the MC pay raise commission bill sitting on his desk.

A group of Tompkins County renewable energy experts say there’s no need for a proposed natural gas pipeline between Freeville and Lansing, and they’re planning to lobby against the project.

New York Medicaid program spent $193.2 million during the first six months of 2014 on Sovaldi, the controversial Hepatitis C drug that carries an $84,000-per-patient price tag.

Success Academy founder and CEO Eva Moskowitz will slam the de Blasio administration tomorrow for what she claims are delays in presenting plans for turning around 247 failing schools and for finding locations for 16 charter schools.

Despite Jeb Bush’s decision to flirt with a 2016 run, Home Depot co-founder Ken Langone is sticking with NJ Gov. Chris Christie.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is hosting an off-the-record holiday party this evening for the City Hall press corps and senior staffers at Gracie Mansion.

At 10 a.m., Bodega Association of the US Inc. members and officials and community and government officials hold a news conference to discuss the release of a report about beer pricing, criticize mergers and pricing of franchised beer wholesalers and promote state legislation intended to benefit independent beer wholesalers; steps, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., the Assembly will hold the fifth in a series of six statewide public hearings to examine legislation that would establish New York Health, a universal “single payer” health coverage plan, Nassau County Legislative Chamber, Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building, 1550 Franklin Ave., Mineola.

At 10:30 a.m., the Assembly Ethics Committee meets, Room 714, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

At 11 a.m., the Assembly will hold a public hearing to examine the impact of the SFY 2014-2015 State Budget on counties, cities, towns and villages, Roosevelt Hearing Room C, 2nd Floor, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., Councilmen Paul Vallone and Daniel Garodnick will host a press conference announcing legislation to regulate the private use of drones in New York City, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer has a press conference at the Farragut Houses, 192 Sands St., Brooklyn.

Also at 11 a.m., Sen. Liz Krueger and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes hold public forum on Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, 19th floor, 250 Broadway, Manhattan.

At 11:15 a.m., Cuomo holds a cabinet meeting, Red Room, state Capitol, Albany.

At 11:30 a.m., Sen. David Carlucci will host a press conference to make families aware of the dangers that are associated with artificial Christmas trees, Curti Landscaping Christmas Tree Stand, Rockland Shopping Center, 17 North Middletown Rd., Nanuet.

At 12:50 p.m., de Blasio visits Rikers Island, Robert N. Davoren Complex, 11-11 Hazen St., East Elmhurst. A press conference will follow.

At 2 p.m., the Gaming Facility Location Board meets to announce the winners of up to four casino licenses in three upstate regions, Empire State Plaza, Meeting Room 6, Albany.

Also at 2 p.m., nursing home workers represented by SEIU Local 1199 participate in an informational picketing at a Bronx nursing home, as part of similar demonstrations planned at more than 40 nursing homes NYC and on Long Island; Daughters of Jacob Nursing Home, 1160 Teller Ave., the Bronx.

At 2:30 p.m., the Wage Board appointed by state Labor Commissioner Peter Rivera meets, Room 544, Building 12, Harriman State Office Campus, Albany.

At 4 p.m., Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, state GOP Chair Ed Cox, state Sens. Ruben Diaz and Dean Skelos, Marine Toys for Tots Foundation representatives and other New York Hispanic Clergy Organization members distribute free donated toys to up to 1,000 children ages 1 to 9; auditorium, I.S. 216 Rafael Hernandez Middle School, 977 Fox St., the Bronx.

At 8 p.m., Brooklyn BP Eric Adams and Consul General of Pakistan Raja Ejaz will hold a candlelight vigil with members of the Pakistani community after the school massacre in Peshawar that killed 141 people, 132 of them children, 1090 Coney Island Ave., Brooklyn. (Stringer will also attend).


The real “Alpha House” is coming to an end, as Rep. George Miller of California prepares to retire and sell the D.C. home is has long shared with US Sen. Chuck Schumer and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin.

With little fanfare to mark a rare bipartisan achievement, President Obama signed a massive, $1.1 trillion spending bill that keeps the government operating over the next nine months.

Kristin Proud, the commissioner of the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, is the latest high-ranking Cuomo administration official set to depart at the end of the month.

Assembly Democrats challenged Cuomo’s assertion that New York lawmakers had shown little interest in ethics reform, saying they were prepared to back substantial changes to the way business is done in Albany.

Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos accused Cuomo of being insincere in negotiations over a legislative pay raise.

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer is seeking to settle a $75 million damage claim filed against the city in the chokehold death of Eric Garner — a move that could give Stringer a high-profile role in the case at the expense of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The NYPD announced a $12,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of seven suspects, in connection with a clash between protesters and police on the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday.

De Blasio will meet at City Hall on Friday with members of Justice League NYC, one of the groups that has staged the protests.

The mayor said police union leaders, who are among his loudest critics, do not speak for all members of the New York Police Department.

A staffer of Rep. Michael Grimm called de Blasio an “asshole” on Facebook. The comment has been deleted, and the congressman – according to his spokesman – neither agrees with nor condones the sentiment. Disciplinary action will be taken.

The divide between Buffalo police and the black community was on display last night as residents repeatedly asked why more isn’t being done to weed out bad cops, and police brass repeatedly told the group they don’t tolerate officers who abuse their authority.

Nine out of 10 New York City teachers received one of the top two rankings in the first year of a new evaluation system that was hailed as a better way of assessing how they perform, according to figures released by the state Education Department.

Overall, more than 95 percent of the state’s teachers were rated “effective” or “highly effective” in evaluations for the previous school year. That’s despite dismal test scores statewide.

“It’s crazy that the majority of teachers across the state were rated highly when the majority of students aren’t being taught to read and do math at grade level,” said Jenny Sedlis, executive director of the pro-charter schools organization StudentsFirstNY.

Even as the governor says a long-awaited study on fracking is nearing completion, a large group of local officials want the ban to continue.

More >


Jeb Bush announced that he will “actively explore the possibility of running for president of the United States.” He”ll establish a leadership PAC next month.

As protests and emotions continue to roil over the death of Eric Garner, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer is seeking to negotiate a settlement of a $75 million civil rights claim brought by Garner’s family.

About a dozen members of the Justice League NYC, who have been protesting following the Garner grand jury decision, are scheduled to meet with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio tomorrow.

Even the prosecutors who presented evidence to the Garner grand jury were reportedly stunned and disappointed when the panel didn’t indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo.

Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams said he was appalled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s failure to chastise PBA President Pat Lynch for actions that helped inflame post-Garner tensions between the police and City Hall.

De Blasio appeared on “The View” with his wife, Chirlane McCray, to discuss ongoing protests and tensions surrounding race and policing in the city, and also to defend his own conversations about the issue with his son, Dante.

Better than 9 of 10 teachers in New York received one of the two highest ratings in their annual evaluations last school year, according to new data released by SED.

New York taxpayers are on track to spend over $1 million to help state lawmakers keep details of their outside jobs secret.

AG Eric Schneiderman has sued another Papa John’s pizza franchise for routinely cheating hundreds of employees at six of its city shops out of wages.

A fracking decision is imminent, but a group of local elected officials is calling on Cuomo to extend the state’s moratorium on drilling while more studies are conducted.

The circumstances surrounding several Southern Tier town boards and their position on fracking for natural gas make the case for stronger statewide ethics laws, NYPIRG says.

Work on the Tappan Zee bridge was halted earlier today after silos that are part of the project’s floating concrete plants collapsed.

…This appears to be the first major construction incident on the project since it began nearly two years ago.

The CBC issued guidelines for “wisely” using the state’s $5 billion financial settlement windfall.

To show their appreciation to the Detroit Lions for offering up their stadium during last month’s snowstorm, the Bills shipped off some of Buffalo’s most prized hometown food items – La Nova pizza and wings – to the Motor City team.

Here’s the list of agencies and job titles that would be affected by the governor’s effort to reclassify about 1,000 PEF positions to non-union “managerial/confidential” status.

Sen. Jeff Klein is throwing a Hanukkah BINGO party.

A Utica Fire Station has attracted the ire of a national church-and-state separation group for its holiday sign reading “Happy Birthday Jesus We Love You.”

HIllary Clinton for US Supreme Court justice?

A new poll found 48 percent of Democrats and Democrat-leaning voters think Clinton should have a primary opponent if she runs in 2016.

Gregg Birnbaum, formerly of POLITICO (and before that, the NY Post), will replace Joel Siegel (who’s moving to NY1) as managing editor of politics at the Daily News.

Here and Now (Updated)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule.

Chanukah starts at sundown tonight.

From 8:45 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., the Board of Regents meets in Albany.

At 9 a.m., the New York Power Authority Governance Committee holds a meeting followed by a meeting of the NYPA Board of Trustees, 123 Main St., 16th Floor, White Plains.

At 9:30 a.m., Assembly Health Committee Chair Dick Gottfried holds a press conference and then a public hearing on legislation that would establish a Medicare-style single-payer health care system in the state, Grand Hall, fifth floor, Global Center for Academic and Spiritual Life, 238 Thompson St., Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., Sen. David Carlucci’s Senior Advisory Committee will be meeting to discuss legislation they will be supporting in this upcoming legislative session, Nanuet Public Library, 149 Church St., Nanuet.

At 11 a.m., the Assembly holds a hearing on prevention and treatment of alcohol and drug abuse, 250 Broadway, Manhattan.

At approximately 11:10 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray appear live on “The View” on ABC.

At 11:30 a.m., “Move NY” campaign and civic foundation TransitCenter representatives discuss a poll on the MTA’s system and the campaign’s “Fair Plan” proposals to expand bus, commuter railroad and subway service, fund renovation projects and modify bridge tolls, parking taxes and taxi surcharges; New York Building Congress, 44 W. 28th St., Manhattan.

At noon, NYPIRG releases a report with fracking recommendations, outside the state Senate Chamber, Capitol, Albany.

Also at noon, the Alliance for a Greater New York joins with labor leaders and environmental justice advocates for a forum on climate change, jobs and inequality, 32BJ, 5th Floor Auditorium, 25 W. 18th St., Manhattan.

At 2:20 p.m., de Blasio and FDNY Commissioner Nigro will announce preliminary FDNY statistics for 2014 and discuss preparations for the celebration of FDNY’s 150th Anniversary, which will be marked in 2015, quarters of Rescue Company 1, 530 West 43rd St., Manhattan.

At 4 p.m., Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. and NYS Republican Committee Chair Ed Cox celebrate Christmas with a toy giveaway, I.S. 216 Rafael Hernandez School, 977 Fox St., the Bronx. UPDATE: This event is taking place TOMORROW. Sorry for the confusion.

At 5 p.m., the NYC Voter Assistance Advisory Committee members hold a public hearing and reception; Dweck Center, Brooklyn Public Library, use entrance along the Eastern Parkway, 10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn.

At 5:30 p.m., to coincide with the start of the eight-day Jewish observance of Hanukkah, Masbia Soup Kitchen Network chef Ruben Diaz and NYC Public Advocate Tish James fry traditional latke potato pancakes during a party and reception; 1372 Coney Island Ave., Brooklyn.

At 6 p.m., Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, religious leaders and police officials will get together for a public forum on police-community relations, Mt. Olive Baptist Church, 701 East Delavan Ave., Buffalo.

At 6:15 p.m., de Blasio will light the menorah for the first night of Hanukkah in Grand Army Plaza, the Bronx.

At 7 p.m., Manhattan BP Gale Brewer and NYC Council members Ben Kallos, Mark Levine, Helen Rosenthal and Dan Garodnick attend the Manhattan Young Democrats holiday party, Sweetwater Social, 643 Broadway, Manhattan.

At 7:50 p.m., de Blasio speaks at the Robert F. Kennedy Center Ripple of Hope Awards Dinner, Grand Ballroom, New York Hilton, 1335 Ave. of the Americas, Manhattan.


Three major decisions are expected before the end of this year: The location of up to four upstate casinos, whether there will be a Thruway toll hike and a potential green light for fracking in the Marcellus Shale.

“(W)e’ll start the new year with some major decisions under our belt, so to speak,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

In a move that has sent shock waves through the state’s unionized workforce, the Cuomo administration sent notices to about 1,000 members of the Public Employees Federation telling them the state is seeking to reclassify the recipients as non-union workers.

The NYPD is now looking for six more people in connection with the assault of two police lieutenants over the weekend. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio urged protestors with information to come forward.

The protests against police brutality continued outside Gracie Mansion last night, where de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray were holding a holiday party for elected officials, advocates and labor leaders.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton sided with de Blasio in the mayor’s ongoing war of words with the NYPD unions over the Garner case fallout.

Patrick Lynch, the head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, refused to heed Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s call for all sides to ratchet down the rhetoric, and continued to rip the mayor for calling his actions “divisive.”

Cuomo praised Lynch, (a fellow “Queens boy”), calling him a “fine leader” who is “standing up for police, which is his job.”

A NYC Council proposal to criminalize the use of chokeholds has 27 sponsors, likely securing passage of the bill when it is put up for a full vote.

Sen. Jeff Klein, head of the Independent Democratic Conference, says he’s likely to announce an agreement with Republican Senate leader Dean Skelos by the end of the week. “We will once again have a power over legislation, the budget and everything else,” he insisted.

The state Board of Elections speedily approved a resolution conferring “special investigator” status on Chief Enforcement Counsel Risa Sugarman and three former law enforcement officers who have been hired to handle campaign finance probes.

It appears that more than 100 Buffalo Public Schools teachers and principals received ratings of “effective” or “highly effective” when in fact, according to state measures, they weren’t effective at all.

New after-the-fact permits filed for the completed fence around Gracie Mansion put the estimated cost of the project at $30,000 — more than seven times the figure put out earlier by City Hall.

NYC authorities were watching the Sydney hostage situation with “deep concern” and were beefing up security at city sites related to the Australian government “and other pertinent locations.”

More >


Notoriously late NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio kept more than 100 people waiting at the gate to board a JetBlue flight from JFK Airport to Puerto Rico last month because he was running late and had the plane held for him.

Bo Dietl, a Fox News contributor and former NYPD detective, declared today he will run against de Blasio when the Democrat presumably seeks re-election in 2017.

The SUNY Research Foundation will pay $3.75 million after federal prosecutors found that the troubled agency manipulated audits of its health-care programs.

New York City’s former data-driven mayor Michael Bloomberg joined former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this morning to highlight Data2X, an initiative that collects data on women in an effort to close gender gaps across the globe.

“If you don’t measure, you can’t manage. You can’t understand what the problem is,” said Clinton.

Sen. Jeff Klein says if de Blasio pursues a so-called pied-à-terre or luxury tax in Albany next year, he’s not likely to get it.

If encouragement from major GOP donors and favorable polling isn’t enough, former Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney now has a super PAC launched by an unknown benefactor urging him to run.

Fourteen cities ranging from Long Beach, California, to Jerusalem are getting up to $3 million from Bloomberg’s foundation to create “innovation teams” to jump-start new approaches to poverty, public safety, job growth and other issues.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer would like New York hospitals to receive $50 million from the federal government to reimburse them for the cost of preparing for and treating the Ebola virus.

Activists are planning an anti-fracking protest in Albany during Cuomo’s State of the State address on Jan 7. According to the governor’s comments today, there should be a drilling decision by then.

The Syracuse Chiefs and Onondaga County are teaming up for a nearly $1 million project to make NBT Bank Stadium more hospitable for large group events at games next season.

The US Coast Guard and US Maritime Administration have issued a draft environmental impact statement for the proposed Port Ambrose liquefied natural gas facility, starting the regulatory clock on the fate of the controversial offshore project.

Another safety blitz on trains and railroad tracks involved with the shipping of crude oil has turned up a variety of minor problems, Cuomo announced.

Adele Malpass, the wife of former U.S. Senate candidate David Malpass, replaced Dan Isaacs as Manhattan GOP chair.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino brought a plate of holiday cookies to the Albany press corps, which disappeared in short order.

Here’s the Cuomo family holiday card, which features a photo that appears to have been taken election night.

Gregg Birnbaum has resigned from POLITICO after four years. More TK tomorrow on his future.

The government wants an extra month to decide whether to appeal a landmark ruling making it harder to bring insider trading charges, a decision that also threw out key convictions in US Attorney Preet Bharara’s seven-year probe of market manipulation.

Deputy Taxation and Finance Commissioner Robert Plattner was named person of the year by State Tax Notes.