Apr 10th - 5:22 pm
Stephen Colbert will be taking over “The Late Show” when David Letterman departs.
Colbert currently films in New York, but it’s unclear if that will continue.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo implied his health commissioner, Nirav Shah, is departing for a West Coast job because his New York gig didn’t pay enough.
Shah told DOH employees his last day will be May 4, though the DOH said he would be sticking around through June.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s first 100 days speech touted his accomplishments and gave hints of what’s to come.
Members of a new Bills stadium task force have mentioned Niagara Falls as a possible location.
A woman was taken into custody after throwing what she described as a shoe at Hillary Clinton during a Las Vegas speech.
De Blasio has offered public support to the Rev. Al Sharpton in the wake of the FBI informant uproar; Cuomo has not.
Following the governor’s second booze summit, the state Liquor Authority has moved to ease regulations for beverage producers.
Sen. Chuck Schumer says the FDA is going to crack down on honey laundering. (Yes, you read that right).
CSEA and Cuomo have a rare moment of agreement on the governor’s effort to cap the executive compensation paid to the heads of non profit organizations funded by the state.
A new coalition of pro-Scaffold Law advocates say they want to not only maintain the provision but to enhance its worker protections.
The NYC CFB fined former mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis $11,473 for not accurately reporting his mailers opposing City Councilman Eric Ulrich.
The consulting firm that Eliot Spitzer paid about $1 million during his failed NYC comptroller bid last year, is now spearheading Pastor Mike Walrond’s campaign against Rep. Charlie Rangel.
Cuomo’s campaign made a major ad buy with Jewish newspapers to wish readers a happy Passover.
Sen. Greg Ball reportedly will be challenging Putnam County Executive Mary Ellen Odell in a primary. (Subscription required; Balls says he will make a decision on his next political move in mid-May).
NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray would like to see her husband in City Hall for “ast least eight years.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Dan Maffei plan to tour a Manlius company tomorrow with Fred P. Hochberg, chairman and president of the Export-Import Bank of the United States.
Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani implied he was involved back in his US attorney days in wiring the Rev. Al Sharpton when he was an FBI informant.
Apr 10th - 4:53 pm
Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino in an online video Thursday reignited a GOP-backed call for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
At issue for Astorino is the series of sexually harassment scandals that have plagued the state Assembly under Silver’s leadership.
In the video, Astorino says the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption was “doomed” from the start because it wasn’t going to investigate Silver’s handling of the harassment cases.
“The Silver ‘story’ has supposedly moved on. But it remains a cancer eating at the soul of New York,” Astorino said. “Until a special prosecutor is appointed to investigate Sheldon Silver’s action, Albany will remain unethical to its core.”
Silver and his office came under criticism for approving more than $100,000 in confidential settlement money to women who were sexually harassed by Assemblyman Vito Lopez. Silver has apologized for his handling of the case, but says no laws were broken by him or his office.
Apr 10th - 4:38 pm
As Stephen Colbert is poised to take over CBS’ “Late Show” following the retirement of David Letterman, Gov. Anderew Cuomo in a statement implored the head of the network to keep the program in New York City.
“With East Coast based host Stephen Colbert taking the reins of the “Late Show,” it’s clear we should keep the show where it belongs – here in New York,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I am calling CBS President and Chief Executive Officer Les Moonves and urging that CBS continue the “Late Show’s” history of filming in New York’s own legendary Ed Sullivan Theater. Our state is a top destination for entertainment businesses to thrive and grow, creating jobs and economic opportunities for communities across the State, and late night programs are a major part of that success. We must ensure that the “Late Show’s” long and proud history of making the nation laugh from New York continues for years to come.”
Cuomo last year proposed an expansion of the state’s film-tax credit, which the Legislature approved. At the same time, the spending plan proposed a tax credit aimed at bringing The Tonight Show franchise back to New York City under the new host, Jimmy Fallon.
The credit provides a 30 percent tax break to “a television production that is a talk or variety program” that moves to New York.
Apr 10th - 4:09 pm
County Sen. Greg Ball, the chairman of the Senate Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee, against a New York City municipal identification card — a proposal that is backed by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
In a statement, Ball called the proposal a “homeland security nightmare” that should be blocked.
“As the details on the Mayor’s plan becomes clear, our worst fears have been confirmed,” Ball said in a statement. “Without requiring fingerprints, or other proper security checks, this will create a homeland security nightmare for law enforcement and the vulnerable civilian population of New York City and beyond.”
The ID is aimed in part to help immigrants, the homeless or the elderly who may difficult obtaining a government-issued driver’s license. Doing so would help them open bank accounts or enter areas where identification is required.
Supporters of a municipal ID for the city also argue that it would be easier for those who carry them to establish identity when dealing with law enforcement and foster greater interactivity with the city government.
Such identification cards also allow individuals to establish identity when interacting with law enforcement, preventing unnecessary detention. In addition, the cards benefit the city itself, fostering greater connectivity to important urban institutions, providing access to vital locations where photo ID is required, and creating a sense of unity within or identification with the city.
Nevertheless, the ID card issue is a politically sensitive one. In 2007, then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer proposed identification for undocumented immigrants that was broadly unpopular statewide and created some complications for Hillary Clinton on the presidential campaign trail.
Apr 10th - 2:27 pm
Comptroller Tom DiNapoli earned $161,476 in 2013, with his income augmented modestly by the sale of Verizon stock, according to his income tax records made public on Thursday.
DiNapoli, a Democrat who lives on Long Island, earned $152,567 from his post as state comptroller.
He earned $5,342 in dividends from stock, including AT&T, American Funds, Comcast, Verizon and Vodafone.
DiNapoli unloaded some of his Verizon stock last year, which netted him $3,246.
He paid $28,416 in total federal taxes when taking into consideration his $5,573 federal refund.
His state tax bill was $9,738, and he owed $21 at tax time.
DiNapoli also received $8 from a class-action lawsuit settlement involving American Express.
As usual, DiNapoli contributed thousands to charitable organizations, including $1,645 to St. Aloysius Church.
Apr 10th - 1:36 pm
The co-chairman of the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption in a letter to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara write that “several referrals” have been made to federal and state law enforcement based off its work.
In the letter, commission co-chairman Milton Williams and William Fitzpatrick note that Bharara is correct in his assessment earlier this month that some investigations the panel conducted “overlap considerably” with his office.
“As the co-chairpersons of the Commission, we have decided that referrals to law enforcement shall be made only upon unanimous vote of the co-chairs,” Fitzpatrick and Williams wrote. “In light of the facts discussed above, and consistent with the Executive Order, we have agreed to provide your office with copies of all documents in the Commission’s control relating to the Commission’s ongoing investigative work.”
This lines up with Fitzpatrick, the Onondaga County district attorney, declaring in a radio interview last year that the commission had turned up potential corruption that it would refer to law enforcement.
Bharara has questioned in two letters whether the commission was ending its work prematurely following a state budget agreement that included the passage of the Public Trust Act, a package of anti-bribery and anti-fraud measures as well as independent oversight at the state Board of Elections when it comes to campaign finance violations.
Cuomo insisted on Thursday the commission did what it was designed to do: Investigate the Legislature and find a way to have lawmakers agree to new reform measures.
But questions remain on the scope of Cuomo’s office’s involvement in the commission’s direction of subpoenas themselves; Bharara in a radio interview did not rule out an investigation of the governor’s office.
Apr 10th - 1:20 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo pushed back on Thursday against concerns raised by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara that he “bargained away” the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption in favor of an agreement on ethics legislation in the state budget.
Cuomo, speaking with reporters in Irondequoit, said the panel itself was created in order to get an agreement on anti-corruption charges.
“It was a temporary commission,” Cuomo said in a question-and-answer session. “I was not creating a perpetual bureaucracy.”
Bharara in a letter to the commission suggested the disbanding of the panel charged with investigating wrongdoing in the state Assembly and Senate was ending its work prematurely.
However, the governor pointed out the commission had indeed been created in response to a lack of legislative progress on ethics.
Cuomo, indeed, had been threatening lawmakers with an investigate Moreland Commission as far back as 2011, his first year in office.
Creation of the commission that year was averted when Cuomo and state lawmakers agreed to an ethics package that included the newest incarnation of an ethics enforcement agency known as the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, as well as the requirement that elected officials reveal more information on their outside income.
In 2013, lawmakers and Cuomo did not agree to a package of anti-corruption measures following a spate of arrests in the Legislature.
Cuomo went forward with the commission’s creation that July, appointing district attorneys and legal officials with the blessing of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Lawmakers pushed back against the commission’s authority to investigate the Assembly and Senate by challenging it in state court.
But in the end, a budget agreement included new measures aimed at curbing bribery and defrauding the government, though good-government advocates remain displeased it does not include a broader, statewide public financing system.
“I don’t believe we needed another bureaucracy for enforcement,” Cuomo said. “We needed laws changed and that’s what Moreland was about.”
Apr 10th - 11:37 am
A top adviser to Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino said Health Commissioner Nirav Shah’s decision to leave his post the right move, but added the need to inspect facilities providing abortion services should be a priority for the incoming commissioner.
“Commissioner Shah’s resignation is warranted, but the situation remains the same: The vast majority of New York’s 225 abortion clinics haven’t been inspected for more than a dozen years, and that poses a significant health risk to women receiving services at them,” said the adviser, Bill O’Reilly. “The New York State Health Department needs to get its act together, and the ball now falls on the lap of incoming Commissioner Zucker.”
It was something of a happy coincidence for the Astorino campaign, which released a video on Wednesday morning calling on Shah to step down following a Monday report in The New York Post that found tanning salons are more often inspected by the state than abortion clinics.
Astorino knocked Shah both for the lack of inspections and for the drawn-out review of the health impacts of high-volume hydrofracking.
That night, word leaked out that Shah was stepping down in June to work for a health foundation in California.
A state official last night said Shah’s decision to leave the administration had been long in the works and he had told colleagues on Tuesday of his plans.
Apr 10th - 11:11 am
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara on Thursday did not rule out investigating the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption itself and whether there was any interference from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office in directing subpoenas.
The New York Times reported this morning that Bharara’s office was taking possession of records generated by the commission, which Cuomo created last year as a means to investigate legislative wrongdoing.
But Cuomo announced this month he was disbanding the panel following a budget agreement that led to new bribery and fraud penalties, as well as a system for public financing the state comptroller’s election this year.
Bharara, however, believes the commission is ending its work prematurely.
“From where I sit, when you begin something, you finish, particularly when you tell people you’re going to finish it,” Bharara told WNYC’s Brian Lehrer in a radio interview.
Despite the flurry of subpoenas and state money spent on the panel, Bharara said there’s more that needs to be done to fight corruption.
“I think the plain facts are it was disbanded before it’s time,” he said. “Nine months may be the proper gestational period for a child, but in our experience it’s not enough for a proper corruption probe to mature.”
The commission had subpoenaed state lawmakers for more information on their outside income, as well as for documents on spending by housekeeping committees of the legislative conferences.
The commission, however, had initially not sent subpoenas to politically sensitive entities for Cuomo, including the business-backed Committee to Save New York, which spent millions on his behalf supporting his 2011 and 2012 fiscal agenda.
A subpoena would eventually be sent to the state Democratic Committee, which has raised millions in soft money and aired TV ads supporting Cuomo.
Asked whether he was looking into wrongdoing by Cuomo’s office in the Moreland proceedings, Bharara demurred.
“I’m not going to prer-judge what we are looking at, what we will be investigating and where the facts will lead,” he said.
Pressed on what that meant, Bharara said, “What I’m saying is we’re going to look at the documents, we’re going to see what the facts are and if there are questions that are appropriate to ask as the public knows by know there are aggressive and strong willed people in my office who can ask those questions.”
Cuomo has maintained the commission was always due to conclude its work once an ethics agreement had been reached. At the same time, Cuomo’s office has said the commission was always meant to investigate legislative corruption following a string of high-profile arrests of lawmakers in 2013.
Apr 10th - 9:25 am
From the morning memo:
Back in September, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara sat down with the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption to urge them to take an aggressive stance on government malfeasance.
In his four-page testimony, Bharara set down some basic hopes for the commission, including that they use their subpoena power effectively.
And he called on them to essentially rattle some cages and get some tangible results.
“…[P]ublic hearings are important and policy proposals are important too. But so are hard-nosed investigations and prosecutions, which I hope will be a primary, rather than tertiary, focus of the Commission,” Bharara said in his prepared remarks. “Nothing shines a light brighter or focuses the public’s anger and attention better than the actual arrest and conviction of a corrupt politician.”
The prosecutor who has made a name for himself taking on large financial institutions as well as public corruption in Albany doesn’t think that wish was fulfilled.
As The Times reported this morning, Bharara wrote to commission members expressing his disappointment the anti-corruption panel is concluding its work following a budget agreement that brought some changes to the state’s fraud and bribery laws.
The agreement struck by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders was apparently not enough for Bharara.
According to a letter obtained by the Times, Bharara’s even wondered whether the commission had been set aside only because of a compromise in the budget.
“The sequence of these events gives the appearance, although I am sure this is not the intent, that investigations potentially significant to the public interest have been bargained away as part of the negotiated arrangement between legislative and executive leaders,” he wrote.
Cuomo maintains the commission was due to conclude its work once state lawmakers had reached an agreement on ethics reform.
The Moreland Commission, indeed, was really running on three parallel tracks.
First, there was the commission itself, which reportedly was the subject of influence from Cuomo’s office and his top aides when it came to directing subpoenas (eventually the state Democratic Committee was issued a subpoena after Republican campaign committees were targeted).
Going on behind the scenes was the ethics negotiations themselves, which eventually included the adoption of the Public Trust Act. The agreement did not include the public financing of political campaigns or any new regulations on raising money for campaigns.
And on the third track was a challenge brought by state lawmakers in the Assembly and Senate who declared the entire commission had no jurisdictional authority to investigate the Legislature.
Lawmakers in the case argued the commission was violating the Constitution’s separation of powers because the executive branch was attempting to probe the legislative branch when it came to more information on their outside, private-sector income.
Moreland pushed back, however, noting the attorney general’s granting of jurisdictional authority gave them the needed powers.
Regardless of the legal arguments, the case dragged through the state court system, with adjournments pushed back from March through the middle of April.
This seemed to suggest a clear time table for budget talks: As Moreland’s legal authority was being hashed out in court, the adjournments bought negotiators in Albany some time to agree on an ethics package.
Once Cuomo and lawmakers agreed to the ethics changes, he said the commission would wind down its work.
Court filings this month show lawyers for the firms representing state lawmakers, as well as the commission itself, agreed their arguments had become moot.