Cuomo Is Stuck In The Middle And Happy To Be There

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s essay in defense of the $3 billion tax deal that would bring up to 40,000 Amazon jobs to New York was, in part, a criticism of the editorial boards who have blasted the project.

But at the same time, it was a defense of Cuomo’s centrism and place in the mainstream of voters’ consciousness when it comes to overriding concern: Jobs and good-paying ones at that.

Take the long view of the year in stock: Cuomo successfully turned back a Democratic primary challenge from his left flank and easily secured a third term over his Republican opponent.

Cuomo is not the governor of Twitter or any other social media site, where political ideologues and political reporters live and interact with one another. But Twitter is not real life.

And Cuomo knows this.

He also knows when to form fruitful alliances, even with figures like New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, setting a simmering feud in order to work together on the Amazon deal.

It would also not be surprising if the tax credits-for-Amazon-jobs proposal was polled or put before a focus group, it was found to be popular. The decision to push the button on the Amazon deal may have been conducted in a setting in which only a few people were privy to the details, but it probably was not done in the vacuum of public opinion.

Cuomo is painting his opponents in the Amazon arrangement as being on the extremes — extreme conservatives and socialists who, though on opposite ends of the political spectrum, the spectrum curves to the opposition of such large scale arrangements like this one.

This is a place Cuomo is happy to be in: The radical center or the extreme middle and it’s a space he has maintained most voters in New York — his voters — also occupy.

Amazon is being criticized for its labor practices, especially in its warehouses.

But the deal for Amazon in Long Island City comes with a labor component for the construction, earning the buy-in approval of Gary LaBarbera as well as real estate interests in New York City — two poles that have conductive power in state and city politics.

Cuomo has been adept at threading that needle of both labor and business, crowding out his opponents in the process.

Cuomo suggested on Monday that he would be criticized if Amazon wasn’t coming to New York City. It’s a negative that’s impossible to prove.

Still, for politicians and elected officials who primary motivation has been “jobs, jobs, jobs” well, that defense is a lot easier to grasp.

Concerns About Some Absentee Ballots In NY-27

From the Morning Memo:

As the Erie County Board of Elections prepares to count absentees for New York’s 27th Congressional District, a controversy is surfacing over a number of those ballots.

Multiple sources said the BOE sent two to three ballots to up to 500 people. It’s not clear how many were sent to voters in NY-27 as opposed to NY-26, which is also covers parts of Erie County.

Democrat Nate McMurray continues to trail incumbent Republican Chris Collins but has not conceded the race. As several of the eight counties within the district have already counted their paper ballots, which also include affidavits and emergency ballots, the lead has narrowed to roughly 2,400 votes. Erie County represents by far the most votes yet to be counted.

Democratic Elections Commissioner Jeremy Zellner tweeted around noon Monday there were 5,588 absentees returned, 1,454 affidavits received and 423 emergency ballots. If those numbers hold up McMurray will likely have to do exceptionally well, collecting much more than 60 percent of those votes to make up the difference.

The candidate has remained confident, given the fact he has done better with absentees than he did during the general so far, and won Erie County outright on election night. If the final count falls within a percentage point some believe the ballots could potentially be the subject of litigation.

However, a source familiar with the situation did not believe there is a danger of the votes being invalidated. That person believes the issue arose because of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s late acceptance of the Working Families Party line after Cynthia Nixon was moved off the ballot.

In that situation, anybody who was sent an absentee before Cuomo gained the extra line needed a revised ballot. The source said as long as the final ballot was the one that was marked, there should be no issue.

Even if the wrong ballot was submitted, the source said it should only affect votes in the gubernatorial race, not the congressional race in which the ballot has remained consistent.

We will be following the Board of Election proceedings throughout the day. Stay with us for updates.

Sent from my iPhone

Peoples-Stokes Plans To Meet With Heastie Prior To Assembly Reorganization Meeting

From the Morning Memo:

There’s a job opening in the state Assembly and veteran Democrat Crystal Peoples-Stokes appears to be an obvious candidate.

The assembly woman potentially could take over the majority leader seat vacated by now-Congressman Joe Morelle. However, Peoples-Stokes is taking a diplomatic approach rather than overtly campaigning for the role.

“It’s important to me to support the leadership of the speaker,” she said. “I think he’s done a fabulous job and whoever he decides to be the majority leader, I will support that decision.”

Asked who she thinks her competition is, Peoples-Stokes said it could be any member of the Assembly. She did admit her resume fits the mold.

“I do know from a historical perspective that it generally tends to be somebody Upstate and it generally tends to be someone who has significant seniority, both of which I fit,” she said.

Ultimately the decision does come down to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie who Peoples-Stokes has worked closely with over the years. She said she has not had any extended conversations with him yet.

“I did receive a text from him that we would talk in a meeting prior to our reorganization meeting in our December,” she said.

Peoples-Stokes district includes a large portion of the city of Buffalo and she has been in the Assembly since 2003.

Here And Now

Good Tuesday morning! Just two days until Thanksgiving! The weather is not your friend today.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is heading out turkeys in different locations around the state.

New York City Mayor Bill deBlasio is holding a Diwali celebration at Gracie Mansion and meeting privately with clergy earlier in the day.

Happening today:

At 9 a.m., New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray will give remarks at the Pan American International High School, 45-10 94th St., Queens.

At 2 p.m., Sen. David Carlucci will be joined by Clarkstown Central School District Superintendent, Marty Cox on Tuesday to discuss a set of new walkie-talkies being used by school resource officers and staff to improve school safety. Clarkstown Central School District Superintendent’s Office, 62 Old Middletown Rd, New City.

At 10 a.m., Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will participate in a turkey distribution event, Zion Hill Missionary Baptist Church, 250 Dr. Samuel McCree Way, Rochester.

Also at 10 a.m., Gov. Cuomo helps distribute turkeys at Bay Eden Senior Center, 1220 229th Street, the Bronx.

At 11:20 a.m., Cuomo participates in a turkey distribution event at Long Island Cares, 10 David’s Drive, Hauppauge.

Also at 2 p.m., Sen. Leroy Comrie will provide frozen turkeys to local families in need ahead of Thanksgiving. Thomas White, Jr. Foundation Center 162-04 Tuskegee Airmen Way, Queens.

Also at 2 p.m., Assemblyman Harvey Epstein will distribute 500 turkeys to families in the 74th Assembly District. East Side of Avenue C on the corner at 9th Street, New York City.

At 2:15 p.m., Cuomo and Hochul will distribute turkeys at the Delavan-Grider Community Center, 877 E. Delavan Avenue, Buffalo.

At 7:15 p.m., de Blasio and McCray will remarks at Gracie Mansion as part of a Diwali celebration, East 88th Street and East End Avenue, New York City.

Headlines:

More than six weeks after their world was turned upside down, the parents of one of the Schoharie limo crash victims have filed a lawsuit against Prestige Limo.

Sen. Chuck Schumer was at Albany International Airport Monday morning, calling on the Federal Aviation Administration to act on a bipartisan piece of legislation he passed last month requiring them to do something about the shrinking seats on airlines.

The commissioner of an agency that investigates waste and malfeasance in New York City government said Monday that he was pressured to not release critical reports by Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration and then fired under false pretexts.

New York City announced a plan Monday for critical repairs for thousands of public housing apartments that includes converting the units into Section 8 housing and moving them closer to privatization.

The renovation move is meant to target up to 62,000 units through the public-private partnership.

Longtime Republican State Senator Marty Golden has conceded his tight race with Democratic challenger Andrew Gounardes.

Golden, a retired cop, had represented the Bay Ridge area of Brooklyn since 2003.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo fired back at critics of the deal to bring up to 40,000 Amazon jobs to Queens and knocked newspaper editorial boards for what he said was hypocrisy on tax breaks.

Cuomo pointed to the tax breaks the parent companies that own The New York Times and The New York Post have taken advantage over the years as he defends the $3 billion in tax breaks tied to job creation for Amazon.

Just a week after cyclists celebrated the redesign of a Sunnyside intersection, another group held a protest on Sunday to demand that NYC’s Department of Transportation make some changes.

The winner of the 22nd Congressional District race is getting closer to being declared. Two Board of Elections are still counting affidavits, absentee, and military ballots, but Tioga County has released their unofficial results.

Don’t be surprised if the state legislature introduces, and passes, legislation to legalize recreational marijuana use among adults next year.

Tops Markets announced Monday that the Western New York-based supermarket chain has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which it filed for this past winter.

Erie County leaders announced Monday DWI arrests are down almost ten percent, compared to this time last. DWI fatals have also gone down, with less than ten in Erie County last year, compared to 45 in 1995.

Ride-sharing has been available in western New York for just over a year, but the state is still working to improve the service.

Gov. Cuomo said in a radio interview Monday he opposes MTA fare hikes and claimed he doesn’t control the board.

Megyn Kelly and comedian Michelle Wolf have savaged each other publicly, but were friendly when Kelly attended a comedy club for her birthday and saw the comedian perform.

New York City’s top taxi official warned a congestion pricing plan will devastate the already troubled yellow cab industry in Manhattan.

Nassau County voted to borrow $100 million and an additional $200 million to help pay a backlog in property tax rebates.

Rye Brook in Westchester County is backing a law that would ban plastic bags as the state mulls a similar move.

Westchester County’s plan to sell a parking lot near its county center is running into a few snags.

The city of Albany has approved its $177 million budget and is expanding its trash fee to include single-family homes.

In tiny Newcomb in the Adirondacks, foreign students are breathing new life into the district has struggled with enrollment.

Incoming Democratic Rep. Antonio Delgado says he is ready to hit the ground running as he prepares to take office in the 19th congressional district come January after unseating Rep. John Faso earlier this month.

It wasn’t just New York City: The first snowstorm of the season caught the public works department in Syracuse — of all places! — flatfooted.

Former Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney will earn $224,000 in her new role as the head of SUNY ESF.

The Thanksgiving Day Parade this Thursday in New York City could be a very, very cold affair.

Sixteen Democrats in the House, including several New Yorkers, are opposing Nancy Pelosi’s return to the speakership.

The letter comes as Pelosi is seeking to consolidate her power in the Democratic caucus ahead of the coming leadership vote.

Democrats in the U.S. Senate are challenging the recess appointment of Acting Attorney General Matt Whittaker in court.

A federal judge has blocked the Trump administration’s move meant to block asylum seekers in the United States.

The Washington Post found Ivanka Trump has been using her private email to conduct government business, which has echos of Republican attacks on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential campaign.

President Trump is considering his first visit to the troops in either Iraq or Afghanistan as he comes under criticism for not traveling to a combat zone while in office.

Extras

In a departure, the White House Correspondents Association will have historian Ron Chernow, not a comedian, speak at its annual dinner.

The press credentials of CNN reporter Jim Acosta have been fully restored as the White House has dropped the fight.

Serious new allegations are being leveled at Mayor Bill de Blasio by former Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters.

Longtime Republican State Senator Marty Golden has conceded his tight race with Democratic challenger Andrew Gounardes.

Tops Markets announced Monday that the Western New York-based supermarket chain has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which it filed for this past winter.

Ride-sharing has been available in Western New York for just over a year, but the state is still working to improve the service.

Sen. Chuck Schumer was at Albany International Airport Monday morning, calling on the Federal Aviation Administration to act on a bipartisan piece of legislation he passed last month requiring them to do something about the shrinking seats on airlines.

The first lawsuit in the case of the fatal Schoharie limousine crash has been filed. The family of the late Amanda Rivenburg filed suit against the owners of Prestige Limousine on Monday in state Supreme Court in Albany.

Media and information firm, Thomson Reuters is closing its Rochester location. The company will be closing its office located on East Broad Street in downtown Rochester. A spokesperson for the company released a statement saying the closure is to help the company run “more efficiently.”

New numbers show the New York City Housing Authority has a high rate of challenging orders to fix lead paint problems.

Republicans Blast Driver’s Licenses For Undocumented Immigrants

A group of Republican elected officials on Monday went on the offensive over the coming push next year for a measure that would allow undocumented immigrants to have state-issued identification and driver’s licences.

The statement, issued by Rep. Tom Reed, was also backed by state Sens. Tom O’Mara, Cathy Young and Pam Helming, as well as Chautauqua County Executive George Borrello.

“For Cuomo to support this bill is reckless. Giving drivers licenses to illegal immigrants is not fair for the men and women who immigrated here legally, for hardworking New York taxpayers or the Mothers who worry about the safety of their children in our neighborhoods,” Reed said. “This is why we are working to change the House rules so we can reform our immigration system responsibly and make it easier for bipartisan bills to pass.”

The officials seized on top Cuomo administration counsel Alphonso David at a forum this month, who said the governor would sign the bill if it were to be approved by lawmakers.

Democrats are set to control both chambers of the Legislature in January. Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi called the opposition “fear-mongering.”

“Lest you think the Trump Mini Mes went away after the election – this sort of lazy fear-mongering via press release solves no problems,” he said.

The issue was a boondoggle for Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer and was opposed at the time by Kathy Hochul, then the Erie County clerk and now the lieutenant governor. Hochul has shifted her stance on the issue, however, and the measure has more vocal support from liberal groups.

Erie County DA Won’t Prosecute Provision Of The SAFE ACT

The Erie County District Attorney’s Office will no longer prosecute a provision of the SAFE Act which makes having more than seven rounds of ammunition in a magazine illegal.

District Attorney John Flynn, D, said he recently became aware of a 2015 United States Court of Appeals Second Circuit opinion the provision is unconstitutional. The Second Circuit heard the lawsuit after a federal district court judge in Buffalo made the same ruling in 2012, several months after the New York gun control law was passed.

“I am not doing this because I believe the SAFE Act is good or bad,” Flynn said. “That’s not my role.”

The DA said as a state officer, he is only technically, legally bound by U.S. Supreme Court decisions but he pointed out the nation’s highest court declined to hear the lawsuit. Flynn said it is up to individual DAs to decide whether federal court decisions are “useful and persuasive” and in this case, he decided it was both.

“When it gets to the circuit courts, again one step below the Supreme Court, in layman’s terms, that is very useful and very persuasive,” he said. “So I am very much persuaded by the Second Circuit opinion and as such, I am going to follow their ruling.”

Flynn said right now there are 23 pending cases in which defendants are being prosecuted in connection with the provision and those charges will be dropped.

“Those 23 open cases, they’re not going to have their entire cases dismissed because the overwhelming majority of those 23 cases, they have other gun charges with them,” he said.

The prosecutor admitted, people have pleaded or been found guilty of carrying too many rounds, since 2012. While they can not appeal those verdicts, as they were not technically wrong, Flynn said they could file a 440 motion to present additional facts, and he would consider them on a case-by-case basis.

The ruling does not effect another provision of the SAFE Act which doesn’t allow for a magazine to hold more than ten rounds.

Flynn took office in January 2017.

Cuomo, Defending Amazon, Says Legislature’s Role Will Be Limited

Gov. Andrew Cuomo acknowledged the Public Authorities Control Board will have to approve a project plan for the plan to bring 25,000 Amazon jobs in the next decade to Long Island City.

But the little-known entity will not have to vote on a capital grant as part of the effort, Cuomo said in an interview on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show.

“They do not have to approve the capital grant. That is law. There is nothing that we have done on Amazon that we have done on other projects,” Cuomo said, adding, “This is a political debate. It’s inflammatory for people.”

The entity known in Albany by its acronym PACB consists of representatives of the Legislature and the governor’s office.

Cuomo said the Legislature “as a body” will not have a say over how the Amazon project is development, which he called typical of big projects like Moynihan train station and The New York Times headquarters.

Cuomo in the interview once again defended the arrangement, which will provide for up to 40,000 jobs tied to $3 billion in tax incentives.

“They’re going to be bringing wealth, they’re going to be earning wealth and that’s going to be a stimulant,” Cuomo said.

Asked about whether bringing the jobs, which average $150,000 a year, will be to the detriment of affordable housing, Cuomo pointed to New York’s past efforts, but blamed “abandonment by the federal government” on the issue.

“We know how to do affordable housing,” he said, pointing to a variety of means such as cash grants, Section 8, land grants and other avenues. “We’ve done it for decades.”

Still, lawmakers are pushing for changes on how big economic development deals are done.

Sen. Mike Gianaris, a Queens Democrat who opposes the move, is backing legislation that would transparency to such projects.

“Corporate interests should not have the power to dictate to our governments when they should withhold important information from the public they serve,” he said. “The secretive process surrounding the Amazon deal sets a dangerous precedent that must be prohibited so that our government answers to the people, not wealthy corporations.”

4 NY Dems Sign On To Anti-Pelosi Letter

Four Democrats from New York were among those who signed a letter released Monday that opposes electing Nancy Pelosi the next speaker of the House of Representatives.

The Democrats include Rep.-elect Anthony Brindisi, Rep.-elect Max Rose and Reps. Kathleen Rice and Brian Higgins.

Both Brindisi and Rose, who unseated Republican incumbents this month, had publicly stated during their campaigns they would not support to return to the speaker’s office if Democrats gain control of the House.

Overall, 16 lawmakers or incoming members of the House on the Democratic side signed the letter.

“Our majority came on the backs of candidates who said they would support new leadership because voters in hard-won districts, and across the country, want to see real change in Washington,” they wrote in the letter. “We promised to change the status quo, and we intended to deliver on that promise.”

Golden Concedes To Gounardes

Republican Sen. Marty Golden on Monday conceded his race to Democrat Andrew Gounardes nearly two weeks after Election Day.

The Brooklyn Senate district is one Democrats have long eyed for a potential flip. The party will have as many as 40 members in the 2019 legislative session in the 63-seat Senate.

“Although we came up just short this election, I am grateful my career in public service has been full of much success as a police officer and as an elected official,” Golden said. “As I think of the future, my supporters, neighbors and friends can be sure that I will still always look for opportunities to make our neighborhoods an even better place to live, work and raise a family.”

Gounardes had previously challenged Golden in 2016. In a statement, Gounardes said he wanted to tackle health care and transit issues.

“In the days since the election, my team and I have worked closely with Democratic leadership and my colleagues in the State Senate to ensure that I’m ready to hit the ground running,” he said. “I look forward to coordinating with Senator Golden on a smooth transition between now and January so that our community can come together and move forward.”