Here and Now

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

The state Legislature is not in session.

President Donald Trump receives his daily intelligence briefing in the morning, and later has lunch with Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, and Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen.

At 8:30 a.m., The New York Building Congress hosts a panel discussion with New York City Public Advocate Letitia James on workforce diversity in the construction industry, Convene, 117 W. 46th St., Manhattan.

Also at 8:30 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul hosts a women’s history month breakfast with Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes, SUNY Buffalo State, Burchfield Penney Art Center Reception Hall, 1300 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo.

At 9 a.m., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and OATH Commissioner Fidel F. Del Valle host a pop-up court to hold civil hearings directly in the community, Office of Manhattan Borough President, 431 W. 125th St., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr., state Sen. Jamaal Bailey and other officials break ground on an affordable housing development, 839-843 Tilden St., the Bronx.

Also at 10 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will appear live on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show, and take calls from listeners.

Also at 10 a.m., Hochul highlights the Cuomo administration’s women’s agenda at the Council on Women and Girls Regional Forum, SUNY Buffalo State, Burchfield Penney Art Center Auditorium, 1300 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo.

At 10:45 a.m., state Sen. Tony Avella calls on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to acquire control over the operation of helicopters that travel through their jurisdiction, 38-50 Bell Blvd., Suite C, Queens.

At 11:45 a.m., Hochul celebrates St. Patrick’s Day at an annual lunch, Buffalo Irish Center, 245 Abbott Rd., Buffalo.

At noon, Assemblyman and congressional candidate Anthony Brindisi holds a press conference to unveil his blueprint for helping train workers for high-tech and skilled manufacturing jobs, Plumbers & Pipefitters Hall, 11 Griswold St., Binghamton.

Also at noon, Town of Oyster Bay Supervisor Joseph Saladino will join local Irish-American groups in breaking a record for the world’s largest painted shamrock, Milleridge Inn, 585 N. Broadway, Jericho, Long Island.

At 2:30 p.m., state Sen. Martin Golden joins parents, community leaders, business owners, residents and elected officials to protest the potential construction of a 63-room hotel on a vacant lot, 9116 Fifth Ave., Brooklyn.

Also at 2:30 p.m., state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli attends The Alexandre apartment complex ribbon-cutting, 510 Washington Ave., Buffalo. (Hochul also attends and delivers remarks).

At 3 p.m., state Sen. James Sanders Jr. holds a press conference to celebrate that P.S./M.S. 42 Robert Vernam School will remain open after initially being slated for closure, P.S./M.S. 42, Beach 66th St., Queens.

Also at 3 p.m., Buffalo Assemblyman Sean Ryan will call for a long-term state capital improvement program to provide $100 million in funding over 5 years for urgently needed repairs to the NFTA-Metro Rail system, NFTA Delavan Station, corner of E. Delavan Avenue and Main Street, Buffalo.

At 5 p.m., the Uniformed EMTs, Paramedics and Fire Inspectors FDNY Local 2507 holds a candlelight vigil in honor of Yadira Arroyo to commemorate the one-year anniversary of her death on the job, northwest corner of White Plains Road and Watson Avenue, the Bronx.

At 6:30 p.m., Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa hosts her second annual Women’s History Month Celebration, Isabella Geriatric Center, Recreation Hall, 515 Audubon Ave., Manhattan.


President Donald Trump, who is famously fickle, appears to have soured on additional members of his senior leadership team — and his frequent mulling about making changes has some people around him convinced that he could act soon.

Trump is reportedly ready to oust Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster and find a new national security adviser before the North Korea meetings in May, but the move may be delayed because there’s no final decision on a replacement.

The Trump administration accused Russia of engineering a series of cyberattacks that targeted American and European nuclear power plants and water and electric systems, and could have sabotaged or shut power plants off at will.

Trump repeated his false assertion that the United States runs a trade deficit with Canada, the morning after privately telling Republican donors that he had deliberately insisted on that claim in a meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada without knowing whether it was true.

The special counsel, Robert Mueller, has subpoenaed the Trump Organization in recent weeks to turn over documents, including some related to Russia, bringing the investigation closer to the president.

As Republicans face a potential Democratic wave in this year’s midterm elections, outgoing Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake argued that his party “might not deserve to lead” given its support for Trump.

The man who spearheaded US diplomatic efforts on North Korea until his unexpected retirement earlier this month said the North Koreans were “surprised” that Trump agreed to meet with leader Kim Jong Un so quickly.

Trump’s personal assistant, John McEntee, was fired because he’s a high-rolling gambler who bets tens of thousands of dollars at a time, opening himself to potential outside influence.

Vanessa Haydon Trump, the wife of Trump’s oldest son, Donald Trump Jr., filed for divorce in a Manhattan court.

As Florida authorities work to identify the people who died in a catastrophic bridge collapse, state and federal investigators will begin the task of figuring out how and why the five-day-old span failed.

The pedestrian walkway was a first-of-its-kind “instant bridge,” which was built in just a few hours using a radical new approach known as “accelerated construction.”

There are two months to go until the state Republican convention, but Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro already has enough support to secure the GOP gubernatorial nomination, thanks to the Manhattan Republican Party’s endorsement which gave him 50.3 percent of the weighted vote at the convention.

Molinaro, who party leaders have encouraged to run after he initially decided not to do so in January, cited the case against longtime Cuomo confidant Joseph Percoco when he officially declared himself a candidate this week.

Even as actress Cynthia Nixon weighs a run for governor, a leading women’s organization – the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women – backed Cuomo for reelection, calling the move “an easy decision.”

Surveillance video released yesterday showed that the only armed sheriff’s deputy at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., remained outside during the Feb. 14 massacre at the school, taking cover behind a wall.

Cuomo asked state education officials to investigate reports that some New York schools prevented students from taking part in Wednesday’s nationwide student walkout to protest gun violence.

Fed-up New Yorkers who can’t join the March For Our Lives rally against gun violence in Washington, D.C., next week can head to the Upper West Side on March 24, where anti-gun violence groups are inviting anyone who wants to support the Parkland, Fla., school shooting survivors to gather.

New York’s Democratic lawmakers and gun-control advocates have won an important new ally in their effort to push a legislative ban of bump stocks, which turn semi-automatic rifles into virtual machine guns: Acting ATF Director Thomas Brandon.

Trump’s threat to veto funding for a new rail tunnel into New York City is showing – as it did in last year’s tax debate – that Republicans from the region don’t necessarily have the ear of a president whom they consider a local.

Long Island Republican Rep. Pete King hopes his gift of gab convinced Trump to support funding a stalled rail tunnel linking New York and New Jersey, saying the two conferred about the $30 billion Gateway Project the president has vowed to block during the annual Friends of Ireland Luncheon on Capitol Hill.

The conviction of Cuomo’s former top aide, Percoco, on corruption charges this past Tuesday is leading to renewed calls for greater oversight of the state’s economic development programs.

More >

Cuomo, Faso Trade Jabs Over SALT, Mario Cuomo’s Legacy Invoked

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Rep. John Faso traded barbed comments over efforts to circumvent a $10,000 federal limit on state and local tax deductions, a debate that grew acidic with a reference to the governor’s late father.

The fight largely stems from a Cuomo-backed proposal that would create charitable vehicles that would allow New Yorkers to deduct some of their local tax burden. The move is an untested one and Faso wrote earlier this month to the Internal Revenue Service to determine if the provision would be legal.

Cuomo this morning released a letter to Faso chastising the Republican lawmaker’s request to the IRS, accusing him of politicizing the agency.

“First, I don’t know how you could be seeking an IRS opinion when New York State has not even passed a law on which they could opine,” Cuomo wrote in the letter to Faso.

“Second, I don’t know why you would be trying to sabotage the State Legislature’s efforts to undo the damage you have done to New York State taxpayers. This is not a partisan issue. Democrats and Republicans will pay higher taxes due to the Federal tax bill. Our attempt to negate the ramifications of the Republican Tax Bill would help all. Your hyper-partisan activities are to the detriment of your own constituents. Seeking to engage the IRS in preemptory opinions smacks of politicization of the Internal Revenue Service. You and your colleagues have accused President Obama of politicizing the Internal Revenue Service, and now you and your colleagues are seeking to do just that.”

Faso in a letter released later in the afternoon accused Cuomo of making “hyper-partisan attacks” on the tax law, which Faso actually voted against.

And Faso compared the current governor unfavorably to his late father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo.

“While Mario Cuomo certainly was a vigorous political combatant, he always conducted himself in a way which was compatible with his office,” Faso wrote. “Although I had many disagreements with him, Mario Cuomo was at his core, a man of principle and honor. You, on the other hand, sir, are no such man.”

These are fighting words. Cuomo holds his father and his legacy in a sacrosanct state, making the kicker of the letter a real punch to the solar plexus and will do little to advance either man’s relationship (part of this bad blood may stem from way back in 2010, when then-Attorney General Cuomo settled with the lobbying firm Faso worked for as part of a major pay-to-play pension fund scandal).

Cuomo included the SALT workarounds as part of his $168 billion budget plan that is expected to pass by March 29. Republicans in the state Senate are skeptical it can be agreed to by the end of this month.

GAMC Letter to Faso by Nick Reisman on Scribd

18.03.15 Full Letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo by Nick Reisman on Scribd


The special counsel, Robert Mueller, has subpoenaed the Trump Organization to turn over documents, including some related to Russia – the first known time he has demanded documents directly related to the president’s businesses, bringing the investigation closer to the president.

The Trump administration announced a raft of long-anticipated sanctions against Russia for meddling in the 2016 presidential election and other cyberattacks the country has launched against the United States.

A newly installed bridge touted as a feat of engineering collapsed on Florida International University’s campus, killing several people.

Deputy Senate Majority Leader John DeFrancisco says his 40-year political career will likely come to an end if he doesn’t win the Republican nomination for governor in May.

After two children were killed in a crosswalk in Brooklyn by a Staten Island woman who reportedly suffers from multiple sclerosis, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio called on Albany to pass legislation to go after reckless drivers.

Donna Frescatore, who has led NY State of Health — the state’s online insurance exchange — for the last five years, will become the next state Medicaid director, replacing Jason Helgerson when he leaves next month.

New York City has a new lobbying queen – de Blasio friend and bundler Suri Kasirer – but the rest of the influence-peddling industry is hardly suffering in a City Hall where the well-connected hold sway.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spent nearly $1 million on seven military aircraft trips between the spring and fall of 2017, according to documents gathered by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Vanessa Trump has filed for divorce from Donald Trump Jr. after 12 years of marriage.

Democrats are trying to turn the special election for a state Senate seat in Westchester County into a referendum on Trump by criticizing Republican Julie Killian for accepting money from Dick DeVos Jr., husband of U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

House Speaker Paul Ryan warned New York and New Jersey Republicans that he won’t allow funds for the Gateway project to be included in a massive spending package if it will cause Trump to veto the bill, according to GOP lawmakers.

IHeartMedia Inc filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as the largest U.S. radio station owner reached an in-principle agreement with creditors to restructure its overwhelming debt load.

NYC workers assigned to help homeless students are desperately overwhelmed, leaving many of those children, among the most vulnerable in the public school system, to miss enormous amounts of school and fall far behind their classmates, two reports say.

A Syracuse electrician has landed temporary jobs for the city of Syracuse and Onondaga County while facing murder charges, public records show.

Two high-profile political leaders — female friends despite party differences — are at odds over Nassau’s plan to charge more than $1 million in fees to Little Leagues and other sports and nonprofit organizations that have used county parks for free for years.

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman served subpoenas on two opioid distributors as part of a multistate investigation into their marketing and sales practices, seeking company records and communications relating to suspicious drug orders.

Actor Matt Damon is moving his family to Australia — in part because the liberal star’s fed up with Trump.

For the third consecutive week since being categorized as geographically widespread, the number of laboratory-confirmed influenza cases has decreased across New York State.

A Cheektowaga police officer who months ago helped chase down a shooter at a Dollar General store has been fired after an internal investigation that focused on the officer’s conduct with a registered sex offender in the town.

De Blasio bristled at the prospect of being called to the stand during the Mangano corruption trial, where he would grilled about his relationship with Harendra Singh, an ex-restaurant owner who has said in court that he bribed de Blasio with campaign contributions.

Sen. John Bonacic has mascot madness.

Republicans Protest Parole Of Herman Bell

Republican state and city lawmakers on Thursday protested the parole of Herman Bell, who was one of three men convicted of killing two police officers in 1971.

In a statement, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan called on the parole board members who supported Bell’s released to be removed.

“What message does this indefensible release send to the victims’ families or to our brave law enforcement officials across the state that an individual could commit such a heinous act and still be set free to live and breathe with other New Yorkers?” Flanagan said in a statement.

“Herman Bell is a callous and depraved cop-killer who took the lives of two police officers just because they wore the uniform. He has forfeited his ability to live outside of the four walls of a prison cell. The members of the Parole Board who made this decision should be removed immediately.”

Supporters of Bell’s release from prison note his age at the time of the crime and his record of good behavior while serving time in prison. He has also expressed remorse for the crime after maintaining his innocence.

Still, Republicans and law enforcement officials decried the move. Sen. John DeFrancisco, a Republican candidate for governor, called it “utter insanity.”

“What we are seeing in this awful decision is progressivism gone mad,” he said. “Bell’s victims remain in the ground; their families continue to grieve, and Bell will walk free.”

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, who like DeFrancisco is seeking the GOP nomination for governor, also criticized the parole board’s decision.

“The decision by Governor Cuomo’s Parole Board is a travesty of justice and a bitter insult to the law enforcement community,” he said. “If it was my Parole Board, I would ask for their resignations – today.”

Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long, meanwhile, called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to rescind the parole board’s decision.

“Up until now, Herman Bell had absolutely no remorse for killing two police officers,” Long said. “In fact, after his 6th denial of parole, he sued for his freedom — because he was a changed man who played the flute.”

NOW-NY Endorses Cuomo-Hochul

The National Organization for Women-New York on Thursday gave an early endorsement of the re-election of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.

The endorsement for Hochul comes as she faces a Democratic primary challenge from Jumaane Williams, a city councilman from Brookyln.

For now, Cuomo’s only primary opponent to declare is former state Sen. Terry Gipson. But Cuomo could face a challenge from Cynthia Nixon, an actress and public education advocate who could present a formidable oppnent to the incumbent governor seeking a third term.

“This was an easy decision for our NOW chapter leaders across the state,” said NOW-NY President Sonia Ossorio. “Year in and year out Governor Cuomo has put women’s rights front and center,” Ossorio said. “At a time when our rights are under attack at the federal level, we have in Governor Cuomo a leader who works tirelessly to drive forward progress here in New York.”

She added: “Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul has traversed the state to meet New Yorkers and understand their lives and struggles and has a fundamental understanding of the issues women face. We’re proud to support her.”

Cuomo has this year once again pushed a package of measures aimed at women’s rights, including strengthening the state’s abortion laws and combating sexual harassment in the workplace.

“Governor Cuomo is making changes that have a real impact,” Ossorio said. “Consistently he has worked to end gender-based discrimination and improve the economic outlook for women and their families.”

SD-37: Complaint Filed Over Mayer Facebook Video

photoRepublicans are crying foul over a video posted to Facebook by the campaign of Democratic Senate hopeful Shelley Mayer that was shot inside her Assembly office in Albany, filing a complaint with the Joint Commission on Public Ethics alleging misuse of government property.

The video shows Mayer sitting at her desk in the Legislative Office Building commending students who participated in a nationwide walkout protest over gun violence and gun control.

“I commend you, you young people, for standing up to the adults who have failed you,” she says in the video.

Mayer adds: “We have work to do to bring gun violence down in our country and I promise to you here in the New York state Assembly, I will do my best and when elected to the Senate, I will continue my fight to reduce gun violence.”

It’s the phrase “when elected to the Senate” that Republicans say is an act of campaigning. A letter filing a formal complaint over the video to JCOPE, obtained by Capital Tonight, says the video “was both produced for campaign purposes and is expressly political content.”

Mayer’s campaign knocked the complaint, saying it’s an effort to distract from the issue of pushing for new gun control legislation.

“This is a sad and frankly pathetic attempt by (Republican opponent Julie) Killian to distract from her and her Trump allies’ extremist pro-gun agenda of allowing more guns in our schools and allowing the NRA to control our state government,” said Mayer spokesman Doug Forand. “Shelley proudly supported the students who chose to stand up to the NRA and speak out against the Republicans’ continued blocking of common sense gun laws.”

The video itself, which appears to have been since deleted, was posted to Mayer’s Senate campaign page on Facebook.

Mayer is running for the open 37th Senate district in Westchester County, one of 11 seats being decided in a special election scheduled for April 24. The race is being closely watched due the narrow divide in the Senate and a unity agreement reached late last year that would bring together the Independent Democratic Conference and the mainline Democratic conference in the state Senate.

Republicans have tried for years to flip the suburban Senate district to little avail despite spending heavily and redrawing the district to more favorable boundaries in 2012.

Cuomo Calls On SED To Overturn Disciplinary Actions For Gun Protests At Schools (Updated)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a letter released Thursday called on the State Education Department to reverse disciplinary measures taken against students and faculty members at some schools for participating in protests over gun violence.

Some schools prohibited their students from taking part in the nationwide day of protest over gun violence and calls for gun control measures.

In the letter, Cuomo called on state education officials to circumvent the disciplinary measures meted by schools for those who participated in the demonstrations.

“These actions send a terrible message to New York’s children and are against constitutional free speech protections. I call on you to use SED’s authority to stop these schools, reverse course and cease any disciplinary actions.

Officials at one high school in Schuylerville in Saratoga County, citing security and safety concerns, blocked the entrance of its parking lot to discourage demonstrations.

“Peaceful expression of views on controversial issues that is not disruptive or threatening is a right that all students have in this country, and any attempts to stifle this speech violates the constitutional rights of students and faculty to free speech,” Cuomo wrote in the letter to Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia. “Threatening to discipline students for participating in the peaceful demonstrations is not only inappropriate, it is unconstitutional. Reports that schools may also discipline faculty are also highly concerning and would send a terrible message to our students.”

Cuomo himself participated in a walkout demonstration at a high school in New York City, saying he wanted to harness the activism by students to push for national gun control measures.

Updated: In a letter in response, Elia said SED would investigate any incidents in which student safety was put at risk, while also reiterating a statement from Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa supporting the demonstrations.

“I have discussed with school district superintendents, board members, teachers and others the importance of learning from this tragedy by engaging our students in an important civics lesson on the power of their own voices. We will investigate any reports where the safety of students was put in jeopardy, as we always do,” she said.

:I am pleased so many of our state leaders are united in their commitment to address the issue of gun violence and school safety and thank you for your support of New York’s students. I look forward to continuing a meaningful dialogue with you and our stakeholders to implement strategies at the state and federal levels to ensure all schools remain safe havens for children.”

State Dems Fundraising Email Attacks ‘NRA Blood Money’

The New York Democratic Committee in a fundraising email sent Thursday morning knocks Republicans for their opposition to new gun control legislation while praising students for the nationwide walkout in protest of strengthened laws.

The email uses the student-led protests — one of which was attended by Gov. Andrew Cuomo — as a jumping off point for the fundraising pitch, which seeks $9 from donors “to help us unseat the 9 Republican Members of Congress.”

Included in this are familiar Republican critics of the governor, including Reps. John Faso, Claudia Tenney, John Katko, Chris Collins, Lee Zeldin and Tom Reed.

But also included in the pitch cast is Rep. Peter King, a Long Island Republican and the dean of the delegation known for working well with Cuomo.

“With your help, 2018 can be the year we repeal and replace the NRA puppets who have put a dangerous political agenda above the safety of our children,” the fundraising email states. “Will you chip in $9 today to help us unseat the 9 Republican Members of Congress from New York responsible for the failure to enact common-sense protections against gun violence?”

Key Teachers Groups Stick With Cuomo

From the Morning Memo:

The appearance of Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a student-led rally and walkout protesting gun violence provided some fish-out-of-water images of the besuited state executive lying on the ground for the “die-in” and clapping somewhat out of syncopation with chants.

But the appearance also illustrated something a bit more sub rosa: Cuomo retains the support of key teachers unions, the American Federation of Teachers and the New York City-focused United Federation of Teachers.

Both the AFT and UFT’s leadership — Randi Weingarten and Michael Mulgrew — were there with Cuomo at the rally in New York City.

This is potentially helpful for the governor in a possible primary campaign against Cynthia Nixon, an actress known for her advocacy on pubic education issues.

Cuomo has had an at-times truculent relationship with teachers unions, especially when it comes to support for charter schools and other concerns of the education reform movement, such as stronger teacher evaluations. But those are issues that have been slowly de-emphasized in Albany, defusing a contentious argument that could be politically problematic in a Democratic primary.

Some caveats: Rank-and-file teachers won’t necessarily forgive and forget. Increasingly union voters are willing to buck their leadership and cast ballots with their heart.

Nixon, should she run, likely won’t just hit Cuomo on education issues. He’s got other issues to answer for, especially with mass transit in New York City.

Still, Cuomo’s main advantage in a primary remains: He draws the support of institutional, left-leaning groups like unions and their leaders, who still hold sway in a heavily unionized state.

Stewart-Cousins: No Indication She’ll Be Included In Negotiations

From the Morning Memo:

Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins is yet to receive formal word she’ll be allowed to participate in the top-level budget talks, which are likely to include negotiations surrounding changes to the state’s sexual harassment laws.

“No, I haven’t gotten any sense from the governor’s office that I’ll be included,” she said in an interview on Wednesday.

“And again we continue to push for a package that really assures everyone being safe here in the workplace and workplaces frankly all over. We can do more than we’ve done, we can do better and I hope we can get to a real package that protects everyone.”

The Assembly, Senate and Gov. Andrew Cuomo have proposed reforms to how the state handles sexual harassment cases, which include measures ranging from bans on confidential settlements as well as money for the Joint Commission on Public Ethics to review allegations and a goal of creating a uniform policy for handling cases.

But the proposals are set to be negotiated by all men: Cuomo, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein.

A Cuomo spokeswoman in February told The Wall Street Journal Stewart-Cousins will have a role in the talks, but the scope of her involvement remains unclear.

Klein himself faces an allegation of unwanted forcible kissing, an allegation being reviewed by JCOPE after Klein called for the investigation. Klein has said he backs changes to how sexual harassment cases are handled.

In the interview, Stewart-Cousins said she he had hoped the Senate’s one-house budget resolution went further on issues such as criminal justice reform, ethics and climate change, saying those subjects should be dealt with in the finalized spending plan.