Lopez Looking At Run For NY-19

Assemblyman Peter Lopez, a Republican who represents a seven-county district around the Capital Region and Mohawk Valley, confirmed on Monday he is considering a run for the 19th congressional district.

“We’re looking at it,” Lopez said off the floor of the Assembly chamber.

Lopez, a Schoharie resident, first took office in 2007.

The NY-19 is currently represented by Republican Rep. Chris Gibson, who plans to leave office at the end of his current term and consider a run for statewide office in 2018.

The district has a Democratic tilt and backed President Obama’s re-election in 2012.

Lopez is one of several candidates who is in the mix to succeed Gibson, including Republicans like Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin and Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro as well as Democratic County Executive Mike Hein.

Senate To Vote On Eight Women’s Agenda Bills

The state Senate today will consider eight of the 10 bills in the Women’s Equality Agenda, a package of measures first introduced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2013.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos confirmed in an interview the chamber will vote on the bills today, the second official day of the legislative session.

As expected, the Republican conference will not allow a vote on the provision aimed at codify the Roe v. Wade decision in state law.

Opponents of the abortion plank, like Skelos, call that proposal an “expansion” of existing abortion regulations in the state, a charge the supporters vehemently deny, saying it simply enhances the law should the U.S. Supreme Court ever roll back the original ruling.

“We will not be taking that provision up,” Skelos said. “The other planks or bills have been passed twice in house I think unanimous. So we’ll be bringing them up today.”

The remaining bills in the initial 10-point plan deal address pay equity, housing and employment discrimination as well as aim to curtail domestic abuse and human trafficking.

A version of the legislation cracking down on domestic violence was previously signed into law.

Cuomo also previously approved an anti-human trafficking piece in October.

Since Cuomo’s introduction of the bills, the agenda has turned into something of a political football for the state Senate, currently under Republican control, and the state Assembly.

In the Democratic-led Assembly, the omnibus version has passed with the abortion plank included.

The Senate, however, has approved the legislation in a piecemeal fashion save for the Roe v. Wade bill.

When the chamber was controlled by a coalition of Republicans and Democrats, Senate IDC Leader Jeff Klein in 2013 sought to attach the abortion provision to a health-related bill as an amendment, a procedural move that failed.

Passing the legislation now for the Senate Republicans seemingly is a way to remove the thorny social issue early in the legislative session.

Cuomo campaigned heavily on the women’s agenda in 2014 as he ran for re-election, going as far as to create a “Women’s Equality Party” ballot line for himself and his running mate, Kathy Hochul.

The Democratic ticket received more than 50,000 votes on the women-theme ballot line, giving it automatic status in the new election cycle.

Nevertheless, several Democratic Senate candidates running in key races sought the ballot line, but failed to file the qualifying petition signatures.

Mahoney To Chair Thruway Authority, Adams To Tax And Finance

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney, a prominent Republican supporter for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has been nominated to chair the state Thruway Authority, the governor’s office on Monday announced.

Mahoney’s nomination to the Thruway Authority’s top post had been rumored for several weeks in state political circles and comes as the authority faces questions over its budget and potential toll hikes.

Mahoney was a prominent upstate Republican supporter for Cuomo in both his 2010 campaign for governor as well as his successful re-election last year.

Meanwhile, Howard Zemsky, a prominent businessman and Cuomo campaign donor, has been nominated to become the president and CEO of the Empire State Development Corp.

Current ESD president Ken Adams will be nominated to become the commissioner of the state Department of Taxation and Finance, the governor’s office announced.

Their appointments to the posts are pending state Senate confirmation.

The announcements today are part of a second round of appointments and nominations for the Cuomo administration as the governor begins his second term with a reshuffling of his cabinet and top advisers.

On Sunday, Cuomo announced banker Bill Mulrow will succeed Larry Schwartz as secretary to the governor, considered the top appointed position in state government.

Cuomo’s longtime budget director, Bob Megna, will become the executive director of the state Thruway Authority, the administration announced over the weekend.

Additional appointments today include John Maggiore as director of policy, Katie Codey as deputy director of policy, Leslea Snyder as deputy director legislative affairs and Terence O’Leary as deputy secretary for public safety.

More appointments are after the jump. More >

Astorino Sizes Up Gibson

Rob Astorino has made little secret of wanting to make another run for governor in 2018, but he may need to reconcile that with Rep. Chris Gibson, who has been making noise about running for statewide office after his third and final term concludes in 2016.

Astorino, the Westchester County executive and 2014 candidate for governor on the Republican ticket, refrained from criticizing Gibson in an interview with Fred Dicker on Talk-1300, save for his stance on hydrofracking.

Gibson, who represents the 19th congressional district in the Hudson Valley, has backed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ban on the controversial natural gas extraction process.

Astorino campaigned heavily on allowing hydrofracking in upstate New York, especially in the jobs-starved Southern Tier region.

“I just totally disagree with him on fracking,” Astorino said in the interview. “He’s just dead wrong.”

Astorino is expected to spend the next several years fundraising for Republican candidates around the state as well as help keep his statewide profile comparatively high after losing to Cuomo in November.

Astorino, who would be up for re-election as county executive in 2017, has said his campaign last year “planted a flag.”

Gibson, meanwhile, announced this month he will not seek a fourth term in Congress and has raised the possibility of a statewide run, which most political observers believe is a signal he will run for governor after representing a district that backed President Obama in 2012.

“He hasn’t said he’s running for governor,” Astorino countered today. “He’s keeping his options open.”

At the same time, Gibson has also forged ties with Republican officeholders. In addition to campaigning with Astorino last year, he also helped Republicans George Amedore and Sue Serino in their state Senate campaigns.

Republican leaders would likely want to avoid an Astorino-Gibson civil war, especially considering how the GOP bench elsewhere is relatively thin when it comes to statewide candidates.

Still, Astorino added that he hopes Gibson spends the next two years helping the party and be “part of a strategy.”

Astorino Praises Mulrow Appointment

Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino praised on Monday the appointment of Wall Street financier Bill Mulrow to become the next secretary to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“I think it was a great choice by the governor,” Astorino said on Fred Dicker’s Talk-1300 radio show.

Mulrow, a Westchester resident, replaces another suburbanite, Larry Schwartz, as the top appointed aide on the second floor of the state Capitol.

To say there’s some bad blood between Astorino and Schwartz is an understatement: Astorino unseated Schwartz’s old boss, three-term Democrat Andy Spano, in 2009.

Astorino, the 2014 Republican gubernatorial nominee, said Mulrow has the potential to be a break from Schwartz, whose style has rubbed political insiders the wrong way at times.

“I think Bill is going to be more professional,” Astorino said. “I think the governor is going to be well served.”

Mulrow is currently an appointee to two state agencies by Cuomo, but has ties also to former Gov. Eliot Spitzer.

A one-time candidate for state comptroller, Mulrow was Spitzer’s choice to replace the disgraced former Comptroller Alan Hevesi.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule. The Senate (3 p.m.) and Assembly (2 p.m.) are both in session in Albany.

At 8:30 a.m., the SUNY Board of Trustees meets, State University Plaza, 353 Broadway, Albany.

At 9 a.m., the state Board of Regents, first floor Regents room, state Education Building, 89 Washington Ave., Albany.

At 10:50 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio hosts a press conference to announce the launch of IDNYC, Queens Public Library, 41-17 Main St., Queens.

At 11 a.m., US Sen. Chuck Schumer will launch his push to establish a crop insurance program for Capital Region farmers who grow malt barley, Albany Distilling Company, Inc., 78 Montgomery St., Albany.

At 11:30 a.m., Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr., NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Bureau of HIV Prevention and Control Assistant Commissioner Demetre Daskalakis, and Montefiore Medical Center’s clinical director for infectious diseases and medical director for the hospital’s AIDS Center, Barry S. Zingman, introduce an outreach campaign about pre-exposure and post-exposure prophylaxis medications, the Oval Center at Montefiore, 3230 Bainbridge Ave., the Bronx.

At noon, the commissioners of the state Board of Elections hold their monthly meeting, 40 North Pearl St., Albany.

At 12:30 p.m., the Senate hosts a presentation on the report Bio/Med Breakthroughs: Advancing New York’s Innovation Economy industry by MedTech, the trade association for bioscience and medical technology companies in New York, LOB, Room 409, 172 State St., Albany.

At 1 p.m., leaders from teacher and equity groups, including AFT President Randi Weingarten, UFT President Michael Mulgrew, NYSUT VP Andy Pallotta and NYS NAACP President Hazel Dukes, hold a Moral Monday event calling for education policies and a budget that addresses equity and protects public schools, Million Dollar Staircase, state Capitol. (Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins will also speak).

Headlines…

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio plans today to propose a major overhaul of corporate taxes, targeting tax relief for small businesses and local manufacturers while broadening the city’s overall tax base in a way that would result in tax increases for some companies.

There’s a revival of interest in all things Cuomo as political memorabilia collectors dust off their merchandise of New York’s first Italian-American chief executive and father of the current governor, Andrew Cuomo.

Bruce Gyory on Cuomo’s new top aide, Bill Mulrow: “(He) has a more diplomatic approach and likes to involve everyone. He complements the governor’s approach with an instinct for building bridges.”

Cuomo’s reshuffling of top administration aides includes changes in his press shop.

New York today is expected to introduce the country’s largest municipal-ID program, issuing cards intended as a boon for undocumented immigrants, the homeless and others who strain to navigate the bureaucracy of city services and institutions without government-issued ID.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton will release statistics today that confirm the police work slowdown involving summonses and minor crimes has ended.

Feuding between the NYPD and the de Blasio administration has already cost the city more than $46 million in lost parking-ticket revenue — staggering losses that could take a bite out of critical programs and services.

“Eager to show respect for officers, the mayor instead unwittingly antagonized them, committing gaffes whose consequences his team was slow to grasp.”

The NYP: “(T)he longer the mayor resists making peace with a police force in a de facto work slowdown, the greater the threat the governor will do it for him.”

Only 850 NYPD officers have asked de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito not to come to their last rites if they die on the job, police sources told the DN.

Thousands of NYPD officers are wearing outdated bulletproof vests that should have been replaced years ago.

An investigation into the NYPD’s use of chokeholds concludes the agency and an independent review board disagree on what defines the potentially deadly restraint and when officers should face discipline for using it.

More >

The Weekend That Was

Staten Island Republicans tapped DA Dan Donovan to run in a yet-to-be-called special election for the seat vacated by disgraced ex-Rep. Michael Grimm.

Donovan defended the grand jury that chose not to indict a cop in the death of Eric Garner in his first remarks since landing the borough GOP’s nod for Congress.

Grimm was spotted Friday night at a bar called 120 Bay Cafe, where he spent some time playing pool.

Michael Shnayerson, author of a forthcoming unauthorized biography of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, says the governor is both enormously saddened and “liberated in a sense” by his father’s death.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña plan to undo the school governance system put in place by the Bloomberg administration and shift power from principals to district superintendents.

In the opening salvo of what promises to be a heated battle this year over education reform, a new report says funding inequities between poor and rich school districts across the state has reached record levels under Cuomo.

At NYPD precincts across the city, top brass are cracking the whip on summons activity and even barring many cops from taking vacation and sick days.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said he is expecting to receive statistics from his chief of department Monday that will show the recent slowdown among officers is ending.

The NYT grades de Blasio’s first year as mayor.

NJ Gov. Chris Christie has been interviewed by federal prosecutors investigating the Bridgegate scandal, a development that brought back a politically damaging episode for the possible 2016 presidential contender.

New York’s fracking ban could have implications for the Delaware River Basin Commission, a multi-state river compact that has held back gas development in Wayne and Pike counties since 2010.

New York had been considering a “phased rollout” of large-scale hydraulic fracturing in the months prior to deciding to ban it, with the proposal received well by public-health experts the state had asked for advice.

The ban isn’s a big loss for the industry, because scientists say New York’s available reserves of natural gas in the sprawling Marcellus Shale are minuscule compared to what can be extracted in other states such as Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Bloomberg’s ex-”data guy”, John Feinblatt, is now running the former mayor’s gun control campaign.

Lawmakers from both parties raised doubts over whether the Justice Department should file charges against former Gen. David Petraeus for mishandling classified information.

The family of a Lindenhurst man who died in May 2011 during a struggle with Suffolk police officers in a First Precinct cell has asked the state attorney general to launch a criminal investigation into the incident.

Hundreds of people holding pens aloft in support of free expression rallied in New York City on Saturday to mourn victims of a deadly terror attack targeting a French satirical publication.

Syracuse Post-Standard: “Governor, it’s time to hike the minimum wage for New York’s tipped workers, and for the rest of us to remember to tip the hardworking people who serve us.”

Clerk Christopher L. Jacobs and Comptroller Stefan I. Mychajliw Jr. are two WNY Republicans mentioned as potential challengers to Democratic Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz.

US Sen. Charles Schumer is urging the Food and Drug Administration to implement a plan to address recent reports of rat-infested warehouses that supply food to restaurants.

The state’s Gaming Facility Location Board agreed to reopen a bidding process specifically for the Southern Tier that could result in a fourth casino license to be recommended.

Still-grieving Chris Cuomo was asked by CNN to fly to Paris to cover the terrorist attack the day after his father Mario Cuomo’s funeral. The news anchor accepted the assignment after an OK from his mom.

On Friday’s broadcast of HBO’s Real Time, comedian Jay Leno stated he thought Hillary Clinton seems “slow” while Elizabeth Warren has more a punch and “fire” than the former Secretary of State.

The Buffalo Bills have offered their head-coaching job to Rex Ryan, but the deal isn’t finalized.

US Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid says he could be left blind in his right eye because of a bizarre recent exercise injury.

Suffolk OTB officials plan to meet Tuesday with Medford community leaders to discuss the planned $65 million gaming facility near Exit 64 of the Long Island Expressway.

A federally designated protection and advocacy group that watches out for the welfare of the disabled is suing the state Justice Center over what its says is the center’s refusal to hand over records.

Cuomo Reshuffles Top Staff For Second Term

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is turning to a combination of old hands and new faces as his second term begins to take shape.

Cuomo announced on Sunday a major reshuffling of his top staff, with longtime top aide Larry Schwartz departing for a job in the private sector.

Schwartz will be replaced by Bill Mulrow, a banker who was Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s choice to replace disgraced former Comptroller Alan Hevesi (The Assembly spurned that choice in favor of one of their own, Tom DiNapoli).

In turning to Mulrow, Cuomo is reaching outside of a close-knit circle of advisors who also have ties to his late father.

Mulrow most recently worked as a managing director at Blackstone, an alternative asset management firm.

Schwartz, a former deputy county executive in Nassau and Westchester counties, had previously served as secretary — and some say a stabilizing influence — at the conclusion of David Paterson’s administration.

He served as a special advisor in the first year of Cuomo’s administration and later became secretary in 2012, replacing Steve Cohen.

“New ideas and talent are critical to innovation and success. This team will build on the extraordinary progress made over the last four years by bringing experience, energy and fresh perspectives to the table,” Cuomo said in a statement. “This is an incredibly accomplished and dedicated group of individuals, and I am proud to welcome them to their new roles. Together we will continue moving New York State forward.”

Administration churn is normal, but reports at the end of last year surfaced that the governor was struggling to fill key slots in the executive chamber.

Cuomo has a reputation for being a hard-charging and demanding boss, which those familiar with the process say lent to the difficulty in finding new blood for the second term.

Outgoing budget director Bob Megna, who like Schwartz is a holdover from the Paterson administration, will become the acting director of the state Thruway Authority, replacing the departed Tom Madison.

Replacing Megna at the Division of Budget is Mary Beth Labate, who has been the first deputy in the administration’s budget office since 2012.

Meanwhile, Cuomo has hired Beth DeFalco, a former political reporter for the New York Post and Associated Press as well as a spokeswoman for New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker to work as a deputy communications director for transportation issues.

Cuomo’s communications director Melissa DeRosa is staying put, but is also receiving the title of “strategic advisor” to the governor.

Frank Sobrino, formerly of state Sen. Jose Peralta’s office, has been tapped to become deputy director of communications for New York City.

John Kelly, formerly of SKDKnickerbocker, has been appointed press secretary following the departure of Matt Wing, who landed at the ride-sharing service Uber.

Linda Lacewell, who most recently served as special counsel in Cuomo’s office, will become counselor to the governor.

Alfonso David, the governor’s top advisor on civil rights issues, will be appointed counsel to the governor starting April 1.

The governor also filled posts for assistant secretaries dealing with health, homeland security and housing.

Extras

Politico’s Maggie Haberman is joining the New York Times, where she will “anchor” the “First Draft” morning newsletter as well as serve as a presidential campaign correspondent.

Former Gov. George Pataki supports Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis to run for former Rep. Michael Grimm’s seat.

The Staten Island GOP executive committee will meet Saturday morning to take a non-binding vote on who the 31 members support to replace Grimm.

Defying a presidential veto threat, the House passed a bill approving the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

Mark Dunlea, executive director of Hunger Action Network of New York State, is leaving the organization after 29 years of service to focus on climate change.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio got scooped on one of his most prized initiatives - the new municipal ID program - when a government staffer inadvertently tweeted out the details.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s top appointee at the Port Authority resigned in advance of a restructuring plan that will eliminate her job. She’s headed to a job at NYU Law School.

“He can’t just put lipstick on his current proposal and expect us to approve it. That isn’t going to happen.”

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, the Republican presidential nominee in 2012, told a meeting of donors that he is considering another White House bid in 2016.

NYC’s largest charter network has withdrawn plans to open four new charter schools this year, but remains on track to open them as part of its expansion in the 2016-17 school year.

Rep. Pete King argued that two dangerous hostage situations in France show why surveillance of Muslim communities in New York is necessary.

Zephyr Teachout is joining with Joh Fox, the director of the anti-fracking documentary Gasland, to tour dozens of New York towns to talk about climate change and the importance of renewable energy.

Weather-related road closures remain in effect in Western New York.

The Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin had to scramble to cover the one-two punch to the Southern Tier of no casino and no fracking.

Rep. Kathleen Rice was named vice chair of the House Gun Violence Prevention Task Force. She was elected in November to replace retired Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, one of the task force’s original vice chairs.

Michael Palladino, the president of the Detectives’ Endowment Association, said de Blasio won’t even acknowledge the rift between himself and the NYPD.

Apparently there’s a thriving professional cuddling business in New York.

Donovan Officially Enters NY-11 Race

Republican Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan on Friday officially announced he would seek his party’s nomination to replace the disgraced former Rep. Michael Grimm in Congress.

At the moment, Donovan is the apparent choice for Staten Island Republicans in the district that also includes parts of Brooklyn.

Donovan, who had stated his interested in the seat following Grimm’s resignation, said the “enthusiasm for my candidacy has only broadened and intensified, with expressions of support also from beyond the two boroughs.”

“Accordingly, please consider this my formal announcement that I will be seeking the endorsements of the Republican, Conservative, and Independence Parties in the upcoming Special Election for the 11th Congressional District of New York,” he said in the statement. “I expect the selection processes of those parties to commence sometime in the near future and will only comment further in due course after those party processes have taken place.”

Donovan faces questions, including from Republicans on the national level, regarding his role in the grand jury that voted to not indict New York City Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo in the choke hold death of Eric Garner.

Donovan ran for state attorney general in 2010, losing to Democrat Eric Schneiderman that year.

The candidacy Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis of Staten Island is backed informally by Brooklyn Republicans.