Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is leaving Des Moines, Iowa to return to NYC. He has no public schedule.

At 8:30 a.m., Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, NYC EDC head Kyle Kimball, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Carlo Scissura and other business, community and government officials discuss efforts to support businesses and employment in Brooklyn, during the business organization’s “Economic Development Exchange Forum”; courtroom, Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

At 8:45 a.m., the NYC Bar Association holds its 25th annual program on “Current Issues in Insurance Regulation,” New York City Bar Association, 42 W. 44th St., Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., the Board of Directors of the Buffalo Erie Niagara Land Improvement Corporation holds its monthly meeting, 10th-floor conference room, Edward A. Rath county office building, 95 Franklin St., Buffalo.

Also at 9 a.m., Rep. Chris Gibson speaks at the Institute for Disaster Mental Health Conference: “Preparing for the Health and Mental Health Consequences of Climate Change”, SUNY New Paltz.

At 9:30 a.m., the mother of Eric Garner, who lost consciousness and died during an attempted arrest on Thursday, July 17, Gwen Carr, and a co-director of the U.S. program of Human Rights Watch, Maria McFarland Sanchez-Moreno, discuss human rights in the U.S. during a forum presented by the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at CUNY’s Hunter College and the US Human Rights Network in anticipation of the U.N. Human Rights Council’s in-person “Universal Periodic Review” of U.S. human rights scheduled in Geneva on Monday, May 11; 47-49 E. 65th St., Manhattan.

Also at 9:30 a.m., Queens Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras delivers an opening keynote speech during CUNY’s 27th annual “Big Apple Job & Internship Fair”; Galleria and River Pavilion, The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center of New York, 655 W. 34th St., Manhattan.

At 10:10 a.m., Sen. David Carlucci hosts LG Kathy Hochul on his monthly edition of the “Albany Report,” WRCR1300 AM.

At 1 p.m., former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean delivers keynote address during a “Tackling Economic Inequality” symposium presented by NY Law School’s Center for New York City Law and the law school’s Impact Center for Public Interest Law, featuring panel discussions with city officials, family, housing and legal advocates, legal professionals and scholars; auditorium and event center, second floor, 185 W. Broadway.

At 2 p.m., AG Eric Schneiderman makes remarks in Syracuse, 707 First North St. (Rain location: Syracuse City Hall, 233 East Washington St.)

Also at 2 p.m., Assemblyman David Weprin, NYC Councilman Rory Lancman and city transportation officials and community leaders unveil the fully converted 168th Street, which now only runs one-way, Jamaica Muslim Center, 8537 168th St., Queens.

At 2:45 p.m., Hochul tours NYSERNET construction and expansion of the data center, 300 South Salina St., Syracuse.

At 8:30 p.m., Schneiderman attends the Democratic Rural Caucus dinner, Holiday Inn, 441 Electronics Parkway, Liverpool.

Headlines…

A corruption unit of the Nassau County district attorney’s office will open a review of county contracting practices, in response to revelations that a federal investigation into Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, is focused in part on a county storm water contract.

Nassau County legislators who approved the contract in question with an Arizona company that employed Adam Skelos, AbTech Industries, said that they did not know the senator’s son worked there.

Skelos confirmed the existence of the federal inquiry and said he is cooperating – a switch from months ago, when he attacked a report about the existence of the probe as “a thinly sourced” story that did “not meet the standards of journalism.”

A source who recently met with investigators for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara indicated that about half the questions focused on the lobbying arm of the law firm where Skelos is of counsel, Ruskin Moscou Faltischek, and if there was any direct or indirect interaction with the senator.

County Executive Ed Mangano and nearly all of Long Island’s senators have been subpoenaed in connection with the Skelos federal grand jury probe.

Adam Skelos, the 32-year-old son of Sen. Skelos, appears to have benefited from his dad’s position with a series of jobs at GOP-wired entities, according to campaign finance and payroll documents and public information provided by firms that employed him.

Should Skelos be indicted and forced to step down, as happened to Silver, no seamless replacement strategy is in place. That is because his second-in-command, Sen. Tom Libous, of Binghamton, faces a federal trial this summer on charges of lying to FBI agents who were investigating the financial activities of him and his son.

Barbara Bartoletti, of the NY League of Women Voters, sees no reason for Skelos to give up his leadership post right now. “There is a presumption of innocence, and we should at least wait until federal authorities have finished with their investigation,” she said. “We should all just be aware that the culture of corruption in Albany has very long tentacles.”

Bharara, one of the most acclaimed prosecutors of his generation, is locked in what seems to be an escalating war of words with the federal judiciary — one that some judges fear could influence important rulings.

The state Board of Elections declined to change a longstanding ruling that critics say has allowed millions of dollars to flow, virtually unchecked, into campaign coffers across New York. The board’s four commissioners deadlocked 2-to-2 on the issue of whether to rescind its own 1996 opinion that found limited-liability companies should be treated like individuals when it comes to contributions.

Emails between Sony executives and Cuomo’s campaign staff leaked as part of the Sony Pictures hack and published in full by WikiLeaks Thursday appear to show Sony executives believed donating to the governor was a good idea because he is a “strong protector” of New York’s film tax credit.

Though his focus was national during his brief Midwest trip, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio could not entirely escape local issues, as a Nebraska rancher and radio host showed up to question the mayor’s proposal to take horse carriages out of Central Park. Also, de Blasio brushed off questions about whether he wants to run for president.

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Survey: New York Most Corrupt State

When it comes to the perception of political corruption, New York is number one, according to a poll conducted by Monmouth University.

The poll found 12 percent of Americans surveyed believe New York to be the most corruption state, followed by California at 11 percent and 9 percent for Illinois. Neighboring New Jersey tied with Texas for five percent.

New York ranking first on the list — which isn’t meant to be a scientific distillation of which state is actually the most corrupt, but a measure of perception — comes after the arrest and indictment of now former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is also under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office, the Long Island Republican confirmed earlier today.

A parade of state lawmakers and politicians have been arrested in recent years, ranging from Sen. Malcolm Smith for seeking to bribe his way onto the New York City mayoral ballot, Assemblyman Eric Stevenson for accepting bribes in exchange for writing favorable legislation, Sen. Shirley Huntley for steering member items to a non-profit she controlled, Sen. Pedro Espada for embezzling funds from a health-care network he controlled, Sen. Vinnie Leibell for kickbacks and Sen. Nick Spano for tax evasion.

In addition to Silver, three other rank-and-file members of the Legislature — Sens. Tom Libous, John Sampson and Assemblyman Bill Scarborough — are under indictment for unrelated corruption charges.

At the same time, there is the ongoing probe in the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption’s closing down following an agreement on ethics reform.

Just to a name a few examples.

“When it comes to political corruption, it seems the entire country is in a New York state of mind,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute in West Long Branch. “Monmouth makes no claims as to the accuracy of these perceptions, but this is how the American public sees it.”

Extras

Writing for TIME’s 100 Most Influential People list, Hillary Clinton called US Sen. Elizabeth Warren “a special kind of leader” and said the Massachusetts Democrat is holding her feet to the fire.

Clinton will make her first trip as a presidential candidate to the early voting state of New Hampshire next week, participating in small events Monday and Tuesday with students and small business employees.

US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is a big fan of actress/advocate Julianna Margulies, whom she calls a “kindred spirit” in TIME.

Republican state senators are saying nothing – for now – about a NYT report that federal prosecutors have Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, in their crosshairs.

The acting Nassau County district attorney said she will review county contracting procedures after reports of Skelos’ influence on a $12 million local stormwater systems contract the Arizona-based company that employed his son, AbTech Industries.

“If Skelos were to step aside, either temporarily to fight any changes or permanently if the charges turn out to be severe, the top contenders to replace him could be Syracuse’s John DeFrancisco and Suffolk County’s John Flanagan.”

On the heels of snubbing Clinton, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio appeared in Iowa (right as she was leaving the early presidential voting state) to preach his tax-the-rich message.

“After 25 years in the public eye, Mrs. Clinton has suddenly developed the capacity to surprise.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo departs for Cuba on Monday, April 20. He’s due to speak at a Food Bank for NYC gala Tuesday night (April 21) where the company of his longtime girlfriend, Sandra Lee-Simply Living Publishing, will be honored.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals Inc.’s top executive will join Cuomo on his trip to Cuba, home to a state-sponsored biopharmaceutical industry.

Sen. Diane Savino, never one to be shy about sharing her opinion, bashed de Blasio on Facebook for traveling to Iowa and Nebraska, saying: “Dude, you do have a city to run.”

According to former Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, Clinton still “loves” de Blasio, even though he hasn’t endorsed her.

Rep. Lee Zeldin, a Long Island GOP freshman, released a video to mark his first 100 days in office.

Another GOP freshman from New York, Rep. Elise Stefanik, marked her first 100 days with an OpEd in the Denton Republican.

Meet the “everyday people” who work at the Ohio Chipotle where Clinton ordered a chicken burrito bowl and went unnoticed.

Following Clinton’s lead, former Gov. George Pataki, a potential 2016 GOP contender, ate lunch at a Chipotle with is wife, Libby. (Neither wore sunglasses).

The state Senate Democrats believe having a “rock star” like Clinton atop the 2016 ticket will help them retake the majority.

Cuomo announced the craft beer industry in New York State grew 59 percent from 2013 to 2014, with a total economic impact estimated at $3.5 billion.

After Cuomo’s budget proposal to raise the state’s minimum wage failed earlier this year, AG Eric Schneiderman has taken up the cause – and then some. He wants the hourly wage to increase to $15 an hour.

There may be more than 155,000 students opting out of state exams this week, but the state Education Department says they’ll still have enough results to evaluate the performance of students and teachers.

It wasn’t your imagination: A plane marked like Air Force One was doing touch-and-go landings at Albany International Airport today.

Buffalo school leaders must figure out how to cut roughly $10 million from their budget for the next school year, something that could lead to contractual changes or staff reductions.

The University at Buffalo has turned to a nationally known branding company for help, hiring Ologie of Columbus, Ohio, to work on its new “brand identity.”

Cuomo Admin: ‘Incredibly Disappointed’ BoE Didn’t Act On LLCs

The Cuomo administration expressed disappointment with the Board of Elections choosing to not approve a reclassification of limited liability companies that would restricted how much they can give to political campaigns and causes.

In a statement, the governor’s office reiterated their support for closing what good-government advocates have said is tantamount of a loophole in the election law.

“We commend Commissioners Kellner and Spano for advancing this reform and are incredibly disappointed their fellow commissioners did not follow suit,” said Dani Lever, a spokeswoman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo. “The Governor has repeatedly introduced legislation to close the LLC loophole and he will continue to fight to make it a reality.”

Cuomo in 2013 had declared the LLC classification as “not a loophole. It’s the law.”

Cuomo himself has benefited from LLC contributions in the last election cycle, though he is hardly alone among the state’s politicians.

The board on Thursday was deadlocked on the question of whether to reclassify LLCs as partnerships, having the effect of limiting how much their ownership can contribute through the entities to political candidates.

The board’s Republican commissioners argue the state Legislature should be charged with changing the classification, not elections regulators.

Currently, individual donors can give well above the legal limit through LLCs, based on a 1996 rule first implemented by the Board of Elections.

While good-government groups and left-leaning organizations criticized the board for not acting, the Business Council, which had urged against reclassification, backed the decision.

“We concur with the outcome of today’s Board of Elections review of campaign contribution limits for limited liability companies,” said Ken Pokalsky, vice president of The Business Council of New York State.

Elections Board Deadlocks On LLC Reclassification

The state Board of Elections on Thursday declined to reclassify limited liability companies when it comes to the state’s campaign finance law.

The board, following a discussion about the influence of money in state politics and the merits of free speech in political donations, deadlocked its vote between the two Republican and two Democratic commissioners.

“I think it’s something we should do symbolically at least as a board in order to say, ‘Hey, we don’t think this should be happening,'” said Democratic Commissioner Andy Spano, a former Westchester County executive, who backed the reclassification.

The result was to the disappointment of the state’s good-government organizations and left-leaning advocacy groups that had sought to close what they say is a loophole in the state’s campaign finance law that allows individuals to contribute to political campaigns and candidates far beyond the legal limit through LLCs.

A coalition of groups had sought to end the practice of LLC contributions, a campaign that had grown to include Attorney General Eric Schneiderman urging the loophole be closed.

In a statement, a Schneiderman spokesman called the result a “squandered” opportunity.

“It is deeply disappointing that the Board of Elections squandered an opportunity to close the LLC loophole, which has made a mockery of New York’s campaign finance rules,” said Schneiderman spokesman Matt Mittenthal. “We will continue to fight to give New Yorkers the real, comprehensive ethics reform they demand.”

In essence, the resolution before the board would have reclassified LLCs as partnerships, which would have the impact of restricting how much money the ownership could contribute to campaigns.

Supporters had insisted the Board of Elections itself created the loophole through a 1996 determination that relied on a federal opinion that was later reversed.

“It’s obvious that we have a serious corruption problem in Albany,” said the Brennan Center’s Larry Norden. “We’ll have to explore what our next steps are.”

Added Blair Horner of NYPIRG: “It’s obviously a bogus argument to say that on the one hand they’re allowed to make an interpretation that allows the LLC loophole and now they say they don’t have the authority to close it.”

But in the end, the board’s two Republican commissioners voted against the reclassification, in part saying it was up to the Legislature to consider campaign finance regulations such as contribution limits.

“The Legislature has created this very comprehensive system of campaign contribution limits in New York state,” said Republican Co-Chairman Peter Kosinski. “I feel we have to honor that. That’s there prerogative to do so. We administer it. We make sure it’s complied with. But we don’t create it.”

Kosinski was appointed to become the new Republican chairman on the board on Wednesday, replacing James Walsh. He is a former counsel to the Senate Republicans.

Kosinski also pointed to free speech concerns raised by reclassifying LLCs in order to limit campaign donations.

“These are constitutional issues,” he said. “To have a state agency affecting peoples’ first amendment rights I think is very troubling.”

The state Business Council, too, had made the argument the Legislature should be tasked with any campaign finance changes and not the appointed commissioners at the Board of Elections.

Up until now, the state Legislature has shown little willingness to change the law and restrict LLC giving.

Politicians in both parties have benefited from LLC contributions, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who received more than $1 million in contributions from a single donor last cycle, developer Leonard Litwin.

Democratic Co-Chairman Douglas Kellner, who had the LLC change added to the agenda this week, urged the board’s recently appointed enforcement counsel Risa Sugarman to probe political donations through LLCs.

In particular, Kellner urged her to review contributions from entities that do not have any other apparent business purpose and mass donations from LLCs.

“I would certainly urge the independent enforcement counsel to take a look at two classes of suspicious LLC contributions,” he said.

Skelos Confirms Corruption Probe

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos issued a brief statement on Thursday confirming there is a federal investigation.

“I have and will continue to cooperate with any inquiry,” Skelos said.

The statement comes after The New York Times reported Skelos, a Long Island Republican, along with his son Adam are reviewing potential conflicts of interest involving an Arizona-based company and a real-estate firm with ties to a prominent developer.

A cloud has been hanging over Skelos since January, when a New York City TV station reported he was under investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office.

At the time, Skelos’s office called the report from WNBC “thinly source” and “irresponsible.”

“Sen. Skelos has not been contacted by anyone from the U.S. Attorney’s Office,” spokeswoman Kelly Cummings said at the time. “As such, we won’t be commenting further.”

Suffolk’s Bellone Fundraises For Re-Election Bid

Democratic Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on Thursday sent out a fundraising appeal ahead of his 2015 re-election campaign.

Bellone, in his fundraising appeal, touts the county’s expansion of clean water infrastructure as well as three balanced budgets under his tenure.

“Together, we have accomplished so much in these last three years. We introduced three consecutive balanced budgets while freezing the general fund property tax and holding all county taxes under the tax cap,” Bellone said. “We reduced the size of government by more than 10 percent, consolidating departments and saving taxpayers more than $100 million each year without impacting services.”

Bellone was first elected in 2011, flipping a seat from a Democrat-turned-Republican hostile to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Steve Levy unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for governor in 2010).

Since then, Bellone has been a key local government ally for the governor, who also has worked well with Republican Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano.

Schneiderman Pushes Cuomo On Minimum Wage

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman nudged Gov. Andrew Cuomo on to increase the state’s minimum wage himself in a Daily News op/ed published on Thursday.

In the op/ed, Schneiderman writes that Cuomo can convene a wage board through the Department of Labor that could hike the state’s minimum wage, which is due to increase to $9 by the end of the year.

“While the statewide minimum wage is set by the Legislature and the governor, state law endows the state’s commissioner of labor with the authority to investigate and increase the minimum wage for any occupation if the commissioner determines that a substantial number of employees ‘are receiving wages insufficient to provide adequate maintenance and to protect their health,'” Schneiderman wrote.

The call will likely embolden minimum wage advocates and labor groups to push Cuomo on creating the wage board for a broader increase.

Cuomo previously convened a wage board to consider a minimum wage increase for tipped workers, which was ultimately approved.

A minimum wage increase as proposed by Cuomo — called “modest” by Schneiderman in the op/ed — was not approved in the state budget this year.

Cuomo had proposed a two-tier wage for New York City at $11.50 and $10.50 elsewhere in the state.

The call for the wage board from Schneiderman comes after rallies and protest nationwide for a $15 minimum wage.

Schneiderman also notes from a tactical point of view, a wage board could spur state lawmakers into action.

“As a practical matter, faced with the real prospect of action by the commissioner of labor, legislators would be much more likely to pass an increase that could otherwise be held up for years,” he wrote. “Lawmakers zealously guard their prerogatives and, as much as some might oppose a minimum-wage increase, they will not want to see the issue taken out of their hands.

The op/ed continues an increased emphasis from Schneiderman not just on issues friendly to liberals in New York, but a more aggressive posture toward Cuomo, which has come to include urging him to take a bolder approach on ethics measures.

Schneiderman late last year sought to have Cuomo grant him power to probe police-related deaths involving unarmed civilians, a call that came after a grand jury declined to indict a New York City police officer in the choke hold death of Eric Garner.

Tisch to Feds: Don’t Penalize NY

From the Morning Memo:

As federal education officials make vague noises about financial sanctions as as result of the unprecedentedly high opt-out rates New York is seeing during this week’s standardized English tests, Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch delivered this message: Don’t even think about it.

“I would urge the federal government not to come and threaten the students in New York state for a variety of reasons,” Tisch said during a CapTon interview last night.

“Number one: I don’t believe that taking money away from our most vulnerable schools, which is where Title I is targeted, would be very helpful to getting the kinds of outcomes we want for those targeted populations.”

“I don’t believe in threatening people and I don’t think that’s very effective.”

“On a much more basic note,” the chancellor continued, “over the last several days, the federal government has started to signal that as part of reauthorizing the Elementary, Middle and Secondary Act, they are going to move away from using test scores as part of their evaluation system.”

“It would be really disingenuous for the federal government to come into New York state, which has met its obligations under Race to the Top, and had testing as part of evaluation, and then threaten to remove money that this state uses for its most vulnerable populations because we couldn’t get to yes while they are moving away from that obligation altogether.”

A US Department of Education spokeswoman told The Buffalo News that the department has not had to withhold money “yet” over the requirement that schools and districts have 95 percent test compliance or lose federal Title I funding because that threshold has not yet been reached.

However, there were reports that some districts across New York had as many as 70 percent of students opt out for Day One of the ELA exams this week. And the federal government says it has “made clear” that states are expected to “consider” sanctions when the threshold is not met.

Federal aid is a small fraction of the public funding school districts receive, most of which comes from the state. But many of New York’s high-needs districts are already stretched thin, and cannot afford to lose even a small amount of money.

The opt-out movement was started by parents concerned about over-testing of their kids, and the viability of the tests themselves.

But the cause was kicked up a notch this year when it was embraced by the statewide teachers union, NYSUT, in an effort to undermine the teacher evaluation system after a bitter budget battle in which the governor pushed – and the Legislature approved – changes the union opposed.

An estimated 100,000 students have opted out of this year’s tests so far, compared to some 60,000 in 2014. Despite this dramatic increase, the state Education Department still plans on using this year’s tests as a basis for school and teacher evaluations, Gannett reports.

Tisch said the Board of Regents will “absolutely” take into account the opt out movement while trying to come up changes to the teacher evaluation system within the parameters of the legislation agreed to by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders.

“At the end of the day, no one is going to be 100 percent satisfied with where this lands,” Tisch warned.

“…The Constitution of New York state gave us this authority, and not to use it to help students and parents and teachers would be walking away from what I think is our constitutional obligation to give our best judgement in crafting regulations around complicated policy.”

“…Absolutely we will not ignore the voices of parent across this state; that is an absolute,” Tisch continued. “Absolutely, we will not ignore what is already in statute through the budget process in the state of New York.”

“How we get there, and how we managed to bring these disparate voices together during a very complicated public debate I think is going to be challenging, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do it.”

Tisch said she doesn’t believe – either as a parent or a chancellor – in “punitive measures,” but rather in setting standards and expectations.

She did express concern, however, about the timeline set out for coming up with a new evaluation system. (It’s due by June 30). And she also said she’s “openly worried” about the ability of close to 700 districts to put together plans under the new rules and submit them to SED for approval by November.

Here and Now

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

At 9:30 a.m., presidents of NYC public libraries speak to about 200 librarians from across the city as they mark the start of “Lobby Day” meetings with Council members to discuss city funding for libraries; The New York Public Library’s New Amsterdam Library branch, 9 Murray St., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus and officials attend a grand opening of a rehabbed apartment building and highlight revitalization efforts in Newburgh, 197 Lander St., Newburgh.

At 10:30 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers remarks at Drake University, Cowles Library Reading Room, 2725 University Ave., Des Moines, IA.

At 11 a.m., Staten Island DA and NY-11 GOP candidate Dan Donovan will attend the Empire Outlets groundbreaking ceremony, Richmond County Bank Ballpark, 75 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island.

Also at 11 a.m., the chairman of the state Senate Task Force on the Delivery of Social Services in New York City, state Sen. Tony Avella, hosts the opening event of the task force’s planned series of public forums; Senate Hearing Room, 19th floor, 250 Broadway, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul, EDC President Kyle Kimball, Staten Island BP James Oddo, city officials and executives from Brooklyn-based real estate development firm BFC Partners LP, investment firm Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and tourism marketing agency NYC & Company mark the start of construction of a 340,000-square-foot mall; Richmond County Bank Ballpark, 75 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island.

Also at 11 a.m., Poughkeepsie Mayor John Tkazyik, Assemblyman Kieran Lalor and Councilman Lee Klein will host a press conference discussing the proposed “Safe Storage” ordinance in the City of Poughkeepsie, 62 Civic Center Plaza, across from The Poughkeepsie Journal building.

At noon, the state Board of Elections meets to consider whether to close to the so-called LLC loophole in campaign finance law, 40 N. Pearl St., Suite 5, Albany.

At 1 p.m., Donovan will host a press conference to receive the endorsement of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, St. George Pharmacy, 99 Stuyvesant Pl., Staten Island.

At 5:45 p.m., de Blasio speaks at the Progress Iowa Gathering, Iowa State Education Association Headquarters, Second Floor, 77 3rd St., Des Moines, IA.

At 6 p.m., Cardinal Timothy Dolan receives a proclamation from Oddo and an Archdiocese of New York auxiliary bishop, the Most Rev. John O’Hara, serves as guest speaker during a Catholic School Region of Staten Island’s gala; Nicotra’s Ballroom, Hilton Garden Inn New York/Staten Island, 1100 South Ave., Staten Island.

Also at 6 p.m., Discovery for Justice, an advocacy group made up of community activist, clergy, seniors, elected officials, labor, and retired law enforcement officials will be sponsoring a community forum on criminal justice reform, 1199 SEIU penthouse, 330 West 42nd St., Manhattan. (Panelists include: Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson and Assemblyman Joe Lentol).

At 6:45 p.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray delivers remarks at at a Vaisakhi Celebration, 31 Chambers St., Manhattan.

Headlines…

The NYT reports federal prosecutors have begun presenting evidence to a grand jury considering a case against Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam. The focus of the federal investigation has been on Adam Skelos’ business dealings, and whether the senator used any of his influence to assist the companies for which his son works.

Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano was one of several Long Island politicians subpoenaed to testify last week before a federal grand jury looking into the Skeloses.

Yesterday’s “Fight for $15″ protest by tens of thousands of low-wage workers, students and activists in more than 200 American cities is the most striking effort to date in a two-and-a-half-year-old labor-backed movement that is testing the ability of unions to succeed in an economy populated by easily replaceable service sector workers.

Hillary Clinton tweeted her support of the “Fight for $15″ campaign, saying “every American deserves a fair shot at success.”

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent who is mulling a 2016 White House run, said Clinton isn’t ready to confront the nation’s billionaires to address the rising income inequality issue. “Based on her record, I don’t think so,” Sanders said.

So far, Clinton’s Wall Street backers don’t seem terribly worried about her populist sentiments on the campaign trail.

Peter Kosinski, the Senate GOP’s counsel, has replaced James Walsh as the Republican co-chair of the state Board of Elections. The move comes the day before the board is scheduled to vote on whether to change its 1996 interpretation of LLCs as individuals for the purposes of calculating contribution limits.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s memoir has not burned up the best-seller list, but it earned him $376,667 in income last year. The governor’s tax returns, which his office made available to reporters, show that he made a total of $553,371, the largest chunk being book income, plus money he made on a blind trust, minus expenses.

So far, Cuomo has received $565,000 over the last two years for his book, which, has not sold as well as some other political memoirs. According to Nielsen, which tracks 85 percent of print sales, the memoir — released in October had sold 3,000 hardcover copies as of Sunday.

Tens of thousands of New York students refusing to take required English exams have not dissuaded the state Education Department from using those tests as the basis for school and teacher evaluations.

Federal education officials are hinting that New York public schools with high opt-out rates during this week’s standardized tests could face financial sanctions. But Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch warned Washington not to penalize students for a fight the grownups are having.

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