NYSUT Serves Paladino A Formal Petition For Removal

From the Morning Memo:

A handful of organizations had promised to submit a formal petition to the state education commissioner asking her to remove Carl Paladino from his seat on the Buffalo Board of Education due to his pejorative comments about the outgoing president and his wife.

The New York State teachers union became the first to initiate that process.

Paladino confirmed last night that he had been served a petition – the first step in the application for removal. According to NYSED, he now has 20 days to provide a “verified answer.”

Following Paladino’s response, the complainant has another 10 days to reply before the commissioner makes a decision about whether there is enough evidence to move forward with a formal hearing on his potential removal as a Buffalo School Board member.

The five teachers who filed the petition with the support of NYSUT, claim Paladino’s actions and statements “negatively affect the ability of teachers to do their job in teaching students tolerance, kindness and self-respect” and also have interfered with students’ educations.

To recap: The Buffalo alternative newspaper Artvoice published derogatory comments by Paladino on Dec. 23.

In that interview, Paladino said, among other things, that he’d like President Obama to die of mad cow disease and First Lady Michelle Obama “to return to being a male and let loose in the outback of Zimbabwe where she lives comfortably in a cave with Maxie, the gorilla.”

A number of other groups, including the Buffalo Parent-Teacher Organization, and the District Parent Coordinating Council, and the board of education have said they plan to appeal to NYSED too. The BOE passed a resolution last night – with Paladino present – for President Barbara Seals Nevergold to sign its petition.

Here and Now

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

At 9:30 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul highlights Cuomo’s State of the State and budget proposals at a Central New York Regional Economic Development Council meeting, Onondaga Community College, Recital Hall, 4585 West ‎Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse.

Also at 9:30 a.m., a “Justice for Juveniles” rally, advocating to raise the age of criminal responsibility and change the criminal justice system on a NYC-level prior to a joint council hearing of the Courts and Legal Services Committee and Juvenile Justice Committee, outside Brooklyn Bridge/City Hall Subway station, Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., Secretary of State Rossana Rosado delivers a regional briefing of Cuomo’s 2017-18 budget proposal, Asian American/Asian Research Institute, City University of New York, Room 1000, 25 West 43rd St., Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., NYC anti-violence leaders will kick off a year of peace and encourage unity while sending a message to Trump that the administration must work with those on the frontline to end violence in communities across the country, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., state Veterans Affairs Director Eric Hesse delivers a regional budget briefing, Orange County Community College , The Gilman Center for International Education, 115 South St., Middletown.

Also at 11 a.m., Cuomo’s chief diversity officer Rose Rodriguez delivers a regional budget briefing, Sandel Senior Center, 50 South Park Ave., Rockville Centre, Long Island.

Also at 11 a.m., OTDA Commissioner Samuel Roberts delivers a regional budget briefing, Dulles State Office Building, 1st Floor Conference Room, 317 Washington St., Watertown.

At 11:30 a.m., Hochul presents Cuomo’s State of the State and budget proposals, Binghamton University, Innovative Technologies Complex, Engineering and Science Building, 85 Murray Hill Rd., Binghamton.

Also at 11:30 a.m., IDC members and housing advocates release an investigative report that details deplorable conditions at NYC hotels and cluster sites for the homeless, 250 Broadway, Manhattan.

At noon, Canal Corp. Director Brian Stratton delivers a regional budget briefing, Fredonia Beaver Club, 64 Prospect St., Fredonia.

Also at noon, AQE members and supporters will rally and march against Trump’s plans to “privatize schools,” Chambers and Greenwich streets, Manhattan.

Also at noon, Queens Assemblyman Ron Kim is joined by colleagues and community leaders to announce a 2017 legislative agenda for small businesses, Mudan Banquet Hall, 136-17 39th Ave., Queens.

At 1 p.m., AG Eric Schneiderman will provide local governments and law enforcement agencies with legal tools to enact sanctuary city policies and protect immigrant communities, 120 Broadway, 25th Floor, Manhattan.

At 2:30 p.m., community leaders, labor leaders, Assemblyman Kevin Cahill and others will be calling on newly-elected Rep. John Faso to not vote for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, without a replacement plan in place, Kingston City Hall steps, 420 Broadway, Kingston.

At 3 p.m., Transportation Commissioner Matthew Driscoll delivers a regional budget briefing, Empire State Development, 95 Perry St., Suite 500, Buffalo.

At 4 p.m., OGS Commissioner RoAnn Destito delivers a regional budget briefing, Foothills Performing Arts Center, 24 Market St., Oneonta.

Also at 4 p.m., the “Make America Great Again” welcome celebration for Trump’s inauguration will take place, Lincoln Memorial, National Mall, Washington, D.C.

Also at 4 p.m., NYC Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer celebrates 365 days without gun violence at Queensbridge Houses with the Long Island City NAACP, Queensbridge 696, and community members, Jacob A. Riis Neighborhood Settlement, 10-25 41st Ave., Queens.

At 5:30 p.m., Stratton delivers his second regional budget briefing of the day, Dream It, Do It Western New York, 1089 Allen St., Jamestown.

At 6 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Rev. Al Sharpton, actors Mark Ruffalo and Alec Baldwin, director Michael Moore, actresses Shailene Woodley and Rosie Perez and thousands of others rally on the eve of Trump’s inauguration to “protect shared values,” outside of Trump International Hotel and Tower, Central Park West and West 61st Street, Manhattan.

Also at 6 p.m., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City & State Editor-at-Large Gerson Borrero, Queens Councilman Eric Ulrich and others speak on a panel: “Predictions and Expectations for the Administration of Donald Trump,” Fordham Law School 150 W. 62nd St., Manhattan.

From 7 p.m. to midnight, a NYS Society inaugural ball will take place, with New York Republicans and Trump family members expected to attend, Fairmont Hotel, 2401 M St., Northwest, Washington.

Also at 7 p.m., REBNY holds its 121st Annual Banquet, a black-tie event honoring the retiring City Planning director Carl Weisbrod and others. Cuomo and de Blasio attended the powerful trade group’s soiree last year, New York Hilton Midtown, 1335 Sixth Ave., Manhattan.

Headlines…

President-elect Donald Trump, in a free-flowing speech last night at a dinner honoring his running mate, Mike Pence, jabbed at his new Republican allies and his critics alike, questioned the ethics of “super PACs” and talked about creating a “merit-based” immigration system.

About 75 Republican movers and shakers from Western New York – some of them still amazed about Trump’s November victory – will be among the guests at tomorrow’s inauguration ceremony, as will an untold number of rank-and-file citizens who will head to the event on their own.

More than 60 Democratic members of the House are refusing to attend Trump’s inauguration. Buffalo Rep. Brian Higgins plans on going, but Rochester Rep. Louise Slaughter won’t be there, saying she’s not attending in honor of Georgia Rep. John Lewis.

Trump and Gov. Andrew Cuomo met at Trump Tower, where Cuomo made his pitch for the state to receive federal infrastructure dollars for state projects and voiced concerns about Republican-led efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

AG Eric Schneiderman is announcing today that he is issuing legal guidance to local governments detailing how they can resist cooperating with the federal immigration authorities under the Trump administration.

President Obama made clear at his final White House press conference that he would not go silent after leaving office this week, promising to speak out whenever he feels America’s “core values” are threatened.

Trump admitted he likes as little information as possible when it comes to intelligence, preferring them short and to the point.

Trump intends to nominate former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to serve as agriculture secretary, according to a person familiar with the decision but not authorized to speak publicly before it is announced.

Robert Begleiter, a partner at Constantine Cannon LLP and former assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York, appealed to President Obama in a Daily News OpEd to pardon former-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and others who may be “potential targets” of an investigation into the use of the private email server.

Trump is being urged by some advisers to save at least one dance, as he celebrates his inauguration, for a very special Republican lady — Caitlyn Jenner.

Former president George H.W. Bush was under observation at an intensive care unit in Houston after being treated for an “acute respiratory problem stemming from pneumonia.” Former first lady Barbara Bush was also admitted as a “precaution” after experiencing fatigue and coughing.

Trump’s nominee for Health and Human Services secretary, Georgia Rep. Tom Price, faced a grilling from Democratic senators concerned about stock trades in an Australian biotech company he made in connection with Buffalo Rep. Chris Collins.

Manhattan Councilman Dan Garodnick is pushing the NYPD to set up a special unit to provide security around Trump Tower.

Federal authorities say they’re investigating threats to Jewish centers nationwide – including several in New York.

In his first public statements since Carl Paladino made racist and inflammatory comments about the Obamas, Buffalo Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash said there must be consequences for his behavior. In a rare move, Cash allowed Paladino to respond to speakers who turned out to condemn the remarks that were published last month in Artvoice.

Paladino told those who spoke out against him: “I understand you, and I understand the limited knowledge you have about the real workings and I forgive you.” Then the School Board passed a resolution, 6-3, seeking his removal.

Bernard Tolbert, the former FBI agent and 2013 Democratic candidate for mayor, is making serious inquiries about challenging Republican incumbent Timothy Howard for Erie County sheriff this year.

Glens Falls Post-Star: (T)the awkward way he handled the budget rollout is part of Gov. Cuomo’s compulsion to control every aspect of every action taken by his administration and to distinguish himself as different from his predecessors.”

New Yorkers get nickeled-and-dimed in the budget Cuomo floated, with added fees on everything from prepaid cellphones to titles for motor vehicles. The biggest hit would be a state sales tax on Web purchases that are currently exempt.

Differences over extension of the so-called millionaires tax, without which the governor maintains the state can’t close its $3.5 billion deficit, have emerged as an early flashpoint in budget talks.

More >

Extras

During his final press conference, President Obama said that he would oppose incoming president Donald Trump if he instituted policies of “systematic discrimination” where the country’s “core values may be at stake.”

Two days before his swearing in, Trump has forked over $25 million to settle three Trump University fraud lawsuits.

The FBI and five other law enforcement and intelligence agencies have collaborated for months in an investigation into Russian attempts to influence the November election, including whether money from the Kremlin covertly aided the president-elect.

The Trump International Hotel in Washington is banning the media from its premises during inauguration week. The hotel is located in an old post office owned by the federal General Services Administration, and is being leased by Trump and his three adult children.

In a very hypothetical race for New York City Mayor, Hillary Clinton, running as an independent, tops incumbent Bill de Blasio, running as a Democrat, 49-30 percent, according to a new Q poll.

A federal grand jury in Brooklyn is hearing evidence in the racially charged police killing of Eric Garner on Staten Island in 2014 — as prosecutors look to get an indictment before Trump becomes.

E.J. McMahon: “Assuming no further spending cuts, the governor needs to extend the full ‘millionaire tax’ long enough to raise an added $683 million in revenue for fiscal 2018, and $2.7 billion for fiscal 2019. But assuming he sticks with his promise to hold spending growth to 2 percent – a goal that Senate Republicans want to enact into law – he could cut the surtax in half in 2019, and eliminate it entirely after FY 2020.”

Cuomo’s proposed budget pulls the plug on the state’s disappointing START-UP NY program rebranding it as the “Excelsior Business Program” (not to be confused with the “Excelsior Jobs Program”).

The Senate Republicans are not fans of the governor’s plan to extend the so-called millionaire’s tax, while the Assembly Democrats want to not only extend it, but expand it, too.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said he turned down several jobs in the Trump administration because his wife refused to move to Washington.

Unlike his brother, Alec, Stephen Baldwin is looking forward to attending Inauguration Day, despite Trump firing the actor on “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice” four years ago.

Former President George H.W. Bush wrote an apology note to Trump regarding his inability to attend the inauguration.

Bush was admitted today to the intensive care unit at a Texas hospital to address a respiratory problem from pneumonia. His wife, former First Lady Barbara Bush, was also hospitalized.

Sixteen of the past 19 presidents have played golf, but Trump is the best and most passionate golfer among them.

Former Senate Majority Leader John Sampson was sentenced to five years in prison for obstruction of justice and lying to investigators during a probe of embezzlement of funds from foreclosed properties and a subsequent coverup.

Priorities USA Action, the main super PAC that supported Hillary Clinton’s White House bid, is accelerating its move to reposition itself as a hub of post-2016 Democratic activity, hiring staffers from the campaigns of both Clniton and her primary opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

By 51-33 percent Long Island voters think Trump’s economic policies will be good rather than bad for the island’s economy according to a new Siena College poll commissioned by the Long Island Association.

De Blasio insisted that his refusal to answer questions from certain reporters is completely different than Trump’s boycott of selected members of the media.

More of NYC’s high school students took college-level courses last year than ever before, officials announced, though critics say it still has a lot of catching up to do to even the playing field for all students.

Cuomo has proposed that the New York Racing Association be returned to private control, but the plan would retain sizeable influence by the governor over its operations.

The Earth had its hottest year on record in 2016, following previous records set first in 2014 and then in 2015.

Former Vice President Al Gore’s next climate change movie, An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power, premiers opening night at Sundance tomorrow.

Five Buffalo teachers — supported by NYSUT — filed legal papers today with the State Education Department seeking the removal of school board member Carl Paladino for “racially inflammatory statements” about Obama, the first lady and African-Americans that have violated his duty to serve as a role model for the school community.

Members of the Buffalo School Board are expected tonight to consider a second resolution seeking the removal of Paladino from his elected position, saying he should be ousted because he violated district policy by discussing sharing information that was discussed in executive session.

Scott Pruitt, Trump’s pick for EPA chairman, said during questioning at his Senate confirmation hearing, that he does “not believe climate change is a hoax,” breaking from a position touted at least once by his soon-to-be boss

Klein To Report $1.5M In Cash On Hand, Leading Senate Leaders

Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein is set to report more than $1.5 million in cash on hand — an amount of money in the bank that is larger than his fellow conference leaders in the state Senate.

At the same time, the Senate Independence Campaign Committee, the IDC’s campaign committee, will report $962,712 in its fundraising account and $412,339 in a field account — also dwarfing the other conferences’ cash on hand.

Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan has $709,657, while Democratic Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins has reported $247,294.

The mainline Democrats’ fundraising includes $101,566 in housekeeping and $19,801 in its field.

Republicans have reported $100,761 and $229,278 in their main account.

Unlike the Senate Republicans and mainline Senate Democrats, most of the IDC did not face competitive challenges to their membership in general election races (Sens. David Carlucci and Tony Avella did face challenges and had Klein’s support). The IDC did back Marisol Alcantara, the eventual winner in a crowded Democratic primary to replace Adriano Espaillat, who replaced Rep. Charlie Rangel in Congress.

Alcantara joined the IDC upon her election to the Senate and the conference now has seven members with the addition of Sen. Jesse Hamilton.

Then And Now On The Millionaires Tax

In the latter half of 2011, Gov. Andrew Cuomo had a political problem in the making.

High tax rates on high earners was due to expire at the end of the year, a surcharge that was known colloquially as the “millionaires tax.”

The Occupy Wall Street movement had gained steam throughout the summer and into the fall, spurred by left-leaning activists concerned by income inequality.

Cuomo, who had taken office earlier in the year, was riding a wave of liberal congratulations for the legalization of same-sex marriage in June.

But as the year drew to a close, liberals were urging Cuomo to extend the tax on the rich.

In October 2011, Cuomo insisted he wasn’t going to budge on the issue, comparing it to his father’s stance opposing the death penalty, which was unpopular at the time.

“The point is, we don’t elect — the governor isn’t a big poll taking machine. And that’s what we do, we take a poll and do whatever the poll says and you wouldn’t need me … so the fact that everyone wants it, that doesn’t mean all that much,” Cuomo said. “I respect the people, their opinion matters, but I’m not going to go back and forth with the political winds.”

Cuomo insisted he backed a federal version of taxing the rich backed by President Obama.

“I support a federal millionaires tax if you will, because then it wouldn’t put any state, including this state, at a disadvantage,” Cuomo said. “A federal millionaires tax would not put this state at a competitive disadvantage.”

Here’s video from the 2011 news conference, with the issue starting at the 24:50 mark.

Weeks later, Cuomo and state lawmakers met in a special session that ultimately shuffled the tax code and kept the surcharge in place for upper income earners and providing a rate cut for middle income earners.

The deal generated $1.9 billion in revenue for the state in the coming fiscal year.

But Cuomo refrained from referring to it as a millionaires tax, at least officially, until a 2012 letter was released to The New York Times defending the administration’s relationship with the now-defunct Committee to Save New York.

“Governor Cuomo crafted and got passed a progressive taxation plan that included taxes on such high-earners rather than just allowing the Millionaires tax to expire,” wrote then-Director of Communications Richard Bamberger.

This year, things are different, but in many ways the same.

Cuomo is backing a extension outright in his proposed 2017-18 fiscal plan as the tax rates are once again to expire. He is also, once again, including a middle-income rate cut.

The governor isn’t framing the argument behind a call from progressives to provide fairer taxation as they see it, but rather one of necessity.

“We have a $3.5 billion deficit. Frankly, we don’t have the resources to lose the millionaires’ revenue now and have this state function the way it should,” he said. “The loss of revenue from the Millionaires’ Tax would be about $4 billion over two years. $4 billion is a devastating amount of revenue to lose for the state, and not only could you not do college affordability, education increase, you couldn’t do the middle class tax cut, which I think is very, very important.”

Heastie Wants To ‘Go Beyond’ Millionaires Tax Extension

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie staked out further ground on the millions tax, saying he would like to potentially see more revenue generated in order to provide a greater chunk of funding for education.

“We still feel we want to go beyond that,” Heastie said of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposal to extend the expiring surcharge on the wealthy.

That could mean tax increases for earners who more than $1 million and further up the income scale.

“We still believe we want to add more tiers for the highest earning millionaires in the state,” he said.

Heastie indicated to reporters on Wednesday he wanted to see a larger increase in education aid. Cuomo’s budget would hike spending by 3.9 percent or $961 million, according to the proposal.

Assembly Democrats have called for the satisfying the Campaign for Fiscal Equity ruling, which would require a $4 billion increase over two years.

“We don’t feel at least preliminarly there’s not enough money in for education,” Heastie said. “We still believe there’s some back money that should be put to education. Just the extension of the millionaires tax won’t satisfy the conference’s needs to provide more education.”

Cuomo Chats With Trump About Infrastructure, ‘Pitfalls’ Of ACA Repeal

Gov. Andrew Cuomo met with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in Manhattan on Wednesday, discussing issues including homelessness, the Affordable Care Act and infrastructure spending in New York.

Cuomo insisted the conversation “was not adversarial” and that he tried to underscore with Trump his concerns over the impact of the health care law on New York’s finances.

“We discussed how the Affordable Care Act effects New York and the pitfalls of a repeal plan, which would be dramatic,” he said.

The proposed $152 billion budget proposal as unveiled by Cuomo did not include a contingency plan for repealing the measure, which is projected to result in a $3.7 billion gap in the state’s revenues.

Cuomo, too, raised the issue of infrastructure spending, and the need for federal funding for major projects such as upgrades to JFK Airport.

“We are ready to go in New York, we are ready to build,” Cuomo said. “If he wants to put money to use and put federal money to use quickly, this is the state to do it. Many of the big projects I want to get done involve federal interaction.”

Sampson Sentenced To 5 Years

John Sampson, the 51-year-old former leader of the Democratic conference in the state Senate, was sentenced on Wednesday afternoon to five years in prison for his corruption conviction in 2015.

Sampson, an ex-Brooklyn lawmaker, was found guilty of obstruction of justice and two counts of lying to federal investigators.

He had initially faced up to 20 years in prison.

“I apologize for my actions, but most of all I apologize for not respecting others,” Sampson told a federal judge at sentencing.

Sampson became Democratic leader in the wake of the 2009 leadership coup in the Senate, with Pedro Espada retaining the all-but-ceremonial post of majority leader.

Sampson represented parts of a Brooklyn district from 1997 through 2015.

Klein Thinks Senate GOP Will Come Around On Millionaires Tax

Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein believes the Senate GOP will come around to backing the continuation of a surcharge on the wealthy in order to fund education spending, a phase out of tuition costs and potentially cuts to business taxes.

“I’m sure they’re going to realize we need the revenue that comes from that high earner tax,” Klein said in an interview on Wednesday, a day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled a budget that keeps the expiring tax rates in place, but seeks to reduce rates for middle income earners starting at $40,000.

“My position is the same as the governor’s,” Klein said. “I think we have to keep the tax as is.”

The seven-member Independent Democratic Conference is retaining its alignment with the Senate Republican conference, who are retaining a narrow majority in the chamber with the help of Brooklyn Sen. Simcha Felder, a Democrat who sits with the GOP.

Klein has worked well with the Senate Republicans and has pointed to IDC victories in the chamber under the arrangement, including increases in the minimum wage.

Majority Leader John Flanagan reiterated on Wednesday his opposition to continuing the tax.

But Klein backed Cuomo’s assertion that keeping the surcharge is key to the overall budget plan.

“I think we need that revenue,” Klein said. “We’ve done that several years ago and by the way the same time we raised the taxes on the high earners, we lowered it for middle income earners.”

Cuomo Has $21.9M In Campaign Account

The re-election campaign of Gov. Andrew Cuomo reported $21.9 million in cash on hand, having raised $4.4 million over the last six months.

Cuomo is running for re-election next year and an increasingly crowded field of Republicans who are potentially running for governor is also taking shape, including businessman Harry Wilson, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino and Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro.

Cuomo’s campaign began the filing period in July with just over $19 million in the bank and spent $1.579 million in expenses.