Reed: Dem Win in PA Indicates Engaged Anti-Trump Movement

From the Morning Memo:

Many Republican members of Congress are dismissing Democrat Conor Lamb’s apparent special election victory in a GOP-dominated Pennsylvania district as a one-off, giving a number of reasons for his strong performance – from a poor campaign run by his opponent to the Democrat’s notably conservative views.

But Southern Tier Republican Rep. Tom Reed seemed to go against the trend during a conference call Wednesday, noting the special election result in the Keystone State does not exist in a vacuum.

“I think that it does reflect a lot of what we’ve been hearing across the country – that there are many people who are adamantly opposed to this present administration and to a President Trump presidency, and they are engaged and they are organizing and expressing their opinion as you see in these special elections as well as what we see across the country,” he said.

Still, Reed doesn’t think the special election is necessarily a harbinger for the GOP this fall, including in his district where seven Democrats are currently vying to unseat him this fall. Those Democrats would very much like to use Lamb’s victory as a model for their own, assuming they’re able to win a June primary.

The congressman said he’s glad to see the small-d democratic process unfold, and is prepared for a robust debate once his general election opponent emerges.

“I’m very confident in the positions we articulate and take in regards to representing the folks of the 23rd Congressional District,” the congressman said. “And at the end of the day, it’s ultimately up to them to make the decision as to who represents their voice in Washington, and I just try to be that voice, loud as I possibly can.”

Here and Now

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

The state Legislature is in session in Albany.

President Donald Trump this morning greets Prime Minister Leo Varadkar of Ireland and then holds a bilateral meeting with him.

In the afternoon, Trump travels to the U.S. Capitol to attend the Friends of Ireland luncheon, and then returns to the White House to meet separately with meets with members of the American Petroleum Institute and Bill Gates.

In the evening, Trump and First Lady Melania Trump welcome Prime Minister Varadkar back to the White House, and then the president delivers remarks and participates in the Shamrock Bowl presentation by Varadkar.

At 8 a.m., New York Nonprofit Media holds its third annual Nonprofit FundCon, with a day of discussions about strategizing, developing, marketing and raising money for nonprofits, Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place, Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo will announce details on Monroe County’s significant investment in local infrastructure, Monroe County Fleet Center – Building 11, 145 Paul Rd. Rochester.

At 10:15 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul accepts an award at the National Lieutenant Governors Association Meeting for her work as co-chair of the NYS Heroin and Opioid Task Force, Kimpton Hotel Palomar, 2121 P St NW, Washington, DC.

At 10:30 a.m., Assemblywoman Nily Rozic hosts a briefing with the Anti-Defamation League on hate crimes recognition and response, state Capitol, Room 347M, Albany.

Also at 10:30 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will host a press conference to call for new laws to take dangerous drivers off the road, 78th Precinct, 65 6th Ave., Brooklyn.

Also at 10:30 a.m., the Public Service Commission will hold its next regular session, 19th Floor Board Room, Three Empire State Plaza, Albany.

At noon, Rep. Carolyn Maloney, Breast Cancer Research Foundation President Myra Biblowit, Acting Deputy Director of the U.S. Mint David Croft, and Breast Cancer Survivor Melissa Miller will celebrate the launch of the Breast Cancer Awareness Commemorative Coin program at the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center, Washington, D.C.

At 1 p.m., Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union Local 338 union members and elected officials hold a rally in support of union workers at CVS who are fighting for their first union contract, CVS, 1070 Flatbush Ave., Brooklyn.

Also at 1 p.m., state AG Eric Schneiderman will announce a civil lawsuit and criminal charges against an Erie County scam artist, True Bethel Baptist Church
907 E Ferry St., Buffalo.

Also at 1 p.m., activists who have been opposing the CPV power plant react to the verdict in the Joe Percoco federal corruption trial, 1 Railroad Ave., Goshen.

At 2:30 p.m., Health Commissioner Mary Bassett and New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson announce the reopening of the Chelsea Sexual Health Clinic, 303 Ninth Ave., Manhattan.

At 3 p.m., the board of trustees of The State University of New York meets, The SUNY Global Center, Boardroom, 116 E. 55th St., Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., in observance of the Hindu Spring Festival of Phagwah, Queens Councilmen Eric Ulrich and Peter Koo, and NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson will host Chowtaal at City Hall, Manhattan.

At 6:30 p.m., Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, Assemblywoman Jo Anne Simon and state Sens. Velmanette Montgomery and Brian Kavanagh hold a town hall meeting on the closing of Rikers Island, Belarusian Church, 401 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn.

At 7:30 p.m., the Madison-Marine-Homecrest Civic Association meets, with New York City Public Advocate Letitia James in attendance, Carmine Carro Community Center, Fillmore Avenue at Madison Place, Brooklyn.


The first major coordinated action of the student-led movement for gun control, in which kids walked out of classes all across the country in protest, marshaled the same elements that had defined it ever since the Parkland shooting: eloquent young voices, equipped with symbolism and social media savvy, riding a resolve as yet untouched by cynicism.

Students at a Brooklyn rally organized by Borough President Eric Adams, declared war on lawmakers who have resisted meaningful gun control, and registered for their own weapons — the right to vote.

Some students at New York schools (and elsewhere) were disciplined for participating in the walkouts.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo participated in a “die-in” student protest and march at Zuccotti Park with AFT President Randi Weingarten, while NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio stood outside the gates of Edward Murrow High School in Brooklyn as hundreds of students streamed out of the school.

Democrat Conor Lamb clung to a thin lead in his closely watched race against Republican Rick Saccone in a Pennsylvania congres­sional district that Trump easily carried in 2016, and the New York Times declared him the winner, though some ballots remain to be counted and the GOP is considering legal action.

Lamb’s slim margin of apparent victory upended the political landscape ahead of November’s midterm elections, and emboldened Democrats to run maverick campaigns even in deep-red areas where Republicans remain bedeviled by Trump’s unpopularity.

New documents reveal someone at the Trump Organization other than Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is involved in the ongoing legal battle between the porn star Stormy Daniels and the president, with whom she claims she had an extramarital affair.

The lawyer representing Daniels says that, on the heels of her lawsuit against Trump, several other women are now exploring the possibility of legal action against him, too.

Lawyers for former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort filed a motion to dismiss the charges against him on the grounds that special counsel Robert Mueller overstepped his jurisdiction.

Defense Department employees spent more than $138,000 at Trump’s branded properties during the first six months he was in office, a nonprofit group that advocates for government transparency says.

The U.S. Senate passed bipartisan legislation designed to ease bank rules that were enacted to prevent a relapse of the 2008 financial crisis that caused millions of Americans to lose their jobs and homes.

Donald Trump Jr. and his wife, Vanessa Trump, are reportedly struggling through marital problems and friends say they are heading for divorce.

In his first public appearance after the corruption conviction of a former top aide, Joe Percoco, Cuomo acknowledged he had known that Percoco was using government offices while working for the governor’s 2014 campaign team, but said he believed the work was not political and related to the transition.

Using a handwritten note to remind him of his thoughts on the matter, Cuomo also dismissed critics and called his former top aide’s crimes “a total aberration,” adding: “We strive for total integrity and this is a total aberration from the people who work in the administration.”

Deputy Senate Majority Leasder John DeFrancisco, a Republican who is seeking his party’s nomination to run against Cuomo this fall, called the governor’s explanation of Percoco’s presence in the office “preposterous” and “an insult to the intelligence of New Yorkers.”

The governor said his name was “never mentioned” during the nearly eight-week trial, which isn’t true, and he dismissed attempts to tie him personally to the case, calling that “political garbage.”

Cuomo said he would push for ethics reform, including a ban or limits on outside income for public officials, including legislators. But critics said that wasn’t the real issue.

A spokesman for Cuomo was asked numerous questions by The Buffalo News’ Tom Precious about what the governor knew, related to certain revelations at the trial, and when he knew it. Basically, the response: He knew nothing.

A day after the conviction of Percoco, federal prosecutors opened another major corruption trial on Long Island, targeting former Nassau County politicians in a case that also could ensnare the reputation of the New York City mayor, de Blasio.

As he continues to rack up endorsements, Republican Dutchess County Executive Marcus Molinaro said he will make his bid for governor official on April 2.

Herman Bell, who, along with two other members of the Black Liberation Army, shot and killed two NYPD officers outside a housing project in Harlem in 1971, has been granted parole.

More >

Senate GOP Keeps Focus On School Safety In Gun Debate

While several Senate GOP lawmakers have expressed a willingness to back new gun control legislation such as tighter background checks and a ban bump stocks, Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said his conference’s “primary focus” remains on strengthening school security.

“I think the primary focus that we’re looking at right now and I just had three or four meetings on the last couple of days on school security,” he told reporters Wednesday. “What are we doing for school resource officers? what are we doing to make sure that we have adequate information and protection? What kind of communication exists between government and school districts and things like that. When you to parents — my kids are grown now — but that’s the kind of things that people worry about.”

Democrats in the Assembly and Senate have pushed for new gun regulations after a high school shooting in Florida killed 17 people in February. On Wednesday, students across the country staged mass walkout demonstrations for stronger gun laws.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly pointed to the SAFE Act giving New York some of the strongest gun control measures in the country.

Still, in Albany, the gun debate has mirrored the national discussion on the issue as Republicans have sought measures that would provide more armed school resources officers as well as metal detectors to bolster school safety.

In the Assembly, Democratic Speaker Carl Heastie has said he would oppose bringing armed personnel into schools, but did not rule out additional safety measures.

Flanagan Doesn’t Close Door On Child Victims Act

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan told reporters Wednesday did not commit to the passage of the Child Victims Act this legislative session, but did not close the door on the measure that would make it easier for the survivors of sexual abuse to file lawsuits.

“We’ve had a lot of internal discussions,” Flanagan told reporters. “I’ve said before we’ll continue to have them.”

The measure has been pushed for the last decade at the Capitol to little avail in the Senate as lawmakers there have raised concerns over a one-year look back window for old cases of abuse.

Senate Republicans on Thursday submitted a budget resolution that left the door open to the bill being included in the budget, but did not offer specifics in the same vein as Gov. Andrew Cuomo or the Democratic-led Assembly in their spending plan proposals.

“We have to be talking to hospitals, nursing homes, school districts, the public sector and the private sector,” he said. “The ramifications are of such a magnitude that we have to take our time and be judicious and do it properly.”

Republicans are under increasing pressure to have the bill approved this year with the inclusion of the one-year look back. Flanagan wouldn’t rule out the provision being included in the final agreement.

“I don’t rule out anything unless it’s the will and desire of our conference,” he said.

Lawmakers were pressed to back the bill by advocates at the Capitol, including actor Corey Feldman, himself a survivor of sexual abuse.

“Don’t let party lines divide us. This is a bipartisan issue. We need to come together to fight for the rights of our children,” Feldman said in an interview with Spectrum News.

Advocates for the bill hope this year will be different in Albany given the societal shift and reckoning surrounding sexual abuse and misconduct.

Erie County Comptroller Calls For Independent Investigation Into Alleged Rape Incident

The Erie County comptroller has written a letter to the chairman of the county legislature asking for the body to appoint a special counsel to investigate rape allegations against the former commissioner of the Department of Social Services. Specifically, Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw said he wants information about what the county knew and when it knew it.

A notice of claim filed by an employee, alleged the county was aware of prior reports of sexual harassment or abuse committed by commissioner Al Dirschberger and did not act appropriately to stop the behavior. The attorney for the woman claimed that lack of action resulted in her alleged rape by Dirschberger in December.

The county executive’s office said it doesn’t comment on pending litigation but did say it was not aware of any previous claims of sexual harassment or abuse. Mychajliw said the investigation needs to be independent.

“They cannot investigate themselves and that’s why we need to find someone outside the walls of Erie County government with no political, financial or legal connections to county government to take a look at this,” he said.

Mychajliw said there is precedent to appoint special counsel as well. He said the administration contracted out in order to negotiate a new stadium lease deal with the Buffalo Bills.

The county legislature could potentially take up the item as soon as Thursday.

“I think Republicans and Democrats wholeheartedly agree,” Mychajliw said. “We’re all on the same page. We all want a special counsel, an independent investigator to look at this and I think it should have strong support on both sides of the aisle.”

He said by getting a report of the environment leading up to the alleged incident, the county can learn if it needs to make any changes.


White House officials reportedly have told key GOP leaders on Capitol Hill that President Donald Trump is open to striking a deal that would protect young immigrants from deportation in exchange for border wall funding as part of an upcoming spending bill.

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is reviewing a recommendation to fire the former F.B.I. deputy director, Andrew G. McCabe, a frequent target of attacks by Trump both in public and private, just days before he is scheduled to retire on Sunday.

Thousands of students, emboldened by a growing protest movement over gun violence, stood up in their classrooms and walked out of their schools in a nationwide demonstration, one month after a gunman killed 17 people at a high school in Florida.

A threat posted on Facebook last night prompted a number of Scotia-Glenville parents to pull their children out of school today – the day of a planned walkout to protest gun violence, district officials said.

CNBC senior contributor Larry Kudlow will be Trump’s new National Economic Council director, replacing Gary Cohn, which is good news for Wall Street.

Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich said that Trump wants unofficial “Fox & Friends Weekend” co-host Pete Hegseth as his next Veterans Affairs secretary if and when he fires the current secretary, David Shulkin.

The U.S. government has filed criminal and civil charges against a former Equifax Inc. executive over alleged insider trading linked to last year’s massive data breach at the credit reporting company, officials said.

In his first public appearance since a jury convicted Percoco of accepting more than $300,000 in cash bribes, Gov. Andrew Cuomo held a hand-written note with his talking points as he discussed fallout of the trial with reporters.

Cuomo participated in an anti-gun violence “die in” demonstration with students from Leadership and Public Service High School in Lower Manhattan by laying on the ground in Zuccotti Park among the protestors.

The Republican-affiliated America Rising PAC’s request for the governor’s helicopter flight records was denied on the grounds that revealing them could endanger the “life or safety” of the governor or others.

Chris Cuomo, the outspoken co-host of “New Day” who has gained prominence — and received some right-wing blowback — for his coverage of the Trump administration, is set to take over the network’s 9 p.m. slot on weeknights starting in the spring, CNN said.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has asked the Federal Trade Commission to protect consumers holding Toys R Us gift cards that could become worthless if the toy retailer moves forward with a liquidation plan.

As NYC’s public housing stock crumbles around them, unionized workers are fighting to hold onto perks that cost the city money and manpower, while delaying changes housing authority officials say would improve the quality of life for the 400,000 residents living in their deteriorating buildings.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sprained her hand Tuesday during her visit to Jodhpur, India, and was forced to cancel a trip to the historic Mehrangarh fort after doctors advised her to rest.

Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said she was bewildered by the felony conviction of Syracuse-area business executive Steven Aiello, who she said has shown integrity as a local developer.

A state Senate GOP budget resolution leaves the door open for a deal on legislation that would make it easier for child sex abuse survivors to seek justice as adults, but unlike Cuomo and the Assembly Democrats, state Senate Republicans have offered no specific plan.

Edward Mangano “sold himself” to restaurateur Harendra Singh in order to maintain his lavish lifestyle after becoming Nassau County executive and taking a $114,000 pay cut from his private-sector job, a federal prosecutor said today at Mangano’s influence-peddling trial.

Herman Bell, a 70-year-old Black Liberation Army member who’s been behind bars nearly 50 years for killing two cops in the 1970s, has been granted parole, authorities said.

Cuomo today announced cashless tolling will go live at the Grand Island Toll Barriers on March 29, weather dependent. As of the morning commute on Friday, March 30, the Grand Island toll plazas will no longer accept cash payment.

Antonio Delgado, one of the Democrats seeking to oust Republican Rep. John Faso in NY-19, released a new TV ad with a five-figure buy that’s airing on cable and broadcast stations around the district.

Major upgrades on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus and improvements overall in regional medical care have yet to translate into improved health outcomes in Western New York, according to two major national reports released this week.

Two Buffalo Veterans Affairs Medical Center employees left their jobs after they were implicated in the botched decision not to try to revive a patient suffering cardiac arrest, a spokeswoman for the facility said.

Next week could bring a fourth coastal storm this month to the Northeast, and several more could be on the way during the rest of March.

Giambra Report Outlines Impact Of Recreational Marijuana Plan

Gubernatorial candidate Joel Giambra released a report Wednesday outlining the potential economic impact of his proposal to legalize recreational marijuana in New York. The campaign said $500 million dollars per year in new revenue is a conservative estimate.

Under Giambra’s plan the state would institute a 13 percent excise tax, permits and licensing fees for the new industry and a 7 percent state and local sales tax. The chairman of the Le Moyne College economic department, Ted Shepard, who contributed to the research, noted Washington and Colorado bring in a combined $500 million annually and the two states together have less population than New York.

Shepard said the cannabis industry should create 5,000 initial jobs, 25,000 once it’s fully running, plus another 15,000 ancillary positions. Giambra said its time to take those jobs and revenue from the black market.

“How any elected official in New York state, the governor and others, could’ve allowed this to continue over the years, is criminal in and of itself,” he said.

The candidate said the state can leverage the new money into roughly $12 billion in bonding over a seven-year period for upstate infrastructure and New York City’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority. According to the report, the plan could create 240,000 direct and indirect temporary construction jobs – 35,000 per year.

The governor, in his State of the State address this year, proposed a task force to study the legalization of marijuana. Giambra said that study should have been done a decade ago.

“We already have a group of experts here today and around the state and around the country, have already studied this,” he said.

Giambra said if elected, he would try to institute the plan as quickly as possible, but acknowledged he may need the legislature to act on a legalization bill. He said once marijuana is legal, he would also move to expunge criminal records and release prisoners incarcerated for related crimes.

Molinaro Plans April 2 Campaign Roll Out

Republican Marc Molinaro will formally roll out his campaign on April 2 as he seeks the gubernatorial nomination to take on Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

His campaign announced the April 2 launch date on Thursday, a day after Cuomo’s former close aide was found guilty on three counts of corruption.

“Yesterday’s verdict is an indictment, not just of one of man, but of the cynical systematic corruption within in a state government Governor Cuomo has led,” Molinaro’s campaign said. “New Yorkers deserve better. Now more than at any time in our lifetime, New Yorkers need new leadership in the Capitol, which is why I am a candidate for Governor.”

Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive, also announced day-to-day press work would be handled by Katherine Delgado, a former aide to Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, the party’s 2014 nominee.

Molinaro last month previously signaled to Republican officials he would run after initially declaring in January he would not seek statewide office this year.

In recent weeks, Molinaro has racked up a series of endorsements, counting more than 40 percent of the weighted vote needed for the party’s designation status.

Molinaro is competing for the nod with Republican state Sen. John DeFrancisco and former Pataki official Joe Holland.

Senate Rejects Tax Hikes, Push School Safety Spending

The budget resolution backed by Republicans in the state Senate on Thursday rejects $1 billion in tax increases while also seeking to spend $265 million on fighting the opioid addiction epidemic and bolster school security in the wake of a high school shooting in Florida.

The package, which stands little chance to become law, is being passed Thursday by the Senate as Democrats in the Assembly approve their own version. It’s a perfunctory, but key step in the process toward developing a state budget agreement, scheduled by lawmakers to pass this year by March 29.

The Senate budget resolution would reject Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed cap on STAR property tax rebates and wants to expand the program while also freezing tax increases on the local level for seniors while phasing it out over the next decade.

“Our focus continues to be on making New York more affordable for hardworking taxpayers, creating jobs and more economic opportunities, and enhancing the security and quality of life for our residents,” said Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan.

“This budget accomplishes those goals and more. We rejected the new taxes and other proposals that would hurt families and businesses, and put forth a plan to give taxpayers the relief they need and deserve. We also make sound investments in education to help our students, fund critical infrastructure, and propose new measures to strengthen our communities.”

The budget would also add an additional $27 million in funding for non-MTA transit systems, bringing the total funding to $552 million, a 6 percent increase.

The closely divided Senate is crafting a budget as a special election in April could tip the balance of power in the chamber to Democrats, based a unity deal between the mainline conference and the Independent Democratic Conference forged last year.

At the same time, Republicans have been increasingly emboldened when it comes to criticizing Cuomo, a Democrat who has worked well with GOP lawmakers during his time in office. One Republican, Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco, is challenging Cuomo and seeking the party’s gubernatorial nomination this year.

“Our pro-growth budget plan delivers on our promises to provide additional tax relief to overburdened families, seniors and businesses while supporting key investments in education, infrastructure, health care and other areas critical to the safety and well-being of New Yorkers,” said Cathy Young, the Senate Finance Committee chairwoman.

“We’ve accomplished this while adhering to our self-imposed two-percent spending cap – a measure that New Yorkers overwhelmingly support and that has saved taxpayers $41 billion over the past seven years. We’ve also eliminated the tax and fee proposals in the Executive proposal that would have hurt job creation and economic development. This is a plan firmly focused on the future.”

Cuomo Says He Wants To ‘Mobilize’ Students On Gun Control

Gov. Andrew Cuomo indicated Wednesday he wants to harness the student activism in the wake of the high school shooting in Florida that killed 17 people as a vehicle for new gun control legislation.

“We want to mobilize this force in New York,” Cuomo said before attending a student-led walkout in New York City. “I hope these students stay involved and I hope they weigh in and we’re going to encourage that.”

Cuomo said his office would start New York Students Against Gun Violence, an organization that will push for gun control legislation and backed by students involved on the issue.

In Albany, lawmakers have been debating a variety of measures that seek to reduce gun violence or bolster school security, ranging from bans on bump stocks supported by Democrats and some Republicans to GOP-led efforts to expand school resource officers at schools in New York.

Cuomo has pointed to the SAFE Act as one of the strongest gun control measures in the country and has largely emphasized a national push on the issue.

“The nation is yet to respond after Florida,” he said. “How they are yet to respond is beyond me.”