Cuomo Steers Clear Of Congressional Primaries

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has steered clear of endorsing in today’s slate of Democratic congressional primaries as voters consider nominees from Long Island to upstate New York.

Historically Cuomo has avoided publicly weighing in on Democratic primary contests both on the local, state and federal level.

However, he has made exceptions in certain races, including the contested 2012 and 2014 primaries in the 13th congressional district. Both times, Cuomo backed Rep. Charlie Rangel over his main rival, state Sen. Adriano Espaillat.

This year, with Rangel retiring at the end of the current term and a crowded 9-candidate field to replace him, the governor is not endorsing. The race includes Assemblyman Keith Wright, considered to be Espaillat’s main rival for the nomination. Wright is a former Democratic Committee co-chair appointed by Cuomo.

Given the heavily Democratic composition of the district, the winner of today’s primary is the odds-on favorite to replace Rangel in Congress come January.

Elsewhere, a former rival of the governor’s, Fordham Law School Professor Zephyr Teachout, is running for the 19th congressional district nomination against Livingston Deputy Supervisor Will Yandik.

Polls have shown Teachout easily defeating Yandik by double-digit percentage points.

In the third congressional district on Long Island, former adviser to the governor on Sandy relief efforts, is running for an open seat being vacated by Rep. Steve Israel.

Moody’s: Casino License Revenue Will Help

From the Morning Memo:

For cash-strapped counties and local governments in New York, the $30.2 million in one-time casino license fees is considered a credit positive by the ratings agency Moody’s.

But in a report released this week, Moody’s points to the benefit of having this money be used toward longer term growth in revenue than as a one-shot way to balance spending.

In other words: It may be a one-shot sugar high, but for municipalities in the age of the tax cap, any new revenue injected into its balance sheets will be helpful.

The trick is finding how to make that money work for more than one fiscal year.

“The one-time receipt of casino fee revenue will be credit positive for these municipalities as they work to maintain balanced operations in a strained operating environment,” the report found. “However, those that use the funds to create long-term tax revenue growth will be better positioned than those that use the funds as a one-time budget balancing measure.”

All told, county governments are facing a variety of fiscal challenges and weaker revenues, that making it harder to cut costs, including strong collective bargaining units as well as the Triborough Amendment, the report found.

“Given the environment, any additional revenues have an outsized effect on a municipality’s ability to balance its budget, especially in the host municipalities, whose revenue as a share of budget is sizable,” according to the report.

The money from the casino license fees being distributed to county governments represents about 20 percent of the total $151 million that will eventually be allocated. An additional $120.8 million will be distributed among more than 700 school districts through the statewide funding formula.

Senate Dems See New Hope With Poll In SD-39

From the Morning Memo:

No, that poll in the 39th Senate district doesn’t mean anything, Senate Republicans are insisting amid reports of a phone survey gaging voters on a variety of political figures in the area.

Senate Democrats, of course, see this differently: Seeking an easier path to flipping the seat and gaining control of the chamber, the mainline conference is eager for the retirement of incumbent Bill Larkin, and hope the poll reported over the weekend is a sign he’ll step aside before it’s too late to add a replacement.

The Times Herald-Record reported Monday on the telephone poll, which took a deep dive in the 39th Senate district, and sought opinions on Larkin, Democratic challenger Chris Eachus, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and a variety of local Republicans as well as a few Democrats.

Senate Democrats say this is something they’ve seen before, most recently with the retirement of the late Sen. Owen Johnson who was replaced on the ballot by Phil Boyle in the Long Island district.

“The Senate Republicans are realizing that long time politician, Skelos supporter and pension double dipper Bill Larkin can’t win this seat and have started their backroom maneuvers to run another handpicked candidate from the Albany Skelos Machine,” said Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy.

Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif, meanwhile, pointed to statements from Larkin insisting he’ll run again for the seat he first won in 1990. Any suggestion otherwise is absurd, Reif said.

“You don’t need to commission a poll to understand that there’s a huge difference between the two candidates running for State Senate in November,” Reif said.

“From serving his country in battle to representing his community in the state Legislature, Senator Larkin has dedicated his life to giving back and helping others. Chris Eachus is so out-of-touch with the hardworking taxpayers of the Hudson Valley that he wants to repeal the property tax cap. That’s just nuts.”

Here and Now

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

Voters across the state who live in congressional districts with contested primaries head to the polls today, which open either at 6 a.m. or noon, depending on your geographic location – generally speaking, upstate or down. All polls close at 9 p.m.

At 7:30 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will appear live on 1010 WINS.

At 7:50 a.m., de Blasio will appear live on WCBS Newsradio 880.

At 10 a.m., NYC Chancellor Carmen Farina delivers remarks at the Academy for Young Writers graduation, 1065 Elton St., Brooklyn.

At 10:30 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul convenes a meeting of the New York City Regional Economic Development Council, Borough of Manhattan Community College, Richard Harris Terrace, 199 Chambers St., Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., NYC Parks hosts annual celebration to kick off outdoor pool season, Faber Pool, 2175 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island.

At 12:30 p.m., de Blasio will participate in a tele-town hall with seniors to discuss the Rent Guidelines Board vote yesterday for a 0 percent increase on one-year, rent-stabilized leases, and a 2 percent increase on two-year leases.

At 1:30 p.m., NYC Councilman Barry Grodenchik discusses his tour of all schools in his council district and the three-plus million dollars in capital funds allocated to district schools, Martin Van Buren High School, 230-17 Hillside Ave., Queens.

At 2 p.m., de Blasio holds public hearings on, and then signs into law, several bills, Blue Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 2:30 p.m., Hochul convenes a meeting of the Long Island Regional Economic Development Council, Long Island Association, Lower Level Conference Roomm 300 Broadhollow Rd., Melville.

At 3 p.m., Sen. Tony Avella stands against sex offender placement in family homeless shelters, Pan-American Hotel, 79-00 Queens Blvd., Queens.

At 5:30 p.m., NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, Council members Jumaane Williams, Mathieu Eugene, Andy King, and the City Council, host a Caribbean Heritage Celebration for the public, City Council Chambers, City Hall, Manhattan.

6 p.m., the New York Immigration Coalition and its members, immigrants and allies rally for immigrant New Yorkers in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling, Foley Square, 101 Worth St., Manhattan.

Also at 6 p.m., the City of Albany and the CDTC present a draft Complete Streets Design Manual for public review, Washington Avenue Branch, Albany Public Library, 161 Washington Ave., Albany.

At 6:30 p.m, NYC Public Advocate Letitia James hosts a Veterans Town Hall, Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, Pier 86, West 46th Street and 12th Avenue, Manhattan.

At 7:30 p.m., Sen. Todd Kaminsky, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, City of Long Beach officials, the DEC and others present the first of two informational forums on their plans to storm harden the Barrier Island’s beaches, Bishop Molly Recreational Center, Point Lookout, Long Island.

At 7:45 p.m. Hochul keynotes the Bronx Times’ 25 Bronx Influential Women event, Scavello’s, 101 City Island Ave., the Bronx.

Headlines…

Hillary Clinton, facing direct criticism about her trustworthiness from rival Donald Trump, admitted she needs to do more to earn voters’ trust. “I personally know I have work to do on this front,” she said.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren offered an impassioned endorsement of Clinton, symbolically unifying the Democratic Party behind the presumptive nominee and giving voters a rousing preview of what could be a historic joint ticket.

Trump has hired a top communications consultant who worked on Sen. Ted Cruz’ unsuccessful presidential campaign. A Republican with knowledge of the hiring says Jason Miller will serve as Trump’s senior communications adviser.

New York state exported $5.78 billion to the United Kingdom in 2015, more than any other state in the country. But the Brexit referendum last Thursday, in which Britons voted to leave the European Union, may change all that.

The U.S. Supreme Court vacated the public corruption conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, potentially emboldening the appeals of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, who were convicted in separate cases last year.

The Cuomo administration says no formal paperwork is required for the governor to grant private investigator Bart Schwartz the power to issue civil subpoenas according to Section 6 of state Executive Law, otherwise known as the Moreland Act.

Members of the LGBT community, along with local and federal officials, gathered at New York City’s Stonewall Inn yesterday to dedicate the site as the first national monument to gay rights.

Cuomo signed a bill into law that will expand treatment options for women with breast cancer and require better access to screenings – an issue that’s personal for him, due to his girlfriend Sandra Lee’s battle with the disease.

Cuomo and Lee, joined by the governor’s longtime friend – and fellow motorcycle enthusiast – singer Billy Joel, launched the first leg of a statewide motorcycle tour to raise awareness about the importance of breast cancer screening.

A high-profile taxi advocate whose wife needs the city’s OK for a women-only livery service admitted to The NY Post that he raised campaign cash for NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and funneled it through an unemployed Brooklyn woman.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, a rising star who helped to write the GOP platform at the 2012 convention, “will be in her district working for her constituents and not attending the convention” in Cleveland, said a spokesman.

The FitzPatrick nuclear plant, the source of a visible oil slick on Lake Ontario, had to be shut down manually Friday after a loss of power caused water pumps to stop working. DEC officials are investigating.

A DEC hearing yesterday was the first of three across the state to discuss recent proposals to combat exposure to PFOA as well as PFOS. Exposure to these chemicals — which can be found in materials such as Teflon, non-stick pans and certain firefighting foam — has been linked to health risks such as various forms of cancer.

The Buffalo News says the state Legislature’s “unseemly” rush to adjourn this year’s session “facilitates Albany corruption.”

Skelos’ misbehaving nephew Basil (Billy) Skelos, 27, told cops he didn’t “even remember” yanking the wrist of a Daily News reporter and throwing her phone into the street as they collared him and charged him in the incident, prosecutors said at his arraignment.

More >

WNY Senator Prioritizing Higher Education Next Session

Western New York, state Senator Rob Ortt, R-North Tonawanda, didn’t take long to turn his attention to the 2017 legislative session. Ortt held a press conference at SUNY Brockport Monday, to announce his higher education package.

“A lot of these issues, when you talk about it in a broad sense, need to be handled at the federal level, but there are things we can do in New York state,” he said.

Ortt named four bills he will support next year. They include legislation that requires colleges to provide more transparent information to prospective students.

“When you’re talking to an 18-year-old, making sure they understand if you’re going to go for this degree, this is what the placement rate is, this is what you can expect to earn and this is what you can incur in debt,” he said.

Other ideas include launching a state-funded youth apprenticeship program, a new scholarship for students in the top 20 percent of their class who go to community college and restoring New York’s Tuition Assistance Program for graduate students.

“In many cases you need that Master’s degree, you need that doctoral degree, if necessary, and we want to make sure that those have some financial assistance tied to it, as well,” he said.

The bills the Republican support tend to focus more on getting families and students to re-examine traditional higher education models and plan ahead to make it more affordable. One idea he didn’t promote was one we heard plenty about on the presidential campaign trail: free college for all.

“I don’t think that’s financially feasible. It sounds great. I don’t think it’s financially feasible in the long haul,” he said.

Cuomo Admin: More Time Needed For Investigator Contract

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office first announced it had hired former prosecutor Bart Schwartz on April 29 to review contracting under the Buffalo Billion economic development program, which has fallen under scrutiny by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office.

Now, nearly two months later, a contract between the administration and Schwartz’s firm, Guidepost Solutions, is still not available, according to a response to a Freedom of Information Law request.

At the same time, the governor’s open records office denied a request for email records between Guidepost employees and the Cuomo administration, citing the “publicly-disclosed ongoing law enforcement investigation with which we have offered our cooperation,” according to a letter sent Monday.

State agencies and offices can deny records if their release would “interfere with law enforcement investigations or judicial proceedings” according to the Committee on Open Government.

A contract between Schwartz and Cuomo’s office would potentially show how much the former investigator is being paid as well as an outline of his expected duties to fulfill. It would also likely show how long Schwartz’s services are expected to be needed.

Memos released by Cuomo’s office in May sent to top officials at the State University of New York show Schwartz is being given power to review “all decisions” made in Buffalo Billion contracting.

Cuomo’s office has empowered Schwartz through the Moreland Act to have subpoena power and, so far, no executive order has been released outlining the authority.

Extras

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren offered an impassioned endorsement of Hillary Clinton today, symbolically unifying the Democratic Party behind the presumptive nominee and giving voters a rousing preview of what could be a historic joint ticket.

Donald Trump is taking his time in responding to Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, which constitutional scholars describe as the most significant U.S. Supreme Court abortion ruling in a decade.

Trump has a new nickname for Warren: “Sellout.”

Huma Abedin, who worked her way up from White House intern to vice chair of Clinton’s campaign for president, will be questioned under oath tomorrow by lawyers of the conservative group Judicial Watch about her involvement with her boss’ private email system.

Two more SolarCity directors with ties to Tesla Motors and its CEO Elon Musk are recusing themselves from making decisions about the electric vehicle maker’s bid to acquire the solar energy systems installer, leaving just three to vote.

Cramming,” a time-honored end-of-session Albany tradition.

New York’s highways and bridges are among the most deteriorated in the nation, according to a new report released Monday by TRIP, a national transportation organization.

Safety inspections at New York airports have dropped 73 percent in the past decade, and federal regulators should increase such spot checks after a spate of small airplane accidents on Long Island, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said.

NYPA’s financial woes over the Hudson Transmission Partners line will compound each year until at least 2020, according to the authority’s most recent annual report.

A former Rensselaer County welfare investigator who covered up wrongdoing by a former Troy housing official has pleaded guilty to official misconduct.

Former correction officer Gene Palmer walked free yesterday. He was the only prison guard charged in connection with last year’s prison break at Clinton Correctional Facility, and he served the minimum possible sentence.

If museums, theaters and zoos in New York City seem more crowded lately, don’t blame the tourists. Big Apple residents are joining cultural institutions in droves, a perk of signing up for IDNYC, the city-issued identity cards.

Here’s one economic benefit that could come from the British decision to leave the European Union — lower gas prices for Americans this summer.

When New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham died on Saturday, he left behind an enormous portfolio of work and a mourning staff at Stage Star Deli who thought of him as family.

Thirty houses on Long Island that were damaged by superstorm Sandy and acquired by the state’s New York Rising program will be taken over by a housing group to be made into permanent affordable housing for eligible homebuyers.

If you visit Syracuse University any time soon, be on the lookout for low-flying red-tailed hawks.

SD-60: Small Endorsed By Women’s Equality Party

Democratic Senate hopeful Amber Small on Monday announced she was endorsed by the Women’s Equality Party as she campaigns to retain a Buffalo-area district for her party this fall.

The endorsement from the WEP, a ballot line formed at the behest of Gov. Andrew Cuomo in 2014 to promote women’s issues in his re-election campaign, comes the same day the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a package of abortion regulations in Texas.

“I was pleased to be able to support the endorsement of Amber Small for the Women’s Equality Party in her run for the 60th State Senate district,” said WEP Vice Chairwoman Dian Cihak.

“Amber has long been a champion for the rights of women and her community. Her emphasis on ethics in State government and equality for everyone she represents makes her a powerful voice for the residents of Western New York.”

Small is set to face Republican Chris Jacobs, the Erie County clerk, this November for the district being vacated by first-term Sen. Marc Panepinto.

The 60th Senate district has been a wild card in recent election cycles, with Republican Mark Grisanti holding the seat from 2010 through 2014 after unseating Democrat Antoine Thompson.

“I am honored to have the support of the Women’s Equality Party and will continue to make issues of equality, for women and for all residents of New York State, a central part of my campaign platform,” Small said. “As today’s Supreme Court decision shows, great strides can be made, yet we still have much to achieve.”

The WEP in its earliest days promoted the passage of the 10-point Women’s Equality Act, which include as its most controversial plank a provision that would codify the Roe v. Wade decision in state law. Supporters say the move would strengthen abortion rights in the state; opponents call it an unnecessary expansion.

Former Prison Guard Linked to North Country Prison Break Released

From our colleagues in the North Country:

The former prison guard who admitted to helping two convicted killers escape from Clinton Correctional Facility has been released from jail.

Gene Palmer was released from Clinton County Jail on good behavior after serving four months of a six month sentence.

Palmer admitted to providing David Sweat and Richard Matt with hamburger meat that unknowingly had a hacksaw blade in it.

He also gave them a screw driver and pliers, all tools they’d use to escape, eventually leading authorities on a three week manhunt.

Cuomo: Bharara Doing His Job

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is unconcerned with comments made by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in an interview Sunday, who said New York’s state government is rife with corruption.

“That’s true in the Legislature,” he said on ABC’s This Week. “It’s also the case that there’s corruption, we believe, in the executive branches as well. And we’ll ferret it out wherever we find it.”

But Cuomo, whose signature economic development program, the Buffalo Billion, along with his former top aide Joe Percoco, have both fallen under Bharara’s scrutiny, said he didn’t believe the federal prosecutor was singling him out.

“You know, I didn’t take it to mean he was deliberating targeting,” Cuomo said on Monday during a motorcycle rally for breast cancer awareness with his longtime partner, Sandra Lee.

“I was the attorney general. I basically said the same thing,” he added. “That’s what the attorney general does, that’s what a U.S. attorney does, does what a district attorney does. I think it’s basically his job to find corruption and wrongdoing — state, city and federal.”

Bharara at the same time is reportedly investigating the political activities of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, and his use of county committees to help Democratic candidates running in key swing districts for the state Senate.

While Cuomo said he doesn’t have reason to worry, he demurred when asked whether de Blasio should fret the review from Bharara’s office.

“You’d have to ask Mayor de Blasio,” he said.

Bharara’s latest investigations are being conducted as the Supreme Court on Monday vacated the corruption conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell. Bharara’s office in a statement earlier on Monday was confident the convictions of both former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver would stand after the ruling.

“We’ve gone back and forth with the federal government on the honest services charges,” Cuomo said in reaction to the McDonnell ruling. “My position has always been zero tolerance for waste, fraud and abuse in corruption. Whether or not you get a prosecution is the second question.”