New Law Tightens Ignition Interlock Device Requirements

Gov. Andrew Cuomo over the weekend approved a bill that is aimed at tightening requirements for those who are repeat DWI offenders and have installed ignition interlock devices on their cars.

The bill was approved after an audit from Comptroller Tom DiNapoli found that of the more than 53,000 devices installed under court order in New York City, the compliance rate was only 25 percent.

The new law allows the courts to extend the sentence of the mandated use of the devices for a DWI offender should it be discovered they have violated the terms of probation or conditional discharged.

The bill was backed in the Assembly by Democrat David Buchwald and by Republican Sen. Michael Nozzolio.

“Leandra Rosado’s story reminds us that life is precious, and in her memory New York State has taken steps to reduce the tragic loss of life due to drunk driving,” Buchwald said, referring to the inspiration for the initial ignition interlock law. “Ignition interlock devices save lives, and by granting our courts the ability to extend the period of mandated time these devices are required for repeat offenders, we will increase the chance of preventing further tragedies like Leandra’s from happening in the future. I am thankful that Governor Cuomo signed into law this initiative to reduce drunken driving and keep repeat offenders off the roadways. I wish all New Yorkers a happy and safe holiday season.”

Griffo Calls For Economic Study Of New Casinos

A Republican lawmaker in the state Senate on Monday called for an economic study on the the coming commercial casinos in New York as the Oneida Indian Nation steps up its pressure campaign to block the licensing of rival Lago Resort and Casino in the Finger Lakes.

Sen. Joe Griffo, who represents the Mohawk Valley where the Oneida Indians own and operate Turning Stone, made the request for the economic study in letters sent to the Department of Labor, the state Gaming Commission and the Empire State Development Corp.

Specifically, Griffo in the letters writes that he is seeking data on jobs in the state’s gaming industry in the present day and two years from now. At the same time, he wants employment figures at all facilities that provide gambling services, including those on American Indian lands.

“I believe the number of jobs impacted by these developments in the gaming industry over time will speak for itself,” Griffo wrote in the letter. “That’s why, in order to honestly evaluate the circumstances surrounding the placement of any new casinos in our state, I am hereby formally requesting that both the New York State Department of Labor and the New York State Empire State Development Corporation provide statistical data on employment numbers concerning the state’s gaming industry – currently, and two years from now. This data should include employment numbers at all facilities involved in gaming and wagering across the state, including facilities on Native American lands.”

The first round of casino construction will see table-top gaming facilities built in Tyre, Schenectady and in Sullivan County after the state gaming facility location board recommended those projects to the state Gaming Commission.

The commission itself, which met today, is yet to formally approve the licenses and may not meet again for the remainder of the year.

The Oneida Indian Nation has in recent weeks pushed back against the construction of the Lago Resort given their concern the casino could hamper their business at Turning Stone. The Oneidas have in recent weeks aired a TV and radio campaign.

Lago itself has pushed back, saying the Oneida Indian Nation is simply concerned with preserving its monopoly on table-top gambling.

Sen Griffo Letter to Gaming Commission 11 23 15 by Nick Reisman

Cuomo Vetoes Newspaper Carrier Measure, Teamsters Cheer

Teamsters Joint Council 16 on Monday praised Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s veto of a measure that would have excluded some newspaper carriers from certain aspects of the state’s labor laws such as unemployment, minimum wage and workers’ compensation.

“Governor Cuomo is once again standing up for New York’s working families. This veto protects New York’s best-in-the-nation safeguards for commercial drivers against being misclassified as independent contractors,” said Teamsters Joint Council 16 President George Miranda.

The measure, backed by Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle and Republican Sen. George Amedore, would have codified Department of Labor regulations for independent contractors at newspapers, as long as they meet a multi-faceted test.

“This bill sets forth a common sense test, consistent with the current guidelines and with federal standards, by which newspapers, delivery persons and agency staff will be able to easily determine an individual’s employment status,” the bills sponsors wrote in a memo. “Codifying the guidelines issued by the Department of Labor will foster the distribution of news to New York State residents widely, easily, and affordably while providing delivery persons with the freedom to engage in a form of small business or self-employment that affords them the freedom from constraints of traditional employment requirements.”

The bill was backed by the publisher of the Rochester newspaper, the Democrat and Chronicle, who wrote to Cuomo earlier in the year urging him to back the measure.

“Preserving the affordable distribution of printed newspapers saves Teamster jobs in pressrooms, as many Pressrooms are represented by the Graphic Communications Conference of the Teamsters,” publisher Michael Kane wrote.

But the teamsters argued the measure was a way around adhering to the state’s labor laws.

“The ink was barely dry on Commercial Goods Transportation Fair Play Act before anti-worker forces began trying to add loopholes,” Miranda said. “Employee misclassification is a growing problem across the country, but New York continues to set the standard for protecting workers from this practice. Governor Cuomo has sent a clear message to the business community and the legislature that no industry will get an exemption from these protections for commercial drivers.”

Left unmentioned is the challenging environment print media has found itself in over the last decade and falling circulation with the rise of the Internet and cheaply transmitted delivery over the Internet.

Business Council To Cuomo: Back LPG Storage Facility

The state Business Council released a letter on Monday that urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to support a proposed liquid petroleum gas storage facility near Seneca Lake.

In the letter, the group argues that approval of the facility will expand both jobs and tax revenue in the Finger Lakes region.

“On a local level, this fuel storage facility will bring jobs and tax revenue to some of the Upstate communities that need them the most,” the Business Council wrote in the letter. “The Finger Lakes LPG storage facility will create 58 construction jobs and 17 permanent jobs. It will also help retain more than 130 jobs at the century-old salt plant used to supply the brine required for LPG storage, and bring more than $600,000 annually through property taxes to Schuyler County. This is not an insignificant impact, and would go a long way towards improving the local job market and overall business climate in Schuyler County.”

The letter comes after Cuomo earlier this month nixed the approval of a liquid natural gas facility for Long Island, arguing that such a move was “not worth the risk.”

The letter from the Business Council was sent a week after the Department of Environmental Conservation released draft permit conditions for the underground facility, which would be located on a 576-acre site in the town of Reading in Schuyler County.

Finger Lakes wineries have raised concerns with the placement of the facility near their operations, and worry the storage of liquid petroleum gas could reverse their efforts to turn the area into a destination.

But the Business Council argues the gas can and would be stored safely.

“Additionally, approval of this storage facility – designed and engineered to standards far exceeding those of the existing LPG facilities in the Finger Lakes that have been operating safely for 60 years – would signal to businesses looking to invest across New York that if a project meets the required environmental standards, it will be permitted. In contrast, unnecessary permitting delays send a strong, negative signal to businesses looking to invest in New York,” the letter states.

AndrewCuomo LPG Storage 11-20-15 by Nick Reisman

NYSUT Names New Legislative Director

cb1The state’s umbrella teachers union on Monday announced Christopher Black will become its new director of legislation.

Black, a Clifton Park resident, replaces Stephen Allinger, who earlier this year stepped down from the post at the New York State United Teachers union, but remains in an advisory role for President Karen Magee.

Black has been with NYSUT for the last 17 years and for the last five years has served as its assistant director of legislation.

“Chris brings to this important position the experience, skill set and temperament to meet the political challenges before us,” Magee said in a statement. “He is a strong advocate for all of our members — those working in schools and on college campuses, and in health care facilities and human service agencies — and he has a firm grasp on the legislative process in both Albany and Washington, D.C.”

Black is taking over the job ahead of what is expected yet another tumultuous year for education policy issues. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been at odds with NYSUT during his time in office, has signaled plans to overhaul the controversial Common Core education standards, which could lead to more changes to the state’s teacher evaluation process.

Cuomo last year successfully pushed through changes to the evaluation process that made it harder for teachers to obtain and keep tenure, as well as tied results more closely to standardized tests.

Raising For Kaminsky

From the Morning Memo:

As the federal corruption trial of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his adult son, Adam, continues in Manhattan today, two top Democrats will be hosting a fund-raiser for a freshman assemblyman mentioned as a potential contender for Skelos’ Long Island seat.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs are headlining the event for Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky, a former federal prosecutor, at the Smith & Wollensky steakhouse tonight, according to an invitation provided to CapTon.

Thanks to his record of prosecuting public corruption cases, Kaminsky, who was elected in 2014 to fill the seat of retired former Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, is viewed by Democratic leaders as an attractive candidate for the Senate next fall regardless of whether Skelos is found guilty and forced to resign, or weathers the legaI storm and seeks re-election.

Kaminsky, who also happens to be the great-nephew of comedian Mel Brooks, hasn’t said one way or another whether he’s interested in running for the Senate, though he did tell liberal Democratic activist and radio host Bill Samuels this weekend that he would be “a fool not to want to at least think about it.”

“I don’t think it’s ripe for discussion yet,” Kaminsky said yesterday on AM 970’s “Effective Radio with Bill Samuels”, adding: “As long as Senator Skelos is the senator…it’s a long time until next November. If he’s not the senator, then obviously that will certainly prompt some discussion.”

“…But I just have a lot to do on Long Island to fight for people in my district, to fight for the middle class,” the assemblyman continued. More >

Hoylman Lauds Cuomo For Domestic Violence Measure Approval

From the Morning Memo:

Manhattan Democratic Sen. Brad Hoylman lauded Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s approval of a measure that’s designed to address domestic violence reports written in languages other than English.

The bill was one of several Cuomo approved over the weekend.

The measure was introduced following the murder of Deisy Garcia and her two daughters by Garcia’s estranged husband. The murders came despite multiple domestic incident reports having been filed with the NYPD, but were never translated.

“All domestic violence victims, no matter what language they speak, must have equal access to justice under the law,” Hoylman said. “Deisy Garcia and her two young daughters lacked this fundamental right and paid for it with their lives, simply because their urgent pleas were not translated.”

Now, when a non-English speaker fills out and files a domestic violence report, the document is translated so police can initiate an investigate. At the same time, victims of domestic violence are required to be informed of their rights in their own language.

“I’m extremely grateful to Governor Cuomo for making domestic violence translation the law of the land and sending a message that in the world’s melting pot, language will never be an impediment to justice,” Hoylman said.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with a Thanksgiving-related event in the afternoon.

The federal corruption trials of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver continue (separately) in New York City this morning, with closing arguments scheduled in the Silver case.

A full calendar of the day’s events appears at the end of this post.


Frustrated by the pending shutdown of two nuclear power plants on Lake Ontario, which he hopes to delay, Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to order state regulators to mandate that, by 2030, half of all power consumed by New Yorkers be generated from renewable sources that emit much less carbon dioxide.

In Assemblyman Sheldon Silver’s corruption case, in which no witness testified directly to knowledge of an illegal quid pro quo, how Judge Valerie Caproni tells jurors to interpret the evidence as it relates to the law could sway deliberations. Two relatively low profile lawyers – the “law guys” – are trying to influence that process.

The head of a breakaway faction of state Senate Democrats, IDC Leader Jeff Klein, says his group is not ready to abandon its five-year alliance with the chamber’s Republican majority just because former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos was caught on tape trashing them. “Nothing changes,” Klein said. “Coalition government is bigger than one person.”

The push by a JCOPE commissioner appointed by Silver to legislators applying for exemptions from new financial disclosure rules — passed in the wake of Silver’s corruption indictment earlier this year — to submit the paperwork seeking exemptions by hand, in person, and not just by email, could weaken future corruption cases.

As a January deadline looms, real estate industry and union leaders have yet to hammer out a deal on 421-a abatement.

A bill to allow illegal immigrants in New Jersey to apply for driver’s licenses is fueling impassioned reactions in both parties as state lawmakers consider whether the goal of improving road safety outweighs concerns about national security.

Faced with a neighborhood backlash against his zoning plans for affordable housing, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio went to a Bronx church to pitch his plan as a needed bulwark against New York becoming a “gilded city.” He argued that since development is inevitable, the city is better off working to make sure it doesn’t totally leave out the poor and middle class.

A slew of prominent communications firms may be forced to register as lobbyists under a proposal by the state ethics commission, JCOPE. The plan would force private consulting groups that have helped craft messages for lobbying efforts to register with the state. Until now, their activities have not been considered lobbying.

Cuomo insults the legacy of his late father, liberal icon Mario Cuomo, by claiming that businesses paying the minimum wage “steal” $2 billion from taxpayers because their workers can get government subsidies, according to Empire Center for Public Policy President E.J. McMahon.

When political analysts added up turnout figures from the Nov. 3 elections, they could find only one word to describe a year when a mere 24.5 percent of registered voters showed up at the polls in Erie County: Abysmal.

Andrew Hevesi, the chairman of the state Assembly Social Services Committee, called on Cuomo to tap into $2.1 billion the state has collected from legal settlements to help address the city’s growing homeless problem.

Cuomo vetoed bipartisan legislation that would have provided fare relief to NYC commuters who have to take two buses and a train to reach their destination.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer is pushing legislation to ban known or suspected terrorists from legally buying firearms and explosives. He says 2,000 people on the terror watch list have purchased guns in the US, and blames the National Rifle Association for blocking the measure in the past.

Long Island has even more excess power than previously projected, enough to forestall the need for a big new generating plant until 2028, according to an updated analysis by PSEG Long Island.

Nurses are hoping the Buffalo Common Council will get behind state legislation to mandate minimum nurse-to-patient staffing ratios. The city’s Legislation Committee unanimously endorsed the resolution Nov. 17 to the cheers of dozens of nurses, and the Council is expected to adopt it Tuesday.

The owners of Liberty Ridge Farm, Robert and Cynthia Gifford, who were fined $13,000 after refusing to host a lesbian wedding, are appealing the ruling. The couple’s attorneys will make their case before a mid-level appeals court today in Albany.

More >

The Weekend That Was

Trying to reassure a nation on edge, President Obama said the Islamic State group “cannot strike a mortal blow” against the U.S., and he warned that overreacting to the Paris attacks would play into extremists’ hands. “We will destroy this terrorist organization,” he vowed.

The governor urged residents to begin taking the necessary steps to prepare for accumulations of lake effect snow that will impact parts of western and northern New York tonight through early tomorrow morning.

US Sen. Chuck Schumer vowed to fight “tooth and nail” against the National Rifle Association to make it a a crime for anyone to sell guns to terrorists.

Wading into the national debate about potential security risks posed by refugees fleeing violence in Syria, NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said he is more concerned with people on terrorist watch lists being able to purchase firearms.

Former Rep. Dan Maffei has a new job lined up at the Federal Maritime Commission, an independent federal agency that regulates international shipping. Officials were loathe to say how much he’ll be paid, but it’s likely about $155,500.

The NYPD is following through on NYC Mayor Nill de Blasio’s pledge to stop locking people up for carrying small amounts of pot. Police cuffed 18,120 individuals on this charge through Oct. 20 — a 40 percent plummet from the 29,906 pot busts in the same period last year, state Division of Criminal Justice records show.

Western New York real estate developer-turned-newspaper publisher Frank Parlato Jr.’s battle with federal prosecutors, four years in the making, escalated when a grand jury accused him of cheating the Internal Revenue Service and two heirs to the Seagrams liquor fortune.

Following the terrorist attacks on Paris, Staten Island Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis is calling on de Blasio to stop issuing municipal ID cards to undocumented immigrants.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie says de Blasio would do better as mayor of the capital of Syria than New York. “Given the way he’s talking, and not worried about the security and safety of the people of New York, maybe he should be mayor of Damascus,” Christie said on CNN’s State of the Union.

The Rev. Al Sharpton gave himself a 71 percent raise last year after his National Action Network group drew a record $6.9 million in donations.

Cuomo on Saturday vetoed a bill for the second time that would have sought additional protections for mute swans that the state Department of Environmental Conservation have deemed as an invasive species.

Some believe the governor forced the hand of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown when it came to giving public employees of the city a minim wage increase to $15 an hour. Conservative Chairman Ralph Lorigo called the move an “impediment” to party backing should Brown run for a fourth term in 2017.

New York labor leader Dennis Rivera, the former SEIU 1199 president, funneled $1.1 million of his nonprofit’s money to a “sham” charity tied to former presidential candidate and then-New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, the NY Post reports.

New York’s liberal-leaning Working Families Party is working to broaden its reach with a new emphasis on local, down-ballot races around the state. The labor-backed party is best known for its involvement in statewide races and political campaigns in New York City, but in this month’s election, it recruited and supported 111 candidates in local races. Seventy-one of them won.

Tom Precious says the wiretapped conversation between former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, about the relationship between the GOP and the IDC proved “Albany politics are raw, alliances and friendships are highly fleeting, and even worries about the health of fellow politicians are not always centered on empathy but political survival.”

Denise Jewell Gee notes that the debate over whether daily fantasy football betting is legal is “besides the point” for those who are trying to help problem gamblers because “they’re already seeing people who need help because they’ve lost control to the game.”

Outgoing Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman still thinks the mandatory retirement age of 70 is “ridiculous” in the year 2015. That said, he doesn’t hold a grudge at his forced departure from the high court bench.

In September, log-grown mushrooms were recognized as an official crop in New York, bringing tax breaks and validation for fungi farmers.

Conde Nast Traveler released their list of the 15 most beautiful lakes in the country, citing that they’re gorgeous and worth a visit any time of year. Lake George in the Adirondacks is the only lake in the northeast to make the cut.

RIP Sheila Fuller, whose leadership resume included a 10-year run as town supervisor in Bethlehem. She is being remembered for the respect and care she held for the town and its citizens.


Gov. Andrew Cuomo might not be running for president, but he is systematically putting himself on a bigger political stage in his second term.

The governor has just over a week to select a successor from the list of seven names provided to him for retiring Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg says his relationship with his successor, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, has “never been bad,” telling reporters: “I don’t know where you guys get this stuff.”

De Blasio said failing to get ahead of the city’s homelessness problem and explain it to New Yorkers is the biggest mistake he has made so far in office.

RIP John E. Zuccotti, the real estate investor and former deputy mayor who championed the revival of lower Manhattan in the wake of 9/11, has died at the age of 78. His namesake park was the center of the 2011 Occupy Wall Street movement.

Republican 2016 candidate Donald Trump backed off discussion of a mandatory database to track Muslims after a torrent of criticism from both Republicans and Democratic opponents.

The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame is moving from Amsterdam in the Mohawk Valley to Wichita Falls, Texas early next year.

Democratic 2016 candidate Bernie Sanders has two new TV ads that will hit the airwaves in New Hampshire and Iowa this weekend.

Democratic chairs in NY-19 have launched an effort to draft Ulster County Executive Mike Hein into the race.

Veteran reporter Marcia Kramer gets her due.

Penn State has put a moratorium on recreational class trips to New York City and Washington D.C., since both cities are, in the eyes of the university, highly volatile targets of inevitable terrorism.

Adele Malpass, the chairwoman of the Manhattan Republican Party, wants former NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly to challenge de Blasio on the GOP line in 2017.

A review by the state Farm Bureau found that the cost of the average Thanksgiving meal in New York is increasing 3 percent this year compared to last year.

The Atlantic magazine’s Alana Semuels, in a piece headlined “How to Decimate a City,” cites research showing Syracuse has highest rates of concentrated poverty among black and Hispanics in the nation.

The DEC is investigating the deaths of waterbirds found along the shores of Lake Ontario in Wayne, Oswego and Jefferson counties. The dead birds started turning up in mid-October.

Queens is getting its first-ever marathon to be run entirely in the borough. The 26-mile race is scheduled for April 30th, 2016 at Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

Interim Rochester School District Superintendent Daniel Lowengard will make $195,000 — the same salary as Bolgen Vargas, whom he replaces — when he assumes control Jan. 1.

In the battle for New York City riders, Uber isn’t the only smartphone-driven car service gaining ground. Its smaller rival known for pink mustaches (Lyft) is also racing ahead.

In a woman’s presence, men eat 93 percent more pizza, according to researchers at Cornell University.