Feb 7th - 6:01 pm
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio named real estate lobbyist Carl Weisbrod to chair the Planning Commission, where he will oversee all major land use decisions the city.
An Assembly bill that sought to punish New York colleges that used state money to boycott Israel or other countries that host SUNY programs has been scaled down.
SEIU 1199, which helped Rep. Charlie Rangel get re-election in a tight race two years ago, may not back him this time around.
…the union’s political director, Kevin Finnegan, said there are “three really good” candidates running for Rangel’s seat.
Cuomo announced a state land classification to preserve 42,000 acres of land in the Adirondack Park, the largest addition in 118 years.
Donald Trump on the Verrazano Bridge toll relief plan: “Andrew Cuomo is obviously scared of me and now stealing my proposals.”
For the record, Monroe County GOP Chair Bill Reilich is a Trump man – assuming The Donald decides to throw his hat into the gubernatorial ring.
RWDSU endorsed Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice’s congressional run.
Four incumbent Regents could be ousted in March if the board doesn’t act quickly to address the controversial Common Core academic standards.
Cuomo’s estate tax overhaul could exempt wealthy individuals and closely held businesses from tax liability, but the state could go after their gift-giving and trust exemptions to make up for a projected $1.8 billion revenue loss.
Rep. Brian Higgins, the “power point man” of Western New York.
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton committed to making department data more transparent.
Sean Hannity put his Long Island home on the market, and is asking $3.6 million for it.
Sen. David Valesky joined the chorus of elected officials who say the Common Core rollout was “seriously flawed.”
Feb 7th - 4:07 pm
Here is a short addendum to today’s Morning Memo on the latest developments in the effort by a political consultant to quash a Moreland Commission subpoena seeking more information on who funded the Republican-aligned Common Sense Principles.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in a legal brief filed on Thursday argued that finding out who has been funding the group, which attacked Senate Democratic candidates in the lead up to the 2012 election, was vital to understanding how the group in order to formulate new regulations for disclosure.
The company that helped develop the website and provided consultant work for Common Sense Principles, Strategic Advantage International, is fighting the subpoena in state court.
In emails filed with the legal, the Moreland Commission offered to narrow the scope of its subpoena to only include information related to Common Sense Principles and its related entities and not information on political strategy, political candidates or messages.
The emails show that lawyers for the Strategic Advantage wasn’t going to agree to the narrowed scope of the subpoena.
Feb 7th - 3:11 pm
The state Conservative Party on Friday released a legislative memo opposing the Dream Act, a measure that would allow for college tuition assistance to the children of undocumented immigrants.
“It seeks to give students who are not U. S. citizens and nationals scholarships and financial aid who are in our country without following the procedures required to enter America and start a path to citizenship. By providing scholarships and financial aid to certain immigrant students, our own citizens, who also struggle financially, may be denied their dreams of attending college, thereby undermining the very essence of everything America stands for.”
Behind the scenes this week the bill has gaining some traction at the Capitol, as Democrats in the Assembly continue to push the issue in private with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Other states have passed varying versions of the Dream Act, including New Jersey, but the Garden State’s measure is considered a watered-down form of the law by advocates.
As Zack Fink reported earlier this week, labor organizations including 32BJ, Hotel Trades, UFT have been enlisted to apply some pressure to Senate Democratic lawmakers (mainline conference members say it is on the Independent Democratic Conference and IDC Leader Jeff Klein to carry the ball the Dream Act).
Feb 7th - 2:15 pm
Eleven of the 12 GOP county chairs in NY-21 voted to endorse Elise Stefanik to run on their line this fall for the seat of retiring Democratic Rep. Bill Owens – a race that looks (at the moment anyway) like it’s the Republicans’ to lose.
“We appreciate the efforts put forth by all of our prospective candidates, and we are fortunate to have such individuals from which to select our next Member of Congress,” said Essex County Chairman Ron Jackson, who also serves as a state GOP vice chairman.
“In the end, I think the results speak for themselves. Elise possesses the drive, small business experience, and institutional knowledge necessary to create jobs while faithfully representing the aspirations and values of North Country residents.”
The Jefferson County GOP abstained because it has decided not to endorse any candidate at this date, although its members are committed to carrying petitions (which must start circulating in March, thanks to the court-mandated June primary date) for any Republican candidate.
The chairs also released this joint statement:
“January was a busy month not only for the candidates, but for the committees, and Elise Stefanik demonstrated why she will make an outstanding Congresswoman representing Upstate New York. Elise knows the issues, understands the regulatory hurdles burdening small businesses, and she has energetically worked throughout this long and transparent process. We are not surprised by the overwhelming support she received from the committees. She’s someone Republicans, Conservatives and Independents can all rally around.”
Stefanik recently moved back to the district to help run her family’s playwood business. Prior to that, she was working in Washington, D.C. She ran debate preparations for the GOP’s vice presidential candidate, Rep. Paul Ryan, during the 2012 campaign, and also served in the domestic policy and chief of staff’s offices during President George W. Bush’s second term.
Several of Stefanik’s ex-Bush administration colleagues are helping her with this run, including former White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, former RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie and White House Deputy Chief of Staff Joel Kaplan.
Stefanik has been criss-crossing the district and meeting with rank-and-file Republicans since she announced her candidacy last August. She was the first out of the gate with a county committee endorsement (Saratoga, which is a newcomer to NY-21 since the last round of redistricting), and managed to hold onto her frontrunner status even after interest in the race intensified following Owens’ surprise announcement that he would not seek re-election this fall.
According to the most recent FEC filing, Stefanik has so far raised in excess of $250,000 for her campaign.
The county chairs backed Stefanik despite a Public Opinion Strategies poll that surfaced yesterday showing her trailing businessman Matt Doheny, who twice challenged Owens and lost. Doheny reportedly expressed interest in running a third time, but has consistently refused to return calls for comment.
Tea Party leader and retired Army Maj. Joseph Gilbert and activist Michael Ring were also seeking the GOP line.
“I’m humbled by the endorsement today by the North Country GOP Chairs, Stefanik said in a statement. “It shows our campaign’s message to bring new ideas and new leadership to Washington is resonating throughout Upstate.”
“But we’re just getting started – I will continue working as hard as I ever have to earn the support of Republicans, Conservatives and Independents across the district to win this seat back. I thank the county Chairs for the time and energy they’ve given during this process, and I thank the hundreds of county committee members who attended endorsement meetings during January to hear from the candidates.”
The NY-21 Democrats are expected to select a candidate within the next 10 days. Former Republican Assemblywoman Dede Scozzafava, who was forced out of the 2009 special election in what was then NY-23 by Conservative Doug Hoffman and then endorsed Owens, is reportedly interested in running on the Democratic line. She’s now working in the Cuomo administration.
Former state Sen. Darrel Aubertine has also been mentioned as a potential candidate. He resigned his post as Cuomo’s agriculture commissioner last year and is now working in state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office.
Assemblywoman Addie Russell has said she’s currently focused on seeking re-election to her state-level seat, but has had conversations with party leaders about running in Owens’ stead. UPDATED: TWC’s Brian Dwyer spoke to Russell today and reports she has firmly closed the door on a run, saying: “I’m looking forward to working with whoever becomes our next member of Congress to ensure that we continue to move forward here in the North Country.”
Dwyer also reports that Jon Cardinal, an aide to US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, is also mulling a run.
Feb 7th - 1:19 pm
The panel first announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his budget address last month charged with making changes to the roll out of Common Core was formally unveiled on Friday.
The panel will be chaired by Stanley Litow, the vice president for corporate citizenship at IBM.
Also on the commission will be the chairs of the Senate and Assembly education committees, Republican Sen. John Flanagan and Demcoratic Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan.
“The Common Core standards are a critical part of transforming New York’s schools, and the failure to effectively implement them has led to confusion and frustration among students and their families,” Governor Cuomo said. “I urge the members of this panel to work speedily in bringing forward a set of actionable recommendations to improve the implementation of the Common Core.”
A full list of the common core panel members is after the jump.
Cuomo in January called the implementation of the national Common Core standards in New York “flawed.”
In announcing the creation of the commission, Cuomo said he wanted a package of recommendations for the Legislature to vote on by the end of the session in June.
But lawmakers this week — including both Flanagan and Nolan — called for a two-year moratorium on Common Core implementation, a delay that also has the blessing of the legislative leaders in the Assembly and Senate.
Cuomo’s office, however, said in a statement that such a delay would be “premature” until the Cuomo-backed Common Core committee makes its recommendations.
The panel comes as Cuomo’s potential gubernatorial opponent, Wetchester County Executive Rob Astorino, has blasted the state’s handling of the Common Core standards, placing blame on the administration.
The state Education Department — an entity that is quasi-independent of the administration — has also come under fire for the roll out from teachers, including the statewide teachers union which has criticized an over reliance on standardized testing that are tied to evaluations. More >
Feb 7th - 12:51 pm
Fifteen villages in New York are facing some degree of “fiscal stress” according to an analysis released by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office.
Four villages — Suffern in Rockland County and Amitville in Suffolk County and Nassau County’s Bayville and Manorhaven — were all found to have significant levels of fiscal stresses.
The criteria for designating a local government under fiscal stress includes indicators such as cash-on-hand, patterns of operating deficits and fund balance totals.
The designation is meant to provide ailing local governments with an “early warning” of sorts as a first step to ironing out their budget wrinkles.
“Although the number of villages designated as fiscally stressed is small, village officials across the state must be on alert,” said DiNapoli. “Moving forward, the drivers of fiscal stress will continue to hamper villages in many of the same ways it does our larger municipalities. I continue to emphasize to local officials that the best way their community can avoid falling into fiscal stress is through sensible budgeting and careful long-term planning.”
DiNapoli’s report found villages in the downstate region were gaining population slightly overall, while their upstate counterparts were declining in the number of people living there.
Property values in downstate villages are also far greater: $170,000 in the New York City region compared to barely $40,000 upstate.
Often villages struggling financially have problems with declining property values, child poverty and a shrinking jobs base.
Feb 7th - 12:14 pm
As former Rep. Nan Hayworth prepares to launch her candidacy on Sunday for her former Congressional seat, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is wasting little time to define her as it did in 2012.
Namely, the DCCC is calling her a tea party lawmaker, tying her to votes on tax cuts, Medicare and Planned Parenthood in a web video being released on Friday.
“The Tea Party is still the same – so is Nan Hayworth,” said Marc Brumer of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “Congresswoman Nan Hayworth has come out of hiding and finally admitted that even though voters fired her in 2012, she’s not stopping her Tea Party crusade. Congresswoman Hayworth is still the same out of touch candidate who voted to give huge new tax cuts to the wealthy, gut Medicare, and defund Planned Parenthood.”
Interestingly enough the tax cuts-Medicare-Planned Parenthood combo was deployed by Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney when D.C. bureau reporter Michael Scotto caught up with him on Thursday.
“It wasn’t that long ago. People remember there is a choice between us,” Maloney said in the interview this week. “Her priorities are very different than mine. She wanted to end the guaranteed benefit of Medicare, defund Planned Parenthood, give huge tax breaks to multimillionaires like herself.”
Feb 7th - 11:32 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday approved state land classifications for 42,000 acres of forest preserve in the Adirondack Park.
Cuomo’s office says the classification approval is a “balanced approach” that will provide for recreational access to the land, including hiking, cross-country skiing, hunting, fishing, mountain biking as well as snowmobiling.
The classification approved by Cuomo will allow for mixed use classifications setting aside areas for paddling “within reasonable access” to the public, according to the administration.
At the same time, primitive land classifications will allow for float plane access from First and Pine Lakes. A wild forest buffer between the Hudson River Gorge and Essex Chain primitive areas is also being set aside.
The preserve comes from properties formerly owned by the Finch Pruyn & Company.
“I am thrilled to approve this land classification plan that will allow the State to both preserve the Adirondacks’ magnificent natural resources and provide public recreational and tourism opportunities that will help grow the region’s economy,” Governor Cuomo said. “The addition of thousands of acres of land to the State Forest Preserve is a major step in both protecting and preserving the Adirondack Park for future generations. At the same time, this plan enhances the State’s efforts to attract more visitors to the Adirondacks and grow the region’s tourism industry and communities. Today’s announcement marks a momentous occasion for New York’s history and landscape.”
The Adirondack Park Agency previously endorsed the classification in December.
Cuomo this summer met privately with elected officials from the Adirondack Park to discuss the land classification, including concerns about public access.
Feb 7th - 7:00 am
Court documents filed by Attorney General Eric Schneiderman on Thursday push back against an effort from a political consultant who is seeking to quash subpoenas from the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption.
The subpoena from the commission to Strategic Advantage International filed in December was aimed at shedding light on who funded the independent expenditure group Common Sense Principles.
Schneiderman’s main argument for upholding subpoena is this: Understanding how Common Sense Principles was able to allude sunlight will provide the Moreland Commission a key understanding of how dark money in state politics works and, what if any, changes to existing campaign spending regulations can be made.
The organization, designated a 501(c)4 non-profit, spent millions in the 2012 political campaign blasting three Democratic candidates for Senate: Sens. Ted O’Brien, George Latimer and Joe Addabbo.
When it came time for the group to disclose who funded its operations, Common Sense Principles filed paperwork showing its sole contribution came from an apparent shell company, shielding off any individual contributors.
The commission at the end of 2013 sent a subpoena to Strategic Advantage, which had developed the website for Common Sense Principles.
But the company is fighting the subpoena, calling the effort unduly burdensome and a violation of its First Amendment rights.
But Schneiderman’s office in the court filing contends that even when the scope of what’s being sought by the Moreland Commission was scaled back, the company continued to be uncooperative.
“In particular, the Commission emphasized its view that compliance with the subpoena would have to include documents demonstrating petitioners’ “interactions with Common Sense Principles and related persons and entities,” but not “communications regarding political strategy pertaining to specific candidates or particular political messages.”
Most importantly, Schneiderman’s office argues in the filing that the commission has the purview to find out who funded Common Sense in order to make informed recommendations to the state Legislature for potential ethics legislation.
“Obtaining this information would assist the Commission in determining not only whether existing election and lobbying laws had been followed, and the efficacy of those laws, but also, crucially, whether further disclosures should be mandated to ensure transparency in the funding and operation of dark money groups,” according to the brief.
There is also the “appearance” of corruption with so-called “dark money” groups like Common Sense Principles.
“Dark money also fosters the appearance that large contributors are hiding their identities because they are engaged in illicit or improper behavior. The disclosures sought by the Commission’s subpoenas will help the Commission determine both whether this appearance reflects reality, and whether additional disclosures (or other reforms) can dispel the appearance of corruption,” the brief says.
The filing comes as the Senate and Assembly continue to challenge the authority of the Moreland Commission to seek more information on lawmakers’ outside income.
Attorneys for the Legislature are challenging the subpoenas in the state court, but the timetable has been moved into March.
State lawmakers argue the commission is a product of the executive branch and cannot investigate the Legislature. The commission, however, points to Schneiderman granting its members the power of deputy attorneys general as a way around the separation of powers argument.
At the same time, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has inserted a package of ethics overhaul measures into his state budget proposal, including tighter restrictions on campaign finances and stronger anti-bribery laws as well as a system of publicly financed campaigns.
Feb 7th - 6:52 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.
At 8:15 a.m., NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton speaks at a Milstein Criminal Justice Policy Forum breakfast hosted by the Citizens Crime Commission of New York City, Sea Level Café, Basement of 6 E. 43rd St., Manhattan.
From 8:15 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., Brooklyn BP Eric Adams, Manhattan BP Gale Brewer, Queens Deputy BP Leroy Comrie, Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr. and Staten Island BP James Oddo participate in a panel discussion on “The Future of New York City,” moderated by NY1 host Errol Louis as part of New York Law School’s “CityLaw Breakfast Series,” event center, Second Floor, 185 W. Broadway, Manhattan.
At 10 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio donates blood, 100 Gold St., Manhattan.
Also at 10 a.m. The SUNY Board of Trustees meet, The Global Center, 116 East 55th Street, Manhattan. (On the table: LICH proposals).
Also at 10 a.m., Rep. Charles Rangel, Assemblyman Keith Wright, Sen. Bill Perkins, the Black Institute’s Bertha Lewis and others hold a rally in observance of the annual National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, City Hall steps, Manhattan.
Also at 10 a.m., Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle will be joined by state and local officials, Rochester City School District officials, community advocates and parents to discuss the proposed statewide implementation of universal pre-K, The Community Center Room, Thomas P. Ryan Community Center, Rochester City School #33, 530 Webster Ave., Rochester
10:30 a.m. Department of Motor Vehicles commissioner Barbara Fiala delivers Cuomo’s budget message, Ithaca City Hall, Common Council Chambers, 108 East Green Street, Ithaca.
11 a.m. Senator Jeffrey Klein announces gun-violence prevention program, Jacobi Hospital, Building 8 Atrium, 1400 Pelham Parkway South, Bronx.
At noon, de Blasio makes an announcement in the Blue Room at City Hall, Manhattan.
Also at noon, Rep. Paul Tonko’s staff holds mobile office hours for constituents, Saratoga Springs City Hall, 474 Broadway, Saratoga Springs.
At 1:30 p.m., Rep. Chris Gibson attends and speaks at a Dutchess County naturalization ceremony, Dutchess County Court House, 10 Market St., Poughkeepsie.
At 2 p.m., state Labor Commissioner Peter Rivera delivers a regional version of Cuomo’s budget message, Freeport Memorial Library, 144 West Merrick Rd., Freeport.
At 2:30 p.m., Canal Corp. Director Brian Stratton delivers a regional version of Cuomo’s budget, Livingston County Government Center, Room 205, 6 Court St., Geneseo.
At 4 p.m., Sen. Gustavo Rivera hosts black history month celebration, William Hodson Senior Center, 1320 Webster Ave., the Bronx.
At 5:30 p.m., de Blasio meets with members of the band Pussy Riot in his City Hall office, Manhattan.
GOP county officials from NY-21 will be meeting in Elizabethtown today to select their candidate for seat of retiring Democratic Rep. Bill Owens.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is set to announce that Delta Airlines has become the first carrier to agree to raise by April the salaries of its lowest-paid workers at LaGuardia and Kennedy Airports by $1 an hour.
Republicans will hold their annual convention in mid-May at a hotel in Westchester County, the home turf of likely standard-bearer Rob Astorino.
The Cuomo administration asked NYSERDA to help pay for a new investigative unit in the Inspector General’s Office as the state budget was being put together. This ultimately didn’t happen, but demonstrates the blurred lines between the administration and the supposedly independent authorities.
Cuomo told reporters the state is waiting on a $10 billion Medicaid waiver to help save the failing Long Island College Hospital – three days after the state’s top health official said LICH is ineligible to receive the waiver money.
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio started a public fight with the New York Times over its profile of the city’s longtime sanitation commissioner, John Doherty, saying the implication he doesn’t support Doherty is “patently inaccurate and unfair.”
State education officials are studying how de Blasio’s pledge to charge rent to charters that operate in city buildings could affect the amount of funding the city receives for facilities. The city could end up losing money if appears to be turning a profit off charters.
Bronx lawmakers threatened to mount an all-out war de Blasio tries to block the expansion of a high-performing all-girls charter school in their borough.
De Blasio appointed his wife, Chirlane McCray, as chairwoman of the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, a nonprofit dedicated to raising private funds to support public initiatives. She won’t receive a salary, and her office will be located across the street from City Hall.