Nurses Association Endorses Cuomo

From the Morning Memo:

The New York State Nurses Association on Wednesday became the latest labor group to endorse Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election.

The endorsement comes after Cuomo rallied with nurses earlier in April following the successful effort to unionize at Albany Medical Center.

But in its endorsement of the governor, the group pointed to Cuomo’s push on health care funding and staffing levels at hospitals through regulatory action at the Department of Labor.

“Registered nurses need safe staffing in their hospitals to do their job – provide the highest quality care to patients. Gov. Cuomo understands that,” Marva Wade, the group’s first vice president and the chair of its political action committee.

Cuomo is leaning heavily on labor support in his re-election bid for a third term. He is expected to face actress and public education advocate Cynthia Nixon in a Democratic primary.

Erie County Clerk Takes Preemptive Stance On Licenses For Undocumented Immigrants

From the Morning Memo:

The Erie County Clerk will preemptively announce today the county’s auto bureaus will not process drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants, regardless of what the state Legislature does.

Both the state Senate and Assembly are currently considering legislation to institute the policy. Other advocates believe the governor can move forward on his own through an executive order.

However, County Clerk Mickey Kearns said there are already avenues for non-citizens to obtain licenses if they have the appropriate documentation. Kearns also noted auto bureaus are already facing a high volume of customers and do not need the extra strain.

“As the County Clerk elected by the taxpayers of Erie County to look out for their best interests, I cannot in good conscious follow through on a policy that will violate federal laws by knowingly providing government identification to illegal immigrants,” he said.

Kearns also pointed out a similar proposal from then-Governor Elliot Spitzer failed in 2007 after “significant backlash” from county clerks. He plans on writing a letter to the State Clerk’s Association calling for a resolution against the policy.

“As what happened more than a decade ago, there was widespread opposition, with many county clerk’s refusing to enforce this policy in their auto bureaus. I expect the same response should the legislature and Governor plan to move forward with this proposal,” Kearns said.

The governor’s office did not immediately respond to our request for a response but the Erie County Democratic Committee chairman had one of his own. 

“If Michael Kearns is unwilling to uphold the oath that he swore to the citizens of Erie County just months after taking it, he should resign immediately,” Jeremy Zellner tweeted.

Kearns is a registered Democrat but ran for clerk with the endorsement of the local Republican committee. He had already,for all intents and purposes, been disowned by Erie County Democratic leadership.

Here and Now

Good morning!

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City and has nothing public planned.

At 7:30 a.m., Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will be inducted into Irish American Power Women, Bank of Ireland Startlab, Grand Central Tower, 140 East 45th Street, 41st Floor, New York City.

At 8 a.m., NYC Public Advocate Letitia James meets with the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors, Fortis Lux Financial, 277 Park Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 8 a.m., state Sen. Jeff Klein hosts his Annual Education Leadership Breakfast, F&J Pine Tavern, 1913 Bronxdale Ave., Bronx.

At 9 a.m., City & State hosts the Sustainable New York Summit, which will offer industry executives, public sector leaders and academics the opportunity to share ideas about how to connect, design, and implement innovative sustainability strategies in New York, National Geographic Encounter, 226 W. 44th St., Manhattan.

At 9:30 a.m., Assemblyman Harvey Epstein, state Sen. Brad Hoylman and others join advocates to slam the MTA for failing people with disabilities, northeast corner of 14th Street and Third Avenue, Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., the NYC Campaign Finance Board holds a public meeting, Joseph A. O’Hare S.J. Board Room, 100 Church St., 12th floor, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie joins Assemblymember Angelo Santabarbara to visit MiSci: Museum of Innovation and Science, 15 Nott Terrace Heights, Schenectady.

At 10:30 a.m., the PSC will hold its next regular session, 19th Floor Board Room, Three Empire State Plaza, Albany.

At 11 a.m., the Assembly Committee on Health, Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse, and Committee on Insurance hold a public hearing on access to opioid overdose reversal drugs, 250 Broadway, 19th floor, Assembly Hearing Room, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., Mayor Bill de Blasio will deliver remarks, Prince Joshua Avitto Community Center. 876 Schenck Avenue, Brooklyn.

Also at 11 a.m., state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky presents Queensborough Community College President Diane Call with the New York State Woman of Distinction Award, Room 508, 222-05 56th Ave., Queens.

At 12:30 p.m., Hochul will make remarks at the Building Congress luncheon, Hilton Midtown, 1335 6th Avenue, New York City.

Also at 1 p.m., NYC Councilman Antonio Reynoso and The Protect Our Places Coalition call for the passage of Intro. 245 to protect nonprofit and charity organizations, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 3 p.m., Hochul will appear at the opening of Anchor Bar’s first New York City location. 327 W 57th Street, New York City.

At 7:30 p.m. Hochul will speak at the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, Hilton Midtown, 1335 6th Avenue, New York City.

Headlines:

The investigation into President Donald Trump’s campaign and the possible ties to Russian interference in the election began with the codename “Crossfire Hurricane.”

A financial disclosure filed by Trump shows he reimbursed attorney Michael Cohen for a $130,000 payment to pornographic actress Stormy Daniels.

The Republican-led Senate Intelligence Committee is supporting an assessment that Russia sought to promote Trump’s candidacy.

During a roundtable discussion on immigration, Trump blasted MS-13 gang members as “animals” though appeared to conflate them with other undocumented immigrants.

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani claims special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has told the president’s lawyers that they cannot indict him while he’s in office.

Lawmakers wrapped up two days of public interviews on Wednesday, but it’s not clear when they will select the next attorney general to replace the scandal-scarred Eric Schneiderman, who resigned last week.

Letitia James, the city’s public advocate, is campaigning to be New York state’s next attorney general.

James answered “Schenectady” when asked by a reporter about her favorite upstate city.

“Preet for New York Attorney General” is a political action committee filed with the Federal Election Committee last week, just days after Eric Schneiderman resigned as New York’s top law enforcement officer.

For now, however, it’s unclear if Bharara is jumping into the race, though the Reform Party, led by Curtis Sliwa, would be happy to have him run on their ballot line.

In summary, the resignation of Eric Schneiderman has led to an upheaval in New York politics and a new dynamic of long-bottled up ambitions for those who are seeking the AG’s post.

A video posted to Facebook on Tuesday showed a man ranting in a Midtown restaurant, threatening to call federal immigration agents on workers and complaining that they were speaking Spanish.

With six weeks to go before the Republican congressional primary on Staten Island, incumbent Dan Donovan is hitting the airwaves, trying to tie himself to the president.

The wheels could be turning once again for plans to build a giant observation wheel on Staten Island’s waterfront.

Education secretary Betsy DeVos is visiting an Orthodox school for boys in Far Rockaway Wednesday morning.

Democratic Rep. Brian Higgins and Republican Rep. Tom Reed put their political differences aside and partnered with a mental health foundation to create a public service announcement.

The Rochester City School District School Board has adopted a more than $950 million budget for next school year. That budget is nearly $200 million more than the current school year.

It’s still unclear who will fill three vacant school board seats in the Utica City School District. Due to complications with absentee ballots, candidates will have to wait until next week to find out the results.

It’s also unclear what, exactly, lawmakers will have to do to enact sports gambling in New York’s casinos, what action they plan to take and what work the Gaming Commission will do to lay down regulations.

Gannett has a good Q & A on the ins and outs of sports gambling in New York and what could come next.

While it’s still up in the air if sports gambling will be legalized in New York State, some are already looking at how this could impact collegiate sports.

The Attorney General’s office filed a lawsuit against the owners of Pet Zone. That lawsuit comes from acting AG Barbara Underwood against Pet Zone, with stores located in Crossgates Mall, Queensbury and Poughkeepsie. The company is owned by Theodore and Sheila Bell.

Clean-up is underway across the city of Newburgh after a severe weather outbreak and an EF-0 tornado came through the area.

The Ulster County deputy director of Emergency Management says the worst hit areas in Ulster County were Saugerties and the hamlet of Wallkill.

In New Jersey, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy is shifting the state to a bulwark against the Trump administration, a change from his Republican predecessor.

Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance’s office is bringing a wage theft alleging laborers who worked on a luxury high rise were cheated on pay.

Buffalo City Schools has officially dumped Kaleida Health as its nursing provider despite a last-ditch effort to keep its contract.

A prominent developer in Rochester is facing a $38 million foreclosure action on a student housing complex.

Defense attorneys for former Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano are attacking the credibility of the prosecution’s key witness in his corruption case.

Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas has been indicted by a grand jury on charges he misused campaign funds — a day after he claimed the acting attorney general had no authority in the case.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute is filing a lawsuit over Amazon’s Alexa technology.

Extras

President Donald Trump reported that he reimbursed personal attorney Michael Cohen for costs apparently incurred in paying adult film star Stormy Daniels for a non-disclosure agreement, according to a federally required annual financial disclosure form released by the Office of Government Ethics.

In a monumental decision that will resonate through election season, the U.S. Senate voted to reinstate the net neutrality protections the Federal Communications Commission decided to repeal last December.

The White House brushed aside threats by North Korea to cancel an upcoming summit meeting between the president and the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, saying it’s “hopeful” the meeting will happen — but Trump would be fine if it doesn’t.

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis announced the retirement of its top legal expert, as he apologised for payments made by the firm to Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

The U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, which has been conducting one of the investigations into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russians, released more than 2,000 pages of testimony and exhibits. (More here).

Heeding Cuomo’s reported request, NYC Public Advocate Letitia James won’t seek the ballot line of the liberal Working Families Party in her campaign for state attorney general, a spokeswoman confirmed.

“Being the first African-American woman elected statewide in New York could at least provide some measure of redemption for an office still reeling from the fallout of Eric Schneiderman’s abrupt departure.”

The leadership team at the AG’s office is now predominantly female.

Advocates are hopeful that increased awareness around domestic violence in the wake of last week’s stunning physical abuse allegations against Schneiderman will propel new legislation and resources.

Cleanup was under way following powerful storms that pounded the Northeast and resulted in the deaths of at least four people, including a child.

Cuomo’s emergency order for the New York City Housing Authority could be counterproductive to efforts to improve public housing, NYCHA’s general manager said.

Republican Bob Antonacci became the first candidate to secure a third-party ballot line in the race for the 50th Senate District seat left open by the retirement of Sen. John DeFrancisco.

At an event outside the Capitol with more than a dozen Democratic state legislators, LG Kathy Hochul highlighted accomplishments during her first term in office and laid out some priorities for the next four years.

Payroll data for 74,660 public authority employees, totaling $4.4 billion, have been added to SeeThroughNY, the Empire Center’s transparency website.

Richmond County District Attorney Michael McMahon is not on board with the push from Manhattan and Brooklyn to stop prosecuting marijuana smokers, sounding a note of caution and saying the issue should be left up to the state Legislature.

New York state has moved to recover more than $1.4 million that the state says is owed Feher Rubbish Removal workers for back wages, plus penalties and interest, according to court documents.

In his latest battle against the opioid epidemic in Ithaca, Mayor Svante Myrick penned a letter to Cuomo last week requesting approval from the State Department of Health of a supervised drug injection pilot program.

Actor Kiefer Sutherland was in Albany, days ahead of his concert at The Egg tomorrow night.

Lawmakers Conclude AG Interviews

Lawmakers wrapped up two days of public interviews on Wednesday, but it’s not clear when they will select the next attorney general to replace the scandal-scarred Eric Schneiderman, who resigned last week.

“I don’t think there’s necessarily any feeling that it needs to be done at any given time,” said Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle. “Obviously, people are taking it seriously and want to do the appropriate thing.”

Looming before lawmakers: The state party conventions, scheduled next week. For now, no vote for the legislative appointment has been scheduled.

“There hasn’t been yet, I can’t speak for the leaders,” said Sen. Pat Gallivan, a Republican from western New York. “My preference would be to get this over before each party holds their convention at the end of next week.”

It’s been an unusual week-and-half, even by the standards of Albany, with Schneiderman resigning amid domestic violence charges and a range of potential candidates emerging to replace him. Lawmakers spent roughly six hours over two days interviewing candidates seeking an appointment from the Legislature to the post.

“This is so rare that I think a little bit of it as, not making up the rules as you go along, but taking it one step at a time,” Gallivan said.

The leading candidate for the appointment is acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood, who would serve for the rest of the year and not run for a full term.

“I think that Barbara Underwood certainly as the solicitor general, everyone talked about how she would be the best candidate, many of the candidates themselves, and that would be a good continuation through the end of the year,” said Sen. Betty Little, a Republican from Queensbury.

The interviews came amid a broader jockeying over who will run for the job outright this fall, with Public Advocate Tish James of New York City announcing her campaign on Wednesday.

Vast Majority Of School Budgets Pass, But That It’s Actually A Dip

The vast majority of school district budgets were approved by voters in New York on Tuesday, but it’s actually a decline from last year.

Of the 653 school district budgets considered, only 16 were defeated by voters.

The New York State School Boards Association, however, found that’s a percentage decline from a 99.3 percent passage rate last year to a 97.6 percent rate.

“School boards and their leadership teams put together budgets that were fiscally restrained yet responsive to the needs of their communities,” said NYSSBA Executive Director Timothy G. Kremer. “For example, in response to community concerns about school safety, many school boards allocated funding for school resources officers. At the same time, a state aid increase and use of reserve funds helped the vast majority of school boards stay within the property tax cap. Budget increases were conservative but few layoffs or cuts have occurred.”

School districts statewide proposed an average tax levy increase of 2.14 percent, with 662 district budgeting within the legal limit for increasing the amount collected in taxes. Of those districts, 98.6 percent had budgets approved. The tax cap has been in place for the last seven years.

Still, 14 districts had proposed tax levies that sought to bypass cap, seeking a 60 percent majority to override the move. Of those districts, half had budgets approved.

WEP Seeks AG Candidates

As New York City Public Advocate Tish James declines to take the endorsement of the Working Families Party, the Women’s Equality Party is seeking candidates themselves.

Party Chairwoman Susan Zimet on Wednesday announced the ballot line was seeking candidates interested in its endorsement.

“The Women’s Equality Party of New York State is committed to fight against any attempts to roll back the progress that women have made in this Country and for true equality for all New Yorkers,” she wrote. “More than 54, 000 voters found a home in the last Gubernatorial election and chose to vote on the WEP line. We plan to increase that number as we fight back against the sexism and harassment women face on a daily basis.”

The WEP was formed in 2014 by allies of Gov. Andrew Cuomo. At the time, it was seen as a competitor to the Working Families Party, and some of the WFP’s supporters noted the similar initials in the WEP as potentially confusing the voters.

Zimet, the executive director of the Hunger Action Network, became chair of the party earlier this year.

Molinaro Chides Cancellation Of Israel Trip

Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro on Wednesday criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo for cancelling a planned trip to Israel this week amid violence in the region.

Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive, noted he was in Israel five months ago and Republican Senate candidate Chele Farley traveled there last week.

“Having been to Israel just 5 months ago, I can tell you it’s safe. Our U.S. Senate candidate Chele Farley was there last week, Ivanka Trump and scores of other dignitaries were there for the opening of the American Embassy in Jerusalem,” Molinaro said.

“Andrew Cuomo’s decision to put off his trip is nothing more than an obvious effort to appease the far left that is systematically eroding America’s relationship with Israel. As Governor, I will always stand with Israel and Andrew Cuomo should get on a plane and honor his promise.”

Cuomo has traveled to Israel several times as governor, in both election and non-election years.

James Won’t Take WFP Line In AG Race

New York City Public Advocate Tish James will not take the Working Families Party ballot line in her run for attorney general — spurning a party that contributed to her first electoral victory.

“Public Advocate James is focused on earning the Democratic nomination and bringing her capabilities, experience and passion to the Attorney General’s office,” said James spokeswoman Delaney Kempner.

The move potentially creates a multiple candidate field in the general election and it’s not inconceivable that a four-way race featuring individual Republican, Democratic, Working Families Party and independent candidates competing against each other.

The seat, generally considered a safe Democratic hold before the resignation of Eric Schneiderman amid domestic violence allegations, could potentially become a jump ball.

The Working Families Party in a statement blamed Gov. Andrew Cuomo for luring James away from seeking their support in the attorney general’s race.

“It is nothing short of outrageous to see Andrew Cuomo demand Tish James jump through hoops that he would never ask a white man to do. He is telling her to reject the party where she got her start, and refuse the WFP’s support, which could be critical in both the primary and general elections,” said WFP leaders Afua-Atta-Mensah, Karen Scharff, Javier Valdes, and Jonathan Westin. “Meanwhile, he is helping elect Republicans to Congress by running on the Independence Party line.”

They added: “This is part of a disgraceful pattern, just like when he kept white male Republican leadership in the State Senate instead of supporting Andrea Stewart Cousin’s leadership. In King Andrew’s New York, everyone else is a political pawn.”

Cuomo’s team denies having any involvement in urging James away from the ticket. But there are also a confluence of events that are leading to an estrangement between the WFP and Democratic elected officials in New York and a broader political split between labor and the activist groups that historically were the two backbones of the party.

Unions backing out of the party over the last several years, a development that was seen when the party backed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. Multiple labor groups left the WFP last month as it moved to endorse Cuomo’s rival for the Democratic nomination for governor, Cynthia Nixon.

Cuomo’s re-election bid has drawn the support of allies in the labor movement, while the public-sector unions that have criticized him have largely made peace in recent years.

At the same time, some Democratic upstate chairs became upset when the party did not back the sole upstate resident on the state ballot this year, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, in her re-election bid. The party has endorsed New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams instead.

NY-19: In Ad, Ryan Highlights Gun Control Push

Democratic congressional candidate Pat Ryan on Tuesday released his first TV ad of his campaign, highlighting his support for gun control.

The spot also highlights his background as a veteran and his technology company.

The Kingston native is competing for the Democratic nomination in the 19th congressional district in the Hudson Valley, vying to take on Republican incumbent John Faso, who is seeking a second term.