Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is hosting an off-the-record holiday party this evening for the City Hall press corps and senior staffers at Gracie Mansion.

At 10 a.m., Bodega Association of the US Inc. members and officials and community and government officials hold a news conference to discuss the release of a report about beer pricing, criticize mergers and pricing of franchised beer wholesalers and promote state legislation intended to benefit independent beer wholesalers; steps, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., the Assembly will hold the fifth in a series of six statewide public hearings to examine legislation that would establish New York Health, a universal “single payer” health coverage plan, Nassau County Legislative Chamber, Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building, 1550 Franklin Ave., Mineola.

At 10:30 a.m., the Assembly Ethics Committee meets, Room 714, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

At 11 a.m., the Assembly will hold a public hearing to examine the impact of the SFY 2014-2015 State Budget on counties, cities, towns and villages, Roosevelt Hearing Room C, 2nd Floor, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., Councilmen Paul Vallone and Daniel Garodnick will host a press conference announcing legislation to regulate the private use of drones in New York City, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer has a press conference at the Farragut Houses, 192 Sands St., Brooklyn.

Also at 11 a.m., Sen. Liz Krueger and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes hold public forum on Marijuana Regulation and Taxation Act, 19th floor, 250 Broadway, Manhattan.

At 11:15 a.m., Cuomo holds a cabinet meeting, Red Room, state Capitol, Albany.

At 11:30 a.m., Sen. David Carlucci will host a press conference to make families aware of the dangers that are associated with artificial Christmas trees, Curti Landscaping Christmas Tree Stand, Rockland Shopping Center, 17 North Middletown Rd., Nanuet.

At 12:50 p.m., de Blasio visits Rikers Island, Robert N. Davoren Complex, 11-11 Hazen St., East Elmhurst. A press conference will follow.

At 2 p.m., the Gaming Facility Location Board meets to announce the winners of up to four casino licenses in three upstate regions, Empire State Plaza, Meeting Room 6, Albany.

Also at 2 p.m., nursing home workers represented by SEIU Local 1199 participate in an informational picketing at a Bronx nursing home, as part of similar demonstrations planned at more than 40 nursing homes NYC and on Long Island; Daughters of Jacob Nursing Home, 1160 Teller Ave., the Bronx.

At 2:30 p.m., the Wage Board appointed by state Labor Commissioner Peter Rivera meets, Room 544, Building 12, Harriman State Office Campus, Albany.

At 4 p.m., Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, state GOP Chair Ed Cox, state Sens. Ruben Diaz and Dean Skelos, Marine Toys for Tots Foundation representatives and other New York Hispanic Clergy Organization members distribute free donated toys to up to 1,000 children ages 1 to 9; auditorium, I.S. 216 Rafael Hernandez Middle School, 977 Fox St., the Bronx.

At 8 p.m., Brooklyn BP Eric Adams and Consul General of Pakistan Raja Ejaz will hold a candlelight vigil with members of the Pakistani community after the school massacre in Peshawar that killed 141 people, 132 of them children, 1090 Coney Island Ave., Brooklyn. (Stringer will also attend).

Headlines…

The real “Alpha House” is coming to an end, as Rep. George Miller of California prepares to retire and sell the D.C. home is has long shared with US Sen. Chuck Schumer and Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin.

With little fanfare to mark a rare bipartisan achievement, President Obama signed a massive, $1.1 trillion spending bill that keeps the government operating over the next nine months.

Kristin Proud, the commissioner of the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, is the latest high-ranking Cuomo administration official set to depart at the end of the month.

Assembly Democrats challenged Cuomo’s assertion that New York lawmakers had shown little interest in ethics reform, saying they were prepared to back substantial changes to the way business is done in Albany.

Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos accused Cuomo of being insincere in negotiations over a legislative pay raise.

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer is seeking to settle a $75 million damage claim filed against the city in the chokehold death of Eric Garner — a move that could give Stringer a high-profile role in the case at the expense of Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The NYPD announced a $12,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of seven suspects, in connection with a clash between protesters and police on the Brooklyn Bridge on Saturday.

De Blasio will meet at City Hall on Friday with members of Justice League NYC, one of the groups that has staged the protests.

The mayor said police union leaders, who are among his loudest critics, do not speak for all members of the New York Police Department.

A staffer of Rep. Michael Grimm called de Blasio an “asshole” on Facebook. The comment has been deleted, and the congressman – according to his spokesman – neither agrees with nor condones the sentiment. Disciplinary action will be taken.

The divide between Buffalo police and the black community was on display last night as residents repeatedly asked why more isn’t being done to weed out bad cops, and police brass repeatedly told the group they don’t tolerate officers who abuse their authority.

Nine out of 10 New York City teachers received one of the top two rankings in the first year of a new evaluation system that was hailed as a better way of assessing how they perform, according to figures released by the state Education Department.

Overall, more than 95 percent of the state’s teachers were rated “effective” or “highly effective” in evaluations for the previous school year. That’s despite dismal test scores statewide.

“It’s crazy that the majority of teachers across the state were rated highly when the majority of students aren’t being taught to read and do math at grade level,” said Jenny Sedlis, executive director of the pro-charter schools organization StudentsFirstNY.

Even as the governor says a long-awaited study on fracking is nearing completion, a large group of local officials want the ban to continue.

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Skelos Questions Whether Negotiations On Pay Hike Serious

Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos in a statement this evening doubted the seriousness of the negotiations over a special session that could see a legislative pay hike and re-affirmed his opposition to public financing.

“It’s clear that not all of the parties are serious about negotiating. Anyone who is proposing taxpayer financed campaigns, that would cost taxpayers over $200 million, is clearly not listening to New Yorkers who soundly defeated that scheme during the recent election by choosing Republicans to lead the Senate. The Senate will not be acting on the taxpayer funded election plan supported by New York City Mayor de Blasio and the radical and corrupt Working Families Party.”

The Skelos statement came after Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in his own statement insisted the Democratic conference wasn’t a roadblock to legislative ethics reform as lawmakers, especially in that chamber, seek their first pay hike since 1998.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he would not back a pay increase without the Legislature taking up a package of long-sought ethics and campaign-finance reforms, including public financing.

Cuomo has come under pressure from good-government and public financing advocates in recent months after the most recent state budget was approved with a limited public financing program for the state comptroller’s race.

Cuomo insisted this week in a radio interview on The Capitol Pressroom that even with a legislative pay increase dangled in front of the Legislature, lawmakers as a whole aren’t willing to adopt stringent reforms.

Extras

Jeb Bush announced that he will “actively explore the possibility of running for president of the United States.” He”ll establish a leadership PAC next month.

As protests and emotions continue to roil over the death of Eric Garner, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer is seeking to negotiate a settlement of a $75 million civil rights claim brought by Garner’s family.

About a dozen members of the Justice League NYC, who have been protesting following the Garner grand jury decision, are scheduled to meet with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio tomorrow.

Even the prosecutors who presented evidence to the Garner grand jury were reportedly stunned and disappointed when the panel didn’t indict NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo.

Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams said he was appalled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s failure to chastise PBA President Pat Lynch for actions that helped inflame post-Garner tensions between the police and City Hall.

De Blasio appeared on “The View” with his wife, Chirlane McCray, to discuss ongoing protests and tensions surrounding race and policing in the city, and also to defend his own conversations about the issue with his son, Dante.

Better than 9 of 10 teachers in New York received one of the two highest ratings in their annual evaluations last school year, according to new data released by SED.

New York taxpayers are on track to spend over $1 million to help state lawmakers keep details of their outside jobs secret.

AG Eric Schneiderman has sued another Papa John’s pizza franchise for routinely cheating hundreds of employees at six of its city shops out of wages.

A fracking decision is imminent, but a group of local elected officials is calling on Cuomo to extend the state’s moratorium on drilling while more studies are conducted.

The circumstances surrounding several Southern Tier town boards and their position on fracking for natural gas make the case for stronger statewide ethics laws, NYPIRG says.

Work on the Tappan Zee bridge was halted earlier today after silos that are part of the project’s floating concrete plants collapsed.

…This appears to be the first major construction incident on the project since it began nearly two years ago.

The CBC issued guidelines for “wisely” using the state’s $5 billion financial settlement windfall.

To show their appreciation to the Detroit Lions for offering up their stadium during last month’s snowstorm, the Bills shipped off some of Buffalo’s most prized hometown food items – La Nova pizza and wings – to the Motor City team.

Here’s the list of agencies and job titles that would be affected by the governor’s effort to reclassify about 1,000 PEF positions to non-union “managerial/confidential” status.

Sen. Jeff Klein is throwing a Hanukkah BINGO party.

A Utica Fire Station has attracted the ire of a national church-and-state separation group for its holiday sign reading “Happy Birthday Jesus We Love You.”

HIllary Clinton for US Supreme Court justice?

A new poll found 48 percent of Democrats and Democrat-leaning voters think Clinton should have a primary opponent if she runs in 2016.

Gregg Birnbaum, formerly of POLITICO (and before that, the NY Post), will replace Joel Siegel (who’s moving to NY1) as managing editor of politics at the Daily News.

Silver: Assembly Dems Not A Roadblock To Reform

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver in a statement Tuesday afternoon insisted that his chamber is not a roadblock to campaign-finance law changes such as closing the LLC loophole and creating a system of publicly financed campaigns as Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he won’t consider backing a pay raise without passage of those measures.

“As I have often said, I believe members of the Legislature work hard and deserve a pay raise,” Silver said in the statement. “It has been reported that a roadblock to a potential deal for a pay raise has been the Legislature’s unwillingness to pass public campaign finance reform and close the LLC loophole. It should be noted that the Assembly Majority, in fact, supports both measures and has passed a bill to accomplish this several times, including this past session. We stand ready to do so once again.”

Silver’s statement follows public pronouncements from both the mainline Democratic conference and the Republican conference in the state Senate who signaled support for reform measures, ostensibly to extract a pay increase from Cuomo.

State lawmakers currently earn $79,500 as base salary.

Silver’s statement doesn’t make mention of support for curtailing outside income, which Cuomo has also indicated is a stipulation to for considering a pay hike.

Support for a pay increase — the first lawmakers would receive since 1998 — is considered especially strong in the Democratic-led Assembly, where lawmakers, especially those from downstate, have been pushing leadership hard to get Cuomo to back a salary hike measure.

DiNapoli Approves More Moreland, Sexual Harassment-Related Contracts

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office on Tuesday announced it had approved hundreds of thousands of dollars in spending related to legal services for the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption as well as funds for the state Assembly to defend itself in sexual harassment lawsuits.

The comptroller’s office announced $150,000 had been approved for legal services for the firm Kirkland & Ellis to represent the state Senate in the Moreland Commission-related inquiries.

A $150,000 contract with Loeb & Loeb was also approved for the Independent Democratic Conference in proceedings related to the now shuttered anti-corruption panel.

Meanwhile, in the state Assembly, a $397,000 contract with Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman LLP was approved for outside legal services as well as a $177,000 contract for defense work in sexual harassment litigation with the firm Hogan Lovells.

A $59,000 contract with Rossein Associates was approved with the state Assembly in order to develop sexual harassment policy and to conduct investigations.

And a $15,000 contract with Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP was approved for outside counsel for the Assembly to work on the appeals process for Assemblyman Micah Kellner, who is fighting sanctions issued by Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s office.

Cox: Pataki Serious About 2016

New York Republican Committee Chairman Ed Cox believes former Gov. George Pataki is serious when he says he’s considering a White House run, though stopped short of saying whether the state party would back his candidacy as a “favorite son.”

“He’s very serious about exploring,” Cox said Tuesday evening following a day-long meeting of county chairs. “He’s been out there to New Hampshire several times, down to South Carolina. He’s seriously exploring. In all these areas I worked with him he had an extraordinary, extraordinary record. He was a very good governor of New York and he will be a very good candidate for president.”

Pataki addressed the county chairmen for the first time since he was a sitting governor on Tuesday, a move that comes as chatter grows he’s considering launching a bid for the presidency.

Nevertheless, Cox wouldn’t say if the state party would back Pataki’s bid, which would likely be a steep climb for a candidate who hasn’t run for office since 2002 and left the governor’s office in 2006.

“That’s going to be up to a lot of people in the room there,” Cox said. “That’s not mine to say. They’re going to be taking a look at that great record.”

Pataki would almost certainly face skepticism from a conservative Republican base over his credentials as a moderate former governor of a Democratic northeast state (then again, so did 2012 nominee Mitt Romney).

Still, Cox said Pataki’s speech to Republican committee members was well received.

“He gave a great speech to them and there was a lot of enthusiasm for him in that room,” Cox said.

Pataki was criticized when he left office for not building a party structure, essentially leaving a power vacuum that some in the party say adversely impact its ability to win subsequent statewide races.

Meanwhile on Wednesday, a another Republican former governor signaled his plans to join the 2016 fray: former Florida

Senate Dems: Ready To Pass Ethics Legislation

The Democratic conference in the state Senate backs a passing new ethics and campaign-finance law changes “immediately,” Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said in a statement released Tuesday.

The call comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he would not consider backing a legislative pay increase for state lawmakers if they fail to approve long-sought changes to the state’s campaign-finance laws, including the creation of the public funding of political campaigns and the closing of the so-called LLC loophole.

Cuomo also wants to see lawmakers approve restrictions on outside income.

The governor in an interview on Monday said that even with the carrot of a pay increase dangling in front of lawmakers, the Legislature is balking at the reforms he’s pushing.

“The Senate Democratic Conference has consistently called for common sense ethics and campaign reforms and we agree with Governor Cuomo in his call for passing these initiatives immediately,” Stewart-Cousins said in the statement. “As with all progressive legislation, including the NY-SAFE Act, the Compassionate Care Act, and Marriage Equality, the Senate Democratic Conference stands ready to provide the necessary support to ensure passage. Ethics and campaign finance reforms should not be a partisan issue. We will continue our fight to clean up Albany and pass strong ethics reforms and we look forwarding to working with any state leader who will join us in these efforts.”

Senate Republicans, poised to take the full majority at the end of this month in the chamber, released a statement last week indicating they would support additional reform measures, but did not provide much detail.

Talks over the weekend on a special session stalled, though state lawmakers have not ruled out coming back to Albany in a post-Christmas special session.

NFIB Agenda: Make Tax Cap Permanent, Expand Design Build

The New York chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business on Tuesday released its 2015 agenda that calls for a permanent cap on local property tax increases, reform to the state’s Scaffold Law and an expansion of the single-source contract method known as design-build.

“The election is over and now the real work must begin,” said NFIB New York State Director Mike Durant. “Small business cannot be a theme in October but an afterthought in January. Main Street needs Albany to work on their behalf once again and this agenda identifies a myriad of issues that have long served as a barrier for Main Street in New York”. ”

At the same time, the group next year will push for braod tax relief aimed at small-scale employers who the group says were left out of tax reforms approved in the last year.

“Smart tax policy is broad in impact and unfortunately that did not happen last year,” said Durant. “The majority of small businesses are not going to feel the positive impact on that tax reform package and Albany can correct that mistake in 2015.”

NFIB, like other business groups in Albany, is opposed to renewed efforts to hike the state’s minimum wage as well as increased tolls on the Thruway system.

The group also backs using the roughly $5 billion windfall surplus for infrastructure projects (as have numerous construction, trades and business groups, along with officials like Comptroller Tom DiNapoli).

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has indicated support for using the money on public works projects, but also targeted education spending and paying down state debt.

“New York has major infrastructure needs, from roads and bridges to water and sewer needs, and this large amount of non-recurring revenue should be invested in these projects,” Durant said. “Sound investment in infrastructure will create jobs and reduce the costs of being a New Yorker and help modernize deficient delivery systems across the board.”

2015 LegislativeAgenda 12 4 14 by Nick Reisman

Astorino Piles On de Blasio

From the Morning Memo:

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino last night accused NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio of making an already bad situation “worse” with his “rhetoric” in an ongoing war of words with the NYC police unions following the Eric Garner grand jury decision.

“What is not helpful is to have certain people in the community – including, by the way, Mayor de Blasio, who I think is making it worse in New York City right now with his rhetoric and turning his back in many ways on law enforcement – to inflame the situation rather than bringing some common sense,” Astorino said during a CapTon interview last night.

“I think adults need to be in the room right now,” the county executive continued. “…Everyone needs a little time out here.”

The county executive also said he did not agree with PBA President Pat Lynch’s call for NYPD officers to fill out a form asking de Blasio and NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito not to attend their funerals should they be killed in the line of duty.

“I think that was a little over the top,” Astorino said. “But, you know, I understand why they feel that way, you look at what they’re going through as well.”

The county executive predicted more attacks on law enforcement and even “race riots” with New York City officials can’t get a handle on the situation.

It’s not surprising that Astorino, a conservative Republican who failed in his attempt to unseat Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo last month, would criticize de Blasio. The mayor is not only a Democrat, but also a liberal poster boy leading a national push for progressive policies.

De Blasio played a key role in the Senate Republicans’ successful campaign to re-take the majority this fall, raising campaign cash for the Democrats and providing fodder for the GOP’s exploitation of the upstate-downstate divide.

And this isn’t the first time Astorino had something negative to say about the mayor. Back in October, just as the governor’s race was heating up, Astorino told The New York Observer that he believed de Blasio only measures success by “how many people on welfare.”

For the record, Cuomo tried to play peacemaker between de Blasio and Lynch yesterday.

He insisted the mayor’s comments about warning his son, Dante, about how to deal with the police were not “racist”, and also called Lynch a “friend” and fellow “Queens boy” who is just “standing up for the police, which is his job.”

“I believe at the next funeral – and I hope there is not a next funeral – I am sure at the next funeral…you’ll see the mayor of New York, you’ll see me and you’ll see Pat Lynch because we need to work together,” Cuomo said during an interview with Susan Arbetter on “The Capitol Pressroom”.

As for Astorino, don’t expect him to go quietly into the night following his loss to Cuomo.

The county executive, who gave a broad hint during his election night concession speech that he’s thinking of running for governor again in 2018, reiterated yesterday that he’s indeed “leaving the door open” to another run.

Astorino, who was re-elected to a second term to his county executive post in 2013, said he hasn’t yet decided whether he’ll seek a third term in 2017.

The county executive referred to himself several times during the 10-minute+ interview as a candidate, and then promptly corrected himself.

He also insisted that Republicans can “make inroads” in New York City, enabling them to win statewide, if they have sufficient time and resources to do so.

Here and Now (Updated)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule.

Chanukah starts at sundown tonight.

From 8:45 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., the Board of Regents meets in Albany.

At 9 a.m., the New York Power Authority Governance Committee holds a meeting followed by a meeting of the NYPA Board of Trustees, 123 Main St., 16th Floor, White Plains.

At 9:30 a.m., Assembly Health Committee Chair Dick Gottfried holds a press conference and then a public hearing on legislation that would establish a Medicare-style single-payer health care system in the state, Grand Hall, fifth floor, Global Center for Academic and Spiritual Life, 238 Thompson St., Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., Sen. David Carlucci’s Senior Advisory Committee will be meeting to discuss legislation they will be supporting in this upcoming legislative session, Nanuet Public Library, 149 Church St., Nanuet.

At 11 a.m., the Assembly holds a hearing on prevention and treatment of alcohol and drug abuse, 250 Broadway, Manhattan.

At approximately 11:10 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray appear live on “The View” on ABC.

At 11:30 a.m., “Move NY” campaign and civic foundation TransitCenter representatives discuss a poll on the MTA’s system and the campaign’s “Fair Plan” proposals to expand bus, commuter railroad and subway service, fund renovation projects and modify bridge tolls, parking taxes and taxi surcharges; New York Building Congress, 44 W. 28th St., Manhattan.

At noon, NYPIRG releases a report with fracking recommendations, outside the state Senate Chamber, Capitol, Albany.

Also at noon, the Alliance for a Greater New York joins with labor leaders and environmental justice advocates for a forum on climate change, jobs and inequality, 32BJ, 5th Floor Auditorium, 25 W. 18th St., Manhattan.

At 2:20 p.m., de Blasio and FDNY Commissioner Nigro will announce preliminary FDNY statistics for 2014 and discuss preparations for the celebration of FDNY’s 150th Anniversary, which will be marked in 2015, quarters of Rescue Company 1, 530 West 43rd St., Manhattan.

At 4 p.m., Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. and NYS Republican Committee Chair Ed Cox celebrate Christmas with a toy giveaway, I.S. 216 Rafael Hernandez School, 977 Fox St., the Bronx. UPDATE: This event is taking place TOMORROW. Sorry for the confusion.

At 5 p.m., the NYC Voter Assistance Advisory Committee members hold a public hearing and reception; Dweck Center, Brooklyn Public Library, use entrance along the Eastern Parkway, 10 Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn.

At 5:30 p.m., to coincide with the start of the eight-day Jewish observance of Hanukkah, Masbia Soup Kitchen Network chef Ruben Diaz and NYC Public Advocate Tish James fry traditional latke potato pancakes during a party and reception; 1372 Coney Island Ave., Brooklyn.

At 6 p.m., Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, religious leaders and police officials will get together for a public forum on police-community relations, Mt. Olive Baptist Church, 701 East Delavan Ave., Buffalo.

At 6:15 p.m., de Blasio will light the menorah for the first night of Hanukkah in Grand Army Plaza, the Bronx.

At 7 p.m., Manhattan BP Gale Brewer and NYC Council members Ben Kallos, Mark Levine, Helen Rosenthal and Dan Garodnick attend the Manhattan Young Democrats holiday party, Sweetwater Social, 643 Broadway, Manhattan.

At 7:50 p.m., de Blasio speaks at the Robert F. Kennedy Center Ripple of Hope Awards Dinner, Grand Ballroom, New York Hilton, 1335 Ave. of the Americas, Manhattan.

Headlines…

Three major decisions are expected before the end of this year: The location of up to four upstate casinos, whether there will be a Thruway toll hike and a potential green light for fracking in the Marcellus Shale.

“(W)e’ll start the new year with some major decisions under our belt, so to speak,” said Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

In a move that has sent shock waves through the state’s unionized workforce, the Cuomo administration sent notices to about 1,000 members of the Public Employees Federation telling them the state is seeking to reclassify the recipients as non-union workers.

The NYPD is now looking for six more people in connection with the assault of two police lieutenants over the weekend. NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio urged protestors with information to come forward.

The protests against police brutality continued outside Gracie Mansion last night, where de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray were holding a holiday party for elected officials, advocates and labor leaders.

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton sided with de Blasio in the mayor’s ongoing war of words with the NYPD unions over the Garner case fallout.

Patrick Lynch, the head of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, refused to heed Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s call for all sides to ratchet down the rhetoric, and continued to rip the mayor for calling his actions “divisive.”

Cuomo praised Lynch, (a fellow “Queens boy”), calling him a “fine leader” who is “standing up for police, which is his job.”

A NYC Council proposal to criminalize the use of chokeholds has 27 sponsors, likely securing passage of the bill when it is put up for a full vote.

Sen. Jeff Klein, head of the Independent Democratic Conference, says he’s likely to announce an agreement with Republican Senate leader Dean Skelos by the end of the week. “We will once again have a power over legislation, the budget and everything else,” he insisted.

The state Board of Elections speedily approved a resolution conferring “special investigator” status on Chief Enforcement Counsel Risa Sugarman and three former law enforcement officers who have been hired to handle campaign finance probes.

It appears that more than 100 Buffalo Public Schools teachers and principals received ratings of “effective” or “highly effective” when in fact, according to state measures, they weren’t effective at all.

New after-the-fact permits filed for the completed fence around Gracie Mansion put the estimated cost of the project at $30,000 — more than seven times the figure put out earlier by City Hall.

NYC authorities were watching the Sydney hostage situation with “deep concern” and were beefing up security at city sites related to the Australian government “and other pertinent locations.”

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