Nov 20th - 5:08 pm
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.
The Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame is moving from Amsterdam in the Mohawk Valley to Wichita Falls, Texas early next year.
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.
Nov 20th - 3:11 pm
Whether daily fantasy sports is ultimately allowed in New York could hinge in part on whether it is deemed to be “unlawful” gambling, DraftKings attorney David Boies said in a conference call with reporters.
In the call, Boies, a prominent lawyer who has represent Al Gore and major sports institutions, compared the activity of picking athletes to assemble on an ad-hoc roster to legally allowed skill games such as mahjong and video games.
“It’s a question of whether it’s unlawful gambling,” he said.
Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is seeking to block websites that provide daily fantasy sports such as DraftKings and competitor FanDuel, along with Yahoo, arguing these are predominantly games of chance, which are outlawed by the state Constitution’s gambling provision (exceptions through amendments have allowed for commercial casino gambling and pari-mutual horse racing).
Several state lawmakers have submitted legislation that would classify fantasy sports as a game of skill, while others have suggested more complex regulatory schemes will be needed.
FanDuel has limited access to New York users amid the legal dispute, while DraftKings continues to operate.
Boies told reporters in the call his client had no plans to close its operations before a court determination is made.
“All we are doing is continuing teh status quo, we’re not making any changes, until the legal process plays itself out,” he said. “From DraftKings standpoint, DraftkIngs has believed this is the right decision for the company, its employees, its investors and its customers.”
Nov 20th - 1:38 pm
Earlier this month, Lobbyist Brian Meara testified for the government in the federal corruption trial of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Meara has known Silver for more than 40 years. He was compelled to testify by trial subpoena. At one point Meara was asked if he remembered the 1997 fight over the rent laws. Meara claimed he did not. Tenant Advocate Michael McKee ( who was right in the middle of that fight ) calls Meara’s assertion “absurd.”
Let’s go back in time.
1997 was the year a newly minted Joe Bruno as Majority Leader declared that the rent protection laws should be permitted to sunset. It was a very contentious session. And on Sunday, June 15th at midnight, the laws expired. Two hours later Sheldon Silver and Governor George Pataki issued a joint press release saying they had reached an agreement in principle. This being Albany of course ( some things never change ), the bill language had yet to be finalized which led to days of advocates on both sides of the issue shuttling between Silver’s outer office off the floor and the Senate lobby where the real estate lobbyists hung out.
The way McKee describes it, that was the year “Silver gave away the store,” and essentially “gutted the system.” In exchange for a 6-year extension, Silver agreed to a number of provisions that greatly weakened the rent laws and tenant rights. That included requiring tenants to pay rent into an escrow account during disputes with landlords, making it easier for tenants to get evicted and perhaps most significantly enshrining into State law vacancy deregulation. That was what one Democrat once described as the “original sin.” While it’s true vacancy decontrol actually began in 1993 ( before Silver was Speaker ), 1997 made it a permanent state of mind. Rent protections would eventually be phased out, it was just a matter of how quickly. Even when Democrats took control of the Senate in 2009, that was not something they rolled back.
Meara was lobbying at the time for the Rent Stabilization Association, which wanted the laws weakened. And according to McKee, he counted Meara walk between Silver’s office and the Senate lobby 17 times to make sure Silver’s proposal would be palatable to the real estate industry. In the end, the deal was cut. The advocates were never shown bill language before the bill went to print. “Silver,” McKee says, “sold us out.”
Supporters of the former Speaker remember it differently. For starters, you had a Republican Governor and a Republican Senate. So, “all hopes were pinned on Shelly.” At the end of the day, he had to cut a deal, despite the loud kicking and screaming from pro-tenant advocates who were “not living in reality.”
I’m not generally someone who likes to poke at old wounds. But some of these older battles may need to be revisited as Silver’s fate goes to the jury. If that jury fails to come back with a conviction ( which I think is possible ), one Albany insider explained that the government is going to try to get him again. That means more pressure on the same witnesses to recall things a little bit more clearly so they can be put back on the stand for a second trial.
It really could go either way for Silver, but what this trial seems to have demonstrated, regardless of Silver’s guilt or innocence, is that he had longstanding relationships with developers. He back channeled with those interests over critical pieces of legislation like the rent protections and 421-a while claiming publicly to be 100% pro-tenant. He also collected referral fees for bringing Glenwood Management’s business to a downtown law firm, Goldberg and Iryami. Silver doesn’t even deny this fact, which is at the heart of the government’s case that Silver engaged in illegal kickback schemes for personal gain. The trial may determine guilt, or it may not. But what it has succeeded in doing is showing where Silver was compromised, making it very tough for him to ever go back and try to be part of leadership in the Assembly. And it might even portend the end of his time as an elected official.
Nov 20th - 1:05 pm
Gillibrand, speaking with reporters in Syracuse, acknowledged there is a security concern and the need for “balance” in background checks for refugees.
But overall, Gillibrand said the U.S. should welcome refugees.
“What the Obama administration has done and what is the right approach is of course we are going to welcome refugee families,” she said. “That’s what the Statue of Liberty stands for, that’s what our nation stands for. It doesn’t mean we can’t vet all of these immigrant families to make sure there aren’t any terrorists among them.”
While the state’s senior U.S. senator, Chuck Schumer, has suggested there may need to be a “pause” in Syrian refugee program, Gillibrand said there was a “significant vetting process” for immigrants seeking asylum status.
“Those governors who are turning a blind eye — I understand they’re worried, I understand they’re frightened,” she said. “That’s understandable. But we’ve done this right in the past and we can do it right again.”
Her comments come the same day Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his strongest remarks yet on the issue told supporters in an email the “doors are open” to refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria.
“We want to make sure we are a welcoming nation. Mayor Miner is correct, Gov. Cuomo is correct,” she said, referring to Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, who said she continues to welcome refugees to the city in the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks.
Meanwhile, Gillibrand said similar concerns should be raised over domestic terrorist cells that are influence by messages made on social media and the Internet by ISIS abroad.
Several of the Paris attackers have been identified as French and Belgian citizens.
“Many of them are homegrown terrorists,” she said. “We have to be equally concerned about homegrown terrorism because that’s what we’ve seen.”
Nov 20th - 10:31 am
In his strongest statement yet of support for Syrian refugees, Gov. Andrew Cuomo in an email sent Friday morning to supporters wrote “the doors are open” to New York.
Cuomo on Tuesday at the Kennedy School at Harvard chided governors across the country who had said they oppose the settlement of Syrian refugees in their states, saying they have “politicized” the issue given they have no control over federal immigration policy.
At the same time, Cuomo has said he believes the federal government is up to the task of screening refugees following the terrorist attacks in Paris last week.
“The next time the Republican candidates take to a podium, they’re going to try and confuse the issue, talk about how immigrants are the problem, to use this as a justification to make us afraid of them, and to further divide us,” Cuomo wrote in the email. “That’s not how we think in New York. Here in New York, we aren’t afraid of our immigrants, we celebrate them. As I’ve said many times before, in New York our diversity is our strength.”
He added “The Statue of Liberty is still in the harbor, and the doors are open.”
New York already has about 40 or so Syrian immigrants given refugee status who are residing in the state.
The email from Cuomo comes a day after the Republican-led House of Representatives voted to suspend the Syrian refugee program and strengthen background checks for immigrants.
In the note, Cuomo acknowledged the security concerns.
“Having said that, this is a complex issue,” he said. “We have to protect Americans. The Federal Government has to screen the people who are coming in. They have to do it right, do it exhaustively, but do so without giving up our soul as Americans.”
Nov 20th - 7:43 am
Praising Hillary Clinton’s record on gun control, Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a gala event for the Brady Campaign on Thursday night invoked his late father and took a veiled swipe at her Democratic rival for the nomination in the presidential race, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Cuomo spoke before an audience that included Clinton, the former New York senator and secretary of state, as well as U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer, sister Maria Cuomo Cole and her husband, the father designer Kenneth Cole, as well as actor Paul Rudd.
Cuomo, in his remarks, expanded on his push to make the gun control issue an litmus test in next year’s election as he pushes for federal legislation to stem the flow of illegal weapons into the state.
“The gun issue is the best proxy of our time to judge the essence of a political official,” Cuomo said.
Praising Clinton’s record on gun control, he knocked her rivals without naming them specifically. Sanders has defended his gun control votes, pointing to the large number of gun owners in his state.
“We don’t have the political will because our government is intimidated by the political backlash,” Cuomo said. “When Hillary Clinton’s opponents say they don’t support gun control because they have rural communities in their state, they’re saying they’re afraid of the opposition.”
At the same time, Cuomo invoked his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, who died nearly a year ago, and the praise he had for the passage of the January 2013 law known as the SAFE Act.
Cuomo called the law a “groundbreaking piece of legislation.”
“It’s a piece of legislation I believe has already saved lives and served as a model for other states as to what could be done,” he said. “My father was very pleased when we passed the SAFE Act. We talked about the issue for many, many years. When we finally got it passed, he was happy.”
His father, in part, praised the measure because of the political hit his son took in having to marshal its passage through the Legislature (Cuomo has often cited his poll numbers dropping, especially upstate, following the passage of the law, which angered gun owners).
“In many ways my father loved the difficulties, because in many ways that was the true test of the political official,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo defended the passage of the SAFE Act moving so quickly through the Legislature, which he had negotiated and introduced soon after the mass shooting at an elementary school in Connecticut the month before.
“They really wanted time to organize their opposition,” Cuomo said of the NRA. “They were upset we passed it so fast. It’s funny, because I think this state and nation have been so slow in passing gun control and so many people have died unnecessarily.”
Cuomo refocused on the gun control issue earlier this year after the shooting death of an attorney in his administration, Carey Gaby, as well as the shooting at an Oregon community college.
“This is a man-made crisis that costs 33,000 lives per year,” he said. “It’s something we can solve. The answer is going to be federal legislation and that is the only way we’re actually going to make a difference.”
Nov 20th - 7:41 am
From the Morning Memo:
Concerned over the fallout from the demise of the nation’s largest health insurance co-op, Health Republic, the Senate Republicans will hold a “forum, roundtable or hearing” early next year to determine if legislative action is necessary to help clean up the mess.
“I think it’s certainly something that we need to look at,” said Senate Insurance Committee Chairman Jim Seward during a CapTon interview last night.
Seward stopped short of saying the exact purpose of this hearing would be to determine who’s at fault for Health Republic’s failure, even as some of his GOP colleagues – particularly Rep. Chris Gibson – have suggested the Financial Services Department bears the brunt of the responsibility, and should be the subject of an outside investigation.
The senator did say, however, that he has “issues” with DFS, adding: “It’s their responsibility to make sure that these health plans are financially solvent, and then all of a sudden we find out that Health Republic, there’s no money there.”
“So, I think that’s certainly something we need to look at, in terms of what is the process at the Department of Financial Services to make sure that these health plans are solvent and these claims can be paid,” Seward said. More >
Nov 20th - 7:33 am
Despite the dirty laundry that is airing in the corruption trials of both ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Majority Leader Dean Skelos, state lawmakers are still not expected to approve any tightening of state ethics laws.
“They’ve had time; they’ve had all of the incentive given all of these trials, given all the people who have gone to prison. What they what they don’t have it would appear is a fear from the public that they’re going to get unelected because of any of this that goes on,” said League Of Women Voters Legislative Director Barbara Bartoletti.
Lawmakers did approve new measures designed to have lawmakers disclose more information on their outside business interests earlier in the year. But good-government advocates argue the trials of Skelos and Silver — which have highlighted Albany’s self-dealing and lawmakers use of power to enrich themselves and family — is a sign that more needs to be done.
“You need to change things in Albany,” Bartoletti said. “Everybody says they’re going to be reformers. Everybody says that. Somehow the rhetoric really outpaces what the actual actions are.”
Lawmakers; however, say the cause of corruption is more specific than a lack of strong ethics laws. Namely, it’s the lack of a pay raise in more than 15 years. More >
Nov 20th - 5:11 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.
At 7:30 a.m., Reps. Chris Gibson and Sean Patrick Maloney deliver remarks and meet with constituents at the Dutchess County Regional Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast, Mid-Hudson Regional Hospital, Poughkeepsie.
At 9 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will appear live on WOR 710 AM to discuss security and the Paris terror attacks.
At 9:30 a.m., CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, Murphy Institute and University Student Senate host “Labor 101,″ a presentation on union structures and history, followed by a discussion with NY1’s Errol Louis, the Times’ Sarah Maslin Nir, Columbia’s Ari Paul, and CUNY’s Shomial Ahmad, Room 308, CUNY Graduate School of Journalism, Manhattan.
At 10 a.m., Rep. Gregory Meeks and NYC Councilman Donovan Richards join city and state agencies and The Bluestone Organization to mark the start of construction on Beach Green North, an energy-efficient, resilient, affordable housing development, 44-19 Rockaway Beach Blvd., Queens.
Also at 10 a.m., de Blasio, former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Parks Commissioner Mitchel Silver, FAICP and actress Bette Midler to celebrate the planting of the one millionth tree of the MillionTreesNYC initiative two years ahead of schedule, Joyce Kilmer Park, East 163rd Street & Grand Concourse, the Bronx.
Also at 10 a.m., staff from the state Board of Elections and the New York City Campaign Finance Board preview new state campaign finance data reporting and discuss how to make the data easier to use, Civic Hall, 156 Fifth Ave., 2nd floor, Manhattan.
Also at 10 a.m., Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie joins Assemblyman Kevin Cahill on tour of SUNY New Paltz, Student Union Building, 1 Hawk Dr., New Paltz.
At 10:10 a.m., “The Albany Report,” state Sen. David Carlucci’s radio show, features East Ramapo Interim Superintendent Dr. Deborah Wortham, WRCR AM 1700.
At 11 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul speaks at the New York Botanical Gardens Green Zone groundbreaking ceremony, 2900 Southern Blvd., Main Gate, the Bronx.
At 11:15 a.m., Heastie visits the Agri-business Child Development Center, ABCD Center, 6 Adams St., Kingston.
At 11:45 a.m., Heastie holds a media availability, Maritime Center, 50 Rondout Landing, Kingston.
At noon, Hochul addresses the 21st annual Rockland Economic Development Corporation’s awards luncheon, Crowne Plaza Hotel, 3 Executive Blvd., Suffern. (A media availability will follow).
Also at noon, NYC Councilman Carlos Menchaca, advocates and New Yorkers who would qualify for immigration relief call on the Supreme Court to remove a legal barrier to President Obama’s administrative relief programs after a year of legal delays, City Hall steps, Manhattan.
Also at noon, Heastie meets with local elected officials, Ole Savannah Restaurant, 100 Rondout Landing, Kingston.
At 1:30 p.m., Hochul addresses over 1,000 Long Island leaders at the 4th annual Smart Growth Summit, Melville Marriot, 1350 Walt Whitman Rd., Melville.
Also at 1:30 p.m., in honor of Military Family Appreciation Month and the upcoming holiday season, Sen. George Amedore and AT&T will announce a month-long partnership with the nonprofit Cell Phones For Soldiers, AT&T Store, Crossgates Mall, Albany.
At 2:20 p.m., US Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Paul Tonko will announce new bipartisan legislation to address the skills gap and enhance job training with apprenticeship programs and tour McD Metals, LLC, 20 Corporate Circle, Albany.
At 4:30 p.m., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer joins Nigerian officials and African immigrant community leaders to hold vigil and moment of silence for victims of Boko Haram terrorist attacks, Nigeria House, 828 Second Ave., Manhattan.
At 6 p.m., Assemblyman Richard Gottfried attends the Empire State Pride Agenda’s release of a report, “Transgender Health and Economic Insecurity: A report from the 2015 NY State LGBT Health and Human Services Needs Assessment,”LGBT Community Services Center, 208 W. 13th St., Manhattan.
Republicans and many Democrats in the House – including a number of New Yorkers – defied President Barack Obama’s veto threat and overwhelmingly approved a bill that makes it harder for Syrian and Iraqi refugees fleeing civil war to enter the United States.
US Senate Democrats, saying the bill is unnecessary at best and xenophobic at worst, indicated they will block it.
Hundreds of people turned out for a rally in front of County Hall in Buffalo to protest Legislator Joseph Lorigo’s call for a public hearing regarding the potential threat posed by Syrian refugees.
Security measures vary at concert halls, theaters and large retail stores in New York City, raising concerns among some New Yorkers after last week’s attacks at similar “soft targets” in Paris left 129 dead.
“The whole city is a soft target,” NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said. “Even with 35,000 cops, we cannot be everywhere.
State Police Superintendent Joseph D’Amico said law enforcement and anti-terror officials have long viewed the Watervliet Arsenal and Fort Drum as potential targets. And they had upped security at many locations in the wake of last week’s Paris attacks by ISIS, even before news of a video warning about the arsenal being named as a possible target.
FBI Director James Comey said there was no credible threat of an attack on US soil similar to the ones last week in Paris and that his agency had taken terrorism investigations “up a notch.”
Increasing his use of executive powers, Cuomo is marrying his drive to get things done with a distinctly liberal vision — a vision that has taken on new personal urgency since the New Year’s Day death of his father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, whose soaring defense of liberalism made him an icon of the left.
Patrick Foye, who led the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey during one of its most turbulent periods, is stepping down as the agency’s executive director early next year.
In a “dear colleague” letter, Foye said that he had opted to leave when the agency’s board decided to extend its search for a chief executive – a new position that he had unsuccessfully sought.
One of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s signature initiatives hit an obstacle this week, when Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration curbed a financial resource critical to building low-income housing.
Con Edison’s failure to inspect and test a plastic joint in an underground gas pipe led to the 2014 East Harlem building explosion that killed eight people and injured 50, the PSC said in a new report.
Former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos wasted no time “badgering” New York’s largest political donor, Leonard Litwin, owner of real-estate firm Glenwood Management, about getting his son, Adam, a job, saying his adult offspring was “struggling and needed help” within weeks of becoming one of the three most powerful men in state government, Glenwood Vice President Charles Dorego testified.
Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver filed a Hail Mary motion to get all the corruption charges against him tossed out, but the judge overseeing his trial indicated she wouldn’t be letting him off the hook.
Nov 19th - 5:34 pm
Hillary Clinton outlined a strategy to defeat the Islamic State – an “intensification and acceleration” of President Obama’s strategy in Syria and Iraq combined with an effort to block the group’s access to the Internet, vital supplies and new fighters.
The House easily passed a bill that would suspend the program allowing Syrian and Iraqi refugees into the U.S. until key national security agencies certify they don’t pose a security risk.
Four New York House members – Sean Patrick Maloney, Kathleen Rice, Louise Slaughter and Steve Israel – were among the 47 Democrats who voted “yes” on the Republicans’ refugee bill.
In another apparent dispute between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, the governor has threatened to cancel funding for federal tax-exempt bonds that would finance the mayor’s affordable housing plan.
Oswego County’s economic development agency launched an ad campaign urging Cuomo and others to prevent the “unfathomable” shutdown of FitzPatrick nuclear plant, one of the county’s key employers and taxpayers.
The New York Times is still trying to get the governor to call a special session to pass more ethics reforms.
Bon-Ton Stores has settled a discrimination claim involving a victim of domestic violence who worked at the Eastern Hills Mall location.
New York’s top court ruled that a Brooklyn man whose lottery winnings were confiscated because he had been on public assistance is, in fact, entitled to keep his prize money — thanks to federal minimum-wage laws.
Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye plans to resign his post in four months, he told agency employees today.
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said homelessness in New York City has “exploded” over the past two years – including in his own Upper East Side neighborhood – and is presenting a challenge to his police officers.
More changes at Albany’s top-grossing lobbying firm, Wilson Elser: Sam NeJame, whose clients include the Real Estate Board of New York and SL Green, is leaving for Greenberg Traurig.
Former Giuliani administration deputy Randy Mastro provided some colorful commentary at today’s hearing on a restaurateurs’ challenge to the proposed minimum wage hike for fast food workers.
The wells of real estate company largesse are drying up for politicians and political organizations, following corruption allegations against former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver involving bribery and kickback schemes.
The IDC, (minus Sen. Tony Avella, who’s testifying), issued a statement in response to questions about a wiretapped conversation played yesterday at the federal corruption trial of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, saying (in part): “We cannot speculate on the motives of Sen. Skelos.”
A collection of good government groups is calling on Cuomo to insert funding in his 2016-17 executive budget for two election reform proposals
An inmate at the Oswego County jail faces additional charges after deputies say he broke a window and used a sharpened piece of metal to saw through a metal bar during an escape attempt.
There is such a thing as professional daily fantasy sports players.
Remember City Room? The now-defunct blog sparked the New York Times’ digital evolution.