Bill Would Require Presidential Candidates To Submit Tax Info

From the Morning Memo:

A Democratic state senator from Manhattan is introducing legislation that would require presidential candidates to submit their most recent tax returns to the state Board of Elections in order to appear on the ballot.

The measure backed by Sen. Brad Hoylman is squarely aimed at one candidate from the last year: Republican President-elect Donald Trump, who refused to submit to the post-Watergate scandal tradition of releasing tax information.

Hoylman’s bill, named Tax Returns Uniformly Made Public, or TRUMP, would require up to five years’ worth of tax returns for any candidate running for president or vice president in New York.

The tax information would have to be submitted no later than 50 days prior to the general election.

“For over four decades, tax returns have given voters an important window into the financial holdings and potential conflicts-of-interest of presidential candidates,” Hoylman said.

“Sadly, President-elect Donald Trump repeatedly refused to release copies of his federal income taxes prior to the election, denying voters this crucial information. This isn’t normal. Voters deserve to know that personal priorities will never take precedence over the national interest.”

Tax information from 1995 obtained by The New York Times and published in October suggested Trump declared $916 million in losses, potentially allowing him to legally not pay taxes for years.

WNY Leaders Advocate For Ride-Hailing

From the Morning Memo:

Western New York leaders continue to be among the loudest voices calling for the legalization of ride-hailing outside of New York City.

Last week, Town of Cheektowaga Police Chief David Zack penned a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, hoping to to jump start the legislation that stalled in Albany last session.

Zack, the president of the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, said he agrees with the argument that services like Uber and Lyft can help curb drunk driving.

“Since 2010, when you look at alcohol related crashes in New York State, they’ve pretty much flattened out,” he said. “There’s only so much you can do with awareness and you gotta find creative solutions.”

Zack said 65 percent of the state’s DWI arrests happen upstate, compared to 24 percent in New York City where ride-hailing is legal, (and there also happens to be a far more extensive public transit system).

“If it’s good for New York City why isn’t it good for all of upstate?” he asked. “We feel with the ride sharing option, people will be more responsible than they already are.”

While there’s not much research on how ride-hailing affects drunk-driving, Lyft has pointed to Virginia, where the numbers suggest the service is having an impact. The company said drunk driving-related accidents and deaths are significantly down there in recent years, and the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles gives the services some credit for for that phenomenon.

Anti-drunk driving advocate Deanna Russo said that while ride-hailing won’t be a panacea, it can only help, not hurt, to have another option for those who need to travel after drinking.

“For people that are out at the bars and out at the parties, the phones are connected to them like another piece of their person,” she said. “So anything that gives them another option, let’s try it out.”

Meanwhile the Erie County Legislature is also advocating for ride-hailing, and it’s putting its money where its mouth is. Legislators are holding a press conference today to announce plans to allocate $100,000 to Visit Buffalo Niagara to lobby Albany for legalization of the service.

According to the press release, it’s the first major local financial investment in the ride-hailing app effort by a governmental body.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.

At 8 a.m., New York Nonprofit hosts TechCon, a conference on how nonprofits can better harness technology, Convene Conference Center, 32 Old Slip, 2nd floor, Manhattan.

At 8:15 a.m., HANYS holds the first in a series of breakfast forums with an event featuring guest speaker state Deputy for Health and Human Services Paul Francis, HANYS HQ, One Empire Dr., Rensselaer.

At 9 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul keynotes the Asian American Federation Small Business Conference, NYU Kimmel Center, 60 Washington Square South, Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. hosts the 14th annual Diva Spa to bring domestic violence awareness information to Bronx residents, Hostos Community College Savoy Room, 120 E. 149th St., 2nd floor, the Bronx.

Also at 10 a.m., NYC Council members Brad Lander, Julissa Ferreras-Copeland and Corey Johnson, fast food workers, community groups, 32BJ Secretary-Treasurer Kyle Bragg, and 32BJ members hold a press conference and rally on a set of bills that would improve jobs in the fast food industry and other retail jobs, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., county leaders, clergy, criminal justice advocates and others gather to support legislation to improve public defense, reducing disparities in criminal justice system and providing mandate relief for counties, LCA Press Room 130, LOB, Albany.

At 11 a.m., Hochul tours the New York Asian Women’s Center, 32 Broadway, 10th Floor, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., state AG Eric Schneiderman will release a report on voting rights, detailing the results of his inquiry into the unprecedented level of complaints regarding the April 2016 presidential primary, and outlining a set of reforms, AG’s office, 2nd Floor, state Capitol, Albany.

At 12:30 p.m., NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito holds a press conference before the Council’s pre-stated meeting, Red Room, City Hall, Manhattan. (The meeting is scheduled for 1 p.m. in the Council chambers).

Also at 12:30 p.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina visits PS 241 to make a Computer Science Education Week announcement
976 President St., Brooklyn.

At 1 p.m., the New York Farm Bureau kicks off its annual meeting, the Desmond Hotel, 660 Albany Shaker Rd., Albany.

At 3 p.m., Hochul leads a workforce development discussion during the annual convening of the Empire State STEM Learning Network, SUNY Global Center, 116 East 55th St., Manhattan.

At 4 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will hold public hearings for and sign 17 pieces of legislation, Blue Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 4:30 p.m., over 100 tenants and housing activists; The Black Institute, Crown Heights Tenant Union, Laborers Local 79, New York Communities for Change, and members of the campaign targeting the Real Gentrifiers of NYC rally to condemn BFC Partners’ Joseph Ferrara – chosen to develop the public site at the Crown Heights Bedford-Union Armory – due to his support for Trump, 1579 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn.

At 5:30 p.m., the NYC Votes’ Voter Assistance Advisory Committee holds its annual public hearing, Department of Youth and Community Development, 2 Lafayette St., 14th floor, Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., NYC Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo and NYC Cultural Affairs Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl participate in the Brooklyn borough-wide public workshop on the CreateNYC cultural plan, BRIC House, 647 Fulton St., Brooklyn.

At 6:30 p.m., Farina attends a town hall meeting of District 14’s Community Education Council, IS 71, 215 Heyward St., Brooklyn.

Headlines…

President-elect Donald Trump is moving to repudiate vast parts of President Obama’s domestic agenda as he fills his cabinet with conservatives who have long records opposing the current administration on social programs, wages, public lands, veterans and the environment.

House Republican leaders signaled that they would not support Trump’s threat to impose a heavy tax on companies that move jobs overseas, the first significant confrontation over the conservative economic orthodoxy that the president-elect relishes trampling.

House Democrats expanded their leadership team, promoting a handful of junior lawmakers – including Brooklyn Rep. Hakeem Jeffries – to newly created positions in an effort to boost the influence of greener members.

Jill Stein, the Green Party’s 2016 presidential nominee, challenged climate change activist Al Gore to step up his efforts after the former vice president met yesterday with the president-elect and his daughter, Ivanka.

Dozens of Green Party supporters joined Stein outside Trump Towers yesterday as she vowed to force vote recounts in three key states. Her fight mainly focused on Pennsylvania, where on Monday the Green Party sought an emergency order for a ballot re-tally.

Voters are split on whether Trump, a born-and-raised New Yorker, will be good for the Empire State, a new Siena poll shows.

Trump’s controversial call to Trump Taiwan was organized by Bob Dole, a former Republican senator and one-time presidential nominee, who said the law firm he’s affiliated with does work with the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the U.S.

In a rare bipartisan breakthrough, Congress moved close to passing legislation that includes sweeping changes to the U.S. mental health system, a boost in funds to battle opioid addiction, and billions for medical research.

Vice President Joe Biden was on hand for a touching moment as lawmakers voted to name a portion of the measure after his son, Beau, who died of cancer.

Biden, who recently turned 74, joked (?) that he’ll run for president in 2020. “I’m not committing not to run,” he said. “I’m not committing to anything. I learned a long time ago, fate has a strange way of intervening.” More here.

Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine are throwing a party at the Plaza hotel in Manhattan on Dec. 15 to thank those who donated millions to the campaign.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered an investigation into racial bias in the state prison system after an investigation by The New York Times found that black inmates were punished at significantly higher rates than whites, sent to solitary confinement more often and held there longer.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said it “remains to be seen” whether lawmakers will reconvene at the Capitol before Jan. 1 – a necessity if they want to see a pay hike in 2017.

“I’m not sure if there’s going to be a special session,” the speaker told reporters after meeting behind closed doors with members of his conference for two hours.

“I’ve said it clearly that we’re not trading, we’re not doing something that’s going to be harmful to the members of the Assembly, things that we don’t like in exchange for a pay raise,” Heastie said. “That’s just not what we’re going to do.”

Heatie shot down the term limits proposal being pushed by the governor, saying putting a cap on the number of years elected officials can serve in Albany is “not something that the conference supports.”

Tom Precious isn’t buying it: “In the historic halls of the Capitol, governors and lawmakers have long insisted that words like ‘trade’ and ‘linked’ are not part of their vocabulary and that each policy matter stands on its own. Everyone, of course, knows better.”

As state Senate Democrats confront the likelihood of once again failing to control the chamber while holding a numerical majority, Cuomo’s former handpicked executive director of the state party, Charlie King, claimed it isn’t the governor’s job to make that happen.

Cuomo was elected policy chairman for the Democratic Governors Association, making good on his vow to be part of the national conversation fighting many of Trump’s policies.

More >

Cuomo Elected DGA Policy Chair

Gov. Andrew Cuomo dipped his toe further into national waters with his election as the policy chair of the Democratic Governors Association.

Cuomo is joining the DGA’s leadership structure after dispiriting election year for Democrats at the federal and state levels.

After the 2016 elections, Democrats will control only 16 governors offices around the country.

Cuomo, however, is in line for a potential White House run in 2020, and has in recent weeks indicated New York will be a national leader in resisting any federal policies from the Trump administration deemed discriminatory.

“Progress at the state level is more important now than ever and with my fellow DGA members, we’re working to develop and advance an agenda that improves the lives of all Americans,” Cuomo said.

“From raising the minimum wage, to passing strong paid family leave, to making record investments in infrastructure and education, New York has been focused on delivering real results. I look forward to working with my fellow Democratic governors to enact meaningful change and work to unite a nation that has been divided for far too long. Only by standing together can we stand against the forces of intolerance and injustice.”

Cuomo is also joining the DGA ranks led by Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy. Then-Cuomo Secretary Steve Cohen infamously once told a Malloy aide the Cuomo administration has two speeds “get along” and “kill.”

Assembly Dems Meet In Albany, Door Open To Special Session

Democrats in the state Assembly huddled on Monday for nearly two hours, with Speaker Carl Heastie emerging at the Capitol to open the door to a special session before the end of the year that could pave the way for the first legislative pay increase in nearly 20 years.

“I’m not sure if there’s going to be a special session,” Heastie said following the closed-door conference.

But he quickly added: “But it will be irresponsible for myself and Senator Flanagan and the governor to not discuss issues that we may need to deal with before the end of the year that we need to deal with for the people of the state of New York.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing lawmakers to take up a package of measures including reforming the procurement process, funding affordable housing and a hate crimes task force. He also wants lawmakers to back two constitutional amendments that would set term limits and create a full-time Legislature that bans outside income. Lawmakers say they do not want passage of these measures linked to a pay increase.

“I’ve said it clearly,” Heastie said. “We’re not doing something that’s going to be harmful to the members of the Assembly in exchange for pay raises.”

And those ethics reforms face hurdles, especially when it comes to term limits in the Assembly.

“I don’t think term limits on going to be on the table,” said Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle. “I think, look, I don’t think we’re going to rush into any restructuring of state government or the responsbilities of the legislators in an end of the year session.”

Members of the state Assembly and Senate earn a base salary of $79,500

Lawmakers have also been frustrated with a pay commission they say was formed to take the politics out of the decision, similar to the effort to hike the salaries for state judges.

“I think that objective people looking at the salary and compensation would make the determination that it’s long overdue,” said Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, a Manhattan Democrat. “That people under the control of the governor would go on there and say that, it’s not really helpful.”

Heastie, meanwhile, all but ruled out the possibility of simply passing a pay hike and daring the governor to sign or veto the bill, which could lead to a rare legislative override.

“I think in this world,” he said, “it’s always better to have agreements.”

Extras

Advocates of the long-shot bid to turn the Electoral College against Trump have reportedly been in contact with close allies of Hillary Clinton, but the Clinton camp — and Clinton herself — have declined to weigh in on the merits of the plan.

The NYPD revealed that the city has witnessed a 115 percent increase in bias crimes since Trump triumphed over Clinton last month, and also paid tribute to one of the victims – a Muslim cop who became the victim of threats while off-duty in Brooklyn.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has written a letter to President Obama, formally seeking $35 million in reimbursement from the federal government for the NYPD’s costs related to providing security at Trump Tower.

Ben Carson, who took Trump on a tour of blighted neighborhoods in Detroit during the presidential campaign, including his boyhood home, has been chosen by the president-elect to oversee one of the government’s main efforts to lift American cities as HUD secretary.

De Blasio said he is keeping an open mind about Dr. Ben Carson’s nomination to lead HUD, despite the fact that the famous surgeon and former Republican presidential candidate has no experience in housing policy.

Trump might not be relocating to Washington, D.C., but his daughter, Ivanka, her husband, Jared Kushner, and their three children reportedly are looking to do so.

Trump’s proposed 35 percent tariff may hit close to home and could end up hurting daughter Ivanka’s business.

Former VP-turned-climate-change-activist Al Gore said he had an “extremely interesting” meeting with the president-elect, a climate change skeptic, at Trump tower that was a “sincere search for areas of common ground.” He also met beforehand with Ivanka Trump.

With Trump, three men have now been elected president who were born during a single 66-day period in mid-1946.

NYT reporter Maggie Haberman on covering Trump during the campaign: “(M)y kids were not sure of what the implications would be of a president who had personally attacked their mom.”

The growing “EmpireReportNewYork.com” website, which focuses on New York government and politics, is now available on free apps via iTunes store and Google Play.

The definition of a tree is at the heart of a lawsuit claiming new snowmobile trails being carved through the Adirondack forest violate the “forever wild” clause of New York’s constitution.

For many homeowners in New York state who count on a rebate to cover part of their school tax bills this fall – the popular program known as STAR – the check wasn’t in the mail.

Suffolk Republican Chairman John Jay LaValle says Trump’s election results in Suffolk may give the local GOP a road map to winning back the county legislature next year.

Trump and Clinton are going head-to-head again, this time for the title of “TIME” magazine’s 2016 “Person Of The Year.”

Former veteran TV reporter Rachel Barnhart, who ran an unsuccessful Assembly campaign this past fall, is mulling a run for mayor of Rochester in 2017.

Three months after the 2016 New York State Fair ended, the state still hasn’t released records associated with music acts booked at Chevy Court and Lakeview Amphitheater.

The state will station 24 emergency response trailers at key locations along the state’s crude oil transportation corridor, including one in the City of Albany and four in the Capital Region, Cuomo’s office said.

Hempstead Town Board member Erin King Sweeney broke with her Republican colleagues twice in a row this month to vote against routine personnel resolutions on every town calendar — violating the GOP’s usual lockstep voting in an apparent slap at Republican Supervisor Anthony Santino.

King, Acting As Cuomo Proxy, Knocks Senate Dems And WFP (Updated)

An ally of Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday opened up a blistering attack on Democrats in the state Senate and the Working Families Party several days after left-leaning groups and the mainline conference’s leadership called on the governor to unify members in the chamber.

The statement came from Charlie King, a former state Democratic Committee executive director who was Cuomo’s running mate during his ill-fated run for governor in 2002.

In the statement, King knocks Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins for the growing influence and clout of the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference.

The Working Families Party, meanwhile, is taken to task and accused of helping to divide the Democratic Party. King places the blame on the WFP for helping fuel the rise of Donald Trump and “weaken” Hillary Clinton.

“If Senate Leader Stewart- Cousins truly wishes to have the Democratic Senate unified, joining the Working Families Party—a group that split from the Democratic party— to find resolution, is a bad strategy,” King said in a statement. “As someone who ran the Democratic State Party and worked to unify the Democratic Senate, I know firsthand that these conversations are best when private. Further, the Working Families Party is a divisive element within our party, not a unifier. They primary our candidates, and did their best to weaken Hillary Clinton just this past election cycle. Now we have Donald Trump.”

For Stewart-Cousins, King asks a series of questions, deflecting blame from Cuomo and asking why the mainline conference hasn’t, in effect, gotten its own house in order.

“If Senate Leader Stewart-Cousins is a leader, now is the time to lead. She must ask herself: why is the IDC growing stronger, not weaker? Why is it becoming more diverse? Why is the Democratic Majority Conference failing to win elections repeatedly? Does the leadership have to “step up” and change its composition? Can it work with the IDC leadership? Why is there room for Ruben Diaz Sr. in the Senate Conference, but no room for Simcha Felder?” the statement reads.

“These are not questions that the Governor can answer. But, these are questions the Democratic Senate Leadership must answer in order for a unified Democratic Senate. I have been an outspoken critic of the IDC arrangement and have to scars to prove it. The incontrovertible truth is this: the IDC are Democrats and they have been successful. They need to be convinced that success will continue with a unified Democratic Senate; a job, respectfully submitted by the leader to make, not the Governor.”

Cuomo has been criticized during his time as governor for not helping bridge the divide in the chamber between the Democratic lawmakers and has been accused of preferring a Republican majority to play off against a Democratic-dominated Assembly.

Updated: Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy responds.

“We have always made it clear that we want Democrats to unify and just today Senate Democratic Leadership had a meeting with the Governor exactly about this goal,” he said.

“The reality is we have 32 Democrats in the chamber and there is room for everybody in a Democratic Majority. It is mind-boggling that in Progressive New York for Democrats to win a majority they are required to win more than just a numerical majority to actually govern and that is why we need the Leader of our Party to step up. We will continue to look to the Governor’s leadership to help unify the party.”

Morelle: Term Limits Not On The Table

As Assembly Democrats gathered in Albany for a closed-door conference, Majority Leader Joe Morelle on Monday told reporters he was skeptical a constitutional amendment for term limits would be backed by his chamber.

At the same time, Morelle was cool to the idea of a broad-based change to state government through term limits and the creation of a full-time Legislature in matter of weeks.

“I don’t think term limits are going to be on the table,” he said. “I don’t think we’re going to rush into any real restructuring of the state government or the responsibilities of legislators in an end-of-the-year session. I don’t think it’s the appropriate time.”

Democrats are gathering at the Capitol this week amid talk of a special session that could be held at some point this month.

Lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are haggling out the finer points of a slate of issues ranging from ethics reform to funding a hate crimes task force and procurement reform. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, meanwhile, has insisted none of these issues should be linked in a broader agreement that could reconstitute a commission determining whether the Senate and Assembly could receive a boost in pay.

“The governor and the speaker and the Senate majority leader have things that they would like to address,” Morelle said said. “Obviously there has been some talk about whether hate crimes legislation is appropriate to do at this point. There is some talk about some additional dollars for the homeless. So there’s a host of things. I think what we don’t want to do — and I think the speaker has made this clear — is trade things that relate to the Legislature’s pay as though that were a trade. These other issues are not withstanding may be appropriate to do.”

Lawmakers have also been discussing the possibility of passing a pay increase as a standalone measure and then having Cuomo decide whether veto the legislation, which would face a difficult climb in a rare override by the Legislature.

Still, even as Cuomo has sought to reach out to lawmakers with a potential agreement, even the “full time” Legislature — which could pave the way for an increased boost in pay — may be difficult.

“I would say anecdotally, our members, the vast majority of our members, have long been opposed to term limits as they’ve been described,” Morelle said. “We’ll obviously talk to them about it, but I think I have a feeling of how they’ve felt in the past. They feel it strengthens the executive branch and it strengthens the role of lobbyists and entrenched staff. And I think just a few years is a short period of time for legislators to learn the process here and to be effective in advocating for their communities.”

Cuomo Pushes For Investigation After GCT Assault

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday called for an investigation by the MTA, state Police and the state Division of Human Rights after a uniformed off-duty transit worker was assaulted at Grand Central Terminal.

Cuomo in a statement said the worker, a Muslim woman, was assaulted by a male passenger at around 6:20 a.m. — allegedly calling the woman a “terrorist” and then pushing her down stairs.

“This is the great state of New York – we welcome people of all cultures, customs and creeds with open arms. We do not allow intolerance or fear to divide us because we know diversity is our strength and we are at our best when we stand united,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I have directed the MTA, State Police and Division of Human Rights to work with local law enforcement to investigate these matters. These acts of hate will be pursued and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and those responsible will be held accountable.”

Cuomo in the last several weeks has sought to allay concerns in the wake of Donald Trump’s election in the presidential race, insisting New York officials won’t tolerate discrimination and bias crimes that may have been inspired by the rhetoric of the campaign.

“New York will continue to set the example for the nation – safeguarding our diversity and our differences, and rooting out bigotry and hatred wherever it exists,” Cuomo said. “The work of the Hate Crimes Task Force has never been more urgent and we will continue to crack down on this type of criminal behavior. I wish a speedy recovery for the victim, and want to let her know we are seeking justice for her and for all New Yorkers.”

Cuomo Tweets Congrats To North Carolina Dem

Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted his congratulations on Monday afternoon to North Carolina Democrat Roy Cooper who succeeded in unseating incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.

Cuomo instituted a state travel ban to North Carolina in March following the approval of a measure that was widely seen by critics as discriminatory toward the LGBT community.

Among other facets, the measure bars individuals from using restrooms that align with their gender identification and prevents local governments from enacting protects aimed at bolstering the rights of LGBT individuals.

The ban on non-essential was realized later on when officials at the State University of New York canceled a UAlbany men’s basketball team game at UNC.

After initially holding out for a recount in the razor-thin race for governor, McCrory conceded on Monday to Cooper, the state’s attorney general.