Cox Says The IDC Is Focused On Policy

State Republican Chairman Ed Cox on Wednesday said the Independent Democratic Conference in the state Senate is focused on policy, saying that makes it easier for them to work on legislation with Republicans in the chamber.

“The IDC knows the Senate Democrats themselves are so really committed to policies that are economically bad for New York state,” Cox said in an interview with WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom. “They would rather work with Republicans in the Senate than the Democrats.”

Cox also praised IDC Leader Jeff Klein, who has come under pressure from liberals and mainline Democrats to rejoin the mainline conference or form a new alliance with his party.

“The leader of the independent Democrats, Jeff Klein, is really policy oriented,” Cox said.

IDC lawmakers are actually closer to mainline Democrats on policy issues, especially when it comes to immigration, abortion, the minimum wage and paid family leave.

Allies of the mainline Democrats have accused the IDC of working as a key bloc with Senate Republicans in order to benefit from the trappings of power, such as leadership posts.

Cox: White Supremacists Are Irrelevant

New York Republican Chairman Ed Cox on Wednesday said in a radio interview white supremacists are small in number and largely irrelevant to the national political conversation today.

“They’re very small in number, they’ve been around for a long time,” Cox said on WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom. “This is something that does not belong in this country.”

Cox did not comment directly on President Donald Trump’s comments at a news conference at Trump Tower on Tuesday, in which he once again blamed both white supremacist groups and counter demonstrators for the violence on Saturday in Virginia that left one protester opposing the neo-Nazi organizations. Trump also suggested some of the marchers who opposed the removal of a Confederate memorial to Robert E. Lee were good people.

Trump’s comments drew support from fringe figures such as Richard Spencer and former KKK leader David Duke.

“It’s abhorrent to our basic philosophy in our country,” Cox said of white supremacy. “It’s really irrelevant to the politics in our country.”

Asked if Trump’s news conference hurt Republicans, Cox said, “What’s good for the Republican Party is jobs, jobs, jobs.”

Spectrum News/Siena Poll: Miner Popular, But Loses To Cuomo In Syracuse

Democratic voters in Syracuse have a favorable opinion of outgoing Mayor Stephanie Miner, but she would lose in the city to Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a hypothetical gubernatorial primary, a Spectrum News/Siena College poll found.

The poll released on Wednesday found Miner holds a strong job performance rating of 58 percent to 41 percent. Her favorability rating is even higher, 69 percent to 26 percent, among Democratic voters in the city.

But Cuomo out polls Miner in the city 47 percent to 38 percent in a potential primary, with 11 percent of voters not holding an opinion.

Miner has said she is interested in running for governor next year. She has been a critic of Cuomo after having a falling out with him over local government and pension policy after briefly serving as the state Democratic Committee co-chair.

In the race to replace Miner as mayor, Juanita Perez Williams, a regional director for the Department of Labor, is locked in a virtual tie with Councilor-at-large Joe Nicoletti, 36 percent to 34 percent. City Auditor Martin Masterpole received support from 8 percent of voters polled.

The poll of 497 likely Democratic primary voters has a 4.6 percent margin of error and was conducted from Aug. 9 through Aug. 13.

AlbanyMayor0817 Crosstabs (1) by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Regulations Aim To Protect Insurance Coverage For Transgender People

State regulators on Wednesday announced plans that seek to safeguard transgender people from being denied insurance coverage.

The move would bar health insurance providers from denying coverage based on gender identity — aimed at ensuring transgender or gender non-conforming people can continue to be covered by their insurance regardless of how they are present as the gender the service is typically provided to.

“In New York, we believe that health care is a right, and we are committed to protecting that right for all New Yorkers, regardless of income, age, race, sexuality or gender identity,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“Now, more than ever, we are leading the nation in furthering protections to all New Yorkers that those in Washington seek to eliminate, and we will continue to work to combat discrimination in all forms and ensure equal treatment for all.”

The actions were announced in a circular letter released by the Department of Financial Services that outlines requirements insurers must take in order to not deny coverage.

“Transgender persons should not be discriminated against and denied health insurance coverage because of their transgender status nor denied treatment simply due to insurance coding issues,” said DFS Superintendent Maria Vullo. “DFS will ensure that all New Yorkers, regardless of gender identity, receive the health insurance coverage they need.”

Martins, With Sliwa, Pushes Reform Agenda

Republican Jack Martins in his race for Nassau County executive on Wednesday embraced the platform of the Reform Party and its chairman, Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa.

The agenda includes support for term limits in county government and on the state level.

“Nassau County government is in desperate need to reform,” said Martins, a former state senator.

“The first step toward real reform is enacting term limits to make county government more accountable and end the era of career politicians. The New York State Reform Party is focused on making the commonsense changes we need and I’m proud to be the Reform Party’s candidate for County Executive.”

Martins is embracing the party as the Republican he hopes to replace is not running for re-election. Incumbent County Executive Ed Mangano faces corruption charges.

Sliwa wrested away control of the Reform Party, which had initially been founded by supporters of Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino during his 2014 gubernatorial campaign. The party was initially founded as a ballot line focused on opposing the Common Core education standards.

Astorino later sought to broaden its appeal by adding ethics and government reform to its platform and re-named it the Reform Party.

Sliwa, along with political activist Frank Morano, were able to gain control of the ballot line, however. One of Astorino’s Democratic opponent in this year’s county executive race, Sen. George Latimer, has the backing of the Reform Party.

Cuomo Responds To Trump

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a brief response to President Donald Trump on Tuesday once again blaming “both sides” for the racially charged violence in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend.

In a tweet, Cuomo criticized Trump’s assertion at a Trump Tower news conference that some of the people who marched in opposition to taking down a statue honoring Robert E. Lee were good people.

“There are no ‘very fine’ white supremacists, Mr. Trump,” the governor posted to Twitter.

Trump at the news conference once again condemned bigotry and violence in Virginia, but added members of the “alt life” were also to blame for instigating violence in Virginia.

Cuomo has come under fire for the comments made late last week by Dan Loeb, a prolific political donor and supporter of charter schools who wrote on Facebook that Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins had been worse for people of color than the Ku Klux Klan.

Loeb has apologized and Cuomo has condemned the remarks. Activist groups are calling on the governor and others to return the money Loeb has donated to their campaigns.

Felder Responds To Flanagan

From the Morning Memo:

Sen. Simcha Felder, the Democratic Brooklyn lawmaker who conferences with the Senate Republicans, said in a statement he disagreed with Majority Leader John Flanagan’s “statements about me” in an op/ed Flanagan released on Tuesday.

In the op/ed, the Republican majority leader had written the Senate GOP retain control of the chamber because of Felder’s presence in the conference, making the debate over Democratic control and reunification between the mainline conference and the Independent Democratic Conference a “moot point.”

“We have 32 members in our conference who caucus together and work together to improve the lives of the citizens of this state,” he wrote.

“That includes 31 Republicans and Senator Felder, a conservative Democrat who ran on the Republican and Conservative lines in his last election and has conferenced with us since he was first elected to the Senate.”

But Felder, in a statement released to State of Politics on Tuesday afternoon, noted unity among Democrats “will hurt the Republicans.”

“I read Senator Flanagan’s Op-Ed today and I don’t agree with his statements about me,” Felder said. “He is the leader of the Republicans in the New York State Senate and his opinion on future political matters are newsworthy. All I can say is that if Senator Flanagan believes that Democratic in-fighting will help Senate Republicans, then the reverse must also be true — Democratic unity will hurt the Republicans.”

Felder said he has no plans, at the moment, to change conferences.

Felder has been locked in a “you first” exchange with IDC Leader Jeff Klein since the spring. In essence, Felder won’t leave the GOP conference without the IDC backing some sort of a unification effort with the mainline conference.

It’s not clear what it would take for these dominoes to fall, however, and in what order for Democrats to assume a working majority in the Senate.

The IDC is being pressured by left-leaning advocacy groups to form a new alliance with the mainline conference of Democrats in the chamber, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo also coming under scrutiny to broker a deal with members of his own party.

DEC Looking Into Another Potential Discharge Near Niagara Falls

From the Morning Memo:

State and local leaders are still dealing with the fallout from a plume of sewage, 2 1/2 weeks after it ended up in the river by Niagara Falls. Tuesday, the state Department of Environmental Conservation dropped a potential bomb.

Did it happen again?

“DEC Environmental Conservation Officers and technical staff responded to a call today at 3:40 p.m. regarding the presence of discolored water from the main outfall near the Maid of the Mist dock,” the statement, which appeared in inboxes Thursday evening, read.

The department said a high intensity storm was reported that may have contributed to the potential sewage discharge. It continued to say it was investigating to see if the incident was related to last month’s discharge.

A spokesperson for the Niagara Falls Water Board acknowledged there was an overflow situation and said it was indeed because of the heavy rain.

“When this volume of water occurs, the waste water treatment plant is permitted to overflow the hundred foot weir, with the water then passing through the monitoring station. These sort of overflow events, which are different then the July 29th discharge incident, are formally reported on both the SPDEDS permit and the NY Alert System,” Matt Davison said.

Niagara Falls has hired international engineering firm Aecom to investigate what happened last month.

Here and Now

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

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is on a family vacation in Rhode Island.

President Donald Trump is scheduled to depart Trump Tower this afternoon to return to his golf club in New Jersey, where he will sign the Harry W. Colmery Veterans Educational Assistance Act.

Vice President Mike Pence departs Argentina for Chile, where he will participate in a bilateral meeting with President Michelle Bachelet, followed by a joint press conference and lunch. Pence will then meet with U.S. Embassy staff and their families in Chile.

In the evening, Pence will deliver keynote remarks at a dinner on Advancing Prosperity & Economic Growth Throughout the Western Hemisphere honoring AACCLA’s 50th Anniversary & AmCham Chile’s 100th Anniversary.

At 8 a.m., City & State hosts the 2017 On Education conference featuring NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, state Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa, CUNY Chancellor James Milliken, SUNY Chairman H. Carl McCall and others, Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Pl., Manhattan.

At 8:45 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul hosts a roundtable discussion with women leaders, Parkview Restaurant, 145 Front St., Owego.

At 9 a.m., Assemblyman Walter Mosley announces the “Love Yourself” Brooklyn Peace Concert, in partnership with Sen. Jesse Hamilton, District Leader Geoffrey Davis, and other community members, as a response to tragedies at Brooklyn’s J’Ouvert Parade in past years, Medgar Evers College, Brooklyn.

At 9:30 a.m., Hochul, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and members of the Broome-Tioga Suffrage Anniversary Committee announce upcoming events, Tioga County Courthouse, 20 Court St., Owego.

At 10 a.m., the NYC Department of Environmental Protection holds a public hearing, 1 Centre St., Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., Rep. Claudia Tenney tours Family Health Network for National Health Center Week and receives an award, 17 Main St., Suite 302, Cortland.

Also at 10 a.m., Republican Nassau County executive candidate Jack Martins and Curtis Sliwa will hold a press conference discussing issues in the race, Mineola Village Hall, 55 Washington Ave., Mineola, Long Island.

At 11 a.m., Hochul announces the winners of the 76West Clean Energy Competition, Double Tree by Hilton, 225 Water St., Binghamton.

Also at 11 a.m., NYC mayoral candidate Sal Albanese holds a press conference on the increase in homeless students and outlines a plan for “truly affordable housing” and a pied-a-terre tax, outside City Hall gates, Broadway and Murray Street, Manhattan.

At noon, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie makes an announcement regarding mass transit and transportation infrastructure in Westchester County, White Plains Train Station, 16 Ferris Ave., White Plains.

Also at noon, Democratic Nassau County executive candidate Laura Curran pledges to uphold the Pre-Trump Rule ensuring taxpayer funded infrastructure projects are built to accommodate effects of climate change if she’s elected, the Boardwalk at Riverside Boulevard, Long Beach.

At 1:30 p.m., Hochul delivers remarks at a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Corning Community College Health Education Center, Corning Community College, 132 Denison Parkway East, Corning.

At 2:30 p.m., enney tours the Greater Binghamton Airport and announces a federal grant, Greater Binghamton Airport, 2534 Airport Road, Johnson City.

At 4 p.m., the Black Institute President and Founder Bertha Lewis calls on the NYC Parks Department to “stop discriminatory practices toward minority business owners,” with members of Wallball World, U.S. Wallball Association, current No. 1 worldwide wallball professional athlete Timbo Gonzales and others, Macombs Dam Park, E. 157 Street and W. 161 Street, the Bronx.

At 5 p.m., Hochul joins WNY clergy and community leaders at a prayer vigil in response to the violence in Charlottesville, Durham Memorial AME Zion Church, 174 E Eagle St., Buffalo.

Also at 5 p.m., a “Fighting for Our Local Jobs!” rally, organized by Rep. Adriano Espaillat, NYC Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, Sen. Marisol Alcantra and Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa is held, corner of 179th Street and Broadway, Manhattan.

At 5:30 p.m., Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and Sen. Catharine Young host the Saratoga Salute, National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, 191 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs.

At 6 p.m., the Suffolk County Republican Committee hosts the Chairman Club’s Fundraising Reception, featuring Reps. Peter King and Lee Zeldin, Tellers American Chophouse, 605 Main St., Islip.

Also at 6 p.m., NYC Councilman Rodriguez hosts a rally against the developer SJM Partners, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Workforce 1 and Marshall’s, corner of 179th Street and Broadway, Bronx.

Headlines…

President Donald Trump abandoned his measured tone and reverted to blaming both sides for the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va., at one point questioning whether the movement to pull down Confederate statues would lead to the desecration of memorials to George Washington.

In so doing, Trump buoyed the white nationalist movement as no president has done in generations — equating activists protesting racism with the neo-Nazis and white supremacists who rampaged in Charlottesville.

Members of Trump’s own party quickly condemned his statements, calling on him to stand up to the hate groups instead of encouraging them.

The chief executive of Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, criticized Trump in front of his 1.5 million American employees, widening a rift between the White House and the business community that has been growing since the weekend’s violence in Charlottesville.

Trump was asked whether the attack on Heather Heyer in Charlottesville was “terrorism.” His response may make it more difficult for Virginia to prosecute James Fields for murder (already charged) or the United States to prosecute him for federal crimes, experts said.

Trump left Steve Bannon twisting in the wind, saying “we’ll see what happens” when asked whether his top strategist will remain in the White House, though he did call Bannon a “friend of mine…not a racist, I can tell you that.”

Premiums for the most popular health insurance plans would shoot up 20 percent next year, and federal budget deficits would increase by $194 billion in the coming decade, if Trump carried out his threat to end certain subsidies paid to insurance companies under the Affordable Care Act, the Congressional Budget Office said.

In the wake of the rally in Charlottesville, Virginia that resulted in numerous injuries and the death of one anti-racist protester, Cuomo called for higher penalties for New Yorkers who incite, or participate in, a riot.

The president announced that he had signed a sweeping executive order to eliminate and streamline some permitting regulations and to speed construction of roads, bridges and pipelines, declaring this would fix a “badly broken” infrastructure system in America and bring manufacturing jobs back to the country.

Former President Barack Obama’s three-part tweet of a Nelson Mandela quote in the wake of the Charlottesville rally that left one counter-protester dead is the most liked tweet ever.

Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was the keynote speaker at a naturalization ceremony at the Freedom Tower, and was feeling pretty proud of all that is America…then came Trump’s latest press conference.

Neighbors of Trump’s former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski say he threatened to use his “political clout” to make their lives “a nightmare” over an ongoing land dispute, according to a new lawsuit.

Jared Kushner’s real estate company systematically screwed some Brooklyn tenants out of rent-stabilized leases, a new lawsuit charged.

Health-insurance rates for individuals in New York will increase next year on average by about 15 percent, as well as 9 percent for small group plans, which is lower than the 17 percent and 11.5 percent sought by the industry.

The state’s rate decision, made by DFS, will not affect the vast majority of New York residents, who get their health insurance through a big employer, Medicare, Medicaid or the state’s Essential Plan.

Diocese officials announced they would be removing a plaque honoring Gen. Robert E. Lee that has long been affixed to a tree outside a Brooklyn church following the events in Charlottesville last weekend and renewed concerns over Confederate symbols and statues.

One person was arrested during a second wave of protests at Trump Tower yesterday, police said.

The FDA has filed court papers in support of an effort to overturn a New York City law requiring calorie counts to be posted by certain establishments — at least the second time the Trump administration has inserted itself into a local case.

A federal district court judge has ordered Costco to pay Tiffany more than $19 million for selling generic diamond engagement rings that were marketed using Tiffany’s name.

Assemblyman Herman “Denny” Farrell, 85, said that on Sept. 5 he will resign the seat he’s held the past 42 years, citing age, health, and the demands of the job as chairman of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee as key reasons for his decision.

More >

Extras

President Donald Trump delivered an unusual and fiery press conference at Trump Tower in which he reverted to blaming both sides for racially charged violence in Virginia.

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh sent a strong message that hate groups will not be welcome in his city ahead of a planned “Free Speech Rally” that will reportedly take place on Boston Common next week.

The NAACP of Syracuse and Onondaga County called for Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco to apologize for remarks he made in a radio interview about the race-fueled violence in Charlottesville, Va.

Given the fractious tenure of outgoing Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, the candidates vying to replace her have been trying to outdo one another in how collaborative they can be, which is keeping the race pretty tame so far.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino has a new re-election ad out.

The DMV has not done enough to prevent automotive repair shops and inspection stations from operating without valid registrations, putting consumers at an increased risk to be scammed by dishonest businesses, according to an audit issued by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office.

Congestion pricing is a heavy lift at the Capitol, political observers say, and it will be impossible to fully assess the proposal’s prospects until more is known about Cuomo’s actual plan and the extent to which he’ll embrace his own trial balloon.

Democrats for Education Reform President Shavar Jeffries, one of the charter school sector’s most prominent black leaders, resigned from the Success Academy Charter Schools’ board of directors earlier this summer after criticizing U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.

A new Ron Perlman movie is filming in Syracuse this week; crews set up scenes for filming “Asher,” starring Perlman as an aging hitman who seeks redemption, last night and early this morning.

Mark Elliott is suing White Plains Democratic City Committee leaders for striking his name from a petition supporting a Democratic challenger for mayor because he put his address down as being in “WP” instead of spelling out White Plains.

RIP Milton Mollen, who led a commission that found that the New York City Police Department had been “willfully blind” to drug-related corruption by organized bands of rogue officers in the 1980s and early ’90s. He died yesterday at his home in Manhattan at the age of 97.

RIP Wayne Bennett, the retired State Police superintendent who went on to lead the city’s police and fire departments for a decade, who died today at the age of 71.

The financial troubles for Connecticut’s capital, Hartford, which is veering toward bankruptcy, come at a time when the state is mired in its own problems, including going weeks without a budget.

Charter Communications is asking state regulators to effectively freeze administrative complaints that it filed against Verizon and other utilities in the state after not being able to get their cable wires attached to poles.

Factory activity in New York surged this month to the highest level in nearly three years.

The latest addition to the State Fair food roundup: The milky bun.

Prince is being honored with a custom color. The Prince Estate and the Pantone Color Institute teamed up to create the hue called “Love Symbol #2.”