Uber Takes Up Cuomo’s ‘Upstate Matters’

Taking a cue from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call for expanding ride-hailing services outside of New York City, Uber is calling on supporters to urge their lawmaker to back the measure through the “upstate matters” slogan the governor unveiled last week during the roll out of his 2017 agenda.

The company is releasing an email later today aimed at pushing the issue using the #upstatematters as a hashtag as the lobbying for the issue begins to heat up in the new legislative session.

“For years, New Yorkers like you have been calling for access to Uber in your communities, yet our state continues to be left behind New York City and the rest of the country,” the email states.

Cuomo in his regional State of the State addresses last week urged the passage of ride hailing legislation outside of New York City so that companies like Uber and Lyft can operate in upstate cities.

Cuomo framed it as an issue of fairness for upstate residents.

“Governor Cuomo has heard your demands and, last week, he introduced a proposal that would allow ridesharing services like Uber to operate across New York State,” Uber wrote in its email. “That would mean access to an easier commute, a safe ride home, and more freedom to get around Upstate cities, Long Island, and the Hudson Valley.”

The email adds: “Now it’s time for the Legislature to stop listening to special interests and realize that #UpstateMatters.”

Ride-hailing legislation has stalled over the last year in Albany as lawmakers seek to find ways of developing an insurance framework for the industry.

Cuomo’s Budget Due Today

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s spending priorities are due to be released today, but for the moment he has nothing public planned on his schedule.

Cuomo is in Albany today and is set to brief individual conferences of lawmakers on the budget at the governor’s mansion, which will be privately held events.

The move likely means Cuomo could forgo what has become a traditional public presentation of a proposed budget by a governor.

Public budget presentations date back to at least the current governor’s father, Mario Cuomo, who one Albany hand on Monday noted would unveil the spending document in the ceremonial Red Room office on the second floor.

Under what had been current practice dating to at least George Pataki, budget day was a substantive event: A distillation of the state’s fiscal climate, the rate of Medicaid growth, the “school runs” for districts and a “budget school” delivered by the governor’s director of the Division of Budget.

In the last two years, Cuomo has combined both the State of the State and the budget presentation into one address.

Cuomo further eschewed tradition this year by not holding the State of the State at the Capitol (or, as has been his way since taking office in 2011, holding them in the Empire State Plaza Convention Center) but in a half dozen different events around the state geared around whichever region he was delivering the speech.

Lawmakers, meanwhile, seemed to be signaling today’s proceedings will be likely any other day in Albany, holding news conferences and passing legislation.

Paladino Protests Continue In Buffalo

From the Morning Memo:

After Artvoice published Carl Paladino’s disparaging and racially-charged remarks about the Obamas last month, opponents of the brash Buffalo businessman said they were fed up with his repeated controversies and vowed to continue to speaking out until he was removed from the Buffalo Board of Education.

So far, they’ve kept their promise.

Paladino’s critics have voiced their concerns at Common Council meetings and at school board meetings. They’ve filed appeals seeking his removal from elected office to the state education commissioner, and have protested often in front of City Hall and even in front of Paladino’s own home.

The trick is keeping those demonstrations in the news now that more than three weeks have passed without any significant developments since Paladino’s initial comments were published. Yesterday, the Dr. Martin Luther King Day holiday served as a handy news hook.

Democratic Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant said Paladino’s remarks served as a reminder there’s still work left to do on the civil rights front, adding: “It sends a message that we have a got long way to go, we’re not there yet.”

“For Mr. Paladino, I’m going to call his name, to use such hateful language against anyone is a detriment to our community and as an elected official he should know better,” Grant said.

Democratic Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and state Sen. Tim Kennedy, both Democrats, were also among the dozens who rallied in the city’s MLK Park.

Paladino has said he will not heed calls to step down from the school board, and while the state education commissioner does have the authority to remove him, to do so would be a precedent-setting move and she has not yet issued a decision.

Since he’s no stranger to making waves, it should come as no surprise that Paladino appears unbothered by the ongoing protests. Yesterday, he maintained his critics are entitled to their First Amendment right, but noted – as he has all along – that he is, too.

(He has apologized for his comments about the Obamas, but insisted that they have noting to do with race, and should not require his resignation or removal from a duly elected public post).

Meanwhile, Paladino said he is preparing for a trip to Washington, D.C. to see his candidate be sworn in as president.

The Trump Transition Team condemned the remarks of the president-elect’s New York campaign’s honorary co-chair, but Paladino has maintained he is still in Trump’s good graces and will attend Friday’s festivities, as planned.

Assembly To Take Up RHA

From the Morning Memo:

The Democratic-led Assembly today is expected to take up the passage of the Reproductive Health Act, a measure designed to bolster the state’s abortion laws that may take on new urgency given the coming Republican control of the federal government.

A news conference on the bill’s passage, which has stalled in the Republican-contorlled state Senate, will be held at 1:30.

Supporters of the bill contend it is aimed at codifying the Roe v. Wade decision in state, a necessary move should the Supreme Court ever reverse the decision.

Opponents have called the RHA an unnecessary expansion of existing abortion rights in the state.

A version of the bill was initially included in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 10-point Women’s Equality Act, an omnibus package of measures that also included provisions aimed at pay equity and blocking gender discrimination in the workplace and housing.

Ultimately, only the RHA failed to be made law after Cuomo agreed to pass individual components of the legislative package.

The debate over the RHA has at times become an emotionally fraught one in Albany.

Last June, Republican Assemblyman Ron Castorina decided abortion as “African-American genocide” — a comment that led to a heated debate on the chamber floor.

Senate To Take Up Bag Tax Bill

From the Morning Memo:

The Republican-led Senate today plans to take up a measure that block New York City’s 5-cent surcharge on plastic bags from taking effect next month.

The bill is backed by Brooklyn Sen. Simcha Felder, a Democrat who conferences with the Senate GOP in the chamber, as well as Republican Sen. Martin Golden and Tony Avella, a member of the Independent Democratic Conference and a declared candidate for mayor.

The bill to be taken up later today in the Senate would block any fees or taxes on carry-out merchandise shopping bags in New York City. Supporters of so-called bag taxes say the measures lessen the impact of plastic bags on the environment.

But opponents point to the burden the bag fees place on families.

“Many families have a hard time just getting by, paying for groceries, rent and heat, and now the Mayor wants to shake them down every time they shop just for the privilege of using a plastic bag,” Felder said in a statement.

“Mayor de Blasio, please do not nickel and dime New Yorkers with another tax. This will hurt lower- and middle-income families who already struggle. I’m asking New Yorkers to stand up and tell the Mayor that this bag tax has to go.”

The move is yet another effort by the Senate Republicans that appears squarely aimed at Mayor Bill de Blasio, who has been at odds with the conference on issues the stem both from policy and politics.

But the potential repeal of the fee also has the support of more than two dozen members of the Democratic-led Assembly. The measure had been initially set to take effect in October, but was pushed back in an agreement reached with Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule. He’ll be briefing members of the Senate and Assembly (at separate events) at the executive mansion on his proposed 2017-18 budget, which is due out tomorrow.

In the afternoon, Mayor Bill de Blasio will depart New York City and travel to Washington, D.C. to participate in the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

In the evening, de Blasio will attend the New Democratic Mayors Reception. This event is closed press. Later, the mayor will deliver remarks at the Mayors Innovation Project Dinner, which is open to members of the media.

At 8:45 a.m., Federal Reserve Bank of New York President William Dudley speaks at the National Retail Federation Retail’s BIG Show, Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, 655 West 34th St., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., to address the excessive lateness of STAR rebate checks owed to New York homeowners, Sen. David Carlucci will introduce a bill to speed up and improve the rebate check process, 20 South Main St., New City.

At 10:30 a.m., de Blasio and NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina make an announcement about last year’s Advanced Placement exams, Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria, 23-15 Newtown Ave., Queens.

At 11:15 p.m., NYC Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez and others will call for the driver of a black Ford Econoline van to turn himself in, following a hit and run crash that left a man in critical condition on Monday morning in Midtown Manhattan, City Hall, Manhattan.

At noon, Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner and leading anti-corruption activist Zephyr Teachout will join Common Cause/NY to lay out a reform agenda for the 2017 legislative session, LCA Press Room, 130, LOB, Albany.

Also at noon, outgoing Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White speaks at Economic Club of New York luncheon, The Pierre, 2 E 61st St., Manhattan.

At 12:45 p.m., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer speaks at memorial service for Emily Kessler, JASA Club 76, 120 West 76th St., Manhattan.

At 1:30 p.m., the NYC Board of Elections commissioners meet, 32 Broadway, Manhattan.

Also at 1:20 p.m., Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, joined by members of his Democratic conference and advocates, holds a news conference regarding women’s health legislation, Speaker’s Conference Room, Room 342, state Capitol, Albany.

At 3:30 p.m., activists protest outside of Goldman Sachs, with plans to camp out front until Trump’s inauguration Friday to call for “the swamp to be drained,” 200 West St., Manhattan.

At 4 p.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. recognizes a $50,000 grant made by Bank Leumi USA to Mosholu Montefiore Community Center, a UJA-Federation of New York partner, for its Workforce Development Program, 3450 DeKalb Ave., the Bronx.

Headlines…

Just days before he is sworn into office, President-elect Donald Trump has again focused his penchant for unpredictable disruption on the rest of the world. No one knows exactly where he’s headed, and his unpredictability is perhaps his most predictable characteristic.

Trump’s ties to Russia date back to 1987, when he traveled there to explore building a hotel. He applied for his trademark in the country as early as 1996. And his children and associates have appeared in Moscow over and over in search of joint ventures, meeting with developers and government officials.

At 4 p.m. today, Trump’s childhood home in Queens is to be auctioned off by Paramount Realty USA, a firm that specializes in such sales and is banking on the property’s brief connection with the soon-to-be 45th president of the United States.

Trump criticized a cornerstone of House Republicans’ corporate-tax plan, which they had pitched as an alternative to his proposed import tariffs, creating another point of contention between the incoming president and congressional allies.

Leaders in Europe were reeling after Trump expressed doubts about the way NATO operates and said he didn’t really care either way whether the European Union stays united.

Hillary Clinton’s most high-profile public appearance since the election will be on Friday; she’ll be in attendance for the inauguration of the man to whom she lost the presidency. On Feb. 16, she’ll speak at a ceremony in New York honoring fashion designer Oscar de la Renta to mark the issuance of a stamp featuring him.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to clog the nation’s capital for Trump’s inauguration and a major demonstration the day after. How many will actually arrive to party or protest is an open question.

Several of Trump’s top economic policy jobs may go unfilled for days or even weeks after he is sworn in Friday, potentially slowing his pursuit of an ambitious domestic policy agenda that includes an overhaul of the tax code, repeal of the Affordable Care Act, infrastructure spending and broad deregulation.

Trump hinted at a potential future role for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who got passed over when the plum administration assignments were handed out.

The Democratic fissures exposed in last year’s presidential primary campaign between Clinton and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders have roared back to life, with party officials wary the split will hamper their ability to fight Trump.

Rep. Jerrold Nadler, of Manhattan, insisted that Democrats in Congress will work with Trump — even as they band together in a boycott of his inauguration.

Rep. John Lewis, who drew Trump’s ire after questioning the legitimacy of the 2016 election because of Russia’s alleged interference in it, avoided mentioning the president-elect by name at an MLK event in Florida as he called on young people to stand up when they perceive injustices.

Rep. Chris Collins: “My opinion is, what John Lewis is doing, he’s pouting. He lost. It’s like a spoiled child and we’ve seen it with the others. They can’t get over the fact that they lost. And what do spoiled little kids do? You know, they run around and throw a tantrum.”

Trump claimed during his first press conference as president-elect last week that “only reporters” care about seeing his tax returns, but a new poll suggests that nearly three quarters of the country believe that he should release them.

Community leaders joined about 200 protesters to rally against Buffalo School Board Member Carl Paladino’s recent controversial remarks about outgoing President Barack Obama and his wife.

Lawmakers are eager to hear from Gov. Andrew Cuomo exactly how he plans to pay for all the initiatives he laid out in his State of the State addresses.

Jimmy Vielkind: “The governor’s calculation is the same as always: it’s better to get something done — the core of his political narrative — than be the good torch-bearer. He’s already taken steps to stiff-arm left-flank advocates who he always seems to hearten and disappoint.”

If Cuomo’s latest Court of Appeals nominee, Rowan Wilson, is approved by the Senate, the high court will have two African American judges for the first time in its history. His selection was made just before midnight on the MLK holiday.

State officials are preparing to move ahead with long-awaited efforts to overhaul the healthcare network in central and eastern Brooklyn, including the likely merger of at least three money-losing hospitals into a single care-providing entity for the region.

Cuomo’s unprecedented State of the State speeches in six cities across New York never mentioned horse racing, a major component of the Saratoga-Capital Region’s economic engine.

More >

Extras

Martin Luther King III said today – the federal holiday honoring his father – that he had a “very constructive” meeting with President-elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in New York.

President Obama has no immediate plans after his White House tenure ends, except to get some sleep and reflect on the past eight years.

Last Friday, seven days before his departure from the White House, Obama sat down in the Oval Office and talked about the indispensable role that books have played during his presidency and throughout his life.

Monica Crowley, recently appointed by Trump to a key national security communications job, said that she would relinquish the post amid multiple allegations of plagiarism.

Rep. Chris Collins, a staunch Trump supporter, injected himself into the feud between the president-elect and Georgia Rep. John Lewis, Democratic congressman and civil rights icon – should be compared to a “spoiled child” after casting doubt that Trump had legitimately won the White House.

The Trump Organization will press ahead with multimillion-dollar plans to expand one of the president-elect’s golf resorts in Scotland, despite its apparent pledge to halt new investments overseas.

A Bruce Springsteen cover band has dropped out of playing the inauguration out of respect for the Boss, (Springsteen himself), who has repeatedly voiced his anger and disgust at the president-elect.

Trump has a long relationship with professional wrestling and the McMahon family that dates back to the 1980s, and much of his relationship with the family parallels his surprising rise to the U.S. presidency.

Vice President Joe Biden said it’s his “prayer” that the Trump administration will be committed and enthusiastic about the goal of ending cancer.

Some scalpers, who acquired tickets to Trump’s inauguration with the intent of reselling them on the secondary market, are striking out in their efforts to peddle them.

The coming expiration of a surcharge on high-earning New Yorkers is putting Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a thorny political position.

The governor will be holding separate closed-door budget meetings tomorrow. The first will be a lunch with the Senate and then a dinner later in the day with the Assembly.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s re-election campaign says it has raised more than $1 million over the last six months.

It is particularly important for the mayor to demonstrate success in soliciting small donations.

De Blasio plans to join protesters rallying against Trump’s policies at a rally in Manhattan Thursday ahead of the inauguration.

The MTA and transit workers union reached a tentative contract agreement after failing to meet a midnight deadline, union president John Samuelsen said.

NYPD Officer Richard Haste tomorrow will face a disciplinary trial at Police Department headquarters in Lower Manhattan for the February 2012 shooting death of Ramarley Graham, an 18-year-old unarmed black man.

Michael Saltsman, research director at the Employment Policies Institute, says New York’s recent minimum wage increases are already costing the state jobs.

Religious and political leaders condemned Buffalo School Board member Carl Paladino and his supporters at an MLK day rally, saying the “coalition will examine closely those who are with us and those who stand with racism.”

Cuomo nominated Rowan D. Wilson, a Port Washington resident with extensive experience as a commercial litigator but none as a judge, to fill a vacancy on New York’s highest court.

If confirmed, Wilson would be the first Long Islander on the Court of Appeals in more than two decades.

Former U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa is getting into New York’s ride-hailing debate, urging his fellow Democrat, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to require companies like Uber and Lyft to make a portion of their fleet accessible to people in wheelchairs.

Former Rep. Nan Hayworth wrote a letter to the editor excoriating the Cuomo administration and other supporters of closing the Indian Point nuclear power plant.

A Westhampton Beach police officer suspended since 2014 has filed a $75 million lawsuit against several village officials and Suffolk County authorities, according to court papers filed last week in U.S. District Court in Central Islip.

Officials from the upcoming Rivers Casino and Resort located in Schenectady confirmed that they’re progressing as fast as they expected before the grand opening on Feb. 8.

The Plattsburgh school board voted to oppose Betsy DeVos, Trump’s nominee for U.S. secretary of education, whose confirmation hearing is scheduled to start tomorrow.

Jessica Ottney Mahar, policy director for the Nature Conservancy, called Cuomo’s $2 billion proposal to improve water quality around the state “amazing,” adding: “The level of funding is exciting, and frankly, it surprised me.”

Erie County Republicans Republicans will offer one of their top judges for re-election this fall after Appellate Division Justice Erin M. Peradotto said she will seek a second term in State Supreme Court.

An Erie County pathologist was unable to determine the cause of death for India Cummings, a 27-year-old woman who died 20 days after entering the Erie County Holding Center in February 2016, a lawyer for her family revealed during a vigil for her today outside the home of the official who oversees the Buffalo jail.

Bella Rubinton, a 21-year-old Judaic Studies major at Binghamton University has officially announced her campaign for mayor of the City of Binghamton. She plans to challenge incumbent Republican Mayor Richard David, who is up for re-election in November.

The New York State Canal System corridor from Troy to the City of Tonawanda has been named a National Historic Landmark, the nation’s highest historic designation.

The last person to leave footprints on the moon has died. NASA reported that Gene Cernan passed away today at the age of 82, surrounded by his family.

Margot Lee Shetterly, author of the New York Times bestseller “Hidden Figures,” will speak at the Stanley Center for the Arts on Friday, Jan. 20.

State GOP To Co-Host Inaugural Event Breakfast With Trump Group

The New York Republican Committee will co-host an inaugural breakfast with a pro-Donald Trump 501c(4) launched in the wake of his November victory, the state GOP on Monday announced.

The breakfast, to be held with the Great America Alliance on Thursday at the Lowes Madison Hotel in Washington, will be headlined by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.

“We’re thrilled to welcome former Speaker Newt Gingrich to help kick-off the festivities of this historic inauguration,” said Chairman Ed Cox. “We were pleased to have him join us during the convention last summer and we’re all looking forward to welcoming him back to celebrate President-elect Trump.”

Trump is the first New York resident to be elected to the presidency since Franklin Roosevelt.

The state Republican Committee in New York helped Trump’s campaign in key swing states through mail campaign.

The committee along with the Great America Alliance will also work on a trio of events for inauguration week including a breakfast and a gala on Thursday and a parade viewing on Friday.

For 421a, What’s In A Name?

The lucrative real-estate tax abatement known as 421a is being replaced with something that looks a lot like the old program, albeit with a different name.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday unveiled legislation that revives the tax break aimed at building affordable housing and a wage component for projects in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

The old and relatively obscure tax break, which had expired and then tossed to real estate interests and construction labor unions to hash out, has been a key component of three corruption investigations. It’s generated $1 billion in subsidies for developers annually, some of whom have been Albany’s most generous campaign donors.

The new proposed program isn’t called 421a, after its section of the tax code. Now it’s been dubbed “Affordable New York.”

Indeed, there wasn’t much different in the announcement from Sunday and the agreement announced in November by the Real Estate Board of New York and construction labor groups.

Cuomo in a radio interview with businessman John Catsimatidis spoke of 421a in the past tense while touting what he said are improvements in the new legislation.

“It will create about 2,500 units per year of affordable housing, about 9,000 units total, and it’s actually, in my opinion, a better program than the old 421-a,” Cuomo said. “This has increased the length of affordability 40 years, and it’s actually made it more affordable for people to qualify.”

The portion of the pre-taped interview itself, in which it sounded like Catsimatidis had switched to talking to the governor on a cell phone, on the Sunday morning radio show appeared tacked on at the end.

Cuomo Advances COA Nominee

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday nominated attorney Rowan Wilson for a vacancy on the state’s highest court, the state Court of Appeals.

The announcement came hours after the Sunday midnight deadline to do so, but Cuomo’s office in an announcement said the nomination had been formally made before the end of the day.

Wilson, if approved by the GOP-led state Senate, would replace Judge Eugene Pigott, an appointee of Republican Gov. George Pataki, was required to step down at the end of December.

Wilson is a litigation partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore and was among the seven possible nominees picked by a judicial screening panel last month from Cuomo to choose from to replace Pigott.

“The New York State Court of appeals embodies the highest values of government service, and I am confident Rowan Wilson will continue to articulate and uphold the principles of law and fairness that embody the best of New York,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“With decades of experience in complex commercial litigation and his leadership role in the firm’s pro bono work, I am confident he has the intellect, integrity, and compassion we need to continue moving New York forward. I am proud to nominate him to serve as an Associate Judge, and I look forward to his swift confirmation by the State Senate.”

Wilson, 56, is a graduate of Harvard University and Harvard Law School. If confirmed New York would have two sitting African-American judges serving simultaneously on the Court of Appeals. He would also be the first Long Island resident to serve on the court in more than two decades.

With Wilson’s confirmation, the seven member court would have been fully remade during the Cuomo administration with his nominees due to mandatory retirements.