COMIDA Scandal Fallout Continues As More Board Members Resign

Two more members of the County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency resigned Friday, including the IDA’s chair, Theresa Mazzulo. She and Clint Campbell are leaving the board just days after member Merk Siwiec resigned.

The fallout stems from comments made by county GOP boss Bill Reilich back in March following the appointment of Irondequoit Town Supervisor Adam Bello, D, to the county’s clerk’s office. Reilich stated that the the owners of I-Square, a major development project, were in default of a county tax break agreement.

“While the County Executive refuses to answer the remaining questions about undue political influence affecting county operations, COMIDA board members have chosen to resign their volunteer posts rather than be dragged into the quicksand of this ethics disaster,” County Legislator Mark Muoio, D, said.

The owners, Mike and Wendy Nolan questioned Reilich’s knowledge of the situation, and the integrity of the board. County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo, R, said it was Assistant County Executive Justin Roj who outed the information and she accepted his resignation soon after. Mike Nolan called Mazzullo’s resignation a little surprising and said he is looking for someone to come clean about what happened rather than just leave.

“It’s disheartening because although it’s progress in the right direction, I guess, we still don’t know why, where, who, a lot of things. It certainly circles right back to the county executive, Cheryl Dinolfo. It really boils down to everyone is protecting her and Bill Reilich from this, but it’s really it’s doing damage to everybody by not coming out with the truth,” he said.

Nolan also said COMIDA acting Executive Director Paul Johnson retired a week ago Friday. That leaves four members, still currently on the board.

The Nolans, this week, called for an Attorney General’s investigation into the matter.  COMIDA has since said that I-Square is not in default of its agreement.

Extras

The NRA endorsed Donald Trump for president.

The relationship between Clinton, who is trying to become the first woman president, and her predominantly female press corps is complicated.

Sydney Leathers, who exposed former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s second sexting scandal, isn’t sure if the resulting life-changing attention she received was the best or worst thing that has happened to her to date.

State and federal investigations that threaten to ensnare SUNY Polytechnic Institute already are having an impact on regional economic development efforts and the photonics initiative that the institution is charged with leading. “It’s slowing things down,” said Danny Wegman, co-chair of the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council.

NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said today that she would “consider” proposing a law mandating that the local legislature contain a minimum number of women.

The CEO of Adirondack Scenic Railroad suggested – not for the first time – that pay-to-play was behind the governor’s decision to tear up a section of train track between Tupper Lake and Lake Placid.

Some 157 pregnant women in the United States and another 122 in US territories, primarily Puerto Rico, have tested positive for infection with the Zika virus, according to the CDC.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today announced that DEC operated campgrounds in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks are officially open for the summer camping season.

A new report from the Brookings Institute suggests the problems of infrastructure and poverty could be addressed in tandem.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s philanthropy philosophy: “If we’ve got a problem, let’s do something. I want to find one small thing.”

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is appointing Lorelei Salas commissioner of the Department of Consumer Affairs, replacing Julie Menin, who left the agency to lead the mayor’s office of media and entertainment in February.

It will be at least early July before the Consensus commission makes final recommendations about local government modernization, including whether Syracuse and Onondaga County should merge into a new entity.

What Sandra Lee hopes will be her final breast cancer surgery went well.

An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll released today found 72 percent support paid family leave. Democrats were more likely to back it, but Republicans also expressed strong support.

Crime was up 27 percent in New York City’s biggest parks during the beginning months of the year, a disturbing spike that officials said might be because of the relatively balmy winter.

State officials have delayed a decision on whether to allow the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to take over Women’s Christian Association Hospital, a struggling 317-bed facility in Jamestown.

Lawmakers in the next few weeks will consider a proposal to reverse a change to the STAR, or School Tax Reduction, program that was earlier rejected by the Legislature but ended up in the budget anyway.

Per Diems Posted, CHA Consulting Gets High-Speed Rail Payment

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office on Friday posted the three months’ worth of per diem and travel reimbursement data for the members of the state Senate and Assembly.

At the same time, the office has posted per diem and travel data for lawmakers from 2013 through 2015, breaking down how much each lawmaker received in air travel, daily expenses and per diems.

Among the spending approvals was $83,000 to CHA Consulting Inc. for high-speed rail design. The company was found to have paid Joe Percoco, a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, between $20,000 to $50,000 in 2014, according to a financial disclosure form.

Percoco, along with lobbyist Todd Howe, are under investigation by federal prosecutors as part of a broader probe into economic development spending. Percoco also claimed he received income from COR Development, which the companies denies ever paying him. CHA Consulting says it is cooperating with the investigation and does not believe it to be a target.

DiNapoli’s office office also announced it approved $34,000 in spending for the Assembly to continue working with Rossein Associates, the firm hired to develop a sexual harassment policy and conduct investigations.

An additional $5,000 was also approved in spending for the Assembly to retain Roemer Wallens Gold & Mineaux LLP, which is also providing outside counsel related to investigations of sexual harassment.

SD-46: Amedore Announces Re-Election Bid

Republican Sen. George Amedore on Friday announced he is running for re-election to a second term in the 46th Senate district.

“There is still a lot of work to be done to make the Hudson Valley, the Capital Region and the Mohawk Valley a more affordable place to live, work, and retire,” Amedore said. “The residents of the 46th District need a representative who is in touch with the needs and values of the community, and I look forward to continuing to serve as their State Senator.”

Amedore in a March interview on Fred Dicker’s Talk-1300 radio show wouldn’t say if he was running for re-election, insisting he was focused on policy issues at the time.

“I’ll decide when politics needs to be resolved,” Amedore said at the time. “Right now we need to focus on making New York more affordable.”

Amedore had initially sought the district, which was newly formed during the 2012 redistricting process, four years ago, but lost narrowly to Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk. Amedore won the seat back in a rematch in 2014.

The district stretches from the Mohawk Valley to the Hudson Valley.

Amedore is expected to face Democrat Sara Niccoli this November.

Gillibrand, Cuomo Declared ‘Rising Stars’ (At Least As Far As These Trading Cards Are Concerned)

cuomocardpatakicardU.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are “rising stars” ahead of the 2020 presidential election — that’s according to a series of collectible trading cards commemorating the 2016 campaign for the White House.

Both Gillibrand and Cuomo receive the “rising star” designation, similar to sports cards touting promising rookie athletes. Indeed, the gist of these cards has been to evoke a politics-as-sports metaphor.

The wrapper for the cards (on sale at Target for $1.99 for a pack of six, while a box set retails for $24.95 online) declares that “Politics Is The New Sports” — perhaps to the chagrin of folks who think the race for the presidency is more than a little trivial.gillibrandcard

In addition to the rising stars, there are cards for “influencers” and “spouses” (former President Bill Clinton earns both designations) as well as cards for the candidates themselves, like former Gov. George Pataki, who dropped his presidential campaign in December.

The cards aren’t immune from errors. The card for former Texas Gov. Rick Perry labels him “Rick Santorum.” In the collectors’ world, so-called “error” cards tend to be worth more.

NY-19: Heaney Reiterates Calls For Federal And State Water Hearings

Republican congressional candidate Andrew Heaney on Friday renewed his calls for federal and state water quality hearings after Taconic Plastics in Petersburgh was declared a state superfund site after a chemical contamination was discovered in the town.

“What is the mystery?” Heaney said in a statement. “How many more communities need to go through this type of uncertainty and fear? Would Governor Cuomo and Speaker Heastie be more interested if these communities were named New York City or Buffalo?”

Rep. Chris Gibson, the Republican incumbent who retires this year and Heaney is vying to replace, has called for federal hearings on the contamination issues in the area, which this year also included the village of Hoosick Falls.

“I commend Congressman Gibson for joining my call for federal hearings, with the news in Petersburgh it’s clear the scope of the problem and the need for investigation is greater and more imminent than ever,” Heaney said.

The Democratic-led Assembly had initially suggested it would hold water quality hearings as well, but those plans never materialized. Speaker Carl Heastie this week said the issues facing Hoosick Falls had been largely resolved and the governor’s office had responded with its own task force to respond to water contamination issues.

In the wake of the DEC’s decision to designate Petersburgh as a Superfund site due to PFOA contamination, Republican candidate for Congress Andrew Heaney renewed his call for public hearings.

Also this week, the Environmental Protection Agency announced it had set a new standard for PFOA in water which lowers the parts per trillion level for safety.

NY-19: Emily’s List Endorses Teachout

EMILY’s List is endorsing Democrat Zephyr Teachout in the battleground 19th congressional district in the Hudson Valley.

The group, which backs Democratic candidates who support reproductive rights, called Teachout a “reform-minded champion.”

“Zephyr Teachout is a reform-minded champion who understands the challenges faced by New York women and families,” said Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List.

“Zephyr has dedicated her career to ending government corruption and income inequality, protecting the environment and advocating for women’s access to health care. The EMILY’s List community, more than three million strong, is excited to endorse Zephyr in this battleground district.”

Teachout, a Fordham Law School professor, next month faces Democrat Will Yandik in a primary for the party’s nomination in the district, which is being vacated by Republican Rep. Chris Gibson.

On the Republican side, former Assembly Minority Leader John Faso and businessman Andrew Heaney are vying for the GOP nod.

Senate GOP Seeks More Info Ahead Of PACB Vote

From the Morning Memo:

Senate Republicans are seeking more information on the $485.5 million disbursement for an arm of SUNY Polytechnic after a meeting to approve the spending was postponed to next week.

“We have asked for additional information,” said Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif. “Once we receive that information, we will thoroughly evaluate it.”

The vote by the Public Authorities Control Board would send the money to a “public benefit” corporation created by SUNY Poly for the funding of the SolarCity project at the Riverbend site in western New York.

The board is composed of the governor’s Division of Budget director and representatives from the Assembly and Senate.

SUNY Poly is under investigation for potential bid rigging, while the Buffalo Billion economic development project has fallen under scrutiny by the U.S. attorney’s office.

In an interview on The Capitol Pressroom on Thursday, Sen. Patrick Gallivan, who represents western New York, called the project the PACB money would support “vital.”

“We’ve got a viable project moving forward,” he said. “In answer to the simple question, should the project be held up? I think the answer is no.”

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie this week insisted the Assembly would do its “due diligence” in assessing the funding, but similarly called the project spending important for Buffalo.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has hired an outside investigator to review contracts under the program. Any PACB approval is also subject to review by the instigator, Cuomo said this week.

The PACB meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.

Lawmakers Seek State Funding For County Indigent Legal Services

From the Morning Memo:

Lawmakers in the Senate are pushing a measure that would create a unified system for funding legal services for the poor and indigent after a five-county lawsuit found the state should bare the cost.

“That’s five counties out of 57,” said Sen. John DeFrancisco, a Syracuse Republican and the deputy majority leader. “It doesn’t make sense in my mind to ask the other 57 counties to sue in order to get the same benefits.”

The settlement of a lawsuit brought by Suffolk, Washington, Ontario, Onondaga, and Schuyler counties would have the Office of Indigent Legal Services provide for public defense in those counties. Now lawmakers say the entire state should be covered by such an arrangement.

“I think a broad-based bill that applies to everybody should take place,” DeFrancisco said.

Supporters say the bill would create a more unified system for public defenders as opposed to services provided to the poor on a county-by-county basis.

“It’s unfair to the remaining counties of New York state that have similar fiscal challenges,” said Sen. Joe Griffo. “Just because they did not engage in a lawsuit, they should receive the same type of treatment.”

Lawmakers say at the moment the present situation is akin to an unfunded mandate for county governments who do not have the budgets or the staffing levels to fund indigent legal services equally.

“Nothing has changed in other counties,” Griffo said. “Whether it’s northern New York, the Southern Tier, central New York, everyone should be treated fairly.”

The situation is similar to a separate effort to have the state make up the difference in costs for a recommended pay raise for district attorneys, which counties have not budgeted for, but a statewide pay commission has approved.

“Now that responsibility is being borne by the counties, where maybe the office of court administration should bear that expense,” Griffo said.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule. The Legislature is not in session.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio travels to Seattle to celebrate his brother Steve Wilhelm’s retirement from the Puget Sound Business Journal and returns Sunday afternoon. There are no public events scheduled.

At 8:15 a.m., as part of “Green Your Commute Day,” DEC Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos will join DEC and staff from other state agencies to bike to work, Albany County Rail Trail Parking Area at Kenwood Ave., Slingerlands. (Seggos will ride to DEC HQ at 625 Broadway, Albany).

At 8:30 a.m., NYC Councilman Barry Grodenchik speaks at the Queens Chamber of Commerce’s Legislative Breakfast, 75-20 Astoria Blvd., Queens.

At 9:30 a.m., Reps. Nydia Velázquez, Grace Meng and Hakeem Jeffries, NYC Board of Elections Executive Director Michael Ryan and others attend town hall on voting and the Voting Rights Act, Gouverneur Health Center Auditorium, 227 Madison St., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., the Senate Standing Committee on Cities will be holding a hearing to examine the issue of taxes and fees on carry-out merchandise bags, 250 Broadway, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Code/Interactive celebrate Bronx Tech Day, P.S. 107, 1695 Seward Ave., Bronx.

At 1 p.m., LG Kathy Hochul delivers the Medaille College Graduate School commencement address, Kleinhans Music Hall, 3 Symphony Circle, Buffalo.

At 1:40 p.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray will deliver remarks at the Masjid ‘Eesa Ibn Maryam mosque as part of the Weekend of Faith for Mental Health, Masjid ‘Eesa Ibn Maryam, 90-20 191st St., Queens.

At 2 p.m., NYC Councilman Costa Constantinides and Queens Library President and CEO Dennis Walcott read at a story time with the children and discuss why it is important to keep investing in our libraries, Queens Library at Steinway, 21-45 31st St., Queens.

Headlines…

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has deemed several of his unpaid, outside consultants – Jonathan Rosen, Nicholas Baldick, Bill Hyers, John Del Cecato and Patrick Gaspard – “agents of the city,” defending his decision not to release his email exchanges with them in response to a FOIL request.

With the exception of Gaspard, a former 1199 political director who is now the U.S. ambassador to South Africa, each man on that list represents a firm that got large payments from de Blasio’s political nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York, now at the center of several inquiries into the mayor’s fund-raising efforts.

“Their communications to the Mayor’s Office, along with those of their support staff working at the principal’s direction on those particular matters, are exempt from disclosure when related solely to city business and not on behalf of any client,” said de Blasio counsel Maya Wiley.

Seeking to claim the moral high ground in his ongoing battle with the Senate Republicans over the renewal of mayoral control, de Blasio skipped a second hearing on the subject held by the conference in Manhattan. NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina did testify.

Republican Christopher McGrath, who lost a special election last month to fill former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos’ seat, will face off in a November rematch against the Democrat who defeated him in that race, Sen. Todd Kaminsky.

Suffolk County Community College will send its Sharks men’s baseball team the National Junior College Athletic Association Championship after determining the school is not covered by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s ban on state travel to North Carolina over its transgender bathroom law.

Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro schmoozed with GOP officials in Onondaga and Wayne counties as he tries to build his name recognition in advance of a potential 2018 run for governor.

Democratic presidential front-runner and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton shared her thoughts on the crash of EgyptAir Flight MS804 over the Mediterranean Sea early yesterday, saying the incident appeared to be “an act of terrorism.”

Clinton, for the first time since launching her campaign, declared herself the inevitable nominee of the Democratic Party, having held off a surprisingly strong challenge from her progressive rival, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.

So much for the all the pundits and experts who said Donald Trump wouldn’t stand a chance in the general election. He would narrowly defeat Clinton 45-42, according to a new national poll released by Fox News. The three-point lead is within the survey’s margin of error.

Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president, delivered a thank-you gift to the man who arguably risked the most to endorse him – New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie – holding a fundraiser that he claimed would pay off the entirety of Christie’s debt from his presidential campaign.

Billionaires who spurned rump during the primaries are now rallying around the presumptive Republican presidential nominee — pledging six- and seven-figure donations for the general election against Clinton.

The Utica City School District settled a lawsuit over its treatment of young refugees, who, the suit filed last year by NYCLU charged, were being excluded from the city’s lone high school because of their age and because they did not speak English.

A deal on legalizing daily fantasy sports in New York may be reached before the legislative session ends next month.

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