Extras

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will visit the University at Buffalo on August 26 despite undergoing treatment this month for a cancerous tumor on her pancreas.

Multiple reports say billionaire industrialist and conservative political influencer David Koch has died.

New York City Buildings Department is investigating after an elevator crushed a man to death at a Manhattan high-rise Thursday.

In the wake of the mass shootings this summer in Dayton Ohio and El Paso Texas, there were the usual calls for greater gun control measures in Washington. But like with previous mass shootings, once again most Republicans are reluctant to put any new restrictions on gun ownership.

Police in Saratoga Springs are investigating an allegation of someone spitting in the face of an elderly man outside the Granite Palace building.

The Adirondacks are perhaps more popular than ever with the lush hiking trails and campgrounds. Though the North Country is seeing a tourism boom, with tourists comes a side effect: Contending with all those people. It’s a challenge for the Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos.

State lawmakers are making a push to waive the $25 fee for new license plates as a replacement program is set to begin in April.State lawmakers are making a push to waive the $25 fee for new license plates as a replacement program is set to begin in April.

Langworthy Taps Regional Vice Chair For WNY

New York Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy has tapped Jeffrey Williams to serve as the regional finance vice chairman for western New York, the state party on Friday announced.

“When Chairman Langworthy asked me to serve in this position, I jumped at the chance because I know it is the start of a new era for the New York Republican Party,” Williams said. “We have seen the disastrous effects of one-Party Democrat rule on the taxpayers of this state and Nick is the leader who can rebuild our Party and take us to victory. I’m honored to serve in this capacity and look forward to rolling my sleeves up and getting to work.”

Williams has served in a variety of positions in western New York, including as the clerk of the Niagara County Legislature, a board member of the Thruway Authority and with the Republican National Committee.

“We are putting together a top-notch group of leaders to take back our state and I’m thrilled that Jeffrey has agreed to join our team,” Langworthy said.

“His incredible network of business, civic and political connections, combined with his dedication to our mission, will be a huge asset to the Party as we seek to grow and strengthen our reach in every corner of the state.”

Langworthy, a longtime Republican chairman for Erie County, formally became state chairman last month, succeeded Ed Cox after a brief leadership fight.

Reed and Cuomo’s Offices Exchange Choice Words Over Thruway Issue

A war of words has spawned over the condition of a portion of the New York State Thruway that runs through Seneca Nation territory in Western New York.

The road has deteriorated over a number of years, but the issue was brought back to the forefront earlier this month when Republican Congressman Reed put in writing that the state should be held liable if a serious accident on the stretch. Reed suggested the governor was playing politics with traveler safety because of an unrelated dispute with the Seneca about casino revenue.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Office had mostly deferred to the Thruway Authority regarding the timeline for repairs but during a press conference this week, suggested there was a connection between the casino dispute and the I-90 issues. He did suggest it was the Senecas potentially holding up the rehabilitation.
Still, Reed pounced Thursday, calling Cuomo’s stance appalling and questioning whether the governor was abusing his authority. That didn’t sit well with Cuomo’s office which offered up a rather harsh statement.
“Everyone knows that the congressman is used to being the president’s patsy but he shouldn’t be the Senecas’ patsy as well. He should do his job, stand with the communities he represents and demand that the Senecas make good on the arbitrators’ decision and make their neighbors whole,” Rich Azzopardi, Senior Advisor to the Governor, said.
Friday, Reed’s office struck back and like its Albany counterpart, didn’t pull any punches.
“Patsy? Unlike the Governor, none of Tom’s aides are in prison for taking bribes in exchange for sweetheart deals. Tom just wants I-90 fixed for the safety of the travelling public. The Federal funds have been delivered. Just fix the road before someone dies,” Communications Director Will Reinert said.
We will wait to see if Cuomo’s Office returns the volley.

Cuomo Signs Bill Targeting Scammers Of Vets

A bill meant to crack down on those who seek to scam veterans through unnecessary financial products or services was signed into law on Friday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The legislation blocks entities from receiving compensation for aiding veterans and their dependents by preparing a claim for benefit services they are not authorized to provide.

“Our veterans bravely put their lives on the line to protect our country and our freedoms, and we owe it to them to help ensure they have the protections and resources they need to be financially stable in the future,” Cuomo said.

“There are plenty of business that legitimately assist veterans and their families. However, there are far too many bad actors who prey upon the individuals who have valiantly served our state and our nation, causing irreparable financial harm. In enacting the strongest state legislation in the nation to protect our veterans and their families from these pension poaching schemes, we are sending a clear message to these unscrupulous entities that we will not allow them to abuse our service members and recognizing the sacrifice these brave men and women have made.”

The measure is meant to tackle “pension poaching” — scams that often involve financial planners, insurance agents or other entities that have targeted elderly or disabled veterans.

The pitch sometimes masked as helping veteran families obtain benefits from the Department of Veterans Affairs, but often lead to veterans repositioning their assets in order to qualify for benefits they aren’t eligible for. In turn, the entities sell veterans unneeded financial products or services to earn a commission or fee.

The bill was sponsored by Sen. David Carlucci and Assemblyman Walter Mosley.

“This legislation which I sponsored with Assemblyman Mosley will crackdown on the despicable crime of pension poaching by preventing scammers from profiting off a veteran’s service,” Carlucci said. “Veterans are heroes who have served our country selflessly to defend our freedoms. Now it’s our turn to help protect them from scam artists who seek to steal their hard earned money.”

Lawmakers Seek To Block License Plate Fee

From the Morning Memo:

State lawmakers are making a push to waive the $25 fee for new license plates as a replacement program is set to begin in April.

The state Department of Motor Vehicles this week announced a replacement plan, with New Yorkers selecting the new plate design. But the design contest is being coupled with a mandatory program to turn in plates that are a decade old or older, beginning with the blue-and-white plates still on the road.

Lawmakers have blasted the plan, calling it a cash grab. On top of the $25 fee for the new license plate, it costs $20 for a driver to keep their license plate number.

Democratic Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara this week unveiled a bill that would bar the state from requiring drivers to buy new license plates, regardless of their condition or age.

“It seems like the state is finding new reasons to replace our license plates and it’s happening over and over again, costing us, the taxpayers, more money each time. Enough is enough,” Santabarbara said in a statement.

“Most people are happy with the plates they have, trying to get to work in the morning and take their kids to school. Who wants to pay extra for the governor’s new design project? If these new plates are so important he should pay for them, period.”

Drivers with damaged or peeling license plates can replace them with no charge.

Republican Sen. Jim Tedisco, meanwhile, has launched an online petition to oppose the license plate fee.

“It’s time to send a message to the governor, DMV and legislative leaders that taxpayers are tired of the state constantly reaching into people’s wallets and nickel and diming the over-burdened taxpayers of New York State and stop this latest money grab,” Tedisco said.

“I have been flooded with calls, emails, and social media posts from constituents who are outraged by this new License Plate Tax. It’s clear from the widespread statewide bi-partisan opposition to the License Plate Tax that it’s a bad idea and has little public support.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has defended the plate change, saying it’s necessary in order for the plates to be recognized by cashless tolling cameras, which will soon be throughout the state Thruway system.

Erie County Moving Quickly To Implement Procedures, Find Money For New Early Voting

From the Morning Memo:

The Erie County Board of Elections is scrambling to prepare for New York State’s new early voting period.

The state Legislature passed a series of election reforms in January, including early voting. Lawmakers pushed to have the laws effective this year, in order to establish the systems before the presidential election this year.

However, the rush has been taxing on county boards of elections who received only a few months to get plans in order. Early voting was not required for the primary elections, which were moved up to June, but is required before the general election on November 5.

In Erie County, it will take place from October 26 until November 3 this year.

“What we have to do is implement a procedure and that really involves a change in a lot of our procedures and our software,” Republican Elections Commissioner Ralph Mohr said.

Mohr said there are a number of obstacles that the new law presents. It is establishing 37 voting sites that will need things like new electronic poll books, printers and staff.

The inspectors also need to be trained on the new technology and the county needs to establish protocol to make sure people can’t cast multiple votes, and the early votes are held until election day to be counted with the rest.

“We estimate the total cost to be somewhere in the neighborhood of about $3 million,” Mohr said.

Since the law was passed in January, after Erie County had already passed its budget, there is no money specifically allocated for early voting. The state is picking up some of the tab with a roughly $1.1 million dollar grant for Erie County, reimbursable after the county fronts the cost.

Because there is no budget line, the county budget office needs to at least approve that funding and the county Legislature, which is currently on break, may need to take a vote sometime in early September as well.

The Board of Elections says state lawmakers also approved another grant worth $874,000 but the state budget director hasn’t signed off on it yet.

“We’re working very rapidly to try to make sure that we don’t lose any funding and continue along the procedures and the plans that we have in place,” he said.

The quick turnaround has put most counties in the same position of trying to find money for which it hasn’t budgeted. In Erie County, commissioners said they’ve worked extra hard to make sure early voting is available to everybody.

“If you look at counties in Upstate like Monroe and Onondaga, they only have one site in the city of Syracuse and one site in the city of Rochester,” Democratic Elections Commissioner Jeremy Zellner said. “We have ten sites in the city of Buffalo.”

Zellner said there will be sites in close proximity to every voter but also noted people will be allowed to vote at any site in the county.

Here And Now

Good morning and TGIF!

Happening today:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with nothing public planned.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is also laying low, with no public events scheduled.

At 10 a.m., Rep. Paul Tonko will visit dental facilities service low-income residents. Ellis Dental Health Facility, 600 McClellan Street, Schenectady.

At 11 a.m., Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan will hold a promotion ceremony for Albany Fire Department members. Albany City Hall, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., Sen. Shelley Mayer will host story time, New Rochelle Public Library, 1 Library Plaza, New Rochelle.

At noon, Assemblyman Ron Kim and local officials will announce a back-to-school supply giveaway, 136-20 38th Ave., Suite 10A, Flushing.

At 6 p.m., Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will deliver remarks at Cattaraugus County Democratic Committee’s Blue Chip Ball. Holimont, 6921 Route 242, Ellicotville.

At 7 p.m., New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will attend the 2019 Grenada welcome reception, 157 St. Pauls Pl., Brooklyn.

Headlines:

Standardized test scores have inched up somewhat, and opt-outs from state testing have dropped, according to test results released by the State Education Department.

A medical marijuana company over the last year has expanded in the Capital Region amid a broader push to legalize marijuana for retail sale.

Protesters Thursday night in Troy called for accountability in the shooting death of Edson Thevenin.

The Sergeants Benevolent Association says NYPD Sergeant Kizzy Adonis did everything right the day now-fired officer Daniel Pantaleo placed Eric Garner in the chokehold that would lead to his death.

New York City police officers worry that after the firing of Pantaleo in the Garner case, no one has their backs.

The inquiry over Jeffrey Epstein’s death is expanding, with 15 workers at the federal jail subpoenaed.

The Diocese of Brooklyn has been hit with a wave of lawsuits under the state’s Child Victims Act.

Yeshiva University is being sued by 38 former students over alleged sexual abuse.

Despite a strong record and tons of campaign cash, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has struggled to gain traction and is now in serious danger of missing next month’s primary debate.

The George Washington Bridge was temporarily shutdown after a pipe bomb was reported, but was later determined to not be a threat.

Gov. Cuomo called into to NY1 to weigh in on a number of hot topics including the seized Brooklyn Pizzeria, the firing of NYPD Officer Pantaleo and the “Summer of Andrew.”

In the middle of a wage fight with an Albany restaurant, a cook was seized by federal immigration officers.

Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola wants his case heard on blocking driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.

DoorDash, the food home delivery service, is pledging to pay their workers more and allow them to keep their tips.

After Planned Parenthood announced on Monday they would withdraw from the Title X federal family planning program, local officials are stepping up to provide funding.

Binghamton University Professor Ken McLeod has found a link to low blood pressure to dementia. His research focuses on something called the “second heart.”

Los Angeles Lakers guard Rajon Rondo donated 25 pairs of shoes to support a Syracuse police officer’s basketball challenge, after a video of him playing in the community went viral.

A new state law aimed at preventing local mass casualty shootings, takes effect Saturday.

For more than 25 years, the Crime Victims Assistance Program has been a champion for the most vulnerable on Buffalo’s East Side. It’s now being discontinued.

Some people are worried they won’t have a place to live after being given a letter at their apartment at St. John Tower in Buffalo.

The Erie County Democratic Committee delivered an update to county elections commissioners Thursday regarding the actions it’s taken to correct compliance issues with its campaign finance reports dating back to 2012.

In national news:

Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign unveiled a $16 trillion plan to fight climate change.

Democratic rivals of Sen. Kamala Harris are taking advantage of her recent stumbles and mixed message on health care policy.

President Trump over the last several days has pursued a contradictory path on the economy amid fears of an economic slowdown.

A proposed tax cut may still be on, according to a top economic advisor to the president.

The White House is considering under taking a project that would seek links between mental health and violent behavior.

Wayne LaPierre, the top official at the National Rifle Association, was able to survive an internal revolt over spending and his lavish lifestyle.

Former Vice President Joe Biden continues to enjoy strong poll numbers, but those results mask an enthusiasm problem with his supporters.

Major telecom companies have struck a deal with states to combat those annoying robocalls.

From the editorial pages:

The Daily News writes that after 100 days of a presidential campaign, it’s time for Mayor Bill de Blasio to pack it in.

The New York Post says the Trump administration should still be looking for ways to boost the economy, even if talk of a recession is wishful thinking on the part of Democrats.

The Times Union blasted the latest proposed rule change from the Trump administration that could detain migrant families indefinitely, calling it cruel.

Newsday wearily notes it’s been another week of the Trump reality show.

From the sports pages:

The Yankee pitching isn’t good, and that’s a real problem.

The surging Mets swept the Cleveland Indians.

Is the Giants’ Daniel Jones going to show Baker Mayfield he’s wrong?

Extras

The state test scores are out, and students are showing some improved marks.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo called into to NY1 to weigh in on a number of hot topics including the seized Brooklyn Pizzeria, the firing of NYPD Officer Pantaleo and the “Summer of Andrew.”

On Wednesday morning, Cuomo boarded a train with most of his commissioners and headed out the fairgrounds at Syracuse to open the 172nd state fair.

New York State Fair officials have a reminder about changes they have made to some of the parking lots.

Tenants in Ulster County claim a landlord are holding their cars hostage and using them as collateral, while the family paid off chunks of their bill each week.

After Planned Parenthood announced on Monday they would withdraw from the Title X federal family planning program, local officials are stepping up to provide funding.

The Erie County Democratic Committee delivered an update to county elections commissioners Thursday regarding the actions it’s taken to correct compliance issues with its campaign finance reports dating back to 2012.

New York’s Red Flag Law Goes Into Effect Saturday

New York’s red flag law — meant to take firearms away from those deemed by a court to be a danger to themselves or others — will take effect on Saturday.

The measure, which was approved earlier this year, is taking hold in New York amid a debate over a national version of the legislation, which some Republicans in Congress have expressed a willingness to support following two mass shootings in Texas and Ohio this month less than 24 hours apart.

“Now our success in reducing gun-related deaths and injuries will depend upon our ability to make sure everyone is aware of the new law — not only judges, district attorneys, police officers, and educators, but also the general public who may become aware that someone close to them poses a danger to themselves or others,” said Sen. Brian Kavanagh, a Democrat from Manhattan, one of the sponsors of the bill.

Assemblywoman Joanne Simon, a Democrat from Brooklyn, said people are eager for action on the national stage.

“People are sick of the excuses that have made gun violence par for the course in this country,” she said. “In fact, it is not normal and it is a uniquely American problem. New York is taking action and on August 24th, the Extreme Risk Protection Order legislation goes into effect.”

The law is one of several new gun control measures approved by lawmakers and signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo this year. New York’s latest gun control legislation includes measures meant to require locked storage of guns in homes where someone under 17 is present, a ban devices that help guns mimic automatic fire and extending the waiting period for prospective gun buyers who not immediately approved for purchase through the National Instant Criminal Background Check System.

James Signs On To Brief For Abortion Access

Attorney General Letitia James on Thursday signed onto a friend-of-the-court brief with 15 attorneys general around the country in support of a lawsuit over the effort to open a clinic in Indiana that provides abortion services.

“No person, no business, and absolutely no government entity has the right to deny a woman access to a safe and legal abortion,” James said.

“Access to reproductive health care is a fundamental right, and despite this crusade against women’s reproductive freedoms, we will never stop fighting for reproductive justice. No matter what anyone may say, this is about freedom of one’s body, freedom of one’s beliefs, and freedom of choice.”

The lawsuit was filed by the Whole Woman’s Health Alliance as part of an effort to open the clinic in South Bend, Indiana. The coalition of states in the brief argued they have an interest in protecting health and safety for women.

The lawsuit also comes amid a heightened debate over abortion policy in the country. New York earlier this year approved a measure meant to strengthen abortion rights in the state. Multiple states in turn approved legislation restricting access to abortion services.