Cuomo Vetoes DEC Reporting Measure

A bill that would have required the Department of Environmental Conservation to issue reports every other year that list high environmental impact zeons in New York was vetoed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

In a veto statement, Cuomo noted similar legislation had been vetoed by then-Gov. David Paterson in 2010 and issues raised at the time continue with the proposal.

“For instance, the bill would require DEC to locate data sets not held by the state, regardless of whether such data sets are obtainable by DEC or can be incorporated into DEC’s database,” the veto message stated.

At the same time, Cuomo raised concerns with the extensive effort that would be required to collect the data the bill requires.

Still, environmental groups, including the Environmental Advocates of New York, were disappointed with the legislation not being approved.

“We are disappointed in this veto because it means we lose a real opportunity to provide critical information about potential hazards that New Yorkers—especially those in minority and low-income communities—may be facing,” said the group’s deputy director, Kate Kurera. “With several more pieces of environmental legislation still awaiting executive action, we urge the Governor to be a true green leader and sign these remaining bills into law.”

Second Vaping-Linked Death Confirmed

The second death in New York believed to be related to vaping was confirmed Wednesday by state officials.

The death was of a man in his 30s from Manhattan who had a history of vaping and e-cigarette use, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

“Based on an investigation and medical record review, DOH has determined the death to be vaping related,” Cuomo said. “DOH is continuing its robust investigation into the cause of these illnesses, but in the meantime our message on vaping remains unchanged: if you don’t know what you’re smoking, don’t smoke it.””

Cuomo has moved to administratively ban flavored tobacco products used with vaping, but the move was delayed amid a legal challenge from an industry association.

On Tuesday, Attorney General Letitia James announced New York is suing JUUL, a prominent manufacturer of vaping products, over false advertising claims.

“We are taking every step possible to combat this crisis on the state level, but the federal government needs to take action now,” Cuomo said in the statement.

“President Trump has already backed down from his vow to ban the sale of most flavored e-cigarettes – despite widespread evidence that these flavors are used to target our teens and young adults – and put the interests of the vaping industry over the lives of Americans. This is Big Tobacco all over again. Make no mistake: this is a public health crisis and until our ‘leaders’ in Washington do something to stop it, more lives will be lost.”

Hochul Joins Chorus Calling On MLB To Leave NY Baseball Alone

From the Morning Memo:

From a governmental standpoint, there is not much lawmakers at any level can do about a proposed plan to contract Major League Baseball’s minor league system – that doesn’t mean they’re not trying.

The 30 big league teams and 160 minor league organizations have an agreement that governs their structure and expires at the end of 2020. The new proposal would eliminate affiliations for four New York state teams in 2021.

However, Sen. Chuck Schumer has vowed to speak directly to MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred, an Upstater himself, about changing that plan. Republican Rep. John Katko co-signed a letter with a bi-partisan group of members of Congress to “highlight  the importance of Minor League clubs.”

And Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul is appealing to MLB as well.

“We’re saying please don’t do this,” she said. “Take  your considerations elsewhere but leave New York State, the home of baseball, alone.”

The LG noted baseball’s rich history in the state. It’s founder Abner Doubleday was born in New York and one of the teams in peril, the Auburn Doubledays, is named after him. Of course, the Baseball Hall of Fame is also in Cooperstown, NY.

Hochul said she is voicing her distress not just as an elected official but as a fan of minor league baseball and the Batavia Muckdogs – another team in danger of losing its affiliation.

“If you’re in Batavia or anywhere nearby, you love the Muckdogs. I’ve been to many of their games. I’ve thrown out opening pitches. My husband and I slip in there at least once or twice a year to catch a game so it’s part of the identity of the community and especially these small towns, I mean Batavia has a lot going for it but part of it is being associated with a minor league baseball team,” she said.

Hochul said potentially losing these minor league teams would be detrimental to the community from a cultural and economic standpoint.

State Lawmakers To Assess Early Voting

From the Morning Memo:

State lawmakers today will hold a public hearing assessing the first year of early voting in New York.

The hearing, to be held in New York City, comes amid turnout of less than 2 percent of eligible voters before Election Day, according to the state Board of Elections.

At the moment, there’s no way to tell if this is a baseline level of turnout given the first year the law was in effect. At the same time, advocates expect turnout to be far higher in early voting next year amid a presidential race.

Still, there are issues lawmakers may want to tackle in the new year ahead of Election Day 2020, including insuring voting machines are working adequately during the period of early voting as well as placing polling stations in population centers, where there is no current guarantee that’s the case.

Much of early voting was left up to county Board of Elections to implement and funding was at issue over the summer in the weeks leading up to the first early votes being cast. Expect concerns over early voting as an “unfunded mandate” to be raised again next year.

Here And Now

Good morning and happy Wednesday to all. Here’s the news.

Happening today:

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

At 10 a.m., state lawmakers will hold a public hearing to discuss the implementation of early voting throughout New York state. Senate Hearing Room, 250 Broadway, 19th Floor, New York City.

At 11 a.m., New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will highlight legal services available to immigrants amid a challenge to the “public charge” rule. 221 Heberton Ave., Staten Island.

Also at 11 a.m., Democrat Tedra Cobb will be holding a campaign kickoff event. American Legion, 162 Quarry Road, Plattsburgh.

At noon, Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy will hold an anti-impeachment event outside of Rep. Anthony Brindisi’s office. 430 Court St., Utica.

At 1 p.m., Mayor de Blasio will sign legislation. El Puente. 211 South 4th St., Brooklyn.

At 6 p.m., Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will highlight efforts to close the wage and gender gap. The Shed at Hudson Yards, 545 W 30th St., New York City.

At 7 p.m., Lt. Gov. Hochul will discuss economic development and infrastructure investment at the NY Building Congress Industry recognition gala. Grand Hyatt, 109 E 42nd St., New York City.

Headlines:

Two jail guards responsible for monitoring Jeffrey Epstein the night he killed himself were charged Tuesday with falsifying prison records to conceal they were sleeping and browsing the internet during the hours they were supposed to be keeping a close watch on prisoners.

The state’s top ethics and lobbying agency is refusing to release the details of a leak complaint involving Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Speaker Heastie.

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics met for two hours behind closed doors, but declined to take any action in public on the issue.

In a new lawsuit announced Tuesday, State Attorney General Letitia James is taking aim at Juul, accusing the giant vaping company of false marketing and advertising, telling young people its product is safe to use.

Newsday’s stories on discrimination in real estate sales on Long Island has result in an investigation by the state attorney general’s office.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone reacted to the Newsday investigation and has announced a plan meant to combat discrimination in real estate.

And Long Island representatives in Congress are calling for a housing investigation as well.

Democrat Tedra Cobb on Tuesday kicked off her second bid for a congressional seat held by Stefanik in the North Country since she won it in 2014.

Rep. Elise Stefanik, meanwhile, continued to walk a tight rope in the impeachment proceedings.

Rep. Antonio Delgado is being slammed on social media and cable TV for his support for impeachment.

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday signed a bill that will significantly change the layout of New York City streets by adding 250 miles of protected bike lanes amid a dramatic surge in cyclist deaths.

The event was the mayor’s first bill signing since March.

The mayor allowed more than 100 bills to be enacted without his signature.

Transit groups are giving the NYPD an “F” grade when it comes to bus lane enforcement.

Democrats in the House of Representatives are handing the Oversight panel’s gavel to Rep. Carolyn Maloney.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is warning consumers about medications that are sold at bargain stores.

Michael Ferro, the former chairman of the company that owns The Daily News, is selling his 25 percent stake to Alden Global Capital, a hedge fund considered a destroyer of local news.

The Erie County Board of Elections notified the County Legislature during budget hearings last week its allocation for next year was $2 million less than it projects it needs.

Democrat Robin Schimminger was first elected to the state Assembly in 1976. He will end his 40-plus year tenure in the Legislature at the end of next year.

Officials in Westchester County are in line to receive a major boost in pay.

A sense of disgust and distress is felt by many Syracuse University students as the number of racist incidents continue to rise.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo criticized Syracuse University Chancellor Kent Syverud and SU leadership for their response to the string of reported racial incidents at the university over the past week and a half, saying they “have not been handled in a manner that reflects this state’s aggressive opposition to such odious, reckless, reprehensible behavior.”

Syracuse University’s Department of Public Safety estimate they are investigating somewhere between eight and 10 cases related to the series of racial graffiti and hateful speech that have been reported at Syracuse University for over a week.

Rise Up Kingston, a local community group, is condemning Ulster County DA Holley Carnright’s recent comments in the Kingston Times calling for proactive policing in the city. Carnright blames rising anti-police sentiment for a lack of community cooperation with police investigations.

FEMA is in the Mohawk Valley this week, assessing the damage caused by the Halloween storm.

Statements made by the operator of a limousine company to state law enforcement and transportation officials in the hours after a deadly crash will be allowed in court.

The count of absentee ballots in the race for Colonie town supervisor has come to a close. Democratic incumbent Paula Mahan came out on top, holding off Republican challenger George Scaringe by 106 votes.

In national news:

A career Army officer on Donald Trump’s National Security Council testified Tuesday he was duty-bound to object to the president’s clearly “improper” phone call seeking Ukrainian investigations of U.S. Democrats. Republicans answered him with doubts about his loyalty to the United States.

As the glare of impeachment continues, President Trump has started to criticize the people working in his administration by name.

Focus is now turning back to Ambassador Gordon Sondland, who may have direct, first-hand knowledge of what President Trump sought from Ukrainian officials and his level of involvement.

The Democratic presidential candidates are meeting for another televised debate this evening.

And the mayor of South Bend will likely be in the klieg lights this evening amid his jump in Iowa polling.

Stephanie Grisham, the president’s press secretary, says she received nastygrams from departing Obama administration officials.

From the editorial pages:

The Buffalo News praised the approval of a measure that allows adoptees to access their birth records once they turn 18.

Newsday says there is a level of urgency needed to make repairs to Long Island Rail Road tunnels.

The Times Union criticized Rensselaer County for stalling a road improvement project needed for South Troy residents.

Councilman Richie Torres writes in The Daily News that New York needs to stay away from the use of voting machines that have proven to fail.

From the sports pages:

Greg Bird may not be a Yankee for much longer.

Carmelo Anthony was rusty in his return to the NBA after year’s absence.

NY-21: Cobb On 3 Issues At Her Campaign Kickoff

Expect to hear a lot of this from Democratic congressional candidate Tedra Cobb as she seeks to draw a contrast with Republican incumbent Elise Stefanik: “The biggest difference between us: Elise Stefanik is a Washington insider.”

Cobb on Tuesday kicked off her second bid for a congressional seat held by Stefanik in the North Country since she won it in 2014.

It’s a campaign that’s kicking off against the backdrop of an impeachment drive in Washington, in which Stefanik has played a key role defending the president and casting a national spotlight on the race.

Cobb’s campaign reported raising $1 million over the weekend — a staggering amount for a district in which Republicans outnumber Democrats by more than 46,000 active enrolled voters.

Here’s a quick rundown of what Cobb said at the event in Queensbury.

Impeachment:

Cobb is not embracing the actual impeachment of the president just yet, even though she supports the inquiry underway in Washington.

“I think we can’t answer that question at this moment in time because we don’t have all of the facts,” she said.

Health care and Social Security:

A local supporter of Medicare-for-All, Scott Desnoyer, urged Cobb at the event to support the proposal. Cobb, however, wasn’t embracing the plan, though she had signaled being open to the idea a year ago when she ran against Stefanik the first time.

Cobb on Tuesday said she supported allowing Americans to purchase public health insurance as an option.

“I believe we should have a public option so that people can buy into Medicare so those people who want to keep their health care, they can,” she told reporters.

And she pledged to not support any measures in Congress cutting benefits.

“I will not cut a dime from Social Security or Medicare,” she told the audience.

Environment:

Cobb criticized Stefanik for votes on pollution. She pledged to support “efforts to reduce climate change and hold corporate polluters accountable.”

She added, “I believe in science-based decision making.”

The Stefanik campaign in a statement criticized Cobb for her platform and knocked George Conway, a Trump critic and husband of presidential adviser Kellyanne Conway, for calling Stefanik “trashy” in a Twitter post.

“Failed, far left Democrat Tedra Cobb today started her anemic 2020 campaign right where she left off: dishonest about her clear record supporting government mandated health care that strips families off their private insurance plans, on banning guns and about supporting massive tax hikes on North Country families,” said spokesman Lenny Alcivar.

“Taxin’ Tedra had an opportunity to denounce her top campaign contributor George Conway’s description of Congresswoman Stefanik as ‘ trash,’ and to return his tainted money, but she refused.”

Long-Time Assemblyman Robin Schimminger To Retire After 2020

Democrat Robin Schimminger was first elected to the state Assembly in 1976.

He will end his 40+ year tenure in the Legislature at the end of next year. Schimminger confirmed he plans to retire after he completes his current term.

“During that time, I have met with thousands of individuals and been involved with issues that have affected them personally and collectively as a community. After considerable reflection, I have decided that I will not be seeking re-election next year in 2020,” he said.”

He has served as the chair of the Assembly Standing Committee on Economic Development for more than two decades. Schimminger has the reputation as a moderate Democrat, who has had no qualms with criticizing the administration, including current Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“I will, however, continue to represent the people and places that have been a part of my life for the duration of my present term, after which time I look forward to spending more time with my family,” he said.

Party insiders expect there will be people lining up to run for the long-occupied seat. The names already mentioned as possible Schimminger successors include Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Jeremy Zellner, Kenmore Mayor Patrick Mang, Tonawanda Supervisor Joe Emminger and Erie County Legislator Kevin Hardwick.

Spectrum News spoke with Emminger and Hardwick before the assemblyman made his announcement. Emminger said he would consider running for the seat, while Hardwick, who recently defected from the GOP, did not say no but downplayed the idea.

EC Dems Could Potentially Endorse In SD-60 And NY-27 Thursday

The Erie County Democratic Committee executive committee is meeting Thursday evening with several high profile 2020 races potentially on the agenda.

Sources said the committee plans to interview current Assemblyman Sean Ryan about his run for New York’s 60th State Senate District. They expect the committee will vote and announce Ryan’s endorsement shortly afterward.

Republican state Senator Chris Jacobs currently holds the seat but isn’t expected to run for re-election. He is instead campaigning for the open 27th Congressional District, vacated by convicted Republican Chris Collins.

ECDC could also make a decision on NY-27 special election Thursday. The governor has not called the election yet but 2018 candidate Nate McMurray’s campaign has already announced seven of eight county chairs in the district support him.

Those chairs account for roughly 51 percent of a weighted vote to designate a candidate for the special. However, Erie County Chair Jeremy Zellner accounts for the other 49 percent of the vote and has indicated he will not rush his decision just because the other chairs said they support McMurray.

He said he has to work through the endorsement process with members of the committee. McMurray confirmed he plans to attend the executive committee meeting Thursday evening.

Sources said he could potentially be endorsed afterward, as well, if the committee takes a vote. Health and education advocate Melodie Baker has also expressed interest in the Democratic designation.

Monserrate Files To Run For Assembly

Former state Sen. Hiram Monserrate, who was removed from office after a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction, has filed to run for the state Assembly.

A Democrat, Monserrate is running for the seat held by Queens Democratic Assemblyman Jeff Aubry.

He had previously sought an Assembly seat in 2010 following his expulsion and lost. Monserrate in 2017 ran for a seat on the New York City Council and lost. He is now a Queens Democratic district leader.

Monserrate was a key figure in the 2009 state Senate leadership coup, joining with Sen. Pedro Espada of the Bronx to hand control of the chamber to Republicans. Monserrate later returned to the Democratic fold, creating a 31-31 tie, and Espada later rejoined in July of that year.

In 2010, Monserrate was removed from the Senate in a rare expulsion vote after he was convicted of a misdemeanor charge related to an incident in which he was accused of slashing his girlfriend’s face with a broken glass and dragging her down a flight of stairs.

He served 21 months in federal prison after he was found guilty in 2012 in a federal corruption case stemming from siphoning funds from a city discretionary fund.

Cuomo Says Up To $60M Will Be Committed For Census

New York will spend up to $60 million for resources to ensure the U.S. Census will be conducted properly, using resources from agencies, public authorities and the public college campuses.

The filing made public on Tuesday was first reported by Josefa Velásquez of The City.

“Counting every New Yorker in the 2020 Census is critical to ensuring we are accurately represented in Congress and receive the federal funding we deserve,” Cuomo said. “While the federal government has thrown up road block after road block – spreading fear among immigrant communities in the process – in New York we will break through and make sure that even our most difficult to reach communities are counted.”

The statement in support of the spending was released amid concerns from advocates and state lawmakers $20 million in Census spending by the state had not been allocated by October.

The Cuomo administration said the formal process for spending that money will begin next week, with the funding due to be spent on “trusted voice” non-profit entities. The money will be targeted on reaching communities considered difficult to count, including those with high immigrant populations, older people and children under the age of 5.