NY Public Health Council Officially Implements E-Cigarette Ban

The state Public Health and Health Planning Council voted Tuesday to move forward with a ban on flavored e-cigarette products in New York.

The ban is effective immediately but there will be a two week grace period on enforcement. However the governor’s office said that doesn’t mean stores are allowed to sell the rest of their inventory during that time.

The new restrictions will apply to vendors selling the products but not people who already have them in their possessions. This weekend the governor announced he was taking the emergency executive action in response to a series of deaths linked to vaping across the country.

Those who opposed the measure argued evidence shows the deaths seemed to be connected to the use of illicit and black market products, not the e-cigarettes many use and sell. However, in a statement following the council’s vote, Cuomo maintained a hard line – pointing to adolescent use as the key issues.

“It is undeniable that vaping companies are deliberately using flavors like bubblegum, Captain Crunch and cotton candy to get young people hooked on e-cigarettes – it’s a public health crisis and it ends today,” he said. “New York is not waiting for the federal government to act, and by banning flavored e-cigarettes we are safeguarding the public health and helping prevent countless young people from forming costly, unhealthy and potentially deadly life -long habits.”

Last week, President Donald Trump said he would be in favor of a ban but the federal government has not taken action yet. The state said flavors are largely responsible for the increase in young people using e-cigarettes.

Cuomo also promised to advance legislation preventing deceptive and misleading advertising to youths.

“The alarmingly high numbers of young people in New York State who are using vape products is nothing short of a public health crisis,” Health Commissioner Howard Zucker said. “These regulations are a part of many critical steps we are taking to combat this disturbing trend. We will continue to be aggressive in our efforts to prevent nicotine addiction and bad marketing practices under Governor Cuomo’s leadership.”

Critics said in banning flavored vaping, the administration could be pushing thousands of people who had used the product as a “reduced risk” tobacco alternative, back to smoking. Members of the industry said they are considering legal action.

Meanwhile, Commissioner Zucker will also evaluate over the next two weeks, whether the state should add menthol flavors to the ban. Some members of the panel and groups like the American Heart Association felt the executive order should have been amended to include menthol.

Local health departments will enforce the new rule with state guidance. Retailers who violate it will face fines of up to $2,000 per violation.

Flavored E-Cigarette Proponents Protest Governor

Proponents of flavored e-cigarettes brought their protest directly to the governor Tuesday morning.

The governor issued an executive order banning the products after a series of deaths linked to vaping. However, protesters said Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s emergency action ignored the fact many of the deaths appear to be linked to black market substances and THC.

“We were shocked to see that the governor completely ignored the recommendations of the CDC and the FDA and instead of advising the public to avoid illicit products that are making people sick, he’s instead recommending that people stop using reduced harm vapor products that they need to maintain a smoke free lifestyle,” New York State Vapor Association Vice President Andrew Osborne said.

Osborne also owns a small store called Vapor Trail in Buffalo. He said he and dozens of others closed down their businesses Tuesday to take part in the demonstration.

“We’re closing our businesses to fight for flavors because if they ban flavors, we will all have to close our businesses,” he said. “We’re talking about 700 businesses across the state. We’re talking about thousands of jobs and these are small independently-owned business that help people quit smoking.”

Protestors said they would move the demonstration from in front of Seneca One tower, where Cuomo visited Tuesday, to Delaware Avenue where the state Health Council is holding an emergency meeting on the topic. Similar meetings are also taking place Tuesday in Rochester, Albany and New York City, with Commissioner Howard Zucker expected to take steps to enforce the executive order sometime in the coming weeks.

Osborne said if the ban continues to progress, they may look at other options besides protest.

“It’s become clear to the industry that legal action may be necessary but we are hoping to prevent the governor from making this decision in the first place,” he said. “We’re hoping that we can get the truth out there before it’s too late and stop him from destroying our industry based on a public health scare that’s not even related to the product that we sell.”

President Donald Trump endorsed a ban on flavored e-cigarette ban last week, but Cuomo said the federal government needs to do more.

Cuomo’s Office Says License Plate Plan Isn’t Going Forward

A spokesperson for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office said Tuesday a controversial license plate plan is not moving forward.

Earlier this summer, the administration announced anyone with plates ten years or older would have to replace them for a $25 fee. The plan immediately received backlash from Republican and Democratic lawmakers.

Siena College also released a new poll Tuesday which showed 60 percent of respondents opposed the measure. A larger majority, 75-23 percent, think the $25 license replacement fee is unfair.

“As the DMV commissioner said weeks ago, this proposal isn’t going forward as we have committed to working with the legislature to create a plan that ensures plates are readable by law enforcement and cashless tolling systems and creates a process where plates older than 10 years are inspected and, if still readable, can be kept. Why Siena would spend its time polling outdated information is beyond me,” Cuomo Senior Advisor Rich Azzopardi said.

Department of Motor Vehicles Commissioner Mark Schroeder did release a statement at the end of August indicating a willingness to work with the Legislature to reduce costs and allow people to keep their license plates so long as they were in good condition. He said the governor invited legislators back for a special session to lower the fee – although many have pointed out the law only mandates the state not exceed $25 so new legislation is not needed.

Schroeder also made the governor’s argument many plates needed to be replaced in order to work with new cashless tolling technology.

Here’s what he said in August:

“If the legislature can agree to a cost effective and practical plate inspection mechanism to determine what plates are still in good operating condition after the 10 year life and thus do not need to be replaced we would welcome the opportunity to be cooperative,” Schroeder said. “The 10 year life replacement program does not go into effect until next April so we have time to work with the legislature to explore alternatives. We support reducing costs wherever possible.”

Lawmakers themselves seem to have been confused about whether the plan was going forward but the statement from Azzopardi is the clearest to date. The governor was in Buffalo Tuesday but did not take off-topic questions from reporters.

Local Electeds Send Letter To Public Financing Commission

A coalition of local elected leaders and candidates from across New York are calling on the state Public Campaign Financing Commission to enact the “strongest possible small donor matching system for state campaign.”

Local Progress, a national network of progressive local elected officials, and 40 NY officials co-signed a letter to the governor, the commission and state Legislature leaders. The commission meets again on Wednesday in Albany and has less than 80 days to issue potentially binding recommendations to the Legislature.

The coalition said publicly financed campaigns will help ensure government responds to the needs of the community over those of large donors.
“Many elected officials are not influenced by money, but it’s also true that many lobbyist wouldn’t likely continue to give big campaign checks to state elected officials if money didn’t influence the legislative process,” they wrote. “A system that would enable candidates to run viable campaigns on small donations — instead of candidates having to rely on funding from Albany lobbyists — would be good for all of our localities.”
At minimum they said the commission’s final report should include a 6-1 match on small donations, lower contribution limits, an independent oversight unit and coverage of district attorneys’ races. They also urged the Legislature to be prepared to return to Albany in December should changes need to be made to the recommendations which are set to become law if there is not a vote.

A Year After Primaries, What’s Changed In Albany

From the Morning Memo:

It was a year ago on Friday voters returned a verdict in the September primaries: The former Independent Democratic Conference was officially dead and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election to a third term was virtually assured with the vanquishing of a progressive-advocacy uprising.

The September primaries a year ago proved to be something of watershed moment for politics in New York and the last year.

For the state Senate, the primaries ushered in a new class of progressive freshman who defeated lawmakers who had been in the IDC, a bloc of Democrats previously aligned with Republicans. The victories were the prologue to a Democratic landslide two months later, with the party capturing full control of the state Senate, leading to a gusher of long-sought progressive legislation for gun control, abortion rights and making it easier to vote.

Issues that gained little oxygen, like combatting sexual harassment, come to the forefront in Albany, with public hearings and new legislation signed into law.

The capstone to it all was a major rent control measure turning back a generation of regulations seen as favorable to landlords and a sweeping climate change measure.

For Cuomo, his victory over Cynthia Nixon was a re-enforcement: The formula of the last two terms continues to work. Cuomo is now the nation’s longest-serving in an era defined by constant political shifts. The Democratic Party of 2010, when the governor was first elected, is not the party of 2019.

Cuomo’s progressive critics contend he’s too moderate, adopting and co-opting their policies only when they suit him. But in this age, a static politician carries little shelf life. Cuomo has proven adept at emphasizing new issues the base of the party cares about, be it taking an aggressive posture on the Trump administration, to health care and, of course, gun control.

For Team Cuomo, the primary over Nixon, an actress and public education advocate with no elected experience, the experience of the 2018 primary was the coalition of black and Hispanic voters, suburbanites and labor union households was holding together.

The election was the enforcement of what has become a credo for the governor’s team: Twitter is not real life. Or, at least, not a reflection of the popular political reality at the moment. The social media site may exhibit a hive mind in criticizing the governor for a variety of infractions, but is not a mirror of the broader electorate. After all, most people aren’t on Twitter, following micro developments as they hatch.

Team Cuomo, broadly speaking, thinks Twitter led the press astray during the campaign, thinking Nixon’s depth of support was far greater than the 34 percent she ultimately generated. Turnout was high in the race, and Cuomo spent heavily in his victory compared to Nixon’s campaign.

The defeat of Joe Crowley to Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez threw the New York political world for a loop in June. It was a House district-level result that wasn’t replicated in September, nor was it replicated statewide. Cuomo won the district three months later.

The 2018 result was virtually the same as when he faced the little-known Zephyr Teachout in 2014: Just over a third of the Democratic primary electorate does not like him, but that’s about it.

What does not reflect is scale, an increasingly difficult commodity to come by in a fractured world where smaller and smaller segments of the electorate at carved up and catered to.

It’s easy for a reporter to lose a sense of scale, what matters, with Twitter as the constant second screen all day with its parade of daily outrages, gaffes and constant breaking news.

Is that dynamic playing out again with the governor’s clear preference in the 2020 race, former Vice President Joe Biden? The Biden camp after all has adopted the Twitter isn’t real motto from the Cuomo campaign. It may be too soon to determine.

Twitter or not, campaigns can force us all to lose perspective: What matters, what doesn’t.

Reporters, candidates and staff can all fight the last war and not see each campaign for what it is: Experiments in human behavior and motivation. What gets someone to polling place every Election Day?

Bellone Rolls Out Digital Ad In Re-Election Bid

From the Morning Memo:

Democratic Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone’s third term bid is formally launching as his campaign on Monday will release a digital ad.

In the 2-minute ad, Bellone highlights his working class background and enlistment in the military as well as why he serves in elected office.

“I decided I wanted to be involved in making public policy and making the decisions to drive the community forward,” Bellone says in the ad.

The 2-minute spot highlights his conflict with former Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota, now facing corruption charges, and his call on him to resign.

“I did not come here to manage a broken status quo,” Bellone said in the ad.

Bellone is running for re-election in a county won by President Donald Trump in 2016. He faces Republican Comptroller John Kennedy this November.

Here And Now

Good morning and happy Monday!

A quick programming note: Posting will be light this week as I’ll be taking a week off. The morning roundup and morning newsletter after today will return next Monday.

Happening today:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City and Albany.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has nothing public planned and is in New York City.

At 10 a.m., Speaker Carl Heastie with Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton to visit Suggett Park, 89 Madison Street, Cortland.

At 10:45 a.m., Speaker Heastie will visit Arthur Kuckes Childcare Center at Tompkins Cortland Community College, 170 North Street, Dryden.

At 11 a.m., Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will announce the 2019 police officers of the year. Syracuse Police Department. 511 S State St., Syracuse.

At noon, Heastie will meet with EOP students at Cornell University, Cornell Computing and Communications Center, 235 Garden Avenue, Ithaca.

At 1:15 p.m., Heastie will visit Mahogany Grill (closed press), 112 N. Aurora Street, Ithaca.

At 2:15 p.m., Heastie will tour Ithaca Commons, 112 N. Aurora Street, Ithaca.

At 5 p.m., New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will honor Rep. John Lewis at the FBA SDNY 2019 Presidential Rule of Law Ceremony. 500 Pearl St., New York City.

At 6:15 p.m., Hocul will announce top teams for Buffalo Skyway Corridor Competition. Resurgence Brewing. 55 Chicago St., Buffalo.


Executive action announced Sunday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo will ban flavored e-cigarettes sales in New York amid ongoing public health concerns stemming from vaping and associated illnesses.

Come January, nearly every elevator in New York City must have a door-lock monitoring system, something that is lacking in many NYCHA buildings.

The new boss at NYCHA spent more than $40,000 on travel and related expenses at his old job.

The Staten Island Ferry Terminal was evacuated over a suspicious package on Sunday.

New York state is dispatching emergency first responders over the last several weeks to respond to natural disasters across the country in Florida, North Carolina and California.

Jimmy Vielkind: A June legislative primary could scramble the state legislative calendar for the Senate and Assembly this year, leading to an early wrap-up.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has officially launched his bid for a third term.

As he runs for re-election, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz can tap into a host of perks available to an incumbent.

Republicans and Democrats who represent in New York are backing legislation stemming from border enforcement diversions in order to maintain staffing levels at crossings with Canada.

Dozens of ICE protesters were arrested this weekend at a demonstration in midtown Manhattan.

In Glens Falls, there has been a tense standoff between supporters and critics of President Donald Trump outside of Rep. Elise Stefanik’s office.

Members of the DSA, the Democratic Socialists of America, gathered at a church in Brooklyn Heights on Thursday night to screen candidates to run in local state Assembly and Senate races next year.

New York officials this week will hold question-and-answer sessions to discuss Long Island offshore wind.

Former Daily Show host Jon Stewart is leading an effort to inform non-first responders they can also apply for benefits under the Sept. 11 Victims Compensation Fund.

The U.S. Navy is opposing New York’s plan to cleanup groundwater pollution at a former Northrup Grunman site and Navy-owned land in Bethpage.

Child care providers in New York will have to comply with new food allergy requirements.

Two companies are under fire for offering do-it-yourself rape kits to survivors of sexual assault.

A plan to strengthen the state’s aquatic habitats will be included in the 2020 State of the State address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday.

After several months exploring his options, current Democratic Assemblyman Sean Ryan has decided to run for state Senate.

U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney spoke with students, teachers and families Saturday afternoon about an issue at the forefront of national policy — gun violence.

Parishioners attended the first Sunday mass since the Catholic Diocese of Rochester filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection following multiple lawsuits filed under the Child Victim’s Act.

Attorneys continue to see a dramatic uptick in the number of clergy abuse lawsuits.

A Buffalo Public School teacher accused of molesting a student was allowed to retire rather than face disciplinary charges, her victim alleged.

The town of Sweden is pushing forward with a project to document and recognize all veterans buried in the five cemeteries owned by the town.

Suffolk County is launching a new bike share program, starting with 1,000 bikes in several towns.

The New York Mets were barred from wearing NYPD hats as a tribute on Sept. 11 by Major League Baseball, upsetting a Brooklyn lawmaker.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani is going through a strained divorce.

A firefighter in Yonkers suspended for a racist Facebook post has received a promotion.

A judge has determined the owner of the “Wandering Dago” food truck can go to trial in a suit against the DEC.

In national news:

New York Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand pledged to ramp up pressure on Republicans in the U.S. Senate to pass a bill strengthening background checks for gun purchases.

The United Autoworkers union has voted to go on strike, affecting thousands of General Motors workers.

New allegations of sexual misconduct have been made against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanagh have led to calls for his resignation.

President Trump is measuring his public profile not against other presidents or leaders, but pop legend Elton John.

Crippling attacks against Saudia oil facilities have the U.S. weighing its response and Iran denying involvement.

Oil prices spiked as a result of the attacks.

OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma has filed for bankruptcy.

Moderate Democrats are warning House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to not let the party be bogged down in an impeachment fight with President Trump.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is shaking up the leadership of his campaign in New Hampshire.

From the editorial pages:

The Daily News writes the New York City Council should boost Industry City in Sunset City, calling the project a good thing.

The New York Post blasted a proposal that would restrict on-street parking in favor of electric vehicles.

The Times Union calls the conversion of an Albany County jail facility into housing for the homeless a “thoughtful” approach.

The Buffalo News cheered a Department of Transportation plan to post signs alerting motorists that children with autism live in certain areas.

From the sports pages:

The Buffalo Bills are 2-0 in New Jersey.

The Yankees dropped some games to the Blue Jays this weekend.

The Mets lost to the Dodgers in LA.

Cuomo To Ban Flavored E-Cigarettes Through Executive Action

Executive action announced Sunday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo will ban flavored e-cigarettes sales in New York amid ongoing public health concerns stemming from vaping and associated illnesses.

Cuomo at a news conference on Sunday morning said the move was to curtail the use of e-cigarettes among young people.

“These are obviously targeted to young people and highly effective at targeting young people,” he said. “We will ban all flavors besides tobacco and menthol.”

Cuomo announced the ban several days after his administration signaled the Department of Health would investigate vaping companies and issue subpoenas. Cuomo also last week signed a bill expanding tobacco education programs to include e-cigarette usage.

The executive action announced Sunday banning flavored e-cigarettes will be enforced by the State Police and the Department of Health against retailers who sell products to underage customers.

Cuomo said there are number of items in the state’s “toolbox” to enforce the ban, including civil and criminal penalties and the loss of state licenses.

Meanwhile, Cuomo plans also plans to introduce a bill that will ban the marketing of e-cigarettes to young people.

Cuomo compared the issue to fighting opioid addiction. His administration last week announced a $2 billion lawsuit against drug makers and distributors over the increase in insurance costs as a result of the addiction crisis.

“In my mind I don’t think it’s an outrageous parallel to say look at the work we’re doing now with the opioid companies,” Cuomo said.

“They sold pain medication that they knew was highly addictive, that they circulated, they advertised, they distributed. It created hydrocodone, oxycontin, it created addictions in the users, which then provided their business relationship with more customers.”

President Donald Trump has endorsed a ban on flavored e-cigarette ban last week, but Cuomo said the federal government needs to do more.

“First, we heard signals that maybe the administration understood this and they were going to be responsive,” Cuomo said.

“Then we get a tweet suggesting the exact opposite. I’m not waiting for the federal government to come protect the people of the state of New York.”

Cuomo Plans Push For Aquatic Habitat Restoration

A plan to strengthen the state’s aquatic habitats will be included in the 2020 State of the State address, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Saturday.

The plan was unveiled at the Revive Mother Nature Initiative in New York City at Hudson River Park.

“Our new aquatic habitat restoration initiative which includes major fish and oyster restoration efforts will be outlined in full at the State of the State in January and it will be a national first in that it will be the most aggressive and the most progressive statewide program in the country,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“If we’re waiting for the federal government to lead the way it is a fool’s errand – New York is acting now to protect our environment and take care of our natural resources.”

The program is aimed at restoring and protecting wetlands and waterways in New York, which will include investments in the state’s 12 fish hatcheries in order to boost the populations of freshwater sportfish, including walleye, trout and salmon.

Another goal is to restore oysters in New York Harbor over the next decade and doubel the current shellfish restoration program on Long Island.

Signing Bill For Presidential Primary, Cuomo Nudges Lawmakers On Unified Date

A bill setting New York’s presidential primary for next April 28 was signed into law Friday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who used the measure’s approval as another occasion to push lawmakers to unify the state’s congressional and state primaries to the same date.

In a signing statement attached to the approval message, Cuomo urged lawmakers to take up primary consolidation legislation when the session reconvenes in January.

Cuomo wrote in a signing statement said consolidating the primaries is a matter of “good government” and could boost voter turnout.

New York’s primaries had been split by federal court order to comply with a law requiring timely access to ballots for military and overseas voters. The Legislature, divided between Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and Assembly, could not reach a compromise to move the state primaries out of September.

Lawmakers earlier this year approved a measure consolidating the state and congressional primaries to June after Democrats gained control of the state Senate.

Cuomo in the statement wrote the “same logic drives” his push for consolidating the presidential primary with the state and congressional races.

“Having two primary elections, roughly eight weeks apart, will reduce voter participation and cost taxpayers an additional $20 million,” he said. “In addition, managing two separate elections will also burden an already troubled Board of Elections system. The State of New York is stronger when all New Yorkers participate in its democratic system, and a consolidation of all primaries is the only way to achieve that goal.”

Democratic lawmakers this year are once again expected to face primary challenges in 2020, with much of the focus placed on incumbents in the state Assembly.

For now, lawmakers have not embraced the proposal to consolidate the primaries.