Extras

Jeffrey Epstein’s prison death has been ruled a suicide by hanging, the medical examiner’s office said Friday.

A new report on Metropolitan Transportation Authority overtime shows large work load and out of date rules have contributed to a surge in employee pay.

Police are looking for the person or persons responsible for spreading anti-semitic flyers around Queens this week.

Schenectady County District Attorney Robert Carney said a grand jury found the two men who fired weapons in the Memorial Day weekend shooting death of a former Albany High School basketball star in Niskayuna were “legally justified” in defending themselves.

The state plans to file a motion asking for Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola’s federal suit to be transferred to the Western District court or be put on hold until a judge makes a decision on a similar action in Erie County.

New York State Sen. Jen Metzger is announcing funding to prevent lyme disease in the Hudson Valley on Thursday.

Two of the men involved with an attempted bomb threat against a Muslim community will spend up to a dozen years in prison.

Syracuse and Utica will be getting more money to remove lead from homes.

A New York State trooper is laid to rest, after dying of a 9/11-related illness. Family and friends said their final goodbyes to trooper Jeffrey Cicora this morning.

A source says Republican state Senator Rob Ortt will announce his candidacy Saturday for New York’s 27th Congressional District.

Cuomo, DiNapoli Fulfill Deal On Procurement Oversight Power

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Comptroller Tom DiNapoli have finalized an agreement that would return oversight of procurement and contracting to the comptroller’s office, powers that had come under scrutiny following the corruption arrests of a close former aide to the governor, upstate developers and the president of SUNY Polytechnic.

The agreement was laid out in a memorandum of understanding obtained Friday by State of Politics.

The memo will set in motion the restoration of the authority for DiNapoli’s office to review state university system contracts of $250,000 and greater. Review of contracts at the Office of General Services will be set at $85,000 and higher.

The memo also stipulates SUNY officials will work with officials at the Research Foundation for the State University of New York, which includes the economic development entities Fort Schuyler Management Corp. and Fuller Road Management Corp. to approve pre-audit authority for construction-related contracts of $1 million or more.

If SUNY officials fail to act on the agreement, Cuomo will introduce legislation restoring the oversight powers as a codification in law.

Another provision in the agreement provides oversight of DiNApoli’s office as well. The comptroller’s office will deliver contracts of $250,000 or more to the inspector general’s office for review.

The stipulation comes after the 2016 arrest of Navnoor Kang, the director of the common retirement fund, who was accused of receiving $1 million in bribes.

The agreement takes effect in 30 days.

Cuomo had at the beginning of the year announced a handshake agreement with DiNapoli to restore the oversight powers, which lawmakers in 2011 moved to rollback the pre-audit authority of the comptroller in order to streamline the bidding process for contracts.

Pre-audit review of contracts must be completed within 30 days, as stipulated in the memorandum.

But calls for restoring the oversight power was raised after the 2016 arrest of Joe Percoco, a prominent former aide and confidant to the governor, as well as Alain Kaloyeros, the ex-president of SUNY Polytechnic and upstate developers who had participated in the “Buffalo Billion” economic development program, part of a sweeping bribery and fraud case.

Percoco and Kaloyeros were both convicted in separate trials.

Months after the announcement by the governor, the two-way agreement between Cuomo and DiNapoli had yet to be formally acted on, raising concerns with some state lawmakers.

Cuomo last week on NY1 said the deal would be finalized shortly.

“The comptroller is a person of his word. The lawyers haven’t worked out the language yet. They will shortly,” Cuomo said. “But I have no doubt that the comptroller is going to do what he said he was going to do, and I know I am going to do what I said I was going to do.”

Final Procurement MOU_executed Copy by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Source: Ortt To Announce NY-27 Candidacy

A source says Republican state Senator Rob Ortt will announce his candidacy Saturday for New York’s 27th Congressional District.

A press advisory, sent Friday afternoon, said he would hold two press conferences for a “special announcement” regarding the district – the first in Niagara County and the second in Genesee County. Ortt will be the third Republican to officially enter the 2020 race.

His state Senate colleague Chris Jacobs announced earlier this year, as did attorney and Fox News contributor Beth Parlato. Incumbent Congressman Chris Collins, who faces federal insider trading charges, is fundraising but said he doesn’t plan to make a final decision until later this year.

Prominently in the advisory, Ortt is identified as a Bronze Star recipient – a military decoration awarded for heroic or meritorious service. That is likely a reminder, as many have pushed for recent Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia to enter the race, that Ortt is a decorated veteran as well.

Last weekend, Democrat Nate McMurray, who narrowly lost to Collins in 2018, also entered the race.

Rep. Stefanik Helping GOP-Endorsed Candidate For Erie County Executive

North Country Republican Elise Stefanik will travel to the western side of the state next month as she lends a hand in the Erie County executive race.

The congresswoman will be the guest of honor at a September 4 luncheon fundraiser for GOP-endorsed county executive candidate Lynne Dixon who is running against the Democratic incumbent Mark Poloncarz.

Dixon said it was very humbling to get the endorsement from a “rising star” in the party. In 2014, at the age of 30, Stefanik became the youngest Republican woman ever elected to Congress.

The tickets for the luncheon are $125 per person and $1000 for the VIP reception. It’s being held at Templeton Landing in Buffalo.

State To Ask For Rensselaer ‘Green Light’ Challenge Be Put On Hold

From the Morning Memo:

There are several new developments involving lawsuits challenging New York’s Green Light Law which allows undocumented immigrants to get driver’s licenses.

The state plans to file a motion asking for Rensselaer County Clerk Frank Merola’s federal suit to be transferred to the Western District court or be put on hold until a judge makes a decision on a similar action in Erie County.

Erie County Clerk Mickey Kearns filed his challenge before Merola and is asking for an injunction on implementation of the law.

The state has also asked for dismissal of the Kearns suit and suggested it wouldn’t make sense for the courts to pursue any other litigation until a judge makes a decision on those matters. That motion will be made September 19 with the oral arguments for the Erie County suit scheduled for Sept. 25.

At the same time, the state of Connecticut said it intends to file court documents in support of New York in the Kearns case.

“In an amicus brief, Connecticut will offer the perspective of a neighboring state with more than four years of experience granting driver’s licenses to undocumented residents,” Joshua Perry, Special Counsel for Civil Rights wrote.

“Our example – along with those of 11 other states and the District of Columbia – shows that granting these licenses is not only well within each state’s prerogative but is also a wise policy decision that improves public health and safety.”

Perry said New York’s decision is an “appropriate and well-considered exercise of police power.” He asked for the court’s permission to file the brief no later than August 23.

Here And Now

Good morning and TGIF!

Happening today:

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

At 10 a.m., New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will be on WNYC’s The Brian Lehrer Show.

Also at 10 a.m., Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will attend the funeral of New York State Police Commander Jeffrey Cicora. Immaculate Conception Church, 400 Salt Springs Road, Fayetteville.

At 6:45 p.m., New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will speak at the New York City Center for Black Pride Heritage Awards Ceremony. 515 Lenox Ave., New York City.

Headlines:

Nine police officers have taken their lives this year, prompting the NYPD’s top brass to declare a mental health emergency and issue urgent directives encouraging officers to seek help.

Patrolman’s Benevolent Association President Patrick Lynch in a video also had a blunt message for suicidal cops.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office told the NYPD his administration can offer mental health support to cops, pointing to the ThriveNYC program.

An audit by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office found duplicative payments under the Medicaid program cost the state $102 million over four years.

New York City is streamlining the process for applying to public middle and high schools, ending a two-round gauntlet that had parents wrestling with in paperwork.

Gregory Russ, the brand new chairman of the New York City Housing Authority stopped at a call center Thursday as part of his two-week tour of the agency he now runs.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed a new law Thursday which would define “hate-fueled murder with the intent to cause mass casualties” as an act of domestic terrorism.

The proposal comes after mass shootings that were likely inspired by white supremacy.

At a trial for members of the “Proud Boys” who are alleged to have participated in a brawl last year, prosecutors called the group’s founder a “hate monger.”

Financial news and opinion website 24/7 Wall St. published a study this week about the top 30 worst congressional districts in the country for black Americans to live.

The state’s commercial casinos are struggling to generate revenue amid an oversaturated market in the northeast.

New York investigators have subpoenaed for the bank records of the Sackler family, amid claims the family that controls Purdue Pharma may have sought to transfer money offshore.

State lawmakers earlier this year approved a bill that would allow early retirees to return to work and earn up to $35,000 a year — an increase of $5,000 from the cap set in 2007 without any hit being taken to their pensions.

Republican Bob Antonacci’s victory in a central New York state Senate district was a rare positive note for the GOP last year. But now he’s running for a judicial post and could leave the seat vacant.

New lawsuits are being filed under the new Child Victims Act, including those against the Catholic Church.

Buffalo Public Schools is now added to the growing list of organizations being sued under the one year look-back window of the Child Victims Act.

The global clergy sexual abuse crisis has forced 19 U.S. Catholic Diocese to file for bankruptcy protection since 2004. Elected leaders and attorneys representing hundreds of survivors in Western New York weighed in, should the Diocese of Buffalo decide to follow suit.

The Department of Transportation is fixing road signs for the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge so they include the late former governor’s middle initial.

The labor union that represents Metro-North conductors and engineers is balking at a proposed fingerprint system meant to cut down on overtime cheating.

A judge’s ruling on Thursday should end the saga surrounding who should be the mayor of Mount Vernon.

The lead crisis in Newark is growing more dire as a bottled water distribution effort was bungled.

Renaming the stretch of Fifth Avenue near Trump Tower after former President Barack Obama is unlikely to happen, despite a popular online petition to do so.

Fifty people in six states are reporting an illness believed to be linked to vaping, which is baffling doctors.

The artist who painted that bizarre portrait of Bill Clinton in a blue dress had no idea it was hanging in Jeffrey Epstein’s mansion.

The owner of Poughkeepsie’s Chance Theater, Frank Pallette, said on Thursday that community members upset about his decision to book the band, Confederate Railroad, should take a breath.

In national news:

President Trump had urged the Israeli government to block two members of Congress who are critics of him from visiting the country.

Democrats lashed out at the decision.

More gyrations in the markets as U.S. and global stocks climbed higher.

With the economy on something of a wobble, the president sought to turn that into an electoral strength.

And yet, the president is reportedly worried about the potential of a downturn and its impact on the 2020 election, while his aides say they are not preparing for one.

President Trump believes Corey Lewandowski, his former campaign manager, would be a “fantastic” senator for New Hampshire.

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke flatly ruled out running for a U.S. Senate seat in Texas as his presidential campaign is yet to gain steam.

Ever the real estate developer, President Trump has repeatedly floated the idea of the United States buying Greenland.

From the editorial pages:

The Times Union writes that the opening of the one-year look back period in the Child Victims Act is a chance for justice to be served for survivors and victims.

The Daily News writes that New York City must do more to help suicidal police officers suffering from mental health problems.

Newsday called Gov. Cuomo’s proposed anti-domestic terrorism bill a “good step” but said more needs to be done to address gun violence.

From the sports pages:

A couple of football scores from Thursday. The Jets won a pre-season game, 22-5, over the Falcons. The Yankees lost 19-5 against the Indians.

JCOPE Settles Cases Connected To Two WNY Political Scandals

State ethics investigators have settled cases involving two Western New York political figures embroiled in scandals.

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics announced Thursday it reached a settlement with a man who previously worked for former State Senator Marc  Panepinto. The Democrat served two months in federal prison for trying to cover up unwanted sexual advances he made toward a female staffer.

Another staffer Christopher Savage admitted he tried to dissuade her from cooperating with the Commission. He also admitted to offering her a job set up by Panepinto in exchange for her non-cooperation.

Savage chose to work with ethics investigators, leading to  Panepinto’s conviction last year. JCOPE’s investigation had been deferred pending the federal criminal investigation into Panepinto’s conduct.

JCOPE also reached a settlement Thursday with former  Cheektowaga Assemblywoman Angela Wozniak. She was admonished by the Assembly Speaker back in 2016 for retaliating against a former staffer she admitted to having an affair with.

Wozniak chose not to seek re-election– and said at the time she wanted to focus on her family.

Cuomo Proposes Hate Crimes Domestic Terrorism Act

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-NY, proposed a new law Thursday which would define “hate-fueled murder with the intent to cause mass casualties” as an act of domestic terrorism.

The Hate Crimes Domestic Terrorism Act would allow for the same penalties in New York as currently defined terrorist acts: up to life in prison without parole. Cuomo made the announcement Thursday afternoon in New York City.

“American citizens who are radicalized – not by a foreign ideology – but rather radicalized by hate for other Americans – are still terrorists,” the governor said. “Today, our people are three times more likely to suffer a terrorist attack launched by an American than one launched by a foreigner.”

Cuomo referenced a number of mass shootings, including the most recent in El Paso, Texas that left 22 dead. He criticized the federal government for being “politically paralyzed.”

“The President said after El Paso that mental illness pulls the trigger,” Cuomo said. “The President says a lot of things.But, the President knows the obvious truth. If there is no gun, there is no trigger. His partisan political self-interest has trumped his responsibility to protect the public.”

The governor also called on the federal government to enact its own domestic terrorism law which includes a ban on the types of weapons used to perpetrate these crimes. However, he said where Congress will not act, the state will.

LG Hochul Says It Would Be Troubling If Buffalo Diocese Files Bankruptcy

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, D-NY, said when the governor signed the Child Victims Act on February 14, which created a one-year look-back window for civil litigation, the legislation was about more than just money for victims.

She said the act give victims a chance to have their day in court. However, when it comes to the Buffalo Catholic Diocese which has had nearly 100 suits filed against it already since the window opened Wednesday morning, could potentially derail that opportunity for many people.

“Bankruptcy would basically put a stop to that,” she said. “We’re hoping that that is not the outcome. It has happened in some of the diocese throughout the country.”

Courts across the state, including in Western New York, have prepared for the new caseload, designating judges and liaisons. Attorneys have said they’re preparing to take each case to a jury, even though many will likely reach settlements first.

However, if the diocese files Chapter 11 for instance, a bankruptcy court would then take oversight of the cases – potentially stopping cases from going to trial.

“I think it would be very troubling,” Hochul said. “It would certainly slow down the process and what would be most hurtful to the people who waited for decades to finally have their day in court and face their accusers is that they’d be denied the full opportunity to have discovery and to go through the normal process that the current system would allow.”

Although there has been quite a bit of speculation, the church hasn’t said whether it plans on filing bankruptcy.

43North Moving To Buffalo’s Tallest Building

Buffalo-based 43North is moving its headquarters to the city’s tallest building.

The state funded start-up competition also provides incubator space to winners year round. It is receiving a $1.5 million grant to move to Seneca One Tower as part of the new tech hub developer Doug Jemal is building there.

43North said the move will give its companies the opportunity to scale their businesses in a “vibrant, active environment” where there is significant tech talent thanks to M&T banks plans to move more than 1,000 jobs to the hub. Those companies include Z80 Labs and Techstars Buffalo as well as 43North staff.

“Each new class of 43North portfolio companies has raised the bar, whether you consider the caliber of their teams, the volume of capital they’ve raised, or the amount of traction they’ve achieved. It’s 43North’s responsibility to continually up our game, as well, to ensure that we provide out companies with every opportunity to scale their businesses and establish long-term roots in Buffalo,” 43North President Alex Gress said. “43North’s new headquarters in Seneca One will be an important asset in attracting additional world-class startups to Western New York. It will also serve as a strong selling point for our companies, as they recruit talent to grow their businesses.”

The competition awards up to $5 million total to companies every year, with stipulations about locating the CEO and more than half of the staff in Buffalo for a year. 43North said it will release more details about the move in the coming weeks.