President Trump made an unannounced visit to the Martin Luther King Jr. memorial in Washington, where he spent about two minutes laying a wreath after being criticized for failing to honor the civil rights icon at the White House.

California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris announced that she is running for president in 2020, arguing that the time has come to fight against what she views as the injustices of the past two years of the Trump presidency.

Harris posed with an egg and cheese sandwich and a bottle of water at Penn Station following an appearance on ABC’s “Good Morning America” where she announced her intention to throw her hat in the crowded ring of Democrats mounting campaigns.

If you’re having trouble keeping track of who’s officially in, out, or still mulling the 2020 Democratic presidential contest, here’s a handy list.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders had a dream of stopping “racist” Trump’s vision to “Make America Great Again.”

During her first 2020 campaign trip to Iowa, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said she plans on “being here a lot.” She’s still interviewing potential staffers in the state, however.

Gillibrand took her new presidential campaign to Rev. Al Sharpton’s National Action Network in Harlem for Martin Luther King Day — saying white women needed to be part of the fight against institutional racism in the United States.

Former NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg hasn’t yet decided about 2020, but is already acting like a major candidate, except he has a net worth estimated at $51 billion, a vast network of activists who have depended on him for years and a private plane that can take him wherever he wants to hold events with them and soak up free media coverage.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, speaking at a breakfast this morning in Washington honoring Martin Luther King Jr., said that white Americans need to acknowledge and admit the fact that systemic racism still exists and must be rooted out.

The hosts of “Fox & Friends” apologized for showing a graphic saying U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is dead, blaming a control room error.

As he did during decades in business, Trump during this government shutdown showdown has insulted adversaries, undermined his aides, repeatedly changed course, extolled his primacy as a negotiator and induced chaos.

Former NJ Gov. Chris Christie, who served on the president’s transition team and was rumored many times to get a White House job that never materialized, says in his new book that the Trump administration hired “riffraff” instead of experienced strategists.

Trump did not speak with Michael Cohen before he testified falsely before Congress about plans to develop a skyscraper in Moscow during the 2016 campaign, Rudy Giuliani said today, backing off previous assertions that such talks may have taken place.

Giuliani told Fox that his team communicated with Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office about last week’s BuzzFeed News article alleging that Trump ordered Cohen to lie to Congress – and agreed a significant portion of it was false.

The Transportation Security Administration said one in 10 of its employees scheduled to work Sunday took the day off, with many employees citing “financial limitations” preventing them from working.

The group, the Change the Date Coalition, is hoping to jump on the June primary bandwagon, and is pushing for the Buffalo School Board election to move to that month to avoid the typically dismal turnout of the traditional elections held in May.

Subway riders with a need for speed will be relieved to learn that NYC Transit is picking up the pace on these and other subway lines so cars can get through tunnels at a faster clip — after years of imposing caps that slowed things down.

Meet the 23 – yes, 23 – candidates running in the upcoming special election for NYC public advocate. They include: A self-described bitcoin entrepreneur, several attorneys and a number of current and former elected officials.

Retired State Police Major Bill Keeler will challenge Cohoes Mayor Shawn Morse in the upcoming Democratic primary, a source close to the campaign said.

Groups that have advocated for early voting are urging Cuomo to include funding for early voting in his executive budget proposal.

Uber is reportedly looking to apply self-driving technology to their scooters and bicycles.

ABC Seeks Regulatory Changes

The Empire State Chapter of the Associated Builders & Contractors on Monday called for regulatory changes to the Scaffold Law as well as issued concerns over a plan to expand prevailing wage measures in its 2019 session agenda.

“Our 2019 Legislative Agenda outlines critical issues that need to be addressed in the new session. ABC has been at the forefront of advocating for fair and open competition in the construction market, and we will continue to do so, unapologetically,” said Empire Chapter President, Brian Sampson. “Merit shop contractors are under unrelenting attack from corrupt, union-owned politicians who are passing policies that are negatively impacting our members and taxpayers across New York State.”

Business groups this year have braced for a potentially difficult legislative session given the Democratic takeover of the state Senate. But lawmakers there have also pushed for a permanent property tax cap and plan to pass the bill this week.

The Associated Builders & Contractors though remain specifically concerned about the construction industry..

“New York State has not created a business environment for merit shop construction firms to thrive. In the 2019 session, ABC will advocate for policies that support small business owners, the American worker, and the overall construction sector. If these policies and reforms are implemented, New York State will create a more competitive environment for merit shop contractors to expand their operations and spur job creation,” Sampson said.

Advocates Want Early Voting Funding Earmarked In Budget

Supporters of early voting on Monday urged state lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to provide funding for the provision in the final budget agreement.

The Democratic-led Legislature this month approved a bill that would create a system of early voting and Cuomo included the measure in his $175 billion budget proposal as well.

“As we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year, it’s great to see Governor Cuomo propose a strong voting rights agenda as part of his budget, but counties also need direct funding to execute priorities like early voting,” said Hazel Dukes, President New York NAACP and Rev. Dr Robert M Waterman, Pastor of Antioch Baptist of Brooklyn and President of African American Clergy and Elected Officials. “We look forward to working with the Governor and the Legislature to make accessible, efficient elections more than just a dream for all New Yorkers.”

County governments have also called for the bill to be funded with a direct line item in the budget.

“Early voting is the right public policy for the state of New York and it is good for government to have more citizen engagement in the voting process. However, to avoid another unfunded mandate on local government and to successfully implement voting reforms, it would be helpful for the state to provide appropriate resources to counties, who administer the election system. NYSAC urges our state leaders to fully fund these important voting reforms in the 2019-20 State Budget,” said the New York State Association of Counties in a statement.

Cuomo’s office has said that savings from consolidating the state and federal primaries, as well as collecting sales on out-of-state Internet retail purchases would help pay for the measure.

Cuomo Panel To Review Universal Health Care

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $175 billion spending plan does not include a provision for single-payer health care, but included in his 2019 agenda is a commission to review how to expand health care to all in the state.

The panel, billed in his State of the State book as a commission on “universal access to health care” will include health and insurance policy figures and is backed by the Department of Health and the Department of Financial Services, which regulates the insurance industry in New York.

The commission will be tasked with issuing a report to Cuomo by Dec. 1.

“This review process will consider all options for advancing access to care, including strengthening New York’s commercial insurance market, expanding programs to include populations that are currently ineligible or cannot afford coverage, as well as innovative reimbursement models to improve efficiency and generate savings to support expanded coverage,” according to Cuomo’s policy book.

Less than 5 percent of New Yorkers are without some form of health care coverage and more than 4.7 million residents have enrolled through the state’s health insurance marketplace. New York was among the states that participated in the Medicare expansion under the Affordable Care Act.

Cuomo wants to codify aspects of that law, such as the health exchange, as a provision in his budget proposal.

Cuomo has used commissions and panels in the past to handle potentially thorny policy issues, including most recently a push to ban plastic bags.

A (belated) h/t is due to the Gotham Gazette for picking this out.

Cuomo Calls For New Chemical Labeling

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $175 billion spending plan includes a propose that would establish new requirements for on-package labeling to warn consumers of potentially hazardous chemicals.

“The more we know about our exposure to chemicals, the more frightening the situation is,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Consumers have the right to know what is in the products they use, and requiring labeling on designated products will provide consumers with the information they deserve.”

The provision would have the Department of Environmental Conservation, the Department of Health and state Department of State develop regulations for the labeling as well as a list of designated products to develop a list of more than 1,000 carcinogens and other chemccials that would lead to a label being required.

At the same time, the bill would also extend the DEC’s current household cleaning product disclosure regulations to include all cleaning products sold in the state. The DOH would be given the authority to require similar disclosure for makers of personal care products such as shampoo, deodorant or baby powder.

NYSAC Wants Hearings On Tax Cap

As the state Senate this week takes up a bill that would make the state’s cap on property tax increases a permanent one, the New York State Association of Counties is calling hearings on the nearly eight-year-old law.

“On behalf of New York’s county governments, we appreciate the state’s continued focus on our high property taxes. Anything government can do to stabilize and lower property taxes is welcome news for homeowners and businesses,” NYSAC Executive Director Stephen Acquario said in a statement.

The cap, set to expire or “sunset” in June 2020, limits property tax increases to the rate of inflation or 2 percent, whichever is lower. Some lawmakers, in both parties, have called for changes to the cap, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo has largely resisted, save for minor tweaks.

It’s not clear what, if any, changes county governments would want for the cap, though they have pushed for a lower of state mandated spending as a follow up to the cap over the last decade.

“We encourage both houses of the legislature to hold public hearings on property taxes, the property tax cap, and ways that state and local governments can work together to lower this burden,” Acquario said. “We need to avoid further population loss that leaves more financial responsibility for those that remain in our great state. In a public hearing, state lawmakers can hear from local officials the impact that state policies have in our communities.”

Dems Will Continue To Flex Muscle

From the Morning Memo:

The first two weeks of a Democratic-controlled Legislature have largely gone as expected: The state Senate, along with the Assembly, has passed a bill after bill that up until last Election Day represented a wish list for progressives in New York.

The Legislature has approved bills that are designed to make it easier to register to vote and cast ballot, closing the LLC loophole and protections for transgender people and a ban on conversion therapy.

This week, the Legislature is expected to take up and pass bills meant to strengthen abortion laws and access to contraceptions in the state. Later on in the session, gun control measures will likely pass as well.

For now, these bills have been passing like butter through a knife.

Not everything will be this easy.

Senate Democrats this week will move make the state’s cap on property taxes permanent — a provision their governing partners in the Assembly have been skeptical of over the years. Assembly Democrats could seek some changes to the cap, which limits property tax levy hikes to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, that would make it easier to override or workaround.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not been willing to back major changes to the cap, however.

Cuomo, meanwhile, has indicated the biggest sticking point for lawmakers will be the broad-based ethics reforms he’s proposed such as lobbying law changes, calling them essential to the budget he’s submitted. He also believes congestion pricing and changing the structure of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority will be difficult lifts as well.

Conflict is still a little ways off for Democrats in Albany, but not that far off.

Malliotakis In NY-11?

From the Morning Memo:

Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis dropped a hint that she’s a potential candidate for the 11th congressional district late last week.

She posted to Twitter a photo with her and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and noted she had just spoke with President Donald Trump on the phone.

Both posed in front of a painting of Ronald Reagan.

The post stokes some speculation that Malliotakis may make a bid for the Staten Island-Brooklyn House seat won by Democrat Max Rose in November.

Rose unseated Rep. Dan Donovan for the district, leading to the defeat of the last Republican to represent New York City in the House of Representatives.

Malliotakis has long been viewed as a rising star for Republicans in New York, who are now shut out of power statewide.

She was rumored to be a potential candidate for Congress in the past. In 2017, she unsuccessfully challenged Mayor Bill de Blasio in his bid for a second term.

Here and Now

It’s MLK Day, but it’s also brutally cold all over the state.

If you are planning on attending on outdoor event, dress accordingly, and avoid prolonged exposure to the elements if at all possible.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a tweet, urged New Yorkers to remain inside “unless absolutely necessary” over the next several days due to the extreme drop in temperatures.

In case you’re curious, here’s who got what in terms of snowfall.

Cuomo is in Albany today with no public events or interviews scheduled as of yet.

At 8 a.m., Rep. Nita Lowey attends the Thomas H. Slater Community Center’s 26th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day breakfast, Crowne Plaza Hotel, 66 Hale Ave., White Plains.

At 8:30 a.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray will appear live on Fox 5’s “Good Day New York.”

At 9:15 a.m., NYC Councilman Jumaane Williams speaks at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 33rd Annual Brooklyn Tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast, Peter Jay Sharp Building, 30 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn.

At 9:45 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul delivers remarks at the New Hope Baptist Church’s nnnual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Scholarship Breakfast, Buffalo Niagara Convention Center, Main Ballroom, 153 Franklin St., Buffalo.

At 10 a.m., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer speaks at the YMCA of Greater New York’s Martin Luther King Day of Advocacy, Vanderbilt Y, 224 E. 47th St., Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. hosts an interfaith service honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., Trinity Baptist Church, 808 E. 224th St., the Bronx.

At 10:45 a.m., Brewer speaks at the Food Bank for New York City’s annual Martin Luther King Day of Service, Community Kitchen and Pantry, 252 W. 116th St., Manhattan.

At 11:30 a.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli speaks at the Mohawk Valley Frontier 35th Annual MLK Luncheon, Delta Marriott Hotel, 200 Genesee St., Utica.

At 12:15 p.m., McCray and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will deliver remarks at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s 33rd Annual Brooklyn Tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., BAM Howard Gilman Opera House – Peter Jay Sharp Building, 30 Lafayette Ave., Brooklyn

At 1 p.m., Brewer, Diaz, Williams and Assemblyman Charles Lavine speak at the National Action Network’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration, with Queens Borough President Melinda Katz attending, NAN House of Justice, 106 W. 145th St., Manhattan.

Also at 1 p.m., An MLK Day event will feature Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ryan Coogler, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Common, Cicely Tyson, John David Washington, Jemele Hill and others, Riverside Church, 490 Riverside Dr., Manhattan.

At 1:15 p.m., de Blasio will deliver remarks at the National Action Network’s Dr. Martin Luther King Day Celebration, House of Justice, 106 W. 145 St., Harlem. (Also expected to attend: U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, AG Tish James, NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson and others).

At 4 p.m., Diaz attends a remembrance for Martin Luther King Jr., St. Mary’s Episcopal Church, 230 Classon Ave., Brooklyn.

4 p.m., Katz attends the Peace Week NYC ninth Annual Town Hall, Betaworks Studios, 29 Little West 12th St., Manhattan.


Trump bashed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats for rejecting his deal to reopen the government even before he announced it, and the meteorologist-in-chief called for some “old fashioned global warming” to offset the freezing temps in a series of tweets.

Trump and Republican leaders in Congress sought to put Democrats on defense, a place they have rarely been during the shutdown stalemate.

In a bid to put pressure on Democrats, Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader, plans this week to bring up legislation that would immediately reopen the government and incorporate Trump’s proposal to offer temporary protections to some immigrants in exchange for $5.7 billion for his border wall.

The shutdown hasn’t done anything to improve the already tense relationship between McConnell and Pelosi.

National Weather Service meteorologists worked day and night this weekend, providing crucial updates as a massive winter storm hit upstate with up to 2 feet of snow. But none of them were paid for their work.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer reemphasized the position of leading Democrats that the month-long government shutdown must end before they negotiate with Trump on his border wall.

Schumer reaffirmed his support for the Federal Employee Civil Relief Act, a bill introduced by Sen. Brian Shatz, a Hawaii Democrat, on Jan. 9 that would protect federal workers from being evicted, foreclosed or facing penalties from falling behind on their bills during the current and future government shutdowns.

Long Island Republican Rep. Pete King blasted Democrats for rejecting Trump’s proposal to end the month-long partial government shutdown, saying extreme progressive elements of their party see the deal as “compromising with the devil.”

Democratic U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was put on the defensive about her earlier hard-line positions on immigration in an interview yesterday, telling voters they would have to “look at my heart” to determine what she stands for.

Gillibrand actually appeared on three Sunday morning talk shows where she cast herself as a viable opponent to Trump and expressed regret for her conservative positions while representing an upstate New York district as a House member.

New York’s junior senator brought up her conservative past herself while campaigning in Iowa, emphasizing her upstate New York roots, bipartisanship and small-town political ancestry.

Gillibrand even talked about her love of RVs and her family vacation last summer to see a Nascar race — and suggested she could make an RV trip in Iowa this year.

“The insatiable appetite of social media and cable news for fresh material makes the hunt for big stories even more perilous.”

Filmmaker Aaron Sorkin had some advice for the “new crop” of young Democrats during an appearance on Fareed Zakaria’s CNN show yesterday, but Queens Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez isn’t buying it.

A Sunday morning fire forced “Fox News Sunday” to shoot in a new location and take Vice President Pence and pundit Newt Gingrich along for the ride.

NYC Mayor de Blasio shamed a posh Brooklyn private school, Poly Prep Country Day School in Dyker Heights, for allegedly trying to sweep under the rug a controversial blackface video made by its students.

Bronx DA Darcel Clark said she can’t see de Blasio’s plan to open safe injection sites in the city ever happening — and that if the facilities do open, they’ll be illegal and dangerous.

As she begins her second four-year term as lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul says she will focus heavily on child-care and workforce development issues.

Hochul says she takes Cuomo at his word that he’s not running for president in 2020, but is prepared to take on more work if he changes his mind.

Elizabeth Crothers, who in 2001 accused then-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver of ignoring her complaint that his counsel raped her, is livid one of Silver’s closest aides and defenders, Judy Rapfogel, is now lobbying in Albany and says she should be “ostracized” by lawmakers.

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The Weekend That Was

Snow. Snow. Snow. Snow. Snow. And now the cold, very cold, temperatures.

President Donald Trump, in an early morning tweet, suggested global warming could be helpful as a massive snowstorm dropped several inches of snow and sent temperatures plunging across the Midwest and swaths of the Northeast United States.

Trump said he’ll support protections from deportation for some undocumented immigrants in the U.S. in exchange for $5.7 billion to build the southern border wall.

Trump’s re-election campaign has pledged to send “faux bricks” to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in exchange for donations of at least $20.20.

As a result of the storm, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio canceled his planned trip to Maine to visit his aged aunt.

Whether it was stormy weather, reports of infighting or the simple waning of interest over time, the third annual Women’s March events on Saturday attracted much smaller crowds than in years past.

Firebrand liberal Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and First Lady Chirlane McCray had starring roles in the controversial Women’s March in lower Manhattan on Saturday, speaking to thousands of assembled protesters despite lingering accusations of anti-Semitism against some of the organizers.

Cuomo banned tractor trailers and buses from traveling on the New York State Thruway and most interstate highways in advance of this weekend’s winter storm.

Trump blasted BuzzFeed News late Friday night on Twitter — saying it was a “very sad day for journalism” — after the special counsel disputed the media outlet’s report on his alleged real estate deal with the Russians.

“BuzzFeed’s description of specific statements to the Special Counsel’s Office, and characterization of documents and testimony obtained by this office, regarding Michael Cohen’s Congressional testimony are not accurate,” special counsel spokesman Peter Carr said.

The outlet’s editor-in-chief, Ben Smith, later issued his own statement — saying he and everyone else at BuzzFeed “stand by our reporting and the sources who informed it,” adding: “We urge the Special Counsel to make clear what he’s disputing.”

The Democratic chairmen of two House committees pledged to get to the bottom of the BuzzFeed report that Trump ordered his lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about a Moscow real estate deal during the 2016 election campaign.

Whether BuzzFeed’s reporting can stand up to further scrutiny is now at the center of a test of the news media’s credibility.

Trump personal attorney Rudy Giuliani said that negotiations about building a Trump Tower in Moscow likely extended until the end of the 2016 presidential campaign – much longer than previously confirmed.

Giuliani said it’s “possible” the president spoke to his former attorney, Cohen, ahead of his congressional testimony, adding: “Which would be perfectly normal. So what?”

Contrary to what BuzzFeed reported, Giuliani said his boss advised Cohen to be honest when he appeared before lawmakers, and insisted he is “one hundred percent certain” the message was never given for Cohen to lie.

Advisers to former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, a lifelong Democrat, are reportedly mulling having the high-profile billionaire – a vocal Trump critic – run for president in 2020 as an independent candidate.

The Democratic chairwoman in Washington State is asking Schultz not to run as an independent, saying: “Too much is at stake to make this about the ambitions of any one person.”

During her first trip to Iowa, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a newly minted 2020 presidential contender, was not asked about her flip-flop on serving a full term or her call for former Sen. Al Franken to depart after allegations of inappropriate behavior. She was asked about farm policy, health care and beating Trump.

Gillibrand, who was the first sitting senator to join the “Abolish ICE” movement in June of last year, told reporters in Iowa that she would have a separate agency handling crime and terrorism than the one also dealing with migrants

Big Pharma’s marketing of addictive painkillers to physicians, which include payments for travel, meals, speaking engagements and consulting, have been linked to a rise in deaths from drug overdoses, according to a new study.

Cuomo’s L-train shutdown aversion plan was rammed through without MTA board approval because agency management knew it stood little chance of passing, board members said.

Critics claim that some crucial voices aren’t being heard on the NYC Department of Education’s “listening tour”: those of charter school parents.

SUNY Morrisville wants to prepare students for a fast growing industry around the country, and possibly right here in New York, by offering a Cannabis Industry Minor.

The Cuomo administration is facing strong opposition from the leaders of municipal governments over its plan to chop nearly $60 million in state assistance to towns and villages.

Bob McCarthy chronicles the new day in Albany, and the GOP’s loss of influence at the state Capitol.

New state Sen. John Liu is hard to find in his Queens district because he still hasn’t set up a hometown headquarters.

New York City yeshivas collect more than $100 million a year in taxpayer funds — a lot to lose if the religious schools are found to deny students basic instruction in English, math and science.

The Greater New York Hospital Association was a major contributor to Cuomo’s Democratic party last year, contributing $1.15 million in the second half of 2018 – on top of $100,000 it donated in May. Only James Simons, founder of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, gave more ($1.5 million).

While the Big Apple braced for an Arctic chill, 17 trustees and staffers of NYC pension systems basked in the sun of balmy Key West at a weeklong, all-expense-paid seaside seminar.

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