Elia To Step Down At State Education Next Month

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia next month will step down from the post she has held since 2015, her office confirmed on Monday.

Elia made the surprise announcement earlier in the day a meeting of the Board of Regents.

An SED spokeswoman said Elia was leaving to “pursue another professional opportunity.”

Elia had previously served as the superintendent of schools in Hillsborough County, Florida and is a native of western New York.

At a news conference on Monday afternoon, Elia said she was leaving effective Aug. 31 for a job at a national education policy organization that focuses on turning around troubled schools. She declined to name the organization.

Elia took office amid a protracted fight in New York education policy circles over teacher evaluations and charter schools, navigating a complex and heated battle.

“I think for a period of time we were in a stalemate, not really focused on what we needed to do to support students,” she said. “I think by calming the waters, understanding the importance of teacher voice in everything that we do, I think that’s one of the things I’m most proud of.”

Katko And Stefanik: Trump’s Tweets ‘Were Wrong’

Republican Rep. John Katko in a statement on Monday called President Donald Trump’s weekend tweets criticizing four Democratic congresswoman and telling them to “go back” to their countries “wrong” and urged the focus be shifted back to policy.

Trump in a series of posts on Twitter blasted “the squad” of freshman Democratic women — Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, and incorrectly inferred they are not Americans. Three of the women were born in the United States.

Democrats, who have been locked in their own ideological intraparty battle over the future of the party, have called the tweets racist and bigoted for implying women of color cannot be from the U.S.

Republicans have tread far more lightly, however, amid concerns any statements could upset the president’s base of supporters.

“The President’s tweets were wrong,” Katko said. “I have vehemently criticized lawmakers on the far-left when I disagree with the direction in which they want to take the country – but criticism should focus on policy.”

Katko is running for re-election this year to what has historically been a swing battleground district in central New York.

Update: Rep. Elise Stefanik in a tweet echoed a similar sentiment.

“While I strongly disagree with the tactics, policies, and rhetoric of the far-left socialist “Squad,” the President’s tweets were inappropriate, denigrating, and wrong,” she said. “It is unacceptable to to tell legal U.S. citizens to go back to their home country.”

Paterson Joins Management At Las Vegas Sands

Former Gov. David Paterson has joined Las Vegas Sands as a senior vice president and special advisor as the casino company seeks to build a gaming hall in New York City.

The company announced Monday Paterson was joining its senior management as the push for a New York City casino permit continues.

Las Vegas Sands earlier this year hired Paterson to tout the benefits of a New York City-based casino, which it said would create 15,000 permanent labor union jobs and 15,000 construction jobs from labor unions as well.

“The expansion of gaming downstate will bring billions of dollars in immediate and sustainable revenue streams to New York to fund programmatic and policy priorities including public education, public transit modernization or affordable housing, while stabilizing the entire gaming industry in the state,” Paterson said in a statement.

MGM, which operates the Empire City racino in Yonkers and Genting, the owners of the Aqueduct racino in Queens, also pushed state officials this year to accelerate the time table for issuing downstate casino licenses, which currently cannot be approved until 2023.

But that effort faltered even before the session ended, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo showed little desire to change the existing law.

The state licenses four casinos in different regions of upstate New York.

“I look forward to joining Sands’ to advance this once in a lifetime opportunity for New York,” Paterson said. “I have witnessed a strong commitment from Sands as we share a common goal of bringing economic opportunity to New York, while simultaneously securing tens of thousands of local, accessible jobs, MWBE business opportunities and training programs for a local workforce.”

Cuomo Says He Won’t Remove De Blasio

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in radio interviews on Monday rebuffed calls from The New York Post that he remove New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio after he was absent from the city during a Saturday evening blackout that impacted parts of Manhattan.

Cuomo would not directly criticize de Blasio’s performance during the blackout.

But at the same time, in several interviews, Cuomo pointed to his own leadership during the event, pointedly noting he was in New York when it occurred. De Blasio was in Iowa, campaigning for president at the time.

“I’m not prepared to do that,” Cuomo said on WNYC when asked about The Post’s editorial calling for de Blasio’s removal. “I understand their point.”

Cuomo added the job of a government leader is to “show up.”

“I believe that a chief executive is there and should show up,” he said. “I showed up. I showed up at the blackout situation. I show up when something happens in Buffalo.”

In a separate interview on WAMC in Albany, Cuomo said removing de Blasio would “up to the people” of New York City and he had not heard a “hue and cry” to do so.

De Blasio, re-elected in 2017, is in his final term as mayor.

Cuomo and de Blasio are occasional rivals, though the simmering feud between the two men, which has erupted into warring statements exchanged by their offices, has been put on hold in recent months.

Senate Dems, Now In The Majority, Raise $2.3M

From the Morning Memo:

The fundraising arm of the Democratic conference in the state Senate this week will report raising $2.3 million over the last six months, bringing their cash-on-hand total to more than $2 million.

The fundraising figures reflect the first six months of the Senate Democrats taking majority control of the state Senate. With the addition of Sen. Simcha Felder, Senate Democrats now hold 40 of the 63 seats in the chamber, two shy of a supermajority.

Senate Democrats also did not raise any money from real estate interests during this time period, reflecting a pledge of Sen. Mike Gianaris, the chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee.

Senate Democrats are outpacing both Republicans and the efforts of the party’s previous majority in 2009.

Senate Republicans previously reported a cash-on-hand total of $250,984 after raising more than $130,000 — according to a 10-day post-primary report.

Two years ago, Senate Democrats had $540,000 in cash on hand, while Republicans had $1.4 million.

A decade ago, after gaining the majority for the first time in decades, Senate Democrats reported $1.3 million.

The fundraising report for Senate Democrats comes after state lawmakers approved a flurry of long-sought legislation due to the majorities the party controls in both chambers. Democrats approved and Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law measures strengthening abortion laws, gun control, LGBTQ rights and measures meant to aid undocumented immigrants.

Cuomo Calls For Investigation After Weekend Blackout In New York City

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo this weekend called for an investigation into the circumstances surrounding a Saturday night black out that plunged much of Manhattan into darkness for several hours.

Cuomo also raised the possibility of stripping utility ConEd of its franchise agreement if it is found to be at fault.

“We’re going to do an independent investigation – we have some of the best power experts in the country in New York – and do an independent investigation,” Cuomo said in a radio interview.

“Find out exactly what happened, where, why, what happened to all the designed redundancy in this system, right? We’ve gone through this and the system is about to be designed so that if a transformer goes out there is a redundancy to it. If a transmission line blows, if there’s a heavy load, there’s a redundancy built into the system. Because a blackout is just not tolerable in a situation like New York City.”

The governor conducted a flurry of interviews on radio and TV in the wake of the blackout to discuss the investigation and his dissatisfaction with ConEd. But he declined to directly criticize Mayor Bill de Blasio for being out of town on the presidential campaign trail when the lights went out.

“I’m governor of New York. I hold myself personally accountable when you have an emergency situation like we did last night anywhere in the state,” Cuomo said.

“And as you know, you’ve watched me long enough, my way is to show up. I like to be on the ground. I like to see with my own eyes and hear with my own ears. I also believe it gives people a sense of confidence when they see somebody in charge actually there.”

Here And Now

Good morning! Back at the grind for this warm Monday morning.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany, with nothing public planned so far.

Happening today:

At 8:45 a.m., Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will visit Accenture NYC Innovation Hub and lead a discussion about equality in the workplace. Accenture Innovation Hub. 155 Avenue of the Americas, 6th Floor, New York City.

At noon, activists and labor groups will deliver a petition to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’s New York City home urging the company to cut ties with ICE. 212 5th Ave., New York City.

At 6:30 p.m., Sen. Kevin Thomas will hold a town hall, Garden City Public Library, 60 7th St., Garden City.

At 7 p.m., New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will be on NY1’s Inside City Hall.

At 7:30 p.m., Hochuwll keynote the Hadassah 99th Annual Convention Dinner, Sheraton Hotel, 811 7th Ave., New York City.

Headlines:

Mayor Bill de Blasio says he’s getting reports that a nationwide crackdown on immigrants facing deportation began on Saturday in New York City.

Authorities say power has been restored to all areas of Manhattan affected by a widespread power outage that left businesses without electricity and subway stations without power Saturday evening.

The power outage that left thousands of New Yorkers in the dark on Saturday has also cut Mayor De Blasio’s presidential campaign trip to Iowa short this weekend.

With de Blasio out of town and on the presidential campaign trail, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson — who is considering a run for mayor — provided minute by minute updates as the blackout continued.

Since the 2016 presidential election, the DSA’s membership has soared to more than 5,000 members in New York and growing, often using social media as an organizing tool.

The MTA is facing a transformation. A long-awaited report from a consultant wants to streamline the 51-year-old agency, saving hundreds of millions of dollars.

Currently, New York City is considering opening up four new jails in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and in the Bronx, and shuttering Rikers Island. That proposal is making its way through the land-use process.

A protest at West Capital Park in Albany called for an end to detention centers at the southern border. More than 20 local organizations participated in the “Lights for Liberty” protest and vigil.

Despite city lawmakers passing the FACT Act Thursday night, Troy Mayor Patrick Madden vetoed the measure Friday evening.

The U.S. Census is moving forward without a citizenship question — a development Gov. Andrew Cuomo said was good for the state.

When it comes to races, a head start usually helps. That’s exactly what Republican Chris Jacobs got in May when he became the first person to officially announce his candidacy in New York’s 27th Congressional District race.

More than 50 Democrats in the state Assembly on Thursday signed onto a letter to President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr urging the federal administration improve conditions at detention facilities holding migrant families near the southern border.

Thousands of runners from across the nation and around the world, invaded the streets of Utica Sunday morning for the city’s largest 15K race.

It’s not a big deal if your mail gets delayed a day or two, but how about two and a half months? That’s how long the post office didn’t deliver bills and much-needed donations meant for a homeless shelter in Buffalo.

Congressional rooms were filled with emotion on Capitol Hill as lawmakers held several hearings this week to address the reportedly poor conditions at the southern border detention centers.

It’s an effort to save the environment but it’s leaving home and business owners with a tough, and pretty costly, decision.

In national news:

In comments apparently directed at a group of freshman Democratic lawmakers, President Trump tweeted they should “go back” to the countries they are from (they are all citizens, three were born in the United States).

No modern president has sought to fan the flames of racial division as President Trump has, The New York Times writes.

The tweet also came as Democrats were becoming increasingly divided between establishment leaders and newly elected lawmakers, potentially uniting the party against the president.

A central question for Democrats in the presidential nominating contest: how far left is too far.

The White House this week will host a religious freedom conference.

Vice President Mike Pence in The Washington Post urges Congress to approve the U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement.

Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney is consolidating his power and building his own fiefdom within the West Wing.

It appears the largest cities in Louisiana have avoided flooding related to the slow-moving tropical storm Barry.

From the editorial pages:

The New York Post writes Mayor Bill de Blasio should be removed from the mayor’s office after he was AWOL during the blackout.

The Daily News says the proposed MTA reorganization should go even further than recommended by an outside consultant.

The Times Union writes Congress should review a report compiled on mass shootings, which makes the case for so-called “red flag” laws like the one New York lawmakers approved this year.

From the sports pages:

Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer in an epic match to win the men’s tournament Wimbledon.

Simona Halep in an upset defeated Serena Williams at Wimbledon.

Yankees beat the Blue Jays, 4-2.

Mets beat the Marlins, 6-2.

Brian Benjamin Endorses Harris For President

Sen. Brian Benjamin on Friday endorsed the presidential campaign of California U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris.

“I’m backing Kamala Harris because she knows that real, meaningful criminal justice reform must be on the agenda for our next president,” said Benjamin, a Democrat from Manhattan.

“Right now, our justice system — with its private prisons, cash bail system, and failure to restore voting rights to individuals with felony convictions — does not align with our American values. These are the issues I have dedicated my career in public service to addressing, and I know that Kamala deeply understands them and has tackled them head-on in her career and in this campaign, which is why I am excited to support her for president.”

Benjamin in 2007 helped found Harlem for Obama when then-Sen. Barack Obama launched his campaign, marking one of the first New York-based efforts for his campaign.

“I know now, as I knew then, what a real change-maker looks like, which is why I am proud to endorse Senator Harris’s historic bid for president,” Benjamin said.

Extras

The House on Friday overwhelmingly approved a bill ensuring that a victims compensation fund for the Sept. 11 attacks never runs out of money.

Influential union leader Héctor Figueroa has died. The union says he passed away unexpectedly Thursday night.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is calling on the MTA board to address the homeless problem on the subway.

MTA brass on Thursday tried to impress upon riders that the subway is actually getting better, not just on paper but in their commutes.

Last month, the Buffalo Zoo’s greater one-horned rhino, Tashi, gave birth to her fourth calf, Mohan. Friday morning, the handsome little guy made his debut at the Buffalo Zoo.

Residents in South Buffalo are upset after a basketball court was vandalized and spray-painted with racist symbols.

The U.S. Census is moving forward without a citizenship question — a development Gov. Andrew Cuomo said was good for the state.

Rep. John Katko’s campaign on Thursday announced he had raised $521,623 in the second quarter fundraising period of 2019 as he seeks re-election to New York’s 24th Congressional District seat.

Cuomo Criticizes Progressives For Failing On Accomplishments

Gov. Andrew Cuomo once again on Friday knocked progressives in New York for not backing up their rhetoric with action.

Cuomo in a Daily News op/ed and later in a conference call with reporters linked three issues — the closure of Rikers Island jail, poor schools and the New York City Housing Authority — with a broader critique of some progressives.

“Welcome to progressive politics and progressive policy,” Cuomo said in the conference call with reporters. “It’s not enough to state the goal and it’s repugnant to possess a plan that is either unworkable or impossible.”

He added all three issues share a common theme: “The common denominator is you are dealing with primarily a minority population, you’re dealing with poor people, who have very little political power to fight for themselves.”

In The Daily News, Cuomo went further, writing that Democrats have failed to “consistently producing meaningful progress in people’s lives.”

“Progressivism is not about the ability to make promises, but about the ability to deliver them,” he wrote.

The comments dovetail with an interview Cuomo gave earlier this week on WAMC, pointing to his accomplishments during his time in office, and declared “I am the left” given his administration’s track record on issues like LGBTQ rights and a $15 minimum wage in the New York City metropolitan area.

Having concrete accomplishments has been a theme for the governor, with his argument that any tangible agreement is better than not reaching any result at all.

Cuomo over the years has had a strained relationship with progressive advocates and he’s been challenged twice in primaries by opponents running to his left flank, defeating both Zephyr Teachout and Cynthia Nixon by wide margins.