Q-Poll: Biden Holds Highest Favorability Among NY Voters

A Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday found former Vice President Joe Biden leading the pack of Democratic contenders among New York voters when it comes to having the highest favorability rating.

Biden, who is mulling a presidential campaign, holds a 62 percent to 24 percent favorability rating, the poll found, higher than any other leading Democrat, including U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who formally entered the race last weekend.

Gillibrand, the state’s junior senator since 2009, has a 35 percent unfavorable rating.

Biden also beats out other presidential contenders, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, who holds a 51 percent to 38 percent favorable rating. Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is viewed favorably by 21 percent of voters. Sen. Kamala Harris of California is viewed favorably by 27 percent of voters.

President Donald Trump, a Republican and New York native, holds a negative 28 percent to 67 percent favorability rating, the poll found. Not surprisingly, 64 percent of voters polled statewide do not plan to vote for his re-election in 2020.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been bullish on a Biden presidential run, calling him in a radio interview Thursday morning a “good friend” but has also indicated he would consider a campaign if the former vice president stays out of the race.

The poll of 1,216 registered voters was conducted from March 13 through March 18. It has a margin of error of 3.8 percentage points.

MARCH 21 NY PRES+BP by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Prevailing Wage Supporters Respond To NAACP Opposition

From the Morning Memo:

This week, the NAACP’s New York chapter announced its opposition to a measure that would expand prevailing wage requirements to projects that receive partial public funding, pointing to concerns that the bill would hurt minority-owned businesses and workers of color.

But supporters of the legislation, including labor unions that represent black workers, pushed back against the opposition, accusing the NAACP of having “parroted talking points from the real estate industry that are factually inaccurate and harmful to the very communities they claim to represent.”

“The proposed public works legislation would require prevailing wages for all workers – union or non-union, black or white, brown or yellow,” the statement said.

“The legislation establishes a higher wage floor for all workers and studies across the country demonstrate that creating wage requirements benefit people of color. Several organizations involved in the unionized construction industry have also been meeting weekly with the NAACP to identify opportunities to create even more pathways to the middle class. We are troubled by these harmful comment and hope Ms. Dukes will reconsider her position and refrain from advocating for policies that benefit wealth over work.”

Signing on to the statement was a range of labor groups, including Lavon Chambers, the assistant director for Market Share Development, Greater New York Laborers-Employers Cooperation & Education Trust, Local 79, Barrie Smith, Business Agent, Laborers Local 79 & President, 100 Black Construction Workers, and Davon Lomax, Political Director, New York State District Council 9 IUPAT, Painters and Allied Trades.

The measure’s supporters, which include building trades union, believe prevailing wage provisions should be applied to all publicly financed projects so that local labor costs are not undermined.

But opponents believe the move would hurt non-union “open shops.” The NAACP argued in its letter this week that many of these open shops employ workers of color.

Community groups, however, disagreed that the measure would negatively effect workers.

“In this crucial and historic moment for immigrants and workers across the country and our state, we need strong and bold leadership that stands up for our communities,” said Manuel Castro, Executive Director, New Immigrant Community Empowerment.

“Too often, these populations are forgotten while developers reap the benefits of their labor. We urge the Governor and the New York State Legislature to include a clear definition of public work in the budget to ensure immigrants and workers receive their fair share.”

New York Farms Launch Digital Campaign

From the Morning Memo:

Agriculture producers and businesses this week are launching a digital campaign to promote New York farming and highlight common concerns facing the industry.

The group, called Grow NY Farms, has launched a Twitter account to focus on the state’s 35,000 farms and 160,000 jobs in the agriculture economy.

“During the first days of spring, we look forward to a positive growing season that links our outlook for a strong vibrant future with a history and tradition that reflects our core values,” said Brian Reeves, President of the New York State Vegetable Growers Association.

“As our seasonal workforce arrives over the next few weeks, we will begin planting locally grown fruits, vegetables, and flowers for gardening, while our counterparts continue to produce some of the highest quality beef, pork, poultry and dairy products found throughout the Northeast.”

Farms are facing a variety of pressures, ranging from immigration enforcement efforts effecting their workforce, federal trade policies and legislation that could create new labor requirements such as paying workers overtime and allowing them to collectively bargain.

The group hopes the digital effort will show the impact that farming has not just on the dinner table but also the local economy’s bottom line.

“Each year our state officials carefully consider a variety of issues impacting New York’s agriculture community,” Reeves said. “We invite them to visit our farms, learn about our economic impact, and enjoy the beauty of the state’s diverse agribusinesses. And, if your schedule does not immediately permit it – follow us on Twitter.”

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public events or interviews yet scheduled.

Vice President Mike Pence is headed to Atlanta, GA where he will receive a briefing from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials and also deliver remarks at a Perdue for Senate event before returning home to D.C.

NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray will deliver remarks at a Women’s History Month reception, which is not open to members of the media.

At 8 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul is a guest on the Women’s Roundtable on LI News Radio 103.9 FM and Live on iHeartRADIO.

At 8:30 a.m., North Brooklyn residents and street safety advocates will rally with local elected officials to call attention to the safety benefits of congestion pricing, Continental Army Plaza, foot of the Williamsburg Bridge, S. 5th Street and S. 5th Place, Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

At 9 a.m., Assemblywoman Nily Rozic speaks on the “Year of the Girl” panel discussion hosted by Girls Inc. of Long Island, Canon USA, One Canon Park, Melville.

Also at 9 a.m., Hochul delivers remarks at Girls Inc. of Long Island’s “Year of the Girl” Breakfast, Canon USA HQ, 1 Canon Park, Melville.

At 10 a.m., Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo will be joined by representatives at the Greater Rochester International Airport to announce the presenting sponsor and charitable recipient of a portion of the proceeds from the upcoming 2019 Rochester International Airshow, International Arrivals Hall, 1200 Brooks Ave., Rochester.

At 11 a.m., state Sen. David Carlucci will join BRIDGES and area veterans to call for $4.7 million in the state budget to fund the Joseph P. Dwyer Veterans Peer-to-Peer Support Program across New York, 873 Route 45, New City.

Also at 11 a.m., the memory of slain war correspondent journalist Marie Colvin is honored by Teamsters Local 237, Teamsters Headquarters, 216 W. 14th St., Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., the Bring It Home Coalition holds a weekly rally as part of ongoing efforts to demand that Cuomo increase funding for mental health housing programs, 633 Third Ave., Manhattan.

At 11:15 a.m., Hocul joins the Teamsters Local 237 and the Committee to Protect Journalists at a Women’s History Month celebration, Teamsters Local 237, 1st F., Feinstein Conference Room, 216 W. 14th St., Manhattan.

At 11:30 a.m., a coalition of Long Island labor organizations and elected officials will join together to rebut claims made about prevailing wages and legislation that will finally grant wage justice to construction workers on publicly funded projects, Wyandanch Rising, 40 Station Dr., Wyandanch.

At 11:45 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will ride the subway from City Hall to 110th Street to promote congestion pricing, Brooklyn Bridge – City Hall Subway Station, Manhattan.

At noon, a coalition of Southeast Queens transit riders and labor and other advocacy organizations will call for legislators to pass congestion pricing in the upcoming state budget, Jamaica Center Subway Station (NE corner of Parsons Blvd/Archer Ave next to Golden Krust), Queens.

Also at noon, police reform groups, elected officials, and families impacted by police violence will hold a press conference and rally calling on the state legislature and Cuomo to pass the Safer New York Act and repeal 50-a, New York’s harmful police secrecy law, City Hall steps, Manhattan. (NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will attend).

Also at noon, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey board holds a public meeting, 2 Montgomery St., Jersey City, New Jersey.

Also at noon, activists and concerned citizens from across the state will visit their local state senators’ offices across New York to demand the passage of the Climate and Community Protection Act in 2019, information here.

Also at noon, Queens tenants facing steep rent hikes will rally outside their rent-stabilized building, 41-40 Denman St. in Elmhurst, Queens to demand that the state strengthen tenant protections that put their families at risk.

At 12:30 p.m., state Sen. Jen Metzger and state Department of Agriculture and Markets Commissioner Richard Ball join maple producers from Finding Home Farms at a tree-tapping event, 140 Eatontown Rd., Middletown.

Also at 12:30 p.m., de Blasio, elected officials, business leaders and advocates will make an announcement on minority- and women-owned business enterprises, Esperanza Preparatory Academy, 240 E. 109th St., Manhattan.

At 1:45 p.m., Rep. Elise Stefanik will participate in a manufacturing tour at ACCO USA and then host a manufacturing roundtable with local leaders and businesses, 941 ACCO Way, Ogdensburg.

At 3 p.m., state Sen. John Liu, Education Committee chair, and fellow senators call for consensus building on school diversity and specialized high school admissions, Senate Hearing Room, 19th Fl., @50 Broadway, Manhattan.

At 3:30 p.m., Assemblyman Ron Kim and Common Cause/New York Executive Director Susan Lerner urge the NYC Charter Commission to recommend Ranked Choice Voting – a consensus driven system that would allow voters to rank candidates in order of preference, instead of a winner take all model, Flushing Public Library steps, 41-17 Main St., Flushing, Queens.

Also at 3:30 p.m., Hochul breaks ground on GDZ Homes redevelopment on Buffalo’s West Side, 417 Massachusetts Ave., Buffalo.

At 4:50 p.m., high school students hold a press conference to oppose state investment in surveillance technology in schools, Cuomo’s NYC office, 633 3rd Ave., Manhattan.

At 5 p.m., WBAI 99.5 FM’s “Driving Forces,” hosted by Celeste Katz and Jeff Simmons, features a focus on the Queens DA race, with NYC Councilman Rory Lancman and candidates Tiffany Caban and Mina Malik, WBAI, 99.5 FM.

At 5:30 p.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. will host his annual Women’s History Month celebration, Fordham University, Keating 1st in Keating Hall, 2691 Southern Blvd., the Bronx.

Also at 5:30 p.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli speaks at the Greater Syracuse Labor Council Annual Awards Dinner, Holiday Inn, 441 Electronics Pkwy., Liverpool.

At 6 p.m., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer holds a congestion pricing public hearing, Cooper Union’s Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, 41 Cooper Sq., Manhattan.

Also at 6 p.m., the NYC Charter Revision Commission meets, Council chamber, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 6 p.m., Let NY Vote will host a panel discussion with Assemblywoman Latrice Walker, L. Joy Williams of the Brooklyn NAACP and others on what’s next for voting rights in New York, Brooklyn Law School, 250 Joralemon St., Moot Courtroom, Brooklyn.

At 6:30 p.m., state Sens. Liu and Leroy Comrie host a town hall forum on congestion pricing, Martin Van Buren High School, 230-17 Hillside Ave., Queens Village.

At 7 p.m., Assemblyman David Weprin speaks about congestion pricing at the Benjamin Franklin Reform Democratic Club monthly meeting, Community Room, 3130 Irwin Ave., the Bronx.

Headlines…

New Zealand banned the sale of semi-automatic and assault rifles after 50 people were killed at two mosques in the country with the weapons.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern of New Zealand is expected to encounter little resistance to the weapons ban in Parliament; the largest opposition party quickly said it supported the measures.

President Donald Trump said that he would support the public release of the special counsel report on possible Russian ties to his 2016 campaign, telling reporters that Attorney General William Barr should “let it come out.”

Trump continued his streak of attacks on the late Sen. John McCain during a visit to an Ohio tank factory, blasting the Arizona Republican’s handling of veterans issues, his vote on a bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act and his role in the investigation into his campaign’s ties to Russia.

“I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted, which as president I had to approve,” Trump said. “I don’t care about this. I didn’t get thank you. That’s OK. We sent him on the way, but I wasn’t a fan of John McCain.”

Trump authorized the use of Air Force 2 to transport McCain’s body from Arizona to Washington, D.C., after his death, but the President had nothing to do with his state funeral at the U.S. Capitol on Aug. 31.

The long, antagonistic history between the president and McCain, in his youth a Navy pilot and prisoner of war celebrated for his bravery and later known as a maverick in the Republican Party, dates to the early days of the 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump, who once called the Electoral College “a disaster,” has since started to defend its “brilliance” amid calls by some Democrats to eliminate the system.

A parody account pretending to be an imaginary cow owned by Rep. Devin Nunes, the California Republican, is more popular on Twitter than the congressman, a day after he sued the account (and Twitter) for $250 million.

Freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will grace the cover of the April 1 edition of Time Magazine with a headline describing her as “The Phenom,” and a story that calls her the “second most talked-about politician in America.”

The Justice Democrats, a left-wing advocacy group that helped engineer Ocasio-Cortez’s midterm primary victory, flatly denied a Daily Caller report that the Bronx-born congresswoman was first removed from its board on Friday.

The Democratic mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, Vi Lyles, says she has no concerns about hosting the 2020 Republican National Convention and plans to use the event to show off the best her city has to offer.

Former Colorado Governor and 2020 Democratic presidential candidate John Hickenlooper questioned why the women running against him for the party’s nomination weren’t being asked if they would choose a man as their running mate.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi acknowledged that Congress all but certainly won’t be able to block Trump’s border wall veto, but asserted she will force a vote on the matter anyway because the President’s attempt to “deface” the Constitution shouldn’t go unanswered.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft has filed a motion to make sure the lurid police videos of his visits to a Florida massage parlor do not get leaked to the public.

Trump wants Kraft to celebrate the Super Bowl win alongside his Patriots at the White House, whether or not his longtime friend is still facing charges for solicitation.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that marijuana legalization will not be included in the state’s upcoming budget.

Progressive lawmakers called on Democratic leaders – in the Assembly in particular – to stop stalling on taxpayer-funded campaign financing.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie raised several doubts about the viability of public campaign financing, some of which Cuomo has echoed, despite the fact that both the chamber and governor have annually supported such campaign finance reform and Cuomo this year included a plan in his executive budget proposal.

Cuomo’s plan, contained in his executive budget proposal, would match each dollar of a private contribution, up to $175 per donor, with $6 in public funds. The system would be significantly less restrictive — in terms of dollar amounts and who could do the giving — than New York City’s public financing program.

A group of Democrats led by Senate Elections Committee Chairman Sen. Zellnor Myrie, a Brooklyn Democrat, hosted a hearing to discuss the proposals that would minimize outside influences and establish a small-donor public financing system for the state.

More >

Extras

The Federal Reserve left interest rates unchanged today and showed little appetite for raising them in the near future, as officials expressed increased concern about slowing economic growth.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas asked his first questions from the bench since 2016 during an argument today about racial discrimination in jury selection.

Trump lobbed fresh insults at George Conway, calling the prominent conservative lawyer and husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway a “stone cold LOSER” and “husband from hell.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s response to a question about NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s flirtation with a 2020 run: “I always say when somebody is serious about running, I’ll be serious about commenting on it.”

Marist pollster Lee Miringoff said 2020 is “not looking good” for Trump, re-election wise.

Robert Kraft, the owner of the Super Bowl champion New England Patriots, is planning to reject a deferred prosecution agreement that would not require him to plead guilty to any charges surrounding his visits to a Florida spa in January that was under investigation for sex trafficking and prostitution.

Hillary Clinton cited the 24th Amendment in response to a Florida bill that would require felons to pay off all their court fees and costs before voting.

De Blasio’s preliminary budget for FY 2020 is balanced, but there are risks, including proposed drops in state assistance, potential federal budget cuts and slower economic growth, according to a report released by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

Not only are there more homeless New Yorkers today than compared to six years ago, but they’re staying in shelters an average three to four months longer than they used to, despite programs launched by de Blasio to move them into permanent housing.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her chief of staff have reportedly been removed from the board of the Justice Democrats PAC.

Diversifying NYC’s specialized high schools is on its way to becoming a game of political hot potato between de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Pegula Sports and Entertainment has been active at the state Capitol in recent days, meeting with lawmakers and state officials as they weigh whether to broaden legal sports gambling in New York.

A panel of federal judges recently handed Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown a major legal victory, but it also suggested the pay-to-play allegations at the core of the case raise “troubling questions” about the city’s handling of a $12 million housing project.

An undocumented immigrant in New York City was denied the right to a jury trial this week, despite a landmark New York Court of Appeals decision on the issue, after a judge from Queens said his motion to do so was made too far along in the litigation.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli penned an OpEd in favor of a statewide public campaign finance system.

A special election to fill the Brooklyn Council seat vacated by Jumaane Williams after he was elected NYC public advocate will be held May 14.

A former employee at an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island is accusing the company of firing him last month in retaliation for speaking out about what he says are difficult working conditions there.

More than a third of New York’s residents say they can’t afford to live in the state, according to a new Q poll.

An office manager for celebrity lawyer Joe Tacopina turned herself in today for embezzling at least $1 million from the attorney.

For the first time in more than 50 years, Carl Reiner’s scripts of “The Dick Van Dyke Show” will come out of storage to be digitally preserved in an initiative between Reiner and the National Comedy Center in Jamestown.

Plug Power, the Lathan fuel cell maker, is selling 10 million shares of its stock in a private sale to one of its existing shareholders, London-based Odey Asset Management.

Cuomo Calls Congestion Pricing The Most Difficult Issue

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday called the effort to overhaul mass transit systems in New York City the toughest issue he’s dealing with in the state budget this year.

Cuomo in a radio interview with The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC demurred when asked if the votes in the Legislature are available for the provision, part of the broader $175 billion budget proposal, are there for it to pass.

“It is a tough issue, but I’m cautiously optimistic,” Cuomo said. “It’s the single toughest issue we have on the agenda.”

The effort is meant to raise more funds for New York City’s trouble subway system through congestion pricing by tolling vehicles in Manhattan south of 61st Street, a property tax surcharge on high-end second homes and collecting sales tax on out-of-state Internet purchases.

But the issue of tolling, known as congestion pricing, has struggled to gain traction over the last decade in Albany and state lawmakers are once again hesitant to approve it.

“Congestion pricing is the greatest opportunity we have had, we’ve talked about it for 20 years,” Cuomo said. “It is the smartest idea I think for urban development.”

Advocates Phone Lawmakers For Public Campaign Financing

An advocacy group pushing for the creation of a public campaign financing program on Wednesday launched an effort to boost the issue with state lawmakers, having supporters make phone calls and text messages to members of the state Senate and Assembly.

The calls are being organized by Stand Up America, a member of the broader Fair Elections coalition that’s called for the passage of public financing this year.

“We have until April 1st to get campaign finance reform in the final NY budget,” the group wrote in an email to supporters. “Wealthy special interests will no doubt spend the next eleven days trying their hardest to convince our representatives they need big-money donors more than they need us, their constituents.”

The call campaign came as Democrats in the Senate held a public hearing on the issue.

But the Democratic-controlled Assembly is viewed as the main battleground for public financing. Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Wednesday after a meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said some lawmakers remained concerned about the effect independent expenditure committees could play in a public financing system.

Assembly Bill Creates A Maternal Mortality Review Board

The state Assembly has approved a bill on Wednesday that would create a Maternal Mortality Review Board meant to review the death rates of new mothers and develop a way to combat the issue.

“The Assembly Majority recognizes the seriousness of the disparities that exist in health outcomes for pregnant women in New York,” said Speaker Carl Heastie. “By developing review boards and an advisory council, we can identify the root causes of this issue and develop meaningful strategies to achieve better and more equitable outcomes for all women.”

A similar proposal was included in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2019 women’s agenda.

The bill would create the panel that would assess causes of death, factors leading to death and how it could have been prevented for women giving birth or about to give birth.

The board would include health care professionals and experts who have studied the issue of maternal deaths, as well ass mothers in areas considered to be medically underserved that also havve high rates of maternal mortality.

At the same time, an advisory council would be created to make recommendations on policy changes and best practices.

New York’s maternal death rate is 30th out of 50 states, and experts say the issue is worsened by racial and ethnic disparities. Black women are four times more likely to die during a pregnancy and childbirth compared to white mothers.

“Every woman deserves the best possible care for themselves and their newborn, and it is time for New York to address the high maternal mortality rate that has existed in our state for far too long,” Assemblywoman Latoya Joyner, the bill’s main sponsor, said. “This legislation is a critical step toward doing just that.”

In Search Of Found Money In The Budget For Education

Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a news conference on Tuesday floated the idea of cutting the state’s $420 million film tax credit program if it meant bolstering either education or health care spending in the budget.

But Sen. Robert Jackson, a Democrat from Manhattan who has sought to increase direct aid to schools by more than $1 billion in this year’s budget, did not embrace that idea during an interview Tuesday on Capital Tonight.

“I think they need to look at everything,” Jackson said. “But the bottom line is the film tax credit, when you talk about the industry in New York City and New York state, that’s working very well. All you have to do is ask all the people involved in that.”

At the same time, Jackson was hesitant to back an increase in taxes on the rich as called for in the Assembly’s one-house budget resolution approved earlier this month, but indicated a tax hike would be needed only if “absolutely necessary.”

“There is a millionaires tax already,” he said. “The Assembly said we have to raise more money. Here’s the bottom line: Let’s try to deal with what we have now and if absolutely necessary in order to give our children a sound basic education, then we need to consider that. In my opinion, nothing is off the table.”

Jackson said the money in the budget for more school aid can come from somewhere, but said it should be up to the governor’s budget director to figure that out.

“There’s always several billion dollars hidden away from the governor,” he said. “It’s already there. If I was the budget director, then I could tell you that.”

An On-Time Budget Is Agreed To, But Wait It Isn’t?

Ah, spring is in the air! Is a potential budget deal — or at least a plan to have it done on time?

It’s not clear.

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins certainly thought there was at least an agreement to have a budget done by the end of the month.

Out came Gov. Andrew Cuomo a few hours later to contradict them, saying he would never agree to that.

“I would never commit to doing a budget on time,” he said at a news conference in the Red Room

This was the same governor, of course, who tied on-time budgets to the idea of government functionality. He even gave out photo-op door prizes when three budgets were done on time in a row (hockey pucks for a “hat trick”) and four budgets in a row (a baseball bat for a “grand slam”).

On Tuesday, Cuomo employed a different sports metaphor: Things are at the 5-yard line, but it’s not a touchdown just yet.

Cuomo’s suggestion that the budget could be late may be designed to nudge lawmakers toward is way of thinking ultimately, given the pay raises at stake for both the executive and Legislature if the spending plan is late.