National Advocacy Groups Push For Public Campaign Financing In NY

From the Morning Memo:

A letter co-signed by a range of national advocacy organizations nudging state lawmakers in New York to pass a public campaign financing measure in the state budget due by the end of the month.

The letter was backed by groups including the NAACP, End Citizens United and MoveOn.

The Democratic-led Senate included the provision in its one-house budget resolution earlier this month. But in the Assembly, lawmakers have raised concerns about the effect a public financing system for campaigns would have on races in which super PACs or independent expenditure committees become involved.

Speaker Carl Heastie told reporters after meeting with Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this week that lawmakers in his conference continue to have concerns with the legislation.

“Fair Elections for New York — with small-donor matching funds as the centerpiece — is a clear solution to the oversized influence that a small group of wealthy donors has over New York’s government,” the letter states.

“Governor Andrew M. Cuomo included Fair Elections in his proposed budget, as did the Assembly and the Senate. Majorities in each house are on the record in support. With the power to now make it law, New York’s leaders must walk the walk. It’s time for you to pass Fair Elections in this year’s budget. We no longer can accept a nation or a state governed increasingly by a small group of the wealthy elite.”

Senate Democrats earlier this week held a public hearing on the issue in order to boost the provision in the budget talks.

Letter From National Organizations to NY Leadership in Support of Fair Elections for New York (2) by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Schumer Addresses Mueller, McCain, Gillibrand 2020 While In Buffalo

From the Morning Memo:

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer took questions on a number of national issues during a Thursday trip to Buffalo.

At the top of the list was President Donald Trump’s veto after Congress rejected his national emergency declaration to build a wall along the U.S. Mexico border. If funding, is taken from the part of the budget that deals with building new military facilities, it could affect the Niagara Falls Airforce Base.

A project to build a new workout and recreational center for soldiers could be threatened. However, even though the two-thirds majority vote required for a veto override seems unlikely in the Senate, Schumer doesn’t seem worried at this point.

“I am quite confident that that will not happen because it won’t stand up in court,” he said. “The president doesn’t really have the power to do this. He’s attempting to. It will be challenged in court and unlikely to prevail.”

At the same time, Schumer criticized the president last week for posthumously attacking former GOP Senator John McCain. He said he thought the comments were awful.

The Minority Leader is planning to introduce legislation to re-name the Richard Russell Federal Building after McCain.

“He was one of my dearest friends. He was a great American. He was a hero who devoted himself to public life and there could be nothing more fitting than naming one of the three Senate office buildings after him, so I will be introducing legislation to rename the building and I hope it gets broad bipartisan support,” he said.

As for the special investigation into Russia’s interference and possible collusion during the 2016 election, which is expected to be submitted very soon, Schumer, like the president is calling for it to be made public. He said a small bit could be redacted if it reveals intelligence sources, but that’s it.

“I think there’s an imperative to make it public and I hope that the Attorney General will make it public,” Schumer said, “I was gratified to see that President Trump said he wanted it made public yesterday and so I hope the Attorney General will listen to both the Congress and what the president said. The public has the right to see this. When you’re talking about the interference in an election by a foreign power, whatever Mueller says about it, we should know about it.”

Finally the Democrat was asked if he plans to endorse his fellow New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand as the nominee to challenge Trump in 2020. He was not ready to wade into those waters yet.

Instead, he said she’s a “very good senator” and they work well together buthe’s watching to see how things unfold right now.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo doesn’t have a daily schedule out yet.

At 8:30 a.m., NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will join CBSN New York to discuss his views on specialized high school admissions and his vision for using his office to create change.

At 9:30 a.m., Assemblyman David Weprin delivers remarks on the one fair wage bill at Restaurant Opportunities Centers United’s discussion of the elimination of the subminimum wage, Bernstein Private Wealth Management, 1345 Sixth Ave., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., Assemblyman Charles Lavine joins state Sen. Todd Kaminsky and other Long Island elected officials for a press conference and rally for funding early voting in the state budget, Rockville Centre Train Station, 40 Front St., Rockville Centre.

Also at 10 a.m., state Sens. Jen Metzger and James Skoufis hold a joint press conference to discuss initiatives in the state Senate’s one-house budget resolution, Chester Public Library, 1784 Kings Highway, Chester.

Also at 10 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul delivers remarks at the Erie County Commission on the Status of Women Event: “Running for Elected Office, On the Campaign Trail Then & Now,” The Buffalo History Museum, 1 Museum Ct., Buffalo.

Also at 10 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will appear live on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show” and take questions from listeners.

At 11 a.m., survivors of solitary confinement and other advocates will hold a rally demanding Cuomo support the HALT Solitary Confinement Act, 633 Third Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., Rep. Paul Tonko holds a press conference to call out Trump’s proposal that would gut the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by 31 percent, LCA Pressroom, Room 130, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., Suffolk County Executive Steven Bellone leads a tour of two affordable housing developments to showcase the progress on transit-oriented development and downtown revitalization on the East End, 41 N. Phillips Avenue, Speonk.

At noon, NYC Council members Mark Treyger, Vanessa Gibson and Donovan Richards rally to demand that Cuomo and the state pay the more than $1.2 billion owed to New York City schools, City Hall steps, Manhattan. (Williams also attends).

At 12:15 p.m., Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and Assemblyman Felix Ortiz hold a press conference calling for full restoration of proposed budget cuts to veterans programs, Fort Hamilton Army Base, Fort Hamilton Parkway and 101st Street, Brooklyn.

At 1 p.m., state Sens. Leroy Comrie and Timothy Kennedy and Assemblyman William Magnarelli take testimony on the state’s transit networks, Onondaga Community College, SRC Arena and Events Center, Otis Room, 4585 W. Seneca Turnpike, Syracuse. (This is the fifth of five hearings on this issue).

At 1:30 p.m., NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray will deliver remarks at the Muslim American Society Center, 1933 Bath Ave., Brooklyn.

At 2 p.m., Malliotakis leads U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Regional Administrator Lynne Patton and several of her colleagues on a tour of two NYCHA facilities in her district, New Lane Area, 70 New Lane, Staten Island.

At 6 p.m., state Sen. Jessica Ramos holds her first community town hall meeting, P.S. 149, 93-11 34th Ave., Queens.


President Trump said that the United States should recognize Israel’s authority over the Golan Heights, one of the world’s most disputed territories, reversing decades-long American policy and violating a United Nations resolution.

The chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee revealed information that he said showed Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner used private messaging services for official White House business in a way that may have violated federal records laws.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton united on Twitter to point out some fresh hypocrisy inside the Trump administration.

Ocasio-Cortez mimicked a popular joke about 2016 presidential campaign controversy over Clinton’s private email use, saying “But his WhatsApp” when sharing an interview about the Kushner allegations.

Ocasio-cortez said people call her office “every day” making death threats, and she feels safest at home in the Bronx.

Democratic California Rep. Eric Swalwell said that former White House communications director Hope Hicks will “have to tell us who she lied for” as she cooperates with the House Intelligence Committee.

The White House is stonewalling a trio of powerful House Democrats who want to get their hands on any and all information about Trump’s private conversations with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Trump signed an executive order requiring that U.S. colleges seeking federal research funding must certify that their policies support free speech in order to receive it.

Vast areas of the United States are at risk of flooding this spring, even as Nebraska and other Midwestern states are already reeling from record-breaking late-winter floods, federal scientists said.

As the pilots of the doomed Boeing jets in Ethiopia and Indonesia fought to control their planes, they lacked two notable safety features in their cockpits. One reason: Boeing charged extra for them.

Pipe bomb suspect Cesar Sayoc tearfully apologized in court and pleaded guilty in the pipe bomb mailing spree that targeted prominent Democrats and critics of President Donald Trump in late 2018.

Actress Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, are scheduled to appear in federal court in Boston next month in a college admissions bribery case.

Even in her home state, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is less popular than most of her competitors for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, according to a new Q poll.

Alexis Grenell: “There are four highly qualified women running in the Democratic primary—across a range of ideologies and experience—but an influx of men have entered the mix without offering a clear rationale for themselves beyond that they can and want to run.”

A group of Hollywood actresses waving the Time’s Up movement banner have been pressing Cuomo to apply New York’s minimum wage to workers who earn tips, arguing that it would make waitresses less vulnerable to sexual harassment. But waitresses say they don’t want this, and don’t need celebrities to speak for them.

With budget negotiations in full swing, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and many Republicans have pointed to the failed Amazon headquarters’ plan in Queens as evidence that the Senate’s young Democratic majority is unequipped to govern.

Two JetBlue flight attendants sued the airline and two of its pilots in federal court this week, alleging that the pilots drugged them both during a layover last year and that one of the pilots raped one of the women and another co-worker.

Assembly members Mary Beth Walsh and Carrie Woerner are leading a bipartisan push to pass legislation that would extend the time period for parents of children with intellectual disabilities to pursue child-support payments.

NYC will pay nearly $2 million to the family of an emotionally disturbed cabbie who police shot dead in his Harlem apartment in 2012, capping off a years-long court battle between the city and the man’s mother.

New Yorkers in jeopardy of losing their homes were dealt a blow as new state budget figures were released that appear to omit a critical funding request from providers of foreclosure prevention services.

State Senate GOP leader John Flanagan said that a poll showing 41 percent of New York City residents might be forced to flee because of high costs should be a “wake up” call to Democrats planning to increase state spending.

Cuomo won’t agree to a budget without bail reform, but advocates, opponents and those facing judges said they are concerned about just what criminal justice overhauls will appear in the final fiscal bill.

Another option to raise revenue for New York City’s ailing transit system is suddenly on the table: A major expansion of gambling in the five boroughs, an idea that could lead to a new casino somewhere in the five boroughs.

More >


President Donald Trump changed decades of U.S. Middle East policy with a tweet, announcing that “After 52 years, it is time for the United States to fully recognize Israeli’s Sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”

Close advisers to former Vice President Joe Biden are debating the idea of packaging his presidential campaign announcement with a pledge to choose Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams as his vice president.

Arbams’ spokesperson released the following statement: “(She) continues to keep all options on the table for 2020 and beyond. She has met with over half a dozen presidential contenders to discuss their commitment to voting rights and to investing in Georgia.”

Aware that concerns about his age could weigh on his candidacy if he runs for the White House, Biden has discussed two steps that could reassure voters about electing a 78-year-old president next year – including an early announcement of a running mate and a pledge to serve just one term.

Chris Cillizza: “(I)t’s not at all clear whether Biden would gain any real political benefit from such a move. In fact, the only consensus among Democrats I talked to for this story is that Biden would be taking a major leap if he picked his VP before winning the nomination himself.”

In an early look at possible 2020 Democratic presidential contenders, Biden leads among New York voters, with a 62 – 24 percent favorability rating – higher than any other leading Democrat – according to a Quinnipiac University Poll released today.

Felix Sater, a Russian-born former business adviser to Trump, will speak to two House committees next week as Democrats begin to gather information in multiple wide-ranging investigations of the president.

Buffalo Assemblyman Sean Ryan and other community leaders denounced Carl Paladino for distributing an email suggesting that recent riots in Paris were not just about economic injustice but were the result of a city filled with nonwhite Muslim immigrants and refugees.

State Sen. Liz Krueger, who has been carrying the wine in grocery stores (or WIGS) bill for years, says the time might be right now to revisit the issue, albeit after the budget.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fired back at Laura Ingraham after the Fox News host and a guest mocked the freshman New York Democrat for the way in which she pronounces her name.

In her first three months in Congress, aides say, enough people have threatened to murder Ocasio-Cortez that Capitol Police trained her staff to perform risk assessments of her visitors.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, an avowed progressive, is continuing to support AIPAC amid calls for Democrats to skip this year’s policy conference in Washington, D.C. He will deliver remarks at the annual conference this weekend — another example of daylight between him the left flank of the Democratic Party on the issue of Israel.

Former President Jimmy Carter is now America’s longest-living president in history. He passed former President George H.W. Bush Thursday at 94 years and 172 days old — one day older than Bush was when he died last November.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Alcoa reached a seven-year agreement with the New York Power Authority to continue receiving low-cost hydroelectric power for its aluminum smelting operation in Massena, guaranteeing 450 jobs for that time period.

Trump’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner used the encrypted messaging service WhatsApp as well as his personal email account to conduct official business, a top House Democrat charged.

Calls to 911 reporting what the NYPD calls “emotionally disturbed persons” have nearly doubled over the past decade, but less than one-third of the force has undergone training on how to better handle the mentally ill.

The SUNY board of trustees has approved renaming six buildings on the SUNY New Paltz campus that are named after slave owners who settled the region.

To win support for Cuomo’s congestion pricing proposal, Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials are offering sweeteners to equivocating outer-borough and suburban politicians.

Longtime Republican rainmaker and former Pataki administration official Charles Gargano settles some scores with Trump, Rudy Giuliani, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Larry Silverstein in his new book.

Hundreds of millions of Facebook users had their account passwords stored in plain text and searchable by thousands of Facebook employees — in some cases going back to 2012.

Cuomo: Agreement In Place Preserves 450 Jobs At Alcoa Plant

New York officials on Thursday announced an agreement between Alcoa and the New York Power Authority that would preserve 450 jobs at the Alcoa’s smelting plant in Massena.

The seven-year pact, which still must be approved by the authority’s board of trustees, extends a previous contract through 2026.

“The ball is keeping the economy in this state running,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “If we are producing jobs, if you’re working, if we’re providing good jobs with opportunity, with mobility, that allow you to do for yourself and your family, that is the single best thing the state government can do.”

The agreement stipulates that a workforce of 145 jobs is also protected. Those jobs are now supported by Arconic, which separated from Alcoa in 2016 and maintains operations at the site.

“The Alcoa aluminum smelting facility in Massena provides hundreds of good-paying jobs to workers in the North Country, and eliminating their partnership with the New York Power Authority would have been disastrous for both our region’s energy industry and hardworking families,” said Rep. Elise Stefanik.

“I applaud Alcoa and NYPA for their commitment to North Country workers and am thrilled that they have reached an agreement to continue their productive partnership. I will continue to work with Alcoa to ensure they remain a strong economic driver in my district.”

Republican Bill Would End Film Tax Credits

A bill introduced this week by Republican Sen. Bob Antonacci would phase out the state’s $420 million film tax credit program.

The measure comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday suggested he would be open to rolling back the tax credits in exchange for boosting education or health care spending in the budget.

Antonacci, a freshman Republican from the Syracuse area, wants the program eliminated entirely.

“The overwhelming majority of project recipients would have filmed in New York without this credit,” the bill’s memo states. “In addition, it disproportionately favors New York City. This legislation offers the alternative of a phase out of this tax credit.”

The tax credits have gone toward a number of prominent New York-based productions and post-production projects.

But tax credits for businesses themselves have come under renewed focus after the failed deal to bring 25,000 jobs from Amazon to Queens which were tied to $3 billion in tax breaks and other incentives.

Cuomo’s floating of the tax credit rollback for the film industry may be a way of goading Sen. Mike Gianaris, a Democrat who prominently opposed the Amazon deal and whose district includes Silvercup Studios.

Sports, Politics And Power

“The governor is the Tom Brady of New York politics,” Cuomo’s chief of staff, Melissa DeRosa, insists. “People will complain, people will privately backbite, but at the end of the day, they know that he’s able to put the ball in the end zone. That’s the disconnect.”

The Atlantic, March 3.

If the state budget were a football game, the ball is in the red zone, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a press conference on Tuesday. Not quite a touchdown, but at the 5-yard line. Almost there.

(It does beg the question: If the budget is on the 5-yard line, who is blocking the ball, or the budget in this case, from getting into the end zone? Sports metaphors can only take you so far).

Cuomo has deployed sports metaphors before to describe success in getting budgets done by the end of the fiscal year. Three on-time budgets? A hat trick! Four on-time budgets? A grand slam!

Rob Astorino, Cuomo’s 2014 Republican opponent, had a campaign slogan that asked, “winning or losing?” Astorino, razed by Democrats for being a Miami Dolphins fan on the eve of a game with the Buffalo Bills, lost.

Cuomo is not like Rudy Giuliani, prominently showing up to baseball games. He is a stated New York Mets fan, and talked with the team before they began their first game of their last World Series against the Kansas City Royals. They lost.

As Melissa DeRosa suggests, the point of comparing Cuomo to Tom Brady — a quarterback who defies aging, is largely despised outside of the Dunkin’ Donuts regional exclusivity zone that is New England and is impossibly wealthy — is really about associating with him with a winner, a guy who gets the job done despite the noise. No one wants to be the Washington Generals.

Of course, Cuomo gets to be Tom Brady, but why not Serena Williams? Brady has six Super Bowl rings, a paltry sum compared to Williams’s 23 grand slam titles in tennis. But I digress.

The language of sports over the years has crept into political journalism, a natural outgrowth of readers and viewers wanting to know, well, who is going to win. Columns and stories and blog posts about “winners” and “losers” are written, with Election Day being the final arbiter of who the real winner is.

Twitter on election night after polls close has turned into a variable score-keeping website, as if the votes cast hours ago, the tallies slowly being uploaded to local boards of election websites are a collection of foul shots, layups and three-pointers adding up to a win.

That is perhaps why politicians, board room members and really anyone in high-power, high-stress jobs so frequently invoke or want to be associated with athletes and athletic accomplishment.

Athletes can of course be just like politicians: They can give cautious, non-answers, be corrupt or doing venal things like using steroids or playing with slightly deflated balls.

Both can also stage late-career comebacks. Last year, a company went as far as to print a series of trading cards with the 2016 presidential candidates and prominent politicians. Sadly, no stats like, say, “longest speech” or “biggest campaign donor” were given.

Winning, in many ways, is the rawest form of power. You’ve beaten your enemies; therefore you are measurably better than they are and can claim as such. Cuomo certainly has since last year as he and his aides point to the vote totals he received — the largest number for any governor in state history. There’s no gong rule in politics when there’s a blow out.

The feminist historian Mary Beard in essay published last year suggested there should be a reframing of how we think about power, writing in the context of the power imbalance between men and women. Regardless, that reframing of political power — treating like a verb instead of a noun — would make all those sports metaphors fall apart.

New York Unemployment Stays Flat

The unemployment rate in New York remained the same last month, according to data released Thursday by the state Department of Labor.

New York’s unemployment stands at 3.9 percent after private-sector job growth increased by 7,900 jobs, or 0.1 percent. The nation’s unemployment rate is slightly lower, 3.8 percent.

In a statement, Gov. Andrew Cuomo touted the overall employment picture in the state, which stands at more than 8.2 million jobs.

“New Department of Labor data shows that New York has more private sector jobs than at any time in our history,” Cuomo said. “These record high job numbers are a clear sign that the New York economy is continuing its upward trajectory, and are proof positive of the success of our bottom-up, regionally focused economic development strategy. Since the beginning of this administration, we have added nearly 1.2 million private sector jobs and have lowered the unemployment rate to a record low 3.9 percent.”

Cuomo added, “While we have made great progress, there is still more work to do. We remain laser focused on driving economic growth across this great state and continuing to create good-paying jobs for New Yorkers.”

After Amazon, Cuomo Says He Isn’t Mad (Just Disappointed)

The scuttled deal to bring up to 25,000 Amazon jobs to Queens and the resulting acrimony is not having an effect on the broader budget talks, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday in a radio interview.

“It was yesterday and life is about tomorrow,” Cuomo said on WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom. “We have damage to repair and frankly we’ve hurt the state, so it’s even more important to get good things going.”

Amazon pulled out of the project that would have linked the jobs to $3 billion in tax credits and other incentives amid protests from liberal advocacy groups and labor unions as well as elected officials like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and state Sen. Mike Gianaris.

Cuomo has blamed the sustained opposition as well as the Democratic-controlled state Senate, which nominated Gianaris to a board with veto authority over the tax incentives, for the deal falling apart.

But the governor on Thursday morning also cast blame on a general “not in my backyard” sentiment.

“There’s nothing I could have done differently,” he said. “There is always NIMBY. All I do is get opposition from the local community.”

In the aftermath of Amazon pulling out, Cuomo sought to lure the company back to New York. And he’s re-iterated his pledge for a permanent cap on property tax increases, arguing the provision is needed to show the state is not hostile toward businesses.

He also denied he was angered by the saga.

“Frustrated, disappointed, but also as the governor to call it what it is so you don’t do it again because this was a totally self-destructive process,” Cuomo said.

The governor this week floated the idea of scaling back the $420 million film tax credit program. Silvercup Studios, which is in Gianaris’s Senate district, has benefited from the tax credits.

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