Liz Benjamin

This user hasn't shared any biographical information


Posts by Liz Benjamin

– 30 –

With the end of the session comes another, more personal, milestone to report.

Some of you may already know that tonight is my last night on the job here at Spectrum. I have decided to move on, ending a nearly two decade long career in journalism to accept an opportunity in the private sector. It’s also the last night of Capital Tonight in its current format. But not to worry, Spectrum will continue to bring you up to date and insightful political coverage through the summer, and the show will be back in a few months, with a fresh look and new leadership.

And State of Politics will continue, thanks to the tireless Nick Reisman.

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for watching me and reading this blog over the past eight plus years. We have been through a lot together, riding the roller coaster of New York politics. It has been a privilege to cover it, and to be able to bring you the political and state government news every weeknight, as well as debates and national campaign coverage during election seasons.

I also want to thank the Capital Tonight crew – Nick and Ryan Whalen and Jeevan Vital for their on air reporting – and blog post writing, in the case of Nick and Ryan – which you have come to rely on to make sense of often complicated policy and political matters.

And also the women who have been making it happen behind the scenes – Maureen McManus and Mary Francis Stoute, who produce the show, and also the crew in the control room, there have been many faces over the years. Without the dedication of these people, both in front of and behind the camera, Capital Tonight would not have been possible.

So, in closing, because time is short, thank you again for your support and your engagement, including the negative comments, and there were many. I appreciate your passion, your dedication to the state and your belief that we can always do better. I hope you remain involved and attentive to what’s happening in Albany, in Washington, and, perhaps most importantly, in your own local governments. Democracy cannot function unless people participate.

So, one final time, I want to thank you for watching Capital Tonight this evening. Have a great night. And be well.

– Liz


While we await the white smoke from the state Capitol that indicates the session has finally come to an end…here are some headlines to puruse:

President Trump blamed someone “loose and stupid” in Iran for shooting down a United States surveillance drone early Thursday, and in bellicose comments warned that he “would not stand for it, that I can tell you.”

Hope Hicks, once a close aide to Trump, told the House Judiciary Committee that he was serious in saying there was nothing wrong in accepting derogatory information about political.

A House Judiciary Committee hearing turned heated as Republicans accused Democrats of wasting time examining special counsel Robert Mueller’s report on Russian election interference, with one GOP lawmaker labeling the hearing a “farce.”

Democratic 2020 candidate Joe Biden declined to answer questions on the campaign trail this week about his son’s overseas business dealings in countries where the then-VP was conducting diplomatic work – an issue his opponents have already begun to wield against him.

The palace intrigue at the NRA deepened as the gun group suspended its second-in-command and top lobbyist, accusing him of complicity in the recent failed coup against its chief executive, Wayne LaPierre.

Roy Moore, the controversial former Alabama Supreme Court justice who lost his 2017 Senate bid, announced that he will seek to challenge Sen. Doug Jones, an Alabama Democrat, for his seat in 2020.

A top House Democrat has introduced legislation designed to clarify and strengthen the federal law that bars political campaigns from accepting or receiving foreign assistance in an election.

More than 14 million Americans admit to having driven within an hour of smoking marijuana in the past 30 days, according to a report released by the American Automobile Association.

As the 2019 session went into overtime, two of the last thorny issues dropped off the table: a prevailing wage system for private projects and permitting compensated gestational surrogacy arrangements used often by gay or infertile couples.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez came to the defense of Sen. Cory Booker, a Democratic 2020 contender, after Biden suggested the New Jersey senator owed him an apology for criticizing remarks he made about working with two segregationist lawmakers.

Exactly one year after Ocasio-Cortez upended New York’s political establishment and became a national liberal phenomenon, voters will head to the polls June 25 for another rollicking Queens race with similar overtones.

Oswego County Clerk Michael Backus wrote a letter to Trump, asking him to order a Justice Department review of New York’s new law to provide driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.

When a new district attorney takes office in Queens next year, he or she will find something unusual: some $80 million in the bank. The money, known as asset-forfeiture funds, is a rare windfall for a New York City outer-borough prosecutors office.

The second-in-command of the Buffalo Diocese in the early 1980s allegedly blamed a teenage boy who accused the Rev. Michael R. Freeman of sexually abusing him.

What does the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act do? Click here to find out.

The State Attorney General’s Office said today that it will take charge of the investigation into the death of Troy A. Hodge, a 39-year-old Lockport man who died after a fight with four Lockport police officers Sunday night.

The town of Oswego declared a local state of emergency shortly before noon today due to flooding throughout the town .

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no announced interviews or public appearances yet planned.

The state Senate is returning to the Capitol today to continuing voting on some remaining bills, and is expected to convene at 10 a.m. The Assembly was still in its chamber and voting early this morning, passing the landmark climate change bill on which agreement was reached earlier this week.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence at noon welcome the Prime Minister of Canada to the White House, and then participate in a bilateral working lunch.

At 9:30 a.m., the NYC Council Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises meets, Committee Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Civil Service and Labor meets, Council chamber, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., “The Brian Lehrer Show” features Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, WNYC.

At 10:30 a.m., Nassau County Executive Laura Curran and County Comptroller Jack Schnirman will launch Nassau County Open Budget and Open Payroll platforms, Hofstra University IdeaHub, Frank G. Zarb School of Business, 148 Hofstra University, Hempstead.

At 11 a.m., Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone will join with Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, County District Attorney Timothy Sini and County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart to announce the police department will install nearly 70 license plate readers throughout Brentwood, Suffolk County Police Department’s Third Precinct, 1630 Fifth Ave., Bay Shore.

At noon, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. hosts his annual Caribbean Heritage Celebration, Bronx County Building, Veterans’ Memorial Hall, 851 Grand Concourse, Bronx.
At 1 p.m., the NYC Council Committee on Contracts meets, 250 Broadway, 14th floor, Committee Room, Manhattan.

Also at 1 p.m., the NYC Council Committee on Governmental Operations meets, Committee Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 1 p.m., the NYC Council Subcommittee on Landmarks, Public Siting and Maritime Uses meets, 250 Broadway, 16th floor, Committee Room, Manhattan.

Also at 1 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, First Lady Chirlane McCray and Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza will make an announcement regarding education, PS 705 – Brooklyn Arts & Science Elementary School, 443 St. Marks Ave., Brooklyn.

De Blasio and McCray then will travel to South Carolina to continue the mayor’s 2020 campaign, and return to New York City on Sunday.

At 3 p.m., LG Kathy Hochul breaks ground on a mixed-use affordable and supportive housing development in downtown Brooklyn, 50 Nevins St.

At 4 p.m., NYC Councilman Rafael Salamanca Jr. joins community organizations from the Bronx, labor unions to protest contractor Mountco for endangering workers, La Central Development, 556 Bergen Ave., Bronx.

At 7 p.m., the state Conservative Party hosts its 57th annual dinner, Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel, 811 Seventh Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 7 p.m., Hochul keynotes the Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business Awards Gala, Cipriani Wall Street, 55 Wall St., Manhattan.


State lawmakers worked into the night yesterday, the last scheduled day of the legislative session, taking up dozens of major bills that would make it easier to bring workplace harassment claims, extend the statute of limitations on rape and provide labor protections to farmworkers.

Marijuana legalization in New York in 2019 died yesterday. The cause: Opposition from a group of downstate Democratic state senators who received vehement opposition from constituents, law enforcement and local school officials.

As a plan B, lawmakers focused on parts of the marijuana bill, including one that further decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana. Supporters of full legalization called this little more than “window dressing.”

The Time’s Up and Me Too movements bagged major wins in New York when state lawmakers passed bills empowering survivors of rape and victims of workplace sexual harassment to seek justice.

State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins introduced six resolutions that allocate state funds for different projects across the state. The spending is on economic development, education, public health and more.

The Senate passed a landmark farm labor bill last night after more than three hours of debate, following the Assembly’s lead, and sent the measure to Gov. Andrew Cuomo who promised to sign it into law.

With less than 24 hours before the legislative session is slated to wrap up, criminal justice advocates looked to state Attorney General Letitia James to reaffirm her support for a measure restricting use of solitary confinement in prisons.

Clerks in Erie, Rensselaer, Niagara and Allegany counties have said they won’t be handing out driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, despite the Green Light legislation signed into law this week by Cuomo.

Republican Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo announced she is preparing to take legal action to fight the Green Light bill.

Legislation that passed the state Assembly and headed toward a vote in the Senate would impose strict new rules on a lucrative property tax exemption that lawmakers say is sometimes subject to “egregious” abuse.

The Legislature voted to ban the so-called “gay panic” and “trans panic” defenses in court, paving the way for the measure to become law.

New York lawmakers were expected to pass a bill that would jump start Syracuse’s ambitious plan to transform the former Central Tech into the state’s first regional STEAM high school.

Lawmakers have also clarified state law to ensure electric scooters and pedal-assist bicycles are permitted, which would clear the way for dockless rental companies to expand into New York.

Cuomo’s controversial appointment to the MTA board of his state budget director, Robert Mujica, got the blessing of two powerful state Senate committees, and is expected to be confirmed before the legislative session wraps — despite conflict-of-interest concerns and the fact he doesn’t fulfill a residency requirement.

An American official acknowledged early today that Iran shot down a US drone, saying it was hit by a surface-to-air missile while flying in international airspace near the Strait of Hormuz.

Trump reportedly has told confidants as recently as yesterday that he believes he has the authority to replace Jerome Powell as chairman of the Fed Reserve Board, perhaps demoting him to be a board governor, but isn’t planning to do so right now.

Hillary Clinton likened Trump’s Tuesday night 2020 campaign launch rally to an episode of InfoWars, which is hosted by far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi disagrees with Rep. Brian Higgins’ call for an impeachment inquiry into Trump’s actions, but said that she understands why he and other members of Congress are reversing course on the issue.

Valerie Jarrett, a former senior adviser to Barack Obama, has said that the former president is deeply concerned about the direction of the U.S., and that he plans to be involved in Democratic efforts to defeat Trump in the 2020 election.

The White House blocked Trump’s former aide Hope Hicks from answering dozens of questions from a House committee, an impasse that hands pro-impeachment Democrats another argument to start proceedings, even as Pelosi pushed back.

Hundreds descended on Capitol Hill for an historic hearing – the first time Congress has considered a bill, H.R. 40, that would create a commission to develop proposals to address the lingering effects of slavery and consider a “national apology” for the harm it has caused.

Former VP Joe Biden refused to back down amid a torrent of criticism from rival Democratic presidential hopefuls for saying the Senate “got things done” with “civility” even when the body included segregationists.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio criticized Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for saying the Trump administration is housing immigrants in “concentration camps” at the Mexican border, saying she was “wrong.”

More >


It took just four hours of deliberation for a jury to find NXIVM founder Keith Raniere guilty on all counts.

He now faces life in prison after being convicted of racketeering, racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, forced labor conspiracy, sex trafficking, sex trafficking conspiracy and attempted sex trafficking.

Richard Donoghue, the US attorney for the Eastern District of New York, thanked the judge and jury for “carefully considering evidence” in the Raniere trial.

The Trump administration replaced former President Barack Obama’s effort to reduce planet-warming pollution from coal plants with a new rule that would allow plants to stay open longer and undercut progress on cutting carbon emissions.

President Trump pocketed nearly $25 million in campaign cash for his re-election in less than 24 hours, according to the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee.

Five anchorwomen at NY1, one of the country’s most prominent local news channels, sued the network over age and gender discrimination, alleging a systematic effort by managers to force them off the air in favor of younger, less experienced hosts.

New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker, a 2020 Democratic contender, writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and actor Danny Glover testified today before a House panel hearing on reparations for slavery, bringing a political issue from the campaign trail to the front and center on Capitol Hill.

Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci confirmed something that has long been reported about Trump: “He’s a total germaphobe,” adding. “I’ve seen it full-picture. God forbid you lick your finger and touch something on his desk, he’ll flip out on you.”

House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy blasted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez for her comments this week accusing the Trump administration of operating “concentration camps,” and said she needs to apologize, “not only to the nation but to the world.”

Gov. Phil Murphy, whose name adorns last year’s groundbreaking U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing sports betting, was given a standing ovation at a gaming conference in Atlantic City, where he proclaimed the Garden State to be the nation’s coming No. 1 location for sports wagering.

U.S. Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, both 2020 Democratic contenders, have endorsed Tiffany Cabán in the Democratic primary for Queens district attorney as the two Democratic presidential rivals seek to shore up support among progressives.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio bashed Democratic presidential front-runner Joe Biden for citing a notoriously racist Southern senator while touting his ability to work with lawmakers he disagrees with.

Rep. Brian Higgins has called on the House of Representatives to begin the process that could lead to the impeachment of President Trump, saying an impeachment inquiry is the best and quickest way to finish the investigation started by special prosecutor Robert Mueller.

Former “Miracle on the Hudson” airline pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger testified that pilots should receive updated simulator training for the Boeing 737 Max before the jet returns to the air.

An agreement is in the works among state lawmakers to expand the state’s prevailing wage requirement to private development projects receiving public support would threaten development in the region, says the region’s largest business group.

Cuomo’s move to put his state budget director, Robert Mujica, on the MTA board may violate a state law, according to Richard Brodsky, the former assemblyman who wrote it.

East Hampton Town trustees have authorized an investigation into a secret recording made in their Amagansett office and have contacted the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office about the probe.

The cancer-ridden NYPD detective who shared emotional testimony with Jon Stewart last week in support of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund bill is now in hospice care.

The Stonewall Inn is no longer the only historical LGBTQ site given landmark designation by New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. Six other locales have been granted the same status.

Hempstead animal advocate Diane Madden announced her bid for Hempstead Town supervisor as the third candidate to enter the race.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no interviews or public appearances yet announced.

The state Legislature is in session.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will meet with Mayor Luberto of Grassano, Italy in a closed-press event.

At 10 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Youth Services meets jointly with the Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities and Addiction, Committee Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., the state Senate is in session, Senate chamber, state Capitol, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., state Sen. Jessica Ramos and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan speak at a press conference to show their support for the Farmworkers Fair Labor Practices Act, Million Dollar Staircase, state Capitol, Albany.

At noon, New York Communities for Change and Queens tenants blast Queens Borough President and DA candidate Melinda Katz for voting to weaken tenant protections while taking hundreds of thousands from the real estate industry, 21st St./Queensbridge F stop, (above ground), corner of 41st Avenue and 21st Street, Queens.

At 2 p.m., the SUNY board of trustees and its committees meet, SUNY Global Center, 116 E. 55th St., Manhattan.

Also at 2 p.m., state Senate Elections Committee Chair Zellnor Myrie, Sen. Mike Gianaris, Assemblywoman Latrice Walker, and the Let NY Vote Coalition rally ahead of a vote on automatic voter registration (AVR), outside Assembly lobby, 3rd Fl., state Capitol, Albany.

At 2:30 p.m., NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson holds a pre-stated press conference, Red Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 3 p.m., the NYC Council meets, Council chambers, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 3:30 p.m., state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi and advocates will hold a press conference ahead of the Senate vote to pass legislation to strengthen protections against sexual harassment and discrimination for all New Yorkers, Senate gallery, 4th Fl., state Capitol, Albany.

At 6 p.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli hosts an annual Caribbean heritage celebration, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Plaza, RestorationART Community Dance Space, 1368 Fulton St., Brooklyn.

Also at 6 p.m., the NYC Department of Education holds a public meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy, High School of Fashion Industries, 225 W. 24th St., Manhattan.

At 7:15 p.m., LG Kathy Hochul delivers remarks honoring departing SUNY Board of Trustees Chairman H. Carl McCall at a farewell dinner, Cornerstone at the Plaza, S. Mall Arterial, Albany.

At 8 p.m., NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will deliver a keynote address on the theme “Remaking Our World: Politics For the Many, Not the Few,” Flight Deck, 30th Fl., 420 Lexington Ave., Manhattan.


President Trump brought his 2016 presidential rival Hillary Clinton back into his 2020 re-election campaign during a speech in Florida, prompting “lock her up” chants from the crowd.

Trump also accused Congressional Democrats of making up false accusations of sexual assault against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in order to “radicalize our judiciary,” during his re-election rally.

“Together we stared down a broken political establishment and we restored government by and for the people,” Trump told supporters. “As long as you keep this team in place, we have a tremendous way to go. Our future has never looked brighter or sharper.”

The presient has cut into former Vice President Joe Biden’s lead in Wisconsin and the two are in a statistical dead heat in Michigan and Pennsylvania, according to a new poll of the 2020 race.

Trump withdrew the nomination of Patrick M. Shanahan to be the permanent defense secretary, leaving the Pentagon in transition at a time of escalating tensions with Iran and questions about the role of the military on the border with Mexico.

ICE in recent days has bulked up the branch responsible for carrying out deportations in preparation for the mass arrests of undocumented immigrants, two Homeland Security officials said, adding that the agency could not immediately deport “millions of illegal aliens” as Trump promised the night before.

Trump said that he would not apologize for his harsh comments in 1989 about the Central Park Five, the five black and Latino men who as teenagers were wrongly convicted of the brutal rape of a jogger in New York City.

House Democrats are intent on questioning Hope Hicks, one of Trump’s most trusted former advisers, about potential obstruction of justice, Russian attempts to woo Trump associates during the 2016 campaign and hush-money payments to women alleging affairs with the president.

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigeig, a 2020 Democratic presidential contender, said in a statement that he has directed police to turn on their body cameras when interacting with civilians after an officer-involved fatal shooting in the city.

New York lawmakers passed a sweeping climate plan that calls for the state to all but eliminate its greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, envisioning an era when gas-guzzling cars, oil-burning heaters and furnaces would be phased out, and all of the state’s electricity would come from carbon-free sources.

Under the proposal, New York would reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent by 2050 and allocate funds for communities hit hard by climate change. The bill would also create intermediate-term goals and mandate regular progress reports to ensure emission reductions are on track to meet the goal.

The bill’s boosters say its passage, before the end of the legislative session, positions New York as the nation’s leader in combating climate change and ending a reliance on fossil fuels.

Cuomo is pushing to exempt New York City from a bill advocated by building-trade unions that would expand the definition of public works that require a prevailing wage, people familiar with the talks said.

A loophole in the new law granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants could allow hundreds of thousands of people to fraudulently register to vote in New York, according to critics, the state Board of Elections and the bill’s own sponsor.

County clerks, many of whom run their county’s DMV, have raised concern with accepting foreign documents as proof of ID for driver’s licenses, questioning whether they have the expertise to determine whether they’re valid.

Long-stalled efforts to legalize marijuana in New York state gained new life as state senators signaled progress towards a tentative agreement despite less-than-stellar assessments from those close to the talks.

Cuomo expressed concerns with a proposal that would restrict the use of solitary confinement, saying the legislation would require the construction of new facilities and cost jails about $1 billion statewide.

State lawmakers are expected to approve a bill package this week allowing localities to operate dock-free e-scooter and e-bike programs, something local officials say would transform mobility across the Capital Region.

The Assembly and Senate are poised to take up sexual harassment this week, making it easier for New Yorkers to sue their employers over workplace discrimination.

Diminishing hopes for marijuana legalization were lifted in the Capitol as lawmakers scrambled behind the scenes to salvage the legislation.

As state lawmakers continue talks on legalizing recreational marijuana, Monroe County District Attorney Sandra Doorley says she will no longer prosecute certain marijuana possession cases.

More >


Trump’s bold but vague pledge to deport “millions” of undocumented immigrants starting next week came on the eve of his reelection kickoff rally tonight in Florida — and it vastly overstates the number of likely deportees and the ability of federal agents to round them up.

Trump announced he is pulling the nomination of Acting Pentagon chief Patrick Shanahan – following revelations about years-old domestic violence claims involving Shanahan and his former wife.

Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have not paid back Wisconsin taxpayers at least $75,000 in police and public safety-related costs both racked up during campaign events in 2016.

Trump launched a fundraising blitz to collect $7 million for the kick-off of his re-election campaign tonight in Orlando.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sparred with her Republican House colleagues after she compared housing conditions for immigrants at the border to concentration camps.

The lawyer for accused sex cult leader Keith Raniere acknowledged the mountain of “repulsive, disgusting and offensive” evidence against his client — but said none of it was tantamount to criminal activity.

Erie County Clerk Michael “Mickey” Kearns, a former assemblyman, took his first legal step to fight a new state law that allows immigrants in the country illegally to obtain a New York State driver’s license. Kearns sent a letter to the Erie County Attorney’s Office seeking legal representation. “I will not be granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants,” he wrote.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio named Jeffrey Roth to replace former TLC Chair Mera Joshi, who left the cab and Uber regulator in January. Roth will consult with the TLC’s 12 other commissioners and with the City Council on how to best introduce and enforce rules on the chaotic for-hire vehicle sector.

Legislation to change how solitary confinement is used in New York’s prisons could still pass in the coming days, state lawmakers said, while Gov. Andrew Cuomo threw cold water on the proposal because of what his office has said it would cost.

On Saturday, deacons Samuel Bellafiore, (son of former CapTon Insider Bob Bellafiore), Kyle Eads and Michael Melanson were ordained as priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany by Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.

Carolyn Warmus, who was convicted of killing her lover’s wife in the so-called “Fatal Attraction” murder, was released from jail this week, according to the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision. She is on parole for life and will be supervised in New York County.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer wants Jon Stewart to keep hammering Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell over the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund.

There’s a fourth iteration of the marijuana legalization bill, but the outlook for a deal remains murky – at best.

Efforts to expand the use of the prevailing wage in New York are still facing an uphill battle with time running out in the state Capitol, and the governor’s office has advanced changes that make the proposal unpalatable to organized labor interests.

Alvin Bragg, a former state chief deputy attorney general, is the first declared candidate against incumbent Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. in the 2021 Democratic primary.

Hillary Clinton’s current and former employees committed two dozen security violations involving her emails, the State Department revealed this week.

Legislation cleared the Assembly this week that would require all single-use bathrooms in state-owned facilities – including schools, parks and hospitals – to be gender neutral, and now the bill goes to Cuomo for approval.

Former Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle withdrew her nomination from serving as chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission, which she has led as acting chair since 2017.

As the state prepares to recommend drinking water standards for emerging contaminants, Long Island’s congressional delegation is calling on the federal government to move faster setting its own standards and helping local governments with funds to clean up the water.

A man offered $650,000 by the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo after he accused the Rev. Michael Freeman of sexually abusing him in the mid-1980s said he turned down the offer because “it just didn’t feel right” and he considered it “pretty insignificant,” given what he went through.

State lawmakers are expected to leave Albany this week without approving legislation that would allow casinos to accept sports wagers over the internet. The measure overwhelmingly passed the Senate with bipartisan support, but it likely won’t receive a vote in the state Assembly.

Could the Buffalo Jills ever return? (It’s complicated).

Here and Now

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

The state Legislature is in session.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray will meet with Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot in a closed-press get together.

At 9:30 a.m., the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission votes on the proposed designation of six buildings associated with LGBT history as individual landmarks, Landmarks Preservation Commission, 1 Centre St., 9th Fl., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Health meets to discussed a proposed ban on foie gras, Council chamber, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. speaks at the Melrose Commons Park ribbon-cutting, Melrose Avenue between East 159th Street and East 160th St., the Bronx.

Also at 10 a.m., Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano and others gather to announce Yonkers Public Schools’ replacement of polystyrene food trays with 100% recyclable food trays, Enrico Fermi School, Cafeteria, 27 Poplar St., Yonkers.

At 11 a.m., NYC Antonio Reynoso will join family members of the late Angelo Falcón, 32BJ, and National Institute for Latino Policy, NiLP board members and representatives, and Williamsburg residents for a street co-naming in honor of the unveiling of Angelo M Falcón Way, corner of South 1st and Havemeyer Streets, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., state Sen. Jessica Ramos, legislators and advocates rally to push for the passage of a critical bill that will provide record relief for victims of human trafficking, Million Dollar Staircase, state Capitol, Albany.

At 12:30 p.m., LG Kathy Hochul keynotes the state Labor Department’s Registered Apprenticeship Summit and highlights state investment in workforce development, Meeting Room 6, Empire State Plaza, Albany.

Also at 12:30 p.m., climate activists will hold a rally outside the office of Rep. Paul Tonko urging him to be a bold climate leader by backing legislation to block the federal government from using a clean energy program to provide financial support for fossil fuels projects, 17 Dove St., Albany.

At 1 p.m., NYC Councilman Andrew Cohen and others break ground on Van Cortlandt Park’s Parks Without Borders project, Van Cortlandt Park, West 242nd Street and Broadway, Bronx.

At 2 p.m., incoming state GOP Chair Nick Langworthy and NYC Councilman Joe Borelli will call on de Blasio to resign from office for running for president and leaving the residents of the city without a full-time mayor, City Halls steps, Manhattan.

At 3 p.m., the state Senate is in session, Senate chamber, state Capitol, Albany.

At 3:30 p.m., NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson holds a pre-stated meeting press conference, Red Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 4 p.m., the NYC Council meets, Council chambers, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., the NYC Commission on Gender Equity is hosting a Queens Gender Equity Summit, Queens Borough Hall, 120-55 Queens Blvd., Queens.

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

At 7 p.m., McCray will deliver remarks at the ten year anniversary celebration of NYC Service, Gracie Mansion, East 88th Street & East End Avenue, Manhattan.


After a brief head fake, Gov. Andrew Cuomo last night signed legislation granting driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants shortly after the controversial measure passed the state Senate in a 33-29 vote – just one more than necessary for approval.

All 22 Republicans voted against the bill. Some of them blamed Democratic senators from Long Island and upstate for allowing the measure to even get to the floor for a vote — a clear sign the GOP will use it in the 2020 elections.

Just hours before the proposal passed, Cuomo suggested in an interview with WAMC radio that he may veto the bill because federal immigration officials could access DMV records.

Ultimately, he agreed to sign the bill after state Attorney General Letitia James said it provides “ample protections” for applicants.

Cuomo’s office requested an opinion from Solicitor General Barbara Underwood about potential federal misuse of undocumented immigrant information kept by the DMV. As the Senate was voting, James issued a statement saying her office would “not opine on any actions the federal government may or may not take.”

The passage of this deeply polarizing bill signaled the strength of the progressive wing of the Democratic Party, which pressed moderate legislators to support it despite concerns about alienating swing voters – especially first-term Democrats who flipped seats on Long Island and helped win a majority last year.

In recent weeks, a number of county clerks have said they will not process applications from such immigrants. Legislators who support the bill have said that the governor can fire county clerks if they don’t issue the licenses.

Meanwhile, President Donald Trump tweeted last night that Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will begin removing “millions” of undocumented immigrants from the United States next week – an apparent nod to a long-planned operation to arrest migrant families in a “blitz operation” across the nation.

Tensions between the U.S. and Iran flared as Tehran said it would soon breach a key element of the 2015 international pact limiting its nuclear program, while Trump ordered another 1,000 troops to the Middle East and vowed again that Iran would not be allowed to develop a nuclear weapon.

Four years ago, he was a long-shot joke, but as Trump kicks off his campaign for a second term today with an eardrum-pounding, packed-to-the-rafters rally in Florida, no one doubts that he is the dominant force in the arena, the one defining the national conversation as no president has done in generations.

Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chair who is serving a federal prison sentence, had been expected to be transferred to Rikers Island to await trial on a separate state case. But the US AG’s office intervened, saying he will await trial at a federal lockup in Manhattan or at the Pennsylvania federal prison where he is currently behind bars.

One of the legislative session’s most contentious issues — legalization of marijuana — remains unresolved. Three-way talks among negotiators for the governor, Assembly and Senate ran into a wall overnight, sources said.

Lawmakers have introduced a revised bill that would grant Cuomo more say in the distribution of funds generated from marijuana sales. They are also discussing a provision that would allow localities to opt in to legalization, instead of opting out.

In the rush to hammer out deals on licenses for undocumented immigrants and legalization of recreational marijuana, the state may also revamp how it punishes drivers for failing to pay traffic tickets.

State lawmakers and Cuomo are on the verge of approving legislation to address climate change that could completely overhaul life in New York by 2050.

New York lawmakers also announced agreements on extending labor protections for farmworkers and changing the standard to bring sexual-harassment claims.

Time is running out for legislation in New York that would expand access to medication-assisted treatment for inmates in state prisons and jails.

Consumer Reports is joining a growing list of consumer advocacy groups pushing for new restrictions on robocalls in New York state.

Vaccinations have been made mandatory this summer for campers and staff in several counties north of New York City that annually fill up with kids from the Orthodox Jewish communities that have been hit hardest by measles.

Trump accused Fox News anchor Bret Baier of pushing “fake news” after the anchor cited figures from his network’s own polling that shows former Vice President Joe Biden leading the president in several battleground states.

More >


President Donald Trump insisted he is polling ahead of what he called the “Motley Crew” of 2020 Democratic White House hopefuls, despite leaked internal polling by his own reelection campaign showing him lagging former Vice President Joe Biden in several battleground states.

The U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed that a state and the federal government can press separate prosecutions over the same conduct, ruling in a case that might have extended the impact of Trump’s pardon power.

The court also ordered reconsideration of a $135,000 award against an Oregon bakery that refused to make a cake for a same-sex wedding in a case that revived a fractious debate over religious rights and equal treatment.

In a 5-4 ruling in which Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas sided with their liberal colleagues, the court ruled against the Virginia House of Delegates in a racial gerrymandering case that represents a victory for Democrats in the state.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he doesn’t know why Jon Stewart is so “bent out of shape” over securing health care for 9/11 responders, saying the Senate will “take care” of the September 11 Victim Compensation Fund.

The Office of Special Counsel’s recommendation last week that Counselor to the President Kellyanne Conway be removed from service for violating the Hatch Act led two Democratic congressman to demand an investigation into whether the president’s son-in-law Jared Kushner similarly broke federal law.

RIP Gloria Vanderbilt, the society heiress who stitched her illustrious family name into designer jeans and built a $100 million fashion empire, crowning her tabloid story of a child-custody fight, of broken marriages and of jet-set romances, who died at her home in Manhattan at the age of 95.

“Gloria Vanderbilt was an extraordinary woman, who loved life, and lived it on her own terms,” her son, CNN’s Anderson Cooper, said in a statement. “She was a painter, a writer and designer but also a remarkable mother, wife, and friend.

Bill and Melinda Gates have launched the Gates Policy Initiative to lobby for issues the billionaire couple has been working on through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

BuzzFeed News employees, citing mismanagement, pay disparities and job cuts, held a walkout in the hopes of getting the online-media company to voluntarily recognize their union.

An attorney representing four Lockport police officers said that the officers have been placed on administrative leave after the death of a man who collapsed following a fight with the officers on Park Avenue in Lockport late Sunday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he’ll direct 500 additional law enforcement agents to the subway system to combat assaults against transit workers and what the MTA believes to be an increase in fare evasion, and will also explore additional video monitoring.

Cuomo kiboshed a long-shot effort by a pair of New York City Democrats to legalize prostitution during the closing days of the legislative session.

The International Joint Commission announced that it is seeking responses from interested parties about possible increases in outflows from Lake Ontario above the record-tying level of nearly 2.75 million gallons per second, in effect since Thursday.

For the first time in five decades, New Yorkers will trek to the polls without that hint of fall in the air as a new election calendar shifts primary elections into early summer – this year on June 25. Party officials are worried voters haven’t gotten the message, and turnout will suffer.

While New York mulls becoming the 12th state in the U.S. to legalize the adult, recreational use of marijuana, Canada legalized the use, sale and growing of marijuana nationwide in October.

Cuomo said that the New York State Thruway Authority Board of Directors has approved the selection of the design-build team that will complete installation of cashless tolling along the entire Thruway system by the end of 2020.

Harvey Weinstein can’t seem to keep a lawyer. His latest legal eagle, Jose Baez, is asking a Manhattan justice to let him off the case, just six months after the disgraced Hollywood mogul boasted about hiring the lawyer.

Accused NXIVM sex cult leader Keith Raniere was “a crime boss” who operated out of an upstate neighborhood that was so unassuming, it was creepy, a Brooklyn prosecutor said in closing statements.

Kyle Kashuv, a Parkland shooting survivor and pro-Second Amendment activist, said Harvard University rescinded his acceptance as a result of racist remarks he made before the 2018 massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida.

“Hillary and Clinton,” a Broadway play that explores the relationship of a political power couple, will close on Sunday, four weeks earlier than scheduled.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is presumably going to be in Albany at some point as end-of-session talks continue, but his office has not yet released his public schedule for the day.

The state Legislature is in town for the final scheduled days of the 2019 session.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence meet for their weekly lunch at the White House. Later, Pence meets with the Italian Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini.

At 10 a.m., Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, Workforce Development Director David Mathis, representatives from Black River Systems and other area employers and program participants highlight the growth and importance of the Oneida County College Corps Internship Program, Black River Systems, 162 Genesee St., Utica.

Also at 10 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Housing and the Committee on Oversight and Investigations reports the results of a six-month investigation into the Third Party Transfer program, Council chamber, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Fire and Emergency Management meets, Committee Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., Westchester County Executive George Latimer announces the reestablishment of the Westchester Urban County Consortium and the county’s application to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for federal grants, DeLuca Park, 28 N. Hillside Avenue, Elmsford.

At 10:30 a.m., NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will speak to the graduating seniors and their families on the theme of P.R.I.D.E. (Professionalism, Resilience, Investment, Dignity and Empathy), 227 W. 27th St., Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., Rep. Joe Morelle will host a press conference detailing the findings of a Congressional Report on the skyrocketing cost of prescription diabetes medication and its effect on residents of the Rochester community, Highland Family Medicine, Farley Conference Room, 777 S. Clinton Ave., Rochester.

Also at 11 a.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. speaks at a ribbon-cutting, 810 River Ave., the Bronx.

At 11:30 a.m., survivors of solitary confinement and other advocates will hold a speak-out on the 5th day of a hunger strike to protest the torture of long-term solitary confinement currently experienced by thousands of people in New York prisons and jails, outside Assembly lobby, 3rd Fl., state Capitol, Albany.

At noon, state legislators and former St. Clare’s Hospital employees and retirees rally to urge the state to launch an investigation of the St. Clare’s Hospital $53 million pension fund collapse, Million Dollar Staircase, 2nd Fl., state Capitol, Albany.

At 1 p.m., the NYC Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities and Addiction meets jointly with the Committee on Criminal Justice and the Committee on Justice System, Committee Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 2 p.m., Liberty Cab calls on Attorney General Letitia James to open a statewide investigation into Uber drivers engaged in manipulating fares to create artificial price surges at Reagan National Airport, Liberty Cab, Conference Room, 1580 Kenmore Ave., Buffalo.

At 3 p.m., the state Senate is in session, Senate chamber, state Capitol, Albany.

At 5 p.m., Diaz Jr. attends the 1199SEIU officers swearing-in ceremony, Sheraton Hotel, New York Ballroom, 811 Seventh Ave., Manhattan.

At 5:45 p.m., Williams will join Justice League NYC to put pressure on Manhattan DA Cy Vance to investigate Linda Fairstein’s past cases and remove Elizabeth Lederer from her post in light of their conduct in the Central Park Five case, 100 Centre St., Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., the NYC Commission on Gender Equity is hosting a Brooklyn Gender Equity Summit, BRIC, 647 Fulton St., Brooklyn.

Also at 6 p.m., climate activists protest Joe Biden outside of his campaign’s big donor fundraiser at the New York City home of billionaire James Chanos, 3 E. 75th St., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will appear live on NY1’s “Inside City Hall” with Errol Louis.


President Trump said his tax cuts and cuts to government regulation, not the appointment of conservative federal judges, will be his lasting legacy when he leaves the White House.

Trump also said he’ll be rolling out a new health care plan in a couple of months, saying it will be a key focus in his 2020 reelection campaign.

The president is anxiously searching for a way to counter Democrats on health care, one of their central issues, even though many of his wary Republican allies would prefer he let it go for now.

“I think that we have a very real risk of losing the presidency to Donald Trump if we do not have a presidential candidate that is fighting for true transformational change in the lives of working people in the United States,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who is not yet prepared to back any of the 2020 Democratic hopefuls.

Ocasio-Cortez called Trump’s “bluff,” responding to his earlier tweet citing her while defending himself against impeachment.

In a House that can be dominated by loud voices on the left – freshman Democrats who flipped Republican seats in 2018 — form the backbone of a quiet power center, and centrist “majority makers,” not liberals, will most likely have the final say on impeachment.

Trump’s re-election campaign has severed ties with some of its pollsters after the leak of months-old surveys showed him trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in key states, according to multiple reports.

Trump wanted to boot his chief of staff Mick Mulvaney out of the Oval Office for coughing during an interview, according to footage of the sit-down with ABC News that aired yesterday.

Indianapolis Mayor Pete Buttigieg doesn’t believe he’ll be the first gay president if elected in 2020. “I would imagine we’ve probably had excellent presidents who were gay — we just didn’t know which ones,” he said.

State Senate sources said the chamber plans this week to take up the Green Light bill, already passed already by the Assembly, that would permit individuals who are in the country illegally to apply for driver’s licenses in New York.

The Assembly and Senate reached a consensus yesterday on legislation to combat climate change that they plan to approve later in the week if negotiations with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office aren’t successful, according to two legislative sources.

Democrats in the Senate and Assembly also introduced two-way legislation that would reduce the penalties for possessing marijuana, allow for the expungement of some criminal records and expands the public health law’s definition of “smoking” to include marijuana.

Three-way talks with the governor on a marijuana deal continue, but so far haven’t resulted in a deal, and time is running out.

According to four sources with knowledge of the talks, all of whom spoke on condition of anonymity, Senate officials say they don’t have enough votes to pass the bill unless there’s an “opt-in” provision requiring localities to affirmatively state that they will allow retail marijuana sales within their borders.

Also unresolved: how the hundreds of millions of dollars in anticipated annual revenues from marijuana taxes would be distributed.

Another obstacle to passage has been concern by Long Island’s six Democratic senators about the law enforcement and health ramifications of legalizing marijuana for recreational use by adults 21 years old and older.

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said the marijuana bill had enough support to pass in her chamber.

Writing in the NYT, two high-level health care experts say states that legalize marijuana should set a minimum age of no younger than 25, impose stricter limits on THC levels and strictly monitor them, and launch educational campaigns to help the public understand that marijuana is not harmless

On separate issues, according to The Buffalo News’ Tom Precious, there were deals made over the weekend to raise the current, five-year statute of limitations for victims to report cases of second- and third-degree rape crimes – which are those in which a victim was physically or mentally incapable, or too young, to give consent.

There’s also a bill proposed to assist upstate casinos, which haven’t seen the financial success they initially projected and have been asking the state for help.

A measure the would end the so-called “gay panic” defense in New York is on the Assembly Codes Committee’s agenda for today.

After five months of tension, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie did an end-run around Cuomo to craft a sweeping rent-regulation bill that was approved last week, re-establishing some of the Legislature’s power the body has ceded to the executive for years.

Former Assemblyman Richard Brodsky says the real estate industry shouldn’t be shocked about the pro-tenant rent deal, adding: “It takes a certain kind of blindness and a certain kind of arrogance to have missed the changes that have swept the state Capitol. What happened to the rent laws was predictable to anyone who was paying attention.”

More >

The Weekend That Was

The U.S. is stepping up digital incursions into Russia’s electric power grid in a warning to President Vladimir Putin and a demonstration of how the Trump administration is using new authorities to deploy cybertools more aggressively.

President Trump accused The New York Times of committing a “virtual act of treason” by publishing the above story saying his administration has been targeting Russia’s power grid as part of an ongoing operation to counter cyber threats.

Trump’s campaign has decided to purge some of its pollsters after a leak of dismal internal polls for the president that he denied existed.

Trump said he did not order the White House counsel to fire special counsel Robert Mueller because that “didn’t work out too well” for former President Nixon during Watergate.

Jon Stewart ripped Mitch McConnell, saying the U.S. Senate Majority Leader has never acted with compassion when it comes to securing health-care funding for 9/11 first-responders.

Trump needled the “never Trumpers” on the fourth anniversary of him and First Lady Melania Trump descending the escalator at Trump Tower to announce his bid for the presidency.

Men, women and children from central Africa are showing up at U.S. borders after embarking on a dangerous, monthslong journey. Their arrival at points both north and south is confusing immigration officials and overwhelming local officials and on profits.

Across the country, education leaders have warned that Trump administration immigration policies that prevent parents from letting their kids attend classes for fear of deportation could send school budgets into tailspins.

Trump on Saturday resumed his 3,675-mile feud with the mayor of London, calling him “a disaster” who should be turned out of office after a spate of stabbings in Britain’s capital.

Secret Service agents stopped a person trying to cross a White House security barrier on Friday night.

In preparation for the three final days at the state Capitol, the weekend was busy with negotiations, vote-wrangling and last-minute tweaks for the unfinished agenda, which includes marijuana legalization, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, stricter sexual harassment standards, the Green Light bill, and expanded limo safety measures.

There could be new marijuana legalization language released by tonight, as three-way talks occurred throughout Saturday.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio weighed in on the pot debate today, saying: We have a small window to legalize marijuana the RIGHT way.”

One of the biggest sticking points was the effort by several legislators to make sure the heavily regulated marijuana industry would benefit poor neighborhoods with racial minorities, the groups that were most targeted in criminal enforcement of marijuana laws.

A lawsuit filed against Trump by a former campaign staffer who claimed that he “forcibly kissed” her in 2016 has been thrown out of a Florida federal court.

A 27-year-old man has been arrested after allegedly trespassing in the Queens office of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and barricading himself inside a closet.

Douala Hashi, 31, allegedly argued with security on the ground floor of the Jackson Heights building just before 5 p.m. Saturday and ran up to the third floor, where he refused to leave, according to police. He’s facing a series of charges.

Ocasio-Cortez turned up the heat on U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to push ahead with an impeachment probe of Trump.

A United Airlines jet skidded off the runway at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey leading FAA to temporarily halting all travel in an out of one of the nation’s busiest airports Saturday afternoon.

David Bellavia’s life is about to change. He will stand before Trump at the White House on June 25 and receive the nation’s highest military decoration – the Medal of Honor. Will he heed the president’s call to run for Congress in NY-27 if asked?

At a fund-raiser earlier this month on Long Island, Cuomo and Jay Jacobs, the leader of the state Democratic Party, met with five suburban senators and told them that voting for the Green Light bill would be politically perilous, according to two people familiar with the conversation.

A judge has ordered the NYPD to release videos from a 2017 fatal shooting, saying that keeping police footage from the public flies in the face of the key goal of the body-worn camera program: transparency.

With each successive budget, de Blasio and City Council leaders have spent more taxpayer money, hiring more workers and increasing city services, and this year is no different, despite warnings of revenue drops: The budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year, which begins July 1, weighs in at $92.8 billion.

The new spending plan slashes $20 million from first lady Chirlane McCray’s embattled “Thrive NYC” mental health initiative, with more than half of the money redirected to hiring licensed social workers to serve public schools.

More >