Liz Benjamin

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Homepage: http://nystateofpolitics.com


Posts by Liz Benjamin

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President Trump reportedly last week urged Kevin McAleenan, whom he was about to name as acting secretary of homeland security, to close the southwestern border despite having just said that he was delaying a decision on the step for a year.

Trump today said that his administration was “strongly” considering releasing migrants detained at the border into mostly Democratic “sanctuary cities,” suggesting that the idea should make liberals “very happy” because of their immigration policies.

Taxpayers are scrambling to make last-minute payments due to the IRS in just four days, but many of the country’s largest publicly-held corporations are doing better: They’ve reported they owe absolutely nothing on the billions of dollars in profits they earned last year.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today announced that more than 5.6 million people have enrolled in the New York State Donate Life Registry as organ donors, and issued a proclamation recognizing April as “donate life” month.

Niagara County will not place an additional tax on paper bags after a unanimous vote by lawmakers earlier this week.

The New Yorker takes a look at U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s stalled 2020 Democratic presidential bid through the lens of local Rensselaer County and Troy politics.

Rep. Anthony Brindisi didn’t waste any time reloading on campaign cash this year after winning New York’s most expensive race for Congress in 2018. He raised more than $450,000 for his campaign in the first quarter of 2019 – a healthy total for a House freshman who refuses to accept donations from corporate interests.

U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said New Yorkers are being penalized because Cuomo is out of sync with the rest of the country by blocking the implementation of natural gas pipelines that would help lower the cost of natural energy for their citizens.

A program that uses public funds to pay for unarmed security guards at private schools – including some of New York City’s most elite institutions – is on pace to cost taxpayers $22.3 million over the last three years.

St. Bonaventure University President Dennis DePerro says Bishop Richard Malone needs to step aside so the Diocese of Buffalo can begin to heal after a year of scandals related to the handling of sexual abuse.

The New York Times editorial board endorsed legalizing driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.

The Chinese woman arrested for illegally entering Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, was indicted on one count of lying to a federal agent and another of entering restricted property without permission — but has so far avoided an espionage charge in the case.

Bronx Councilman Ruben Diaz Sr., who recently drew fire for his inflammatory remarks about gay people, says he will run for the seat being vacated by retiring Democratic Rep. Jose Serrano to give conservatives and moderates a voice in Washington.

HUD Regional Administrator Lynne Patton was again accused of breaking the Hatch Act by displaying Trump 2020 campaign merchandise in her government office.

DePerro released a statement saying that Malone “hasn’t been transparent enough along the way for Catholics in Western New York to continue to have confidence in his leadership.”

The Buffalo Police Department is looking into what may have been fraternity hazing after a UB student was taken to the hospital overnight “with a serious medical condition,” the department reported on Twitter.

British rugby league clubs, who accepted a Canadian team in 2017, voted this week to approve new teams in New York and Ottawa beginning in 2020.

Con Edison says that it may have to limit new natural gas service in New York City if a controversial pipeline is not built, potentially expanding a moratorium in Westchester that is drawing harsh criticism.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public events or interviews yet announced.

At 8 a.m., Assemblyman David Weprin speaks at state Sen. Leroy Comrie’s legislative breakfast, Alvista Towers, 147-36 94th Ave., Queens.

At 9:15 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul keynotes a Mentoring Matters conference, Russell J. Salvatore Dining Commons, 5795 Lewiston Rd., Niagara University.

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

At 11 a.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli makes his tax returns available to the media for review, 110 State St., 15th floor, Albany.

At noon, Rep. Elise Stefanik will participate in a visit and tour of the Washington County 911 Communications Center, 383 Broadway, Fort Edward.

At 1 p.m., Assemblyman Charles Lavine attends Nassau County District Attorney Madeline Singas’ criminal justice conference, Maurice A. Deane School of Law, 121 Hofstra University, Hempstead.

At 1:45 p.m., Hochul breaks ground on four downtown revitalization initiatives with Mayor Billy Barlow, 148 Water St., Oswego.

At 3 p.m., the state Complete Count Commission holds a public hearing to prepare for the 2020 census, Suffolk County Legislature, William J. Lindsay County Complex, 725 Veterans Memorial Highway, Smithtown.

At 3:30 p.m., Hochul highlights accomplishments in the 2019-20 state budget, SUNY Upstate Medical University, Weiskotten Hall, Room 1159, 766 Irving Ave., Syracuse.

At 6 p.m., Lavine joins Nassau County Legislator Josh Lafazan and other officials to advocate for increased service on the Long Island Rail Road’s Oyster Bay line, 201 McCouns Lane, Glen Head.

Headlines…

Reacting to the arrest of Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, Hillary Clinton said: “I think it’s clear from the indictment that it’s not about punishing journalism. It’s about assisting the hacking of the military computer to steal information from the United States government…he has to answer for what he has done.”

Clinton made it clear that she believed Assange’s arrest was justified, saying: “Look, I’ll wait and see what happens with the charges and how it proceeds, but he skipped bail in the U.K.”

While speaking to a crowd in New York, Clinton said that her life in politics was more like “Game of Thrones” than “Veep” or “The West Wing.”

President Trump’s top aides considered an idea to pressure immigration agencies to release apprehended migrants into so-called sanctuary cities represented by Democratic lawmakers.

Former FBI Director James Comey said he knew of no electronic surveillance aimed at the Trump campaign during the 2016 presidential election, defending the bureau after Attorney General William Barr asserted a day earlier that the bureau spied on the campaign as part of the Russia investigation.

Herman Cain’s chances to win confirmation to the Federal Reserve plummeted as at least four Republican senators indicated they would not back President Trump’s choice to fill a Fed seat.

The head of the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Weheeler, a former coal lobbyist, defended big energy infrastructure projects and said that climate change is not his highest priority.

While the EPA announced that it considers GE’s dredging of PCB contamination from the upper Hudson River complete, it held off on deciding whether the work has been effective.

The EPA’s decision to issue an initial certificate of completion led to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state Attorney General Letitia James quickly announcing that the state will sue the EPA, and a chorus of criticism from environmental groups and Democrats.

“Time and again the Trump administration puts corporations and polluters’ interests ahead of public health and the environment,” Cuomo said. “Since the EPA has failed to hold GE accountable for fulfilling its obligation to restore the river, New York State will take any action necessary to protect our waterways.”

Global warming has been linked to heavier rainfall, making record-breaking flooding more likely. But HUD, which oversees hundreds of thousands of subsidized at-risk properties across the nation, does not currently have a universal policy against paying for housing in a designated flood zone.

Two state Senate Democrats – Kevin Parker and Alessandra Biaggi – reportedly engaged in a shouting match behind closed doors, highlighting the shifting dynamics in Albany between new and veteran lawmakers, though Parker does have a history of anger management issues.

Secretary to the governor Melissa DeRosa said that the $30 billion Gateway Project, which would rehabilitate Amtrak infrastructure linking New York and New Jersey, is a federal responsibility, and the state would not attempt to start building its centerpiece—a new tunnel—without assistance from Washington.

Some Democrats are having second thoughts about blocking a Republican-sponsored bill that would have expanded a scholarship program for the kids of fallen or injured vets.

The top Republican in the state Senate, Minority Leader John Flanagan, is calling for an investigation of Democratic Sen. James Skoufis for alleged pay-to-play politics — which could get complicated since Skoufis chairs the Investigations Committee.

With a congestion pricing plan on the line in the state Legislature, nobody spent more on lobbying in New York last year than Uber, the app-based car service, according to a report issued yesterday.

Most employers in New York City would no longer be able to force job applicants to take drug tests for marijuana use, under a bill overwhelmingly approved this week by the City Council.

When NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio announced an emergency health order requiring measles vaccinations, he said it was necessary to curtail the measles outbreak in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. But as health officials plunged into Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood to enforce the mandate, tensions only escalated.

Cuomo discussed what the recently approved state budget means for Long Island during a speech hosted by the Long Island Association at Stony Brook University.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez scorched Republicans for having the gall to accuse a Muslim congresswoman of trivializing terrorism while they’re at the same time refusing to support reparation payments for survivors of the 9/11 attacks on the United States.

A retired FDNY firefighter who survived 9/11 said he was recently snubbed by Dan Crenshaw, the Texas congressman who’s drawing heat for accusing a Democratic lawmaker of downplaying the terror attack.

The Manhattan DA’s office had graphic and detailed evidence of pedophile billionaire Jeffrey Epstein’s depravity when a prosecutor inexplicably argued for leniency during his 2011 sex offender registry hearing.

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The U.S. has charged WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange of conspiring to hack a computer as part of the 2010 release of reams of secret American documents, according to an indictment unsealed today, putting him just one flight away from being in American custody after years of seclusion in the Ecuadorean embassy in London.

President Trump said he “absolutely” believed that there was “illegal” and “unprecedented” spying on his campaign — and insisted that he knew “nothing” about WikiLeaks

Former Obama White House counsel Gregory Craig was indicted on charges that he made false statements to investigators and concealed information about his work for Ukrainian officials, the Justice Department announced.

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Vermont Independent Sen. Bernie Sanders are in first and second place respectively in two new polls of Iowa and New Hampshire Democrats, with South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg riding his newfound notoriety into third place in both states.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez scorched her Republican colleagues as hypocrites after they accused Minnesota congresswoman Ilhan Omar of downplaying 9/11 while at the same time refusing to support a compensation fund for the victims of the horrific terror attack.

Embattled attorney Michael Avenatti faces dozens of new charges as federal authorities accused him of stealing millions of dollars from clients to buy a jet, finance a coffee business and pay for his own legal expenses.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer today didn’t rule out getting rid of the filibuster if Democrats take back the Senate majority.

Federal prosecutors want a judge to postpone opening arguments in their case against various members of accused upstate sex cult, NXIVM, to May 14.

Maria T. Vullo, former superintendent of the state Department of Financial Services (DFS), has joined the FinTech Innovation Lab New York as a regulator-in-residence.

Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor, told the crowd at a Crain’s breakfast forum that a new Tea Party is brewing on the left and threatens to burn elected Democrats.

MTA Chairman Patrick Foye said he planned to expand Cuomo’s newfound favorite practice of bringing in panels of experts outside the sprawling mass-transit operator to review large and politically contentious projects.

Trump’s older sister, Maryanne Trump Barry, has stepped down from her role as a federal appellate judge and thus ended the scrutiny into whether she and her siblings’ fraudulent tax schemes constitute a breach of judicial conduct.

The owners of The National Enquirer are in talks to sell the tabloid to Ronald W. Burkle, a supermarket magnate with ties to President Bill Clinton, which, if it happens, would no doubt raise eyebrows, given Trump’s fondness for the tabloid.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio called the death of a veteran NYPD officer killed early today when he crashed his motorcycle on his way to work “a very, very painful moment for all of us.”

De Blasio signed an executive order directing city agencies to end buying single-use plastic food containers and cutlery and replace them with compostable or recyclable alternatives.

The New York City Council wants to slice 20 percent from the budget of first lady Chirlane McCray’s signature initiative – the widely criticized ThriveNYC mental health program – as part of a package of savings identified by the Council.

Local public authorities empowered to issue tax breaks and hand out grants are the focus of a new review by a state Senate committee.

Nassau County Republicans accused local Democratic state senators of caving to the interests of New York City by approving a congestion pricing plan that the GOP said would burden suburban drivers headed to Manhattan.

The NBC weatherman who dropped an F-bomb on air this morning joins a long line of Big Apple broadcasters who have made similar gaffes.

REBNY is painting an apocalyptic picture of New York City should major rent regulation reforms be passed by the state Legislature, claiming the bills will prevent property owners from properly maintaining buildings.

Bak USA, the tablet maker that abruptly closed in November, owes more than $39 million to its creditors – including $25.5 million to billionaire investor and former Sabres’ owner B. Thomas Golisano.

Michael Grimm schmoozed with former colleagues on the House floor this week, eager to make his case for why he’s the best GOP candidate to win back a highly competitive New York City congressional district next year.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in the New York City “area” with no public events or interviews yet announced.

Vice President Mike Pence this morning participates in a meeting with the president of the Republic of Korea, and then departs D.C. en route to Tuscon, AZ, where he will participate in a U.S. Border Patrol briefing and visit the U.S.-Mexico border.

NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray will host the Fourth Annual Faith Leaders ThriveNYC Breakfast. This event is closed to members of the media.

Pence then head to Omaha, NE, where he will be spending the night.

At 8 a.m., NYC Councilman Mark Levine is a guest at the Breakfast with Champions series, The Workmen’s Circle, 247 W. 37th St., 5th Fr., Manhattan.

Also at 8 a.m., Melissa DeRosa, secretary to the governor, speaks at a Crain’s breakfast, The New York Athletic Club, 180 Central Park South, Manhattan.

At 8:30 a.m., on a media call, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Regional Administrator Pete Lopez will make an announcement related to the Hudson River Superfund Cleanup.

At 9 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul addresses the League of Women Voters of Westchester “Running and Winning” event, YWCA White Plains & Central Westchester, 515 North St., White Plains.

At 10 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Housing and Buildings meets, Committee Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Consumer Affairs and Business Licensing meets, Council chamber, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., the “Westchester Rising Radio Show” features state Sen. Shelley Mayer, WVOX, 1460 AM.

At 10:30 a.m., Queens Borough President Melinda Katz holds a public hearing on land use, Queens Borough Hall, 120-55 Queens Blvd., Queens.

Also at 10:30 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will make an announcement on single-use plastics, Sims Municipal Recycling, 2nd Floor Patio, 472 2nd Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 10:30 a.m., Hochul breaks ground on the Cranford Drive drainage project, intended to improve storm resiliency, 39 Cranford Dr., New City.

At 10:45 a.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, Cardinal Timothy Dolan and RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum discuss a mission trip they are taking to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, Catholic Charities Immigration Services, 80 Maiden Ln, Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. holds a press conference to highlight a case of neglect by the New York City Housing Authority against one of its tenants, Bronx County Building, Veterans’ Memorial Hall, 851 Grand Concourse, the Bronx.

Also at 11 a.m., New York City Charter School Center CEO James Merriman will be joined by charter leaders and parents to speak out against a proposed measure to undercut educational transparency and school choice, (call in press conference).

Also at 11 a.m., state Sen. John Brooks and Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen rally with dozens of local veterans to pass a state bill that would allow local municipalities to grant property tax exemptions for active duty military personnel, American Legion Post 1273, 3484 Park Ave., Wantagh.

At 12:15 p.m., Hochul speaks at the Museum of Jewish Heritage’s Spring Women’s Lunch, The Pierre, 2 E. 61st Street & 5th Avenue, Manhattan.

At 1 p.m., the Association of Legal Aid Attorneys, 1199SEIU and New York City Council members hold a press conference and rally demanding salary parity for local defender and legal services staff with city lawyers, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 1 p.m., Assemblyman Ron Kim and Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York, and local community leaders urge the New York City Charter Commission to recommend ranked choice voting, Flushing Public Library steps, 41-17 Main St., Queens.

At 1:45 p.m., NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams joins state Sen. Zellnor Myrie and the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development for a discussion entitled “Why Do City Leaders Say that Unrestricted Development Helps Low-Wealth Neighborhoods?,” 109 East 42nd St., Manhattan.

At 2 p.m., Hochul highlights accomplishments in the 2019-20 state budget, SBH Health System, 4422 3rd Ave., Manhattan.

At 3:30 p.m., the Fort Schuyler Management Corporation Board meets, SUNY Polytechnic Institute, NanoFab East—2107, Albany NanoTech Complex, 257 Fuller Rd., Albany.

Also at 3:30 p.m., Hochul highlights accomplishments in the 2019-20 state budget, Bulova Corporate Center, 75-20 Astoria Blvd., East Elmhurst, Queens.

At 5 p.m., “Driving Forces,” hosted by Celeste Katz and Jeff Simmons, features Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Director of the Census for New York City census director Julie Menin, WBAI, 99.5 FM.

Also at 5 p.m., Williams will rally with the Upstate/Downstate Housing Alliance in support of universal rent control, 132 W. 138th St., Manhattan.

At 5:30 p.m., NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson and New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams join the Upstate Downstate Housing Alliance for a rally to pressure officials to pass universal rent control, Abyssinian Baptist Church, 132 W. 138th St., Manhattan.

Also at 5:30 p.m., progressive advocates protest outside a fundraiser for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s PAC, outside Terroir Restaurant, 24 Harrison St., Manhattan.

At 6:30 p.m., state Sen. John Liu hosts a community forum to listen to parents, teachers, students and stakeholders about school diversity and specialized high school admissions, Queens Borough Hall, 120-55 Queens Blvd., Queens.

Also at 6:30 p.m., state Sens. Gustavo Rivera and Alessandra Biaggi partner with the Bronx Progressives, Northwest Bronx Indivisible and Citizen Action NYC to host a Bronx post-budget forum, Fordham University, 441 E. Fordham Road, Bronx.

At 7 p.m., Williams will be honored at the launch for the organization, “Never Be Caged,” which is dedicated to reducing incarceration through prevention, 2031 Fifth Ave., Manhattan .

At 7:15 p.m., Hochul delivers remarks at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women NYC Dinner, Park Hyatt New York, 153 W. 57th St., Manhattan.

At 8 p.m., Williams speaks at the 17th annual Bronx Chamber of Commerce gala, which honors four distinguished Bronx businesses for their contributions to the community, 1 Marina Dr., the Bronx.

Headlines…

President Donald Trump signed two executive orders in the heart of the Texas energy hub targeting the power of states to delay natural gas, coal and oil projects as he looks to build support ahead of next year’s election.

New York has delayed pipelines that would bring natural gas to New England, for example, and Washington state has stopped coal export terminals. Gov. Andrew Cuomo called the executive orders a “gross overreach of federal authority that undermines New York’s ability to protect our water quality and our environment.”

The breaking point for the immigration system has arrived. The country is now unable to provide either the necessary humanitarian relief for desperate migrants or even basic controls on the number and nature of who is entering the United States.

Trump used the backdrop of a Texas fund-raiser to warn of the dangers and tragedy of migrants flowing across the Mexican border — an issue he predicted would play well for him in his 2020 re-election campaign.

Lawyers for Gregory B. Craig, a White House counsel in the Obama administration, expect him to be indicted in the coming days on charges related to his work for the Russia-aligned government of Ukraine.

As a religious gay man who believes his party has ceded discussion of religion and spirituality to Republicans, Pete Buttigieg, a Democratic candidate for president, is talking about God and sexuality in an unconventional way, using the language of faith to confront the Christian right on territory they have long claimed as their own.

Volunteering, being kind to strangers, and helping a neighbor in need are simple, effective ways to heal a nation split by political tribalism, said former Ohio governor and Republican presidential candidate John Kasich during a speech last night at Molloy College in Rockville Centre.

Freshman Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar stayed mum on her comments about 9/11 during an appearance on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert — as she complained of being held to a double standard by her critics.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez fired back at JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon after he criticized the Green New Deal — asking why no top bankers were busted following the 2008 economic collapse when fare beaters she represents can wind up behind bars.

Massacusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic 2020 contender, hauled in close to $1 million last year, she revealed in a 10-year dump of tax returns.

Former Secretary of State John Kerry got called out this week on Capitol Hill over whether he was qualified enough to testify on climate change — with one Kentucky congressman condemning his Yale degree as a “pseudo-science.”

The de Blasio administration’s tech czar reportedly ignored a federal warning about a looming, Y2K-like software bug last year — allowing a crash of the city’s official wireless network that has been down since the weekend.

The New York City Council’s budget response to Mayor Bill de Blasio included $15 million to support parity in pay between local defender and legal services offices with the city’s Corporation Counsel, but the former group of attorneys says there should be more.

De Blasio paid two notorious slumlords $173.5 million in taxpayer cash for 21 buildings in the Bronx and Brooklyn with more than 400 pending housing code violations, records show.

The mayor has failed to make the grade in his latest effort to diversify the city’s elite specialized high schools — a program meant to better integrate students only saw modest gains in adding black and Latino students.

The city’s Discovery program, hyped as a desegregation tool for elite schools including Manhattan’s Stuyvesant High School, mostly benefited Asian students this year despite the fact that those students already account for a majority of enrollment.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is planning to sit down as soon as this week with prosecutors from the Southern District of New York to discuss his claim that Saudi Arabia intercepted his text messages, which were later published in the National Enquirer.

An arbitration panel ordered the Seneca Nation to pay the state $255 million in lapsed casino revenue-sharing proceeds – though it remained uncertain if the stalemate is actually over.

During a visit to The Buffalo News, Cuomo said the newly adopted state budget will continue his big-ticket economic development efforts. But its $12.7 billion for projects around the region, he said, must now spur the private sector to match and surpass the state’s investment.

Cuomo’s L train tunnel repair plan will become the “Boeing 737-Max of the subway system” thanks to the dangerous levels of cancer-causing dust it will send through the tube, a transit advocacy group claimed.

NYC Councilman Joe Borelli, a veteran Staten Island lawmaker and avid supporter of Trump, is the Republican Party’s choice to challenge Democratic incumbent Jumaane Williams in a special election for NYC public advocate.

The state Assembly’s Higher Education Committee has voted to hold a bipartisan bill that would have provided tuition and fees to attend SUNY to the families of New York military members who died while on active duty, at no cost to them. Cuomo said he would support such a program.

New York’s Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai announced it will expand scholarships in a bid to lower the total debt of its medical students, a move that follows other recent debt-relief efforts at New York medical schools.

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U.S. Attorney General William Barr told a Senate panel he is reviewing whether federal authorities improperly spied on Donald Trump’s campaign during the early stages of its investigation into whether any of his aides participated in Russian efforts to sway the 2016 election in his favor.

“I think spying on a political campaign is a big deal. It’s a big deal,” Barr told the Senate Appropriations Committee, comparing the situation to the Vietnam war era, when the FBI spied on activists.

Trump’s support for shifting more power to states took a back seat to his affinity for oil and gas production as he aimed to make it harder for states to block pipelines and other energy projects due to environmental concerns.

Organized labor is still traumatized after the 2016 Democratic primary, when several unions endorsed Hillary Clinton early on, only to see the decision backfire when portions of their membership bolted for Bernie Sanders. And so they’re holding off endorsing a 2020 contender.

If Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, is having a moment, so is his husband, 29-year-old Chasten Buttigieg.

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo, brother of the governor, put his Hamptons house on the market for $2.9 million recently after a fake shooting and hostage report brought cops to the home and “spooked” his wife.

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani lashed out today at Rep. Jerry Nadler, chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, accusing him rather mundanely of a “lack of judiciousness,” and rather dramatically of “diarrhea of the mouth.”

The CDC has confirmed 587 cases of the fungus, Candida auris, in 12 states over the past few years, most of them in Chicago, New Jersey and the New York City area.

H. Carl McCall, the 83-year-old chairman of the SUNY board of trustees, has announced his retirement after nearly eight years in the appointed post.

New York’s free tuition program for its public colleges had a slight boost in enrollment in its second year. SUNY officials said they estimate between 22,000 to 25,000 students received the Excelsior Scholarship last fall at SUNY and CUNY.

A bill that would have provided free college to the children of veterans killed in action was blocked by a key Assembly committee this week, a move that effectively ends its chances of becoming law this year.

New York Housing Authority federal monitor Bart Schwartz said that Cuomo is on the verge of releasing $450 million in state funds for NYCHA boiler and elevator repairs, which Cuomo had been withholding due to concerns about management.

Hurricanes and other storm-related flooding are likely to cause $54 billion in economic damage annually, according to a new report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

Cuomo hasn’t even signed Buffalo’s speed camera bill into law, but city officials have already decided on the 20 speed zones where the cameras will be watching.

An effort to impose tougher drunken driving restrictions in New York is generating opposition from a national trade association representing restaurant chains and retailers.

MTA transit workers were booted from the Bedford Avenue subway station this morning as they warned commuters of potential dangers in Cuomo’s L train rehabilitation plan.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer can still get his favorite Vanilla Fribble at Friendly’s stores in Queensbury. But he’s upset and angry at the company’s unannounced closure of 14 other upstate locations, and is calling for an investigation into whether the company failed to give impacted employees adequate notice.

Nassau County plans to open a new Westbury crime lab in late June following more than a decade of critical errors that led to the closure of the old police forensic facility.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s effort to better integrate the city’s specialized high schools next fall by admitting more students who miss the test score cutoff for entry made only small gains in adding black and Hispanic students.

A new front of disagreement between the state Senate Democrats and Cuomo has opened over for-profit colleges.

Former Suffolk Police Chief James Burke is scheduled tomorrow to finish his federal prison sentence for beating a man who stole a duffel bag from his sport utility vehicle and then taking part in an elaborate scheme to cover up the crime, records show.

The New York City Council announced its passage of legislation that will require the city Department of Correction to inform those behind bars and their lawyers when the person detained is there solely because they owe a $1 bail or some amount less than $10.

Staten Island’s district attorney and New York City’s special narcotics prosecutor (SNP) both say certain aspects of statewide bail reform could hinder drug prosecutions.

Health officials in Westchester County said measles has been confirmed in eight children who seem to have been exposed to the highly contagious disease during visits to Rockland County and Brooklyn.

This part Saturday, the centralized Global Positioning System that connects to devices and computer networks around the world underwent a long-anticipated calendar reset. Known as a rollover, the reset knocked out a major wireless communications network used by New York City agencies.

Here and Now

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

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is in the city with no public appearances scheduled.

Vice President Mike Pence travels to NYC today, where he will deliver remarks to a special session of the United Nations Security Council on the Crisis in Venezuela, and participate in an office call with the UN Secretary General.

Pence will later participate in the New York City Trump Victory Lunch, before returning home to D.C.

At 8 a.m., Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa and state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia will deliver welcoming remarks at the New York State My Brother’s Keeper Teacher Opportunity Corps II Summit, which Regents Lester Young and Josephine Finn will also attend, Cultural Education Center, Huxley Theater, 222 Madison Ave., Albany.

At 8:30 a.m., NYC Councilwoman Margaret Chin, former Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and others join Los Angeles vendor advocates for a panel to discuss the campaign to decriminalize sidewalk vending in Los Angeles, Urban Justice Center, 40 Rector St., 9th Fl., Manhattan.

At 9:30 a.m., Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan holds a press conference to provide an update on the recent ransomware attack experienced by the city, mayor’s conference room, City Hall, 24 Eagle St., Albany.

At 10 a.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. visits the Boro Park Jewish Community Council. 1310 46th St., Brooklyn.

Also at 10 a.m., the state Senate Standing Committee on Higher Education holds a Public Hearing to explore ways to regulate and review oversight over for-profit schools, Van Buren Hearing Room A, Legislative Office Building, 2nd Fl., Albany.

Also at 10 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Health, Council chamber, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., the state Senate Committee on Transportation meets, Room 332, state Capitol, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., the state Senate Committee on Corporations, Authorities and Commissions meets, Legislative Office Building, Room 611, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., the state Senate Finance Committee meets, Room 124, state Capitol, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., “The Capitol Pressroom” features former Assemblywoman Janet Duprey, WCNY.

Also at 11 a.m., NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, NYC Councilman Brad Lander, Common Cause/NY Executive Director Susan Lerner, and others will join together to urge the NYC Charter Commission to recommend ranked choice voting over the winner-take-all model, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

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

At 12:30 p.m. – Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams holds a press conference with local students and financial experts as part of his annual commemoration of Financial Education Empowerment Month in Brooklyn, Brooklyn College Student Center, 2705 Campus Rd., Brooklyn.

At 1 p.m., the NYC Council Committee on Justice System meets jointly with the Committee on Immigration, Committee Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 1 p.m., the NYC Council Committee on Hospitals meets jointly with the Committee on General Welfare, Council chamber, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 1:30 p.m., MTA Chair and CEO Pat Foye; MTA Managing Director Veronique Hakim; MTA NYC Transit President Andy Byford; MTA NYC Transit Senior VP of Subways Sally Librera; and members of NYC Transit’s service delivery, maintenance and customer service departments make an announcement, 2 Broadway, 20th Fl. Board room, Manhattan.

At 4 p.m., the NYC Civilian Complaint Review Board holds its April Board meeting, NYC Campaign Finance Board office, 100 Church St., 12th Fl., Manhattan.

At 5:45 p.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli DiNapoli hosts Irish Heritage event to honor the 21st anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, the centennial of the Declaration of Independence by the Dáil Éireann, and the contributions of Irish men and women to New York and America, Roosevelt House, 47-49 E. 65th St., Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., Assemblyman David Weprin speaks at Borough President Melinda Katz’s Vaisakhi Celebration, Queens Borough Hall, 120-55 Queens Blvd., Kew Gardens, Queens.

At 7 p.m., NYC Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer receives an award, presented by Williams, and delivers remarks at the 2019 DanceWave Gala, Green Building, 452 Union St, Brooklyn.

Also at 7 p.m., state Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon delivers a presentation on the 2019-20 budget, Community Board 6, 433 1st Ave., NYU School of Dentistry, Room 210, Manhattan.

At 8 p.m., Williams attends the Jewish Children’s Museum Gala, 792 Eastern Pkwy., Brooklyn.

Headlines…

The Trump administration plans to aggressively push for tougher screening of asylum seekers that will make it vastly more difficult for migrants fleeing persecution in their home countries to win protection in the United States, a senior administration official told reporters.

U.S. Attorney General William Barr vowed to release a redacted version of the Mueller report “within a week,” defending his handling of the special counsel investigation’s findings as a bid for transparency as Democrats accused him of politically motivated behavior.

Furious opposition from both the House Democrats’ most ardent liberals and their fiscal hawks forced Democratic leaders to delay voting on a two-year budget measure that would increase military and domestic spending – an embarrassing send-off as the new majority prepared to leave for a three-day retreat.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, whose $18 million fund-raising haul has solidified his status as a front-runner for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, said he would release 10 years of tax returns by Tax Day on Monday and acknowledged that he has joined the ranks of the millionaires he has denounced for years.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told lawmakers that White House lawyers had been in touch with his department about a congressional request for the president’s tax returns but said he had not personally spoken to Trump or those lawyers about how the matter was being handled.

President Donald Trump denied that his administration is preparing to once more separate migrant families in response to the surge in border crossings, telling reporters that he had ordered an end to a policy established under President Barack Obama.

Trump shared a tweet with a campaign-style video touting his political achievements and the Mueller report findings and blasting his Hollywood critics, including Rosie O’Donnell and Amy Schumer.

Warner Bros. Pictures is filing a copyright infringement complaint as part of an effort to have the video taken down, because it used an instrumental track from the studio’s 2012 film “The Dark Knight Rises.”

The Trump administration is taking steps that could delay premium spikes for Medicare prescription drug beneficiaries until after Trump’s 2020 reelection bid.

Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s conservative prime minister for the past decade, appeared poised to win a fourth consecutive term in office, and a fifth overall, according to preliminary results early this morning.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez blamed the migrant crisis on climate change, just hours after suggesting that the US would “have blood on our hands” if climate legislation — like her Green New Deal — doesn’t get passed.

The freshman congresswoman also tore into outgoing Homeland Security chief Kirstjen Nielsen on Twitter, saying the now-retired DHS secretary doesn’t deserve to get a “lucrative deal” or “prestigious” new post — on account of her role in last year’s family separation crisis.

Former Vice President Joe Biden said the Trump administration was not interested in prioritizing fighting cancer after he asked the White House to build off the work he and Obama began.

Facing a deadline to deliver six years of Trump’s tax returns to Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Richard Neal, a Massachusetts Democrat, top administration officials insisted they would follow the law, but none were certain who was taking the lead, or what they would do.

Appearing on a CNN town hall, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a 2020 Democratic contender, insisted that her relationship with Hillary Clinton is strong and that Clinton had given her advice about her 2020 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination.

“Secretary Clinton is still a role model for all of us,” Gillibrand said in response to a question about her prior comments saying President Bill Clinton should have resigned amid the Monica Lewinsky scandal. “My views on her husband is very different.”

The gun manufacturer Remington has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a lawsuit brought against the company by the families of victims of the Sandy Hook massacre.

Actress Lori Loughlin and her husband reportedly don’t want to take any plea deal that would result in them serving prison time for allegedly paying bribes to get their daughters into college — a strategy that may result in them serving even more time behind bars.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo — who has two Twitter accounts with more than 863,000 followers — called the popular social media site an “elitist bulletin board” and said he doesn’t look at it.

Cuomo encouraged state lawmakers to pass a bill that would allow terminally ill patients to request life-ending medication.

Health officials may forcibly inject residents of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, who flout a mandatory vaccination order, a City Hall spokeswoman confirmed.

Such a health order is rare but not unheard-of in American history, medical experts said. It has occurred several times.

A computerized pamphlet that bears the names of leading rabbis — and warns of decidedly non-kosher vaccine ingredients like animal organs — is being circulated among ultra-Orthodox Jewish moms in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

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Extras

U.S. Attorney General William Barr pledged to release a redacted version of Robert Mueller’s full report “within a week,” but refused to say whether anyone in the White House has gotten a heads-up on the special counsel’s confidential findings.

President Donald Trump downplayed his personnel moves at the Department of Homeland Security, saying he is fighting “bad laws” on immigration and obstruction in Congress.

John McCain’s dog, Burma, who was a constant companion to the late Republican U.S. senator during his final months at the family home near Sedona, has died in a “tragic accident.”

A new poll by Morning Consult shows former Vice President Joe Biden leads the field for the Democratic presidential nomination, keeping his double-digit advantage over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, despite several women alleging Biden violated their personal space and touched them without consent.

Trump has tweeted an apparent response to a New York investigation into his business empire, saying the state and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are now “proud members of the group of PRESIDENTIAL HARASSERS.”

“Full House” star Lori Loughlin and her fashion designer husband, Mossimo Giannulli, and 14 other parents were hit with a new money laundering charge in the sweeping college admissions bribery scheme.

Staten Island Democratic Rep. Rep. Max Rose, alongside the rest of New York City congressional delegation, is pushing to fully fund Homeland Security programs that support the five boroughs after the White House proposed cuts to counterterrorism programs.

The de Blasio administration declared a public health emergency in select zip codes in Williamsburg, following a measles outbreak affecting the Orthodox Jewish community.

People found not to be vaccinated could risk fines up to $1,000.

Cuomo said it’s “legally questionable” whether people can be forced to get vaccinated if it violates their religious beliefs — even as de Blasio in Brooklyn was declaring a public health emergency mandating vaccinations to stop a measles outbreak.

Handbooks and fliers distributed in some Jewish communities in New York, as well as messages on hotlines and conference calls, continue to contradict the scientific consensus that vaccines are generally safe and highly effective.

A new interactive data tool from the Rockefeller Institute of Government shows median teacher salaries for public school districts in New York State compared to the regional median salaries for other bachelor’s-degree holders and graduate-degree holders.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez criticized Republicans for labeling everything they don’t like in her Green New Deal “socialism” at a congressional hearing today.

TV host Wendy Williams is defending a viral photo of herself at a 24-hour Walmart in Napanoch.

State Sen. James Skoufis said the bathroom break that caused him to miss the vote on whether to raise the governor’s salary was taken “in protest,” and he “of course” would have voted “no” – had he stayed in the chamber.

Employees of New York City’s yellow school bus industry’s largest union voted to authorize a strike after Albany lawmakers failed to include job protections for bus workers in the new state budget.

An effort de Blasio launched two years ago to outfit every New York City public school classroom with air conditioning appears further from the announced finish line than when it started because of an initial miscount when the mayor announced his plan.

A special accounting firm hired by concerned board members at Buffalo’s Community Action Organization was seeking specific records on the agency’s use of federal dollars for Head Start programs when it halted work on its forensic audit.

Syracuse University increased its tuition price again. The cost for the upcoming school year will be $52,210.

The mayor of Oswego is offering temporary, seasonal jobs to Friendly’s Restaurant workers affected by the abrupt closing of their restaurant in Oswego over the weekend.

Mayor Lovely Warren announced that LaRon Singletary will be the next police chief for the Rochester Police Department.

One of ThriveNYC’s biggest and most costly mental health initiatives – the Mental Health Service Corps – was beset by confusion and mismanagement in its first 18 months, according to a dozen people hired to execute the program.

A New York City crackdown highlights the inconsistencies that have emerged in federal, state and local rules governing CBD, bewildering the small but growing number of businesses selling edibles in New York and other states.

Dr. Kenneth Davis, Mount Sinai Health System president and chief executive, took home nearly $12.4 million in cash compensation in 2017 — the most any executive had received in five years.

The State Education Department needs to improve its efforts to ensure school districts are following state requirements for school safety planning, including whether those plans are shared with local first responders, according to an audit released today by State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

Two black bears that were raised in captivity are still on the loose in the town of Wilmington in Essex County. The animals escaped from the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge March 30, scrambling out of an enclosure.

The Adirondack Council and other groups want the state to pass stricter laws around all-terrain vehicle use in the Adirondack Park, but some think the call is unnecessary.

Here and Now

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

The state Legislature is back to work, and the post-budget session begins in earnest. The calendar for today is very long, and appears at the end of the this post.

Headlines…

President Trump moved to clear out the senior ranks of the Department of Homeland Security a day after forcing the resignation of its secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, as he accelerated a purge of the nation’s immigration and security leadership.

Current and former Trump administration members say the purge of homeland security officials is a sign that the president is preparing to unleash an even fiercer assault on immigration – including a possible return of his controversial decision last summer to separate migrant children from their parents.

Freshman Minnesota Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar called White House adviser Stephen Miller a “white nationalist” in a tweet.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took an indirect swipe at Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, saying passing legislation should take priority over amassing Twitter followers.

Felicity Huffman, the Hollywood actress, announced that she will plead guilty to a federal crime, part of a sweeping investigation of college admissions fraud unveiled last month by prosecutors in Boston, insisting her daughter had been unaware of the cheating.

Ocasio-Cortez came down hard on New York’s subway, claiming on Instagram that it doesn’t compare to Washington, DC’s, Metro transit system.

California Rep. Eric Swalwell is officially in the running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

A Florida judge postponed a bail hearing for the self-described Chinese businesswoman accused of infiltrating President Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.

The rise of a deadly drug-resistant fungus called Candida auris has raised fresh questions about the secrecy enveloping infectious outbreaks at American medical institutions.

A majority of Americans see the recent changes to the tax laws as benefiting the wealthy and large corporations, a CBS News poll finds, and most feel their own taxes have not gone down because of the law.

It’s one of the oldest tricks in politics: When you want a problem to go away, appoint a panel. Both the mayor of NYC and the governor have gone this route.

After initially suggesting the effort would “politicize the process,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he would back a new bill allowing the state Tax Department to release any state tax return — including the president’s — if it were requested by leaders of three congressional committees for any “specified and legitimate legislative purpose.”

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio defended a controversial $173 million real estate deal with two notorious slumlord brothers, which involved one of the most powerful people in the Brooklyn Democratic Party.

The city is stuck paying $173 million for the 17 buildings owned by some of New York’s most notorious landlords because they wouldn’t sell the properties for less, the mayor said.

The mayor backed the NYC Health Department’s ban on unvaccinated children attending schools in heavily Orthodox neighborhoods as the city battles its worst measles outbreak in years.

Mike Casca, who became the de Blasio administration’s communications director in 2017 after working on Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign, started an unpaid leave of absence to serve as a spokesman and communications strategist for the mayor’s Fairness PAC, officials said.

Manhattan Councilman Ben Kallos said NASCAR provides more information about its sponsors than politicians do about their contributors, so he’s introducing legislation that would require pie charts showing where city candidates get their money.

A top federal housing official, Lynne Patton, is considering seeking steep fines against two NYCHA workers after THE CITY revealed one of the men was arrested on attempted sexual assault charges while on the job.

The top candidate to lead NYCHA is Saul Ramirez Jr., a former of mayor of Laredo, Tex. with ties to Cuomo and de Blasio and a tech company executive who for years ran a Washington group lobbying on behalf of housing authorities nationwide.

New York may be one of the most liberal cities in the US — but it’s not far left enough for Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza.

After a one-year jump in suspensions, New York City schools are suspending students less frequently this school year, according to data released yesterday.

The New York City Council is poised to pass a bill that would stop the city from conducting tests for marijuana on people who are on probation, meant to help probationers avoid getting sent back to prison on technical violations.

A troubling trend saw New York City Transit’s annual graffiti cleaning costs surge to $610,956 in 2018 — an increase of 364 percent from the $131,539 spent just two years earlier.

Amid New York’s towering buildings, where scaffolding is so common it seemingly blends into the design, a consecution worker’s death when he was hit in the head by a “coping stone” offered a reminder of the risks faced by workers in a city under constant construction.

Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez voiced his support for the decriminalization of sex work at a recent event hosted by the Lambda Independent Democrats of Brooklyn, saying his office often dismisses the cases of sex workers after enrolling them in services.

While pleading guilty to racketeering and racketeering conspiracy charges related to her role in the group, Allison Mack tearfully told a judge that she first joined the cultlike NXIVM to “find purpose.” She was unsatisfied with her acting career, she said, despite her role on the successful television series “Smallville.”

Mack, who, according to the indictment, was part of cult leader Keith Raniere’s inner circle, said she engaged in extortion by threatening to expose secrets, nude photos and more. She now faces a maximum of 40 years in prison when she’s sentenced on Sept. 11.

Prospective jurors for the upcoming NXIVM racketeering trial in Brooklyn federal court were asked questions about the #MeToo movement, Scientology, sex addiction and more in a questionnaire distributed to pre-screen the jury pool. The questionnaire is available for all to see through the public court file.

Sales of New York City rental apartment buildings plummeted in the first quarter, signaling the uncertainty around rent regulation after the current law expires in a few weeks.

More >

Extras

A federal judge issued a preliminary injunction to stop the Trump administration’s policy of having some asylum seekers wait in Mexico while their case is under consideration.

President Trump moved to sweep out the top ranks of the Department of Homeland Security a day after pushing out its secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, accelerating a purge of the nation’s immigration and security leadership.

Secret Service Director Randolph Alles, a retired Marine Corps major general who was appointed two years ago, is on his way out the door in the wake of Nielsen’s departure.

Trump has for months urged his administration to reinstate large-scale separation of migrant families crossing the border, while Nielsen resisted, setting her at odds with the president.

Also out: Ron Vitiello, the acting director of Immigration and Customs Services. Vitiello, Nielsen and Alles were all viewed as allies of John Kelly, the president’s former chief of staff and his first Homeland Security secretary, who left late last year after months of tension with Trump.

Alles denies he was fired.

The Air Force is zeroing in on military bases to potentially house Trump’s proposed U.S. Space Command, with the short list of contenders located in Colorado, Alabama and California.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s communications director, Mike Casca, is leaving City Hall to work on his federal political action committee, the latest sign that de Blasio is leaning toward a run for president.

De Blasio’s longest-serving press secretary, Eric Phillips, is leaving for a job in the private sector. Freddi Goldstein, who handles communications strategy for First Deputy Mayor Dean Fuleihan, assumes the $185,000-a-year press secretary job.

Corporate lobbyists are raising an increasing amount of money for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee at a time when the House Democrats’ campaign arm is taking fire from the left for its effort to freeze out primary challengers.

Smallville actress Allison Mack has pleaded guilty to charges related to her involvement with a controversial self-help group, NXIVM, described as having a secret society of “masters” and sexually subservient “slaves” within it.

Mack sobbed as she took responsibility in federal court in Brooklyn for recruiting women into the organization by telling them they were going to become members of a female mentorship group.

Actress Felicity Huffman and a dozen other wealthy parents swept up in the far-reaching college admissions scandal have agreed to plead guilty after being charged in scheme, according to court records.

Stanford University has kicked out a student whose application allegedly contained false information as fallout continues from the sweeping college admissions cheating scandal that has ensnared top universities across the country.

Former NJ Gov. Chris Christie teed off on the current NJ governor, Phil Murphy, for failing to fight Cuomo over congestion pricing.

A new limit on state and local tax deductions isn’t forcing taxpayers to leave New York, New Jersey and California despite claims from some Democratic politicians that the federal tax overhaul is causing a mass exodus of wealthy residents, according to Moody’s Investor Service.

Trump’s latest effort to reboot progress on the Keystone XL oil pipeline is facing another lawsuit, this one contending he does not have the power to issue such a permit.

Peter Bauer, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks, writes about the need for a High Peaks plan, ASAP. “The three-million-acre Forest Preserve in New York State is finest state lands system in the U.S., but it does not enjoy the finest management in the country.”

An overconfident former Queens Rep. Joe Crowley reportedly opted against using negative ammunition against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez because he believed that he had the Democratic primary locked up and didn’t want to look weak in a race he was expected to walk away with.

The cost of providing health care has outpaced growth in spending, foundation aid, and inflation for school districts, a report from the Association of School Business Officials found.

The measles lawsuit that halted Rockland County’s emergency declaration included a diverse mix of parents who cited academic, financial and religious hardships connected to keeping unvaccinated children at home.

The New York City Department of Health is threatening yeshivas in Williamsburg with violations and possible closure if non-vaccinated students are allowed to attend classes during the current measles outbreak.

Here are the main sticking points in the debate over legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use in New York.

Now that the state Thruway Authority has removed the toll booths from the Grand Island bridges, a group of Western New York lawmakers wants them to get rid of the tolls altogether, arguing the tolls have outlived their usefulness.

As they await statewide action to eliminate cash bail, NYC Council members are looking for ways to reduce the financial burden on families of incarcerated people – including a bill that would do away with fees levied on people paying bail with credit cards.

The state Conservative Party launched an online petition to keep Brinks truck driver Judith Clark behind bars.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City and Albany with no interviews or public events yet announced.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have their weekly lunch at the White House. In the late afternoon, Pence participates in a bilateral meeting with the vice president of the Federative Republic of Brazil.

The state Legislature is in session.

At 9:30 a.m., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Rep. Jerrold Nadler speak at the opening of the Grow with Google Learning Center, 111 Eighth Ave., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., the state Senate Elections Committee meets, Legislative Office Building, Room 904, Albany.

Also at 10 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Mental Health, Disabilities and Addiction meets jointly with the Committee on Aging for an oversight hearing regarding “qualifications, training, and protocol” for home health care aides, Council chamber, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Youth Services meets, 250 Broadway, 16th floor, Committee Room, Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Public Safety meets to discuss a proposed law that would ban the Department of Probation from conducting drug tests in search of marijuana for prospective employees, Committee Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 11:30 a.m., Brewer speaks at the Harlem2Haarlem International Pitchfest, Silicon Harlem, 2785 Frederick Douglass Blvd., Manhattan.

Also at 11:30 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Health meets to discuss several proposed laws related to water tanks, Committee Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at noon, the state Senate Codes Committee meets, Room 124, state Capitol, Albany.

Also at noon, the state Senate Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Committee meets, Legislative Office Building, Room 813, Albany.

Also at noon, Assemblyman David Buchwald and state Sen. Brad Hoylman rally for legislation that would require the disclosure of state income tax returns by statewide elected public officials, including the president, Million Dollar Staircase, third floor, state Capitol, Albany.

At 1 p.m., LG Kathy Hochul delivers remarks at a Women’s Agenda event, Hamilton College, Levitt Center, Kirner-Johnson 251, 198 College Hill Rd., Clinton.

At 2 p.m., the NYC Council Committee on Civil and Human Rights meets to discuss a proposed law which would ban employers from drug testing prospective hires for THC, Committee Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 2 p.m., the state Association of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Providers hosts Dr. Kevin Sabet, president and CEO of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, for a conversation about marijuana science and the public policy debate, with a focus on Colorado’s experience, Albany Marriot, 189 Wolf Rd., Colonie.

At 2:30 p.m., Brewer speaks at a networking event with the Haarlem delegation, Clipper Stad Amsterdam, Pier 59, West 23rd Street and Hudson River, Manhattan.

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

Also at 3 p.m., the state Senate Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Committee meets, Legislative Office Building, Room 611, Albany.

At 6 p.m., the MTA will host the fourth and final open house for community members regarding the “revised” L-train project, 14th Street YMCA, East Village, Manhattan.

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

Headlines…

As the Trump administration wrestles with what it calls a “crisis” of immigration from Central America, Kirstjen Nielsen resigned as head of the Department of Homeland Security, which includes the agencies charged with enforcing the nation’s border and immigration laws.

“I have determined that it is the right time for me to step aside,” Nielsen said. “I hope that the next secretary will have the support of Congress and the courts in fixing the laws which have impeded our ability to fully secure America’s borders and which have contributed to discord in our nation’s discourse.”

Kevin K. McAleenan, the commissioner of United States Customs and Border Protection, will become the acting secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, President Trump said in a tweet, adding: “I have confidence that Kevin will do a great job!”

House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Bennie Thompson, a Mississippi Democrat, called Nielsen’s tenure as Homeland Security secretary a “disaster,” moments after Trump announced she was leaving her post.

Several Republicans and close aides to Trump spent yesterday ridiculing House Democrats’ repeated requests to see the president’s tax returns, with one senator dubbing the demand “moronic” and White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney saying lawmakers will “never” see these sought-after tax records.

In an attempt to work around the White House, Democratic lawmakers in Albany are trying to do what their federal counterparts have so far failed to accomplish: to obtain Trump’s tax returns.

Democratic 2020 presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke called Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “racist” while speaking about the US-Israel relationship at a campaign event in Iowa.

Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay mayor of South Bend, Ind. and a 2020 Democratic contender, slammed Vice President Pence while saying that his marriage to Chasten Buttigieg has brought him “closer to God.”

The long-shot 2020 presidential bid of Schenectady native Andrew Yang, a tech entrepreneur, is getting some serious attention of late.

A lot of Democratic hopefuls have been visiting the swing state of Nevada, but NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio – who has not yet formally announced a campaign – apparently was the first to stump in the rural town of Pahrump, on the edge of Death Valley, which was the scene of the alien landing site in the 1996 movie satire “Mars Attacks!”

Rep. Devin Nunes, the former chair of the House Intelligence Committee, plans to send referrals to Attorney General William Barr this week, in order to get the Department of Justice to pick up investigations where Republicans in Congress left off.

The state of Washington’s Democratic Party voted to use a primary election – not caucuses – to allocate its presidential delegates. The Republicans, who also used a primary in 2016, had previously committed to doing so again in 2020.

The House Democratic campaign arm is nearing open warfare with the party’s rising liberal wing as political operatives close to Speaker Nancy Pelosi try to shut down primary challenges before what is likely to be a hard-fought campaign next year to preserve the party’s shaky majority.

New handheld detectors would help federal officers at Kennedy Airport stop dangerous drugs like fentanyl from coming into the country, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

The increasing availability of antibiotics across the world has accelerated an alarming downside: The drugs are losing their ability to kill the germs they were created to conquer. Hard-wired to survive, many bacteria have evolved to outsmart the medications.

Jimmy Vielkind: “Progressive lawmakers got a hard lesson last week in the skewed power dynamics of the state budget process. They are hoping Gov. Andrew Cuomo will have less leverage in coming months as they hash out laws extending rent regulations and possibly legalizing marijuana.”

Fresh off passage of a state budget that included the DREAM Act to fund higher education for undocumented immigrants, some Democrats in the Legislature are looking for a bigger win: New York state-issued driver’s licenses. Yet passage is far from certain.

Lawmakers and addiction treatment advocates say a new tax on prescription painkillers included in the state budget is expected to make it harder for patients to afford their medications and is unlikely to result in any new funds for addiction treatment or prevention services — as proponents originally suggested.

The state Legislature listened to the complaints of those who said it approved early voting this year without providing money for counties to implement it. But whether it is providing enough cash to cover the costs that the 57 counties outside New York City will be incurring remains an open question.

“Was Cuomo’s entire ‘first 100 days’ agenda for the first year of his third term – and the first legislative session of his gubernatorial tenure with Democrats in control of both houses of the Legislature – accomplished? Not quite.”

The hometown paper of state Sens. Jen MEtzger and James Skoufis was not impressed by their decision to skip the pay raise vote at the end of the budget passage.

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