Monserrate Files To Run For Assembly

Former state Sen. Hiram Monserrate, who was removed from office after a misdemeanor domestic violence conviction, has filed to run for the state Assembly.

A Democrat, Monserrate is running for the seat held by Queens Democratic Assemblyman Jeff Aubry.

He had previously sought an Assembly seat in 2010 following his expulsion and lost. Monserrate in 2017 ran for a seat on the New York City Council and lost. He is now a Queens Democratic district leader.

Monserrate was a key figure in the 2009 state Senate leadership coup, joining with Sen. Pedro Espada of the Bronx to hand control of the chamber to Republicans. Monserrate later returned to the Democratic fold, creating a 31-31 tie, and Espada later rejoined in July of that year.

In 2010, Monserrate was removed from the Senate in a rare expulsion vote after he was convicted of a misdemeanor charge related to an incident in which he was accused of slashing his girlfriend’s face with a broken glass and dragging her down a flight of stairs.

He served 21 months in federal prison after he was found guilty in 2012 in a federal corruption case stemming from siphoning funds from a city discretionary fund.

Cuomo Says Up To $60M Will Be Committed For Census

New York will spend up to $60 million for resources to ensure the U.S. Census will be conducted properly, using resources from agencies, public authorities and the public college campuses.

The filing made public on Tuesday was first reported by Josefa Velásquez of The City.

“Counting every New Yorker in the 2020 Census is critical to ensuring we are accurately represented in Congress and receive the federal funding we deserve,” Cuomo said. “While the federal government has thrown up road block after road block – spreading fear among immigrant communities in the process – in New York we will break through and make sure that even our most difficult to reach communities are counted.”

The statement in support of the spending was released amid concerns from advocates and state lawmakers $20 million in Census spending by the state had not been allocated by October.

The Cuomo administration said the formal process for spending that money will begin next week, with the funding due to be spent on “trusted voice” non-profit entities. The money will be targeted on reaching communities considered difficult to count, including those with high immigrant populations, older people and children under the age of 5.

New York Sues E-Cig Maker JUUL Labs

Attorney General Letitia James’s office on Tuesday announced the filing of a lawsuit against JUUL Labs, the manufacturers of e-cigarette products, over misleading marketing.

The suit, filed in state Supreme Court, compares the company to the efforts of tobacco firms in the past of marketing its products in a way that downplayed the risks of vaping as well as illegally sold products to minors through its website and third-party stores.

The suit is the latest broadside against the vaping industry in New York and nationally. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration is defending a ban on flavored e-cigarette tobacco in court after an administrative action was stalled.

“There can be no doubt that JUUL’s aggressive advertising has significantly contributed to the public health crisis that has left youth in New York and across the country addicted to its products,” James said in a statement.

“By glamorizing vaping, while at the same time downplaying the nicotine found in vaping products, JUUL is putting countless New Yorkers at risk. I am prepared to use every legal tool in our arsenal to protect the health and safety of our youth.”

New York officials allege the company’s ad campaign, using colorful images and attractive models, was meant to appeal to kids and target an underage demographic.

At the same time, officials allege the company reached out to high school students on vaping, and a JUUL representative claimed its products were safer to use than cigarettes.

Cuomo has pledged to propose legislation to crack down on vaping usage in the state, especially among young people, amid an outbreak of illnesses linked to vaping. There have been 42 deaths national and more than 2,000 people sickened in illnesses believed to be tied to vaping.

Public Finance Commission Close to Final Proposal

The nine members of the Commission are set to present their report to State Leaders on Wednesday, November 27. Ahead of a previously planned Monday meeting, some changes have already taken shape to what had previously been discussed.

The new draft calls for contributions to the Governor be capped at $16,000. The previous number being considered was a $25,000 cap, but the lower figure is seen as more workable. Either is better than the current cap which is close to $70,000.

As for matching funds for individual Senate and Assembly candidates, the in-district only match will likely be adopted. However, only small donations of $250 or less will receive public funds. This amplified in-district match is expected to offset any deficiency from not allowing matches on contributions from all over New York State.

The Commissioners also agree that the vote threshold for gaining ballot access should be raised for third parties. Right now, it’s 50,000 votes every four years. The change is expected to take that up to 150,000 or 100,000 every two years. Either would likely result in the extinction of the Working Families Party as a viable third party with a consistent ballot line in New York State.

One outstanding issue left to be resolved is whether a candidate’s campaign warchest can be rolled over. That is still under debate.

Final vote on all of these adjustments is expected as soon as Monday.

The House Races To Watch (For Now)

From the Morning Memo:

We’re less than a year or so away from the November general election. We’re about seven-plus months away from the June party primaries. And we’re six months away from the New York presidential primary and, potentially, a handful of special elections to fill vacant seats in the House of Representatives and state Senate.

That’s an eternity in political campaigning — an eon, an epoch. And yet, it seems like the campaigns never really stopped. Already, a handful of must-watch House races are forming in New York. There are rematches, swing districts and nationally focused campaigns that will be closely tracked and analyzed as Republican seek to regain their majority.

As we’ve noted repeatedly here, New York is far from a swing state, but its suburbs and rural communities are reflective of the nation at large in many ways, making it an ideal battleground for control of the House of Representatives.

Here is a look at some of the House races I’m watching. And a caveat: No, I’m not going to mention all 27 House races and analyze them. If you think there’s a race I should include, email me and tell me why I’m wrong for not including it. More >

With NY Baseball Teams In Danger, Schumer Hopes To Help

From the Morning Memo:

At least four minor league baseball organizations in New York appear to be in danger of losing their affiliation with Major League teams.

The MLB proposal to contract its minor league structure has been reported by several outlets over the last few days. The New York Times listed the Auburn Doubledays, Batavia Muckdogs, Binghamton Rumble Ponies and the Staten Island Yankees among the 42 teams at risk.

The Daily News reported several New York-Penn League teams would be saved by being upgraded to “full season leagues,” including the Hudson Valley Renegades.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer voiced displeasure with the proposal during Monday visits to both Rochester and Buffalo. Batavia is almost directly in between the two cities along the NYS Thruway.

“I am going to be speaking with Major League Baseball. It so happens the commissioner is from Upstate New York, Commissioner Manfred of the MLB is from Rome, NY so hopefully they will be sympathetic,” Schumer said.

The senator acknowledged there is little he can do legislatively. The affiliations are set under an agreement between MiLB and MLB which expires in 2020.

However, Schumer said he would try to be “persuasive.”

“You know how hard I worked to keep the Bills in Buffalo because sports is really important as something that people care about and identify with a community but it’s also an economic engine,” he said.

Various reports have noted, while the MLB has offered minor league teams the option to join what it would call the “Dream League,” losing the affiliation with a big league organization would likely be a death sentence because they would have to take on significantly more costs.

“For a community like Batavia, that’s very, very important in the months when they play so I think it’s a very important issue and I’m going to do whatever I can to help,” Schumer said.

There are currently 160 minor league teams spanning 14  different leagues.


Here And Now

Good morning and happy Tuesday! Here’s the news.

Happening today:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with nothing public planned.

At 8:45 a.m., Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will highlight investment in agriculture. Erie County Fairgrounds. Agriculture Discovery Center. 500 McKinley Parkway, Hamburg.

At 10 a.m., CC Move, a new initiative to support people in need who live in rural areas, will be introduced by Catholic Charities. 143 East Main St., Amsterdam.

At 11 a.m., Lt. Gov. Hochul will deliver remarks at the WNY Land Conservanc’s new name for the proposed trail. Tewksbury Lodge. 249 Ohio St., Buffalo.

Also at 11 a.m., Democratic congressional candidate Tedra Cobb will be kicking off her campaign for a North Country congressional seat. Chicken Coop Forge, 474 Corinth Road, Queensbury.

At 12:30 pm., Mayor de Blasio will sign legislation. Blue Room, City Hall, New York City.


The last time a governor was leaked information from a closed-door ethics panel’s vote, the inspector general at the time conducted an exhaustive investigation. It may not have been the case 10 years later.

A coalition that includes members of the NAACP, labor leaders and other advocates is calling on Gov. Cuomo and top lawmakers in the Legislature to ensure the new public financing system is a fair one.

A judge in Manhattan has rejected President Trump’s request for a stay in a defamation suit filed by a former Apprentice contestant.

Newsday’s series on discrimination in home buying on Long Island continued, examining how black homeowners can be frozen out.

The race for the 21st congressional district has been thrust into the national spotlight amid Rep. Elise Stefanik’s staunch defense of the president in impeachment hearings.

In the race to replace Republican Rep. Chris Colins in the NY-27, merely being conservative isn’t enough for some Republicans.

A second audit has found New York OPWDD facilities are not properly reporting abuse and neglect.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer insists he’s keeping independent judgement on the impeachment proceedings as they unfold on the other side of the Capitol.

Andrew Yang’s campaign for the presidency is being run by a devoted Buffalo Bills fan.

Since June, the Zero Abuse Project have been holding forums across New York State to provide these answers. On Monday, they were in Saratoga Springs to raise awareness about the Child Victims Act.

Mayors are often on the front lines of state policy being enacted in New York, and increasingly many of them are worried about the cost of implementing new criminal justice law changes.

The MTA’s negligence led to the 2018 ceiling collapse of a subway station, an audit found.

Long Island Democrat Liuba Grechen Shirley will not make a second run for Republican Peter King’s House seat as she as her third child.

Syracuse University continues to make news after a string of racial and bias incidents, and as some students continue protesting in the Barnes Center, others say they fear for their safety.

As mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg vigorously defended stop-and-frisk policing. His apology on Sunday as he runs for president was less than forceful.

But former Gov. David Paterson told The New York Post Bloomberg expressed doubts about the policy while they were both in office.

The current mayor, Bill de Blasio, has his own controversies with policing in New York, and is dismissing Bloomberg’s apology.

Federal elections regulators are warning Mayor de Blasio over irregularities in his presidential fundraising.

Women working in the de Blasio administration make at least 4.5 percent less than men on average, and the pay gap increases at the highest levels.

First Lady Chirlane McCray in remarks on Monday opened up about her own mental health challenges.

Roughly 8,000 school bus drivers and workers are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill guaranteeing their wages and ensuring they get hired first as the most experienced workers on bus routes. The bill passed both houses of the New York state legislature earlier this year.

The NYPD and members of the New York City Council are sparring over the policy surrounding new body cameras.

Just more than 12 hours after returning from a week-long trip to the Vatican with other bishops from across the state, Bishop Richard Malone released a video statement in which he says the Pope understands the “difficulties and distress we here in Buffalo, and I personally, have been experiencing.”

A Brighton family’s loss could prompt nationwide changes in the way drug companies package opioid-based pills.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer was at Depew High School on Monday, renewing his call for a federal ban on flavored e-cigarettes.

Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard is defending his decision not to apply for state Medically Assisted Treatment, or MAT, funding.

An Onondaga County legislator is facing a criminal mischief charge.

Businesses surveyed by Unshackle Upstate reported the main concerns for them heading into the 2020 legislative session are, in a way, evergreen ones: taxes, mandates, and state spending.

The University of Rochester Medical Center announced plans to build an Orthopaedics & Physical Performance Center in the former Sears building. Officials said it would be 330,000 square feet—marking the largest offsite building in the university’s history.

Protestors flocked to Dover, calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to shut down the Cricket Valley power plant.

Staffers at the New York City Council are officially launching an effort to unionize.

Fast-food chain Chick-fil-A will end donations to charities that are opposed by the LGBTQ community.

In national news:

Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman is set to testify at the House impeachment hearings, a star witness for Democrats in the inquiry.

An attorney for House Democrats says the impeachment investigation is reviewing if the president lied to former special counsel Robert Mueller.

Democrats on the presidential campaign are largely avoiding the issue of impeachment, sticking instead to policy.

A whistleblower at the Internal Revenue Service met with staff in the U.S. Senate amid concerns Treasury officials mishandled the president’s tax returns.

President Trump’s visit to Walter Reed is being downplayed by the White House as routine.

In a shift, the Trump administration says Israeli settlements on the West Bank are not illegal.

In Georgia, Democrats there are working to flip the seat to blue, a task that’s easier to predict than to actually make happen.

From the editorial pages:

Newsday is apologizing for its cheerleading of Levittown’s construction amid the paper’s major investigation of housing discrimination on Long Island.

Chris Churchill in the Times Union charts the rise of Rep. Elise Stefanik and whether her embrace of the president will hurt her.

The New York Post writes the non-profit run by the Rev. Al Sharpton deserves the same kind of scrutiny President Trump’s foundation received.

The Daily News urged lawmakers to take a second look at bail law changes amid the release of previously detained people.

From the sports pages:

The Knicks defeated the Cavs, 123 to 105.

Derek Jeter is among the Yankees on the next Hall of Fame ballot.

Stewart-Cousins Says Money For Criminal Justice Reforms Taken ‘Under Advisement’

Local governments seeking more money to enact and implement a package of criminal justice law changes should not be standing by their mailbox waiting for the check to arrive.

Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins on Monday in a radio interview indicated the concerns raised by local prosecutors, Attorney General Letitia James and, just today, mayors meeting in Albany, will be taken “under advisement.”

“I think we are taking a look and we will continue to monitor the money. Obviously we’re going into the budget,” she said in an interview with WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom.

She added, “I don’t think that’s what we’re doing right now, but as I said our conference has been one that’s committed to looking at issues holistically and solving them.”

Local officials over the last several weeks have urged state lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to include more funding for the implementation of ending cash bail for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies as well as discovery law changes that require expedited access to evidence.

Republican lawmakers in the state Senate have called for the changes, set to take effect at the start of the new year, to be delayed until more money can be approved.

The Cuomo administration, meanwhile, has said funding is available through a reduction in the number of people in county jails and the closure of the Internet sales tax loophole.

“There is no question resources are available for the implementation of these critical reforms as the State invests more than $300 million to support them and local governments will recognize hundreds of millions of dollars in annual savings from a declining inmate population,” said Freeman Klopott a spokesman, for the Division of Budget.

Stewart-Cousins, meanwhile, said the changes were necessary to avoid people languishing in jails like Rikers Island.

“I think the criminal justice reform is long overdue. We’re trying to fix a broken system,” she said in the interview.

“We’re trying to bring justice. Obviously we want justice to be served to victims of crime, but also we want to have a just system for people who are accused of a crime to have a speedy trial, to know what they’re being charged with and have an opportunity to defend themselves as well.”

NY-17: Buchwald Nets Dozens Of Local Endorsements

Democratic congressional candidate David Buchwald over the weekend received the endorsements of 41 local-level officials in his bid to replace outgoing Rep. Nita Lowey in the House of Representatives.

Buchwald’s endorsements come amid an increasingly crowded field for the Democratic nomination in the suburban 17th congressional district. The nods came from officials in Westchester and Rockland counties, including mayors and twon supervisors.

“I fully support David Buchwald as he runs for Congress,” said Mount Kisco Deputy Mayor Jean Farber. “Throughout his years serving our community, he has fought for our values and stood for greater government transparency and accountability. When it comes to gun violence and climate change, we need leaders who will take action – that’s David.”

Buchwald, a member of the state Assembly, is facing Sen. David Carlucci, former NARAL Pro-Choice America Chairwoman Allison Fine, former Obama administration official Mondaire Jones, and just today Evelyn Farkas, a former Department of Defense official.

“I am proud to have the support of such an overwhelming group of respected leaders across the district as I run for Congress,” Buchwald said.

“I believe that working together is critical to making change happen, and I’ve worked hard throughout my career to build relationships across Westchester and Rockland. From climate change solutions to healthcare access to lowering our taxes by fighting to reinstate our SALT deductions, I am committed to delivering for our communities in Congress.”

Pension Fund Grew At A Largely Flat Rate In Q2

The state pension fund in the second quarter posted a modest 1.16 percent rate of return in the second quarter of the state’s fiscal year, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli on Monday announced.

The pension fund is now valued at $215 billion and paid out $3.23 billion during the quarter. It’s value at the end of the 2018-19 fiscal year was $210.5 billion.

In a statement, DiNapoli pointed to market uncertainty and a conservative approach in investing.

“Continued market volatilely supports our conservative approach to long term investing, which recently included lowering our assumed rate of return to 6.8 percent,” DiNapoli said. “The Fund remains strong, diversified and well-positioned to weather the ups and downs that have become standard in the past several months and are expected to continue.”

The pension’s assets included 38 percent in publicly traded domestic equities and 15.2 percent in international public equities. The rest was divided among cash, bonds, mortgages, private equity and real estate.