Challenger Calls On Erie County Executive To Reimburse Taxpayers For Security Detail

Democratic Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz has had a visible security detail with him at public events since late-March.

His Republican-endorsed opponent Lynne Dixon is calling into question the use of that detail over Independence Day weekend. Dixon said on July 3 and 4, Poloncarz campaigned while walking in six parades in Western New York.

At each of those events, she said he had the taxpayer funded detail and in at least one parade, a county vehicle. Dixon said her opponent’s recent campaign finance report showed no reimbursement to the county for the resources.

“This is an abuse of taxpayer dollars and an abuse of his position as County Executive. These things aren’t his own personal perk as County Executive that he can use however he wants,” she said. “I’m calling on the County Executive to reimburse county taxpayers for the cost incurred to them on July 3rd and July 4th, when he misused county personnel and a county vehicle to benefit his campaign.”

Dixon complained there has been no details about the status of any investigation, which led to law enforcement providing the detail. She said if there is a credible threat to Poloncarz’s safety, than it could be dangerous to others as well.

The candidate called on the county executive and Erie County Sheriff Tim Howard to answer questions on the matter. A spokesperson for Howard declined to comment on whether the Poloncarz campaign should reimburse the county.

“Law enforcement agencies did deem credible threats, hence the security detail,” ECSO Public Information Officer Scott Zylka said.

County spokesperson Pete Anderson said Zylka’s recognition of the threat answered Dixon’s questions. He did not address the issue of reimbursement.

Erie County Republican Board of Elections Commissioner Ralph Mohr said under New York State Election law, any use of government resources for a campaign should be reported and reimbursed. He said it could not be reported as an in kind contribution because government entities are not allowed to contribute to campaigns.

However, he said without knowing more information, he could not say for sure whether the security detail was technically in aid of the campaign. Mohr said that ruling would be up to the state Board of Elections.

We’ve reached out to the state BOE for more details.

New York, New Jersey And Connecticut Sue To Protect SALT Workaround

Three of the states affected by the federal government’s $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions have filed a lawsuit in federal court to protect a workaround for taxpayers.

The lawsuit filed by New York, New Jersey and Connecticut comes after Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other governors from high-tax states have railed against the limit, part of a federal tax law overhaul.

The timing of the lawsuit was triggered by the Internal Revenue Service blocked the ability of states to create charitable vehicles for taxpayers to pay local taxes to and avoid the $10,000 cap.

In a statement, Cuomo called the IRS determination “entirely unacceptable.”

“Today we are filing an additional lawsuit with New Jersey and Connecticut in the Southern District of New York challenging the IRS’s final rule that undermines states’ efforts to protect our taxpayers against the unprecedented, unlawful and politically motivated capping of the SALT deduction,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“The final IRS rule flies in the face of a century of federal tax law that says state choices to provide tax incentives for charitable donations do not affect the federal deductibility of those gifts. It will—for the first time and solely in the name of retribution—require taxpayers to subtract the value of state or local tax credits from their federal charitable deduction.”

Reed Open To Considering Support For “Red Light Act”

From The Morning Memo:

New York lawmakers and the governor expected legal objections to the state’s new Green Light law from President Donald Trump’s administration.

There appears to be some congressional pushback to the law which grants driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, as well. Legislation introduced by Rep. Chris Collins to withhold federal highway funding from states that allow the driver’s licenses could have support from another New York Republican, although he wouldn’t make a formal commitment.

“I’ve seen what Chris Collins is discussing,” Congressman Tom Reed said. “I’ve talked to him on the floor in regards to it and we’ll see because I didn’t see the final text.”

Reed said he would be “very open to considering supporting” Collins’s Red Light Act because he is opposed to the Green Light Bill.

“I am opposed to the giving of licenses to illegal immigrants,” he said. “I think that is part of an extreme agenda that doesn’t get to the issue at hand and could lead to more danger on our roads to be perfectly honest with you.”

Reed will probably not get a chance to officially support the legislation. With a Democratic congress, it seems unlikely the bill will even reach the floor for a vote.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s spokesman Jason Conwall said it is “nothing more than political grandstanding” from Collins “who’s been indicted on felony charges” and knows the bill has no chance of passing.

Debate Over House Resolution Condemning Trump Turns Bitter

From the Morning Memo:

A resolution condemning President Donald Trump’s posts on Twitter criticizing freshman members of the House of Representatives were condemned as racist by the Democratic-led chamber on Tuesday.

But the vote, largely on party lines save for four Republicans, largely devolved into a partisan squabble over rules amid a bitter political dispute over the direction of the country.

Several New York Republicans have criticized Trump’s remarks as “wrong” and inappropriate after he told the four lawmakers — all of whom are of color and American citizens — to “go back” to their countries of origin. Only one of the four is an immigrant, and she became a naturalized citizen more than a decade ago.

But on Tuesday, none of the GOP lawmakers from New York backed the resolution, which condemned Trump’s remarks as racist.

“Today’s flawed resolution is nothing more than the Democrat leadership kowtowing to their most radical members,” said Onondaga County Republican Chairman Tom Dadey.

“Congress has serious issues that must be dealt with which include securing our borders and fixing our immigration laws. I applaud Congressman John Katko for recognizing this political grandstanding by the Congressional Democrats and voting ‘no’.”

Democratic Rep. Grace Meng of Queens saw it differently.

“President Trump’s comments are racist and his vile rants on Twitter are beyond the pale, and show his callous disregard for the office he holds. He has not apologized, shown any remorse, and doubled down on his disgusting remarks,” she said.

“As an American, I am appalled by the President’s actions these past few days and the weak responses by my colleagues on the other side of the aisle. We can disagree with each other, but to tell someone to ‘go back’ is morally reprehensible. Today, our message is clear: Mr. President, shame on you.”

Here And Now

Good morning and happy Wednesday! It’s almost the end of the week. We’re almost there.

It’s going to be hot, steamy and rainy today.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City and Albany today.

Happening today:

At 8 a.m., New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will appear on Democracy Now!

At 9:25 a.m., Mayor de Blasio will appear live on HOT 97.

At 10 a.m., Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will represent New York at the National Lieutenant Governor’s Association’s annual meeting, Hotel DuPont, 42 W. 11th St., Wilmington, DE.

At 10:30 a.m., Gov. Cuomo will make an announcement, 4 New York Plaza, New York City.

At 11 a.m., Mayor de Blasio will hold a news conference on the extreme heat, New York City Emergency Management, 165 Cadman Plaza E, Brooklyn.

Also at 11 a.m., Riders, advocates and elected officials will rally for an MTA capital plan, Pershing Square Plaza in front of Grand Central Terminal E, New York City.

At noon, Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia will deliver remarks at the NYSED Early Learning Summer Institute, 432 Western Ave., Albany.

At 4 p.m., Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will speak at the We Are Eric Garner Rally, Foley Square, New York City.

At 6 p.m., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer will hold a public hearing on the East Coastal Resilience project, Mt. Sinai Beth Israel’s Pavilion, 10 Nathan D. Perlman Place, New York City.

At 8 p.m., Bronx Democrats will hold their county dinner, 1 Marina Drive, the Bronx.

Headlines:

After a day full of partisan bickering, the House of Representatives condemned the president for making racist remarks against four of its members.

A new study from a Queens College professor found housing policy has further segregated communities.

Mayor Bill de Blasio is adding additional staff to his presidential campaign. The move comes after what he called a successful fundraising effort.

Although he’s not up for re-election until 2022, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is continuing to rake in big money after spending more than $25 million last year to defeat progressive challenger Cynthia Nixon in a primary and Republican Marc Molinaro in the general election.

The fundraising comes as a commission is considering a radical alteration of how campaign money is raised and spent in New York

Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Staten Island Council Member Debi Rose joined Errol Louis to weigh in on the Justice Department’s decision not to file charges in the Eric Garner case and the growing calls for Mayor de Blasio to fire Officer Daniel Pantaleo.

When it comes to the sanctuary city debate, many residents in Troy have an opinion. But soon residents could have not only a voice, but also a vote on this issue.

Legislation to temporarily halt schools from purchasing or implementing biometric security technology, like facial recognition software, overwhelmingly passed the state Assembly this legislative session, but it’s not expected to become law.

The legal age to purchase tobacco and e-cigarettes in New York will soon be raised from 18 to 21 as Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the measure on Tuesday into law.

The town of Vernon Planning Board has denied the appeal of Woodstock 50 to host the festival at Vernon Downs.

Middletown Mayor Joseph DeStefano confirms ICE agents were in Middletown Monday. He says the federal agency notified police they were looking for an individual who was not wanted on a criminal or judicial warrant.

It’s a vital highway that links the north to the south, from Canada to Tenessee. But the current plan to rebuild Interstate-81 isn’t sitting well with local leaders.

Oneida Shores Beach is now closed to swimming due to high levels of E. coli, according to the Onondaga County Department of Health.

The death of the toddler at the University Avenue Tim Hortons is raising a lot questions about the relatively unsecured nature of the grease trap.

If you’ve ever had a boot put on your car and didn’t understand why: you’re not alone. Buffalo Common Council members discussed “predatory booting” Tuesday.

The Dean of Science at RPI was 13 years old when Apollo 11 landed on the moon. The historic mission turned Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin into household names.

In national news:

John Paul Stevens, the bow-tied, independent-thinking, Republican-nominated justice who unexpectedly emerged as the Supreme Court’s leading liberal, died Tuesday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, after suffering a stroke Monday. He was 99.

Facebook’s cryptocurrency was pitched to federal government regulators, who are taking an increased interest in the social media giant’s plans, stunned they were not preparing more to combat laundering.

Newly released federal data shows the scale of the opioid addiction crisis and how U.S. drug companies flooded the market.

President Trump’s comments criticizing members of Congress and telling them to “go back” could be used against him in court challenges.

President Trump’s battles with “the squad” and efforts to link them to Democrats is being seen as setting the tone for the 2020 election.

Republican officeholders have very little wiggle room: Back Trump or face his wrath.

Planned Parenthood has ousted its president amid a disagreement over the future direction of the group as the abortion debate moves to statehouses around the country.

Iran has rejected the prospect raised by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo it is wiling to negotiate over its missile program.

Twenty Democratic candidates will appear on stage the party’s CNN debate in Detroit.

From the editorial pages:

The New York Times calls for the firing of Daniel Pantaleo, the NYPD officer who will not face federal charges in the death of Eric Garner.

The New York Post says federal prosecutors were right not to charge Pantaleo in the case, a decision the editorial board believes should have been reached years ago.

The Daily News takes issue with the NYPD’s “endless blackbox” disciplinary process that has delayed the resolution of the Garner case.

The Times Union writes Congress should “stand firm” on efforts to ban PFAS from firefighting chemicals on military bases.

From the sports pages:

The Mets edged the Twins, 3-2.

The Yanks beat the Rays, 8-3, thanks to some timely homers.

Extras

No federal charges will be brought against the NYPD officer accused of killing Eric Garner. The family of the Staten Island man had been pushing for charges before the statute of limitations expires on Wednesday.

The CitiBike program in New York is about to undergo a major expansion in the next coming years, sources tell NY1.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is letting riders down when it comes to escalators at the Second Avenue subway stations.

Rivers Casino has officially opened its new sportsbook and taken the first legal bet in New York.

Albany residents will have the chance to ask questions about the potential use of the police department’s new drone technology at a meeting Tuesday night.

Sentencing hearings for Cult leader Keith Raniere, and high ranking members Allison Mack, and Lauren Salzman are delayed to allow the probation department more time to prepare pre-sentencing reports.

From the courtroom to the capital, Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell is making a run for Congress. The Republican hopes to challenge Congressman Anthony Brindisi in next year’s election.

Oneida Shores Beach is now closed to swimming due to high levels of E. coli, according to the Onondaga County Department of Health.

In response to New York’s new “Green Light Law,” Republican Congressman Chris Collins is proposing the “Red Light Act.”

Rep. Reed Disagrees With Trump’s Tweets But Doesn’t Believe He’s A Racist

Southern Tier Republican Rep. Tom Reed spent most of a Tuesday conference call with reporters discussing his feelings on President Donald Trump’s inflammatory tweets over the weekend.

“I don’t agree with the tweet,” he said. “I think the sentiment can be interpreted, rightfully, as offensive and I think it was inappropriate.”

On Sunday, Trump posted a series of tweets, directed at four progressive freshman congresswomen, including New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Democrats have widely panned the statements as racist and criticized Republicans for failing to condemn them.

Reed’s office previously sent a statement to some media outlets – although Spectrum News and others on the call had not received it – opposing the “form” but not the substance of the president’s message. When we asked specifically what he disagreed with, he elaborated.

“Obviously the reference to going back to the country that you came from, I can understand how that can be interpreted the way that it’s being interpreted,” Reed said.

As for criticism he or other members of the GOP did not respond quickly or strongly enough, he said there’s not much he can do.

“You’re never going to pacify that voice that raises that objection,” Reed said. “I’ve had people argue that I need to be more passionate with my objections and that the voice isn’t loud enough in regards to our objection and so I don’t know how to do that in regards to my style.”

The congressman indicated he did raise his concerns about the tweets directly with the administration. At the same time, he defended the president with whom he said he’s developed a relationship.

“I am confident in telling you that I do not believe that he is a racist. I have seen firsthand his heart and I will tell you I think that heart is not that one of a racist,” Reed said.

He reiterated, he does not agree with the “extremist agenda” of the Democratic congresswomen and believes their ideology is not good for the long-term well-being of the country. He said he doesn’t support a House resolution condemning the tweets, which was expected to come for a vote Tuesday night,

Cuomo Signs Bill Raising Tobacco And E-Cig Buying Age To 21

The state’s tobacco and e-cigarette will soon be raised from 18 to 21 as Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the measure on Tuesday into law.

The measure will take effect in four months. It matches what counties around the state have done: Raising the minimum age for buying tobacco, cigarettes, e-cigarettes and other tobacco-related products to match the minimum age for buying alcohol.

College campuses have in recent years stopped selling cigarettes and banned smoking.

“New York is taking aggressive action to stamp out smoking among teens and children, but tobacco and e-cigarette use still persists thanks to irresponsible corporate marketing campaigns targeting young people,” Cuomo said.

“By raising the smoking age from 18 to 21, we can stop cigarettes and e-cigarettes from getting into the hands of young people in the first place and prevent an entire generation of New Yorkers from forming costly and potentially deadly addictions.”

The bill’s approval was cheered by health advocates.

“By making 21 the legal sales age to purchase tobacco products, it will drive down youth use rates by eliminating kids’ source of tobacco — their older friends,” said Theresa Petrone Butts, chair of the Capital Region Advisory Board of the American Heart Association.

Cuomo Draws Donors From Real Estate, Banking And Health Care

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s $4.5 million campaign haul over the last six months included donations from prominent figures in the world of real estate, banking and health care in New York, according to a filing made public on Tuesday.

From real estate, Cuomo received $40,000 from Douglas Durst, the CEO of the Durst Corp., $100,000 from real estate magnate Scott Rechler and his wife Deborah and $139,400 from Dan and Sheryl Tishman.

The donations from real estate interests are not wholly surprising, given the debate over extending rent control regulations in New York City this year. Ultimately, state lawmakers approved and Cuomo signed into law a sweeping package of changes broadly seen as strengthening rent control, expanding regulations to upstate communities and tipping them in favor of tenants.

Kenneth Fishman, the founder and chairman of Fisher Investments, gave $62,500.

From health care, the Greater New York Hospital Association President Ken Raske gave $15,000 as did the head of the association’s for-profit arm, Lee Perlman.

Rick Ostroff, of the Albany lobbying and consulting firm Ostroff & Associates, gave $25,000.

Lobbyist and former U.S. Sen. Al D’Amato gave $5,000.

AG James Raises $405K

The re-election campaign of state Attorney General Letitia James in the last six months has raised $405,395, according to a filing on Tuesday made public.

James, who cleared a crowded field of Democrats to win the nomination, defeated Republican Keith Wofford to win her first term.

Her campaign reported spending $117,569 and has $338,919 in cash on hand.

The vast majority of her donors gave less than $1,000 and her largest individual donor was lobbyist Rick Ostroff, who gave $20,000. Labor unions, including those who represent teachers and transport workers, also gave to her re-election campaign: The New York State United Teachers Union’s VOTE COPE gave $10,000, as did the Transport Workers Union Local 100.