New York Officials Blast ‘Public Charge’ Rule Change

From the Morning Memo:

A rule change by President Trump’s administration that would deny green cards to immigrants receiving public benefits is being protested by New York officials and labor groups.

The rule change, set to take effect in two months, would deny green cards to immigrants who receive forms of public assistance, including Medicaid, food stamps and housing vouchers.

In government parlance it’s known as a “public charge.”

Federal officials say the move is meant to encourage self-sufficiency among the country’s migrant population. But advocates say it will restrict legal immigration and could result in fewer people seeking health care services.

“The public charge rule that the Trump administration released today assaults the ability of taxpaying, legal immigrants to protect their health and feed their children by punishing them for accessing the most basic benefits needed to survive,” said Kyle Bragg, the president of the labor union 32BJ.

“If this final rule becomes law in 60 days, it could force new American families to forego healthcare, go hungry, or become homeless in order to secure a future in America for themselves or their families.”

New York Attorney General Letitia James vowed to file a legal challenge against the move.

“President Trump’s new public charge rule is yet one more example of his Administration turning its back on people fighting to make a better life for them and their families,” she said.

“Under this rule, children will go hungry; families will go without medical care. I am committed to defending all of New York’s communities, which is why I intend to sue the Trump Administration over this egregious rule.”

Schumer Wants Money For Election Security

From the Morning Memo:

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Monday in an Albany suburb pushed for money to be steered toward election security ahead of the 2020 presidential vote.

Schumer at a news conference outside of an election security firm in East Greenbush pointed to the interference by Russia in the 2016 presidential election and the threats faced by other hostile powers.

“They want to interfere in our elections so people don’t trust them any longer,” Schumer said. “If people don’t trust the freeness, fairness and preciseness of our elections, this could be real trouble for our democracy.”

Schumer is pushing legislation that would spend up to $1 billon on bolstering ballot security, providing aid to state and local boards of election for upgrading software and paper ballot backups.

“We need to make sure there are significant resources at the state and local boards of elections to deal with that threat,” he said.

New York election officials have said the state’s own ballot systems are safe. None of the machines New Yorkers use to vote are connected to the internet and the decentralized nature of the state’s voting makes it more difficult to hack.

Jacobs Sees Good Signs In NY-27 Poll

From the Morning Memo:

A poll released last week had current state Senator Chris Jacobs trailing incumbent Chris Collins Ina potential Republican primary for New York’s 27th District.

More likely primary voters also said they preferred recent Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia than Jacobs should Collins end up not running. But for the candidate who was the first to announce and has raised the most money, sitting in second ain’t bad.

“I take a lot of good things out of this poll, that we are beginning in a good place. We’re starting to get momentum and I’m very happy and we’re walking away from this poll encouraged,” Jacobs said.

He said he was not surprised at all that Collins fared well in the poll despite the fact the congressman still faces federal insider trading charges.

“Obviously Chris is the incumbent, has been around and served the district but I think that as I’ve said, in the past he’s done some very good things but unfortunately right now, due to his arrest and indictment, I just don’t think he can effectively represent this district,” Jacobs said. “He can’t serve on committees and I think the 27th District deserves that.”

As for Bellavia, Jacobs said he has great respect for the veteran. However, right now he doesn’t expect him to run.

“He has said he’s not interested,” he said. “I take him at his word. Certainly, he has every right later on to re-evaluate and if he does that, I certainly will too.”

The Republican also said he wasn’t surprised Democrat Nate McMurray, the 2018 challenger, announced he’s running again in 2020. He pointed out McMurray narrowly came within defeating Collins last year.

“I think it’s very important to hold this district in Republican hands to support President Trump,” Jacobs said. “The only way that this will flip is if Chris Collins is in the race because he will likely lose in the general election.”

He said the state’s reddest district will not be vulnerable as long as any GOP candidate besides Collins gets the nomination.

 

Here And Now

Good morning and happy Tuesday!

Happening today:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is yet to release a public schedule. Mayor Bill de Blasio is in New York City and has nothing public planned.

At 10 a.m., Activists will release a new report showing how several prominent Wall Street funds continue to exploit Puerto Rico’s debt crisis after Ricardo Rosselló’s ouster from power. 300 Park Avenue, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will deliver remarks at the Safe Horizon press conference to bring awareness to the Child Victims Act. W 47th Street and Broadway, New York City.

At 10:40 a.m., Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will bike from downtown Brooklyn to lower Manhattan with cyclist advocates tomorrow morning, then will hold a press conference on street safety after another cyclist was killed Sunday. 1 Centre Street South Entrance, New York City.

At 11:45 a.m., Hochul will highlight workforce development in tech at the Future Ready Labor Internship. Accenture Midtown. 1345 Avenue of the Americas. New York City.

At 12:30 p.m., Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie will join Assemblyman Patrick Burke on a tour of New Era Field, Front Gate, 1 Bills Drive, Orchard Park (the event in closed press).

At 1:30 p.m., Heastie will a media availability. Front Gate New Era Field, 1 Bills Drive, Orchard Park.

At 2 p.m., Heastie will have a tour of Lackawanna City Hall, 714 Ridge Road, Lackawanna.

At 2:30 p.m., Heastie will visit the Blackthorn Restaurant & Pub, 2134 Seneca Street, Buffalo.

Headlines:

The apparent suicide of Jeffrey Epstein at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in lower Manhattan on Saturday is placing the troubled lockup in the national spotlight.

Epstein reportedly died by suicide using a bed sheet that was available in his cell.

The FBI searched the island Epstein owned as part of a post-death investigation.

An overarching question after Epstein’s death is what becomes of his shadowy fortune. Some of his victims are likely to sue to gain some form of compensation from the estate.

Reps. Jerry Nadler and Chris Collins are launching a bipartisan investigation into Epstein’s death at the Manhattan federal jail.

Epstein, who was accused of running a sex trafficking ring composed of girls, viewed sex with teenage girls as a “cultural aberration.”

More prominent people are suggesting Epstein didn’t act alone in his own death.

CNN anchor and brother of Gov. Andrew Cuomo was caught on video flying into a rage after a man called him “Fredo.”

The Trump administration announced Monday it was moving forward with one of its most aggressive steps yet to restrict legal immigration: Denying green cards to many migrants who use Medicaid, food stamps, housing vouchers, or other forms of public assistance.

Public Health Solutions, located on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, with a second location on Flatbush Avenue, has taken steps to shut its doors next month after losing federal funding to provide abortion and other family planning services.

Around 7 a.m., the new NYCHA administrator arrived at headquarters to start his new gig as the new chair of the city’s scandal-plagued housing authority.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ate, played and stumped his way through the Iowa State Fair — a rite of passage for any presidential candidate.

New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson is not sold a proposal that would mandate paid vacation time, saying it could be a small business killer.

Black and Latino New Yorkers continue to compose the vast majority of fare evasion arrests, according to a new report.

The FDNY says it has suffered a possible data breach and more than 10,000 people may be affected.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer took a swing through upstate New York to urge financial support for the burgeoning hemp industry.

An internal review found a police sergeant in Troy lied about the circumstances surrounding a fatal shooting in 2016.

New York health insurance premiums are set to grow in 2020 and insurers are blaming rising costs as well as the return of a federal tax for higher premiums.

Attorney General Letitia James is calling for the dismissal of a lawsuit by President Donald Trump challenging the state law that allows Congress to access his state tax returns.

A sexual harassment lawsuit filed a former legislative aide against former Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak and the state has been settled for $125,000.

Gov. Cuomo’s plan to “reimagine” the state canal system is causing some wariness in western New York.

The conversation surrounding affordable health care continues in the Capital Region as a few people today had the chance to sit down with Rep. Paul Tonko to discuss solutions and improvements to the system.

Regional leaders in Lockport have big plans for $10 million in funding the state awarded it late last year.

Environmentalists in Binghamton are raising concerns about the possibility of gel-fracking in New York State.

A mechanical aquatic weed harvester is stirring up controversy on Honeoye Lake. Residents lined up about nine boats on Monday to prevent the weed harvester from being used. The machine clears vegetation in the lake that hinder residents and their boats — worried that it can stir up sediment and other debris.

New Progressive Cathedral Church of God in Christ is celebrating 100 years as a church family in Western New York.

Law firms across the country have been preparing to file lawsuits on behalf of childhood sexual abuse victims. As part of the Child Victims Act, a one-year period opens Wednesday for the victims to sue individuals, organizations or institutions like churches and schools.

The cost of taking a showering and watering your lawn on Long Island can swing wildly by water district, a report found.

Who keeps a half million dollars worth of jewelry in a rental car? Alex Rodriquez, that’s who.

A Secret Service officer reportedly shot his own finger off in a Manhattan hotel.

In national news:

President Trump’s public policies and rhetoric — on issues like race and even plastic straws — appears driven toward amping up his base ahead of the 2020 election.

The Trump administration moved to weaken protections for endangered species.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders is making Medicare-for-all a centerpiece of his presidential campaign.

The video game industry is in the crosshairs of the White House after the suspect in the mass shooting in El Paso, Texas made reference to the game Call of Duty in his manifesto.

Thousands of Central American migrants seeking asylum continue to arrive at the Southern Border of the United States, with many of them fleeing from the Northern Triangle nations of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

With consumers nationwide receiving tens of billions of robocalls each year, lawmakers on Capitol Hill are considering legislation aimed at tackling the spam call problem.

U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton said America would gladly welcome a “no deal” Brexit.

Republicans in Texas are increasingly bracing for Democratic gains in 2020.

From the editorial pages:

The New York Post writes the scrutiny is on for the new boss at the New York City Housing Authority.

The Post also took the de Blasio administration to task over failing to listen to pubic input on women’s statues.

The Times Union writes that raids on businesses that employ immigrants as well as workplace changes by the federal government are a form of cruelty.

Newsday says the questions surrounding the death of Jeffrey Epstein deserve answers.

From the sports pages:

Simon Biles is arguably the most successful athlete of the decade, earning her sixth all-around title.

Gleyber Torres of the Yankees has utterly humiliated the Baltimore Orioles this season.

Extras

New numbers show nearly 90 percent of the city’s public housing units lost heat and hot water last winter.

Law firms across the country have been preparing for what could be hundreds of lawsuits on behalf of victims.

Sen. Chris Jacobs is undeterred that a recent poll showed him trailing Rep. Chris Collins and said his campaign is doing well, especially because he only announced he was running a few months ago.

An off-duty NYPD officer and another person are dead after a fiery crash in Manhattan over the weekend.

A teenage driver could face charges after a chain reaction car crash that killed a bicyclist in Brooklyn over the weekend.

As the investigation into billionaire and accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein continues, local survivors of sex trafficking say justice still must be served for his victims.

More than two dozen local and statewide business groups on Monday will urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a letter to sign a pair of bills meant to spur regulatory relief in New York.

Sunday evening, the Syracuse community gathered outside the city’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement office to voice their displeasure with the current immigration system. The gathering included prayer and song to stand with individuals at the U.S.-Mexico border.

A stalled provision of the SAFE Act that would create a database of ammunition purchases is a “complicated issue” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a radio interview late last week.

Schumer Says He’s Hopeful FBI Will Get To Bottom Of Epstein Case

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer on Monday said he has “a lot of faith” in the leadership of the FBI to investigate the death of Jeffrey Epstein, the wealthy financier accused of running a child sex trafficking ring who is alleged to have died by suicide in a federal jail over the weekend.

“I have a lot of faith in Christopher Wray, who is the director of the FBI,” Schumer said during an unrelated press conference in the Albany suburb of East Greenbush. “They are doing a thorough investigation. All I would say is they should turn over every stone and get to the bottom of everything without any interference. Wray assures us that will happen.”

Epstein died while in the custody of the Manhattan Correctional Center, a federal facility, just days after he was found unconscious in his cell. He had been placed on suicide watch, but was reportedly taken off it days before he died.

Epstein was connected to a variety of wealthy and powerful people, including former President Bill Clinton, President Donald Trump and Prince Andrew. His death has sparked conspiracy theories, but Schumer would not speculate on the questions raised by Epstein’s death.

“You do have questions, but I think there are all kinds of conspiracy theories floating around, I’d prefer to wait for Director Wray to come out with his report,” he said.

James Says New York Should Defend Census Count Against Alabama Challenge

New York should lead a legal defense of the U.S. Census counting non citizens in its upcoming count of the population next year, Attorney General Letitia James said on Monday.

The counting of non-citizens residing in the United States was challenged last May by the state of Alabama and a congressman from the state. The defendant in the case is formally the U.S. Department of Commerce, but New York is moving to intervene in the case.

New York is intervening under the pretense that President Donald Trump’s administration will not muster an adequate defense of the Census. Trump withdrew an effort to require a citizenship question on the Census, which advocates worried could lead to an undercount.

The state will lead a 26-member coalition that includes 15 states, the District of Columbia, three counties, six cities and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

“No individual ceases to be a person because they lack documentation,” James said in a statement.

“The United States Constitution is crystal clear that every person residing in this country at the time of the decennial census — regardless of legal status — must be counted, and no matter what President Trump says, or Alabama does, that fact will never change. So we are intervening in this case and taking on the role of defendant because the values enshrined in the U.S. Constitution deserve better than a halfhearted and inadequate defense. We will continue to lead this fight because, despite the Trump Administration’s previous racist and xenophobic attempts to tip the balance of power in the nation and Alabama’s endeavor to continue down that path, we will never stop fighting to ensure every person counts.”

Cuomo Signs Sweeping Sexual Harassment Legislation

A bill that makes sweeping changes to the state’s sexual harassment laws was approved on Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The centerpiece of the legislation is a narrowed definition of sexual harassment in the workplace, replacing the “severe or pervasive” standard that advocates and lawmakers have argued is too broad and does not cover a range of conduct.

The legislation largely came about through the advocacy of a group of former state government staffers who are victims and survivors of sexual assault, abuse and harassment themselves. The Sexual Harassment Working Group this year successfully pushed for a series of public hearings on the issue, which also came amid a societal reckoning surrounding sexual misconduct.

“There has been an ongoing, persistent culture of sexual harassment, assault and discrimination in the workplace, and now it is time to act,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“By ending the absurd legal standard that sexual harassment in the workplace needs to be ‘severe or pervasive’ and making it easier for workplace sexual harassment claims to be brought forward, we are sending a strong message that time is up on sexual harassment in the workplace and setting the standard of equality for women.”

The new law also includes provisions that require non-disclosure agreements in employment contracts include language that allow workers to still file a harassment or discrimination complaint with a government agency and testify in a government investigation.

At the same time, the measure bars the use of mandatory arbitration to resolve discrimination and harassment cases in the workplace and sets in motion a study to build on recent sexual harassment prevention measures.

“No one should have to endure sexual harassment or mistreatment in the workplace,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “For too long, our state was held back from making real progress in the fight against sexual harassment.”

Adirondack Council Wants To Tackle Overuse Of Trails

The Adirondack Council is backing an effort to tackle overuse of the park’s popular high peaks hiking trails through new planning projects, better funding and a pilot program for permits.

The ideas were discussed at a forum held by the Department of Environmental Conservation amid concerns about the use of the hiking trails in the Adirondacks, including the central portion of the High Peaks Wilderness Area.

“Clear consensus emerged on the need for a comprehensive plan, the money to carry out the plan and a pilot program for permits,” said Julia Goren, Adirondack Vision Project Director for the Adirondack Council.

“A comprehensive plan is needed to address each of the challenges, goals, and strategies in a holistic manner. Planning was identified as a vital need in every topic discussed. Planning takes money, which was also at the top of stakeholder requests. Money has been in short supply for trail improvements or even basic maintenance. By far, the most popular single tool identified by the participants was a pilot program for permits.”

The state in recent years has sought to bring more tourists and travel to the Adirondack Park, promoting upstate attractions like the mountains in an advertising campaign. But the influx of hikers and tourists to the region have also led to overuse of the trails.

It’s a balance, however, for a region that is among the poorest and oldest in the state, and depends heavily on tourism, as well as the use of natural resources.

The Adirondack Council most recently found 130 miles of high peak trails that are in need of maintenance and reconstruction.

Cuomo Calls Ammo Database A ‘Complicated Issue’

From the Morning Memo:

A stalled provision of the SAFE Act that would create a database of ammunition purchases is a “complicated issue” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a radio interview late last week.

The database has been put on hold since 2015 through a two-way memorandum of understanding reached by Cuomo and Senate Republicans, who held majority control of the chamber at the time.

Democratic Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins last week called on the governor’s administration to follow through with the creation of the database as Cuomo has pushed a four-point national platform for gun control that includes a ban on assault-style weapons, expanded background checks and a mental health database as well as a red-flag law.

But Cuomo, speaking with NPR, said both legal and technological issues remain. And he challenged lawmakers to develop their own ideas.

“To stop ammunition purchases, it’s not just in a gun store or at a gun show, it’s also the internet because if you do background checks when people go to buy ammunition at a gun store then Joe just opened up an internet web, internet sale and everybody can buy, which many people do now, buy it over the internet,” Cuomo said.

“So it raised legal issues and technological issues. If anyone in the Legislature has a better way to do it, I haven’t seen the bill and that’s normally how they communicate. But if they have a better proposal and they have a Legislative proposal, I would love to see it.”

Cuomo last week urged Democratic candidates for president to make gun control a central focus of the presidential campaign after two mass shootings this month less than 24 hours apart killed dozens in Ohio and Texas.