NAACP Opposes Prevailing Wage Expansion

From the Morning Memo:

The NAACP New York State Conference will announce Tuesday its opposition to legislation that would expand prevailing wage provisions to private construction projects that receive some public funding in the state.

The group is worried the bill would negatively effect the hiring of minority workers as well as minority and women-owned businesses.

“Advancing this legislation would undermine the State Legislature’s progressive agenda by taking good jobs and opportunities away from workers of color and MWBEs in New York’s construction industry,” said Dr. Hazel N. Dukes, president of the NAACP New York State Conference.

“Any effort to hastily include this bill in the state budget would ignore the needs of thousands of black and brown New Yorkers and disregard the serious concerns raised by civil rights and faith leaders. If the Legislature really cares about progressive policies and protecting jobs in our communities of color, it must halt this bill now.”

Supporters of the legislation, which include building trades labor unions, argue the prevailing wage should be paid on any publicly financed construction project in order to avoiding undermining the cost of locally available labor. The bill under consideration is meant to address court rulings that constricted the interpretation of public works projects.

But the NAACP says the move would unfairly harm workers of color. The group pointed to industry studies that show three-quarters of the workers in “open shops” who live in New York City or black or Hispanic and live in one of the five boroughs.

Here and Now

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

The state Legislature is in session. Less than two weeks remain now until the April 1 budget deadline.

It’s Lobby Day at the state Capitol, and it’s going to be a busy one, with hundreds – if not thousands – of people expected to attend various rallies and events at which special interests, organizations, nonprofits etc. hope to influence state lawmakers and the governor as they work to try to get a budget deal.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio today will meet with Muslim community leaders – an event that is not open to members of the media.

At 9 a.m., state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli speaks at the National Federation Independent Businesses’ Small Business Day, Meeting Room 5, Empire State Plaza, Albany.

Also at 9 a.m., Westchester County Executive George Latimer hosts the second annual Youth Summit, Westchester County Center, 198 Central Ave., White Plains.

Also at 9 a.m., the state Senate Committee on Aging meets, Room 804, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

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

Also at 9:30 a.m., Regent Catherine Collins will deliver opening remarks at the Buffalo Public Schools 2019 Urban Forum, “Cyphers, Circles, and Cerebration: An Out-of-the-Box Pedagogical Experience,” East Community High School, 820 Northampton St., Buffalo.

Also at 9:30 a.m., NYC Councilman Chaim Deutsch holds a rally to call for pay equity for NYPD officers, who currently earn significantly less than peers in other departments, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Public Safety meets, Council chamber, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., the state Senate Judiciary Committee meets, Room 124, state Capitol, Albany.

Also at 10 a.m., the state Senate Committee on Education meets, Room 510, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

Also at 10 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul rallies for Cuomo’s Tax Fairness for the Middle Class Campaign, Crandall Public Library, 251 Glen St., Glens Falls.

At 10:30 a.m., Rep. Carolyn Maloney joins with federal officials to call for an additional $40 million in New York state funding for increased census outreach, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 10:30 a.m., the state Senate Committee on Environmental Conservation meets, Room 307, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

At 11 a.m., the state Senate Committee on Civil Service and Pensions meets, Room 901, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

Also at 11 a.m., the Bring it Home Coalition holds its weekly rally to demand that the governor increase funding for mental health housing programs, outside Cuomo’s office, 2nd Fl., state Capitol, Albany.

At 12:30 p.m., more than 5,000 members of 1199SEIU rally to ensure that cuts to the Medicaid budget will be restored in the final state budget document, Empire State Plaza, Albany. Speakers include: Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, Senate Health Chair Gustavo Rivera, and Assembly Health Chair Dick Gottfried.

At 1 p.m., tenants from across the state demand universal rent control, War Room, 2nd Fl., state Capitol, Albany.

Also at 1 p.m. Hochul announces the opening of the new Albany DMV, 855 Central Ave., Albany.

At 1:30 p.m., the SUNY board of trustees executive session meets, State University Plaza, 353 Broadway, Albany.

At 2:30 p.m., the NYC Council Committee on the Justice System holds its fiscal year 2020 preliminary budget hearing, Council chamber, City Hall, Manhattan.

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

At 3:15 p.m., the de Blasio administration will hold a technical briefing on ThriveNYC’s budget, NYC Office of Management and Budget, 6th Fl., 255 Greenwich St., Manhattan.

At 5 p.m., Queens Borough President Melinda Katz makes remarks at the Queens Chamber of Commerce’s Food and Drink Festival, Hart Lounge, The Egg, 1 Empire State Plaza, Albany.

At 6 p.m., NYC Council members Helen Rosenthal and Mark Levine hold a town hall meeting about congestion pricing, John Jay College, Room L63, 524 W. 59th St., Manhattan.

At 6:15 p.m., Hochul delivers remarks at the Queens Day reception, The Egg, Hart Theater, Empire State Plaza, Albany.

At 7 p.m., de Blasio will deliver remarks at the Greek Independence Day Reception at Gracie Mansion, 88th Street and East End Avenue, Manhattan.


The man accused of carrying out the attack that killed 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, is expected to represent himself in court, but the country’s prime minister said she wants to do everything possible to deny him the attention he craves.

Federal investigators and prosecutors appear to be raising questions about the process that led to the certification of Boeing’s 737 Max jetliners in the aftermath of two deadly crashes.

Purchasing and outfitting two Boeing 747-style jets for the new Air Force One fleet will cost 35 percent more than previously estimated, the Pentagon says in documents reported yesterday.

A grand jury in Washington, D.C., issued a broad subpoena dated March 11 to at least one person involved in the 737 MAX’s development, seeking related documents, including correspondence, emails and other messages.

The University of Southern California said that it had taken action that prevents students who may be associated with an alleged admissions scheme from registering for classes or acquiring transcripts.

Lori Loughlin and Mossimo Giannulli have added some serious new firepower to their legal defense team in the college admissions cheating scandal, hiring Sean Berkowitz, the fraud-busting former federal prosecutor who led the Justice Department’s Enron Task Force.

Canada’s top public servant, accused of improperly pressing the former attorney general to settle a corruption case involving a major corporation, resigned amid a month of political turmoil for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. It was the fourth prominent resignation related to the scandal since last month.

Trump and Deutsche Bank have long been deeply entwined, their symbiotic bond born of necessity and ambition on both sides: a real estate mogul made toxic by polarizing rhetoric and a pattern of defaults, and a bank with intractable financial problems and a history of misconduct.

The National Enquirer paid the brother of Jeff Bezos’ mistress $200,000 for the racy text messages and other dirt used in their story that sunk the billionaire’s marriage.

California Republican Rep. Devin Nunes is suing Twitter and three of its users for $250 million in damages, alleging he was defamed and the social media juggernaut engages in the “shadow-banning” of conservative opinions and selectively enforces its own terms of service to benefit opponents of the GOP.

A federal appeals court is set to hear arguments in a lawsuit that claims Trump is violating the Constitution by accepting profits from foreign and domestic officials through his hotel in Washington.

Two thirds of New Yorkers view Inc.’s decision to scuttle a planned corporate headquarters in Queens as bad for the state, a new Siena poll found.

An active start to this year’s legislative session and a bold progressive agenda for the next three months has a slim majority of voters convinced New York is moving too far to the left under Democratic control of state government, the same poll reports.

Also: 61 percent of voters in the state oppose granting driver’s licenses to immigrants regardless of their immigration status.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the Democratic Party’s response to Rep. Ilhan Omar’s anti-Semitic remarks was “muted” because too many of the party’s officials are fearful of retribution.

Antony Comello, 24, the man accused of killing reputed Gambino family crime boss Francesco Cali on Staten Island last week appeared in criminal court in Ocean County, N.J., and waived extradition back to New York City, where he will face charges, his lawyer said.

Comello once tried to make a citizen’s arrest of NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Comello told detectives that he was high on marijuana and shot the crime figure because he feared for his life.

Cuomo delivered some great news to New Jersey casinos, saying he doesn’t want New York to allow sports betting on mobile devices.

The Cuomo administration has already declared that online sports wagering would be a violation of the state’s constitution. But with state fiscal talks underway and a heavy push on by the sports betting industry to legalize the wagering in New York, the issue still keeps popping up in some quarters of the Capitol.

Fresh off their Child Victims Act success, a group of activists and lawmakers urged passage of what they see as an important next step: Erin’s Law, which mandates schools in grades K-8 spend at least an hour a year teaching the difference between “good touch” and “bad touch” to empower students to recognize sexual abuse.

New York City’s housing development agency has selected a joint venture that includes community organizations to build hundreds of affordable apartments on an undeveloped swath in Brooklyn that had been at the center of an eight-year legal battle over racial and housing discrimination.

More >


The House Judiciary Committee, headed by Manhattan Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler, is planning on hosting a hearing in the coming weeks addressing the rise of white nationalism in the U.S. and the hate crime and hate speech surrounding the movement.

Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen called for the U.S. to take on a “whole of society” approach to combat cyber threats, saying the country “is not prepared” to handle hackers backed by other countries.

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case of a Hawaiian woman who was penalized by the state for refusing to let a lesbian couple stay in her bed and breakfast.

Authorities in the Netherlands arrested two people following a shooting inside a tram in the city of Utrecht that left three people dead.

WarnerMedia said Warner Bros. Chairman and CEO Kevin Tsujihara has been ousted after an investigation into sexual misconduct allegations, saying this move was in the “best interest” of the company.

Trump called Joe Biden a “low I.Q. individual” after the former vice president had a slip of the tongue and nearly announced he was running for president in 2020.

Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke raised more than $6 million online in the first 24 hours after announcing his presidential campaign last week, outpacing his rivals for the Democratic nomination and making an emphatic statement about his grassroots financial strength.

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a personal attorney to Trump, claims he has not been on television in almost two months because he thought special counsel Robert Mueller’s report was “imminent” and not because the president was upset with his repeated gaffes.

Fox News has hired Donna Brazile, the former Democratic National Committee chairwoman, as a contributor, the company said in a news release.

Sentencing documents filed over the weekend show former LPCiminelli executive Kevin Schuler received some specific instructions about how he is to perform his community service requirements.

The 24-year-old man charged with killing a senior leader of the Gambino crime family in Staten Island told detectives that he was high on marijuana and shot the crime figure because he feared for his life, according to two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the matter.

The state Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services and the state Health Department today announced the launch of a new campaign to raise awareness of the addiction services available in New York for women who are pregnant.

The Trump administration’s decision to alter the way it punishes nursing homes has resulted in lower fines against many facilities found to have endangered or injured residents.

The New York State Nurses Association said it would give notice that it intends to strike April 2, following months of stalled contract negotiations because of a dispute over staffing levels.

Lynne Patton, regional director for the federal department of Housing and Urban Development, lobbed yet another Twitter bomb at NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, ripping him for his recent trips to early presidential contest states.

A Las Vegas casino company is hoping former New York Gov. David Paterson is their ace in the hole when it comes to convincing Albany to give it a license to build Monte Carlo on the Hudson.

Jessica DeCerce, Cuomo’s most recent staffer for the Syracuse area, is now in the No. 2 position at the New York State Fair, earning $119,000 a year.

Delays on subway trains dropped by nearly 20,000 in February — compared to the same month in 2018 — in a dip the MTA credits to its “action plan” and speeding up trains.

As presidential libraries have grown in size — and cost — oversight measures haven’t kept up, making them one of the best avenues for wealthy donors to stealthily gain influence with a sitting commander-in-chief.

Joining a long line of previous lawmakers – though, mostly men – before them, Assemblywoman Yuh-Line Niou and state Sens. Alessandra Biaggi and Jessica Ramos are Albany roomies.

The Syracuse men’s basketball team is making its first trip to the NCAA Tournament’s West Region since 2010, and for those interested in attending the game, it won’t come cheap.

Water Slide World, the iconic Lake George water park that didn’t reopen last year after its founder’s death, is closed for good.

A recent state finding that no toxic waste has leaked from an old Niagara Sanitation landfill has not hurt the legal claims of more than 300 current and former residents who say living near the landfill damaged their health, according to their attorneys.

On WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show,” NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer discussed his new proposal for repairing and re-imagining part of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway as a trucks-only highway with a park on top.

Nearly 80 percent of New Yorkers in a new Siena poll said vaccinations should be required for kids before they can go to school, regardless of family religious beliefs.

With the help of some very good boys, runner Thomas Panek became the first blind man to finish the United Airlines Half Marathon in New York City yesterday, along with a trio of guide dogs.

Heastie Says He’s Supportive Of More Sexual Harassment Hearings

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie on Monday said he is open to holding further public hearings on sexual harassment as called for by a group of victims and survivors of harassment and assault while working in state government.

“We never close the door,” Heastie said. “We always want to make sure we’re working towards that people feel safe and are free from sex harassment and we’re always open to continuing that discussion.”

The hearing last month on the issue was the first one to be held in more than 20 years. Lawmakers heard 11 hours of testimony from both victims and survivors, but also the labor commissioners, lobbying and ethics regulators as well as employment attorneys.

New York’s state Legislature, even prior to the societal reckoning surrounding sexual misconduct, has drawn scrutiny for lawmakers and top aides accused harassment and assault over the years.

Lawmakers and the Sexual Harassment Working Group have said they want to hold at least two more hearings — one in New York City and another in Albany — to seek a wider range of input on sexual harassment across industries in order to better craft legislation.

“This is an epidemic and we should be hearing from people from many different industries so we can address the issue for fast food workers and farmers, and in government buildings, and in law firms, and all over,” Sen. Alessandra Biaggi said last week.

Business Council Makes Pitch For Downstate Casinos

The Business Council in a letter released Monday called for the expansion of casinos in the New York City area, a move it said it could generate as much as $1.5 billion in licensing fees.

The letter from Business Council President Heather Briccetti also called for the rejection of converting existing racinos — such as those operating at MGM’s Empire City in Yonkers and by Genting at Aqueduct in Queens.

“The State should reject any quick-fix approach to convert existing racinos to full-fledged gaming operations,” she wrote in the letter obtained by Capital Tonight. “That error would deprive New Yorkers of the full revenue and jobs potential open competition brings to the table.”

Both companies have been pushing lawmakers to accelerate the time frame for downstate casino licenses to be issued. Upstate commercial casinos currently have an exclusivity in the state that runs until 2023.

Excluding existing racino operations would benefit the Las Vegas-based Sands, which has been eyeing an entrance into the New York market. The company, led by prominent Republican donor Sheldon Adelson, this year formed an advisory group with prominent New Yorkers, including former Gov. David Paterson.

At the same time, the Business Council an “open and transparent” process in issuing three licenses for the New York City area.

“Without full gaming downstate we’re conceding new revenue and New York dollars to surrounding states who seized on the economic opportunity,” she wrote in the letter.

“New York City is by far the most attractive new market in the country for the gaming industry. To fully maximize this unparalleled economic development and revenue opportunity, we need all companies interested to compete and put their best plans forward for a valuable license to build and operate gaming resort destinations in our State.”

The expansion of casino gambling in New York to commercial operators was initially sold as an effort to aid the upstate economy.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top budget director last week cast doubt on whether the timetable for downstate licenses would be sped up as well as the revenue benefit the move would generate.

Criminal Justice Group Focuses On Suburbs

A group pushing for criminal justice law changes has launched a third TV ad that focuses on persuading suburban voters.

The $200,000 ad buy highlights the big three issues facing lawmakers: ending cash bail, changing discovery procedures and ensuring access to a speedy trial.

The focus on the suburbs — Long Island and the Hudson Valley — comes as lawmakers from those areas in the state Senate have raised concerns about the effect of the changes.

The crucial pretrial reforms under consideration are fair and a boost for community safety – and it’s critical that New Yorkers are aware,” said Khalil A. Cumberbatch, Chief Strategist for New Yorkers United for Justice. “Issue campaigns in New York are won and lost in the suburbs – and that’s why we’re focused on making investments there. We look forward to continuing this conversation – and setting the record straight against any misinformation.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said any budget agreement by the end of this month must include criminal justice changes such as ending cash bail for misdemeanor and non-violent charges.

But lawmakers want the changes done outside of the state budget.

Cuomo Calls Double-Jeopardy Loophole Closure ‘A Safeguard’

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview on Monday signaled his support for a bill that allow New York prosecutors to bring cases against those who have received presidential pardons.

The double jeopardy legislation is being considered by state lawmakers this month after meeting with Attorney General Letitia James, who has investigated several aspects of President Donald Trump’s business interests, including an effort in 2014 to purchase the Buffalo Bills.

“I think you’re in a situation now where you have a White House and an administration that is defying the rule of law, disrespecting the Department of Justice,” Cuomo said on WAMC this morning.

“I think there should be a safeguard.”

The bill was initially proposed as President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, would receive a presidential pardon following money laundering and fraud convictions.

Other Trump former campaign and administration figures are facing legal scrutiny as well as part of a widening case surrounding the investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 election.

But an amended version of the bill would only allow prosecutes to seek charges against those who have worked for a sitting president or were part of their family.

Cuomo Questions Benefit Of Mobile Sports Gambling

New York is in the process of allowing casinos to take bets on sporting events, but punching in a wager on your phone may not be coming soon.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview on Monday said he was skeptical about the economic impact of legalizing mobile sports betting.

“Sports betting, first of all, does not make you much money,” he said on WAMC’s The Roundtable, noting New Jersey’s sports betting program generates about $13 million in revenue.

“Thirteen million dollars is something like a rounding error in our budget,” Cuomo said.

Commercial casinos will soon be able to operate sports books at their locations based on regulations being developed by gaming regulators.

Some lawmakers have sought to expand sports betting to include mobile devices, with one provision included in the Senate’s budget resolution. Cuomo, however, did not include the measure.

“I don’t think the economic benefit is there,” he said.

Long Island Senate Democrats Outline Budget Goals

From the Morning Memo:

The Long Island Six have faced pressure over congestion pricing and Amazon, but the Democratic conference is highlighting where the half-dozen suburban lawmakers agree: The state budget.

The Democratic lawmakers who represent Nassau and Suffolk counties in the state Senate over the weekend outlined a package of propels they want to see included in a final budget agreement, including a $1.2 billion increase in direct aid to schools, a full restoration in direct aid to local governments and $150 million more in spending for local road improvements.

At the same time, the Democratic lawmakers touted the inclusion of a property tax cap on the conference’s one-house budget proposal approved as a standalone bill earlier this year by the Senate.

And the lawmakers want to include a Reassessment Relief Credit, aimed at suburban homeowners, which would provide tax relief to those who meet the same eligibility requirements as the STAR program.

“Hardworking Long Islanders deserve a budget that eases their tax burden and improves services,” said Sen. Todd Kaminsky.

“Our Senate Majority is committed to a permanent tax cap, increasing school aid and road funding, adding billions of dollars for clean water infrastructure, and holding the MTA accountable. Over the next two weeks, we will work diligently to bring Long Islanders a great budget they can be proud of.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration has cast doubt on the spending proposals backed by both chambers. The Senate’s plan did not include a tax increase on the rich to generate revenue for the extra spending.

Cuomo’s top budget aide, Robert Mujica, called the proposal from the Senate “wholly incredible” due to spending gaps in the plan.

Maloney Gives Nod To Gillibrand

From the Morning Memo:

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand formally entered the race for the presidency over the weekend, ending the exploratory phase of a campaign that began outside of a diner in Brunswick.

Gillibrand on Sunday afternoon also picked up her first endorsement from a member of the state’s House delegation: Rep. Carolyn Maloney.

“I am proud to endorse my friend @SenGillibrand to be our next President and the nation’s first woman President,” Maloney wrote on Twitter. “I saw her tenacity when we fought together to pass the 9/11 Health bill and know she has what it takes to defeat Trump.”

Gillibrand up until this point had been running without much institutional backing from her fellow New York Democrats. Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney and Kathleen Rice have endorsed former Rep. Beto O’Rourke. Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signaled his backing of former Vice President Joe Biden should he run. And New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio continues to test the water in the Democratic primaries.