With Friends Like These…

Attorney General Letitia James in a live interview with the liberal podcast Pod Save America did not mince words when asked about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s run for the presidency.

“Listen, we need a mayor who is going to be on the job 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” she said to cheers in front of a live audience.

James, the former public advocate in New York City who had been an ally of de Blasio’s listed a series of policy issues where she believes the mayor has fallen short.

“So I ask the question: Has the crisis in affordable housing been addressed? No,” she said. “Has income inequality been addressed? No. Equal pay for equal work? No. How about cyclists who are unfortunately dying on our streets as the result of crashes? No. So what is the legacy? What are you running on? Has school segregation been addressed? Listen, he can run, he’s the 23rd candidate, I understand that. But the question is why? Por que? Like what’s up?

With a pause and a head tilt, James added, “But he’s a friend.”

The comments made in the interview were similar to what she told NY1 on Thursday as de Blasio launched his campaign.

“Serving as mayor of the City of New York is the second toughest job in our nation and New Yorkers require a mayor who is laser focused on the issues affecting our city,” she said. “I think it’s an issue that he should think about while he’s in Ohio.”

James last year was the victor in a crowded Democratic primary field for attorney general, backed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been at odds with the mayor over the years. De Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, endorsed James’s primary rival Zephyr Teachout.

Jacobs on NY-27 Campaign: ‘We Need Someone That’s Able To Be Fully Effective’

There is still 18 months until the 2020 congressional elections, but state Senator Chris Jacobs, R-Buffalo, is getting an early start on his campaign for New York’s 27th District.

Jacobs said he is currently putting together an organizational structure, has hired a consultant and opened a campaign account.

“We want to make sure that this seat is held in Republican hands for the next term and the foreseeable future,” he said.

Jacobs said he expressed interest in the position last fall when incumbent Rep. Chris Collins briefly suspended his campaign after being indicted on federal insider trading charges. Collins ultimately decided to run and won a narrow contest against Democrat Nate McMurray, but Jacobs said the position has been on his mind since.

“I always had hoped there was an opportunity to serve in the Congress,” he said. “My first job out of college was working for former Congressman Jack Kemp down in Washington D.C. and the thought of representing this area in Washington would be just such a great honor.”

Collins has not decided yet whether he’ll run for re-election again in 2020. His trial is scheduled for February.

Regardless, he was critical of Jacobs on Friday.

“While I haven’t made a final decision on running for re-election, the last thing we need in this seat is a never-Trump Republican who supports abortion rights and has supported savings plans and taxpayers funded legal aid for illegal immigrants,” he said in a statement. “That would be the same as electing a Democrat.  I ran for re-election to assure that President Trump had an ally in this seat.  The President can count on me to assure he has an ally in 2020.”

Jacobs said he is prepared to face the incumbent in a primary, if necessary.

“I am not trying to be disrespectful to Chris Collins. I just believe that we need someone that’s able to be fully effective in that seat and unfortunately, due to the legal problems he is dealing with right now and will be dealing with through next year, he’s not able to serve in committees right now, he’s done good things for the district in the past but I don’t think he can moving forward.”

Even if Collins decides not to run, Jacobs said he’s fully expecting a primary against other Republicans for the seat.

“This is a congressional seat. There’s not many of them in the area. I think there will be others interested and I believe campaigns are good. I believe primaries are good.”

That could be Collins ally and current Erie County Comptroller Stefan Mychajliw, who also put his name in the ring last summer and has been canvassing the district since. Mychajliw said Friday, he would make his decision on his own timeline but echoed the congressman’s criticisms of Jacobs.

“Chris Jacobs is an Albany moderate, pro-abortion, pro-illegal immigrant moderate whose values are the exact opposite of President Trump’s and the voters of NY-27,” he said.

Jacobs pointed out he voted against the “abortion expansion” bill and the DREAM Act in the state legislature. He has been reluctant in the past to discuss who he voted for president in 2016.

He said he is willing to have the debate with any takers but believes his voting record will resonate in the district.

“It’s understandable that some would see an opportunity in Collins’ legal predicament, but let’s not pretend that Collins was an effective leader prior to that. Our grassroots network has been fighting for the people of the 27th congressional district well before his indictment last August, and never stopped. When others were silent, we were fearless,” McMurray said in a statement. “I think it’s unfortunate that anyone would evaluate running in this district based on personal political gain, or in order to keep it in Republican hands. Hyper partisanship is the last thing the people of Western New York need right now; and the voters here confirmed that last November by re-electing Collins by a mere .37%. The district went purple and people crossed party lines. It shows that business as usual will no longer fly. We will continue to prepare for whatever comes next, and look for opportunities to bring people together.”

Columbia County Moves To Opt Out Of Marijuana Business

Columbia County this week became the latest county to announce plans to not allow the retail marijuana industry in New York if a legalization bill is approved by state lawmakers.

The county joins larger counties to its south — including Suffolk, Nassau, Rockland and Putnam — in opting out.

“Columbia County’s leaders get it. Commercial pot isn’t a boon for tax revenue or those seeking social justice,” said Kevin Sabet, a former drug policy advisor in President Barack Obama’s administration and the president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana New York, a group that opposes marijuana legalization.

“It just creates another predatory industry that will victimize communities to enrich Big Tobacco, Pharma and the alcohol industries. We applaud the county’s leaders for listening to the serious public health and safety concerns being raised by parents, doctors, addiction professionals and local community leaders. Commercial pot in New York will also have dramatic fiscal impacts on county and town governments who will bear the brunt of cost increases for law enforcement, social services and public health programs that will be passed along to local taxpayers.”

Lawmakers this week announced a revised bill that in part backs what Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed earlier this year with the creation of a unified cannabis management office to regulate retail and medical marijuana as well as hemp production.

NY-18: Stefanik Endorses Farley

Rep. Elise Stefanik on Friday endorsed Republican congressional candidate Chele Chiavacci Farley for the nomination in a Hudson Valley House district.

Farley is running for the seat held by Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who was re-elected last year to a third term in what has been in prior election cycles a closely watched battleground district.

“Chele Farley brings intelligence, energy, and determination to her race for Congress. Her real-world business experience will be an asset in Congress as she fights to protect tax dollars for hardworking families, fully fund our military, take care of our military families, and address the state’s crumbling infrastructure,” Stefanik said. “I have made it my top priority to help elect more Republican women to Congress and I’m proud to endorse Chele. I know she will serve the people of the Hudson Valley well.”

Stefanik was first elected as the youngest woman to a North Country House seat in 2014. Farley last year ran against U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

“I am honored to have the backing of Elise Stefanik in this race. Elise is a leader for our state and the Republican Party in Congress,” Farley said. “I look forward to working with her to win and serving with her to fight back against the wave of socialism that has taken over Washington.”

State Senator Chris Jacobs Is Running For New York’s 27th Congressional Seat

Republican state Senator Chris Jacobs is running for New York’s 27th Congressional District in 2020.

His congressional campaign manager confirmed a Buffalo News report Thursday morning. The seat is currently held by Republican Chris Collins, who is facing federal insider trading charges.

“It’s very important to put someone in that seat who is a strong advocate for the district,” Jacobs told the News. “Currently, I don’t believe he has the capacity to be effective because of the situation.”

Jacobs indicated he would primary Collins if necessary. The incumbent, whose trial is scheduled for February 2020, has said he has not decided yet whether he’ll run again.

In 2018, following the indictment, he briefly suspended his campaign and Republicans in the district were scouting a replacement. Jacobs was one of a stable of potential Republicans in consideration.

Ultimately, Collins unsuspended his campaign, at the advice of his attorneys and the disappointment of GOP leadership. He beat Democrat Nate McMurray by less than half a percentage point in the fall.

McMurray has not officially announced he will run again either, although he vowed a rematch of Collins is the candidate and is already fundraising.

Senate Transportation Chair Won’t Move ‘Distracted Walking’ Bill Forward

From the Morning Memo:

A proposed “distracted walking bill” is gaining attention across the state, but its chance of becoming law appears very slim.

State Senator John Liu, D-Queens, is sponsoring legislation that would ban people from using electronic devices, like cell phones, while crossing the street.

The bill is currently in the Senate Transportation Committee and the committee’s chair said it is not going anywhere.

“It will stay there,” state Senator Tim Kennedy, D-Buffalo, said. “As the chair of Transportation, this is under the auspices of my committee and I control what comes to the floor of my committee for a vote. This is something that will not be seeing the light of day.”

Kennedy called the proposal, which would institute fines for those who text while crossing, an overreach. While it’s his first year as committee chair, he said during his tenure in the Legislature, he has never heard of the issue as a major problem that needed to be addressed.

“I think it goes to far,” he said. “I think it gets right into someone’s rights and freedoms as a person and a pedestrian. I think it infringes on many different rights and I would not be supportive of it.”

The Western New York Democrat acknowledged “distracted walking” may be a bigger issue in New York City than his area, but he said without a major push from the voting public, he has no plans to change his mind about stopping the bill.

Bill Would Ban Facial Recognition Tech In Residential Buildings

From the Morning Memo:

State lawmakers in the Senate and Assembly this week introduced a bill that would ban the use of facial recognition technology by landlords in residential buildings.

The legislation is being proposed after San Francisco approved a similar ban on facial recognition technology usage earlier this week.

Lawmakers introduced the bill after the technology was introduced in residential buildings as an alternative to traditional key or pass code systems. Residents in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn filed a complaint with the New York State Homes and Community Renewal over plans to install a facial recognition system.

The concern lawmakers have raised is the use of technology to track residents, tenants and guests coming into the building. At the same time, some opponents have raised concerns that the technology fails to analyze the faces of people of color properly.

“The use of facial recognition technology by landlords represents a new and dangerous breach of tenant privacy—one that lawmakers must move quickly to ban,” said Sen. Brad Hoylman, a Democrat from Manhattan.

The bill is backed by Assemblywoman Latrice Walker as well as Sen. Velmanette Montgomery.

“Facial recognition in residential properties opens a gateway for unlawful surveillance and/or exercise of powers that private landlords do not and should not have,” Walker said.

“It creates situations of profiling and discrimination of residents, their families, and their guests. Facial recognition technology is intrusive, and would lead to abusive practices, and would be another way to criminalize tenants. We have seen countless incidents where tenants are being accused of not residing in their home and being criminalized in their own buildings. This should be a wakeup call for New Yorkers on how dangerous facial recognition technology could truly be.”

Solar Energy Report Finds Economic Benefits To Renewable Shift

From the Morning Memo:

A plan by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration reach 6 gigawatts of solar energy in New York in the next six years could lead to the creation of more than 11,000 jobs, a solar industry group found in a report released Friday.

The report from Vote Solar highlighted the economic benefits and effect solar jobs would have for the state’s economy as well as local governments.

The report is being released as the state Assembly later on Friday will hold a public hearing in New York City on the broader Community and Climate Protection Act.

“New York’s policies have helped build a strong local solar workforce and make the Empire State a leader in our nation’s clean energy transition, but our climate crisis demands more,” said Sean Garren, the organization’s senior northeast director and a co-author of the report.

“This report shows that New York can make meaningful climate progress at the same time that it’s creating good jobs and spurring investment in more resilient communities with an ambitious solar plan.”

At the moment, New York has installed 1.425 gigawatts of solar energy. To meet the 6 gigawatt goal by 2025, there will need to be a steep increase in the number of jobs in the solar energy industry, including 11,253 full-time positions during construction and additional operation and maintenance jobs over the lifetime of the projects.

The report estimated the jobs will generate $5.7 billion in earnings and $10.9 billion in economic benefits on the local level.

“Achieving 6 GW by 2025 would not only underscore New York’s place as a clean energy leader but also help over a million households directly benefit from solar,” the report found.

Vote Solar Jobs Report by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Here and Now

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

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, joined by his wife, NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray, spends his first full day on the 2020 campaign trail with events in Iowa, starting with the touring of an ethanol plant with former U.S Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, and moving on to a roundtable with local farmers.

De Blasio will still appear live, as he does almost every Friday, on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show,” taking calls from listeners, which should be interesting, at about 10:25 a.m.

This evening, de Blasio will depart Iowa and travel to Nebraska. This weekend, he’ll be campaigning in North and South Carolina. He’s scheduled to return to NYC Sunday, and then it’s off to Connecticut.

At 7:15 a.m., NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams appears on the PIX11 Morning News.

At 9:30 a.m., a bipartisan group of Nassau County elected officials is coming together to announce the creation of the new Nassau County Aviation Committee, Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative Building (front steps), 1500 Franklin Ave., Mineola.

At 10 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Governmental Operations meets jointly with the Committee on Finance, Committee Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul opens the 2018 canals season, announces the next phase of “Reimagine the Canals,” and dedicates a tugboat in honor of of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Corn Hill Landing, 288 Exchange Blvd., Rochester.

Also at 10 a.m., state Division of Human Rights acting Commissioner Angela Fernandez and General Counsel Caroline Downey speak at a conference on age discrimination in the workplace, Silberman Building, Hunter College, 2180 Third Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., state Sen. James Sanders Jr. hosts a job fair and career expo, Rockaway YMCA, 207 Beach 73rd St., Queens.

Also at 10 a.m., state Assemblyman Steve Englebright, state Sen. Julia Salazar and others rally in support of the Climate and Community Protection Act before the final hearing on the bill for the 2019 state legislative session, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., the Assembly Committee on Environmental Conservation holds a public hearing on climate change, Assembly Hearing Room, 250 Broadway, Room 1923, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., state Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee and state Sen. David Carlucci announce legislation to designate a section of Route 17 in Hillburn as Justice Thurgood Marshall Memorial Highway and to commemorate Thurgood Marshall Day in New York state, A&J’s Lunch Wagon, Route 17 S., Sloatsburg.

At 3 p.m., Westchester County Executive George Latimer rolls out legislation to better monitor precious metals and gems sold at pawn shops to help law enforcement fight crime, Michaelian Office Building, 148 Martine Ave., ninth floor, White Plains.

At 6 p.m., state Sens. John Liu and Jamaal Bailey host a forum on diversity and specialized high school admissions, Lehman College, Lovinger Theatre, 250 Bedford Park Blvd. W., Bronx.

At 7 p.m., Public Advocate Williams will recognize Rev. Corwin S. Mason of the Community Church of Astoria on his pastoral anniversary, 34-38 38th St. Queens.

At 8 p.m., Hochul attends and watches “What the Constitution Means to Me,” The Hayes Theater, 240 W. 44th St., Manhattan.

Headlines…

President Donald Trump unveiled a sweeping immigration reform plan that would favor people with top educations and skills and sharply limit those admitted at random or solely because they have family in the US.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said the new immigration plan is “dead on arrival” and “not a remotely serious proposal.”

Trump’s family business saw its overall revenues decline modestly in 2018, according to his annual financial report released yesterday, suggesting a disconnect between the Trump brand and the still-growing national economy.

Trump had some good-natured fun trying to pronounce democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg’s name — but proclaimed that he thought it was great that a gay married man was running for office.

House Democrats, frustrated by Trump’s efforts to stonewall their investigations and eager to stoke public anger about the president’s behavior, are pinning their diminishing hopes on Robert Mueller yet again.

Former Vice President Joe Biden will base his presidential campaign in Philadelphia — a move that highlights his personal ties to Pennsylvania and showcases the state’s importance in the 2020 race.

Ukraine’s top prosecutor said he hasn’t seen any evidence of wrongdoing by Biden nor his son Hunter Biden in dealings with the country.

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez implied in a tweet that if male politicians could become pregnant, there would be more support for abortion rights.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, meanwhile, is hoping to harness the Alabama’s anti-abortion overkill to revive her sputtering White House bid.

The Trump administration defended its $62 million bailout to a Brazilian meatpacking company controlled by a pair of corrupt brothers, arguing the private pork payout will eventually trickle down to struggling U.S. farmers.

Trump courted deep-pocketed donors in his native New York City for the first time in months last night at a campaign fundraiser at Wall Street bigwig Howard Lutnick’s upscale Manhattan home.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, the 23rd candidate to enter the Democratic presidential field, found a slice of the limelight by botching his carefully planned announcement rollout.

Gabe Fleisher, 17, a St. Louis high school junior, was the first to publish details of de Blasio’s announcement of his 2020 presidential campaign on his Politics blog.

Republicans depicted de Blasio as an out-of-touch closet Communist whose “extremist liberal” policies will boomerang on him in the heartland.

NYC Public Advocate Jumaane Williams ripped de Blasio’s job performance during an appearance on “Good Day New York” and declared that he was “ready, willing and able” to take over should the mayor skip town for his presidential run.

The mayor pulled off an impossible feat by uniting Americans of all persuasions — against his quixotic presidential bid.

Members of the NYPD Police Benevolent Association and the anti-cop activist group Black Lives Matter stood shoulder-to-shoulder in Times Square yesterday morning to protest de Blasio’s White House campaign-kickoff interview on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

De Blasio’s 2020 presidential-bid YouTube page had just 61 subscribers nearly 10 hours after he posted his big campaign announcement there — and his flat-footed social media effort has drawn fire from Donald Trump Jr.

NYC politicians and local residents openly questioned whether de Blasio’s White House ambitions would cause problems across the city that twice elected him to City Hall before his attention shifted to bigger things.

“While there are plenty of ties between Florida and the Big Apple, de Blasio would be well advised not to put too much hope for the Sunshine State.”

During last night’s broadcast of Hannity, Fox News host Sean Hannity tried to persuade short-lived White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci to run for New York City mayor in the next election.

As de Blasio headed out of town to embark on a pipe-dream presidential bid, NYCCouncil Speaker Corey Johnson – who is eying a 2021 mayoral run — wasted no time trying to grab the local spotlight by unveiling a plan aimed at making the criminal justice system “fairer” for all New Yorkers.

More >

U.S. Senate Confirms New IJC Commissioners

The U.S. Senate has finally confirmed three new members of the International Joint Commission, which regulates water levels for the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River.

Lawmakers in New York have been pushing for the positions to be filled for roughly two years. Canada still has three vacancies and needs to appoint at least one commissioner before there is a quorum and the body can meet.

However, with Lake Ontario water levels at record highs and local leaders concerned about a repeat of 2017 flooding, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer applauded the confirmations.

“The filling of all three U.S. seats on the IJC is a major step in the right direction and will help prepare New York State for the absolute worst,” he said. “I was proud to support the confirmation of these nominees to the IJC and look forward to working in lockstep with them to shield Lake Ontario communities from more devastating flooding.”

Former New York State Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, R-Clarence, will be the new chair of the commission. Rep. Chris Collins, R-NY-27, recommended Corwin.

“President Trump could not have made a better choice than Jane L. Corwin to be the next U.S. Chair of the IJC,” he said. ” Thanks to his leadership, we now have a voice for Lake Erie and Lake Ontario shoreline residents.  Jane’s experience as an Assemblywoman for the Ontario Lakeshore properties and her understanding of the issues with Plan 2014 will make her an exceptional leader of the Commission. I know Jane, as well as Commissioners Robert Sission and Lance Yohe, will protect the homeowners and small businesses along our shorelines.”

The IJC would have the authority to move away from the controversial Plan 2014, which currently regulates outflows for the various bodies of water. Many homeowners and elected officials in Lake Ontario communities believe the plan is at least partially responsible for the 2017 damage and potential damage this year.

The state has already started sending resources to communities this year in anticipation of flooding.