Hochul Wants REDCs To Address Child Care

A letter sent this week by Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul to the co-chairs of the Regional Economic Development Councils called on them to consider issues like child care and community needs as part of a broader plan for economic growth and development.

“As a mother, I know how important it is to have access to quality child care to help balance responsibilities at work and at home,” Hochul said in a statement.

“We want to ensure that working families are provided with the resources for safe, accessible and affordable child care. By promoting and investing in child care, we know it can improve women’s participation in the workforce and narrow the gender wage gap.”

Hochul, who is chairwoman of the statewide councils, called on the co-chairs to encourage applicants seeking funding for projects to address and consider solutions to child care, like providing on-site services, child care co-ops and other business as well as flexible scheduling and remote work options, like working from home.

Child care is a $4.3 billion industry in New York, but a lack of child care options can be costly, Hochul wrote in the letter.

“Insufficient child care options cost U.S. businesses more than $3 billion annually and negatively impacts the New York State economy,” she wrote. “We also know that child care contributes to the gender wage gap.”

Hochul at the end of last year was named co-chair of the state’s Child Care Availability Task Force by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Lieutenant Governor Letter to REDC Co-Chairs Re – Child Care Final by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Extras

President Trump wasted no time in attacking Bill de Blasio, slamming him as a “JOKE” after the NYC mayor announced his run for the White House.

Here’s de Blasio’s campaign announcement video.

The NYT’s Jennifer Senior: “Might I suggest that perhaps, at this particular moment, the party deserves someone a little more … industrious to beat Donald Trump? Does it really need another guy from New York who requires his ‘executive time’?”

An email blast from the RNC included a “Bill de Blasio cheat sheet” with six zingers labeling the termed-out Democrat as a groundhog killer who honeymooned in Communist Cuba.

De Blasio’s first interview as a presidential candidate, during which he referred to Trump as “Con Don,” was marred by protesters chanting “Liar!” and “Can’t run the city! Can’t run the country!” throughout the live segment.

“Bill de Blasio’s run for president couldn’t have happened without Anthony Weiner’s implosion.”

“It was crowded when I got in, so I think the more the merrier,” Pete Buttigieg said of de Blasio’s entry into the race. “I think this is a good moment for mayors to be stepping up.”

In the video announcing his presidential run, de Blasiodescribed his hometown as “legendarily tough and big and complicated.” Soon after, New Yorkers proved just how apt that was, wit htheir decidedly mixed response to his new endeavor.

Meet Dean Fuleihan, a former top aide to ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. He’s now de Blasio’s second-in-command, his former budget guru, and, when the mayor is out of town campaigning for the White House, he’ll run New York City.

Ukraine’s prosecutor general said in an interview that he had no evidence of wrongdoing by U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden or his son, despite a swirl of allegations by Trump’s lawyer, former NYC Mayor Rudy Giulaini.

Trump has told his acting defense secretary, Patrick Shanahan, that he does not want to go to war with Iran, in a message to his hawkish aides that an intensifying American pressure campaign against the clerical-led government in Tehran must not escalate into open conflict.

Trump’s annual financial disclosure report has been released through the Office of Government Ethics, revealing his assets and liabilities.

A woman who graduated with honors from SUNY Polytechnic Institute alleges her degree was rescinded by college officials last year after she declined to file a sexual harassment complaint against the school’s fallen founder, Alain Kaloyeros.

An NYPD supervisor alerted to the death of Eric Garner shrugged off the Staten Island father of six’s passing with a text message reading, “Not a big deal, we were effecting a lawful arrest.”

Mark Vincente, the whistleblower testifying about a “sex cult” posing as a self-help organization, was a member of another controversial sect before signing on with the NXIVM group.

After two decades of widely expanded state-sanctioned gambling opportunities in New York, officials with the Cuomo administration now want to find out what kind of societal problems have been created by the gambling explosion.

The state comptroller says the New York State Common Retirement Fund has topped $210 billion after an estimated 5.2 percent return on investments.

Former Gov. David Paterson, who is completely blind in one eye and legally blind in the other, is now consulting for AudioEye, a company that offers tools to make websites more accessible to people with disabilities, including vision impairment, epilepsy and autism.

A policy asking attendees of a state commission meeting to pre-register for the public event may violate New York’s Open Meetings Law, according to government experts.

While the new dynamic in Albany has manifested itself as a more ambitious and progressive Senate butting heads with an Assembly that is dominated by older, more moderate members, the push to pass the Green Light bill has played out in reverse.

EJ McMahon breaks down the latest New York employment numbers.

First attempts last year to record and identify faces of drivers as they zip along the highway at the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge have failed, according to an internal Metropolitan Transportation Authority email.

The state Health Department is investigating what prompted the daughter of a Buffalo nursing home resident to attack the administrator of the facility earlier this week, according to an agency spokesman.

NY Unemployment Rate Stands At 3.9 Percent

The state’s unemployment rate remained unchanged in April, standing at 3.9 percent after it was revised downward in March, the state Department of Labor said.

The state’s private-sector job count grew by 24,600 to more than 8.3 million, which was called a new all-time high.

“New York is open for business and the proof is in these numbers,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Our goal is to provide excellent employment opportunities across the state by bolstering our regionally focused economic development strategies and diversifying our portfolio through new and innovative industries.

“While we continue to set record numbers, we still have more work to do. New York must continue to build on our economic success by creating and retaining jobs to pave the way for future success.”

EJ McMahon of the Empire Center, however, pointed out that much of the job growth is being seen unevenly across the state as the April numbers show “a wide regional variation in private job creation rates around the state—and New York as a whole continues to trail employment growth nationally.”

DiNapoli: Pension Fund Valued At $210.2B

The state pension fund ended the fiscal year with a 5.23 percent return on investment, growing from $207.4 billion to $210.2 billion, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office on Thursday announced.

The common retirement fund weathered a roller coaster swing in the markets in December amid broader concerns of an economic slowdown in 2019.

“The Fund’s value continued to grow during its 2019 fiscal year and remains well positioned to meet its long term return expectations and provide retirement security for our members, retirees and their beneficiaries,” DiNapoli said. “It was a tumultuous year in the markets that fortunately came with more ups than downs, including a swift recovery from December’s significant correction.”

The state’s fiscal year runs from April 1 through March 31.

The final pension fund value could change once returns are fully audited, the comptroller’s office said.

NYSUT Pushes For School Safety, Due Process Bills

The New York State United Teachers union on Thursday announced the launch of a campaign aimed at promoting a package of bills meant to strengthen safety for school workers as well as bolster due process for employees.

The bills include measures that would install cameras on school buses, require an attendant be posted on all school buses transporting kids in grades kindergarten through 6th, require school districts identify and curtail potential workplace violence and have all permanent school employees receive the right of a due-process hearing

The cameras-on-buses bill was granted final approval by the state Senate on Wednesday and now goes to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk.

“From our bus drivers to our food service employees to our teaching assistants, School-Related Professionals are the backbone of New York’s public schools,” NYSUT President Andy Pallotta said. “Addressing the safety, health and labor issues our SRPs face is an essential part of improving New York’s public education system — because a positive working environment is a positive learning environment for our children.”

The union is launching a website to promote the measures as well as a digital ad campaign in the coming weeks.

Progressive Orgs Push For Trump Tax Disclosure Bill

A coalition of progressive groups on Thursday released a letter urging the Democratic-led Assembly to approve a bill that is meant to provide Congressional Democrats with access to President Donald Trump’s New York tax filings.

The groups, led under the banner of Stand Up America, released the letter days after the Democratic conference discussed the bill in a closed-door meeting on Monday. Lawmakers expect there is sufficient support in the conference to pass the bill.

“The undersigned organizations, on behalf of our members and communities, urge you to work with your conference to swiftly pass the New York State TRUST Act (A7194) in the Assembly and send it to Governor Cuomo’s desk to be signed into law,” wrote the coalition in its letter to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

“This bill is a critical piece of legislation that would not only allow Congress to investigate President Trump and his various financial entanglements, but would also allow the American people to hold him accountable for his deeply troubling conflicts of interests.”

House Democrats are trying to review the president’s federal tax filing, which he has so far refused to release, as part of a broader investigation into his business’s finances.

Heastie said on Tuesday the Assembly is likely to pass a bill that seeks to curb the reach of the president’s pardon powers in order to allow New York prosecutors to bring cases against former administration officials.

Both the pardon bill and the tax legislation have previously passed in the Democratic-controlled state Senate.

In Albany, de Blasio Was A Stranger In A Strange Land

There was a time, way back in 2013, that Mayor Bill de Blasio took a pragmatic approach to the state Senate.

At the time, the Senate was ruled by an unusual coalition of Republicans and a faction of breakaway Democrats known as the Independent Democratic Conference.

The rookie mayor traveled to the Capitol, dutifully appearing at functions with the IDC, including its leader, Bronx Sen. Jeff Klein.

It made sense. After all, the Republicans in the state Senate looked askance at de Blasio, especially compared to his predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, who bolster the GOP’s power with a $1 million donation to the conference’s soft-money coffers.

Albany is a strange, internecine place for anyone who to navigate — stymieing mayors, journalists, lawmakers, advocates and even governors. De Blasio is not the first New York City mayor to be confounded by the state Capitol and he won’t be last.

De Blasio, of course, did not have Bloomberg’s money, nor did he share the politics of Senate Republicans.

And the mayor, betting on the state’s ongoing demographic shift, sought to change how Albany functioned by flipping the Senate. He picked the wrong year: Democrats did not gain a working majority in 2014 that was enough to overcome the IDC-GOP alliance and the effort led to an investigation into campaign finance practices surrounding the funneling of money to upstate Democratic committees.

In turn, Senate Republicans sought to use de Blasio as an all-purpose boogeyman in suburban and upstate races — a plan that drew less and less potency for a mayor who is little known or covered outside of the New York City media market.

Policy-wise, de Blasio still had to find allies in Albany. He wanted a surcharge to pay for universal pre-K, putting him at odds with Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Often, the mayor was handed half a loaf. Universal pre-K was achieved, but with the guts of Cuomo’s plan. Mayoral control of New York City schools was extended, but often with strings attached or on the basis of a year or two, ensuring he would have to return to the Capitol and lobby lawmakers once again.

Even a city-state like New York City must still bend the knee in Albany, a product of the state’s home-rule laws and a frustration for borough residents who wonder why things like speed limits on city streets can be decided and used as leverage by lawmakers who represent Binghamton.

The two men in the early going sought to emphasize, often at unconvincing pains, to show what great friends they were dating back to their time at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

But cracks were forming even as this played out: de Blasio appeared at a rally one day in Albany for public school teachers; Cuomo was down the block for a rally with charter school advocates.

Eventually it all culminated with de Blasio’s appearance on NY1 to blast Cuomo in unusually hot rhetoric, accusing him of propping up Republicans in the state Senate. And then de Blasio… went on vacation.

Cuomo, who has a determiantion that can make the killer robots from the Terminator movies seem like dilettantes, seemed almost laser focused on suffocating anything the mayor wanted done. Yielding those early days of The Feud to Cuomo, who has a long memory, was seen as a head-scratching decision.

The Feud became the background music for every interaction between the two men, the pretext for Cynthia Nixon’s primary challenge last year and veered into a Veep-like farce when the two scuffled publicly over the fate of deer that led to the poor animal’s demise.

Now The Feud has dissipated, sort of. De Blasio backed Cuomo on the ill-fated Amazon project. He backed the governor on congestion pricing. He got his extension of mayoral control in the state budget, taking one more thing off his plate as he runs for president.

But the Capitol, now with a Democratic state Senate, is negotiating an extension of rent control laws and could potentially strengthen and expand them for a city in which the cost of housing has skyrocketed.

Publicly the task has been left to Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who has made treks to Albany to discuss the issue as the session winds down over the next five weeks.

De Blasio finally got the Democratic state Senate he wanted. This weekend he’ll be Iowa.

DEC Rejects Williams Pipeline, But The Plan Is Not Dead Yet

From the Morning Memo:

The Department of Environmental Conservation on Wednesday evening rejected a proposed pipeline to be constructed by Williams — a move that comes amid a broader fight over where New York will draw and generate its energy in the coming decades.

The pipeline, which would have carried natural gas to primarily the metropolitan region, was rejected “without prejudice” by environmental regulators, giving the company an opportunity to resubmit an altered proposal.

“As currently conceived in the application, construction of the NESE pipeline project is projected to result in water quality violations and fails to meet New York State’s rigorous water quality standards,” the DEC said in a statement Wednesday night.

“Specifically, construction of the proposed project would result in significant water quality impacts from the re-suspension of sediments and other contaminants, including mercury and copper. In addition, the proposed project would cause impacts to habitats due to the disturbance of shellfish beds and other benthic resources.”

Williams called the problems raised by the DEC “a minor technical issue” and plans to resubmit the application for a permit.

“Our team will be evaluating the issue and resubmitting the application quickly,” the company said. “We are confident that we can be responsive to this technical concern, meet our customer’s in-service date and avoid a moratorium that would have a devastating impact on the regional economy and environment.”

The rejection was a victory for environmental groups who have long opposed natural gas expansion efforts in New York and successfully pushed the state to ban high-volume hydrofracking in 2014. At the same time, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration is backing efforts to shift the state to renewable energy sources in the coming decades.

“A sustained and inspired grassroots campaign pressured the Cuomo administration to stop this dangerous, unnecessary pipeline that would pose a serious risk to water quality in New York Harbor,” said Food & Water Watch organizer Laura Shindell.

“This decision is not the final word, and if Williams continues to push this dangerous project, the fight to stop this pipeline will continue. The DEC should reject the company’s attempt to re-submit this application.”

The Williams pipeline had been backed by the New York Business Council and labor unions like the New York AFL-CIO, which pointed to the economic benefit of the construction, including the creation of new jobs.

In a statement, the business lobby group urged the project to move forward.

“The Business Council urges the DEC to expeditiously move forward with the permitting process for the Williams pipeline,” said Business Council spokesman Patrick Bailey. “The importance of this project deserves a swift and judicious decision.”

Lawmakers Hope For Progress On Mobile Sports Betting

From the Morning Memo:

A bill allowing New Yorkers to place wagers on mobile devices for sporting events could gain final passage by the end of the legislative session in June, Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee Chairman Gary Pretlow said in an interview Wednesday.

Pretlow in the interview said he believes the constitutional questions raised by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration surrounding mobile betting are being resolved.

“I think we’ve shown the second floor that this is not correct,” Pretlow said, referring to the governor’s suite of offices in the Capitol. “This is no different than what we do with horse racing where people have advanced deposit on horse racing, where people have advanced deposit wagering on horses, and because the servers are at the racetracks, it’s deemed they are playing at the tracks. It’s exactly what New Jersey’s doing.”

At the same time, Pretlow said concerns raised by race track operators could also be alleviated with an amendment.

“They want to be participants in this,” he said. “They want to be an affiliate of the casinos where they can offer sports betting other than horse racing at their facilities. There is an amendment that we have in both houses now that would allow for that.”

New Jersey’s progress on mobile sports betting, where it is now allowed, has been an impetus and model for New York to go forward. The New York measure will likely allow for in-game or “prop” bets to be placed, but it is unlikely to stray afield from sporting events.

“I don’t think we’re going to go the route of who is betting on the Oscars and things like that which New Jersey went into, but it’s definitely going to cover all sports in New York,” Pretlow said.

I want to report the Assembly version of the bill next week.

I’m hopeful that we get this done before the end of the session.

Lawmakers Push FAA To Implement Long-Stalled Safety Standard

From the Morning Memo:

The Western New York Congressional Delegation is again pushing the Federal Aviation Administration to implement a key component of safety reforms passed at the urging of family members of those who died on the Flight 3407 crash in Clarence Center.

An Electronic Pilot Training Database was supposed to be in effect no later than April 2017. However, has been stalled in the beta testing phase for more than two years.

The database would give airlines full access to training records of commercial pilots. In February,around the tenth anniversary of the tragedy, lawmakers individually wrote letters to FAA Secretary Elaine Chao.

This week, in another effort, they sent a unified letter led by the delegation with signatures from 20 other members of Congress as well.

“The Captain of Flight 3407 was hired with only 600 hours of flight experience at his first regional airline job and had previously failed three Federal Aviation Administration check rides, only having disclosed one to the regional airline that hired him.

“This is one of several reasons the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) Accident Report concluded the incident was entirely avoidable and attributable to pilot error. Based on recommendations from the NTSB, the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-216), enacted major legislative reforms including the establishment of a Pilot Records Database to prevent such a circumstance from occurring in the future,” the bipartisan letter reads.

Many of the 3407 families, again, returned to Washington this week to discuss the importance of the safety standards.