Cuomo Admin: Consolidate Primaries To April 28

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration on Friday floated the idea of holding the state, congressional and presidential nominating contests in New York on April 28.

Consolidating the two primaries would boost turnout and save money, said Dani Lever, the governor’s communications director.

“The Governor believes the best governmental practice is to consolidate the presidential, congressional and state primary elections on one day making it easier to vote and saving tens of millions of taxpayer dollars rather than holding multiple elections,” she said in the statement released Friday afternoon.

“That was the rationale for moving the September statewide primaries up to coordinate with the June federal primaries. The presidential primary of April 28 this year adds a new element and the easiest solution is to hold the state and congressional primaries on that date: April 28. Governor Cuomo believes we should want as many voters to participate in the process as possible, and everything we have done since Democrats have taken full control in Albany has been to make it easier for people to vote, including enacting early voting.”

The current calendar has the state and congressional primaries scheduled for the final Tuesday in June, with the presidential primary scheduled for April. Previously, due to a disagreement between majority Republicans in the state Senate and the Democratic-controlled Assembly, the state had up to three primary elections scattered through the year.

New York unified its state and congressional primaries earlier this year with a new Democratic majority in the state Senate.

“A state and congressional primary election held two months after a presidential primary is an unnecessary obstacle to voter participation,” Lever said. “At least 15 other states have a single combined primary for presidential, federal and state races for exactly this reason. Ideally New York would have an earlier presidential primary date to be more relevant to the national dialogue but that is not under consideration as it is not politically feasible at this point.”

Holding a primary earlier the year for state legislative races would come less than a month after the state budget is due to pass in Albany.

Here’s The New License Plate Design

newplate

Winning nearly half of the overall vote total, New Yorkers have picked a license plate that depicts Niagara Falls, the Adirondack mountain range and the New York City skyline.

The plate was one of five potential designs put to New Yorkers for a replacement program that has been mired in controversy over the last several weeks.

Overall, the winning plate design received 49.7 percent of the votes online, with various iterations of a large outline of the Statue of Liberty receiving 16 percent, a smaller Lady Liberty at 9.7 percent and a Statue of Liberty torch at 14.9 percent. The design that showed the outline of the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge received 9.7 percent of the vote.

The new plates will be available in April.

State Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy was in Albany Friday to file a Freedom of Information Law request seeking more information on the vote the Cuomo administration announced last month for New Yorkers to pick the next license plate.

“I think that kind of is pretty all encompassing,” Langworthy said. “Hopefully we get something back in fairly short order, but I have no expectations in cooperation from down the hall.”\

The replacement program as initial announced would require drivers with plates 10 years old or older to turn them in starting next April. It costs $25 to replace the plates, a fee set before Cuomo was elected.

The law as written allows the administration to lower the fee itself. But Cuomo in a radio interview on Friday morning blamed lawmakers.

“The legislators who now say it shouldn’t be $25 — you hypocrite. You voted for the budget,” Cuomo said. “You were in the majority.”

In a statement, Cuomo senior advisor Rich Azzopardi called Langworthy a two-bit conspiracy theorist, noting a compromise to have many drivers avoid the fee for new plates has been proposed. As announced by DMV Commissioner Mark Schroeder, older plates that are not damaged or peeling may be able to remain on the road pending an inspection.

“It’s sad that the New York Republicans have gone full tilt Trump and given its reigns to a two-bit conspiracy theorist,” Azzopardi said.

“No amount of grandstanding , hypocrisy and cheap press hits can hide the facts, which are the cost of a replacement license plate was changed from $15 to $25 by a vote of the legislature in 2009– before this governor took office– remained the same for the last 10 years and that Langworthy’s fellow Republicans did nothing to change it when they held the Senate. As the ‎DMV commissioner already said he wants to work with the legislature to come up with a cost-effective system before April that adapts to changing technology to ensure that plates can be read by both cashless tolling and law enforcement‎.”

Cuomo Is Not A Presidential Candidate, But He’s Playing Role Anyway

Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a radio interview this morning was asked about whether New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio should drop his long-shot bid for the party’s presidential nomination.

He pretended his phone line went dead, eventually eliciting a long chuckle at his own joke.

De Blasio is almost certainly not going to be the Democratic presidential nomination. U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, once considered a rising star in the Democratic Party, dropped out of the race after only eight months after failing to qualify for next week’s TV debate.

Elected nine years ago, Cuomo is now the longest-serving governor in the country. He has a resume that in most presidential election cycles would make for a strong front-running candidate from the centrist-to-liberal wing of the party (Cuomo has a complex relationship with the progressive-advocacy left and how that would have played in a hypothetical presidential run by the governor is best suited for a blog post all its own).

And yet, Cuomo spent much of this summer in Albany, zip lining at the beach, hitting up the state fair, betting on the ponies at Saratoga or fishing on Lake Ontario, not in the sweaty confines of Iowa or New Hampshire.

Running for president is a lot like trying to get called up to a major league baseball team. A lot of people want the job, think they’d be good at it, only to fall on their faces and come away a little diminished as a result.

Cuomo, like anyone in public life, seems to have little appetite for being publicly diminished.

He’s not running for president, and yet he seems to be filling a role in national politics anyway. He’s in line next year to become the head of the National Governors Association. He’s challenging Democrats who are actually running for president to take a stand on gun control.

And, this week, he’s floated the idea of combining the presidential primary scheduled for April with congressional and state legislative races, potentially holding both nominating contests earlier.

New York rarely matters in presidential nominating politics. But imagine an early New York primary in the beginning of 2020, the still unwieldy field of Democratic candidates trooping to the executive mansion to pat Captain the dog on the hand and talk with Cuomo about the direction of the Democratic Party.

Cuomo is adept at finding ways of projecting power, especially when it comes to the inherently powerful governor’s office. Why not project New York’s power as well?

Cuomo is famously something of a homebody. He rarely travels out of state, and when he does, it’s rare he’s spending more than a night or two away. But that doesn’t mean he can’t leverage his own influence on the national stage.

James Launches Anti-Trust Probe Of Facebook

New York Attorney General Letitia James on Friday confirmed hr office will lead an investigation of Facebook over anti-trust concerns.

The multi-state probe of the social media company dovetails with a separate investigation of Google’s business practices.

“Even the largest social media platform in the world must follow the law and respect consumers,” James said.

“I am proud to be leading a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general in investigating whether Facebook has stifled competition and put users at risk. We will use every investigative tool at our disposal to determine whether Facebook’s actions may have endangered consumer data, reduced the quality of consumers’ choices, or increased the price of advertising.”

James’s office is leading the multi-state coalition that includes Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, and the District of Columbia.

Cuomo Sees Benefit To Combining Legislative, Presidential Primaries

Combining New York’s two primary dates in one election would have multiple benefits, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a radio interview on Friday morning, including making the state a bigger player on the national stage and saving taxpayer money.

NY1 reported Thursday Cuomo had reached out to legislative leaders in the Assembly and state Senate about potentially moving the primaries to February. The presidential primary is currently scheduled for April, with primaries for state and federal elections in June.

Cuomo backed off the idea of a February primary, questioning whether it would be “a viable date politically.” New York would be punished by the Democratic National Committee for moving its presidential primary, likely losing delegates as a result.

“It is a politically, there is great opposition to reducing the number of delegates of the state,” he said on WAMC. “For a microreason they don’t want to have fewer slots for delegates. The other states won’t be happy if you go earlier.”

But Cuomo indicated he would be open to an earlier date for both, and combining them as well.

“First, I think we have to at least coordinate the presidential primary and the congressional and the state races,” he said. “I don’t see how as a matter of good government how you defend the two taxpayers we’re going to have two separate elections.”

New York often plays little to no role in presidential politics, beyond its wealthiest residents being used as a source of campaign contributions for candidates in either party. The state has voted Democratic in each election since 1988 and its primary is often held so late in the calendar it has little effect on the broader primary.

An early primary date would be potentially beneficial to former Vice President Joe Biden, whose candidacy the governor has been supportive for much of the year. And combining the presidential primary, which would draw a broader cross-section of voters, with down-ballot offices, would aid incumbents in the Legislature and House of Representatives, many of whom are facing intraparty challenges from the left next year.

Cuomo indicated in the interview this morning the combined primary would boost turnout.

“Who votes in that second election, right?” Cuomo said. “You just go through a presidential primary and now I’m supposed to come out and vote two months later for the my Congress people and my Assembly and Senate?”

Any change in the primary schedule would have to be done by the state Legislature, which is not due to return to the Capitol until January.

New York for several election cycles had as many as three primaries in a single year due to a federal law governing access to military and overseas ballot and a failure by lawmakers in the Democratic-led Assembly and the state Senate under GOP control to unify a state primary date. As a result, the presidential primary would be held in April, a federal primary in June and a state and local primary in September.

Earlier this year, with the state Senate flipped to Democratic control, lawmakers approved a bill setting the last Tuesday in June as the state primary date to match the federal calendar.

But now Cuomo believes that even two primaries is too many.

“You have to least coordinate the schedules in my opinion or it’s all a mockery,” he said.

Challenge To Ending Religious Exemption For Vaccines Setback Again

From the Morning Memo:

A case challenging New York’s law ending the religious exemption for vaccinating school children faced another setback in court on Thursday as an appeals court denied a request for a repeal of the measure.

Attorney Michael Sussman, a longtime legal activist who is representing anti-vaccination parents in the court challenge alongside Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., wrote in a Facebook post on Thursday the next step was to bring their argument to the Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court.

The decision from the state Appellate Court’s third department came without explanation, Sussman said.

Several rulings so far have upheld the law ending the religious exemption for vaccinations, which was approved by lawmakers in June amid a measles outbreak in Brooklyn and Rockland County.

More than 1,000 measles cases have been reported in the last year.

“While the courts in our state have been unsympathetic to date to our effort to repeal the repeal, many educators from around the state recognize the absence of any good rationale for the legislature’s action and the tremendous disservice the repeal is doing to the state and many families,” Sussman wrote in the post.

Public health officials and experts roundly agree healthy people should be vaccinated for preventable diseases in order to create herd immunity.

A majority of New Yorkers supported ending the religious exemption for vaccinations, polls have shown.

Schumer Reluctant To Weigh In On Buffalo Diocese Scandal

From the Morning Memo:

Some state and federal leaders in Western New York are calling for the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo to resign amid controversy over how the church has handled accusations of sexual abuse by its clergy.

Bishop Richard Malone, during a press conference earlier this week said he has no intention of stepping down. Reporters asked Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer during a Thursday event, what he believes should happen.

Schumer, who doesn’t live in the region, admitted to not knowing all the details of the situation.

“What I’ve read about this is just terrible,” he said. “It’s awful, very disturbing. You know we always have to be mindful to do everything we can to be responsive to and protective of survivors of any form of harassment or abuse.”

Schumer himself is Jewish, not Catholic. He said his religious affiliation also makes it difficult for him to weigh in.

“I am not a member of this faith community and I’m very respectful of its separation of church and state so I’m reluctant to specifically say what this faith community should do,” he said.

However, the Democratic Leader urged the church, its lay community and its leadership to handle the issue quickly, effectively and decisively.

Here And Now

Good morning and TGIF!

Happening today:

At 10 a.m., New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will be on WNYC.

Also at 10 a.m., Assembly Corporations, Authorities and Commissions Chair Amy Paulin and Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee Chair Michael DenDekker will take testimony to examine new technologies and potential legislation that would help decrease the number of robocalls and spoofed calls. Assembly Hearing Room, 1923, 250 Broadway, 19th Floor, New York City.

Also at 10 a.m., Rep. Paul Tonko will visit an early-childhood education at Schenectady Community Action Program. 913 Albany St, Schenectady.

At noon, local resistance organizers will continue their monthly demonstrations to heighten public awareness about foreign and domestic threats to election security. 516 Broadway (Between Prince and Dederick), Kingston516 Broadway (Between Prince and Dederick), Kingston.

At 2 p.m., Assemblywoman Monica Wallace will hold a news conference to discuss how state funding was used to increase the safety, efficiency, and comfort of popular Village of Lancaster splash pad and unveiling of signage dedicating the park as “Ronald L. Hadsall Memorial Park” in honor of former Lancaster Mayor Ron Hadsall. Richmond Avenue and 2nd Avenue, Lancaster.

Headlines:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is pushing to upend the presidential primary calendar, making New York jump close to the head of the line by having voters head to the polls in February instead of late April, sources tell NY1.

New York officials are warning against the use of vape products as an illness spreads around the country among users.

Lawyers for Nauman Hussain filed a motion to dismiss the 2018 Schoharie limo crash charges. Hussain is the operator of Prestige Limousine facing manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide charges.

A longtime aide to the late former Queens district attorney is entitled to a pension of more than $319,000.

A judge is considering a “mini-trial” in the lawsuit by former Assemblyman Dov Hikind over his being blocked on Twitter by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Assembly Democrats are making a push for statewide full-day pre-Kindergarten, which is still lacking in some school districts.

Gov. Cuomo is holding an annual staff retreat at an upscale hotel in central New York. The trip was paid for with his campaign funds.

St. Clare’s Corporation allegedly failed to purchase insurance that could have saved the St. Clare’s pension fund from collapse.

As families prepare for outdoor fun this fall, state forest rangers are renewing their call for increased staffing. The DEC says staffing levels are adequate but some rangers say a shortage puts hikers at risk.

A group opposed to the legalization of marijuana wants to keep its donors a secret from state lobbying regulators.

High rents are driving millennials out of Long Island, a study found.

The former campaign manager for the disgraced ex-town supervisor of Oyster Bay pleaded guilty to corruption charges.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone says funds are being raised to help repair a memorial to victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.

New York City Councilman Andy King is continuing his bad behavior despite being indicted by an Ethics Committee over retaliation and sexual harassment.

Former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman was booed at a hearing over the closure of Rikers Island jail.

More than 200 groups have formed a coalition to push the campaign finance commission to create a system of public funding campaigns, where every six dollars donated results in one dollar of public funds.

In the last two weeks, there have been three incidents involving illegal dirtbikes and ATVs. That resulted in two arrests and several tickets issued. Some Albany Common Council members are hoping a new rewards program approved 9-3 Thursday night will help tackle this issue.

Rats run rampant in the city. But a study detemined that Brooklyn has the most rat complaints in the five boroughs. So local lawmakers stepped up efforts to take care of the issue.

A state lawmaker is introducing a bill that would allow students to miss school for mental health reasons as well as physical ones.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s presidential campaign may be on life support, but he’s still rolling out new policy plans. His latest? A tax on robots.

Mayor Bill de Blasio’s presidential campaign has never taken off since he launched his bid in May, but he’s only just now admitting that his run for the White House could soon be over.

The mayor distributed $3.6 million in raises to his staff in the last year.

New numbers show city police officers have been making fewer arrests in the weeks since NYPD Officer Daniel Pantaleo was fired for his role in Eric Garner’s death.

T-Mobile stores in New York City are being accused of ripping off customers.

The film studio Lionsgate is building a $100 million production facility in Yonkers.

The supermarket chain Wegmans is asking customers not to carry guns in their stores.

Members of the Ithaca Police Benevolent Association voice concerns again after a shooting in the city. Their main issue is a smaller staff working without a contract.

A warning for boaters on the Erie Canal in Oneida County after a bridge collapsed on Thursday.

The Movement to Restore Trust, an independent Catholic organization, has called on Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone to resign.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said the blame lies with the Department of Homeland Security over minimum staffing levels at the Canadian border.

In national news:

Residents in the coastal areas of North Carolina hunkered down for a long night and morning as Hurricane Dorian continued to make its move.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is under fire for holding a fundraiser hosted by a natural gas magnate.

Biden is betting heavily on black voters being able to carry him through the primaries.

President Trump’s administration is set to move mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac back to the private sector.

Border wall status: Still unbuilt.

A new jobs report is being released today amid anxiety over a slowing economy.

State governments are set to launch anti-trust investigations of Google and Facebook.

From the editorial pages:

The Times Union writes the Trump administration’s push to rollback methane gas regulations puts the planet at greater risk.

Newsday says the U.S. needs to pitch in and help the Bahamas recover from a devastating hurricane.

The New York Post urged President Trump to take the lead for stronger background checks legislation.

From the sports pages:

The NFL season kicked off on Thursday (with a very boring game between the Packers and Bears).

The Syracuse football team showed flashes of the potential many seem to think it has in its 24-0 shutout win over Liberty University last weekend. But according to the Orange themselves, there is also plenty of room for improvement. And there will clearly need to be some improvement for the early season success to continue.

Cuomo Approves Law Blocking Car Fees If A Customer Dies

Early termination fees on car contracts when a customer dies before the contract ends will be blocked in New York after a measure was signed into law Thursday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Similar laws are already in place for service providers for phone, Internet and TV.

“Losing a loved one is hard enough – facing an early termination fee on a motor vehicle lease that belonged to a departed loved one is just salt in the wound,” Cuomo said. “Television, internet and phone providers are already banned from issuing these fees, and with this new law we’re doing the same for motor vehicle leases to ensure grieving relatives will be protected from this additional stress.”

The measure was sponsored by Sen. Kevin Thomas and Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther.

“This law not only serves as a necessary consumer protection but is also the right thing to do for New York families,” Gunther said.

“The idea of having to deal with the death of a love one and then being charged an early termination fee on a lease agreement is particularly infuriating. This bill will ensure that no family in New York State will be subject to this injustice.”

Rozic-Stavisky Bill Aimed At Diversity Boost For Gifted And Talented Program

Two Democratic state lawmakers on Thursday introduced a bill meant to boost diversity in the Gifted and Talented Program in New York City schools.

The measure was introduced amid a recommendation to scale back the program, which critics contend has largely benefited white and Asian students.

“All students deserve educational opportunities and it is my hope that by broadening access more students will enroll and benefit from accelerated school instruction,” Rozic said. “With the start of the new school year, our school system should take this opportunity to broaden the gateways for students and ensure that all New Yorkers have access to the educational services they deserve.”

Thursday was the first day of school for New York City students.

The bill would require all students before reaching third grade to be screened for the gifted and talented program, unless their parent or guardian opts out.

Rozic and Stavisky earlier this week sent a letter to Mayor Bill de Blasio in support of the program.

“New York City’s Gifted and Talented Program allows for children who benefit from an accelerated learning experience an opportunity to be challenged in the classroom. This legislation would increase diversity throughout the Gifted and Talented Program and include more students from under-represented populations,” Stavisky said.

“This bill would ensure any child with the ability to excel has the opportunity to flourish and reach their full potential.”