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.

 

Here and Now

Good morning and happy Thursday.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is yet to release his public schedule; his fremeny Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to officially launch his presidential campaign today.

At 9 a.m., NYC Councilman Mark Levine joins health care providers, advocates and community members to call on the mayor to fully mitigate State Article 6 budget cuts in New York City’s fiscal year 2020 budget, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 9 a.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. meets with the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors, HSBC, 452 Fifth Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 9 a.m., Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will announce funding for medication assisted treatment mobile unit, Ramon Velez Health Center, 754 E 151st Street, Bronx.

At 10 a.m., the state Department of Health’s Public Health and Health Planning Council meets, state Health Department, 90 Church St., fourth floor, Rooms 4A and 4B, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Reps. Hakeem Jeffries and Yvette Clarke join advocates at the Weeksville Heritage Center to call for its inclusion in the city Department of Cultural Affairs’ Cultural Institutions Group, 158 Buffalo Ave., Brooklyn.

Also at 10 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Finance meets jointly with the Committee on Youth Services, the Committee on Small Business, the Committee on Health and the Committee on Disabilities and Addiction, Council chamber, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., the NYC Campaign Finance Board holds a public meeting, Joseph A. O’Hare S.J. Board Room, 100 Church St., 12th floor, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., state Sen. Julia Salazar, Assemblyman Felix Ortiz, New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams demand equal opportunity for young people in New York City’s foster care system, Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

Also at 10 a.m., NYC Councilman Ben Kallos delivers the commencement address for Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work, Yeshiva University Lamport Auditorium, 2540 Amsterdam Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams will rally with the Fair Futures coalition, Brooklyn Borough Hall Steps, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

At 10:30 a.m., the NYC Council Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises meets, 250 Broadway, 16th floor, Committee Room, Manhattan.

Also at 10:30 a.m., the Public Service Commission will hold its next regular session, 19th Fl. Board Room, Three Empire State Plaza, Albany.

Also at 10:30 a.m., state Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz and state Sen. Andrew Gounardes announce legislation that would establish clear requirements for the MTA to make subway stations compliant with ADA requirements, 72nd Street B/C train entrance, Manhattan.

Also at 10:30 a.m., Lt. Gov. Hochul will participate in Fireside Chat at Chobani Women in Business Event, Chobani SoHo, 200 Lafayette Street, 6th Floor, New York City.

At 11 a.m., state Assemblyman Michael Benedetto and the WELL Campaign host a press conference to discuss the state of school wellness policy and announce action to address student health and well-being, 3602 E. Tremont Ave., Suite 201, the Bronx.

Also at 11 a.m., Mayor Bill de Blasio will deliver remarks at the opening of the Statue of Liberty Museum, 1 Liberty Island, Ellis Island.

Also at 11 a.m., state Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal and state Sen. Robert Jackson rally before the New York City Council vote on the mechanical voids proposal, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., the NYC Council Committee on Land Use meets, 250 Broadway, 16th floor, Committee Room, Manhattan.

Also at 11 a.m., state Sens. Brian Kavanaugh and Zellnor Myrie hold a joint press conference on rent and tenant protection laws, Ebbets Field Apartments, 1720 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn.

At 11:30 a.m., Lt. Gov. Hochul will appear at the dedication of the Statue of Liberty Museum, 1 Liberty Island, Ellis Island.

At noon, NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson delivers his first speech on criminal justice reform and unveils several proposals for a more fair criminal justice system, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, second floor, 524 W. 59th St., Manhattan.

Also at noon, contractors and small business owners discuss the impact of the state’s proposed changes to rent regulations, Medgar Evers College, corner of Bedford Avenue and Montgomery Street, Brooklyn.

Also at noon, NYC Councilman Ritchie Torres, Common Cause New York, New York Civil Liberties Union and advocates blast Board Of Elections for setting up voters to fail in early voting, outside the Board of Elections’ office, 42 Broadway, Manhattan.

Also at noon, NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer, members of the Stop the Williams Pipeline Coalition and others rally to urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo to put a stop to the Williams natural gas pipeline project, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 1 p.m., the state Senate Committee on Housing, Construction and Community Development holds a public hearing on rent regulations and tenant protections, Medgar Evers College, 1650 Bedford Ave., Brooklyn.

At 1:15 p.m., Hochul will address the New York Building Congress’ 98th Anniversary Leadership Awards Luncheon, New York Hilton Midtown, 1335 6th Avenue, New York City.

At 2 p.m., state Assembly members Carmen De La Rosa and Al Taylor, and NYC Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez attend Yeshiva University’s grand opening of its Innovation Lab, Yeshiva University Furst Hall, 500 W. 185th St., Manhattan.

At 5 p.m., “Driving Forces,” hosted by Jeff Simmons, features New York City First Lady Chirlane McCray and CUNY Chancellor Felix Matos Rodriguez, WBAI, 99.5 FM.

Headlines…

Ending months of speculation, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is expected to announce he will enter the crowded field for president Thursday.

Unlike most of the other candidates running for president, Mayor Bill de Blasio has years of executive experience under his belt. But while he says he’s shown that progressive ideas can be put into action, the reality is a bit more complicated.

Bill de Blasio has been in public office for almost two decades, as a Brooklyn councilman, New York City public advocate, and now mayor. But with more than two dozen contenders for the Democratic nomination for president, what does Bill de Blasio have to help him stand out? Here’s a look at what could be his strengths and weaknesses on the campaign trail this time around.

Meet Dean Fuleihan. He’s Mayor Bill 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.

The Democratic-led state Senate on Wednesday gave final passage to a bill that would create a program for cameras on school buses. The measure, previously approved this month by the Democratic-controlled Assembly, now heads to Governor Andrew Cuomo’s desk. He is expected to approve it.

The fight for clean drinking water heads to Capitol Hill. The House Environment and Climate Change Subcommittee is meeting Wednesday to discuss PFAS contamination. This comes after areas like Hoosick Falls and Newburgh found their water was contaminated with the chemical in recent years.

A proposed Holocaust Memorial that was sidelined due to its controversial design, is now back in the spotlight with a new look. A community forum Wednesday evening at Niskayuna High School discussed the changes.

The New York State Division of Budget says $93 million was contributed to the state’s Charitable Gift Trust Fund in Fiscal Year 2019 — which ended in March — $58 million toward health care and another $35 million for education.

Syracuse is partnering with a software firm to help people who are looking to build in the city. OpenCounter gives both residents and developers a chance to look at the permit ad zoning process online.

New York will decide today whether to allow a new undersea natural gas pipeline, which Cuomo said will be made independently of him, and the debate pits National Grid and developer interests against renewable energy advocates.

Disability rights groups filed a major lawsuit against the MTA, arguing the agency’s repeated decisions to complete major subway station renovations without adding handicapped-accessible features violates the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Women’s groups and their supporters are calling for New York City Councilman Barry Grodenchik to resign after he admitted to sexually harassing a staffer, with the groups saying the City Council did not go far enough in its punishment.

The bench trial against a Rochester police officer accused of beating a man began on Wednesday. Officer Michael Sippel is charged with misdemeanor assault.

Doctors in Irondequoit are treating a patient with a suspected case of measles after an adult walked into Rochester Regional Health’s Riedman Wellness Center on Wednesday.

New York State Emergency Services Commissioner Pat Murphy stopped in Youngstown Wednesday to view the flooding already underway there.

The budget axe is swinging at the NYPD. During a budget hearing Wednesday, police officials told the City Council they will eliminate 130 traffic agent positions in the next fiscal year that begins July 1. They say the positions already are vacant, which eliminates the need for layoffs.

Tears were streaming inside an NYPD trial room as graphic autopsy photos of Eric Garner were shown in the disciplinary trial of officer Daniel Pantaleo, who is accused of placing Garner in a banned chokehold before his death.

Emergency crews responded after a helicopter crash landed in the Hudson River near 30th Street. The 34-year-old pilot was the only person on-board when it happened around 2:30 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.

New York state has rejected a proposal “without prejudice” to construct a pipeline that would carry natural gas amid a growing battle over the state’s energy future.

New York City’s proposed fur ban has pitted animal rights advocates against black clergy.

The former movie studio run by disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein has petitioned to liquidate itself in bankruptcy court.

George Kelling, who developed the controversial “broken windows” theory of policing, has died at 83.

President Donald Trump is frustrated with his advisers over potential war plans for Iran, as he worries the move would reverse his support for withdrawing the U.S. from Middle East conflicts.

Alabama’s new abortion measure could have a direct impact on the 2020 election — a prospect that worries some social conservatives.

While the Alabama abortion law may be part of an effort to overturn Roe v. Wade, it’s not clear if the conservative majority on the Supreme Court would use the measure to do so.

The Trump administration plans to unveil a more “merit based” approach toward immigration.

Trump has granted a pardon to media baron Conrad Black, who was found guilty of fraud and obstruction in 2007.

Stewart-Cousins Says Marijuana Convictions Should Be Expunged

The records of those convicted of marijuana possession charges should be expunged if the state moves to legalize marijuana sales in New York, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins on Wednesday said at an unrelated news conference.

“I think they should be expunged,” she said.

State lawmakers who support legalization are backing a new bill after the effort failed to be included in the final budget agreement this year. The new bill largely reflects what Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed in his initial budget plan in January, which would consolidate marijuana regulation for retail sales, medical cannabis and hemp production under one agency.

Cuomo earlier this year proposed sealing records for marijuana-related convictions.

It’s not clear if the new bill will be enough to bring along skeptical Democrats in the Legislature who are concerned with traffic and public safety issues surrounding commercial marijuana sales.

“It was just this new iteration was just introduced and we have not had a conversation about that,” Stewart-Cousins said. “The conversations around marijuana are ongoing. I don’t know if we’ll have a resolution by the end of session, but obviously it’s an issue we’re paying attention to.”

Cuomo himself has publicly doubted the votes are available for marijuana legalization. He had initially proposed using a portion of the revenue generated by legal marijuana sales in New York City to be used toward raising capital for the MTA.

The debate has enveloped issues ranging from criminal justice law changes to how to regulate a relatively new commercial industry.

“I think part of is it’s a very big policy issues that will obviously set the stage for a brand new industry,” Stewart-Cousins said. “We want to make sure we learn from others who have done it and there’s always been the conversation about communities impacted by the previous prosecution of this very same product.”

Extras

The White House is preparing to release a broad outline of proposed immigration reforms aimed at unifying congressional Republicans on the issue, following months of discussions between senior adviser Jared Kushner and dozens of conservative groups.

Democratic presidential candidates rushed to condemn Alabama’s approval of a ban on nearly all abortions, warning that it portends a larger offensive by conservatives around the country to undermine the landmark Roe v. Wade decision.

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is set to meet with abortion providers and women’s rights activists in Georgia tomorrow following the passage of the new “heartbeat” abortion legislation in the state.

Gillibrand introduced legislation to force the Environmental Protection Agency to set maximum levels for the class of chemicals involved in drinking-water contamination in Hoosick Falls and other sites in New York.

Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani leapt to the defense of Eric Trump in a spat between New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio and The Trump Organization over emissions fines for its buildings.

Mark Vicente feared for his life and the lives of family members after he left NXIVM in 2017, the filmmaker testified at the federal trial of Keith Raniere.

Not all vehicles are equal under a proposed seat belt restriction approved today in the state Senate. It expands seat belt requirements for adults in the rear of personal-use automobiles, but limousines, taxis and buses are exempt.

House Republicans began collecting signatures to force a vote on Senate-passed legislation intended to protect Israel from financial boycotts, pressing forward with an effort to paint Democrats as anti-Israel and anti-Jewish.

A commuter helicopter made an emergency landing in the Hudson River this afternoon, according to authorities. There was only one occupant of the copter, the pilot, and he escaped unscathed.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art said that it would stop accepting gifts from members of the Sackler family linked to OxyContin, severing ties between one of the world’s most prestigious museums and one of its most prolific philanthropic dynasties.

Illinois’ capital-city newspaper, a 188-year-old institution tied intimately to Abraham Lincoln, is without a news chief after its editor resigned in hopes of sparing more layoffs, according to a staff writer.

As its solar energy business slumps, Tesla is broadening the products it makes at its Buffalo factory beyond solar panels to include electrical components for its batteries and its electric vehicle charging stations.

A GoFundMe campaign is under way to raise $10 to replace two flowers stolen from the mansion of Saratoga Springs socialite Michele Riggi.

A passed by the state Senate last week requires each package of tampons sold in New York to display the materials used and their quantity. It began moving through the Assembly committee process yesterday.

Cuomo administration officials say they support efforts by AARP to stem the rising cost of prescription drugs for New Yorkers.

In a bid to ward off statewide rent-law reforms being floated in Albany, landlords have sided with tenant advocate groups on one thing: They are supporting a bill that would introduce a rent supplement for eligible residents seeking public assistance, or facing eviction.

Public school students in Buffalo would not start classes until Sept. 11 – more than a full week after Labor Day – and would lose their traditional February break under a district calendar being considered for the 2019-20 school year.

In New York City, a group of climate activists are on the second day of a three-day hunger strike in front of Cuomo’s office ahead of tomorrow’s permitting deadline for the proposed Williams pipeline project, which would carry fracked gas from Pennsylvania’s shale fields under New York Harbor.

This is just, strange.

Tax Revenue

Since last year, we have heard dire warnings about the state’s fiscal picture. Governor Cuomo blamed President Trump for capping deductions New Yorkers could make for State and local taxes at $10,000. Revenues in general were predicted to be a little tight as we headed into the new fiscal year.

Well as it turns out, things aren’t quite as bad as we were told. According to the Comptroller’s office, total year to date tax collections for the State of New York are at $11.6 Billion. That is $60.4 Million higher than projections. And $3.7 Billion above what they were at this point last year.

So contrary to the belief that New York State is in some kind of economic free fall, the opposite appears to be true. Sure, it’s a long year ahead, and things can certainly change, but for now the fiscal outlook is pretty solid.

The numbers are significant because during the State budget process, there was much wrangling over what the economic forecast should be. And many lawmakers were very unhappy they didn’t have more money for education to bring home to their districts.

**UPDATE**

In a statement, Freeman Klopett, a spokesperson for the New York State Division of Budget says,

“We are still in just the first inning when it comes to the impacts of the cap on SALT deductions and our fiscal discipline will continue to provide the flexibility we need to adapt. No matter how you slice it, the unconstitutional cap on SALT deductibility will increase taxes by more than $600 billion nationwide, overwhelmingly impacting New York and similarly situated states that’s made only more egregious by the fact that New York is already the number one “donor state” in the nation – contributing $36 billion more to the federal government than we get back every year. The SALT cap makes this imbalance worse, putting New York at a competitive disadvantage and raising taxes on New Yorkers by $15 billion annually — all so that large corporations and other states can reap the rewards.”

Cuomo And Lee To Leave Westchester County Home

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his partner Sandra Lee are moving out of the home they share in New Castle, he confirmed on Wednesday during an event at Bethpage on Long Island.

Cuomo indicated both he and Lee are now empty nesters as his three daughters live predominantly elsewhere.

“We had great years in the house,” he said. “My girls have now grownup. They’re living now in different places. So we really don’t need the house, but a lot of great memories. A lot of great memories.”

Lee and Cuomo have shared the house for the last decade and have been in a relationship for the last 14 years.

Cuomo votes in Westchester County and contributes to household expenses, including the property tax bill. Cuomo has pointed to the sky-high taxes in Westchester County as evidence of the need to cap increases and control local government spending.

Lee in Facebook post denied rumors reported by Page Six that the couple has broken up.

Lee also has an apartment in Battery Park City. The couple has divided their time between New York City, Long Island and Albany.

“It doesn’t mean that they’re not buying another house in Westchester,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who represents a Westchester County district. “I’m following your news.”

Slaughter Family Donates Congressional Collection To University of Rochester

The University of Rochester will be the new home of late Congresswoman Louise Slaughter’s congressional papers and collection.

Slaughter’s family is donating the document which will be archived and made available at the River Campus Libraries’ Department of Rare Books, Special Collection and Preservation in the coming years. The congresswoman passed away in March of last year at the age of 88.

“Rochester was the heart of Louise’s district and she tirelessly represented the people here,” University President Richard Feldman said. “Her legacy in Congress, throughout the state, in Rochester, and across this University was profound and will never be forgotten—it is a distinctive honor for the University to curate and steward her collection. I want to thank the Slaughter family for entrusting us with this wonderful opportunity.”

The papers include legislative research, introduced and passed bills, speeches, manuscripts, awards and visual media documenting her years of service. The university said it will help students gain a greater understanding of the cultural movement that happened over Slaughter’s 30-year tenure.

“There’s incredible scholarship potential here,” University vice provost Mary Ann Mavrinac said. “Students, faculty, community members, authors, artists, visiting scholars and others across far-ranging areas such as education, political science, public health, and women in government and leadership can draw from her papers to inform their work.”

The congresswoman, among other things, was considered a champion for women’s rights and scientific research. She was also the first female chair of the influential House Rules committee.

UR anticipates the collection will be fully searchable and include a retrospective exhibition about Slaughter’s contributions.