Friday, April 28, 2017

Ignoring the Press


Groundhog Day: Times Notices Again de Blasio Ignores the Press  “Don’t Ask, Don’t Answer”
A Mayor Raises Questions by Refusing to Take Any (NYT) Since walking out of a news conference last month, Mayor Bill de Blasio seems to be embracing a new approach of “don’t ask, don’t answer.”* De Blasio has restricted the times when he will take questions from reporters and has relied more on social media channels, town hall exchanges and one-on-one interviews with specific reporters, a model that has been largely untested in New York, the Times reports.No questions were allowed after a Police Academy graduation, by the statue known as “Fearless Girl” in Lower Manhattan, or even at the handful of events during the mayor’s weeklong road trip on Staten Island last week.“I’m here to talk about this,” he said at the March 23 event, held so he could talk about a so-called mansion tax proposal. “I’m here to talk about this. If you want to talk about this, I’m here to talk about this.” After three questions not about that, he walked off.


Times Admits to Scripted Controlled News by deB But It is Every Elected Officials Esp. in NY
Even before the March 23 news conference, Mr. de Blasio had increasingly relied on more scripted interactions with reporters when making a public announcement, insisting that reporters ask questions only about the topic that he had chosen to talk about that day, like police statistics, or affordable housing.  When Mr. de Blasio was public advocate, he gave the previous administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg poor marks for transparency and responsiveness to requests for information. But Mr. Bloomberg did take off-topic questions, once questions on the stated topic had been exhausted, said Bill Cunningham, a former spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg. Mr. Cunningham said the lack of a prominent opponent to the mayor in this year’s election has given him more space to do as he pleased. “As long as they’re able to get away with this, they will,” he said. City Hall and other city agencies have been active on social media and the mayor has conducted numerous live online video streams, including with a Staten Island couple during his time there last week and onboard the ferry on Monday. The videos provide a more intimate — if more controlled — view of mayoral activities than can be seen from a news conference.
   

NY1 in Their Weekly Interview (Campaign Commercial) With the Mayor Did Go Into Chiara and Dante's eating habits



Talking to New Yorkers Like They Are Children Using Tax Payer Dollars Our No Respect Mayor Makes A Dumb Song and Dance Video Daily News Epic Embarrassment

Taxpayers foot bill for glitzy ad touting de Blasio (NYP) Just hours before Mayor de Blasio sent out a plea for donations to his re-election campaign, City Hall posted a 3¹/₂-minute video on Twitter with Broadway actors touting Hizzoner and his accomplishments — all paid for by taxpayers.  The kitschy clip features former “Glee” actress Jenna Ushkowitz and former “Aladdin” actor James Iglehart test-running a song about pre-K, low crime rates and affordable housing for de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray.  Despite being described as a summary of accomplishments, the video cites a number of initiatives that have been pledged by the mayor but are years away from measurable progress. They include getting all second-graders to read on grade level by 2026, and providing computer-science education across all grades by 2025. The actors also trumpet a two-year rent freeze for rent-stabilized apartments, even though the Mayor’s Office has insisted it was imposed by the supposedly independent Rent Guidelines Board without City Hall interference.  * De Blasio hits awkward note withBroadway-style video promoting his 2016 achievements (NYDN) Mayor de Blasio released a cringe-inducing video on Tuesday to tout his accomplishments in 2016 that included awkward acting attempts from Hizzoner and City Hall staffers, while ignoring all of his missteps.  The video — financed with public money — stars Broadway actors Jenna Ushkowitz and James Iglehart and shows de Blasio on a flip phone requesting a song highlighting his administration’s work during 2016.  “Just hit it. Come on, hit it!” de Blasio barks into the phone to his wife First Lady Chirlane McCray and senior adviser Andrea Hagelgans, a nod to his reputation as a demanding boss.  The new video came on the same day the Daily News detailed his bad year with a front-page story, “Bill’s Sour ’16,” chronicling 16 troubling issues his administration faced during the past 12 months, including the law enforcement probes into de Blasio’s fund-raising and record homelessness, among other woes.  Not surprisingly, none of those problems made the cut for the puff video, which only shows the mayor in a positive light.  “No matter what will be, we got Billy D B,” Ushkowitz warbles.  And the video makes no mention of any of the problems the city faced this year.  That includes the controversy over his decision to take an NYPD helicopter to a Queens speech from Brooklyn during rush hour after making fund-raising calls in his favorite restaurant; the increase in cluster sites and hotel rooms to house the skyrocketing homeless population; and the city’s botched response to the Zymere Perkins child abuse case.John Kaehny, the executive director of the good government group Reinvent Albany, said the latest de Blasio video was too self-promotional for the public to foot the bill for. “It sounds like a campaign ad produced by taxpayer funds,” he said. Once 2017 starts — when the mayor will run for reelection — the Campaign Finance Board prohibits elected officials in New York from appearing in commercials for the city.* Mayor Bill de Blasio, who released a self-promoting video featuring Broadway talent that drew wide criticism, should concentrate more on delivering unimpeachable government if he wishes to drown out critics, the Daily News writes. Bill's Song and Dance Bright and early Tuesday morning, with the Daily News front page recounting “Tales of mayor’s roughest year yet,” the mayor’s Twitter and Facebook feeds unspooled a wacky mockumentary video in which two Broadway stars and First Lady Chirlane McCray purport to demo for the mayor, who’s listening in on a cellphone, his soaring accomplishments of 2016.  In song. With charts. Flashing the cryptic hashtag #alwaysnewyork and a satirical tone off-key to honest achievements touted, such as a million potholes filled, neighborhood policing taking root and affordable housing preserved. Then: Cut to McCray, who in all seriousness pleads with New Yorkers in mental distress to dial the city’s new NYC Well hotline for assistance. The spectacle’s punchline: de Blasio deems the effort “too elaborate. Maybe we should just do a couple of tweets.” Uh. Ha.  Such is the underwhelming stagecraft of Hizzoner’s new 15-head “creative communications” team, paid $75,000 each to broadcast the mayor’s message without the meddlesome fact-checking of news reporters.  The mayor’s new media adventures tread willfully close to the limit of the allowable. Had the spot emerged just five days hence, it would likely have been forbidden by a City Charter ban on taxpayer-funded self-promotion in an election year.  Had de Blasio been a state official and not a city one, the ad would likely have been forbidden by a state ethics law ban on public officials appearing in taxpayer-funded promotions .* A Song for Bill de Blasio Sounds a Sour Note for Watchdogs  (NYT)  Video on the mayor’s City Hall Twitter account uses two Broadway stars to promote his accomplishments. Some say it is too much like a campaign ad.* Mayor de Blasio tries to defend boastful video decried bywatchdogs (NYDN) "Great voices, catchy tune, and substantive content. What's controversial about that?" the tweet from the official New York City Mayor's Office read.* Fundraising Investigations, Homeless Crisis, and Failures at ACS Cloud Mayor's 2016  (NY1)Mayor de Blasio is struggling to put a positive spin on his exceptionally challenging 2016.

Friday, April 21, 2017

State Budget 2017 580

Albany Budget, Ethics, Pay Raise, Three Men in the Room, Pork, Campaign $$$ #580 











Free College As Long As You Stay In NY

Cuomo’s free tuition program comes with a major catch (NYP) Cuomo’s much-heralded new program for free tuition at state colleges comes with a huge catch — you have to sign years of your life away to get it.  Under a provision that was added to the tuition bill at the last moment, students who get a free ride at CUNY and SUNY schools must live and work in New York state for up to four years after graduation, or be forced to pay the money back.  The amendment — which was not part of Cuomo’s original offer of free college for middle- class students — was added at the insistence of Republicans in the state Senate.  The GOP members worried that taxpayer-educated students would take their valuable knowledge and flee to other parts of the US, particularly from remote upstate communities.
De Blasio: Mayoral control of schools in state budget 'being toyed with' (NYP) * Listof budget negatives include capital pork barrel, film credit extender@nygovcuomo mixed message on restraint. * Union workers dues will be fully tax-deductible thanks to Cuomo (NYP)

Cuomo Adopts a Middle-Class Mantra (NYT)Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York has been supplementing his liberal political portfolio with ideas that have broader appeal such as his so-called free-tuition plan.
How Cuomo’s ‘free tuition’ could deepen the student-debt crisis (NYP) It turns out Gov. Cuomo’s headline-grabbing “free tuition” turns retroactively into a loan for grads who take jobs out of state — and that’s not the only ugly surprise. The provision got tossed in at the last minute at the behest of Senate Republicans — whose upstate members worry about the “brain drain” of smart kids moving away.* A new scholarship that will let many New York students attend state colleges tuition-free has a caveat in the fine print: Recipients must live and work in the state for several years after graduation or pay back the money, The Wall Street Journal reports.  * The Post criticizes Cuomo’s free college tuition plan as enacted for turning tuition grants into loans if a graduate takes a job out of state, writing that details matter if you want to actually help people, but it seems Cuomo only cares about the headlines.* The program to provide free tuition at SUNY and CUNY campuses will primarily benefit traditional students, those who go to college straight from high school and earn their degrees on time, but increasingly many students attend part-time or take extra years, the Times reports.* Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joined Gov. Andrew Cuomo to praise his free tuition Excelsior Scholarship program, saying, “We need to be building bridges. And the best bridge to the future is a good education, my friends,” the Daily News writes. * While Cuomo was taking a victory lap for the passage of his free tuition plan for public colleges in New York, Assemblyman James Skoufis introduced a bill that would repeal the plan’s postgraduate in-state work requirement, State of Politics reports.


Raise the Age 
At a Harlem rally to tout the new state budget, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said legislative leaders wanted to give up on the contentious Raise the Age proposal in order to ease the approval of a new spending plan, the Daily News reports. * After weeks of hard-fought negotiations, approval for the Raise the Age bill was not universal, with the final bill language leaving some who had sought the law disappointed in its many subsections and stipulations, The New York Times reports. *‘Raise the Age,’ Now Law in New York, Is Still a Subject of Debate (NYT)

Big Ugly 2017 Budget Passed 
Hidden in the Albany Budget is a Renewal of 421-a Which Will in Effect Nuke What is Left of Affordable Housing Mom & Pop Stores in NYC 

It took nearly two years, but Cuomo reached an agreement in the budget to put back together the affordable housing program, known as 421-a, that gives developers a tax break in return for building lower-price rental units, the Times reports.

State Senate passes $153.1B budget (NYP)  “Forcing major issues through the budget process has got to stop,” said Deputy Majority Leader Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse). “It should be debated separately.”  That would require a constitutional amendment, but DeFrancisco said it should be done.  “Then we can truly say that we’re working on a budget not on the policy of the state of New York as the prime focus and a budget that’s almost an add-on,” he said.  The bill not to prosecute 16- and 17-year-old criminal defendants as adults wound up splitting the GOP and “progressive” politicians who couldn’t agree on where to draw the line.They compromised by giving judges and district attorneys the power to make the decision on a case-by-case basis.  Extending mayoral control of New York City schools was not included in the budget on Sunday night, meaning that, barring further action, Mayor de Blasio’s authority could now end in June, as previously planned.  The budget also extends a higher tax rate on millionaires for two years, a measure Republicans fought, saying it will chase high earners out of the state.  Families earning up to $120,000 will now get free tuition at all SUNY and CUNY colleges.* In this year’s state budget negotiations, legislative factions on the right and left dug in their heels and handed Gov. Andrew Cuomo a budget that passed Sunday night, nine days after the deadline, The Wall Street Journal writes.  * Assembly Democrats plan to target the state Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference and the pressure is going to increase on the eight-member breakaway conference to create a new majority partnership with the mainline Democrats, the Daily News’ Ken Lovett reports. * Crown Heights Residents Turn Thumbs Down On RogersAvenue Homeless Shelter (Kings County Politics) * New city housing policy faces test amidst affordability debate  PoliticoNewYork Reports * Thousands of Working New Yorkers Are Living in HomelessShelters (WSJ) Soaring rents and stagnant wages increasingly have squeezed the city’s working poor



A Budget That Fits Into A 2020 Presidential Run Remember Any Chance Depends On Percoco and the Buffalo Billion Corruption Case Not NY Media or TV Ads 
Cuomo’s liberal budget moves hint at presidential bid (NYP) Cuomo used the state budget process to go shopping for the liberal credentials he’ll need to run for president, Albany insiders said. Appealing to key left-wing constituencies that could help him in a Democratic presidential primary, the governor poured $163 million into a college-scholarship program; gave a $35 million tax break to workers who pay union dues; created a $10 million immigrant legal defense fund; and renewed the millionaire tax. The moves add up to a “press release for his presidential ambitions,” scoffed Assemblyman Al Graf, a Long Island Republican.  “He’s trying to get his progressive bona fides up. He’s saying, ‘Look at how progressive I am,’ ’’ he said. Cuomo trumpeted his immigrant legal defense fund as a response to President Trump’s “dramatic plans” to restrict immigration and deport undocumented people.* Gov. Andrew Cuomo used the budget to burnish his liberal credentials to run for president, insiders told the New York Post, including a college-scholarship program, tax breaks to workers who pay union dues, an immigrant legal defense fund and a millionaires tax extension.* Cuomo: Congress has ‘declared war on New York’(NYP)




Budget Deal After Delays is Reached and Its Ugly 
'Big Ugly' state budget bill creates winners, losers (Buffalo News) There are items affecting farmers, gasoline distributors, teens who commit crimes, people who want to ride in an Uber or Lyft car,  property taxpayers, local governments, movie companies, racehorse owners, housing developers, “certain members” of the New York City police pension fund and cemeteries – or rather people who end up in a cemetery.  Linking so many items into one bill also makes it difficult for lawmakers to oppose the measure because it includes so many popular items, including $26 billion for public schools.* State's $153.1B budget won't include Cuomo's proposal torequire online stores with big N.Y. shopper base to collect sales tax (NYDN)  * The state Assembly finished action on the 2017-2018 state budget on Saturday evening, and the state Senate is scheduled to hold a session at 5 p.m. Sunday to consider the remaining bills,Politico New York reports.  * The revenue bill that includes the most contentious legislative language in the 2017 state budget negotiation was printed on Saturday morning, and the Times Union posted the 343-page bill with an index to some of its most interesting portions. * The state budget includes free tuition at public colleges and universities for New York students in families earning less than $125,000, as well as a boost for the state’s Tuition Assistance Program, while mayoral control dropped out, Chalkbeat New York reports. * In a win for online shoppers, the $153.1 billion state budget deal announced Friday night does not include Gov. Andrew Cuomo's push to require online marketplaces such as Etsy and Amazon to collect sales taxes, a decision hailed by tech groups, the Daily News writes.  * The Buffalo News praises much of the policy in the state budget, but writes that Albany should be demanding more – improved scores, higher graduation rates – in exchange for continued increases in state education spending.* The new budget manipulates future aid formulas in a way that one advocate says will cost New York City charter schools some $1.7 billion over the next several years and the state Legislature refuses to raise the charter school cap, Bob McManus writes in the Post.

Budget Deal Comes Together in Albany, After Delay and Frustration (NYT) The $153 billion includes tuition-free education at state colleges, along with changes to workers’ compensation and the juvenile justice system.  State legislators finally reach agreement on $153B budget (NYP) includes free public-college education and allows ride-sharing apps such as Uber and Lyft to expand throughout the state.  But the agreement doesn’t say a word about whether Mayor de Blasio will retain mayoral control of schools. The bills were not yet printed when the leaders made the announcement, but Cuomo gave an overview that he says gives a $50 million boost to charter schools.  There’s no change in per-pupil funding for this fiscal year. Next year, however, there’s a 4 percent increase in per-pupil funding from roughly $14,000 to $14,500.  Families with income of up to $125,000 a year — which Cuomo said is 80 percent, or 940,000 families in the state — will qualify for free college tuition under Excelsior Scholarships and it also will contain benefits for private colleges. The millionaire’s tax will be extended two years and 421-a tax breaks for developers in exchange for affordable housing will expire in five years.  In a nod to juvenile-justice reformers, 16- and 17-year-olds no longer will be treated as adults in the state’s courts.  Instead, the teens will be diverted to family court or youth court, depending on the severity of their crimes.* After a week of impasse and the worst budget crisis of his administration, Gov. Andrew Cuomo late Friday announced a $153 billion state budget deal, including free tuition, raising the age of criminal responsibility and workers’ comp changes, The New York Times reports.

IDC Push Senate GOP Towards Lower Age Budget Hangup 
As budget talks stalled, pols pointed fingers(CrainsNY)  Policy reform prioritized over spending plan The primary hang-up was a push by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Assembly Democrats to move 16- and 17-year-olds accused of nonviolent crimes out of the adult criminal-justice system. When the various factions got stuck on details, state Sen. Fred Akshar, Republican from Binghamton, blamed New York City Democrats for being "willing to compromise public safety by not holding violent 16- and 17-year-olds accountable for rape and murder."  That characterization infuriated Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. "Unfortunately, some senators have chosen to engage in a fear campaign that falsely accuses Assembly Democrats of coddling murderers and rapists," Heastie fumed in a statement. He had refused to put off "Raise the Age"—a proposal that has been around for years—until after the budget, as Albany normally does with disagreements that threaten on-time passage. With Donald Trump in the White House, Democrats are especially driven to deliver victories to their base.  No one is feeling more pressure to show progressive bona fides than state Sen. Jeffrey Klein's breakaway Independent Democratic Conference, which has been accused by the left of empowering "Trump Republicans" by allying with GOP senators who control the upper chamber. The breakaway caucus threw its full weight behind Raise the Age; legal-services funding and the Dream Act for immigrants; and extending the "millionaires tax."



State Budget doesn’t say a word about whether Mayor de Blasio will retain mayoral control of schools
Their post-release supervision will be decided on a case-by-case basis by a panel of parole and social-services experts.  The Assembly remained in ­Albany to vote on the last budget bills and the budget won’t be passed until the Senate returns to vote on it. Sources say that could happen as early as Sunday.* Cuomo, lawmakers reveal $153.1B state budget deal (NYDN)  * The deal, which includes higher-than-inflation school aid hikes and hundreds of millions of dollars in pork barrel spending, has yet to be approved, with the Assembly hoping to vote early Saturday and the state Senate possibly returning Sunday, The Buffalo News reports.  * The state budget agreements reached so far include no new controls or oversight on how the Cuomo administration spends money on economic development projects, despite allegations of bid-rigging in earlier development projects, The Buffalo News reports.  * Cuomo also said he won a “federal funding response plan” that will give him extraordinary power to cut the budget unilaterally in the face of expected federal aid cuts, though the Senate and Assembly will have 90 days to agree on cuts first, Newsday reports* Assembly Democrats are watching what they say behind closed doors after discovering a mole in their ranks when the governor spilled the secret by sending a text to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie during a private conference meeting, the New York Post reports.


Come on NY Post These Are Not People Who Can Be Trusted There Liars Gov Does Not Have A Spy in the Assembly He Has Dozens 
Cuomo has spy watching Democrats in the state Assembly (NYP)  Gov. Cuomo has a Democratic spy in the state Assembly monitoring what Speaker Carl Heastie says about him and is reporting back — in real time.  Heastie got a jolt in the middle of a closed door Democratic Assembly conference Wednesday when he got a text message from Cuomo saying, “Why are you bad mouthing me?”  The governor’s office had just gotten a text message from a mole about Heastie’s comments during a closed-door of his members on budget negotiations.  Assemblyman Peter Abbate confirmed the incident and called the secret surveillance “despicable.”  “I was there. While he was speaking to us Carl looked down at his phone and then said,`The governor just texted me and said I said bad things about him,’” Abbate recalled. “People laughed.”  But Abbatte said it wrong for a Democratic Assembly member to undermine the leader.  “It’s a disservice to the whole Democratic conference. The person doesn’t belong in the Legislature. A person like that is a creep,” Abbate fumed.  It’s not unusual that some of what is said during private Democratic caucus meeting eventually filters out to the governor and, sometimes, the media.  There are 107 Democrats in the Assembly. Democrat Cuomo is friendly with many of them.  What is rare is that — thanks to smart phones — the word gets back to Cuomo immediately.  “I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Abbate, an Assembly member since 1987.  Heastie’s office brushed off spy gate.  “We’re working on the budget. Couldn’t care less about this,” said Heastie spokesman Michael Wyland.  Cuomo’s office had no immediate comment.* With the state Senate gone and the Assembly miserable, Gov. Andrew Cuomo proffered a possible deal to try to break the deadlock over the state’s late budget, but the outlook for an end to the budget season was far from certain, The New York Times writes.  * Messy as this year’s state budget talks have been, nothing is uglier than Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s disgraceful effort to starve charter schools, blowing up tentative deals with insistence that per-pupil charter funding remain frozen at 2009 levels, the Post writes.

Cuomo Spends As Trump and GOP Congress Cut the State's Dollars
Cuomo's sure not budgeting like he's worried about Trump (NYP) Amid the smoke and confusion surrounding this week’s on-again, off-again budget dance in Albany, Gov. Cuomo made a point well worth repeating.  Noting big federal-policy changes afoot in Washington, Cuomo said Wednesday evening that his top priority was “to make sure we do not overcommit ourselves financially.”  That’s an eminently responsible position. Too bad the governor hasn’t followed his own advice.   Instead, he’s pushed big-bucks commitments to “free” college tuition, a range of porky “economic development” programs and — of all things — another cycle of generous state subsidies for wealthy Hollywood film and TV producers.   Over the next few years, Cuomo’s favored programs will further sap New York’s fiscal resources even as the state confronts the potentially severe budgetary impact of efforts by the Trump administration and a Republican Congress to repeal ObamaCare, rein in Medicaid and reform the tax code.



Groundhog Albany: No Ethics, Voting, Campaign Finance Reform
It appears that Cuomo’s government ethics, campaign finance and voting reform platform he unveiled as part of his State of the State addresses is the only entire category of proposals completely off the table as budget negotiations continue, Gotham Gazette reports.


Budget Gives Cuomo More Power Over PA and Budget 
When Cuomo says 'reform,' he's planning a power grab (NYP) Cuomo scored two significant extensions of his arbitrary power — one of them despite heated warnings that he was overreaching and threats of a court challenge. Cuomo won the Legislature’s backing for a new inspector general with prosecutorial oversight on all downstate transportation projects.  Though pitched as a reform measure, it’s anything but. In reality, it gives Cuomo a special prosecutor — appointed by and answerable only to him — with jurisdiction over the Port Authority (as well as the MTA, which the gov already controls). No, what Cuomo wants isn’t yet another investigator — he wants a cudgel with which to browbeat and threaten Port Authority officials who refuse to comply with his demands.  And now the Legislature’s handed him one.  A new law allows Cuomo’s budget director to submit a revised spending plan if Washington cuts the state’s federal aid. If the Assembly and state Senate don’t unite to pass a counter-proposal within 90 days, Cuomo’s plan wins.  And given how divided the Legislature was during the just-concluded budget fight, that’s essentially giving Cuomo unilateral power to cut spending.  One thing you can be sure of with Cuomo: Whenever he talks reform, it usually winds up as a gubernatorial power grab. MTA Transitadvocates slam Gov. Cuomo for $65 million cut to MTA funding (NYDN) * With President Donald Trump proposing dramatic cuts to transportation funding, the officials charged with building a multibillion-dollar, nationally important rail tunnel beneath the Hudson River have begun to explore private funding mechanisms, Politico New York writes. * Cuomo secured a $65 million cut for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in the state budget, which shifted money from the agency’s operations budget to its repair needs, the Daily News writes.  CHARTER SCHOOLS  The new budget manipulates future aid formulas in a way that one advocate says will cost New York City charter schools some $1.7 billion over the next several years and the state Legislature refuses to raise the charter school cap, Bob McManus writes in the Post.



NYT After the Budget Passes Notices There is No Ethics Reforms 
Despite the recent convictions of the leaders of both the Assembly and the state Senate and indictments against some of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s own associates, lawmakers failed to take up a raft of ethics proposals included in the governor’s executive budget, The New York Times reports.


"This year, it was all rhetoric and no action." On Ethics, Cuomo Budget Entered Like a Lion and Emerged Like a Lamb


The Member Items Pork is Flying in This New 2017 State Budget
Oink yet again (NY Torch)  New York’s tentative state budget deal would pour another $385 million into the biggest, murkiest pork-barrel slush fund Albany has ever seen.  The latest version of the fiscal 2018 Capital Projects bill (A.3004D) would further fatten the State and Municipal Facilities Program (SMFP), bringing its total available funding to $1.64 billion, based on $1.925 billion in total appropriations over the last five fiscal years.  That’s a whole lot of bacon, even by New York standards—at a time when Governor Andrew Cuomo says his top priority is “to make sure we don’t overcommit ourselves financially.”  But wait—there’s more. The (apparently) final version of the Capital Projects bill —just passed by the Assembly—also does not include Cuomo’s proposed Executive Budget language boosting the transparency of legislatively sponsored capital expenditures from pork pots other than SMFP.



Cuomo Longs For Corrupt Silver's On Time Passing Of Pork Filled Budget That Does Not Change NY's Anti-Business Climate 
Cuomo's 'Shelly nostalgia' betrays perverse priorities (NYP ED)  Cuomo’s nostalgia for the speakership of Sheldon Silver is painfully telling about the state of New York state.  On the surface, Cuomo was merely admiring Silver’s iron control of the Assembly when he remarked on John Catsimatidis’ show, “They did what he said, period.”  Which no doubt made it easier to reach an on-time budget deal in years past. But Silver’s power also enabled the corruption for which he now faces long years in federal prison — and the same goes for ex-Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.  Hmm: Of all that Cuomo sought in this year’s budget deal, the only areas where he got nothing were ethics and transparency reform. (In fact, the Legislature managed more of that in the Silver era.)  Yes, the gov on Monday insisted his talk of Silver was meant as “fact, not praise,” since the Assembly majority is now “more participatory,” but “not as functional.”  Yet Cuomo’s main gripe is the greater difficulty of swinging the same old deals — when the state desperately needs change.
New York remains 49th or 50th on all the state rankings of taxes, business climate and so on — with no serious relief in sight.  For the most part, this year’s budget was $153 billion of “more of the same” — more taxes extended, more cash for pork-barrel slush funds and more of Cuomo’s economic-development spending that consistently fails to truly develop the economy, even in the beleaguered Upstate areas where so much of it is targeted.  And last year the exodus of New Yorkers from upstate exceeded — by over 23,000 people — the population growth in the economically healthier areas around the city.  Even the metro area (including parts of Jersey and Connecticut) has seen more than 1 million people move away since 2010, for a rate of 4.4 percent — the highest outmigration of all the top US population centers.  Yes, foreign arrivals and births have kept the greater NYC area growing — but the rate of growth is slowing.  And the main thing the governor is wistful about is the leadership of Shelly Silver.

State Budget A Legal Contradiction: More Justice No Ethics or Campaign Reforms 
Call it a legal contradiction in the new state budget, the Times Union writes, Cuomo and the Legislature did much to improve justice, but not a thing about the corruption that has plagued state government.*  The Buffalo News: “It took far too long, given the undisputed, crying need, but tucked away in the New York State budget are some powerful criminal justice reforms aimed at preventing the compound tragedies of wrongful conviction. That makes this an especially significant budget.”



Sunday, April 16, 2017

CITY FOR SALE: Pay to Play is Now Legal After City Hall Investigation Ends strangely











The decision also gives a green light to politicians who are willing to abuse the power of incumbency to stay in office. Let’s face it — that includes just about every pol on the planet.  In plain English, the statement by prosecutors boils down to this: You can avoid the law, you can evade the law and you can do your big donors’ bidding.  To be clear, there was nothing ethical or admirable about what de Blasio did. The favorable government actions he gave to donors are open and notorious, as are the benefits he got from the millions of dollars the donors gave to his slush funds outside the campaign finance laws.  There were plenty of reports that his team singled out wealthy individuals and firms who had business pending before City Hall, knowing they would be more likely to fork over mountains of money to help their businesses or protect them from punishment.   It was a two-way street. The money they gave helped de Blasio build his reputation nationally and hire private consultants to deliver his city agenda. Those consultants, his “agents of the city,” made millions without him having to use his own funds to pay them.   Most important, the slush funds enabled the mayor to establish a shadow government and wage a permanent campaign for re-election.  And now prosecutors have given the sordid scheme their blessing all because they didn’t catch the mayor taking a brown paper bag filled with cash.


Even the NY Times Is Concerned That Pay to Play is Legal Now
Questioning Whether de Blasio Will Learn From a Teachable Moment (NYT)  The mayor says the decision by prosecutors not to charge him means he can continue his fund-raising practices as before. Some onlookers in and outside of government aren’t so sure.







New York New York It is Now Legal to Steal Elections More PACS, Lobbyists Both Pay to Play and Dumping PAC Money Into County Committees to Get Aound the Election Law are Now Legal  



No Charges, but Harsh Criticism for Mayor de Blasio(NYT) The federal inquiry found a pattern in which the mayor or his associates solicited contributions from donors seeking favors from the city and then contacted city agencies on their behalf, according to a statement from the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York. But the decision not to bring charges, the statement said, came after weighing among other things, “the high burden of proof, the clarity of existing law, any recent changes in the law and the particular difficulty in proving criminal intent in corruption schemes where there is no evidence of personal profit.”   State prosecutors, who examined Mr. de Blasio’s unsuccessful 2014 effort to help Democrats regain control of the State Senate, concluded that they could not prove each element of the crimes that they considered charging beyond a reasonable doubt, according to a letter outlining their findings. The letter said this was because the mayor and those involved in the fund-raising effort had relied on the advice of their lawyers, a valid defense in a criminal case and because of ambiguities in the way the election law statutes were written. In his statement, Mr. Kim said investigators had examined several instances in which the mayor and “others acting on his behalf” solicited donations from people who were seeking “official favors from the city, after which the mayor made or directed inquiries to relevant city agencies on behalf of those donors.” In his letter, Mr. Vance said the office’s conclusion was “not an endorsement of the conduct at issue.”  “The transactions appear contrary to the intent and spirit of the laws that impose candidate contribution limits, laws which are meant to prevent ‘corruption and the appearance of corruption’ in the campaign financing process,” he wrote.* Vance Has Ties To Several in the de Blasio Probe


Making County Committee PACs Legal 
Mayor de Blasio dodges state, criminal charges infund-raising probe (NYDN) The mayor quickly claimed vindication, even though neither prosecutor declared that de Blasio or his aides followed the letter of the law in the 2013 campaign or the next year’s State Senate race. Vance, in a 10-page letter explaining his decision, acknowledged “the conduct here may have violated the Election Law ... (but) the parties involved cannot be appropriately prosecuted, given their reliance on the advice of counsel.” Essentially, those who participated were led to believe by election lawyer Lawrence Laufer that their fund-raising efforts were legal. The district attorney added that his decision “is not an endorsement of the conduct at issue; indeed, the transactions appear contrary to the intent and spirit of the laws.” The behavior of the mayor and his staff “creates an end run around the direct candidate contribution limits,” wrote Vance. Under fired U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, federal prosecutors in Manhattan thoroughly investigated incidents where “Mayor de Blasio and others acting on his behalf solicited donations from individuals who sought official favors,” Kim said.  Afterward, “the mayor made or directed inquiries to relevant city agencies on behalf of these donors,” the prosecutor added. * Reformers Laud Bharara As a Difference-Maker (The Chief)
Sal Albanese‏ @SalAlbaneseNYC   .@errollouis there is a solution 2 ending DEB et al unethical pay 2 play. I look forward to discussing it on your program






The Prosecutors Have Legalized Pay to Play and Corrupt Election PACS Run By Lobbyists to Control Elections
De Blasio Proves That Some Laws Are Made to Be Unbreakable (NYT) Prosecutors said the mayor and his aides had not violated election laws by funneling money to candidates. That may be the real crime.


The decision by federal and state prosecutors not to file criminal charges against de Blasio is a huge victory for him – and for corrupt officials everywhere – and gives a green light to politicians who are willing to abuse the power of incumbency to stay in office, Michael Goodwin writes in the Post.

















Daily News Says Lasting Taint True News Says Pay to Play Has Been Legalized by the Prosecutors
Slime, not crime: Prosecutors spare Bill de Blasio buthis dealings with donors leave lasting taint (NYDN Ed) Mayor de Blasio escaped legal jeopardy on Thursday. He did not, and must not, escape ethical or political jeopardy for putting a For Sale sign on City Hall.  On Thursday morning, Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon Kim and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance simultaneously announced that, following investigations of more than a year, they do not intend to prosecute de Blasio or his political aides involved in trading favors for donation  Their decisions are the begrudging result of an exceedingly high bar set for proving public corruption crimes, especially since a recent Supreme Court ruling.  This does not change the fact that de Blasio will be forever tainted by cynical self-advancement at the expense of government integrity. An operation created as an adjunct to the mayoralty, the Campaign for One New York, raised more than $4 million — including many exorbitant contributions — to advance de Blasio and his agenda, most of it from firms and groups doing business with city government.    

A second mayoral effort funneled nearly $1 million into upstate county political committees in futile hopes of winning state Senate seats for Democrats and thus majority control of the entire Legislature — again, with big financial backing from city contractors.  They were both strategic, carefully lawyered end-runs around the city’s public campaign financing system, which strictly limits contributions by donors enmeshed in city business deals — to head off the obvious temptation to bribe elected officials.    De Blasio said: Give here. Even if, in fact especially if, you have business before the city. Then, he and his staff proceeded to ensure that donors got the attention and access they desired. Kim’s statement of exoneration left no doubt de Blasio left a trail of troubling evidence, stating without condition that federal investigators found “several circumstances in which Mayor de Blasio and others acting on his behalf solicited donations from individuals who sought official favors from the city, after which the mayor made or directed inquiries to relevant city agencies on behalf of those donors.”  All that was not sufficient to prove corruption, for lack of evidence that the mayor or aides personally profited, or that the mayor did more than arrange for meetingDe Blasio thus escaped charges — but not his record. Those heaps of money in resulted in case after case of public policy clumsily bent to satisfy big-money donors:  Frantic and fumblingly failed efforts to save a Lower East Side nursing home and Brooklyn hospital, on behalf of 1199SEIU, the Campaign for One New York’s biggest contributor.  Tens of millions of dollars in subsidies to a Dallas school bus company that took such sudden interest in Putnam County Democratic Party politics it donated $100,000.  A risible attempt to ban carriage horses, backed by generous donors but ultimately thwarted by the City Council.Municipal labor contracts that booked billions of dollars in phantom health care savings, with the teacher’s union the first to accept — not long after a $350,000 donation.  De Blasio cannot rewrite the sordid history here: In a condemnable but not criminal scheme, he plotted to sell off chunks of his city for his own political advancement. And got away with it.




Prosecutors Cleaning Up de Blasio Pieces Seabrook Next to Plea? No Trials That Could Expose the Prosecutors Cover-Up?

Brooklyn NYPD Bribery Scheme Said to Be Even More Widespread (NYT)

Brooklyn man gets 32 months in prison for bribing copsto snag quick gun permits (NYDN) The man who copped to bribing NYPD officers for quick gun permits will spend 32 months in a federal lockup and two years on supervised release, a judge decided on Thursday.  Alex Lichtenstein, 45, pleaded guilty on Nov. 10 to charges of offering a bribe and bribery for participating in a corruption scheme spanning from 2013 to 2016.   While Lichtenstein and his lawyer had brokered a plea deal with prosecutors, the feds recently pushed for the Brooklyn bizman to get the max under their agreement - six years.  Prosecutors argued that Lichtenstein - who submitted photos of himself alongside cops in his bid for sentencing leniency - didn't understand the gravity of his crime.* Judge goes easy on Shomrim leader who bribed cops forgun permits (NYP) The Shomrim patrol leader who bribed NYPD cops to “expedite” gun permits got a lighter jail sentence than federal prosecutors wanted Thursday — because he has a history of community service.   Judge Sidney Stein sentenced Alex “Shaya” Lichtenstein to 32 months in jail and ordered him to pay a $20,000 fine and undergo alcohol addiction treatment as penance for bribing cops.  Prosecutors wanted him to go away for 4 to 6 years, but the judge cited Lichtenstein’s charitable works in giving him a lower-than-expected sentence.   “Mr. Lichtenstein has led a life of great deeds,” Stein said. “He has also committed a great crime.”  “You participated in corrupting the New York City police department,” he told Lichtenstein, who cried when he did not receive the probation sentence he was hoping for.   Lichtenstein was found guilty in April of paying favors to officers in the Licensing Division for quick pistol permits that he he then sold to members of the Borough Park ultra-orthodox community for as much as $18,000 a pop.  He also admitted to offering a whistle-blowing cop $6,000 per permit to keep his mouth shut and help with the scheme. Investigators recovered a trove of audio tapes Lichtenstein made while he cut deals with cops — recordings meant to ensure the oft-drunk Lichtenstein could recall specific details in the deals, sources say.  Prosecutors say the recordings connect Lichtenstein to a separate investigation into a high-ranking NYPD official who allegedly traded favors with two of Mayor de Blasio’s financial backers.   According to tapes, Lichtenstein met with NYPD Deputy Inspector James Grant, who stands accused of accepting bribes from big-time de Blasio donors Jeremy Reichberg and Jona Rechnitz in exchange for preferential treatment.  City and federal prosecutors declined on Thursday to charge de Blasio or his aides in the scandal.    Lichtenstein, who admitted to two counts of bribery during a November plea deal, said he will not be cooperate with investigators.* A member of a neighborhood watch group in Brooklyn admitted to bribing NYPD officers and handing out cash and gifts to others, suggesting that a major federal investigation into corruption within the police department is still turning up new evidence of misconduct, the Times reports.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Test



The Queens Courts and the AG Prosecution of CM Wills Case is A 3 Year Joke 
Wills Skips Court Date Again YES 
Again While the Council Ethics Committee Ignores 
* A judge spared embattled New York City Councilman Ruben Wills from being arrested, after the Queens Democrat failed to appear in court this week due to what lawyers said were medical complications from an undisclosed health issue, Politico New York writes.
Judge threatens to arrest councilman if he skips court date (NYP) A Queens judge has an arrest warrant at the ready for indicted City Councilman Ruben Wills if he fails to show up in court Thursday. That’s because Wills was a no-show Wednesday, with his lawyer e-mailing Justice Ira Margulis that the court date slipped his mind and he forgot to tell the councilman about it. “Last time he was having surgery and I forget to tell him the new date,” lawyer Steve Zissou admitted to Margulis via e-mail, as the counselor himself was also absent from court. Wills underwent surgery for an undisclosed medical issue in February, but had indicated he would be well enough to return to court Wednesday, Assistant Attorney General Travis Hill told the near-empty courtroom. The Democrat, who is charged with stealing more than $30,000 in taxpayer money — using some of the cash for department-store shopping sprees — was ordered to return to court Thursday. If Wills is a no-show, Margulis said he’ll be forced to issue the arrest warrant, which he drafted Wednesday but held pending Thursday’s appearance.











2 of 3 NY Senators Skip Their Committee Meetings
I-Team: 2 of 3 New York Senators Skip Their Committee Meetings (WNBC)  The meetings are supposed to be opportunities for lawmakers to debate, vet and advocate for proposed legislation. But more often than not, the meetings are sparsely attended affairs held in nearly empty conference rooms with little discussion beyond opening pleasantries.  To measure committee attendance, the I-Team reviewed more than 200 committee meetings amounting to nearly two full days of video archived on the state Senate website. The overall attendance rate was 35 percent.  Unlike in the State Assembly, where rules require lawmakers be physically present to cast their committee votes, Senate rules allow members to send in “vote sheets” without ever showing up in person. The result is a lot of committee meetings where chairpersons simply move a list of bills forward based upon written instructions of absent members.  On one occasion last year, the Standing Committee on Rules approved 25 bills in just five minutes despite video showing fewer than half of the senators on the committee were physically present in the room. Another time, the Standing Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks, and Recreation approved 17 bills in just five minutes. Only two of the 14 committee members were present.   Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Brennan Center for Justice, a government watchdog, said Senate rules may actually incentivize poor committee attendance. Because it is nearly impossible for bills to get a committee vote without the blessing of Senate leadership, members of the minority party may feel as though there is little point in showing up to fight for their own bills, Norden said. Conversely, members of the party in power may have little incentive to show up, because their legislation is almost guaranteed to sail through. “There isn’t an opportunity in the committees the way there is in some other states for dissension, for the ability to force a conversation or hearing if the chair or the majority leader in the Senate doesn’t want it to happen. So in that sense, it’s For example, last year Sen. Roxanne Persaud (D-Canarsie) proposed a bill to provide cash assistance to single mothers struggling to afford diapers. Sen. Tony Avella (IDC – Bayside), Chair of the Children and Families Committee, declined to bring the diaper bill to a vote.    Avella blamed Persaud for failing to push her own bill hard enough. “She never asked for the bill to be moved,” Avella said. “She never called me or filled out the form to move the bill out.”  When asked why Persaud didn’t push harder to move her own bill out of committee, she suggested to do so would have been pointless. 




I-Team: 2 of 3 New York Senators Skip Their CommitteeMeetings (WNBC)  The meetings are supposed to be opportunities for lawmakers to debate, vet and advocate for proposed legislation. But more often than not, the meetings are sparsely attended affairs held in nearly empty conference rooms with little discussion beyond opening pleasantries.  To measure committee attendance, the I-Team reviewed more than 200 committee meetings amounting to nearly two full days of video archived on the state Senate website. The overall attendance rate was 35 percent.  Unlike in the State Assembly, where rules require lawmakers be physically present to cast their committee votes, Senate rules allow members to send in “vote sheets” without ever showing up in person. The result is a lot of committee meetings where chairpersons simply move a list of bills forward based upon written instructions of absent members.  On one occasion last year, the Standing Committee on Rules approved 25 bills in just five minutes despite video showing fewer than half of the senators on the committee were physically present in the room. Another time, the Standing Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks, and Recreation approved 17 bills in just five minutes. Only two of the 14 committee members were present.   Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Brennan Center for Justice, a government watchdog, said Senate rules may actually incentivize poor committee attendance. Because it is nearly impossible for bills to get a committee vote without the blessing of Senate leadership, members of the minority party may feel as though there is little point in showing up to fight for their own bills, Norden said. Conversely, members of the party in power may have little incentive to show up, because their legislation is almost guaranteed to sail through. “There isn’t an opportunity in the committees the way there is in some other states for dissension, for the ability to force a conversation or hearing if the chair or the majority leader in the Senate doesn’t want it to happen. So in that sense, it’s For example, last year Sen. Roxanne Persaud (D-Canarsie) proposed a bill to provide cash assistance to single mothers struggling to afford diapers. Sen. Tony Avella (IDC – Bayside), Chair of the Children and Families Committee, declined to bring the diaper bill to a vote.    Avella blamed Persaud for failing to push her own bill hard enough. “She never asked for the bill to be moved,” Avella said. “She never called me or filled out the form to move the bill out.”  When asked why Persaud didn’t push harder to move her own bill out of committee, she suggested to do so would have been pointless. 

Monday Emergency Spending Plan 
 State Budget Deal Stalled Over Teen Felony Law Sat Update Threat of Withheld Pay Moves Deal Closer 



With the state Senate gone and the Assembly miserable, Gov. Andrew Cuomo proffered a possible deal to try to break the deadlock over the state’s late budget, but the outlook for an end to the budget season was far from certain, The New York Times writes.



Thursday: Budget Talks Collapse
Charter school funding delaying already overdue budget (NYP)  * State budget talks collapsed Wednesday night as the sides continued to be split over criminal justice and education issues, and even after half a dozen budget bills were completed in the two houses lawmakers left Albany to go home, The Buffalo News reports.  * There are five key issues still unresolved in the state budget, with disagreements over the specifics of a bill to raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18, though ride-hailing services are expected to be legalized upstate, Gannett Albany reports. *  Cuomo Hails Progress on Budget, but a Long Easter Break Beckons  (NYT) Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said he and New York lawmakers had agreed on issues like free tuition at state schools, opioid treatment and the so-called millionaire’s tax.* After Lawmakers Near State Budget Vote, Negotiations in Albany Break Down Again (NY1)

New York State #1 in Tax Burdens Wednesday: Another Big Ugly Being Passed
New York State Passes an Emergency Budget but Skips Thorny Issues (NYT) After a deadline and a grace period expired, lawmakers passed a so-called extender budget to keep the state running as they try to settle policy issues. * Senate begins vote on $162B state budget (NYP) * New York's newest ugly budget (NYP)  Remember all the jeers at then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s 2010 comment, “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it”? 

That’s business as usual for the $150 billion New York state budget.   The process has been extra-messy this year, as lawmakers and the governor, for the first time in the Cuomo era, missed the deadline to pass the spending plan. But the basic ugliness is unchanged. It now looks like the last budget bills will pass sometime on Wednesday — after the 1,700-plus-page “extender” bill that passed Monday settled many issues.  Yet legislators (as usual) had no time to read Monday’s massive legislation before voting. As Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) put it, “We were asked to read the Bible this morning and vote on it.”  Knowing lawmakers would go along to avert a government shutdown, Gov. Cuomo packed the bill with his priorities: a $2.2 billion set-aside for his failed “economic development” slush funds — including $400 million for his scandal-plagued Buffalo Billion.  He even got $38 million for fresh ads for his Start-Up NY program, which has spurred just 772 jobs over three years — including some that are now gone.  The Assembly and Senate meanwhile were distracted by battles over symbolic issues like “raise the age” — which in practice will only move a few juvenile cases out of criminal court. (Prosecutors already avoid criminal charges in the vast majority of cases.)  The governor had suggested the reason for missing the deadline was uncertainty over tax-and-spending changes ahead from Washington. But Albany learned nothing new from DC before it did finish up.  And, again, most New Yorkers — lawmakers included — will take days to find out everything that’s in the package.  It’s all laughably far from the “efficient and effective” governance that, Cuomo likes to say, “restores competence, integrity and fiscal discipline.” New Yorkers who want that, it seems, will have to move out of state.* State Senatebegins approving budget bills that include boost for NYCHA and affordablehousing (NYDN)  * Lawmakers sometime late Wednesday or Thursday are hoping to adopt a final state budget that provides tuition breaks for some college students, legalizes ride-hailing in upstate and taxes millionaires to help fund new spending, The Buffalo News reports.  * The Democrat-led Assembly came to terms late Tuesday on a bill that would raise the age of criminal responsibility in the state to 18, an issue that had been a major stumbling block in the state budget negotiations, The New York Times reports.  * Getting work done before the last minute is not in the Legislature’s nature, but a two-month delay is fundamentally unfair – especially from a state that expects school districts and local governments to live under a tax cap, the Times Union writes.   * The budget process has been extra messy this year, as lawmakers and the governor missed the deadline to pass a spending plan, so New Yorkers who want efficient, effective government will have to move out of state, the Post writes. * De Blasio gets one-year extension controlling public schools


Tuesday
With a full budget still out of reach, the state Legislature passed a pair of emergency spending bills to permit the state government to continue to function, and to buy lawmakers more time to resolve several contested policy issues, The New York Times writes. * Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie is seriously considering getting the warring Senate Democratic minority and Independent Democratic Conference factions in the same room to talk about progressive issues like Raise the Age, Ken Lovett writes in the Daily News.  * The Assembly and state Senate may no longer be headed up by crooks – but at least the old guys knew how to corral their caucuses and strike a deal in state budget crunch time, the Daily News writes, calling it an abysmal performance even by Albany’s pitiful standards.* Juvenile leadership fails in Albany budget crash (NYDN)  * Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted there was no great rush to pass the remaining measures under the state budget, but Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said the governor was wrong as the budget seems to be turning from stalemate to brinksmanship, State of Politics writes.  * According to four anonymous state sources, Cuomo and legislative leaders reached a tentative deal on most items in the state budget and were working to submit the budget bills for a possible vote later this week, Newsday reports.  * The budget stalemate is likely to lead to a delay in pay for some of the state’s nearly 150,000 workers because the Legislature’s two-month budget extender wasn’t signed until late Monday evening, hours before payroll processing was to begin, Gannett Albany reports.  * The state budget extender not only keeps the state government operating, it also includes nearly $1.8 billion for Cuomo’s economic development projects, including another $500 million for various projects throughout Western New York, Politico New York reports.


Monday 4/3/17  NYP: Shit Show Budget
Emergency spending plan to pass amid 's--t show' budget talks (NYP) * With No Deal, Cuomo Will Ask for Emergency Budget Measures (NYT) With no agreement as of Sunday evening, New York legislators could face a pay freeze, but issues like raising the age of criminal responsibility have knotted negotiations.* Albany Works Overtime as Budget Deal Proves Elusive (NYT) * After failing to reach a state budget agreement over the weekend, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is resorting to a strategy popularized by his predecessor, David Paterson: a temporary budget extender.  * Cuomo said he was sending an emergency measure to both houses to keep the state government “fully functioning” until May 31, with lawmakers agreeing to pass the extender bill Monday after a budget deal couldn’t be reached over the weekend, The Buffalo News reports.  * State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan is being undermined by his No. 2, state Sen. John DeFrancisco, whose actions have complicated budget talks and highlighted tensions between the Senate’s conservative upstate members and more moderate downstate ones, Ken Lovett writes in the Daily News.

Albany nears budget deal while threat of withheld pay looms  (NYP) ALBANY – Under the threat of losing their pay for seven weeks, state lawmakers inched closer to a budget agreement Saturday * New York is facing the potential of its first ever state government shutdown unless Cuomo and the Legislature can reach a budget deal, as state Senate Republicans raised the possibility of rejecting Cuomo’s extender if they don’t like it, the Daily News reports.
Cuomo’s budget deal in peril over teen felony law (NYP)  Cuomo and state lawmakers failed to reach agreement on key details of their $153 billion spending plan just hours before Saturday’s deadline to have a new budget in place.  A dispute over a criminal-justice issue — whether to treat to treat 16- and 17-year-olds accused of felony crimes as juveniles instead of adults — was a main impediment.  Democrats and Republicans could not agree on whether the teens should be treated as adults for certain serious crimes and if separate youth courts should be created to handle their cases. Sources said GOP lawmakers were trying to remove the issue from budget talks but Democrats refused to back down.  Legislative leaders are also still haggling over whether to raise the cap on the number of charter schools allowed in New York City and provide charters more financial assistance, as well as how much money to disburse to all public schools. Government-watchdog groups slammed the secrecy.  The governor said late Friday that if the legislature doesn’t pass a budget this weekend, he’ll do an emergency extension through May 21. * As Clock Winds Down, Albany Budget Deal Is So Close, Yet So … (NYT)  The state on Friday seemed perilously close to producing a late budget, with stumbling blocks centered on issues like charter schools and raising the age of criminal responsibility.* Cuomo, state lawmakers blow new budget deadline amidgridlock on negotiations (NYDN) * At the stroke of midnight, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statement saying that if no budget agreement is in place by the end of the weekend, he will put forth emergency legislation to extend the current budget, the Times Union reports. * A dispute over whether to treat to treat 16- and 17-year-olds accused of felony crimes as juveniles instead of adults was a main impediment to budget negotiations, with GOP lawmakers trying to remove the issue and Democrats refusing to back down, the Post reports. * Democrats across the country are looking for a hero, and Cuomo can make a real impact if he moves quickly on including Raise the Age in the state budget, with the lives of thousands of young people hanging in the balance, Van Jones and Jessica Jackson Sloan write in the Daily News.  * At the stroke of midnight, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statement saying that if no budget agreement is in place by the end of the weekend, he will put forth emergency legislation to extend the current budget, the Times Union reports.







Mob Still on the Waterfront
Along New York Harbor, ‘On the Waterfront’ Endures   (NYT) Much has changed since the days when mobsters controlled the waterfront, but investigators say organized crime still has a presence there.

BOE

Port Authority
Outgoing Port Authority exec to cash in with double-dip pension(NYP) 
As Port Authority commissioners decided how to spend $32 billion over the next ten years, three Democratic state legislators from New Jersey argued that $3.5 billion for a new bus terminal in Manhattan was not sufficient, the Times reports.


Poor
Most New Yorkers Are Roughly 1 Paycheck Away FromHomelessness: Study (DNAINFO)
Cuomo vetoed legislation late Saturday that would have shifted the cost of expensive 
The increase in the state’s minimum wage is a huge victory for the working class, and those counting the proceeds of their well-earned raises owe thanks to Cuomo and de Blasio, who pushed the issue in New York City and around the state, the Daily News writes.
Legal Services for the Poor from counties to the state in the coming ye
New York's forgotten poor: Income needed to survive is nearly 3 times poverty rate
De Blasio leaves subway fare cuts for low-income ridersup to MTA, thinks it's too expensive for city (NYDN)
City council talks public money for Citi Bike pushinto poorer neighborhoods (NYDN) Several New York City Council members have called for the city to create a public-private financial partnership to bring the CitiBike program to disadvantaged areas, noting the company hasn’t done so because it likely wouldn’t be profitable





Sandy Repairs Not Done, Broken Promise





Bad Landlords



No Money for Constitutional Convention Promoting
Cuomo remains noncommittal on the idea of promoting a constitutional convention, which he has described as the best way to initiate reform in the state, as funding proposed to study possible issues never made it into his final spending plan, the Times Union reports. * 309 days until we decide whether to hold a Constitutional Conventionin NY. Educate yourself: 



No Bail From the Speakers Bail Fund
New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s ballyhooed bail fund to free low-level detainees hasn’t given out a single penny more than a year after it was announced as the first major step in reducing the jail population, the Daily News reports.


Corruption
Groundhog Day EDITORIAL: Cuomo vows to clean up Albany — again  via @poststar


Budget
Trump's Dumping of Obama Care Will Blow A Hole In NYS's Budge What Will It Do to HHC?
ars, though he promised to introduce a new plan in the coming months, the Times Union writes.


CUNY
CUNY’s Independence Is Under Attack by Cuomo, City Council Members Say (NYT) The City Council’s Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus say that actions heralded by the governor could put the university and its mission at risk.* * Alarmed by what they said is Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s bid to politicize CUNY, a key bloc of New York City Council members pushed back against his assertions that the university’s administration has been financially irresponsible, The New York Times reports. Pols demand $2 Million for CUNY
Cuomo Pushing for State Takeover of CUNY, But Local Officials Concerned About Effects (NY1)
3.0 de Blasio Details of UFT Pact 5CUNY SUNY












“Look at Donald Trump,” said Bradley Tusk, a former Michael Bloomberg campaign manager who is openly pushing for a candidate to challenge de Blasio. “He didn’t have anything besides a message.” Tusk’s message around a de Blasio challenge would be “corruption, laziness and incompetence.” Protesters fight zoning plan by giving de Blasio a fake turkey “Other than that he’s great,” he deadpanned. De Blasio’s gym habits — which include late-morning trips to Brooklyn’s Prospect Park YMCA on work days — would be featured prominently in Tusk’s campaign. The mayor’s aides say he is in constant communication with his staff, even at the gym, but Tusk doesn’t think New Yorkers are buying it. “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to say, ‘Why is he at the gym at 10 o’clock on a Tuesday morning?’” said Tusk, who has formed a group, NYC Deserves Better, to try to unseat de Blasio. (NYDN)












The 2013 de Blasio Campaign Prop Arrest  
Fake News Derived from a Fake Event

John Catsimatidis — who’ll announce a run for mayor in January — threw wife Margo a birthday party in a private room in the Metropolitan Club. (Page 6)
Developer Files Plans for 28-Story Residential Tower at LICH Site (DNAINFO)










The building was run like a “RICO enterprise’’ complete with “mail fraud, wire fraud, extortion, obstruction of justice and transportation of stolen property,’’ the suit says. The plaintiffs even claim to have a company mole as a witness.  That person is a former rental agent and Two Trees worker who acknowledged that the defendants “intentionally sat down and agreed in advance to take part in an unlawful scheme to illegally charge inflated rents to rent-stabilized tenants,” the suit says. The lawsuit suggests that government officials turned a blind eye to the allegedly illegal shenanigans because they were “influenced no doubt by campaign contributions made by Defendants and their associates. “It is a matter of public record that seven developers wrote checks totaling $245,000 to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Campaign for One New York before de Blasio announced plans for a Streetcar along the Brooklyn waterfront, with stops near the developers’ projects, including $100,000 from Defendant Jed Walentas,’’ the suit says. De Blasio has denied any connection between the big bucks and pushing his street-car plan. Court papers describe the Walentases as a $4 billion family empire “known for its singular role in transforming the Brooklyn neighborhood of “DUMBO” (an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) where the company’s holdings include 12 buildings comprising more than 3 million square feet of commercial and residential real estate.’’ The family also is behind the $3 billion conversion of the old Domino Sugar factory in Williamsburg into luxury pads. Two Trees bought the 125 Court St, property at Atlantic Avenue in 2003 for $16.5 million, according to reports. They then went after millions of dollars in public funding by promising to provide rent-stabilized and affordable housing, the suit says. But over the years, the developers knowingly misrepresented the market value of units so they could illegally inflate rents, the court papers say. The lawsuit adds that “despicably, Defendants even perpetrated this fraud upon the low-income tenants of the units designated as ‘affordable housing.’ ” The tactics led to a 300 percent tenant turnover rate at the building between 2005 and 2013, or 10 times the citywide figure, the suit says. Berman said he is seeking $10 million in back rent for his clients.* Tenants Take the Hit as New York Fails to Police Huge Housing TaxBreak (Propublica)


Conflict of Interests Berlin Rosen Works for the Mayor and Two Trees During Affordable Housing Deal Developer 40 More Apts Out of 2200?
Berlin Rosen who is not for some reason not listed as registered lobbyist work for a lot of real estate developers.   Berlin Rosen’s current and recent clients include Two Trees Management Negotiations between Mr. de Blasio’s team and two trees' Walentas’s firm took place over a few days. The two men share a mutual adviser: Jonathan Rosen, one of the mayor’s top political hands and the chief executive of a public affairs firm, Berlin Rosen that counts Mr. Walentas’s company as a client. Berlin Rosen served as a consultant to de Blasio campaign and runs he slush fund PAC NY1 which pushes the mayor’s agenda. The agreement comes after a New York Times report last week that redevelopment of the former factory site could hit a snag with the de Blasio administration, even though a previous proposal from Two Trees had received support from local leaders and residents. The de Blasio administration wanted even more space for affordable housing. de Blasio has prevailed in his bid to wring more affordable housing from Two Trees’ redevelopment of the Domino Sugar site on the Williamsburg waterfront, with the developer agreeing to add 40 more units





de Blasio Stonewalls Bullies the Weak Press On U.S. Attorney Bharara Meeting 
De Blasio refuses to address upcoming Bharara meeting (NYP)  de Blasio — who is under heavy fire over everything from a federal corruption probe to his beleaguered child-welfare agency — shut down a press availability Tuesday rather than answer questions about his upcoming meeting with US Attorney Preet Bharara.   “This is not what we’re talking about,” de Blasio said, when a Post reporter asked for details about the Bharara meeting following a photo op regarding the NYPD’s bulletproof squad-car windows in The Bronx. “C’mon c’mon — we’re on this topic,” the mayor insisted.  The US attorney sit-down was revealed Friday — and since then, de Blasio has kept his media briefings on-topic only.  When another reporter asked Tuesday about comments he made that characterized drunken driving as a minor offense not worthy of reporting to federal immigration officials, he snapped, “This is not about this topic here.”  The mayor left while several reporters had their arms raised to question him.





Everyone in the Press Who Talked to de Blasio's Press Spokesman Levitan Knew About Berlin Rosen Conflict of Interests With the Administration That Supreme Court Justice Lobis Pointed Out Yesterday