June 6, 2014

Your morning reading from PLA – A sampling of today’s New York news

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GOP hits Cuomo on ‘180-degree flip-flop’ Newsday (Yancey Roy)

ALBANY — Republicans Thursday mocked Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo for vowing to help Democrats take over the State Senate, and then, days later, touting his ties with GOP legislators.

Republicans called it a “180-degree flip-flop.”

A Democratic spokesman said there was no inconsistency about the governor highlighting his record getting legislation through and promoting party candidates.


Cuomo agrees to build more supportive housing Capital New York (Ryan Hutchins)

Governor Andrew Cuomo has agreed to develop a new initiative to build supportive housing for the homeless — an effort likely to have a statewide focus.

The effort would include signing a new memorandum of understanding with the city that would replace the current so-called “New York/New York III” agreement, set to expire next year. That agreement, which took affect in 2005, sets the goal of creating about 9,000 supportive units for households where a member suffers from severe mental illness, substance-use disorders, HIV/AIDS or other medical conditions.

Developer Declines to Bid on Catskills Casino License Wall Street Journal (Joseph De Avila)

The developer who built the Mohegan Sun said Thursday he won’t bid on a casino license in the Catskills, citing the potential for competition in nearby Orange County.

Connecticut developer Len Wolman and the Stockbridge-Munsee Community had plans to build a casino in the Town of Thompson in Sullivan County on a 440-acre property. They are the first potential bidders with a Catskills project to drop out of the running for one of four casino licenses that the state will award this fall.

Witness Says Senator Was ‘Marginalized’ New York Times (Joseph Berger)

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — Malcolm A. Smith was feeling “marginalized,” as his State Senate colleague put it at his bribery and wire fraud trial on Thursday.

That powerless feeling, the colleague, State Senator Diane J. Savino testified on Thursday, went back to 2009 when Mr. Smith had just lost his job as majority leader in what she described as “a coup.” Two Democrats had joined with the Republicans to create a bipartisan majority that was intended to rule the chamber. Eventually the remaining Democrats decided they did not want Mr. Smith as their leader.

New York utility consumers need someone to watch out for them Syracuse Post-Standard (Editorial Board)

New Yorkers know we bear some of the highest electricity rates in the country. Last winter’s natural gas prices were brutal. But very few consumers understand how rates are set or if they are fair. Their options for shopping around are limited.

Because setting utility rates is an incredibly complicated and lengthy process, the only people who truly understand how it’s done are the people paid to understand it. They work for the utilities themselves or the state agency that regulates them, the Public Service Commission.



Mayor de Blasio wants President Obama’s legacy to live on in New York New York Daily News (Corinne Lestch)

President Obama may have roots in Chicago, but Mayor de Blasio wants his legacy in New York City.

Brushing aside reports in the Chicago Sun-Times Thursday that de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo offered “tepid and unspecific” support for the Obama artifacts and letters to land in the Big Apple, Hizzoner said Columbia – Obama’s alma mater – would be “a perfect place” for a library and museum dedicated to the nation’s 44th leader after he leaves office.

He added that he personally reached out to Obama’s team to make a case for the Ivy League institution – and attract more tourists to New York.

New York City surges ahead of upstate with pre-K Capital New York (Jessica Bakeman)

ALBANY—New York City is months ahead of upstate school districts in the effort to launch full-day pre-kindergarten programs in September, the result, in part, of the state budget crafted by Governor Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Thursday that about 20,000 families would be placed in full day public school pre-K programs, with the remainder of the 53,000 available seats being offered by community-based organizations like YMCAs and Head Start centers. Meanwhile, the state education department only just began distributing requests for grant proposals to upstate districts and eligible C.B.O.s on Monday.

Pre-K Spots Go to 62% of Applicants in First Round Wall Street Journal (Leslie Brody)

About 62% of applicants for public-school seats in the city’s expanding preschool program now have spots, as offer letters went out Thursday to families in the first batch of acceptances.

This round matched 25,696 children to seats in public-school programs that are part of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign promise to provide free universal preschool. City officials encouraged those without seats to apply for openings in community-based programs.

Some at Williams College object to ex-mayor Bloomberg’s honorary degree Berkshire Eagle (Edward Damon)

WILLIAMSTOWN — Williams College’s choice of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg as an honorary degree recipient has drawn criticism from students and faculty.

Eighty faculty have signed an open letter showing their support to students who take issue with policies put in place during the Bloomberg administration and their objection to the selection.

Bloomberg, the billionaire entrepreneur who served three terms as mayor from 2002 and 2013, will also be the principal speaker at the 225th commencement exercises on campus this Sunday.

Ferret fanciers hoping NYC lifts 15-year-old ban Times Union (Karen Matthews, AP)

NEW YORK (AP) — For 15 years, ferrets in New York City have been living in the shadows, outlawed under Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who famously told a ferret fancier that “this excessive concern with little weasels is a sickness.”

Now there’s a bit of hope for the slinky creatures. Years of lobbying by ferret owners has finally landed an audience in Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration, which says it could hold a hearing by the end of the year on a measure to make ferrets legal once again.



Golisano is interested – and would keep Bills in WNY Democrat & Chronicle (Justin Murphy)

Billionaire philanthropist Tom Golisano confirmed Thursday that he has at least some interest in buying the Buffalo Bills, and said if he does, he will keep the team in Buffalo, calling it a “very important asset” for western New York.

Golisano was at Bishop Kearney High School Thursday to receive an honor for his support of the school. He briefly addressed the Bills during his own prepared remarks, then took several questions on the topic from students.

Federal agency clears way for Peace Bridge Plaza improvements Buffalo News (Tom Precious)

ALBANY – The federal government has given final approval to a Cuomo administration plan to dramatically reshape the way vehicles get on and off the Peace Bridge in Buffalo, clearing the way for construction to begin in the fall.

The approval by the Federal Highway Administration, The Buffalo News has learned, came Tuesday with the sign-off of the $35 million project that involves new entrance and exit ramps, and a pedestrian bridge to the shoreline trail.

Phillips Lytle opens D.C. office to expand global reach Buffalo News (Brandon Schlager)

Phillips Lytle LLP has expanded to the nation’s capital in an effort to better serve the increasing international interests of its clients.

The Buffalo-based law firm announced Washington, D.C. will serve as the site for its eighth office, which opened Monday with a staff of five new attorneys.

Managing partner David J. McNamara said it was important to establish an office within close proximity to key agencies that regulate federal trade and immigration.

Region needs brownfield program Buffalo News (David Robinson)

Developer Peter Krog is gearing up to spend $50 million to transform the historic Trico Products Corp. plant on Washington Street into a pair of hotels, office space and stores.

It’s an ambitious project for an iconic industrial building that has stymied developers for years. But Krog said his plans could be derailed, too, if the state doesn’t extend its program that offers lucrative tax credits to projects on environmentally contaminated sites.



Car dealers happier with design Times Union (Jordan Carleo-Evangelist)

The road rage over the layout of the new downtown convention center may be subsiding.

Albany Convention Center Authority officials met last week with a group representing dozens of local car dealers to hear their concerns about the design of the $66.5 million Albany Capital Center.

The Eastern New York Coalition of Automotive Retailers raised objections last month to the largest space in the new convention hall — a roughly 30,000-square-foot multi-purpose room — being moved to the Eagle Street building’s second floor.

Troy acts to fight blight; backs casino sites Times Union (Kenneth C. Crowe II)

The newly formed Troy Community Land Bank is the city’s new effort to fight blight and bring its inventory of vacant buildings under control.

The City Council voted 8-0 Thursday night to establish the land bank.

The city will file an application to receive state funding from State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s land bank program, said Monica Kurzejeski, the city’s economic developer.



New York starts buying Sandy-damaged LI homes Newsday (Maura McDermott)

New York has begun purchasing Sandy-damaged Long Island homes, more than a year and a half after the devastating storm made landfall.

NY Rising, the agency that is providing federal funds to help communities recover from the Oct. 29, 2012, superstorm, closed on its first 34 home purchases last month.

It plans to hire a company this month to auction off some of those homes, along with hundreds of others. The homes will be repaired — or built anew, if they were destroyed — in ways that make them resistant to future storms.

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Posted by Charles Fisher and Randy Fisher (Twitter @HHSYC).