July 1, 2014

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




17 Companies File Casino Plans With New York State in Push for 4 Gambling Licenses New York Times (Charles V. Bagli)

Seventeen companies on Monday unveiled lavish and increasingly expensive proposals for New York casino-resorts in communities from Albany to Tuxedo Park and Binghamton, officially starting the competition for four state-issued gambling licenses.

The contestants vying to build a Las Vegas-style casino range from virtual unknowns like Greenetrack, which operates a gambling hall and dog track in Alabama, to the more familiar: Hard Rock International, Caesars Entertainment, Penn National Gaming and Genting Group.

Sampson foe jumps on report embattled pol said just one word New York Post (Pat Bailey)

ALBANY — After reading that state Sen. John Sampson uttered just one word from the Senate floor in the last legislative session, his primary-election opponent offered one word of his own: Resign.

Dell Smitherman, former political director of hospital workers’ Local 1199, said Sampson’s single comment of “Aye” in response to a voice vote was further evidence he doesn’t do much in Albany.

Liu continues Avella challenge, despite I.D.C. deal Capital New York (Josefa Velasquez)

ALBANY—Former New York City comptroller John Liu will continue with his primary challenge to incumbent state Sen. Tony Avella in Queens, despite calls for him to withdraw from the race.

“John Liu has never backed down from a tough fight on behalf of the people of the 11th Senate District,” Liu spokesman James Freedland said. “John is in this race to win this race because the voters are tired of a do-nothing complainer-in-chief.”

Teachout pitches tech founders, anti-frackers Capital New York (Nidhi Prakash)

At a rooftop fund-raiser on Fourteenth Street on Monday evening, Zephyr Teachout stood on a low wooden table and talked about the “open-source principles” of her upstart Democratic campaign against Governor Andrew Cuomo.

“This is a maker campaign for the people here who are making things,” she said. “There are so many inventive people here in this room who have themselves created tools that are making the future.”

Teachout spoke about being against the Comcast merger with Time Warner Cable, wanting to modernize the M.T.A., and supporting small families and medium-sized corporations.

Heroin problem becomes AG race topic Post Star (Maury Thompson)

GLENS FALLS — Republican state attorney general candidate John Cahill said, if elected, he would work with law enforcement agencies to develop a comprehensive plan to address an “epidemic” of heroin addiction.

“We need to get at the root cause of the problem. That involves a much greater education and treatment and — yes, absolutely — prosecution of these individuals who are selling and distributing drugs in our communities,” Cahill said in an interview about his candidacy.

Cahill, an environmental lawyer from Yonkers who served in Gov, George Pataki’s administration, is challenging Democratic Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is seeking a second four-year term.

State appeals court ruling deepens divide on fracking Buffalo News (T.J. Pignataro)

ALBANY – Like most issues that concern fracking, a sharp division in sentiment followed Monday’s ruling by the state’s highest court that sided with two towns in upholding their right to ban the drilling through zoning ordinances.

Opponents of the extraction method for natural gas called hydraulic fracturing hailed the court’s decision as “a victory for people throughout the state.”

Pro-industry officials and landowners who stood to gain financial windfalls from gas company exploration on their land said the state Court of Appeals overreached in a decision that they say infringes on the right to use private property as the owners see fit.

State says yes to consolidation dollars Times Union (Rick Karlin)

Members of the state’s Financial Restructuring Board agreed to give out more than $500,000 in grants to the three communities that have formally sought its help so far — if leaders in those cities, towns and villages agree to carry out the board’s money-saving recommendations.

But state Budget Director Robert Megna cautioned that improving some of the state’s financially troubled communities, especially in the Rust Belt regions of upstate, will be a long-term affair.



Jumaane Williams launches anti-gun violence group for city pols from around the country New York Daily News (Erin Durkin)

After a bloody weekend in New York where more than 20 people were shot, Councilman Jumaane Williams announced the launch of a new group for local legislators from cities across the country to fight gun violence.

The National Network to Combat Gun Violence will include legislators from more than 20 cities that have signed up so far, including Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia.

“Gun violence is a national epidemic, and we are failing as a country,” Williams said.

Beyond Rangel, Harlem Wrestles With Its Identity New York Times (Nikita Stewart)

On the streets of Harlem the weekend before the Democratic primary for his congressional seat, Representative Charles B. Rangel and his closest opponent, a Dominican-born state senator, Adriano D. Espaillat, carried on an age-old campaign tradition, snaking along their routes in dueling caravans, blasting songs like “Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now” and “I Believe I Can Fly” from the loudspeakers of their campaign trucks.

The dueling processions repeatedly tangled at intersections with double-decker tour buses filled with mostly white out-of-towners gawking at the cavalcades as though they were landmarks, remnants of the forces and movements that helped shape Harlem into one of New York City’s most important cultural and political centers.

Rent Cuts for Housing Homeless Hit a Snag New York Times (Kate Taylor)

Mayor Bill de Blasio has long criticized New York City’s use of privately owned apartment buildings to house homeless families, and his administration has, in its first six months, taken steps to reduce the amount that the city pays for these units.

But those efforts have run into a predictable snag: A landlord, refusing to accept less rent, is threatening to evict about 200 homeless families.

GOP consultant who stole $750K to return to prison New York Post (Pat Bailey)

ALBANY — John Haggerty, a GOP operative convicted of stealing $750,000 of former Mayor Bloomberg’s money, will go back to prison following a ruling by the state’s highest court.

The Court of Appeals ruled unanimously Monday that the conviction of Haggerty was proper.

Haggerty’s attorney, Paul Shechtman, argued it was never proven that the money Haggerty was convicted of stealing came directly from Bloomberg — a legal longshot that the court quickly rejected.



High court ruling on health law seen as victory for religion Buffalo News (Jerry Zremski)

…That’s why Americans United for the Separation of Church and State called the decision “a dangerous precedent.”

And it’s why Bishop Richard J. Malone of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo said, “I’m relieved and I’m very encouraged” by the decision.

“We’re talking about living our faith values in the public square, living our faith values in our occupation, in our businesses, and that’s why the decision, I think, is a real win for people’s consciences,” Malone said…

Travers Collins is acquired by Martin Group Buffalo News (Samantha Christmann)

Travers Collins & Co., a well-known Buffalo advertising and public relations firm, has been acquired by the Martin Group, a branding and marketing company owned by a former protégé of Travers Collins’ co-founders.

A handful of public relations employees will move to the new firm, and co-founder William M. Collins will stay on into the fall as a senior consultant to help with the transition.

Tod D. Martin, founder and owner of the Martin Group, said the acquisition “gives the firm an immediate injection of credibility and much deeper expertise in the public relations category.”



$5M state grant for U of Rochester computer center Wall Street Journal (AP)

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A University of Rochester project on the use of computers for health research has won $5 million in state economic development funds.

The grant was one of 11 state investments totaling $22 million announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday.

The university is partnering with IBM on the supercomputer project, known as the Health Sciences Center for Computational Innovation.



Joe Bruno seeking $2.4M from taxpayers to cover legal bills Capital New York (Jimmy Vielkind)

ALBANY—Joe Bruno has formally asked the state for $2,419,200.45 to cover legal bills associated with a pair of federal corruption trials, a spokesman for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman confirmed Monday in response to questions.

Bruno, a Republican from suburban Troy who served three decades in the State Senate and 14 years as the chamber’s majority leader, formally registered the request earlier this month. He was acquitted in May of defrauding his constituents of their right to honest services by engaging in what prosecutors said was a “quid pro quo bribery scheme” where he accepted a $20,000-a-month consulting gig from Jared Abbruzzese, a telecom entrepreneur who benefited from state funding.



PSEG urged to watch ‘every nickel as its last nickel’ Newsday (Mark Harrington)

PSEG Long Island should treat “every nickel as its last nickel,” a top LIPA official warned the New Jersey utility following a report that PSEG considered using capital budget dollars to “refresh” an employee gym and upgrade a customer walk-in center.

In remarks to LIPA trustees last week, LIPA chief executive John McMahon said he had met with PSEG officials to discuss the capital budget, which is meant primarily for long-term improvement projects. Utility customers fund the $404 million budget through rates.

“Long Island Power Authority staff has been discussing with PSEG LI that capital dollars are to be used wisely — in effect, treating every nickel as its last nickel,” McMahon told trustees.

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