July 29, 2014

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

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Defiant, Cuomo Denies Interfering With Ethics Commission New York Times (Thomas Kaplan and Susanne Craig)

BUFFALO — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday delivered a feisty and unrepentant defense of his handling of an anticorruption panel he created and then abruptly shut down, after five days in seclusion during which he encountered some of the harshest criticism he has faced as governor.

Accused of hobbling ethics investigations, Mr. Cuomo insisted on Monday that his office had merely offered “advice,” and that his aides had never exerted inappropriate pressure on the panel’s leaders.


’Morning Joe’: Cuomo’s scandal worse than Christie’s Capital New York (Laura Nahmias)

In a ten-minute segment today, “Morning Joe” hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough skewered Governor Andrew Cuomo’s handling of the Moreland Commission, comparing it unfavorably to New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal and to the excesses of Huey Long.

Brzezinski read aloud, twice, from comments Cuomo made to Crain’s in April, defending his decision to shut down the commission.


Ex Gov. Mario Cuomo defends son Andrew: ‘I wish I were as good a man’ New York Daily News (Annie Karni)

Former Gov. Mario Cuomo is speaking out for the first time against criticism that his son, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, went over the line by meddling with a state anti-corruption commission.

“Andrew is as honest a politician as we have seen in New York,” the former governor said in a Monday telephone interview with the Daily News.


Cuomo once backed AG’s office to probe corruption Newsday (Michael Gormley)

ALBANY — As attorney general, Andrew M. Cuomo had sought the legal power to independently investigate public corruption and avoid the need for ethics commissions appointed by governors.

“Why do you always have to set up another office?” Cuomo complained to reporters in 2009. “Give . . . [the attorney general’s office] the authority and the jurisdiction to actually do the policing of politicians in Albany.”


Hochul in Lake George: Moreland Controversy Won’t Impact Election Chances TWC News (Maria Valvanis)

LAKE GEORGE, N.Y. — Cuomo’s running mate, Kathy Hochul, is campaigning Monday in the North Country, and shrugging off criticism of the governor’s involvement with the Moreland Commission.

It was the lieutenant governor candidate’s first time here in Lake George since being selected as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s running mate. Hochul stopped the Pancake House for a quick breakfast with the Warren County and Lake George Democratic chairs.


Democrats ramped up ads as Cuomo girded for Times hit Capital New York (Will Brunelle)

ALBANY—The state Democratic party launched a pro-Andrew Cuomo ad blitz as the governor’s office braced for an embarrassing New York Times story about the governor’s handling of the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption.

The New York State Democratic Campaign Committee began purchasing $281,655 worth of advertising time on July 19, one day after Cuomo’s office sent a convoluted 13-page response to the Times reporters working on the article.


Challenge to Teachout focuses on residency Capital New York (Jimmy Vielkind)

ALBANY—Andrew Cuomo’s challenge to Democratic insurgent Zephyr Teachout will only focus on her residency, according to specific objections received Monday by the State Board of Elections.

The two three-page packets were a follow-up to general objections that former senator Marty Connor, an election lawyer working for the Cuomo campaign, filed on behalf of two Hudson Valley voters. That filing contained no details, but Connor has repeated the same claims about Teachout’s non-residency in a petition filed last week in Supreme Court in Brooklyn.


Cuomo in Talks with Officials for Israel Trip Wall Street Journal (Erica Orden)

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo confirmed on Monday that he is weighing a trip to Israel, an excursion that would mark the first international travel of his administration.

“I have not yet set a plan to visit, but it’s not out of the question,” Mr. Cuomo said at an unrelated news conference in Buffalo, N.Y. “I have been corresponding with Israeli officials on the current situation that is going on in the Middle East.”


Appeal filed in fracking lawsuit against Gov. Andrew Cuomo Democrat & Chronicle (Jon Campbell)

ALBANY –  A mid-level state court will have a chance to weigh in on a lawsuit seeking to force Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration into a decision on hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

The Joint Landowners Coalition of New York, a Binghamton-based group of pro-fracking property owners, filed an appeal Monday with the state Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, which will decide whether to uphold Acting Supreme Court Justice Roger McDonough’s decision to toss the group’s lawsuit.


A $200M Medicaid bill Times Union (Jim Odato)

The federal government overpaid New York’s Medicaid program at least $200 million and the money should be refunded to Washington, according to findings of a new audit to be unveiled Tuesday.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services audit focused on the past three years of reimbursements for various services provided under New York’s $56 billion Medicaid program.


New chairman named for the gaming commission’s siting board Times Union (Jim Odato)

Kevin Law, the president of the Long Island Association on Monday ascended to be the chairman of the New York Gaming Facility Location Board.

One of the newer members of the Gaming Commission’s casino siting board, Law is among five panelists. Others are former New York City Comptroller William Thompson, former state budget director Paul Francis, Hofstra University President Stuart Rabinowitz and retired New York City law firm partner Dennis E. Glazer.

The board will recommend bidders seeking casino licenses in three regions of New York. Seventeen bidders are vying for licenses in the Capital Region, Hudson Valle/Catskills zone and the Southern Tier/Finger Lakes area. The board’s choices are expected this fall.


Retiree benefits changing Times Union (Rick Karlin)

Hundreds of retirees from a not-for-profit corporation affiliated with New York’s government will no longer be covered by the state worker health insurance plan after August. Instead, the retired employees will go into a defined benefit program in which each retiree will be allocated a fixed amount of money to cover health care costs.

The change will be for those who have retired from Health Research Inc., which works mostly with the state Health Department and Buffalo’s Roswell Park Cancer Institute. The company relies largely on federal grants to carry out research and public health programs.



Times Square Characters Should Be Licensed: Mayor NBC New York

Cookie Monster may soon need a license if he wants to work in Times Square.

Mayor de Blasio said Monday he believes the people wearing character costumes in the Crossroads of the World should be licensed and regulated.

Dozens of people — dressed as kids’ favorites like Elmo, Cookie Monster and Batman — stand near 42nd Street and pose for photos with tourists in exchange for money. The characters have come under scrutiny after a number of high-profile arrests and allegations of harrassment in recent months.

De Blasio said the practice has “gone too far.”


De Blasio voted for luxury building ‘poor door’ New York Post (Yoav Gonen)

Mayor de Blasio and other officials denouncing “poor door” entrances for subsidized tenants in luxury buildings actually voted in favor of a measure that made such separation possible, a Post review found.

When the lengthy text of a zoning resolution was amended by the City Council in July 2009, then-Councilman Bill de Blasio — who arrived late to the meeting — was among the majority who voted “aye.”


Quinn plotting political comeback New York Times (Richard Johnson)

Astute political watchers noticed when former mayoral candidate Christine Quinn attended a recent women’s press conference at City Hall in support of Gov. Cuomo’s candidate for Lt. Governor, Kathy Hochul.

Quinn has been keeping a low profile since her primary loss to Bill de Blasio, who was able to carry the gay vote even though Quinn is an out and proud lesbian.



Initial bids for Bills to be submitted Buffalo News (Tim Graham)

The NFL’s regular season doesn’t begin until September.

But the bidding process to buy the Buffalo Bills kicks off today.

Prospective buyers have until 5 p.m. to notify financial firm Morgan Stanley they intend to remain in pursuit.

The notice of intent will include a nonbinding initial bid, an explanation of how the Bills would be paid for and other documents. Morgan Stanley, hired by the Bills’ trustees to handle the sale, then will whittle down the group to a more manageable number if necessary.


Bill that would set $17 billion for VA reform wins praise in WNY Buffalo News (Jerry Zremski)

WASHINGTON – The health system at the Department of Veterans Affairs would receive a $17 billion boost, and more veterans would be able to see doctors outside the VA system, under a compromise bill announced Monday that won praise from veterans in Western New York who said it would help reform the scandal-plagued bureaucracy.

The bill, which is likely to go to the floor of the House and Senate for passage later this week, sets aside $10 billion to pay for outside care for veterans who would endure long wait times if they sought treatment at a VA facility. That money also funds a new program allowing veterans who live 40 or more miles from a VA facility to get their care from other health care providers.


Spotlighting the local impact of Start-Up NY Buffalo News

Six companies in the Start-Up NY program announced Monday range from a developer of an anti-cancer drug to a manufacturer of direct-to-metal 3-D printers. Two of the companies are relocating to Buffalo from other cities. The others are local startups or are existing businesses that are expanding.



Judge rules Astorino must sit for sworn deposition in Westchester fair housing case Politics on the Hudson (Elizabeth Ganga)

Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, the Republican candidate for governor, will be deposed under oath by the court monitor overseeing the county’s 2009 fair housing settlement with the federal government.

Judge Denise Cote granted the monitor’s request for the deposition over objections by the county and said the deposition can last up to seven hours. Three other officials involved with the settlement will also be deposed in an initial round of videotaped conversations.



Kevin Abrahams endorses former opponent Kathleen Rice for Congress Newsday (Laura Figueroa)

After a hard-fought Democratic primary, Nassau Legis. Kevan Abrahams (D-Freeport) endorsed his former opponent, Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice, for Congress on Monday.

Abrahams stood beside Rice, who defeated him 56 percent to 44 percent in last month’s primary in the 4th Congressional District, to announce his support before a monthly meeting of local church leaders in Uniondale.

“We need to make sure we get Kathleen Rice elected,” Abrahams said.

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