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POLITICO New York Playbook, presented by Nuclear Matters: MURDOCH subsidies reduced, approved -- COMMON CORE retreat -- WORLD NEWS holiday party drama

12/11/2015 07:35 AM EDT

By Azi Paybarah in Manhattan, Jimmy Vielkind in Albany, and Mike Allen in D.C., with Daniel Lippman

PORT APPROVES MURDOCH SUBSIDIES - POLITICO New York's Dana Rubinstein: Two companies effectively controlled by Rupert Murdoch will get millions of dollars in state and Port Authority subsidies to relocate from midtown Manhattan to lower Manhattan, but not as many millions as originally proposed. On Thursday, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey approved $43 million in subsidies for News Corp. and 21st Century Fox. But unlike a prior proposal, real estate developer (and likely future Murdoch landlord) Silverstein Properties will reimburse the Port $19 million, rather than $10 million. The state, in turn, will contribute $10 million less. Thanks to a $15 million state tax credit, the hit to the Port itself remains the same $9 million (or a bit more than $9 million, if you believe the analysis of some dissident real estate executives). "This is not a subsidy to an octogenarian and a septuagenarian, as the media presented, but in fact it's smart property management," said NYU professor Mitchell Moss, one of several people who testified in favor of the subsidies at the board meeting. "We're accelerating the development."

-- David Sirota notes the subsidies come less than three years after a News Corp. subsidiary gave Cuomo a book deal worth up to $700,000.

-- NYT headline: "Port Authority to Pay Part of Murdoch Companies' Rent to Lure Them Downtown"

HOW THE 'UPSTATE HUNGER GAMES' WERE WON - POLITICO New York's Will Brunelle: The Souther Tier emerged with one of the three $500 million economic development awards handed out Thursday by Cuomo because of the proposal's merits, not out of any sense that the state owed the region financial assistance, officials said. The awards, dubbed the Upstate Revitalization Initiative by Cuomo and the "Upstate Hunger Games" by detractors, pitted the seven upstate Regional Economic Development Councils against one another for a total of $1.5 billion in funding, to be distributed $100 million at a time over five years. Councils representing the Southern Tier, the Finger Lakes, and Central New York were awarded the funding.

-- Here's how co-chairs of the Capital Region's council reacted.

THE TWEET HEARD ROUND ALBANY: With Dean Skelos' fate in the hands of a jury and the state's elected class slapping itself on the back, Preet Bharara sent his first tweet:

@PreetBharara: As alleged, this is my official Twitter account. And this, allegedly, is my first tweet. Stay tuned. . .

Stay tuned . The same nine letters and two words that the prosecutor said so archly in January after he announced charges against Sheldon Silver. People around the state noted the timing of Bharara's playful comment, and what (if anything, since we are fussing over a single tweet) it might mean for the next round of prosecutorial targets. I guess we'll have to stay tuned. -- Jimmy Vielkind

TODAY: "Mayor de Blasio will undergo surgery to address a hernia that developed recently and, as a result, will not be conducting official business at City Hall on Friday. He will have a Sunday schedule and will be back at City Hall on Monday." -- press secretary Karen Hinton

-- "Ms. Hinton declined to identify the hospital where the procedure would take place, citing a desire for privacy." -- NYT's Michael Barbaro:

TABS -- News: "COMMON CORPSE: Parents' opt-out protests push gov to overhaul 'Core'" -- Post: "HOT UNDER THE COLLAR: NY priest's 'sex master'" -- amNY: "THE FUNNY MONEY STOPS HERE: MTA plan to fight counterfeit bills" -- Hamodia: "Boro Park Residents Home After Gas Leak Contained" and "AARP Supports De Blasio's Affordable Housing Plan" -- Epoch Times: "Genocide Trauma Can Be Passed Down Through DNA"

FRONT PAGES -- NYT, 1-col. above the fold: "POLL HAS TRUMP GAINING GROUND ON TERROR FEAR: Attacks Raise Concern: Seen as Stronger Leader - Security Rated as the Top Issue" -- WSJNY, 2-col. above the fold: "Trump and City Spar Over Access to Tower Lobby"

LOCAL -- Queens Chronicle, south: "BUS BATTLE: Woodhaven SBS supporters call for action ... in Manhattan" -- QC, northern: "POX OF THE BAY: Crowley, activists demand removal of polluting barges" -- QC, eastern: "FRENEMIES! State Sen. Sanders taking on U.S. Rep. Meeks" -- QC, southeast: "SANDERSTORM! State Sen. Sanders taking on U.S. Rep. Meeks" -- Queens Tribune: "KEEP THEM FREE! Western Queens officials fight to plan to place tolls on East River crossings, including the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge"

-- Lefrak City Courier, fall edition: "He's got YOUR BACK (PACK): Senator Jose Peralta holds 6th annual backpack giveaway" -- Courier Sun: "Freedom Ticket plan could ease commuting troubles" -- Ridgewood Times: "BREAKING BAD: Cave-in causes woes on historic Stockholm Street in Ridgewood" -- Bronx Times: "SOCIAL MEDIA IGNITES CHAOS"

** A Message from Nuclear Matters: Providing more than 61 percent of New York's carbon-free electricity, nuclear energy plants play a vital role in achieving our clean-energy and carbon-reduction goals. New York's nuclear energy fleet supports about 18,000 jobs and provides $2.5 billion to the state's GDP. Learn more at **

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "If you want to call getting $88 million a loser, that's your call," he said. "But we consider them all winners." ~ ESD president Howard Zemsky

PATAKI WATCH: Even in a poll where voters are asked to ask to consider a GOP Presidential candidate other than Trump and Carson, 0 percent pick Pataki.

LATE-NIGHT BEST -- "Jon Stewart Crashes Stephen's Monologue" to talk about the 9/11 health bill in Congress - 8-min. video

MEDIA MORNING -- "Holiday party leaves 'World News' exec unconscious," by Post's Ian Mohr and Emily Smith: "Almin Karamehmedovic, executive producer of 'World News Tonight With David Muir,' had perhaps a little too much fun at the show's holiday party on Wednesday night and wound up unconscious on the pavement, having fallen and hit his head. Luckily, the producer was OK - and able to attend a White House holiday party in Washington, DC, a night later. A witness to the embarrassing incident outside Upper West Side restaurant the Ribbon told Page Six that Karamehmedovic - who became 'World News' exec producer last year - 'collapsed on the sidewalk outside the restaurant' and was 'bleeding from the head.'"

ERIC GARNER'S DAUGHTER CONSIDERS RUN FOR CONGRESS -- Post's Marisa Schultz: "The 25-year-old daughter of fatal police-chokehold victim Eric Garner is mulling a run for Congress against Rep. Dan Donovan, the former Staten Island district attorney who she claims didn't deliver justice for her father. 'I'm considering it,' she told The Post Thursday after a speech on criminal-justice issues. Donovan, a Republican, convened the grand jury that cleared Police Officer Daniel Pantaleo, who in July 2014 used a chokehold on her dad while trying to apprehend him.

The case drew national attention, and Donovan launched his congressional bid shortly after.

Erica Garner criticized Donovan's political rise. "He's been promoted," she said. "He had a platform off my dad's dead body to run for Congress, and that's why he did it. It was a political move." Donovan declined to comment.

DE BLASIO SEES A FAILURE TO COMMUNICATE -- POLITICO New York's Laura Nahmias: Mayor Bill de Blasio says he isn't getting his point across. Not on homelessness, not on affordable housing. In a series of recent interviews, he has blamed growing public concern over homelessness and his flagship affordable housing program on his own inability to make his point effectively. ... [He discussed the issue during an NY1 interview on Wednesday night and a radio interview last month] Pressed yesterday to further explain why he's having so much trouble communicating, de Blasio said a lot without really offering any concrete details.

"I don't have a perfect analysis for you," he said. "I think what's obvious is there's been some areas where we had an approach that worked and was well-received and well-understood. Everyone agreed pre-k is a good example of that," de Blasio said ... In October 2013, a month before he was elected, de Blasio told the New York Times what he thought a mayor's resume should contain. "It's about ability to communicate. It's about clarity of vision and ability to sense what's going on on-the-ground, and listen."

CUOMO STAFFER RIPS DE BLASIO, ON FACEBOOK -- News' Jennifer Fermino: "A Gov. Cuomo staffer blasted Mayor de Blasio's handling of the homeless crisis in a scathing Facebook post Wednesday night. 'I want to be very clear ... the homeless 'crises' is the result of incompetent leadership in City Hall, the Human Resources Administration (HRA) and the Department of Homeless Services,' wrote Barbara Brancaccio, who is a spokeswoman at the Governor's Office of Storm Recovery. 'Together, they are tragically misguided, out of control and completely to blame.'

"She said in the rant that she was moved to speak out after the City Council hearing Wednesday on homelessness and de Blasio's evening interview on NY1's 'Inside City Hall.' ... Brancaccio previously worked for ex-Mayor Michael Bloomberg as his spokeswoman for Homeless Services - the agency she is now blasting as incompetent.

-- "After the News inquired about the post, Brancaccio took it down. The Cuomo administration, which was unaware of the post until the News alerted them, quickly disavowed the de Blasio-bashing. 'The views expressed on her personal Facebook in no way represent this administration,' said Rich Azzopardi, Senior Deputy Communications Director for the Governor."

A LONG DELIBERATION - POLITICO New York's Josefa Velasquez: Less than an hour into deliberation, it was clear that the jurors in the corruption trial against state Sen. Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, weren't going to come to a verdict by Thursday afternoon. Forty-three minutes after heading to closed-door deliberations, Juror No. 4, a 50-year-old woman from Westchester, sent a note to Judge Kimba Wood requesting the transcripts of testimony from nine witnesses, six phone calls, a dozen government exhibits, two defense exhibits and a whiteboard. Jurors requested the transcripts of the testimony of lobbyist Nick Barrella, Deputy Nassau County Executive Rob Walker, former state department of health official James Clancy, AbTech CEO Glenn Rink, lobbyist Al D'Amato, Physicians Reciprocal Insurer head Anthony Bonomo, AbTech's Bjornulf White, Glenwood Management executive vice president and general counsel Charles Dorego and Tom Dwyer, the chief officer of a title insurance company.The jury, composed of eight women and four men, also requested a chart of Adam Skelos' annual income between 2010 and 2014 compiled by the F.B.I., as well as his loan application for his $675,000 Rockville Centre home.

-- If the Skelos family teeters between the pathetic and the pitiful, the larger context of political atmosphere revealed at the trial is almost stomach-turning, Jim Dwyer writes in the New York Times.

-- After the New York Post reported that the younger Skelos was wearing a suit that cost more than $1,000, Adam Skelos disputed the claim, telling the Times that he buys three suits for $1,000 at Jos. A Bank.

DE BLASIO ON LABOR-"De Blasio touts his labor achievements during union holiday parties," by POLITICO New York's Sally Goldenberg: On the night before Mayor Bill de Blasio was scheduled to have hernia surgery, he made an appearance at two holiday parties hosted by local unions to remind workers of his labor-friendly accomplishments during his two years in office. De Blasio also touted his wife's mental health program, joked she "righteously kick(s) my ass" when he's feeling defeated and slammed Donald Trump during the speeches, according to an audio recording provided to POLITICO New York. The mayor, who has a mixed relationship with the city's public-sector unions, talked about the movement to increase New York's minimum wage and the city's expanded "living wage" law at a soiree hosted by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

TEACHERS UNION CLAIMS VICTORY IN COMMON CORE REPORT -- POLITICO New York's Eliza Shapiro: City and state teachers unions claimed victory after Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Common Core task force released a series of recommendations Thursday to overhaul the state's Common Core standards and to curb the consequences of standardized testing.

"This is an historic day for educators," United Federation of Teachers president Michael Mulgrew said in an interview. "Today really marks the end of the whole test-and-punish ideology that has been so prevalent for so long."

New York State United Teachers echoed that sentiment in a statement: "The recommendations of the state task force signal a commitment to restore the joy of teaching and learning in our classrooms."

Both unions linked the task force's recommendations with the passage of the federal Every Student Succeeds Act, which replaces No Child Left Behind and scales back much of the weight of national standardized testing. Mulgrew attended the bill's signing in Washington, D.C., and called the combined effect of the task force's suggestions and the passage of ESSA a "sea change for us." ... The unions' celebratory rhetoric represents a stark departure from last year, when the UFT and NYSUT spent months battling back Cuomo's education reform agenda in Albany.

-- NYT headline: "Cuomo Panel Calls for Further Retreat From Common Core Standards"

-- News' Ben Chapman: "Cuomo's task force report leaves questions unanswered as the recs go to the state Education Department. The document doesn't formulate the state's new standards. Consequently, it's not known how they will differ from the Common Core. The report naturally calls on the state to continue the push for "high-quality education standards and accountability in education" it began under the Common Core. It's just not clear how the state is going to get there."

SCOOP: Retail workers union backs Wright for Rangel's seat -- POLITICO New York's Azi Paybarah: The RWDSU, a union that backed state Sen. Adriano Espaillat's bid to oust Rep. Charlie Rangel in 2014 has decided to support a different candidate in next year's race - Democratic state Assemblyman Keith Wright. The union announced its support for Wright in a statement distributed by Wright's campaign. ... In a brief telephone interview, Appelbaum said, "Each race is different," noting that Wright's record on "workers' rights as chair of the labor committee in the Assembly was the deciding factor."

BIRTHDAYS: Elizabeth Spiers, CEO of EverUp, former editor at the Observer ... Saturday: Arun Venugopal, reporter at WNYC ... Amy Slattery, budget and legislative director for City Councilman Mark Levine of Manhattan ... Marty Preston, assistant commissioner at DCAS ... Sunday: Shelly Strickler, a retired journalist who directs reporters in the annual Inner Circle Show ... Sarah Garland, executive editor at the Hechinger Report ... Assemblyman Jose Rivera of the Bronx ... former Rep. Nan Hayworth of the Hudson Valley ... Jason Weingarten, executive director of the NYS Republican Party ... Dan Hendrik, director of external affairs at NRG Energy.

REAL ESTATE -- "Mayor de Blasio Seeks to Rebuild Momentum for Affordable Housing Plan," by Times' Michael M. Grynbaum and Mireya Navarro: "Mayor Bill de Blasio declared that affordable housing would be the cornerstone of his second year in office, a sweeping effort to generate tens of thousands of new homes and preserve the fabric of neighborhoods in fast-gentrifying New York. It was a signature issue for a populist mayor determined to make a more equal and inclusive city. But 11 months in, Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, is struggling to find support for his housing plan from the very middle- and working-class communities that he pledged to help. Disdain has cascaded around the city, with civic leaders from the South Bronx to suburban Queens worried that a pair of key policy changes could generate a glut of construction, eliminate parking spaces and allow developers to build tall luxury towers while offering meager benefits for existing residents."

CHAPTER CLOSED-"Deal reached on hot-button plan to redevelop Brooklyn Heights Library," by POLITICO New York's Sally Goldenberg: "A deal on a contentious plan to redevelop the Brooklyn Heights library has been settled, after a long, arduous negotiation between the developer and City Councilman Steve Levin. Levin's backing all but ensures the project will be passed by the City Council. It has the support of the de Blasio administration as well. The plan has undergone a series of changes over the past 24 hours during tense, closed-door talks. Among them are a library that will be 5,000 square feet larger than the original plan, a promise of space for city-run Science Technology Engineering Math education labs for local Brooklyn students and seven-day-a-week library service at the new branch. Levin also secured a promise from the developer, Hudson Companies, to rent the below-market-rate apartments to a lower-income population than was originally planned."

IN THE ZONE--"De Blasio defends his housing plan; Staten Island votes it down," by POLITICO New York's Sally Goldenberg: "Mayor Bill de Blasio made the unusual decision of offering an unsolicited defense of his housing plan during a press conference on Thursday, hours before the final community-level vote was cast against the plan. 'We're not going to allow the status quo to hold. We're not going to use the policies of the past that just weren't sufficient,' the mayor told reporters after an unrelated announcement, but before his standard question-and-answer session. ... His remarks made no difference on Staten Island, where the borough board voted, 6-0, with one abstention Thursday to reject his proposals - Mandatory Inclusionary Housing, which requires developers to build more low-income apartments when they get rezoning approval from the city, and a wide-ranging plan known as Zoning for Quality and Affordability, which would alter regulations to ease that development."

HAIL MARY PASS-"Union Theological Seminary Searches Soul Over Condos," by WSJ's Corinne Ramey: "In the past few years, the Rev. Dr. Serene Jones has been compelled to reconcile the religious ideals of Union Theological Seminary with plans to develop a luxury-condominium tower on its campus in northern Manhattan. She cited the idea of Christian realism, attributed to theologian Reinhold Niebuhr. ... The complexity stems from the condition of the seminary's historic buildings in Morningside Heights, which Ms. Jones said had crumbling exteriors as well as electrical, mechanical and plumbing problems."

THE HOME TEAMS -- POLITICO New York's Howard Megdal: Nets 100, Sixers 91: A dominant performance with 23 points from Andrea Bargnani-no, really- helped the Nets keep the Sixers at one win on the season. Thaddeus Young posted another double-double, his 11th of the season.

-- Kicks 97, Kings 99: "With four and a half seconds left in the fourth quarter on Thursday night, Carmelo Anthony caught an inbounds pass near midcourt, rumbled like a N.F.L. running back to the 3-point line, and heaved a potential game-winning shot that clanged off the rim. ... Knicks Coach Derek Fisher said. 'The ball was in our best player's hands with 4.5 seconds in the game. He got to a spot on the floor where he felt like he could get a shot up. We'll take that every time.' The shot might not have been the best one available; Kristaps Porzingis appeared to be wide open under the basket." NYT's Andrew Keh:

-- The day ahead: the Rangers are in Edmonton.

#UpstateAmerica: A chain-smoking Syracuse man started buying Star Wars figures instead of packs of cigarettes and now has an entire store and museum of figures to sell just in time for the latest installment of the classic series.

** A Message from Nuclear Matters: Some of America's existing nuclear energy plants face early closure due to current economic and policy conditions. Providing more than 62% of America's carbon-free electricity, existing, state-of-the-art nuclear energy plants play a vital role in achieving our clean-energy and carbon-reduction goals.

In New York, nuclear energy plants provide 31 percent of the state's electricity and 61 percent of our carbon-free electricity. The existing nuclear energy plants in New York also support about 18,000 jobs and provide $2.5 billion to the state's GDP.

If we want to keep New York working, we need policies that will keep New York's state-of-the-art nuclear energy plants working for all of us. Join us at **

FOR MORE political and policy news from New York, check out Politico New York's home page:

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