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POLITICO New York Playbook, presented by Middle Class Strong: DE BLASIO homeless head exits -- CELESTE KATZ's new job -- WNYC's award

12/16/2015 07:40 AM EDT

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

DE BLASIO'S HOMELESS COMMISSIONER GILBERT TAYLOR OUT -- POLITICO New York's Laura Nahmias: The announcement comes as the de Blasio administration seeks to change course on how it handles homelessness. And the set-up of the reorganization signals the mayor's increasing reliance on Banks, the former head of the Legal Aid Society, for direction on the city's homelessness policies.

Taylor's resignation comes after two weeks in which the Homeless Services Commissioner appeared to have a less-than-full command of data about the city's homeless shelter system during testimony he gave to the City Council, and during a sit-down television interview. In a City Council Hearing last week, Taylor could not give an accurate number for the amount of people living on city streets, or for the number of admissions to city homeless shelters since de Blasio took office. During an interview at the end of November with PIX11, Taylor gave himself and his agency an "A for effort" in addressing homelessness. De Blasio would not directly answer when asked Tuesday during a press conference whether Taylor was asked or encouraged to resign from his position by the mayor or any of his staff.

--"Last month, de Blasio admitted he had failed to properly communicate to New Yorkers what specifically his administration has been doing to deal with the rising numbers." POLITICO New Yorks' Gloria Pazmino:

-- THE LEDE from AP's Jon Lemire: "The head of New York City's beleaguered Homeless Services agency is stepping down amid a stubborn rise in homelessness that has become a significant political problem for Mayor Bill de Blasio."

-- THE LEDE from NYT's Nikita Stewart: "Mayor Bill de Blasio, still struggling to manage near-record levels of homelessness, announced on Tuesday that his homeless-services chief was stepping down."

-- Gilbert Taylor last month: "I would definitely give us an 'A' for effort." WPIX's Jay Dow:

-- FLASHBACK, Nov. 19: NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton: "[T]his homeless problem has not crept up on us. My sense of it is it has exploded in the last two years."

-- TIMING: "[D]e Blasio said that Mr. Taylor had discussed 'his desire to seek other opportunities' with [Deputy Mayor Tony] Shorris 'over the last few weeks.' ... Taylor was meeting with elected officials-and discussing longer-term plans to address homelessness-as recently as [Tuesday]." Observer's Jillian Jorgensen:

-- PALACE INTRIGUE: "The city is looking particularly for a Latino to fill the deputy mayor role, according to people familiar with the matter. Several prominent Latino city officials have left City Hall in the past year." WSJ's Josh Dawsey and Mara Gay:

WAKE-UP SCOOP -- City Council to vote on mid-year addition to homeless funding -- POLITICO New York's Sally Goldenberg: A day after the mayor's homeless commissioner resigned amid a growing homelessness problem, the City Council is scheduled to vote on a series of mid-year budget changes that include an extra $137.5 million for shelter costs.

The budget modification, released by Mayor Bill de Blasio in November, allocates $59 million in city funds to shelters for homeless adults for the remainder of fiscal year 2016, which ends on June 30. Another $78.6 million will go toward family shelters. Of that amount, $29.4 million is city money, $40.5 million is federal cash and $8.7 million comes from the state, according to details provided by the Council and the mayor's office. The federal and state dollars are matching funds for the city's family shelter investment. "New York City is facing an unprecedented homeless crisis and the administration must do more to better help homeless New Yorkers," Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito said through a spokeswoman. "The additional $88.3 million (in city funds) the Council is adding to the Department of Homeless Services' Budget will provide much-needed support to adult and family shelter operations, which are currently nearly at capacity. MORE:

THE UNFINISHED LGBT AGENDA - POLITICO New York's Jimmy Vielkind: As Pride Agenda folds up its tent, a top gay legislator says there's plenty of work left to do for LGBT New Yorkers. State Sen. Brad Hoylman on Wednesday will issue a report examining LGBT bills that have been stalled in the state's upper chamber for years. According to the report, the state Senate hasn't held floor votes on at least a half-dozen measures Hoylman carries - including bills that would have state agencies collect demographic data on sexual orientation and ban "conversion therapy" programs - as well as the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act (GENDA), which would prohibit discrimination based on gender expression.

TABS -- Post: "BUSHEL: Mayor finally discovers crisis; homeless chief out" -- News: "BRADY HAS NO BALLS: Refuses to bash bigot buddy Trump; 'He's great, invites me to play golf'" -- Metro: "BRATTON SLAPS L.A." -- amNY: "STATE OF THE MARKET: Brooklyn still most unaffordable for renters; Why Queens names are heating up..."

-- Hamodia: "Cuomo to Include Unattached Tuition Tax Credit" and "NYC Pre-K in Yeshivas Up Sharply From Last Year" -- El Diario [translated]: Predators sneak into NYCHA: Report reveals more than 100 sexual offenders evade standards to reside in public housing; Tenants required to remove them

THE LAS VEGAS RClick here for some key takeaways or just go to POLITICO's homepage, where it has been dissected just about every way imaginable.

FRONT PAGES -- NYT, 1-col. above the fold: "2 Cities Differ In Responding to Terror Email: Los Angeles's Schools Shut, Not New York's" and 5-col. below the fold: "Officer's Killings Bring Scrutiny of Efforts to Keep Young Offenders From Prison" -- WSJNY, 4-col. above the fold: "City Shake-Up on Homeless: Mayor Orders strategy review as another top official vacates post; more people on street"

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I certainly think this is a normal inflection point, when someone at the half-way point of an administration would want to seek other options." -- De Blasio, announcing the departure of the city's Commissioner for Homeless Services, Gilbert Taylor, via transcript:

BONUS QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I am now taking the challenge on myself." -- De Blasio, via transcript:

PIC OF THE DAY: Brooklyn's first Muslim judge, sworn-in on a koran. via Daily News:

BONUS PIC OF THE DAY: A City Council candidate with a history of offensive behavior, took a selfie with de Blasio outside City Hall:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: News12 reporter Doug Geed ... David Vermillion, managing director at Teneo Strategy ... and Jill Gardiner Noon, managing editor at The Real Deal magazine ... and former NYC Council Speaker Vallone Sr. recently turned 81: (h/t PVJR)

#PATAKIWATCH: WNYC followed Pataki around New Hampshire.

#HILLARYWATCH: -- Clinton "called on technology firms to move faster to remove websites and videos that espouse the violent ideology of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, an effort some companies, including YouTube, have been attempting for some time. Others companies, however, have expressed concern about becoming the government's censor, or being put in the position of deciding what constitutes free speech and what constitutes incitement." Times' David Sanger and Amy Chozick:

DUPONT AWARD for WNYC -- Jim Schachter, V.P. for News at the station wrote on Facebook: "I'm very proud to share the news that WNYC Radio has won an Alfred I. DuPont award from Columbia University in the City of New York for 'NYPD Bruised,' our ongoing coverage of abuse of force by New York police officers and the NYPD's failures of oversight. The award honors the work of investigative reporter Robert Lewis and DataNews developer Noah Veltman, and their editors David Lewis and John Keefe." NYPD BRUISED:

** A message from Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York: A safe work environment should not be a privilege; it should be a right. Middle Class Strong is focused on building, protecting, and maintaining a strong middle class for union and non-union workers alike. It is time for working people to be given the respect, dignity, and protections they deserve. Visit **

THE DONALD'S STATE PARK -- "N.Y. senator [Daniel Squadron]: Rename Trump State Park," by Journal News' Joseph Spector: Squadron "says Donald Trump's presidential campaign rhetoric should lead New York to strip his name off a 438-acre vacant state park that stretches across Westchester and Putnam counties. ... Squadron this week sent a letter to Gov. Andrew Cuomo asking the Democratic governor to remove the Republican candidate's name from the park. Trump, the billionaire celebrity, bought the land in the 1990s for $2 million in the hopes of turning it into a golf course. But when the effort failed, he donated the land, which he valued at $100 million, to the state in 2006, and his name graces the signs on the park, including ones on the Taconic State Parkway."

MILESTONE -- "Government agency's last remnants of 9/11 being given away," by AP's Verena Dobnik: "Inside an aircraft hangar at Kennedy Airport, stacks of shirts sit neatly folded on a shelf, price tags still attached. But they are caked in dust and will never be sold. Mannequins, dressed in Victoria's Secret tops, stand as if beckoning to shoppers long gone. Nearby are mammoth hunks of rusty metal and wiring - parts of a global broadcast antenna that once crowned the World Trade Center. These are some of the last remnants of a host of artifacts recovered after the Sept. 11 attacks that have been held in storage at the airport for 14 years by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the 16-acre trade center site. The agency is now giving away about 200 items still stored in the 80,000-square-foot hangar. It once held more than 2,000 artifacts from the ruins, which have been distributed over the years to organizations in the United States and abroad."

CUOMO OFFICIALS HEAD BACK TO PUERTO RICO - POLITICO New York's Dan Goldberg: State Medicaid director Jason Helgerson is back in Puerto Rico trying to put the finishing touches on an application for a Medicaid waiver the island can send the federal government. The waiver, modeled loosely on New York's own successful application, would let the island, currently struggling with $72 billion of debt, restructure its health care delivery system using federal dollars. The plan, while not a panacea, does not need congressional approval - which makes it Puerto Rico's best hope for a quick infusion of cash that can be used to reform one of its most costly and least efficient sectors. Staff from the state's Medicaid Redesign Team are looking to submit a plan to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services by year's end, according to a spokesperson for the state Department of Health.

HAPPENING TODAY -- BOARD OF CORRECTION EXPECTED TO APPROVE RULE CHANGES -- POLITICO New York's Gloria Pazmino and Colby Hamilton: The city's Board of Correction is expected to approve a package of new rules for the Department of Correction on Wednesday that will change the Rikers Island visitation policy and update its solitary confinement code as requested earlier this year by commissioner Joseph Ponte.

The final rule package has been thoroughly revised to include the concerns of board members and jail advocates who said the new visitation policy would be too harsh and not beneficial to inmates who the depend on emotional support from their families. The new rules will allow visitors and inmates to hold hands throughout the duration of the visit and inmates will be permitted to hold children ages 14 and younger in their families during the visit. In addition, inmates will also be allowed to briefly hug and kiss visitors both at the beginning and the end of the visit. Instead of installing a plexiglass divider, the department will allow them to hold hands over a partition no taller than six inches. Ponte's proposal was also revised to remove a request from the department that would have allowed the agency to deny visits to inmates based on the visitor's criminal record. SEE THE DETAILS:

MEANWHILE... Department of Correction seeks to delay young adult housing plan -- POLITICO New York's Colby Hamilton and Gloria Pazmino: Joseph Ponte, the city's correction commissioner, is asking the Board of Correction for more time in removing 18- to 21-year-old inmates from the general population.

The commissioner's request would push back the deadline for the implementation of standards set by the board by another six months. The board monitors conditions in city jails and reviews the performance of the Department of Correction. The request comes after Ponte's agency submitted a plan last summer to move younger inmates out of the general population. "As the Department began taking the necessary steps towards plan implementation, it became clear that additional time would be needed to add the appropriate number of staff required under federal mandate to ensure that inmates would have access to the best programming and services while still maintaining the safety and security of the facility," Ponte wrote in a letter to the board on Tuesday.

CRIME STRATEGIES -- The push by de Blasio and the NYPD to send some people accused of gun-related crimes to jail faces resistance in Brooklyn, where District Attorney Ken Thompson focuses on diversion programs. "The Police Department has quietly sought this year to bring more of its gun cases to federal prosecutors in the Eastern District, which covers Brooklyn, than it had in years past. Law enforcement officials said part of the reason was a feeling that convictions in gun cases in state court in Brooklyn were low." Times' J. David Goodman and Al Baker:

TRANSPO BEAT -- Councilman Levine proposes truck traffic study -- News' Dan Rivoli: "Councilman Mark Levine will introduce a bill Wednesday to require the city Department of Transportation to study truck deliveries south of 59th St. in Manhattan and in downtown Brooklyn. Levine wants to see if traffic would improve if trucks made deliveries overnight from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m., instead of during rush hour.

-- "'We believe it's a major driver of the escalating problem of congestion in Manhattan,' he said. [Levine] raised the idea of a congestion pricing scheme for delivery trucks or an outright ban on them during rush hours. A 2010 DOT pilot program to test off-hour deliveries found that trucks received fewer parking tickets and were able to move faster through the streets."

MEDIA MORNING -- "John Heilemann, Mark Halperin, Mark McKinnon launching Showtime series," by Politico's Hadas Gold: "The [documentary] series, called 'The Circus', will debut in January before the Iowa caucuses and run through election day. Filming has already begun, with McKinnon being spotted regularly on the campaign trail and at debates interviewing political players. Showtime President David Nevins, who has known Halperin since high school, said the show will be in the same vein of their weekly sports series, 'A Season With,' which shows the behind the scenes drama around a sports team's season ... The trio approached Showtime about a documentary series about four months ago, and Nevins said he was immediately interested in the prospect of a real time documentary series as the election unfolded, instead of waiting until after election day."

--"Brian Williams Returns To NBC For First Time Since Suspension," by HuffPost's Judah Robinson: "Williams led NBC's coverage of a press conference about Los Angeles schools, which were shut down Tuesday morning after an email threatened an attack. He was filling in for current 'NBC Nightly News' anchor Lester Holt, who was out sick. The coverage, simulcast on and MSNBC, was available to NBC affiliate stations on an optional basis."

WILLARD SCOTT retires - The Today Show looks back on his career: "Willard Scott started as an NBC page in 1950. Now, after a remarkable 65 years at the network, 35 of them at TODAY, he is heading off into retirement. But before he does, the TODAY anchors gather[ed] to look back at highlights of his long career, and former first lady Barbara Bush and former TODAY film critic Gene Shalit pay him special personal tributes." Video

FIRST LOOK -- "Mic has hired Celeste Katz as Senior Political Reporter. ... Katz is a veteran newswoman who has been at the forefront of aggressive, fast-moving reporting, most recently at the New York Daily News. She will report to Mic's Politics Editor, Stefan Becket."

FINANCIAL HEALTH of NYC HOSPITALS -- Post's Yoav Gonen: "The city's $7 billion municipal hospital system will barely have enough cash on hand to pay its bills by the end of the fiscal year, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli warned Tuesday. In an otherwise upbeat report on the city's budget, DiNapoli found that NYC Health + Hospitals - formerly the Health and Hospitals Corp. - faces "serious financial challenges" despite unprecedented support from the de Blasio ­administration. DiNapoli said NYC Health + Hospitals' deficit will nearly double over the next three years to reach $2 billion by 2019 - a startling figure given that the deficit projection for the entire city that year is $2.9 billion."

THE HOME TEAMS -- POLITICO New York's Howard Megdal: The day ahead: the Heat are in Brooklyn. The two best rookies so far, Kristaps Porzingis and Karl-Anthony Towns, square off at The Garden in Knicks-Timberwolves.

#UpstateAmerica: Meet the squirrel man of Oswego County.

** A message from Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York: As part of our efforts to build a strong middle class, one of our initial goals is to make New York City construction sites safer for all workers. This is merely a first step, but it is a critical one in our ongoing efforts to protect working people.

Unions prioritize safety by requiring rigorous training programs. However, not all construction sites are union, and working conditions at many sites across the city are deplorable. So it comes as no surprise that in 2015, 14 of 16 construction related deaths occurred on non-union construction sites.

We believe the safety standards that unions abide by should be uniformly implemented across the city. Moving forward, we will work to educate the public and elected officials about why working people need true middle class wages and benefits to live and thrive in New York City. Visit **

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

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