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POLITICO New York Playbook, presented by Nuclear Matters: CUOMO's travels -- SPITZER and SMITH split -- WHERE to EAT in 2016

12/28/2015 07:30 AM EDT

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

WHERE THE GOVERNOR GOES - POLITICO New York's Bill Mahoney: After five years in office, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has yet to complete a Full Schumer. The governor's public schedules list locations for 6,382 different meetings or events between Feb. 2011 and Aug. 2015. These include appearances in only 47 of the state's 62 counties, causing him to fall short of Sen. Charles Schumer's 17-year streak of visiting every county in the state at least once (though Cuomo's lieutenant governor Kathy Hochul completed the cycle in her first year in office).

Most of these unvisited counties are upstate (Putnam is debatably the exception), but that doesn't mean the governor hesitates to venture north of Bear Mountain. In particular, he's a fan of Buffalo. He's spent portions of 51 days conducting official business in Erie, more than in any county except Albany or New York, where his offices are located. He's also a frequent visitor to the Adirondacks' Essex County, population 39,072, where he's spent more time than Brooklyn.

DE BLASIO DEFINED BY CUOMO FEUD - Associated Press' Jon Lemire: "The moment that arguably defined Mayor Bill de Blasio's tumultuous second year in office may well have been a steamy afternoon this past summer when he summoned a group of reporters to City Hall. De Blasio proceeded to rip into Cuomo for blocking his key initiatives at every turn, acting out of pettiness, 'game-playing' and 'revenge for some perceived slight.' Even as he thundered on, de Blasio acknowledged his comments could prompt Cuomo to unleash a 'vendetta.' Since that tirade six months ago, the relationship between the state's two most powerful Democrats has become even more toxic. The frequency with which Cuomo has inserted himself into city business and outright second-guessed the mayor has increased dramatically. And the governor may prove to be of little help to de Blasio as the mayor, now at the midpoint of his term with his re-election bid on the distant horizon, prepares to again take his agenda to a state capital that in many ways is still tightly controlled by Cuomo."

PIC OF THE DAY: The New York magazine cover featuring a shrunken de Blasio.

SELLING HIS MESSAGE -- "Mayor de Blasio Still Trying, Fitfully, to Blow His Own Horn Better," by Times' Michael M. Grynbaum: "On his 99th day as mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio was asked how he would improve his fledgling administration. 'Communicate clearly,' the mayor replied. 'Remembering to communicate early and often is the thing I would tell myself to do.' Twenty months later, Mr. de Blasio is, by his own admission, still working on it. 'I need to communicate better,' he declared last week, echoing a refrain that is now commonplace at City Hall. In the last month alone, Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, has blamed public relations for his problems with homelessness ('I have not communicated sufficiently") and the backlash to his affordable housing plan ('We're not explaining it well enough'). Facing the lowest approval ratings of his tenure, as well as questions about his re-election chances, Mr. de Blasio has said the problem is packaging, not substance. He has stood fast on his liberal policies, saying he is convinced that he is changing New Yorkers' lives for the better. But in interviews, numerous supporters of Mr. de Blasio say they remain concerned about the mayor's messaging instincts, saying he falls prey to distractions and has failed to capitalize on his to, well, themselves."

THE NEW SHERIFF OF STATE STREET - Gannett's Joe Spector: "When Cuomo was running for attorney general in 2006, he vowed to be the 'Sheriff of State Street,' where the state Capitol is located. A decade later, there's a new sheriff in town: U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. In his six years in office, Bharara has won the guilty verdicts of 27 public officials, and none were larger than the convictions in the last month of the former legislative leaders, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Leader Dean Skelos. Already, Bharara has carved out a public-corruption record that rivals anyone who has held the distinguished post for the Southern District of New York, which covers parts of New York City and the Hudson Valley. People close to him say Bharara has a calm confidence that, over decades in politics and the courtroom, has driven him toward a belief that New York is fertile ground for public corruption."

TABS -- Post: "MY 3 SONS: Cop's triple joy as his kids join him on force" -- News: "JETS FLIP SCRIPT ON 'PRICKS'" -- NY magazine: "Who Shrunk the Mayor? -- amNY: "3..2..1..2016" -- Metro: "#2015" -- Newsday: "TROUBLE IN BULK" -- Hamodia: "Uber Looks to Expand in NY: Cabbies Fight Back" -- Epoch Times: "'Force Awakens' Becomes Fastest Movie to Reach $1 Billion" -- El Diario [translated]: NYC needs safer streets for pedestrians

FRONT PAGES -- NYT, 2-col. below the fold: "Working Under Cover, Clinton Sought Proof of Racial Bias" -- WSJNY, 4-col. above the fold: "Choosing the Street Over a Shelter"

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "In the last year, I can't highlight him saying anything bad towards the police." -- Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, about de Blasio. via DN's Jennifer Fermino:

TWEET OF THE DAY: The DM that led to one journo marriage, via @JamieStelter:

** 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 *

DEEP DIVE - "The Hustlers at Scores," by Jessica Pressler in New York Magazine: "Here's a modern Robin Hood story for you: a few strippers who stole from (mostly) rich, (usually) disgusting, (in their minds) pathetic men and gave to, well, themselves."

CITY HALL, THE RESTAURANT, IS CLOSING -- Times' James Barron -- " City Hall is closing, the restaurant at 131 Duane Street in TriBeCa in Manhattan, not City Hall, the seat of government a couple of blocks away. The one became something of a hangout for people from the other: lawmakers and lobbyists, commissioners and City Council types. But the restaurant will shut down on Dec. 31. Henry Meer, the chef who opened City Hall, said the decision reflected a combination of factors. 'It was not just the potential increase in rent,' he said. 'It was the increase of the small business - City Hall - trying to stay in business because of the increase in operating costs.

"Mr. Meer said the developers of the luxury Westfield World Trade Center mall had approached him about opening a restaurant there. But he said that his other passion was wine and spirits, and that he planned to open a wine store in the new mall, which is set to open in spring 2016. (The opening of the mall has been delayed by problems like leaks.)"

-- @HyersBill has a theory why the restaurant is shuttering:

"NO VICTORY LAPS" -- Daily News' Jennifer Fermino: "Midway through his term, de Blasio is taking no victory laps, and if he did, New Yorkers would probably run him out of town. He's mired in record-low approval ratings and a feud with Cuomo - a one-time friend - and is retooling his cabinet to manage a homeless crisis that until recently he denied existed. His troubles have surprised observers, given his rep as the brilliant operative who helped Hillary Clinton snag the U.S. Senate seat from New York. 'He is more comfortable exercising the levers of power now, but he's more unsteady politically than would have been expected given his experiences,' said former City Councilman Kenneth Fisher."

-- "Mayor de Blasio appears to have negotiated a fragile peace with cops" -- DN's Jennifer Fermino:

-- "Mayor de Blasio's NYC schools see some improvement, but still struggle with inequality" -- News' Ben Chapman: " [A]fter two years calling the shots for the public school system - which has a $24 billion annual budget - de Blasio's plans have so far failed to produce a transformative impact on the schools as a whole, where inequality is still the rule rather than the exception."

BETTER THAN YOU THINK -- New York magazine's Andrew Rice: "On November 2, nearly two years to the day after he ascended to the state at his election party to the tune of Lorde's 'Royals,' Mayor Bill de Blasio received a dismal reality check. A Marist College poll pegged his approval rating at 38 percent, a new low, and nearly half of those surveyed said he did not deserve reelection. ... Most troublingly, the poll found that 55 percent of New Yorkers thought the city was moving in the wrong direction - the most pessimistic such figure in at least a decade.

"That night, de Blasio - who is not much for the social circuit - nonetheless put on a cheery face as he welcomed a group of political elders to Gracie Mansion to celebrate a noble failure. It was the 50th anniversary of the election of Mayo John Lindsay, another progressive reformer with national ambitions. ... De Blasio gestured toward his own first boss in city government, Mayor David Dinkins, who was seated at a table next to the stage. 'It's very clear that some people did profound things, and then those contributions were not accurately reflected in the history,' he said. 'We know of Mayor Dinkins's extraordinary contributions to the safety of the city. We know of Mayor Lindsay's extraordinary contributions to harmony and to the possibility of a city where everyone really could live together. It's important to honor that history. Whether it is the conventional wisdom or not, it is the truth."

"The subtext was lost on no one in the audience. 'Everyone thought that it was transparently him talking about himself,' says George Artz, a veteran political consultant. 'In effect, he was saying, 'I'm doing a lot better than you think.'"

ANXIETY ASIDE, NEW YORK SEES DROP IN CRIME -- Times' J. David Goodman and Al Baker: " Homeless encampments proliferated. Two officers, confronting armed men, were shot and killed. And many New Yorkers said they felt less safe. But fears that New York City was slipping back to a more dangerous time contrasted with reality. As reflected in the reported levels of the most serious types of crime, the city in 2015 was as safe as it had been in its modern history. A modest decrease in reported crime is expected by year's end.

"As we end this year, the City of New York will record the safest year in its history, its modern history, as it relates to crime," said Commissioner William J. Bratton, summing up 2015 in an address to officers at a Dec. 17 promotion ceremony. But, he added, the past 12 months had also been 'terrible' for the department because of the loss of four officers in the line of duty since late last December. 'It has been a year of great contradictions,' he said, struggling for words. The overall crime statistics, of course, do not capture the increasing presence of homeless people on the streets and in shelters that has bedeviled the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio, while contributing to a creeping unease among New Yorkers.

-- The data: " The steep decrease in enforcement numbers this year continued a trend that started under the administration of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. Police stops peaked at nearly 700,000 in 2011 and arrests at roughly 423,000 in 2010, police statistics show. Criminal summonses have been declining for a decade, according to a study of police enforcement released this month by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Arrests for marijuana possession fell to new lows after the enactment of a more lenient policy late last year. That drop, to 17,362 through Dec. 20 from 27,476 at the same point in 2014, mirrored similarly sharp declines in 2011-12 and 2012-13."

TOUGH CROWD -- Sharpton sees mixed results in de Blasio's first two years -- Post's Yoav Gonen: "Even pal Al Sharpton is giving Mayor de Blasio an incomplete grade at midterm. During the mayor's visit Friday to the National Action Network to serve food and distribute toys, Sharpton said the city was moving in the right direction - but not nearly fast enough. 'After 20 years of going backwards, we may not be speeding at the speed we want, but we at least have turned the boat around to the right direction,' Sharpton said at NAN's annual Christmas celebration in Harlem. He credited de Blasio for expanding pre-K and reducing the Police Department's use of stop-and-frisk, while keeping crime levels low."

KING OF QUEENS -- District Attorney Richard Brown, UNCHALLENGEABLE -- Times' Eli Rosenberg: "[I]n an era when criminal justice reform is an increasing part of the conversation in New York City, and district attorney seats in Brooklyn and Manhattan have turned over in recent years - or, in the case of Staten Island and the Bronx, will on Jan. 1 - some people have begun asking where Mr. Brown's challengers are.

"Already the longest-serving district attorney in Queens, Mr. Brown will become the city's longest-serving top county prosecutor when his new term begins in January. To his supporters, the string of uncontested elections indicates the respect Mr. Brown - known as the Judge for his time on the bench - has earned. ... Others said his long tenure was a reminder that the city's antiquated political machines were still a force in Queens. 'It undermines democracy when there is no real challenger to step up to run against incumbents,' said Dick Dadey, the executive director of Citizens Union, a government watchdog."

LONG READS -- A 2015 reading list, by Observer's Ross Barkan, on Medium: "I keep a marble notebook of all the books I read and assign them letter grades. ... Below, here are the 27 books I've finished this year with their letter grade and a brief explanation behind my grading*.

-- "Eyes on City Hall: A Young Man's Education in New York City Political Warfare by Evan Mandery: (B+) Despite my profession, I've read very few political books or campaign memoirs. Mandery, who was a top aide on Ruth Messinger's doomed 1997 mayoral campaign, gives a riveting behind-the-scenes look of what it's like to exist in the cauldron of New York City politics. The '97 race was utterly forgettable - Rudy romped Ruth - but Mandery wonderfully exposes the foibles and hypocrisies of campaign operatives and political reporters alike. As a reporter covering campaigns, I realized how little I understood about what it's like to live inside this 24/7 machine for months (or years) at a time.

- "Revolutionary Road by Richard Yates: (A) ... "Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates: (B+) There isn't much I can say here that hasn't been said already about Coates and his award-winning book. I will simply offer my belief, explained well by Michelle Alexander, that Coates' work is unfinished. We know of the degradations of slavery, Jim Crow, and institutional racism that grips America to this day, and how an entire race of people suffer in a world stained with this legacy, and how - thanks to Coates - crippling this can be for African-Americans. What I was hoping to find from Coates was more of a vision, a honed Weltanschauung pointing the way forward."


-- The Times Square Olive Garden is charging $400 per person for New Year's Eve dinner. NYP's Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein:

-- Eliot Spitzer and Lis Smith are no longer dating -- Page Six:

-- Last rites for NYPD Detective and Air National Guardsman Joseph Lemm - who was killed by a Taliban bomber in Afghanistan last week - will be held at St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan, the NYPD announced Sunday. Post's Tina Moore:

-- On Dec. 28, New Yorkers can obliterate any object that represents the unhealthy habits, the cheating exes, terrible jobs, debilitating illnesses, and disturbing current events that plagued them in 2015. DNAinfo's Nicole Levy:

-- A New York man rode a Citibike all the way to California , incurring $1,200 in fees. He plans to return the bicycle. New York magazine's Caroline Bankoff:

EAT BEAT - "Adam Platt's Where to EAT 2016: Your game plan for dining (and drinking) exceptionally well, starting tonight" -- New York Magazine: "1. The New Old School ... 2. Melting-Pot Madness ... 3. Gourmet Pub Crawl ... 4. The Nouveau Wine Bar Revolution ... 5. Age of the Vegivore ... 6. Omakase Forever ... 7. Pizzapalooza ... 8. The Breakfast Nosh."

REAL ESTATE -- SHARK OF WALL STREET-"The Wall Street landmark left to rot," by Post's Steve Cuozzo: "A prominent piece of New York City real estate is kept vacant by a shadowy Chinese billionaire who goes by as many as seven different aliases. If New Yorkers resent overseas 'investment' in their city, it's because of situations like the one at 23 Wall St., a mystery that stretches from Houston to ­Angola to Beijing. The billionaire in question is one Sam Pa, an elusive figure as colorful as a James Bond arch-villain. No matter what name he uses, he has a taste for women and fast cars - though he might not be seen or heard from again for a long time to come. The globe-trotting Pa was busted two months ago by Communist Party authorities probing corruption in China's energy industry. His arrest casts a new cloud over 23 Wall St., which is owned by a company Pa controls and has stood dark since 2003."

PRICE POINTS-"Manhattan Luxury-Home Prices in a Slide, Defying Broader Market," by Bloomberg News' Oshrat Carmiel: "Manhattan's luxury-home market is losing its luster. The median price for the borough's most-expensive homes fell to $3.59 million in October, down 2.2 percent from a year earlier, according to an index by StreetEasy measuring resales in the top 20 percent of the market. Prices have been dropping every month since February, when they reached their highest point on record, a median of $3.72 million, an analysis of data from the listings website shows."

-"In 2015, Shattering Records in New York City Real Estate," by Times' Vivian Marino: "In the realm of New York City real estate, what goes up just keeps going up, and up. This past year prices again punctured records, with the official closing of a $100.47 million penthouse at the pinnacle of Extell Development's One57, the vitreous Midtown skyscraper and popular abode for billionaires worldwide seeking to park their cash. Other sales in the Central Park-facing condominium, at 157 West 57th Street, flirted with the nine-digit mark. And across Manhattan, records were set for co-ops and extravagant prices paid for other condos and townhouses. Brooklyn, which is becoming ever more desirable (and dear) as a home address, also posted a record for the most expensive sale for a single residence, in Cobble Hill."

YEAR IN REVIEW-"The top 10 biggest real estate projects of 2015," by Real Deal's Kathryn Brenzel: "Though new Manhattan developments were the heaviest hitters in terms of size this year, the outer boroughs more than held their own. Half of the 10 largest permit applications - by square footage - for new developments in the city were for projects in the outer boroughs. Emerging major real estate playgrounds, like Long Island City and the Bronx, topped the list, falling not too far behind the biggest development proposed this year: SL Green Realty's One Vanderbilt in Midtown East."

THE HOME TEAMS -- POLITICO New York's Howard Megdal: Riveters 7, Beauts 3: Meghan Fardelmann notched the first hat trick in Riveters history, while Janine Weber and Lyudmila Belyakova added two goals apiece in this intrastate NWHL matchup.

-- Jets 26, Patriots 20: Eric Decker opened OT with a touchdown catch, and now the Jets can make the playoffs by beating the Bills next week.

-- Bills 16, Cowboys 6: Mike Gillislee filled in for LeSean McCoy and rushed for 93 yards in the meaningless win.

--Celtics 100, Knicks 91: Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points. But the Knicks had trouble stopping Evan a Turner all night, and dropped their fourth straight.

--Vikings 49, Giants 17: No Beckham, no hope.

-- The day ahead: the Nets are in Miami. The Rangers are in Nashville. The Sabres host the Capitals. And the best player in women's college basketball, Breanna Stewart, brings top-ranked and undefeated Connecticut to The Garden to face sixth-ranked Maryland.

COFFEE BREAK -- "Smithsonian pays tribute to 'Seinfeld,' other NYC gems," by Post's Marisa Schultz: "Jerry Seinfeld's sitcom apartment the Empire State Building and Joe DiMaggio are among dozens of works featured in the homage to New York City at the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum in Washington, DC. ... The display highlights 30 pieces of art that were turned into stamps, part of the USPS's collection of 5,000 original artworks it commissioned over the last 70 years. ... The 33-cent "Seinfeld" stamp was released in 2000 and shows a partial view of the main character's fictional Upper West Side apartment, with its door ajar. Other notables works are a 1972 portrait of Mayor Fiorello La Guardia and the 1973 colorful depiction of Broadway's George Gershwin."

#UpstateAmerica: Someone was arrested for pooping on the Capitol complex in Albany.

** 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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