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POLITICO New York Playbook, presented by Facts About Herbalife: PORT AUTHORITY to celebrate Calatrava station after all -- CUOMO pushes wages now, ethics later -- DE BLASIO's lobby boom

02/26/2016 07:18 AM EDT

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

SHOUTS ON MINIMUM WAGE, WHISPERS ON ETHICS - POLITICO New York's Jimmy Vielkind: Now is not the time to rally for ethics reforms, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said, but don't let that be mistaken for a lack of commitment. It's the second time in as many days that Cuomo, a Democrat in his second term, has insisted that he's not letting his proposals to limit outside income for legislators, reduce the political giving power of limited liability companies and increase transparency of lobbying groups fall by the wayside. He was responding to questions from reporters about why he wasn't mentioning the proposals publicly.

Instead, Cuomo is in the middle of a massive push to increase the minimum wage and create a system of paid family leave. He rallied Thursday afternoon at a labor hall about three miles from his office at the Capitol, the latest stop on an RV tour he's produced in concert with a coalition of labor groups. The coalition, dubbed the Mario Cuomo Campaign for Economic Justice, also released an advertisement and laid the groundwork for tele-town hall events. "It's silly to pit one against the other," Cuomo told reporters. "Obviously I've done this every year: you have a number of initiatives and you support each initiative and you push each initiative. Because you push one doesn't mean you haven't pushed the others. I'm going to be pushing it all."

OCULUS RIFT - "Changing course, Port Authority promises springtime Oculus ceremony," by POLITICO's Dana Rubinstein: "After the Port Authority's outgoing executive director called the Santiago Calatrava-designed World Trade Center PATH Hub 'a symbol of excess,' and a Port spokesman said next week's opening would happen without a ceremony, Port Authority officials have changed their mind. Sort of. On Thursday afternoon, the Port Authority issued a press release saying that while there would still be no ceremony for the 3 pm, March 3 opening, it is planning to hold a ceremony as the Oculus becomes 'fully operational,' at some point 'this spring.'"

-"How a Commuter Rail Station Became a $4 Billion Colossus"

POWER STRUGGLE -- How voters see the Cuomo-de Blasio feud -- POLITICO New York's Laura Nahmias: Almost half of New York City residents see the ongoing feud between Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo over everything from homelessness to housing as a "power struggle" rather than the result of any real policy differences, a new NY1/Baruch College City Poll shows.

According to the poll, which was released Thursday evening, 49 percent of those surveyed believe the beef between the mayor and governor, both of whom are Democrats, is about power, while 31 percent believe they are squabbling over legitimate policy differences. About 20 percent said they do not know why the two are fighting.

Older, wealthier and more-educated New Yorkers, as well as Bronx residents, were more inclined to see the feuding as a fight over power rather than policy. While an NY1 poll released earlier this week showed de Blasio's approval ratings had improved significantly over the last six months, jumping from 44 percent in September to 58 percent now, Cuomo's approval ratings have been static.

LOBBYING BOOM -- From $62M to nearly $73; ties to de Blasio help -- WSJ's Josh Dawsey: "When Bill de Blasio ran for mayor in 2013, lobbyist James Capalino was an early supporter and fundraiser. Harold Ickes was one of his closest political mentors. Sid Davidoff, a lobbyist, also raised money and gave advice. Business has jumped at the firms of all three men since Mr. de Blasio took office, as the lobbyists helped their clients navigate city government and often met with the mayor and his top aides.

"Mr. de Blasio has met with lobbyists about 40 times as mayor , records show, and overall lobbying receipts in New York hit a record $71.9 million in 2014, according to city records, up from $62.6 million in Mayor Michael Bloomberg's final year. A report for 2015 is to be released next week. ... He said he doesn't know why Mr. Capalino and Mr. Ickes, among others, are making more money. "If they're a city registered lobbyist and they lobby me, we put that online," he said Monday. Aides to Mr. Bloomberg said he met occasionally with lobbyists at City Hall. The meetings weren't disclosed online. ... While many firms make money primarily lobbying the City Council and city agencies, most of Mr. Ickes's business comes directly from lobbying the mayor's office."

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Of all the options we're looking forward to, we're looking forward to going against Donald Trump this fall." -- State Senator Michael Gianaris, chairman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, via Observer's Ross Barkan:

BONUS QUOTE OF THE DAY: "He could be a tremendously effective general election candidate." -- Ed Cox, NYS Republican Party chairman, on Trump, via Barkan:

** A Message from Facts About Herbalife: Like millions of others, Rosa thought that selling Herbalife products could help her achieve the American Dream. Instead, she lost her life savings from a pyramid scheme that preys on minority communities and aspiring entrepreneurs. Watch The American Dream Denied: Herbalife Victims Speak Out: **

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: James Freedland of Metropolitan Public Strategies (Friday), Erie County GOP chairman Nick Langworthy and Democratic activist John T. Sullivan (Saturday), State Senate director of communications Kelly Cummings (Sunday).

PIC OF THE DAY: Former Occupy Albany leader Bradley Russell, who pitched a tent city called "Cuomoville" across from the Capitol, cheers Cuomo at a minimum wage rally.

TABS -- Post: "SHAKING IN FEAR: Foes pleased - but Trump stands strong" -- Daily News: "TRUMP FOR PREZ: Ex-KKK leader: Vote for Donald, he's just like us" -- SEE THEM:

-- amNY: "ROCK ON! The host, the nominee and the controversy - your guide to this Sunday's Academy Awards" -- Newsday: "TRUMP 41%, CLINTON 38%" -- Hamodia: "NY Court Upholds Requiring Flu Vaccines or Masks" -- El Diario [translated]: Released by now

FRONT PAGES -- NYT, 1-col., above the fold: "RUBIO AND TRUMP ERUPT IN SHOUTS AT ANGRY DEBATE; Leader Is Challenged; Senator Seems Revived by Barbed Exchanges in Houston" -- WSJNY, 4-col., above the fold: "City Hall Lobbying Booms: Receipts hit a record $719 million in 2014, with some top earners in mayor's inner circle"

LOCAL -- Queens Chronicle, central: "PERPS ON THE PROWL: Forest Hills, Rego Park sees spike in break-ins" -- Times Ledger: "Gay attack angers Jax Hts" -- Flushing Times: "Towering house irks Bayside: Avella faults city and zoning laws for McMansion" -- The Brooklyn Spectator: VOICING OUTRAGE: Thousands protest conviction of Bensonhurst former cop Liang in Akai Gurley death."

EMAILS SHOW LONG RESPONSE TO POTENTIAL WATER CRISIS - POLITICO New York's Scott Waldman: Officials in the state Department of Health were aware of concerns that the water in the upstate village of sburgh could be tainted with a toxic chemical in late 2014, but did not take action to protect residents until a few days ago, according to emails obtained by POLITICO New York. And even as multiple wells in nearby Hoosick Falls tested positive for elevated and potentially dangerous levels of the same toxic chemical more than a year ago, state health department employees suggested a delay in reporting results and did not initially recommend a wider outreach to the public, according to emails between state, county and federal officials, some of which were obtained through a Freedom of Information Law request to the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The news comes as the Cuomo administration tries to contain political fallout from the slow official response to a water crisis in nearby Hoosick Falls.

-- Republican Sen. John DeFrancisco of Syracuse has joined the call for legislative hearings on water quality issues in light of the pollution in Hoosick Falls. DeFrancisco told POLITICO New York he would participate in the hearings.

#HILLARYWATCH -- "Why Hillary Clinton Connects with Black Voters" -- WNYC's Andrea Bernstein:

HILLARY'S PAID SPEECHES -- Times editorial: "Mrs. Clinton, Show Voters Those Transcripts ... By refusing to release them all, especially the bank speeches, Mrs. Clinton fuels speculation about why she's stonewalling. Her conditioning her releases on what the Republicans might or might not do is mystifying. Republicans make no bones about their commitment to Wall Street deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. Mrs. Clinton is laboring to convince struggling Americans that she will rein in big banks, despite taking their money." ... New Future45 TV ad, "Paid," released today

BLOOMBERG FAMILY -- "Bloomberg is in! (No, not that Bloomberg)," by Boston Globe's Jim O'Sullivan: "Mike Bloomberg is running, he told the Globe in an exclusive interview. Not that Mike Bloomberg. ... [I]t is his second cousin who has actually taken the leap of running for office this year. Michael Eric Bloomberg, whose grandfather's brother was the former mayor's father, said this week he will run for a Pittsfield [Massachusetts] House seat ... A self-described 'progressive and pragmatic' Democrat, Bloomberg said he moved back to Pittsfield, where he grew up, last year and wants to bolster its urban revitalization and economic development. Bloomberg formerly worked at Connecticut-based Bridgewater Associates."

11 Best Nachos in NYC -- Gothamist's Nell Casey: 1) Taqueria Diana, 129 2nd Ave., East Village ... 2) La Contenta, 102 Norfolk Street, L.E.S. ... 3) Tortilleria Nixtamal, 104-05 47th Ave., Corona ... 4) The Commodore / El Cortez, 366 Metropolitan Ave., Williamsburg / 17 Ingraham St., Bushwhack ... 5) Taqueria Kermes, 66-36 Fresh Pond Rd., Ridgewood ... 6) Gueros, 605 Prospect Park Pl., Crown Heights ... 7) Coppelia, 207 W. 14th St., Chelsea ... 8) Taqueria Tlaxcalli, 2103 Starling Ave., Parkchester ... 9) El Vez , 259 Vesey St., Battery Park ... 10) River Styx, 21 Greenpoint Ave. ... 11) Tacos Matamoros, 4508 Fifth Ave., Sunset Park

CLICKER - "Would You Rather: New York City Edition," by BuzzFeed's Maitland Quitmeyer

AT THE OSCARS, A NOD TO KESHA AND OTHER RAPE VICTIMS -- Page Six: "Lady Gaga has been one of Kesha's biggest supporters since a judge denied Kesha's request to be released from Lukasz 'Dr. Luke' Gottwald's Sony imprint, Kemosabe Records, despite her claims that he drugged and raped her. 'What happened to Kesha has happened to many female artists, including myself, and it will affect her for the rest of her life. No one needs to validate Kesha. Why is the victim always the 'liar?' Gaga posted to Instagram on Thursday. She'll perform 'Til It Happens to You,' the anti-rape song she co-wrote and is also nominated for, at the Oscars on Sunday. The timing of events has led some to speculate that she may give a nod to Kesha on Hollywood's big night."

ACCUSERS CHARGED IN UALBANY BUS INCIDENT - Times Union's Jordan Carleo-Evangelist and Bethany Bump: "The shocking allegations of a racially tinged gang assault at the University at Albany appeared to finally unravel for good Thursday as police accused three women of making the story up and, instead, charged them with assaulting a fellow bus passenger. The women, who are black, grabbed national attention after claiming to have been attacked on a CDTA bus by a large group including white men and to have been the target of a racial slurs. Authorities now say there's no evidence any of that happened and that they were in fact the aggressors. All three are charged with misdemeanor assault."

-- Here's the video of the incident.

NASSAU POLICE: NO MANGANO 'SEXTING' EVIDENCE - Newsday's Nicole Fuller: "Nassau police have found no evidence that County Executive Edward Mangano exchanged sexually suggestive text messages with a marketing executive - nor that either of their phones was hacked - police announced Thursday. Investigators examined the cellphones of both Mangano and marketing executive Karin Murphy Caro, of the Hauppauge-based BluChip Marketing, and found no evidence that they had communicated with one another, said the commanding officer of the department's Asset Forfeiture and Intelligence Unit, Det. Sgt. Patrick Ryder - the lead investigator in the hacking probe."

TRUMP UNIVERSITY HEADS TO TRIAL, WITH TRUMP ON STAND - CNN Money's Chris Isidore: "Donald Trump is slated to appear as a witness in the case charging him and the former Trump University with fraud. The plaintiffs and defense attorneys in the case both have listed Trump on their witness lists recently submitted to the court. While a trial date has yet to be set, it could take place in late spring or early summer. The final pretrial conference in the case is scheduled for May 6. The case was initially filed nearly six years ago in federal court in Southern California. It is one of three suits that Trump University faces, including one by the New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who accused the school of being a 'bait-and-switch scheme.'"

-- MICHAEL DALY in Daily Beast, "Trump's Female Tower Boss Talks About His Half-Billion Dollar Debt, Womanizing, and How He Learned to be Shameless": "Barbara Res was the original, real-life apprentice. She was the top construction engineer in the 1980s on what is still Donald Trump's signature project and she may have a clearer view than anybody of the truth of him. One small but telling thing she learned long before he became a reality-TV star famed for saying 'You're fired!' was that he always wavered when it actually came to firing anybody. Trump thrice reinstated one employee who kept coming back to him. 'When somebody had to be fired, Donald laid the job off to an underling,' Res recalls."

WHAT M.T.A. PLAN? - POLITICO New York's Dana Rubinstein: New York state legislators on Thursday expressed confusion about how, exactly, Cuomo's $26 billion plan to invest in the region's mass transit system could actually be dubbed a plan, since it contains no explanation of where its funding is coming from. "I have no idea how we can actually do a capital program and actually approve a capital program with language that it'll be there when you need it," said Sen. Marty Golden, a Republican from Brooklyn. "Corporate America would laugh at this. Any country would be surprised with this type of approach in funding."

CHARTER SCHOOL VIDEO CONTROVERSY -- Mayor Bill de Blasio took another swing at the Success Academy charter school network on Thursday, calling a video of a teacher ripping up a student's work paper "unacceptable" during an unrelated press conference at City Hall. The video was recently published by the New York Times. While he praised the majority of New York City's charter sector, the mayor said "some charter schools, and that network in particular, have resisted those notions of fairness," referring to the city's standards for collaboration and enrolling sufficient numbers of high-needs students. "Certainly, treating children negatively and berating them when they don't perform well academically or they're not good at taking a test, I don't understand how that's productive," de Blasio said. "I don't think that's fair to kids. It's not how teachers are supposed to treat children." -- Eliza Shapiro

INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY -- Speaker compares fear of Rikers inmates to worry over immigrants -- POLITICO New York's Gloria Pazmino: City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito likened the plight of Rikers detainees awaiting trial to the vilification of immigrants at the hands of Republicans in the presidential race. The speaker made the remarks following a speech at a Crain's business breakfast at the New York Athletic Club in Manhattan on Thursday. Mark-Viverito, defending her proposal to shutter Rikers Island, said concerns over where Rikers inmates would potentially be moved to are unfairly stoking fears about people who have yet to be convicted of crimes.

"These are our families, our children, our neighbors, and let's humanize this situation," Mark-Viverito said during a panel discussion following her speech. "This is really disturbing to me. This is the same situation that we have when it comes to immigrants and the national discourse that is happening. The sense of 'other, they are a threat to us, they are going to destroy the fabric of our city.' According to who?" In recent days, Mark-Viverito has been criticized by the correction officers' union, NYPD commissioner Bill Bratton and Mayor Bill de Blasio for proposing a plan they consider to be nearly unfeasible.

-- The Daily News headline: "Melissa Mark-Viverito says opposing her plan to shrink and close Rikers Island is 'ridiculous' and a 'great injustice'" --

-- Newsday headline: "Council speaker Mark-Viverito hits 'naysayers' on closing Rikers"

'PIG' APOLOGY -- Police watchdog apologies for remark about police union leader -- POLITICO New York's Azi Paybarah: The city's top police watchdog has apologized for saying that police union leaders calling for his ouster were "squealing like a stuck pig." "Pig" has long been a derisive term for police officers - and police union leaders have seized on the remark, made in an interview with the Daily News, as evidence that the chairman is biased against officers.

The apology from Richard Emery, chairman of the Civilian Complaint Review Board, came Thursday. He and union leaders have been fighting over the fact that the law firm he founded represents people suing the city and bringing cases before the board. The city's Conflicts of Interest Board had earlier ruled that Emery can keep hold onto the chairman post, so long as he recuses himself from cases connected to his firm.

-- Emery: "I have never and never would use the word 'pig' to refer to police officers. I have the utmost respect for policing as a civic function and police officers as people and public servants who selflessly serve all of us. To the extent that anyone was offended by my poor choice of words, I apologize and want to make clear that nothing I said was directed at our superb public servants."

-- PAT LYNCH, president of the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association: "Emery cannot take back his words and his apology is disingenuous at best. ... [W]e believe that Richard Emery should be dismissed or resign now."

-- Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Emery should resign if he did not apologize. Mayor Bill de Blasio, who appointed Emery to the post in July 2014, said Emery's remark was "very insensitive."

-- PROF. ALEX VITALE of Brooklyn College: "Just as Sheldon Silver's legal practice facilitated influence peddling, [Emery]'s legal connections give the appearance of impropriety. I think his flippant comments about police stem not from any particular bias but from a lack of concern about propriety and independence."

-- Daily News editorial: "The credibility of the Civilian Complaint Review Board has been eroded thanks to the self-righteousness of the mayor and the board's chairman - and the purring of City Hall's pet Conflicts of Interest Board. ... Up on their own moral pedestals, de Blasio and Emery lost sight of the basic premise that no judge can seem to be related in any way to money."

-- Post editorial: "Cop-hating CCRB chief must go"

CLEANUP IN AISLE AIRBNB -- "Airbnb deleted 1,500 rentals from its site before giving data to NY," by Business Insider's Biz Carson: "Airbnb recently made a big commitment to 'being transparent' with regulators about data involving its home-rental service. But it turns out that Airbnb removed a big slice of unfavorable information about its service in the weeks before it publicly released a highly anticipated report. In a pair of letters delivered to the New York State Assembly and Senate ... the short term rental site admitted it had removed commercial listings before releasing data to the state in December."

THE HOME TEAMS -- POLITICO New York's Howard Megdal: Nets 116, Suns 106: Hours after buying out Joe Johnson's contract (to allow Johnson to join a contender), Bojan Bogdanovic scored 24 to lead seven Nets in double figures. Maybe this is a turning point! Or, far likelier, they were just playing the Suns.

-- DePaul beat St. John's, 83-75, in what was the Red Storm's best chance at a second Big East victory in men's hoops.

-- The day ahead: Columbia faces Princeton in a critical Ivy League men's hoops matchup. Iona comes to Riverdale to face Manhattan. In women's hoops, Providence comes to St. John's. In the NBA, the Knicks host the Magic.

#UpstateAmerica: A giant sinkhole caused by a water main break swallowed an entire jeep in Colonie on Thursday.

** A Message from Facts About Herbalife: Like millions of others, Rosa thought that selling Herbalife products could help her achieve the American Dream and support her family. Instead, she lost her life savings - and nearly her daughter - from a pyramid scheme that preys on minority communities and aspiring entrepreneurs.

Learn about Herbalife's deceptive business practices at The American Dream Denied: Herbalife Victims Speak Out: **

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