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POLITICO New York Playbook: ICKES' big sway in DE BLASIO's City Hall -- CUNY fight, continued -- Another SCHUMER couple

03/21/2016 07:40 AM EDT

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

CUNY BATTLE CONTINUES - POLITICO New York's Jimmy Vielkind: In his second weekend trip to the Capitol in as many months, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio rallied Democratic lawmakers to shield the city budget from cost shifts proposed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, telling a luncheon filled with top CUNY officials that he was there with them "in common cause." "We are committed to CUNY for the long haul. We recognize its extraordinary history of turning out leaders for our city and, in fact, for our nation," de Blasio said. "We in the city, we're honored to make substantial investment in CUNY. We invest in the community colleges ever year. ... Then we go above and beyond, and we have invested an additional $130 million in CUNY, because we believe there are some areas that need special focus and attention." He spoke around 1 p.m. on Saturday in a wood-paneled restaurant tucked behind a cafeteria in the Capitol complex. It is normally a dead zone outside of the standard hours of bureaucracy, but brimmed with people and activities surrounding the annual Somos El Futuro spring conference, organized by Latinos in state government.

-- Leaders of twenty-five foundations supporting CUNY campuses have pooled their resources to fund a full-page ad in today's New York Times. "The fiscal instability and the lack of certainty about supporting CUNY's faculty and staff reflected in this year's budget deliberations are deeply troublesome," the leaders, including Jules Kroll and Dick Ravitch, wrote.

QUESTION OF THE WEEK - POLITICO New York's Jimmy Vielkind: Can lawmakers find middle ground on a minimum wage increase by the April 1 budget deadline? Even while he conceded that some of his own proposals to strengthen government ethics and to create an education tax credit will fall out of the budget process, Cuomo fortified his rhetoric last week about raising the minimum wage to $15 now - suggesting a union-backed campaign that's already spent $1.72 million will make the difference before the month is out. He has the strong backing of Democrats in both houses of the Legislature, and Republicans in the State Senate are split: some, mostly upstate legislators say a wage hike would hurt their local economy. Other, mostly downstate GOP lawmakers see stark political consequences of standing athwart a popular issue in a presidential election year. "There's always middle ground. I think there's common ground," Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, a Democrat from Rochester, said Thursday.

-- Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said there was no deal during a Sunday morning radio interview.

DE BLASIO INFLUENCED BY MENTOR, LOBBYIST HAROLD ICKES -- NYT: 'Some of Mr. de Blasio's interests have undeniably dovetailed with those of his donors' -- NYT's Michael Grynbaum: "On his path to becoming mayor, Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, has long leaned on Mr. Ickes, whom he calls his closest mentor. A friend for three decades, Mr. Ickes, 76, has advised Mr. de Blasio's campaigns, introduced him to wealthy donors and recommended him for a breakthrough job managing Mrs. Clinton's run for United States Senate in 2000. Mr. de Blasio, a politician who values loyalty deeply, has found ways to give back.

"Shortly after the mayor's election in 2013, Mr. Ickes opened a New York branch of his lobbying firm. Although he had not lobbied in the city for nearly a decade, Mr. Ickes proved a quick study, collecting about $1 million in fees and securing wins for major clients. Among his victories, one stands out: At Mr. de Blasio's urging, the City Council passed an unusual bill in 2014 that gave $42 million in wages to public school bus drivers represented by Mr. Ickes. The wages came on top of an existing city contract, raising objections from some council leaders and government watchdog groups. In emails to aides to Mr. de Blasio, Mr. Ickes personally suggested changes to the bill's language, records show.

"The mayor has said his friendship with Mr. Ickes does not influence his decision-making, or the city's treatment of his mentor's clients. But an examination of emails and other public records obtained by The New York Times shows that the men's close relationship has given Mr. Ickes extraordinary access, enabling him to push his clients' interests directly to the city's top officials."

-- WSJ's @JDawsey1: "Don't buy the argument - and never will - that it's accepted for politicians to be influenced by cash because politicians always have been."

-- @JDasey1: "Many city council members are at the "Batman vs. Superman" premiere tonight. Why? The mayor's office gave them tickets."

ONE-ON-ONE -- De Blasio talks to WNYC's Brigid Bergin

-- Bergin: Affordable housing is something that is so central to legacy of Mayor Ed Koch. What will be your legacy?

-- De Blasio: "... I hope the legacy on affordable housing is that we change the rules of the game. That instead of letting the private sector make the decisions as was the dominant reality in this town, that we said actually the people's needs have to come first and from now on affordable housing will be required as a condition for development whenever there is a rezoning. And if we get it right, we can really keep this a city for everyone. And I hope that the ultimate legacy when it comes to fighting income inequality is that people can look back decades from now and say the New York we believed in, the New York was really for everyone still exists and didn't slip through our fingers." LISTEN to the interview here:

HAGGERTY FOR TRUMP- New York Post's Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein: "The Trump campaign has welcomed a convicted felon with open arms, saying he's "the most honest and knowledgeable person in New York politics." John Haggerty Jr., 47, who served 10 months in state prison after stealing $750,000 from ex-Mayor Bloomberg, is a Trump volunteer."

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "There's no doubt Andrew would like to follow in his father's footsteps and deliver the keynote at the convention, and then do what his father wouldn't do - run for president." -- Unnamed Democrat "close to Cuomo," to Post's Fred Dicker:

APP OF THE DAY: "Close Rikers? There's An App For That." WNYC's Robert Lewis:

ANOTHER SCHUMER LOVE MATCH: Erin Monju and Ryan Whalen, via NYT's Rosalie Radomsky:

TABS -- Post: "Cheers & jeers for O's historic visit to Cubs: HELLO, AMIGOS!" -- Daily News: "Historic visit 1st by U.S. Prez in 90 years: Que bola Bam? Barack tweets Cubs, 'What's up?'" -- El Diario [translated]: Obama steps on Cuban soil. -- The New Yorker: A Barry Blitt drawing of Trump's left hand. -- SEE THEM:

-- Metro: "EMERGING FROM THE SHADOWS OF THE BLACK MARKET: The Street Vendor Project is calling for the end of criminalization of food vendors throughout the city" -- Newsday: "DEADLY DRUGS HIT LO: Black market derivatives of the opiate fentanyl linked to rash of overdoses" -- Hamodia: "HEAP Home Heating Assistance Still Available" -- amNY: "Spring Music Guide"

FRONT PAGES -- NYT, 2-col., below the fold: "Trump Courting Jewish Voters Wary of His Agenda and Bluster" -- WSJNY, 2-col., above the fold: "Cuomo Curtails Face-Offs With Media in Albany"

WEEKEND PHOTOS: The anti-Donald Trump rally, in NYC, via Vice's Jackson Krule:

FROM THE ARCHIVES -- Post front pages, from March 21 ...

-- 2004: "DONALD TRUMP: HOW TO GET RICH: Exclusive excerpt from his new book"

-- 2006: Post front page headline: "YOU'RE SIRED! Baby Barron is Trump V"

-- 2013: "JUDAS! Quinn's hand of friendship as she plots against NYPD; Mayor Mike rushes to defend cops" SEE THEM:

WEDDING VOWS, and LEGISLATION -- NYT's Alison Leigh Cowan: "Brett Barakett and Meaghan Jarensky didn't find each other on a dating site, but a posting on - a blatantly counterfeit one - nearly broke them up. ... Citing customer privacy, initially refused Ms. Jarensky's informal request to reveal who set up the profile because she was not the account holder. The person who made the posting - who was impersonating her - was. Nor would the Dallas-based company take down the profile right away, even though Ms. Jarensky believed the unlikable profile could cost her clients.

"She sought relief from State Supreme Court in Manhattan, and obtained the information from two months later, once the subpoena was granted. As Mr. Barakett suspected, the perpetrator was a former girlfriend. He surmised: 'She was not doing it to get to me. It was to disparage Meaghan.' They took the findings to the district attorney's office in Manhattan a year ago but did not expect anyone to be charged under the current laws. No money was involved, and the penalties would be too slight. Here, though, is where Ms. Jarensky's training as a beauty contestant, comfort before the cameras and experience with nonprofit ventures kicked in to help her turn a case of harassment into a higher calling.

"Saying that the spotlight should no longer be on her, she told Mr. Barakett that she would make it her mission to ensure that what happened to her did not happen to others. Using One Girl, the nonprofit organization she already ran, as her platform, she is now pressing New York and other states to adopt legislation like New York State Senate Bill S5871. It would stiffen penalties for cases of 'e-personation,' as she calls it."

ANOTHER BILLION FOR LGA - Wall Street Journal's Andrew Tangel: "The official price tag for La Guardia Airport's overhaul has risen to $5.3 billion-more than $1 billion higher than previous estimates-as officials grapple with how to pay for major transit projects in the region. The new tally accounts for increased cost estimates related to a looming project to replace La Guardia's Terminal B and redevelopment work that stretches back more than a decade. A capital-spending plan from 2014 pegged the cost of the airport renovation at $3.6 billion, and more recent projections hovered around $4 billion. The revised figure, which was released late Friday, comes amid growing tension inside the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the airport's operator, as officials consider replacing its aging Midtown Manhattan bus terminal and digging two new Hudson River rail tunnels."

RED ROOM, RED ROOM! -- Wall Street Journal's Erica Orden: "Monday marks 270 days since Mr. Cuomo last held a news conference in the Capitol, in what appears to be one of the longest dry spells by a New York governor in modern political memory, according to veteran Albany observers. There doesn't appear to be an obvious workflow-related explanation for such a break. Though the legislative activity has been relatively light, the governor has made plenty of moves through executive action and other decisions that might warrant news conferences before his primary press corps. A spokesman for Mr. Cuomo, Rich Azzopardi, pointed out that he takes questions from reporters multiple times a week in locations around the state. 'You can't expect to sit in one place and have the news come to you,' he said, "but that seems to be the complaint here.' "

HEALTH + HOSPITALS EPIC DEFENSE - POLITICO New York's Dan Goldberg: Ram Raju, president and CEO of the city's Health + Hospitals is scheduled to testify Monday before the City Council on Mayor Bill de Blasio's proposed budget, and he is sure to be called on to explain his plan to save the nation's largest public hospital system from financial ruin. Raju will also likely be asked about a series of stories, reported in t he New York Post,that claim the transition to Epic Systems, a popular electronic medical records system, has been a disaster that is imperiling the lives of patients at Elmhurst Hospital. Charles Perry, according to the Post, resigned from Health + Hospitals in protest and sent an email to several colleagues comparing the transition to Epic to the launch of the space shuttle Challenger, a disaster that could have been avoided had someone broken through the groupthink. The Post also reported that Raju was worried he'd be fired by de Blasio if the Epic system launch missed its April 1 deadline.

YESTERDAY WAS the first official day of spring, and Norooz, a.k.a., Persian New Year.

THAT'S A WRAP? -- "Democrats to Sanders: Time to wind it down," by POLITICO's Burgess Everett: "Democratic senators of all stripes are as impressed as they are surprised by Bernie Sanders' insurgent campaign.

But the time has come, they say, for Sanders to start winding things down.

Story Continued Below

After holding their fire on Sanders for the better part of a year, the senators - all backers of Hillary Clinton - are gently calling on Sanders to face the reality that there's almost no chance he's going to be the Democratic nominee. They don't say outright he should quit; doing so would be counterproductive, they say."


-- Albany and 2016: "Of the five Republicans considered potential gubernatorial candidates for 2018, only one, bombastic Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino, has backed Trump. The other four - Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, Rep. Chris Gibson, business turnaround expert Harry Wilson, and former George Pataki Chief of Staff John Cahill - remain uncommitted to any candidate." Daily News' Ken Lovett:

-- 2016 and AIPAC: "Why It Matters That Bernie Sanders Will Skip the AIPAC Conference ... He offered to speak on video and was turned down. ... He is now, as much as he is a Democratic candidate, the leader of the progressive movement in America, and anyone in that position can't be unequivocally pro-Israel." Observer's Ross Barkan:

-- Birds: "A pigeon poacher who grabs his prey by hand in a Soho park and sells them to Manhattan merchants claims he's just a misunderstood bird lover." Post's Christy Smith-Sloman:

-- Dogs: "State Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) has introduced a set of bills intended to curtail abuse by, among other things, limiting when a dog could be tethered outdoors and increasing from five days to 90 days the minimum amount of time a shelter must keep a healthy dog before it can be euthanized." Daily News' Glenn Blain:

-- Fixing Shelters: "The state needs to pay a far greater share of the cost of sheltering the destitute, treating the mentally ill and making the shelters places of safety and dignity, instead of chaos and fear." NYT editorial:

-- Finishing Hudson River Park: "Cuomo and de Blasio should commit to splitting the cost - $25 million each over three more years - to finish it." Nicole Gelinas in the Post:

BIRTHDAY: Jeff Foreman, director of policy for Care for the Homeless ... Brian Ellner, Edelman's general manager for corporate and public affairs ... tv host Rosie O'Donnell, sister of Assemblyman Danny O'Donnell ... actor Matthew Broderick, aka Ferris Bueller ... actor Gary Oldman, who plays police commissioner Gordon in The Dark Knight and a crooked NYPD detective in The Professional ... and composer Johann Sebastian Bach, creator of the best music for organ players:

ON THIS DAY in 1995 Mayor Rudy Giuliani announced the city was selling WNYC and notes "The city is no longer in the radio broadcasting business." HEAR THE ANNOUNCEMENT, via WNYC:

ALSO IN 1995: "New Jersey officially dedicates the Howard Stern Rest Area along Route 295" via

THE HOME TEAMS -- POLITICO New York's Howard Megdal: The college career of UAlbany great Shereesha Richards came to an end, with 23 points and 14 rebounds in a 76-59 loss to Syracuse that advanced the Orange to the NCAA women's basketball Sweet 16.

-- Kings 88, Knicks 80: Despite a monster game from Robin Lopez-23 points, 20 rebounds- the Knicks suffered loss 42, clinching a losing season.

-- The day ahead: the Rangers host the Panthers. The Islanders host the Flyers.

PIER PRESSURE-"Brooklyn Bridge Park developer presses state for action," by POLITICO New York's Sally Goldenberg: "The developer behind a controversial plan to build two residential towers in Brooklyn Bridge Park, which has been in limbo since last summer, is warning that his finances will be in jeopardy if the state doesn't approve the project soon. In a letter sent to city and state officials last week, RAL Development president Robert Levine said the construction project for Pier 6 in the waterfront park has 'reached a critical juncture.' 'Our financial partners have informed me that unless substantial progress in approving changes to Brooklyn Bridge Park's General Project Plan (GPP) is achieved by April 30, 2016, financing for the project will be jeopardized,' Levine wrote in his two-page letter, which was obtained by POLITICO New York. 'I'm writing to enlist your support in moving the project forward toward construction.' ... 'We stand ready to assist in the development of Pier 6 once the city presents a plan that has community support, and we're hopeful they will reach a resolution soon so that this project can move forward,' an Empire State Development spokesman said in response to the letter."

-"Two big real estate execs nearly take the gloves off," by Crain's Daniel Geiger: "When it comes to the billions of dollars to be made in New York's real estate industry, some things are worth fighting for. Two of the city's biggest landlords nearly came to blows at a recent meeting of some of the most powerful figures in the real estate industry, according to several executives who were present. According to witnesses who spoke on the condition of anonymity, Rob Speyer, 46, the president and CEO of Tishman Speyer, which owns the Chrysler Building and Rockefeller Center, got into a heated exchange March 8 with Stephen Ross, 75, the chairman of the Related Cos., which is building a $20 billion mixed-use complex in Hudson Yards. The cause of the tiff? Witnesses said the two argued over the 421-a tax exemption, which developers say they need to build affordable housing as part of Mayor Bill de Blasio's signature housing initiative."

-"By the end of 2017, Manhattan will have 5 years of excess inventory: analysis," by The Real Deal's E.B. Solomont: "Developers, those most antsy of creatures, would be wise to start getting patient. Roughly 14,500 units are expected to hit the market between 2015 and 2017, according to a new analysis by Miller Samuel for The Real Deal. But by the end of 2017, just over 5,000 of those units are expected to have sold, and going by the current rate of sales, it would take more than five years to sell all that excess inventory. The analysis looks at all new units that have launched or are set to launch in Manhattan over a three-year period, across all price points. ... 'The takeaway is that we have anywhere from four to six years of excess supply, assuming the rate of sales holds steady,' said Miller Samuel CEO Jonathan Miller, who cautioned that the analysis is imperfect since it measures closed sales and not contract activity."

#UpstateAmerica: The demand for Buffalo's bicycle ferry has been overwhelming.

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

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