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POLITICO New York Playbook: DE BLASIO's questionable nursing home deal -- CLINTON's NY pitch -- TIMES smacks down NFL complaints

03/31/2016 07:00 AM EDT

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

THE MAKING OF A LAND USE CONTROVERSY -- NYT's J. David Goodman: "Late last year, as Mayor Bill de Blasio worked to change zoning codes to compel the creation of more affordable housing, an obscure New York City agency quietly lifted all restrictions on the use of a former nursing home on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. ... Lifting deed restrictions in New York is a rare act in itself: Since Mr. de Blasio took office in 2014, there have been at least nine deed restrictions modified or lifted by the city, mostly on vacant lots in areas under development such as First Avenue in Manhattan or areas of the Bronx and Brooklyn. For an administration claiming to be bent on curbing gentrification, and a hands-on mayor who often demands rigorous multisignature memos for making big decisions, questions remain about how the former nursing home, known as Rivington House, came to be unprotected by the city and then sold for a steep profit. Questions have also arisen about the role of the city's leading lobbyist, James F. Capalino, who, at different points, came to represent the initial seller and final purchaser of the property."

-- THE PAPER TRAIL -- POLITICO New York's Sally Goldenberg and Laura Nahmias: A scandal surrounding a land use deal in Manhattan raises many questions, including why the de Blasio administration is shocked that a developer who asked to remove the nonprofit health care use of a building ended up selling it to a high-end condo developer.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Owning a gun is a way of life in rural America. ... What's interesting to me is that Secretary Clinton, when she ran against Barack Obama, was very pro-gun. Very pro-gun. You might remember President Obama calling her Annie Oakley. Now she's running against Bernie Sanders and she's very anti-gun. I don't know which is true, on her." -- Jane Sanders, wife of the Vermont senator, to WNYC's Brian Lehrer:

BONUS QUOTE OF THE DAY: "So great was his stupidity, America's pro-choice and pro-life leaders joined in condemnation." -- Daily News editorial:

PICTURE OF THE DAY: Syracuse-area nuns are getting in the Final Four spirit.

TABS -- Post: "GET A GRIP! Trump prosecutor is Hillary's man; Reporter 'assault' turns into circus" -- Daily News: "WOMB RAIDER: Trump's Whoa v. Wade ruling: If abortions are banned, there needs to be 'some form of punishment' for women who still have them" -- SEE THEM:

-- Metro: "FAST CITY, SLOW COMMUTE: A new report breaks down commute times for New Yorkers based on neighborhoods. The Rockaways takes the cake for the most grueling trip to work." -- amNY: "TIS THE SNEEZIN': How to survive NYC's allergy season" -- Hamodia: "Widest Group Ever of Gov't Agencies Gather for NYC Peach Prep" -- El Diario [translated]: At stake: $15

FRONT PAGES -- NYT, 4-col., below the fold: "Nuring Home's Sale to Condo Developer Raises Questions for City" -- WSJNY, 2-col., above the fold: "Developer Faces More Questions On Land Deals" -- SEE THEM:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Politico's Ben "Morning Money" White, who recently rang the Nasdaq opening bell ... Ron Insana, a CNBC contributor and the pride of Buffalo, is 55 ... State Senate aide Nick Parrella ... communication consultant Anat Gerstein ... Matt Mahoney, former Giuliani 2008 campaign aide and former Bloomberg 2009 campaign aide ... WNYC's Katherine Benson ... (was yesterday): Kevin J. Dowling, the pride-of the Bronx and transpo guru for Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY)

NEW ARRIVAL -- Happy one week birthday to Nora Josephine Brosh, who was born on Thursday, March 24, at 10:32 p.m., to Bianca Brosh of CBS Evening News and husband Brendan Brosh, formerly of the Daily News and Public Advocate's office. Pic

SAVE THE DATE -- April 9 -- "Shamilton," The Inner Circle Show. SEE THE COVER:


EXTENDING THE PAID FAMILY LEAVE QUALIFIER - POLITICO New York's Josefa Velasquez: State lawmakers are discussing the possibility of extending the qualifying period for an employee-funded paid family leave program, two people familiar with the budget negotiations told POLITICO New York. Both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Democratic-dominated Assembly have pushed for a 12-week program that employees would be eligible for after working four or more consecutive weeks at a location.

-- Budget talks have cleared the Medicaid hurdle, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said Wednesday night, but a final resolution on a new spending plan remains out of grasp on the eve of the March 31 deadline.

-- Members of the State Senate will review the final details this morning, and a "kumbuya" press conference could come before voting this afternoon. Several bills were introduced late Wednesday.

-- Pay threat, via the Wall Street Journal: "As New York's budget negotiations came down to the wire Wednesday, Cuomo, an executive who prizes an on-time spending plan, invoked a new factor that might force lawmakers into submission: their salaries. Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, last year convened a state commission that determines pay for Senate and Assembly members, and he appoints some of its members."

-- "Cuomo clearly wants New York to be the first state to enact a statewide minimum wage of $15, but if so, he and the state Legislature will have to move fast to beat California, where on Monday state lawmakers and Gov. Jerry Brown reached a deal on a higher minimum."

-- "No ethics reforms to speak of , messages of necessity for (almost) every bill, and an overall budget that is barreling towards being late-sounds like we're slipping back to the bad old days," Senate Deputy Minority Leader Michael Gianaris told the Daily News.

-- Gotham Gazette's David Howard King: "For State Budget, Leaders Choose 'On Time' Over Open":

- Buffalo News' Tom Precious: "The income tax cut could total about $1 billion over the next eight years, according to sources with knowledge of what is being negotiated."

-- NYT editorial: "[H]ow big a hole will Gov. Andrew Cuomo manage to blow in the city's finances, by saddling it with hundreds of millions of dollars in added costs for Medicaid or the City University of New York, or through some other confiscatory tactics? How much harm will this inflict upon the poor, the sick and those striving to better themselves in college? And a larger, more perplexing question: Why do any of this?"

TRAVEL BAN TUSSLE - Gannett's Jon Campbell: "Cuomo's ban on 'non-essential' state travel to North Carolina has spurred a verbal tussle with that state's governor. Cuomo earlier this week banned most state-funded travel to North Carolina after the state passed a law requiring people to use bathrooms that correspond with the gender on their birth certificate. In a statement, Cuomo said the law 'creates the grounds for discrimination against (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people.' On Tuesday, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory's office called Cuomo's statement 'hypocritical,' noting the Syracuse University basketball team is playing in this weekend's Final Four in Houston, where city voters rejected certain LGBT protections last year."

QUINNIPIAC'S NYS Presidential poll:

"Clinton beating Trump 53 - 33 percent;

"Clinton over Cruz 53 - 32 percent;

"Clinton edging Kasich 46 - 41 percent;

"Sanders topping Trump 56 - 32 percent;

"Sanders beating Cruz 56 - 28 percent;

"Sanders besting Kasich 47 - 37 percent."

LOCKING IN NEW YORK - POLITICO's Annie Karni: "Hillary Clinton is working hard in New York to make sure she doesn't get embarrassed in her own backyard. That effort kicked off Wednesday with a packed rally in Harlem, where Bernie Sanders has been hoping to make inroads ahead of the April 19 primary. So far, Sanders hasn't had much success. While the Brooklyn-born Vermont senator has tapped into progressive enthusiasm in his home borough, he's struggling to infiltrate the historic black neighborhood in Upper Manhattan that's the heart of Clinton Country. Sanders is even having difficulty nailing down a venue for a rally. 'I heard from a reverend in Harlem that Bernie was trying to rent his church -- the reverend called me and told me that he's not going to rent it [to the Sanders campaign],' said Rep. Charles Rangel, a longtime Harlem congressman and Clinton supporter who helped draft the former first lady to run for Senate in 2000. 'We all have a commitment to Hillary Clinton.'"

-- Primary tests in Wisconsin, New York -- AP's Ken Thomas and Bryna Godar: "Hillary Clinton's campaign aims to effectively end the Democratic primaries against Bernie Sanders by early May. But first she needs to navigate tricky contests in Wisconsin and her home state of New York. Clinton enters April with a big delegate lead and insider support among Democrats crucial to the nomination. ...

"A win by Sanders in Wisconsin next week would put pressure on Clinton to deliver in New York, which she represented in the Senate. Returning to New York ahead of the state's April 19 primary. In New York, both candidates are preparing for a drag-out fight in a state where both have roots. At a rally in New York's iconic Harlem neighborhood Wednesday, Clinton sought to emphasize her differences with Sanders while touting her home state advantage. "My opponent says, well, we're just not thinking big enough," she told supporters. "Well, this is New York. Nobody dreams bigger than we do. But this is a city that likes to get things done. And that's what we want from our president too."

-- CLINTON'S PITCH: At the Apollo ...Hillary Clinton told supporters she is able to accomplish what her Democratic primary opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, can only talk about. Clinton closed her 28 minute speech from the world famous stage with the story of Mohammad Salman Hamdani -- a man who went missing after the 2001 terrorist attacks at the World Trade Center and was initially suspected of being involved in the attack before being recognized as a hero when his body was found at Ground Zero. Trying to set herself apart from Sanders and her would-be Republican opponents, Clinton said, "Anyone running for president this year faces three big tests. First, can you deliver results that improve people's lives? Second, can you keep us safe? Third, can you bring us together again? Every candidate, every candidate should be judged by these tests." POLITICO New York's Azi Paybarah:

-- WNYC's Andrea Bernstein: "The day you meet Hillary Clinton is the day you like her the least. ... Clinton's Harlem rally showed that the anti-Clinton bent that has driven some of his supporters will be a lot tougher sell in New York."

-- NY1's Erin Clarke: "[Sanders'] decision to kick off his New York campaign in the Bronx is no coincidence. Sanders has done well with white voters, but blacks and Hispanics overwhelmingly support Hillary Clinton. By visiting the Bronx, which has a high concentration of minority voters, he's trying to change that."

A CLINTON-SANDERS DEBATE? - Kings County Politics:

-- WNYC's @JessicaGould: "Want @BrianLehrer to moderate a #RadioDebate between @HillaryClinton and @BernieSanders? Tweet @TheDemocrats + ask them to make it happen!"

KASICH IN QUEENS -- Ohio gov brings campaign to Trump's Turf -- Observer's Will Bredderman: "Kasich ventured far into enemy territory today with a stop at a pizzeria in the borough of rival Donald Trump's birth. Mr. Kasich met with press and public at Gino's Pizzeria in Howard Beach in Queens, just miles from where the real estate mogul grew up. The 'aw-shucks' style of the Buckeye State pol might seem an odd fit with Howard Beach, known for its population of brash Italian-Americans and occasional well-publicized hate crimes-but Mr. Kasich told the Observer he did not feel like he was in Trump country.

"'No, I really feel like I'm in the Big Apple,' he said, jabbing at rival Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas for criticizing New York at GOP debate in Iowa months ago. 'You know, New York is so dynamic, somebody was saying this thing about 'New York values?' I'll tell you what New York values are for me: excitement, innovation, change and time just flies when you're here.' Inside the Italian eatery, Mr. Kasich sat and ate pizza in a booth beside [Councilman Eric] Ulrich and former Congressman Robert Turner, the Queens GOP boss-initially using a knife and fork. Apparently realizing the magnitude of his faux pas, the governor dropped the utensils and took the slice in his hands, though notably did not fold it, as most experts deem appropriate.

SEE the pizza gif:

DAILY TRUMP: "What Donald Trump's Four Bankruptcies Say About the Deal Maker" -- WNYC's Janet Babin and Matt Katz:

JAY-Z FILM SERVICE -- Page Six's Emily Smith: "Jay Z is using his subscription-based ­streaming-music service Tidal to get into the movie business - and will soon be offering original films to subscribers, Page Six can exclusively reveal. Multiple sources confirmed to us that the service is in negotiations with movie-industry executives, for a partnership to create films for Tidal, with a focus on the artists signed to the streaming service."

CLINTON'S HAIR -- Page Six's Emily Smith: "Hillary Clinton's entourage - four big black cars plus her top aide Huma Abedin - was spotted outside Bergdorf Goodman on Wednesday morning waiting as the presidential hopeful got her $600 haircut. According to one witness, 'Hillary's entourage was blocking traffic early this morning, and waiting as Hillary got her hair done before heading up to do an event at the Apollo Theater in Harlem.' Clinton gets her hair done at the John Barrett Salon by John Barrett personally, who we previously reported charges $600 for a haircut, plus an extra $600 for color."

HEADBANGER -- NYT won't change their NFL story, despite league's request -- POLITICO New York's Joe Pompeo: The New York Times will not retract a story about the National Football League's research into player concussions that also suggested ties between the NFL and the tobacco industry. A lawyer for the league demanded a retraction in a letter sent to the newspaper's legal counsel Tuesday. But in a Wednesday response to NFL attorney Brad Karp, Times assistant general counsel Dave McCraw wrote that, while the Times has a policy of promptly correcting factual errors, "nowhere does your letter identify any factual errors that we made in our reporting on the ties between the NFL and the tobacco industry." READ THE NYT LETTER:

PLAZA ZONES -- DOT proposes new regulations for pedestrian plazas -- POLITICO New York's Gloria Pazmino: Department of Transportation officials said Wednesday they will use reflective tape, signage and police enforcement to regulate commercial activity across the city's pedestrian plazas as part of a proposal that will give the department the power to regulate the highly trafficked areas.

Testifying before the City Council's Transportation Committee, DOT commissioner Polly Trottenberg said the administration supports a bill introduced by Councilmen Corey Johnson and Dan Garodnick aimed at controlling commercial activity, including aggressive panhandling by costumed characters, in Times Square. "[The bill] will allow us to tackle the unique challenges of Times Square in a manner that fairly balances the needs of all users - commuters, tourists, local businesses, performers, ticket sellers and everyday New Yorkers," Trottenberg said. Committee chair Ydanis Rodriguez said several times during the hearing that the bill is not aimed at putting people out of a job or encroaching on their First Amendment rights. "I just want to be clear, this is not about Elmo," Rodriguez said. "At the end of the day I hope and believe and I am confident that we will be able to get a win-win situation for everyone."

-- Daily News: "Batman, Joker, Spiderman and a naked cowboy attend City Council hearing on Times Square panhandling proposal" -


-- ICYMI: "The city's Transportation Department doesn't have enough cash to clean up graffiti anymore - because it is spending all its money on Mayor de Blasio's Vision Zero plan, the agency head admitted." Post's Danielle Furfaro:

-- Police records: "Manhattan judge prevents CCRB's bid to access secret files on city's $5.9M settlement to Eric Garner's family ... 'The CCRB is not entitled to obtain access to the comptroller's internal documents that were used to settle the subject wrongful death claim,' Manhattan Supreme Court Justice James d'Auguste wrote in his ruling released Wednesday. The police watchdog agency was seeking the confidential information as part of its probe into the officers involved in the 2014 chokehold death of the 43-year-old Staten Island dad." Daily News' Rich Shapiro:

-- 2016: "[C]an we stop whining about the rules" about super delegates? -- Anthony Weiner, in the Daily News:

-- 2016: "it's politically insane" for Trump to stand by his embattled campaign manager. John Podhoretz in the Post:

-- Ferry quick commute: "it seems silly, for instance, that it will take 50 minutes to go from Bay Ridge to Wall Street via ferry - but that's because it's a four-stop route. Officials should create more direct paths to Manhattan from the other side of the East River, especially as the MTA prepares to temporarily shut down the M and L subway lines for repairs; the ferry system must provide an attractive and fast alternative." amNY editorial:

THE NEW GILDED AGE -- "Koch brother to auction 20K bottles of wine because he can't drink it all," by Post's David K. Li: "Billionaire wine enthusiast and GOP donor William Koch will auction off more than 20,000 bottles of vino and cut his vast collection nearly in half - because he can't possibly guzzle it all. The three-day Sotheby's sale, to be held over 27 hours between May 19 and 21 in New York, could fetch between $10.5 million and $15 million ... 'When I started taking stock of all the bottles, I said to myself, 'Oh, my gosh, I have a lot,' Koch told The Post. 'So if I'm not going to enjoy it, I thought let's let someone else get to.'" With a pic of his wine cellar

MEDIA MORNING -- "CNN Chief Jeff Zucker Defends Donald Trump Coverage After Another Record-Setting Night," by HuffPost's Michael Calderone: "During Wednesday's town hall, an employee asked why CNN seemed to devote '80 to 90 percent' of its airtime Tuesday to Trump, and to the news of the battery charge against ... Corey Lewandowski. The employee pointed out that there were other significant news stories Tuesday ... 'We actually covered every one of these stories on CNN, but they weren't all necessarily on television,' Zucker said ... Zucker [also] said there has been 'too much handwringing' over the media's coverage of Trump."

HILLARYWATCH -- "Hillary Clinton's $600 haircut ties up traffic," by Page Six's Emily Smith: "Hillary Clinton's entourage - four big black cars plus her top aide Huma Abedin - was spotted outside Bergdorf Goodman on Wednesday morning waiting as the presidential hopeful got her $600 haircut. ... Clinton gets her hair done at the John Barrett Salon by John Barrett personally ... A coiffed Clinton was later seen meeting with Rep. Charlie Rangel at Harlem cafe Make My Cake before taking the stage at the Apollo."

-- "Clinton Camp Braces for Trump Personal Attacks," by BuzzFeed's Ruby Cramer: "[F]aced with a new development or a pointed question, Clinton [at times] can shrink at first from a forceful response. Last month, Clinton's team of aides were still deliberating over a statement hours after violent and racially charged protests had broken out at a Trump rally in Chicago. The response released at 11:30 p.m. that night was seen as tepid and not directed squarely at Trump. ... Clinton's backers remain unsettled by the thought of personal attacks and what response they could provoke, particularly from Bill Clinton. Aides have stressed the importance of maintaining an even-keel to the former president ... knowing 'there's nothing that makes him more crazy than when people attack his wife.'"

--"AJAM's David Shuster Exclusive: Hillary Clinton to be Interviewed by FBI Director Comey in Coming Days," by Mediaite's Joe Concha: "Shuster ... reported on ... [his] AJAM nightly newscast that the FBI has completed its examination of Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton's private email server after an investigation lasting nearly one year. The former Fox News and MSNBC reporter [said] investigators are nearing a verdict whether to seek criminal charges against" Clinton.


-"Harlem Church Where Malcolm X Was Eulogized Faces Its Own Final Days," by Times' David W. Dunlap: "'Here - at this final hour, in this quiet place - Harlem has come to bid farewell to one of its brightest hopes - extinguished now, and gone from us forever,' the actor Ossie Davis said on Feb. 27, 1965, over the coffin of Malcolm X, a transcendent lightning rod among African-American leaders who had been assassinated by gunmen six days earlier. Now the hour has come to bid farewell to the place itself: the Childs Memorial Temple Church of God in Christ, originally the Bluebird Theater, on Amsterdam Avenue near West 147th Street. It is, indeed, quiet. The congregation has moved its services to a storefront space at 500 West 148th Street. There are no longer any pews in the 600-seat auditorium."

-"NYCHA developments set to receive upgrades, but not to roofs," by POLITICO New York's Mazin Sidahmed: "Almost two-thirds of the New York City Housing Authority's developments are set to receive upgrades including new appliances, mailboxes and playground improvements, POLITICO New York has learned. POLITICO New York received a detailed list of the spending plans for NYCHA's developments from the $100 million of state money allocated in last year's budget. None of that money will be going to roof repairs on NYCHA properties, as city officials had initially proposed. The information was received through a public information request of NYCHA's communication with New York State's Dormitory Authority (DASNY) over the past 40 days. Funds will go to 193 developments. Spending on each of the developments ranges from $50,000 to $3 million."

THE HOME TEAMS -- POLITICO New York's Howard Megdal: Mavericks 91, Knicks 89: Even J.J. Barea can't be stopped by the current perimeter defense of the Knicks-he had 29 and the go-ahead basket.

The day ahead: the Nets are in Cleveland. The Rangers are at Carolina. the Blue Jackets come to Barclays to face the Islanders. The Maple Leafs are in Buffalo.

COFFEE BREAK -- "New Lures of Manhattan Night Life," by NYT's Ben Detrick: "With Brooklyn rising as clubland loci (especially the industrial parts of Williamsburg, Gowanus and Sunset Park), Manhattan has mostly countered with dinky bars and lounges. But the momentum may be shifting back this spring as luster returns to Manhattan night life. ... [The new hot spots:] Flash Factory ... The Blond ... Vandal ... Suffolk Arms ...The Lively."

#UpstateAmerica: Jackson, a 9-year-old shepherd mix. Has climbed all 46 high peaks in the Adirondacks at least three times.

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

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