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05/11/2017 07:13 AM EDT
By Jimmy Vielkind in Albany and Azi Paybarah in Manhattan, with Addy Baird and Daniel Lippman
Another day, another round of subway delays. On Tuesday a transformer problem crammed riders onto platforms. On Wednesday, as the Village Voice explains, delays were "due to a fun collision of signal malfunctions, injured passengers, and 'rail conditions,' which paralyzed much of the system." If you're reading this newsletter we'll presume you're smart enough to know the trains are run by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, a creature of the state ultimately controlled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He's been in New York City all week at his Third Avenue office, arriving by car each morning and saying nothing about the abysmal condition of the commute.
What really could he say, anyway? These problems weren't created in a day and won't be solved in one either. But as Dana Rubinstein explains today, transit systems in greater New York have gotten Cuomo's attention in a different way. "Cuomo has often been criticized for making big infrastructure pronouncements that are heavy on grandiosity, and comparisons to Robert Moses, but light on specifics and policy rationale. ... He's touted the "Ferrari-like" aspect of his new MTA buses, vehicles emblazoned with state colors that have wifi and (hard-to-reach) USB ports. ... But the new buses will do little to fix the underlying problems afflicting the MTA's under-performing bus system, and the LED lights will do nothing to solve the region's chronic congestion. It's a Cuomo aesthetic that prizes the superficial and expedient over the substantive and more grueling. Some experts find it jarring." Read more here.
GOOD MORNING AND HAPPY THURSDAY. Got a tip? Feedback? News to share? Let us know. By email: JVielkind@politico.com, APaybarah@politico.com, ABaird@politico.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter: @JimmyVielkind, @Azi, @addysue, and @dlippman.
WHERE'S ANDREW? In New York City with no announced public schedule.
WHERE'S BILL? On WNYC this morning, making an education announcement in Brooklyn, then appearing on Le Maga 79.9
** A message from JPMorgan Chase & Co.: Transportation and logistics jobs in NYC will increase by 10% over the next five years. How do we ensure that high school students have access to those well-paying careers? JPMorgan Chase committed $6 million to skills training in the Bronx so more students can compete for these positions. Learn more: http://politi.co/2qMpToW **
PREET'S TWEETS: He said there's a good deal of evidence suggesting James Comey was fired because of the Russia probe, and posted an article saying the deputy attorney general threatened to resign when he was cast as the decider. Then, just after midnight: "Whatever one's opinion of Comey, does anyone still believe that the STATED reason for Comey's firing was the ACTUAL reason? Anyone?"
TABS - Daily News: "TRUMPER TANTRUM: Donald's rage over Comey's Russia testimony led to ax" - Post: "SEEING RED: Angry Trump says Comes 'wasn't doing a good job'; Dems: It's all about Russia" - SEE THEM
- Newsday: "CRUSH HOUR: LIRR frustration grows as nearly 90 trains canceled after signal troubles" - El Diario [translated]: Tenants insurance - SEE THEM
FREEBIES - amNew York: "The 411 on 332: What you need to know about city's new area code" - Metro: "MYSTIC HEALING" - SEE THEM
BROADSHEETS - New York Times, 2-col., above the fold: "F.B.I. FIRING ROILS CAPITAL AS TRUMP CALLS OUT CRITICS" - Wall Street Journal, 5-col., above the fold: "Trump Seeks to Mute Comey Outcry" - SEE THEM
QUOTE OF THE DAY: "He has to delegate to somebody who's going to lead that investigation. That person hasn't been fired" - Sam Nunberg, former Trump aide, defended the ouster of James Comey, via NY1
BONUS QUOTE: "I am fighting for the immigrant narrative" - Hasan Minhaj, at Gracie Mansion last night
ABOUT LAST NIGHT: Donald Trump's firing of FBI director James Comey may have rattled the scene in Washington D.C., but back in his home borough of Queens, Republicans were, for the most part, in a celebratory mood. At the Republican county organization's annual dinner, at Terrace on the Park, Azi watched a parade of office-seekers glad-hand party faithful, over plates of vegetables and cheese and drinks from an open bar. From the windows, the Manhattan skyline was a haze, Washington was practically nowhere. "I got to be honest with, I've been so focused on what's happening in the city, I'm really not following it," mayoral candidate, Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis of Staten Island, told POLITICO. Though the organization endorsed her rival, real estate developer Paul Massey, Malliotakis walked up to every table during cocktail hour, shook hands with county chairman Bob Turner. (During dinner, she told the crowd she entered the race because it lacked "energy" - just as Massey walking across the dance floor, to his seat at the front of the room.) Later, Massey told journalist John Kenny he was "a little surprised at the timing" of Trump's firing of Corey, "but I wouldn't question what is going on because I think the president has knowledge that I don't have."
Also at the event was Harry Wilson, who nearly won the 2010 comptroller race and is eying a run against Cuomo in 2018. "We won 2.1 million votes," he told the crowd. "That is the 500,000 more votes than any Republican candidate for governor since 2002. It is also the same number of votes Andrew Cuomo won in 2014 when he won re-election." As the audience applauded him, Wilson added, "So that's why I'm thinking of running for governor." Councilman Eric Ulrich spoke later, end encouraged Wilson. "We have got to get rid of Andrew Cuomo. He is destroying the state of New York and I am hoping that Harry Wilson throws his hat in the race." Ulrich, almost sounding like a running mate, added, "Give 'em hell, Harry. Give 'em hell, Harry. You should use that, by the way." Then Ulrich took a swipe at both of New York's best known Democratic executives: "Andrew Cuomo is a lot like Bill de Blasio. A lot of talk, no action. They can't work with Democrats. They can't get along with people in their own party."
MAYOR OF THE WORLD -- BLOOMBERG this morning is announcing the Global Business Forum, a one-day event at the Plaza Hotel in New York City this September hosted with the Alibaba Group, Dangote Industries Limited, EXOR, and the MiSK Foundation. The conference will convene global political leaders, CEOs and NGOs for conversations on global business and supporting economic prosperity. http://politi.co/2q8bxjH
WHAT ALBANY IS READING:
- SUNY POLY AGAINST PROCUREMENT BILL - POLITICO New York's Jimmy Vielkind: The new leader of two arms of SUNY Polytechnic Institute implicated in a bid-rigging scheme last year said a legislative push to pre-audit its economic development activities would just slow it down. Bob Megna, a longtime state government hand, told reporters that the Fort Schuyler and Fuller Road management corporations have already been sufficiently reorganized after last year's criminal charges against former SUNY Poly President Alain Kaloyeros and executives at several construction companies. "We have put into place a lot [of policies] and ... have essentially reconstituted both boards with many new members. We've put new guidelines and procedures in place," Megna said. "So we're going to be following much more closely to what state operating procedure is on anything we do, anyway. His comments echo those of Cuomo and other administration officials who have resisted additional, independent oversight in the wake of the indictments, which also snared Cuomo adviser Joe Percoco. Percoco, Kaloyeros and the developers have pleaded not guilty. Read more here
- Good-government groups held a press conference at the Capitol to push for the bill.
- MONEY FOR HOOSICK FALLS - Times Union's Brendan Lyons: The village of Hoosick Falls has received a $220,000 grant from the state Environmental Facilities Corp. to help cover engineering and other expenses that followed the discovery three years ago of a toxic chemical in the community's water supplies. The grant was ushered through the public authority recently with support from Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office that said the money would need to be repaid only if the two companies blamed for the pollution reimburse the village for those costs. 'This funding will help the village as they continue to seek a fair monetary settlement with the polluters and hold them accountable for their actions,' said Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for Cuomo. 'A great deal of progress has been made, but there is more work to be done, and this funding is simply one more way to support the village as they move forward.' The windfall for the village comes after the state Senate Finance Committee on Tuesday voted unanimously on a bill that would allow the village to issue bonds to help cover additional costs associated with the pollution. The legislation is expected to be voted on by the full Senate in the coming days. A similar bill is pending in the Assembly." Read more here
HAPPENING TONIGHT: "Trump, The Media and The Truth" panel discussion, featuring Observer reporter Madina Toure, journalist Ross Barkan, CUNY Hunter Prof. Sari Krieger, HuffPo contributor Brennan DuBose and POLITICO's Azi Paybarah, hosted by the Queens Young Democrats, at 6:30 p.m., at the Latin American Intercultural Alliance, 148-15 Archer Avenue, in Jamaica, Queens.
WHAT CITY HALL IS READING:
- CALLING FOR PONTE'S OUSTER: Breaking with de Blasio, Mark-Viverito calls for Department of Correction commissioner's resignation - POLITICO New York's Gloria Pazmino: "I do believe that the commissioner should step down," Mark-Viverito told reporters during an unrelated press conference in the Red Room of City Hall on Wednesday. "Obviously there has just been a lot that's been going on at the agency, and I think that it's been demonstrated that it's compromised his ability to move forward, and I think he should consider that seriously at this point," she added. ... "The issue of the personal use of the car, the fact that he is out of town during critical moments at a time when we are really dealing with a serious issue," Mark-Viverito said. "I think there seems to be a lack of leadership and a lack of confidence within the agency - those are real, genuine concerns." Mark-Viverito's comments stand in stark contrast with de Blasio's ongoing defense of Ponte. ... Aides to Mark-Viverito confirmed the speaker placed a phone call to the mayor but was unable to reach him. She followed up with an email to inform him about her position and her intention to go public. Natalie Grybauskas, a spokesperson for the mayor, said in a statement that the administration "respects" Mark-Viverito's opinion. Read more here.
- MMV TRAVELING TO CUBA - POLITICO New York's Gloria Pazmino: City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito is traveling to Havana, Cuba on Thursday to attend a conference hosted by the Cuban National Center for Sex Education. The conference will focus on policy initiatives to combat homophobia and transphobia in schools. The speaker is joining a coalition of LGBTQ leaders and stakeholders at the conference, which was organized by the Puerto Rican Cultural Center - a non for profit organization in the island that works to provide community services and promotes cultural awareness for the Hispanic LGBTQ community.
The City Council has passed several pieces of LGBTQ-specific legislation in the past three years, including a bill to allow transgender people to change their gender identity on their birth certificate and a bill to require single stall bathrooms across the city to be gender neutral.
It will be the Cuban National Center for Sex Education's tenth annual conference. This year's theme will focus on school policy to help eradicate homophobia and transphobia within the educational system as well as proposing policies that will make the school environment safer and more inclusive for LGBTQ individuals. Aides to the speaker said she will be traveling to Havana without any staff. Read more here.
- FUNDING A HATE CAMPAIGN - Candidate vows to use matching funds may go to "greedy Jewish landlord" mailer - POLITICO New York's Azi Paybarah: The city's Campaign Finance Board says it is powerless to stop a City Council candidate who has threatened to use money from the city's matching-funds program to send mailers about "greedy Jewish landlords" to prospective voters. The candidate, Thomas Lopez-Pierre - who admitted earlier he is saying offensive statements solely in order to get attention - wrote on Twitter yesterday he plans to use "taxpayer money" as part of his plan.
A top official for the New York City Campaign Finance Board, which gives candidates $6 for each dollar of the first $175 they raise from qualified donors, said current law does not allow the board to curtail activities like the one Lopez-Pierre says he is planning. "Before candidates can receive public funds, the Campaign Finance Act requires them to meet fundraising thresholds that demonstrate they have robust support from the community they hope to represent," said Amy Loprest, executive director of the NYC Campaign Finance Board. "The Act does not enable the Board to prevent candidates from using objectionable messages in their campaigns, but it does make it easier for more good people to run for office to oppose them." ... Councilman David Greenfield of Brooklyn said the board does have the authority to block the funds. "This candidate has made it clear that he as no intention of winning," Greenfield wrote in a text message to POLITICO New York. "He is running solely to promote his racist, misogynistic, anti-Semitic agenda." Asked about infringing on free speech, Greenfield replied: "When a candidate makes it clear that they are NOT running to win, the CFB can decide they don't want to fund that. It's a CAMPAIGN," he wrote. "He is taking advantage of it. We shouldn't let him manipulate the system." Read more here.
(ALMOST) ON BROADWAY -- "Rebecca' Lawsuit Verdict Falls Far Short for Broadway Producers," by NYT's Sopan Deb: "A jury verdict on Wednesday in the bizarre case of 'Rebecca,' a Broadway-bound musical that never came to be, fell far short of $10.6 million that the producers had sought in a lawsuit against the show's former publicist. After deliberating for two days, a New York State Supreme Court jury awarded only $90,000 in compensatory damages - and nothing in punitive damages - to Ben Sprecher and Louise Forlenza, the producers of 'Rebecca.' The two also lost on their claim of defamation against the publicist, Marc Thibodeau, who had sent anonymous emails to a prospective 'Rebecca' investor to warn him that the production was facing extraordinary problems.
"Mr. Sprecher and Ms. Forlenza sued Mr. Thibodeau after a series of twists and turns derailed the musical in 2012 before its scheduled Broadway opening. The two producers, struggling to raise $12 million to stage the show, had put their trust in a stockbroker who promised to deliver investors, but who had a record of fraud charges. The stockbroker, Mark C. Hotton, claimed to have investors who would contribute $4.5 million; the producers never met those investors but went ahead with planning anyway. Mr. Hotton then announced that one of the investors had died and the money was lost; it turned out that the investors were fictitious. Mr. Hotton eventually went to jail for fraud... The jury on Wednesday found that Mr. Thibodeau should pay $5,000 for breach of contract - a trial judge had already found him liable - and $85,000 for tortious interference. The jury said Mr. Thibodeau was not guilty of defamation." More at NYT
TRUMP WORLD - Where Fifth Ave. meets Pennsylvania Ave.:
- DEMS SPLIT ON KELLY AS COMEY'S REPLACEMENT - POLITICO New York's Azi Paybarah: Rep. Hakeem Jeffries of Brooklyn, who has long been a critic of Kelly, told reporters that President Donald Trump's FBI nominee "has to be completely and fully vetted by the United States Senate as an individual with the highest degree of integrity, and independent with not a political bone in his or her body. It's not clear to me Ray Kelly falls into that category." ...
Rep. Carolyn Maloney of Manhattan told POLITICO she would welcome Kelly's nomination. "I think he'd be an excellent appointment," said Maloney .... "He has served in both Democratic and Republican administrations ... has been apolitical ... extremely competent and he would be a fine choice ... Rep. Adriano Espaillat [said] "Ray Kelly is a great police commissioner and is highly qualified to lead any law enforcement agency in the world." ... Glen Caplin, a senior adviser for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, did not specifically mention Kelly in a statement to POLITICO, saying "This is not the time for business as usual or playing the Washington parlor game of possible replacements." He added that Gillibrand "is focused on holding this administration accountable and believes the Senate should not consider a new FBI Director until a special independent prosecutor has been appointed." Read more here.
MORNING MEDIA, with POLITICO's Joe Pompeo:
- FIRST AMENDMENT FOLLIES: Journalism advocacy groups are rallying around Dan Heyman, the reporter for West Virginia's Public News Service who was arrested after asking U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price a question, in a manner that police characterized as "breaching the secret service agents" and "causing a disturbance by yelling." The Committee to Protect Journalists called the incident "a clear affront to press freedom," while calling on authorities to "drop all charges ... and respect journalists' right to question government officials." The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press said it is "working closely with Public News Service" in addressing the situation. Heyman was arrested and released on $5,000 bail on Tuesday, but the story gained widespread attention yesterday after it was covered in national outlets like The New York Times and The Washington Post. Price's response? "That gentleman was not in a press conference," he told the health news website Stat. No doubt this incident will heighten already sky-high concerns about a chilling of the Fourth Estate in the Trump era.
- MURDOCHS FOCUS ON FOX NEWS RATINGS, AVOID ELEPHANT IN ROOM: On a call with Wall Street watchers to discuss 21st Century Fox's financial results for the first three months of the year, executive co-chairman Lachlan Murdoch touted Fox News Channel's 61 consecutive quarters of ratings dominance in basic cable, but said nothing of the sexual harassment and racial discrimination scandal that is engulfing the company. Meanwhile, gotta love the Morgan Stanley analyst who euphemistically brought up "a lot of change there and a lot of commentary in the press about advertisers showing some frustration and then coming back," to which Murdoch replied, "As we have said, the channel continues its ratings dominance ... so we are very confident in that business."
- WHAT'S BEHIND THE LIBERAL MEDIA'S CONSERVATIVE HIRING SPREE? "[It] would make perfect sense if media outlets whose audiences skewed liberal were struggling in the Trump era," Slate's Will Oremus writes . "But it's just the opposite. MSNBC just posted its highest-ever quarterly ratings, beating centrist CNN in prime time. The Times reported record-breaking subscriber growth. The Post is aggressively expanding amid record online traffic and ad revenue. The last two have been running PR campaigns aiming to capitalize on discontent with Trump's election. And they're all getting pushback from the left on each conservative hire, with some even publicly canceling their Times subscriptions to protest [Bret] Stephens." Now for the theories...
You can read the full Morning Media column and sign up to receive it in your inbox by clicking here.
REAL ESTATE, with POLITICO New York's Sally Goldenberg:
- "City housing agency acknowledging potential federal cuts in words, but not in budget," by POLITICO New York's Sally Goldenberg: Mayor Bill de Blasio's housing agency is banking on budget savings from the same pot of federal funds it recently lamented losing under President Donald Trump. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which will testify before the City Council at a budget hearing Thursday, has told the city it expects to save $3.7 million from the 2017 through 2021 fiscal years because of community development block grants provided by the federal government, according to public budget records. The grants would replace the expense of city tax dollars for code enforcement and other costs, according to the agency. But that's the same stream of funding the mayor and housing commissioner Maria Torres-Springer warned was in danger just two months ago, when the White House proposed zeroing it out in its preliminary budget plan. The funding was reinstated in the recent short-term Congressional spending measure, but its future is hardly certain. ... A spokeswoman for the city's housing agency confirmed it will receive $140 million in these grants for the Fiscal Year 2017, but future years are in question. The city is taking the posture of budgeting for what it has typically received, rather than incorporating the threat, she said. "Our priority is fighting these potential cuts that would be so detrimental to our communities," the spokeswoman said. "Until any cuts have materialized, absorbing them preemptively would be a signal of acceptance. Retrenchment is not an option." Read the story here
- "Kushners Quit Property Bid as Pressures Mount Over Conflicts," by Bloomberg's David Kocieniewski and Caleb Melby: "A company owned by the family of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's son-in-law, has abandoned plans to buy a sprawling industrial site in New Jersey from Honeywell International Inc., a major federal contractor, and develop it into a residential community. Kushner Cos. had been the leading bidder for the 95-acre formerly contaminated site known as Bayfront, which is co-owned by Honeywell and Jersey City, city officials said. The company had submitted plans to build as many as 8,100 housing units to be marketed to Orthodox Jewish residents of the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn who are being priced out of that neighborhood. ... On Wednesday, James Yolles, a spokesman for Kushner Cos., said, 'A decision was made late last year not to pursue the project because the company was not persuaded by the economics of the deal.'" Read the story here
- "Report: Residential permitting spiked as 421-a tax break was re-negotiated," by POLITICO New York's Sally Goldenberg: Residential permitting skyrocketed during the first quarter of 2017, at the same time the expired 421-a property tax break was being negotiated for reinstatement in Albany. A new report from the New York Building Congress shows the number of residential permits was at its highest level in a decade, based on an analysis of Census data. The city's buildings department authorized the construction of 6,343 residential units between January and March of this year - three times the number permitted during the same period last year, when 421-a had expired, and even more than during the first quarter of 2015, when fears of the tax break's demise motivated a spike in permitting, the report found. The buildings agency permitted 6,183 units during that stretch. Read the report here
You can find the free version of Sally's real estate newsletter here: http://politi.co/2a1DgJk
BIRTHDAYS: Assemblyman Erik Martin Dilan, of Brooklyn ... Former Cuomo aide Rich Bamberger ... New York State Public Radio reporter Karen DeWitt ... Chester Jesus Soria, associate producer of WNYC's Death, Sex and Money ... Daily News columnist Mike Lupica.
THE HOME TEAMS - POLITICO New York's Howard Megdal: Giants 6, Mets 5: Noted folk hero and public emoter Wilmer Flores airmailed a throw that would have started a game-ending double play. Instead, Jeurys Familia blew the save and the Mets missed a chance at a sweep.
- The day ahead: a rematch of the 2015 AL Wild Card game, with the Astros in New York to face the Yankees.
#UpstateAmerica: If you were planning a trip to see April the Giraffe's baby this weekend, you'll have to wait. The park opening is delayed due to an expected Nor'easter.
#PlanetNYC: "A Burger King on Seventh Avenue could start serving beer after the fast-food eatery's franchisee approached the local community board about applying for a liquor license," via DNAinfo's Maya Rajmani.
FOR MORE political and policy news from New York, check out Politico New York's home page: http://politi.co/1MkLGXV
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** A message from JPMorgan Chase & Co.: Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO, said "The lack of economic opportunity for young people in the South Bronx is a moral and economic crisis." To help, JPMorgan Chase is committing $6 million to connect career and technical programs with in-demand jobs in growing NYC industries. This investment will give more high school students access to jobs that offer good wages and the chance to move up the economic ladder. Learn more: http://politi.co/2qMpToW **https://secure.politico.com/settings/settings
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