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POLITICO New York Playbook, presented by AT&T: DE BLASIO vs. 'bad old days' -- OPT OUT number swells -- SANDRA LEE goes home

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

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OPTING OUT OF STATE TESTS-POLITICO New York's Keshia Clukey and Eliza Shapiro: The so called "opt out" movement gained major traction this year, with 20 percent of New York students boycotting the state English Language Arts and math exams-the largest percentage in the state's history, according to test scores released Wednesday by the State Education Department. Of the 1.1 million eligible students statewide, 200,000 chose not to take the tests. Those students were more likely to be white, from a low or average needs district, and were slightly more likely that students who took the tests to have failed in 2014, according to the state. While thousands of students in the Big 5 School Districts opted out of state math and English language arts exams in April, the highest percentage of refusals were actually in smaller districts throughout the state. The district with the highest percentage was in the Mohawk Valley.

Districts with large numbers of students who refused to take the exams could face repercussions , including the loss of federal funding, state education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said on a conference call with reporters.The state Education Department is in conversations with the U.S. Department of Education working on a plan regarding possible sanctions for districts with high opt-out rates, she said. Despite the massive protest, state education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said she stands behind the Common Core. "I'm committed to higher standards," Elia said. "We really need to make sure that the students that walk away with a diploma in this state are ready to be successful and that we've given them the tools that they need."

-- "As much as people may not like testing, it's the only way available for us to document and to hold schools and school districts accountable," Marc Morial, president of the National Urban League, told the Times. "We can't close the achievement gap unless we know what it is and where it is and how big it is."

-- Some of the highest opt-out rates were on Long Island.

-- New York's city and state teachers' unions had starkly different responses Wednesday to the release of state exam scores, highlighting the divergent opinions on the Common Core academic standards and the opt out movement the unions have adopted.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "The bottom line is the city didn't scramble the planes fast enough." -- City Comptroller Scott Stringer, on de Blasio's response to the Legionnaire's outbreak, via Newsday's Matt Chayes:

EAT BEAT - "New York Pizza Styles: A Complete Guide," by Eater's Nick Solares: "Here is a look at the predominant forms of pizza found in New York City with information about how they developed over the years, and a glimpse at some of the more eclectic and disparate variations on the theme. ... Neapolitan-American pizza: the original NY pie ... NY style pizza ... Square pizza ... Local chains ... Food trucks ... The $1 slice ... Bar pizza ... Neapolitan ... Roman ... Cajun pizza ... Deep dish ... Midwestern pizza ... California / flatbread / 'chef/ pizza ... St. Louis style pizza ... New Brooklyn pizza ... National pizza chains." (h/t NYT Now)

CLICKER - "Where exactly is your neighborhood?" - "Few things get New Yorkers riled up like a debate about where one neighborhood ends and the next begins. The city doesn't even have official boundaries. So we're asking you to settle it once and for all: Draw where you think your neighborhood's outlines are, then compare your boundaries to others drawn by your neighbors."

TABS -- Post: "Blas' 150G job for aide's gal pal" -- News: "DEFLATEFUL DEAD: NFL case vs. Brady dying as zombie court sketch goes viral" -- amNY: "IT'S NOT YOUR IMAGINATION ... DELAYS ARE GETTING WORSE" -- El Diario [translated]: Bilingual with better notes. -- Village Voice: "tagging rights: The graffiti artist's biggest foe used to be the police. now, it's bootleggers"

FRONT PAGES -- NYT, 2-col. below the fold: "20% of State Students Opted Out of Tests in Sign of a Rising Revolt" -- WSJNY, 4-col. above the fold: "Students Reject State Tests"

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CITY HALL JOB -- "Gal pal of top de Blasio aide hired for cushy $150K-a-year gig" -- Post's Michael Gartland: "Mayor de Blasio created a $150,000-a-year job to boost his national immigration agenda - and then the cushy position was handed to the live-in girlfriend of one of his most trusted aides ... Stephanie Yazgi, 38, the longtime partner of senior mayoral aide Emma Wolfe, 35, was hired in May for the unadvertised position of 'campaign director' in the mayor's Office of Immigrant Affairs. ... Yazgi will be responsible for 'overseeing the mayor's national organizing efforts on immigration, specifically the Cities for Action on Immigration coalition,' according to a job description provided by City Hall.

-- "The position was initially to be funded by a private grant but because of 'delays,' taxpayers will be footing the bill instead. Immigration Commissioner Nisha Agarwal said she recruited Yazgi because she headed a list of 'about 10 people who were my top job choices.' But City Hall officials refused to say if anyone else was actually interviewed. ... A few months before Yazgi was hired, mayoral aides asked for approval from the Conflicts of Interest Board, noting Yazgi 'may work on occasion' with Wolfe, her partner. The board determined since Yazgi would be reporting to Agarwal, the hire would not violate city rules."

A LATINO PROBLEM? -- Heat on de Blasio brings 'kitchen cabinet' meeting to City Hall -- City & State's Gerson Borrero: "The combination of the booing of Mayor Bill de Blasio at Sunday's Dominican Day Parade, ongoing pressure by the Campaign for Fair Latino Representation and the recent tanking Quinnipiac poll numbers have prompted the first meeting of what's being called the de Blasio 'Latino kitchen cabinet,' sources tell City & State.

The meeting, which includes a select group of Latinos, is scheduled for this Thursday at 4:30 p.m. at City Hall.

In attendance: Luis Garden Acosta of El Puente in Brooklyn and Arnie Segarra, who was appointed by the mayor to the city's Commission on Human Rights. A prerequisite for getting invited is loyalty to the mayor. A preliminary list of invitees does not include leaders of the Campaign for Fair Latino Representation, political scientist Angelo Falcón, president of the National Institute for Latino Policy or any of the mayor's Dominican critics.

SUMMER DAZE -- "New York City's mayor fighting bad ol' days perception" -- AP's Jon Lemire: "Mayor Bill de Blasio is having a really bad summer, unable to shake a media-driven perception that the Big Apple's crime-and-vagrant-filled days are returning. Homicide and homelessness numbers are up only modestly but that hasn't stopped almost daily tabloid pictures of bedraggled men urinating in the streets or bathing in public fountains. One tab has adopted the standing headline 'Rotting Apple' and launched a website - - that counts down the hours until his term ends at the end of 2017.

"All of that comes amid a series of political setbacks, including a dispute with Uber that made him the target of millions of dollars in attack ads and an about-face on hiring new police officers that seemed like a cave to his police commissioner and City Council. And most notably, there was de Blasio's diatribe against the governor, which only heightened the tension between the two men that has now spilled into a turf war amid a deadly Legionnaires' outbreak in the Bronx.

"While the mayor's allies have steadfastly defended his record, de Blasio's sudden losing streak has taken a toll, sending his poll numbers plunging. 'He should be very worried,' said Kenneth Sherrill, professor emeritus of political science at Hunter College. 'He's in some trouble and you can't just say, 'In two years I'll be fine.'' ... Jeanne Zaino, political science professor at Iona College ... 'This is not the death knell by any stretch of the imagination ... But it should be a wake-up call.'"

AN ALLY TURNS -- Taxi interests edge away from former allies in City Hall -- POLITICO New York's Kelly Weill: Mayor Bill de Blasio, once the champion of the yellow cab industry, might be falling out of favor with taxi owner-drivers. Yellow cab advocates were dealt a blow in July, when de Blasio decided against a bill that would have capped growth on car-hail companies like Uber. During a Wednesday protest outside City Hall, members of the newly formed Taxi Medallion Owner/Driver's Association took up familiar calls for increased Uber regulation, a common rallying point last month when the city was considering a growth cap. But now, without the promise of new regulation, protesters' arguments turned more frantic, and against City Hall.

-- At the rally on Wednesday, State Senator Tony Avella of Queens and civil liberties lawyer Norman Siegel told the crowd that the city's current rules favored car-hire companies over yellow cabs. One speaker, Satnam Singh Parhar, is running for former City Councilmember Mark Weprin's recently vacated seat, representing District 23 in Queens. "I am sick and tired of New York being a tale of two cities," Parhar said, invoking de Blasio's oft-used phrase. "I say shame on New York City for making two sets of rules: one for the app companies like Uber, and another for medallion cab drivers."

EARLY LOOK -- HTC endorses Lynch in CD-23, give shout out to rival Najmi -- The Hotel Trades Council is endorsing Rebecca Lynch for the open City Council seat in Queens. Lynch, a former district leader with long ties to organized labor, has also been endorsed by the Working Families Party. In a statement, a HTC spokesman, said, "HTC knows that Rebecca will be a fierce advocate for the many issues important to our members and for the entire labor movement - we are confident she will be a champion for working families." Interestingly, the statement goes on to acknowledge another candidate in the race, Ali Najmi, an attorney who was endorsed by Zephyr Teachout and is billing himself as the most progressive candidate in the race. -- Azi

NEW YORK'S BEST WINE-Democrat and Chronicle's Bob Jamieson: "Ventosa Vineyards 2011 Estate Grown Lemberger won the coveted Governor's Cup trophy while Paumanok Vineyards on the North Fork of Long Island was named Winery of the Year in the 2015 New York Wine & Food Classic competition. The wines were judged Tuesday and Wednesday at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel in a competition known as 'The Oscars' of New York wine. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul and Agriculture Commissioner Richard Ball presented the Governor's Cup, a large silver chalice, to Ventosa, which is just south of Geneva on Seneca Lake, for best of show or top prize among the record 910 entries. The Winery of the Year award is given to the winery with the best overall showing, based on the level and number of awards in relation to entries."

BIO DIESEL BUSES -- POLITICO New York's David Giambusso: City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal will introduce legislation Thursday requiring all city school buses to use fuel with at least 5 percent biodiesel - a clean burning fuel derived from vegetation, cooking oil and animal fats. "[Traditional] diesel is actually more harmful to the kids inside the bus than people outside," Rosenthal said in an interview. "Given that reality, why not try to protect their health?" Rosenthal pointed out that all city-owned vehicles that currently use diesel are mandated by a 2013 law to use B5, the industry term for five percent biofuel. "It makes no sense that school buses wouldn't as well," she said.

SHARED PARKING -- Councilman wants to share curbs with car-sharers, and raise revenue too -- POLITICO New York's Dana Rubinstein: One-way carsharing company Car2go's success in New York City may face an obstacle: it's inability to access parking spaces, metered or otherwise. Manhattan Councilman Mark Levine, who says he has neither used Car2go nor spoken to anyone from the company, thinks he has a solution that could help car-sharing services thrive, bolster the city's bottom line, and also reduce traffic congestion.

Today, Levine will introduce legislation that would require New York City's transportation department to determine how to give car-sharing companies dedicated parking spaces, including metered spaces, in exchange for a fee. "One of these little pint-sized cars could replace dozens and dozens of private vehicles," said Levine, referring to Car2go's reliance on the Smart car, which, like car2go, was created by Daimler AG. "It's been working well on a modest scale in Brooklyn until now, the one challenge to growth being parking."

SANDRA LEE GOES HOME-Daily News' Ken Lovett and Andy Mai: "A day after undergoing surgery to deal with an infection, celebrity chef Sandra Lee headed home Wednesday to the Westchester County house she shares with Gov. Cuomo, her longtime boyfriend. Lee flashed a thumbs up as she walked out of Mount Sinai Roosevelt wearing a black dress, black sneakers and a black bag. By her side was Cuomo. 'The hospital is great,' the governor said. 'She's anxious to get home and everything went well.' Lee, who did not talk to reporters, will continue to have a med line for IV infusions containing 'massive' antibiotics for a couple of weeks to fight against infection, her staff wrote on her Facebook page."

BIRTHDAYS: Karine Jean-Pierre, deputy campaign manager and field director for Martin O'Malley's campaign, and former campaign manager for Letitia James ... Angelica Katz, director of constituent services at the state's Office of Storm Recovery ... Brian Rafferty, public information supervisor at Long Island Rail Road and former editor of the Queens Tribune.


-- Public Advocate Letitia James "wants the city Department of Transportation to put dedicated left-turn signals on 100 intersections to prevent drivers from zipping into crosswalks crowded with pedestrians. Another bill from James would make the DOT put out quarterly reports identify problem intersections where drivers are striking pedestrians who have the right of way." News' Dan Rivoli:

-- Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams wants members of Congress to vote against the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran. "I understand that public safety is the fundamental foundation on which our city is built and able to endure," Adams said, before he invoked the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. "We cannot be too vigilant in our defense against future attacks." Read the full statement here:

-- Macy's has announced a $170 million deal with Tishman Speyer for its downtown Brooklyn location, several weeks after reports surfaced that investors were pushing the department store to sell its valuable real estate assets. The move comes after Macy's sold three properties in California and one in Pittsburgh over the past year.

-- "Cabbie lands Chelsea pad for $226 using little-known law." Post's Julia Marsh and Jennifer Bain:

-- Uber sent thank you notes to lawmakers who opposed City Hall's push to limit the number of the company's drivers. News' Jennifer Fermino:

-- "Tesla Motors, the maker of high-end electric cars, will announce plans on Thursday aimed at making commuting into Manhattan with its Model S sedan, or living there while owning one, easier. The company will unveil a partnership with two dozen garages around Manhattan, which will offer higher-speed, 240-volt chargers for Tesla owners to power up their cars." Times' Aaron Kessler:

-- "Where to Watch the Perseid Meteor Shower in the New York Area: ... Inwood Hill Park ... Brooklyn Bridge Park ... Central Park ... Van Cortlandt Park ... Great Kills Park ... Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Westchester ... Jenny Jump State Forest, Warren County, N.J., Sheep Hill Astronomical Association, Boynton, N.J., Jones Bech, Long Island ... and the Palisades Interstate Parkway." Times' Andy Newman:

WHO'S TALKING TO SCHUMER? -- "In Efforts to Sway Iran Debate, Big-Money Donors Are Heard," by Jonathan Weisman and Nicholas Confessore on Times A1: "In the weeks before Senator Chuck Schumer's decision to oppose the Iran nuclear accord ... [s]ome of the wealthiest and most powerful donors in American politics, those for and against the accord, tried to get a word in with Mr. Schumer. Now, approaching a vote on President Obama's most important international priority, the fight is expanding, with tens of millions of dollars flowing into ad campaigns, and contributors leveraging access to undecided Democrats."

MEDIA MORNING - Per Politico Media Pro: "Facebook plans to open up its own live-streaming feature to journalists soon, Techcrunch reports. The social media site rolled out Facebook Live on Aug. 5, but it was only available to celebrities with verified pages. Facebook said it would open up the live-streaming product to people with verified profiles, which include many journalists ... Lester Holt is one of the launch partners for Facebook Live and is so far the only journalist with access to the feature."

--"News Corp. Planning to Sell Off Money-Losing Education Unit," by Dealbook's Michael J. de la Merced: "Amplify, a much-heralded push by News Corporation into digital education, led by Joel Klein, a former New York City schools chancellor, is nearing an inglorious end. News Corporation, controlled by Rupert Murdoch, said on Wednesday that it would take a $371 million write-down on the education division and would move to wind down the production of tablets for schoolchildren."

--"Roger Ailes to Donald Trump: 'We resolve this now...or go to war,'" by CNN's Brian Stelter:

TRANSITIONS -- "Former Met Museum Official to Lead Roosevelt House," by Times' James Barron: "[Harold] Holzer, who retired as senior vice president for public affairs of the Met last month, has been appointed to lead the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College. Mr. Holzer, 66, knows about the later careers of men like Grant because he is the author, co-author or editor of more than 50 books about Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War."

BROADWAY BUZZ - "Radiohead's Thom Yorke writes moody music for Broadway play," by AP's Mark Kennedy: "Radiohead's Thom Yorke has written original music for the upcoming Broadway revival of the play 'Old Times' by Harold Pinter, in what its director calls the combination of 'a beautiful piece of theater and a true rock star.' ... The play about love and memory will be produced by the Roundabout Theatre Company and star Clive Owen, Eve Best and Kelly Reilly. Previews begin Sept. 17 at the American Airlines Theatre. In 'Old Times,' a married couple welcomes the wife's old friend for a visit, which kicks up old memories, verbal games and classic Pinter amounts of menace. It's a love triangle about sex, love, jealousy and memory."

TRUMP TALK -- DAVID DENBY on, "The Three Faces of Trump": "Implacable Resolution: The increasingly familiar chin-up, narrow-eyed Mussolini frown. ... Trump is something classically American, an unwavering what's-in-it-for-me capitalist who likes to crush other people. Yet Mussolini and Trump share something: They appeal to an appreciation, even love, of overwhelming ego strength and extreme machismo, however crass in expression-in fact, the crasser and more preposterous the better ... Beneath Contempt . His mouth drops down and forms a slightly elongated oval, like a stretched Cheerio. ... You-gotta-be-kidding-me. A wide smile, eyes often closed, palms outstretched. In such moments, Trump presents himself as capitalist man, the spirit of rational calculation. Only an idiot could fail to see that he's right."

HILLARYWATCH -- "Hillary elites are freaking out. This memo tells them to STOP," by Vox's Jon Allen: "The six-page memo, written by campaign manager Robby Mook and distributed in DC Monday by communications director Jennifer Palmieri, argues that there's no reason for Clinton's backers to panic. 'Winning campaigns have a plan and stick to it, in good times and bad. President Obama endured significant pressure in 2007 to abandon his strategy, but his campaign remained focused on winning in Iowa and ultimately prevailed,' Mook wrote. The crux of his argument is that Clinton holds leads in national polling over Republican opponents, Democrats have such a built-in Electoral College advantage that it would be hard for Clinton to screw it up, and Republicans will 'drive their brand further under water by 'out Trumping' each other at debates.'" With the full memo:

TWEET DU JOUR -- @HillaryClinton: "How does your student loan debt make you feel? Tell us in 3 emojis or less."

REAL ESTATE -- WSJ A1, "Fears Rise of Office Bubble -- Soaring demand for commercial real estate draws comparisons to the boom of the mid-2000s," by Art Panaude and Grant: "Investors are pushing commercial real-estate prices to record levels in cities around the world, fueling concerns that the global property market is overheating. The valuations of office buildings sold in London, Hong Kong, Osaka and Chicago hit record highs in the second quarter of this year, on a price per square foot basis, and reached post-2009 highs in New York, Los Angeles, Berlin and Sydney ... Deal activity is soaring as well. The value of U.S. commercial real-estate transactions in the first half of 2015 jumped 36% from a year earlier to $225.1 billion, ahead of the pace set in 2006."

--"Real estate bigwig Barbara Corcoran eyes her own island," by Post's Jennifer Gould Keil: "Real estate maven and "Shark Tank" star Barbara Corcoran is looking to expand her empire - specifically, with the purchase of her own $10.99 million private island. Known as Tavern Island, off the coast of Rowayton, Conn. - with views of the city skyline - it, as we previously reported, was home to European settlers in 1651, and a popular party spot for Marilyn Monroe and Barbara Streisand 300 years later."

THE HOME TEAMS -- Politico New York's Howard Megdal: Mets 3, Rockies 0: Jacob deGrom dominated for seven innings, striking out ten, and Yoenis Cespedes hit his first home run as a Met.

-- Indians 2, Yankees 1: Brian McCann's home run was the lone production from a struggling offense.

-- Sky Blue FC 1, Red Stars 1: Needing three points to really keep their playoff hopes alive, Sam Kerr's lone goal wasn't enough to bring home the win.

-- The day ahead: The Mets go for the four-game sweep of the Rockies in a matinee. The Yankees are in Cleveland. NYCFC hosts DC United. The Jets open their Geno Smith-less preseason against the Lions.

#UpstateAmerica: A Troy man fought off an attacking bear with a stick.

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