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POLITICO New York Playbook: SILVER retrial begins -- CY VANCE's record under the microscope -- How New York Molded Donald Trump -- DEM WOMEN defend KATHY HOCHUL

04/30/2018 07:21 AM EDT

By Jimmy Vielkind in Albany and Laura Nahmias in Manhattan, with Daniel Lippman

Sheldon Silver was the first elephant bagged by Preet Bharara; he was one of Albany's three men in a room for more than two decades and a pillar of the "show me the money" culture of the Capitol that the former federal prosecutor so loathed. His 2015 indictment knocked him from the speaker's chair, and a conviction forced him from public office. But the Supreme Court's 2016 decision to overturn the corruption conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell narrowed the definition of "official acts" that can be considered in criminal favor trading, and Silver's conviction, based on outmoded jury directions, was overturned. Bringing us to today, when opening statements are expected this morning on Foley Square in Silver's second trial.

Does Silver's status as a non-felon have a shot at being sustained? It depends who you ask, and it depends on the jury. On the one hand, defense attorneys have a new line of attack on prosecutors and witnesses' memories have faded - and they know exactly what the prosecution is going to say. On the other, the appellate court that ordered Silver's new trial said that there was sufficient evidence. As Benjamin Weiser writes in today's New York Times , "Judge Valerie Caproni, in an order granting Mr. Silver's request to remain free on bail while he appealed his conviction, observed that 'Silver's case is factually almost nothing like McDonnell.' 'There is no question that Silver took a number of official acts - most obviously passing legislation and approving state grants and tax-exempt financing - as part of a quid pro quo.'"

But Joe Bruno, who was Silver's partisan opposite for many years, was vindicated at his second trial. E. Stewart Jones, the lawyer who helped try that case for Bruno, said the McDonnell ruling was a big gift for defendants like Silver. "They have to be very mindful of the 2nd Circuit's guidance on the McDonnell decision," he told us last week. "Obviously the defense will try to establish that the McDonnell equation was at play in all these interactions and there was not corrupt quid pro quo, and that it was politics as it's properly practiced," said E. Stewart Jones, a Troy-based defense attorney.

IT'S MONDAY. We're very sad that the Abbey Pub is closing forever tonight. Got tips, suggestions or thoughts? Let us know ... By email:,, and, or on Twitter: @JimmyVielkind, @nahmias, and @dlippman.

WHERE'S ANDREW? In Albany with no public schedule.

WHERE'S BlLL? Holding a hearing and signing a package of legislation aimed at reducing workplace sexual harassment, and in the evening, making his regular weekly appearance on NY1's Inside City Hall.

WHERE'S CYNTHIA? Visiting striking Columbia University Graduate students, to highlight their unionization efforts.

The Tabloids: - New York Post: "LET'S MAKE A DEAL!"- Daily News: "'SAVE US!'"- See Them

More Tabloids: - Newsday: "THE MS-13 CONNECTION" - El Diario New York: "Prevalece la culpa"-TRANSLATION: "Guilt prevails"- See Them

The Free Papers: - Metro New York: "THE END OR THE BEGINNING?"- AM New York: "DEADLY QUEENS FIRE"- See Them

The Broadsheets: - New York Times: - 1 col., above the fold: "KIM SAYS HE'D END NUCLEAR PURSUIT FOR A U.S. TRUCE"- 1 col., above the fold: 'Telecom Giants To Try Merging A Second Time"- 3 col., above the fold: "Doctors Ask When a Heart Is Not Worth Fixing" - 1 col., above the fold: "150 Migrants Reach Border, Testing Trump"- Wall Street Journal: -1 col., above the fold: "Sprint, T-Mobile Agree to Combine"- 4 col., above the fold: "U.S. Wary on North Korea Moves"- 4 col., below the fold: "Growth Signs Lift the Dollar"- 2 col., below the fold: "Limit to China's Economic Rise: Not Enough Babies"- See Them

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I think she's already been good for the conversation ... This is what's exciting about primaries. People can inspire an incumbent to reconsider a policy, or just have a robust conversation." ~ Sarah Jessica Parker on Cynthia Nixon

ONE WEEK LEFT! The LCA show is on Tuesday, May 8 at the Egg in Albany. Order tickets online here or call Teresa at (518) 455-2388.


- THEY STAND WITH KATHY - Buffalo News' Tom Precious: "Kathy Hochul, the state lieutenant governor who has logged tens of thousands of miles promoting Cuomo and his policies, again is facing questions about her political future after the governor recently promoted her as an ideal candidate to run for Congress. That's not sitting well with some who, like Hochul, are female and members of the Democratic Party who have fought to ascend the male-dominated political clubhouse in New York. Some of them are saying Hochul already has made her intentions known publicly and privately that she wants to run again for lieutenant governor. So, as more than one Democrat asked, why is the only statewide elected official who is a woman being left hanging? 'I like Kathy Hochul very much,' said veteran Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, a Manhattan Democrat, who has campaigned with Hochul and hosted her on multiple trips to her district that includes neighborhoods like Greenwich Village. 'I think she's been a great lieutenant governor and I would hope any of these grumblings that she might not continue on the ticket are just that: rumors and without substance.' " Read more here.

- CUOMO IN PUERTO RICO - NY1's Josh Robin: "Cuomo spent the day in Puerto Rico on Sunday, announcing a state task force to help the island recover, and checking in on repair and restoration in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Cuomo was in the capitol of San Juan to announce the task force to make Puerto Rico not just recover, but become resilient. The governor chose a task force that includes well-connected labor leaders. It is co-chaired by the Bronx Democratic leader, Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, who joined a round table Sunday. The task force's purpose is to find areas in need, paving the way for SUNY and CUNY students to receive college credit helping on the island later this year. It's the second phase of a major effort by New York to help rebuild Puerto Rico in the wake of Hurricane Maria, which ravaged the island." Read more here.

- BONACIC IS THE THIRD GOP RETIREMENT - Gannett's Jon Campbell: "State Sen. John Bonacic, a Republican who has represented the Hudson Valley in the Legislature for nearly three decades, will not seek re-election this fall. Bonacic, R-Mount Hope, Orange County, announced Friday he would retire from the Senate, leaving open a seat that is likely to become a key battleground for Democrats and Republicans in November. ... Bonacic is the third Republican senator in three days to drop their re-election bids in the closely divided Senate, where Republicans hold a one-vote majority with the help of a rogue Democrat. Sen. Kathy Marchione, R-Halfmoon, Saratoga County, announced Wednesday she wouldn't run in November, citing a desire to spent more time with her family. Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco, R-DeWitt, Onondaga County, told the Auburn Citizen he too wouldn't seek re-election. Senate Democrats jumped on the Republicans' departures heading into a crucial election year in November, when all 63 seats are on the November ballot." Read more here.

GOVERNOR'S RACES BECOME BATTLEGROUND FOR SOUL OF DEMOCRATIC PARTY -Washington Post's Dave Weigel: "Throughout the country, increasingly contentious primaries for governor are emerging as central battlegrounds in the broader struggle for the soul of the Democratic Party. While House and Senate primaries have focused on electability and the goal of winning the two chambers, these state-level races are home to debates on a range of core policy questions on guns, education, health care, the economy and marijuana legalization. And unlike congressional races, where the parties' campaign committees have intervened in primaries, there's no national group that takes sides in choosing the nominee. In many cases, establishment candidates and incumbents are being pulled to the left by an energized party base and surprisingly strong liberal challengers." Read it here.


- "Think Manhattan DA Cy Vance Goes Easy on the Rich? Look at How He Prosecutes the Poor" - Tom Robbins for New York Magazine: "To hear the media tell it, Manhattan district attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. is soft on white-collar crime. First came the news that an attorney for Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr. had arranged a fund-raiser for Vance after he refused to prosecute them for fraud. Then there was Vance's decision not to file sexual-assault charges against Harvey Weinstein, even though police had caught the Hollywood mogul on tape confessing to the crime. Last month, spurred by a story in New York , Governor Andrew Cuomo ordered the state attorney general to investigate Vance's handling of the case. The incidents have cost the DA: During his uncontested election for a third term in November, 10 percent of voters were so fed up with him that they went to the trouble of writing in someone whose name wasn't Cy Vance.

- But all the attention on Vance's treatment of the rich and powerful has obscured a more surprising aspect of his record: The DA, who styles himself a progressive reformer, is actually far more punitive toward poor and minority defendants than his counterparts in other boroughs. According to a report issued last year by a special commission on Rikers Island, Vance's office was responsible for almost 38 percent of the city's jail population in 2016, even though it handled just 29 percent of all criminal cases in New York. "No other borough comes close," the report concluded. Brooklyn - despite having a million more residents than Manhattan - accounted for only 22 percent of those behind bars. Vance's selectively tough approach to law and order continued last year. Even as the DA supported the growing movement to close Rikers, his office continued to fill the jail at a far higher rate than other boroughs' DAs. As of December, according to data published by the Department of Correction, a third of the city's inmates - including 2,251 at Rikers - had been sent there from Manhattan." Read it here.

- Unindicted co-conspirators revealed in NYPD corruption case - New York Post's Bruce Golding: "Former NYPD Chief of Department Philip Banks is among a slew of ex-cops named by the feds as "unindicted co-conspirators" in a pending police corruption case. Prosecution court papers say Banks "influenced" the 2014 promotion of former Deputy Inspector James Grant - who faces trial next month - as well as that of ex-Det. Michael Milici, who's also listed among the alleged co-conspirators. The Friday filing says Banks also influenced the transfers of about six other cops and helped arrange a police escort for a pal of Jona Rechnitz, a former fund-raiser for Mayor de Blasio-turned-prosecution witness. According to a previously filed FBI affidavit, Rechnitz was caught on a 2015 wiretap talking to fellow de Blasio donor and Grant co-defendant Jeremy Reichberg, who said that with Banks' help "we got Jimmy promoted." The allegations against Banks all involve a former subordinate, ex-Deputy Chief Michael Harrington, who had been scheduled to stand trial with Grant until he scored a sweetheart plea bargain last month. They also came days after The Post exclusively revealed that an FBI investigation found about $300,000 in "unexplained" cash deposits into Banks' accounts between 2007 and 2013." Read it here.

- "Eyeing 2020, Mayors Dream of First City Hall-to-White House Leap" - Bloomberg's Henry Goldman and Elise Young: "To ascend to the presidency, any mayor would have to transcend "the rough and tumble of local politics, which can be toxic," said Columbia University political scientist Robert Shapiro. 'Big-city mayors get caught up in conflicts over race, crime, labor issues and budget fights that make enemies.' Americans' "distrust of the city" goes back to the days of Thomas Jefferson, who saw cities as 'places of pestilence,' said Michael Williams, a New York University presidential historian. 'There's a lot of baggage that comes with governing a large complex city.'" Read it here.

RIKERS REPORT - Daily News's Reuven Blau: "City jail staff failed to follow simple procedures and ignored obvious signs of depression before three Rikers Island inmates committed suicide, a state oversight panel concluded.The state Correction Commission found the poor care included missed doctor visits, muffed medical assessments, bungled housing assignments and slipshod CPR attempts." Read it here.


DEEP DIVE - BEN SCHRECKINGER in POLITICO Magazine, "Meet the pro-Trump PR Guy at the Center of the Mueller Probe - And Everything Else: Ronn Torossian got his start representing hip pop stars, but now has ties to some of the most scrutinized parts of the Trump orbit": "What do the Mueller probe, the Eric Trump Foundation, Sinclair Broadcasting, Girls Gone Wild, Israel, Turkey, Sean 'P. Diddy' Combs and Donald Trump's personal lawyer Jay Sekulow all have in common? Ronn Torossian. ...

"Over the last decade and a half, the 43-year-old Torossian has made himself perhaps the most prominent practitioner of a brass-knuckled form of public relations, sought out for his relentless work ethic and his ruthlessness-especially when anyone gets in his way. ... Torossian's penchant for feuding is such that a few calls around the public relations industry leads to a 150-page book of opposition research on him with a timeline that begins at birth, the sort of document more commonly compiled by the opponents of a presidential candidate."

The Original Donald Trump - Frank Rich for New York Magazine: "The New York Establishment will ignore unscrupulous acts to serve its interests - just look how it treated Roy Cohn, onetime lawyer to the president... From the mid-1970s to the turn of the century, well before Trump debuted on The Apprentice or flirted more than glancingly with politics, he gained power and consolidated it with the help of allies among the elites of New York's often nominally Democratic and liberal Establishment - some of them literally the same allies who boosted Cohn. Like Cohn (a registered Democrat until he died) and Trump (an off-and-on Democrat for years), their enablers were not committed to any party or ideology. Their priority was raw personal power that could be leveraged for their own enrichment, privilege, and celebrity.

Cohn's biographer Nicholas von Hoffman described what he called the "Roy Cohn Barter and Swap Exchange": It specialized in "deals, favors, hand washings, and reciprocities of all kinds." And while Cohn is gone, the exchange never shut down. Its unofficial legislative body is the floating quid pro quo Favor Bank that has always made New York tick at its highest levels, however corruptly, since Tammany Hall. It's a realm where everyone has his (or her) price, and clout is always valued higher than any civic good. All that matters is the next transaction. Since time immemorial, those who find it unsavory are invariably dismissed as naïve." Read it here.

2018: CLINTON BACKS L.I. CANDIDATE'S PUSH FOR CAMPAIGN TO PAY FOR CHILDCARE- Newsweek's Marie Solis: "A first-time female candidate who wants to use campaign funds to pay for child care just got a boost from Hillary Clinton, who is calling on the Federal Election Commission to give her permission to do so.On Thursday, Clinton wrote a letter to the FEC asking the commission to approve a request Liuba Grechen Shirley-the candidate challenging long-time incumbent King in New York's 2nd District-filed earlier this month, arguing a case for paying her babysitter just as she would any other member of her campaign staff. In her letter, Clinton points out that Grechen Shirley's case is "especially striking": Before she launched her bid for office in October 2017, Grechen Shirley was the primary caregiver of her two children, Mila, her three-year-old, and Nicolas, who will be two next week. It's only now that she's running a full-time campaign that Grechen Shirley requires some extra help, in the form of a babysitter who watches the children for a few hours every morning while she works from her home office." Read it here.

HAPPENING THIS MORNING - per a tipster: "Dozens of Uber and Lyft drivers will caravan to New York City Hall in a funeral processional, calling on the city to Bury the Bill. The processional will begin at 8 a.m."


SPOTTED: Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) riding in a morning spin class on Sunday at Election Cycle DC, a new bipartisan politically-themed spin studio on H Street NE - pic with owner Candice Geller

MAKING MOVES -- Brendan Welch is now communications director for Antonio Delgado's campaign in NY-19. He previously was press secretary for Rep. Cheri Bustos (D-Ill.).

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Tina Flournoy ... Anastasia Economides ... Sophia Kim, FDNY deputy press secretary, is 26 (h/t Ben Chang) ... Matt Segneri ... Kent Sopris, director of the NYSDOT's public transportation bureau ... Michelle Hook, spokeswoman for the Millennium pipeline ... former Business Council spokesman Matt Maguire ... Cutler, a spokesman for Erie County Medical Center.

WEEKEND WEDDINGS -- "Stephanie Rolin, Azi Paybarah" - N.Y. Times: "Dr. Rolin, 33, is a fourth-year psychiatry resident at New York State Psychiatric Institute in Manhattan. She graduated from McGill University, and received a master's degree in public health and a medical degree, with honors, from Dartmouth. ... Mr. Paybarah, 39, is a senior reporter in the New York bureau of Politico; he has been on sabbatical while completing a journalism fellowship at the University of Michigan. He graduated with honors from the University at Albany." With a pic ... Wedding Instapic

-- "Lauren Paris, Daniel Jorgenson": "The bride, 33, is the senior public relations events director and department manager in Manhattan for KCD Worldwide, a fashion public relations, production and digital agency. She graduated from Ohio University. ... The groom, who is 34 and known as Daniel, is the senior vice president and chief strategy officer for CareConnect Insurance, Northwell Health's insurance subsidiary in East Hills, N.Y. He graduated from Trinity University in San Antonio." With a pic

MORNING MEDIA, with POLITICO's Michael Calderone:

THE WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS' DINNER is having an existential crisis. Journalists quickly distanced themselves from Saturday night's dinner in response to comedian Michelle Wolf's biting routine- particularly the jokes directed at press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. WHCA president Margaret Talev told me Sunday morning that some of Wolf's remarks "made me uncomfortable and did not embody the spirit of the night."
- But what is the spirit of the night? The WHCA has framed the dinner as an opportunity to celebrate the First Amendment and give out journalism awards and scholarships. Yet the dinner has also become a spectacle, with news organizations jockeying for celebrities and a red carpet entrance. The perception of chumminess between the press and the government has been another long-running concern, promptingthe New York Times to sit it out.

- The Donald Trump era has only exacerbated existing tensions. His absence at the dinner creates a lopsided program in which a comedian roasts the press and president, who isn't on hand to give it back to the crowd. Meanwhile, Trump vilifies the press at a rallies by portraying the journalists in tuxes and gowns in Washington as out of touch. On Sunday, the Washington Post's Margaret Sullivan called for an end to the dinner, writing that the gala has "become close to suicidal for the press's credibility."

- In a Sunday email to WHCA members, Talev said she'd "heard from members expressing dismay with the entertainer's monologue and concerns about how it reflects on our mission." Talev wrote that she and SiriusXM's Olivier Knox, who takes over as president this summer, "recognize these concerns and are committed to hearing from members on [their] views on the format of the dinner going forward."

- Perhaps the dinner can be reimagined. There are ways to simply tweak the program, like swapping a comedian for a musical act. It can be scaled down to the size of other journalism awards events. Or, as critics argue, it can be scrapped completely. Knox told me at a post-WHCD brunch Sunday that he'll be gathering input from the organization's members, but only that morning had begun thinking about next year's event. So for now, it appears the show will go on.

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:

- "China's HNA Is in Talks With SL Green on Park Avenue Tower," by Bloomberg's Gillian Tan: "Less than a year after HNA Group Co. paid $2.21 billion for 245 Park Ave. -- a purchase that raised eyebrows for its near-record price -- the troubled Chinese conglomerate is in talks to sell the Manhattan office tower. SL Green Realty Corp., a lender to 245 Park, is in discussions with HNA to purchase the building, according to people with knowledge of the matter. In addition to a sale, another option being discussed is a debt recapitalization of the property, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private. The talks may not result in any deal being done. Spokesmen for HNA and New York-based SL Green declined to comment on the discussions. The price HNA paid for the building was one of the highest ever for a New York skyscraper, following a bidding war that also involved SL Green and RXR Realty LLC." Read the story here.

- Pro-development activists find voice in housing battles, by POLITICO's Janaki Chadha: A proposal for a massive downtown Brooklyn development that would include a huge high rise has been met with significant community opposition. That's pretty much expected. But this familiar scenario has an unusual twist - the project, known as 80 Flatbush, also has a good deal of grass-roots support, and backers are making some headway as the proposal for Boerum Hill makes its way through the city's land use review process. These 'Yes In My Backyard', or YIMBY, activists - part of a small but increasingly active pro-development group called Open New York - have taken to advocating their cause at hearings and community board meetings around the city. Read the story here.

You can find the free version of Sally's real estate newsletter here:


- New York City's Bar Association has joined with more than 30 other organizations calling for an end to New York's shielding of police disciplinary records.

- Cynthia Nixon's campaign has repeatedly denied the Daily News's requests for a copy of the extension she filed on her tax returns.

- Dan Loeb is stepping down as Success Academies chair.

- City Council members criticized Mayor de Blasio for his lack of action on property tax reform.

- New York City officials are hoping that whatever company succeeds the Weinstein Company will keep its offices in New York.

- Assemblyman Michael Blake is in arrears on his state taxes.

- Some progressive activists want to let blanks vote in the Democratic primary.

- Democrats who dominate the Assembly will again vote on the Child Victims Act this week.

#UpstateAmerica: Kate Welshofer responds to Alton Brown's culinary critique of Buffalo.

#ZooYork: Pizza Rat! The Sequel!

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

POLITICO's Ben White is bringing Morning Money to the Milken Institute Global Conference to provide coverage of the day's events and evening happenings. The newsletter starts on April 29th. Sign up to keep up with your daily conference coverage.

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