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By Azi Paybarah in Manhattan, Jimmy Vielkind in Albany, and Mike Allen in D.C., with Daniel Lippman
LATE -- "Gas explosion at NYC high school leaves several injured," by Post's Ben Feuerherd, C.J. Sullivan and Natalie Musumeci: "A thunderous gas explosion rocked a Manhattan high school building Thursday night, injuring three contractors - one critically - who were working to fix up the sixth floor science lab ... The blast happened at the former John F. Kennedy High School in Marble Hill at around 8:10 p.m. Mayor de Blasio, who showed up at the scene with FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro, called it a 'shocking scene.' ... The explosion ripped through the fourth, fifth and sixth floors, blowing out windows and causing extensive damage." http://bit.ly/1hPKFiR
-- The mayor described "serious damage" on scene: http://bit.ly/1J94WGN
TEAR THEM DOWN? -- Bratton, de Blasio consider eliminating Times Square pedestrian plazas -- POLITICO New York's Laura Nahmias and Azi Paybarah: "I'd prefer to just dig the whole damn thing up and put it back the way it was," Bratton told 1010 WINS. "The activity is not occurring anywhere else in the area." Mayor Bill de Blasio confirmed that he and Bratton had discussed the possibility of getting rid of the plazas, which were a signature achievement of former mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration. De Blasio said that the option will be considered by a task force convened to study ways to legally ban topless women from soliciting money in Times Square. "Commissioner Bratton and I have talked about that option," de Blasio said when asked about Bratton's comments at an unrelated press conference in Queens on Thursday. "We're going to to look at what the pros and cons could be" of eliminating the plazas, de Blasio said. http://politi.co/1JtZO5y
-- 'Hustlers' vs pedestrians: "The mayor's comments immediately rippled around the city's civic class, drawing concern from elected officials and advocates alike. 'I'm, like, reeling right now,' said Paul Steely White, the executive director of Transportation Alternatives, an advocacy group for pedestrian and cycling safety. The comments were particularly vexing, Mr. White said, because the plazas have been credited with reducing pedestrian injuries in an area teeming with visitors. Mr. de Blasio has promoted traffic safety as a hallmark of his administration. 'There's challenges with hustlers and so forth,' Mr. White said, 'but that's no reason to expose pedestrians to the danger that we had before.'" Times' Michael Grynbaum and Matt Flegenheimer: http://nyti.ms/1UWtf2f
-- FLASHBACK: In August 2013, when he was a candidate in the Democratic primary for mayor, he praised the plazas, specifically those in Times Square and Herald Square, in a candidate interview with the New York Times. But by October of that year, having won the primary, he'd changed his mind. POLITICO New York's Dana Rubinstein: http://politi.co/1Lnt6TP
-- Timetable: "[T]he mayor acknowledges that because both public toplessness and panhandling are legal in New York, the city's immediate recourse is limited. He has suggested that because the women are engaging in a business transaction, they should be subject to city regulation, so he commissioned a task force ... The task force is to make recommendations by Oct. 1." -- AP's Jonathan Lemire: http://bit.ly/1htPYEC
MARK-VIVERITO -- TOPLESS PANHANDLERS NOT A SERIOUS ISSUE: The speaker appears to disagree with Mayor Bill de Blasio over the threat posed by topless women soliciting money around Times Square. Robin Levine, a spokeswoman for Mark-Viverito, said "there are many, many more serious issues facing New York City which deserve our immediate attention and this is not one of them." Earlier this week, de Blasio said he would aggressively deal with what he considers a quality-of-life problem in Times Square, and today he said he would form a task force to study the issue and the possibility of eliminating the pedestrian plazas in Times Square altogether. Mark-Viverito disagreed with that idea as well. -- Gloria
-- Council's role: "Mr. de Blasio and his staff emphasized the plaza could stay, and a City Hall spokeswoman said the mayor wouldn't close it without council input. A City Hall spokeswoman said she didn't immediately know whether the de Blasio administration could reopen the plaza to vehicular traffic without council approval." WSJ's Josh Dawsey and Mara Gay: http://goo.gl/3cg0IC
-- WNYC headline: "City May Replace Times Square Plazas With Traffic": http://goo.gl/bC4ZEp
CUOMO'S PITCH TO GE-POLITICO New York's Jimmy Vielkind, in Utica: Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday declined to specify what incentives New York is offering General Electric to lure its headquarters back to the Empire State, other than to say he put "a lot of love" on the table. POLITICO New York first reported on Tuesday that Cuomo traveled to Fairfield, Connecticut, on July 30 to make a personal pitch to GE executives. A team from Georgia reportedly made a presentation that week as well, and officials from Florida, Ohio and Texas are also in touch with GE. Connecticut, too, apparently is preparing a new incentive package to keep GE. Executives at the company began weighing alternative sites after Governor Dannel Malloy pushed through a budget that included a "unitary tax" that would subject some of GE's out-of-state operations to the state's corporate tax. "I'd rather not talk about what I put on the table, because maybe another state would then hear that and discount what I put on the table," Cuomo told reporters after an event here.
"GE was in the state of New York at one time," Cuomo said in a speech. "I went to GE a few weeks ago, and I said basically, you were right. You were right. I understand why you left. I understand what we did with taxes. I understand what we did with regulations. But we have changed, and we are different than you remember us." http://politi.co/1U285NM
-- Meanwhile, in Connecticut, MSNBC host Joe Scarborough told the Connecticut Post's Neil Vigdor that he didn't think GE CEO Jeff Immelt (a neighbor in New Canaan) would pick the Empire State. "Jeff has been concerned about this business climate for 10 years ... I'm sure he's going to look around and do what's best for General Electric," Scarborough said. "I don't see GE leaving Connecticut to go to New York. I don't see Jeff going from the frying pan into the fire." http://bit.ly/1U28WhF
BIRTHDAYS: Councilwoman Debi Rose of Staten Island ... Gregory Basta, a deputy director at New York Communities for Change ... and Kathy Rojas , POLITICO production assistant -- Saturday: Lolia Jackson, Chief of staff to senior advisor to the Mayor for Recovery, Resiliency & Infrastructure ... Steve Kornacki, MSNBC host (and distinguished contributor to this publication) ... Michael Fragin, a radio host at Nachum Segal Network -- Sunday: Kim Moscaritolo, a former president of the Young Democrats of Manhattan ... and Michael Nussbaum, publisher of the Queens Tribune.
TABS -- Post: "TIMES UP! Bratton: 'Dig up' Times Sq." -- News: "Topless fix: No more per plaza: BACK TO THE FUTURE: Blaz eyes car return to Square; Bratton: 'Dig damn thing up'" -- amNY: "TIMES UP" -- Newsday: CARTER'S CANCER BATTLE" -- El Diario [translated]: Case of the naked girls will be seen by special team
FRONT PAGES -- NYT, 3-col. above the fold: "Sanders Draws Big Crowds to His 'Revolution'" -- WSJNY, 6-col. above the fold: "Using Traffic to Dive Out the Panhandlers"
LOCAL -- Bayside Times: "Life of Frank Skala remembered" -- Queens Tribune: "LEGIONNAIRES WAS HERE" -- Southeast Queens Press: "De Blasio CALLS FOR ACTION: Can 'NYC SAFE' help those who need it most?" -- Queens Courier: "LOVE-LY DAY" -- Queens Chronicle, mid: "RIPPED APART: Pols blast plan to expand trash train program" -- Queens Chronicle, central: "SQUEEZE ON IN: Delays, crowded train coming to the Queens Blvd. line" -- Queens Chronicle, northeast: "PEOPLE POWER PREVAILS: ACS drops Queens Village juvenile facility" -- Queens Chronicle, western: TO CLOSE OR NOT TO CLOSE? Debate continues on banning cars along Shore Boulevard"
-- Brooklyn Weekly: "Vagabonds find home in Ridge: Vagrants move into Leif Ericsson Park" -- Brooklyn Courier: "CITY PANS CONDO PLAN" -- Bay Ridge Courier: "DEATH BY POWERPOINT: CB10: Zoning proposal too confusing" -- Bronx Times: PB SWEATA OUT REPAIRS: Tenants endure an elector-less summer"
-- The Villager: "Gottlieb Gansevoort St. plan would gut landmark protections, critics say" -- Our Town: "FUNDING DEAL IN PLACE FOR ESPLANADE" -- Our Town Downtown: "LANDMARKS ASK FOR MORE DETAILS ON PIER 17 MALL"
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HURRY UP, BILL -- "Bill Clinton heckled by children on the golf course [for taking too long]," by Post's Mara Siegler: "The ex-president, who has started his two-week vacation in the Hamptons without wife Hillary ... sported neon pink sneakers and a matching hat at Montauk Downs State Park golf course Tuesday. He also played a round of mini-golf at Puff 'n' Putt with his niece and nephew, who looked around 8 and 10. Although they had 'a lot of Secret Service,'' in tow, Clinton took the time to talk to a vet and his children, ages 4, 9 and 11. But, 'One of the little kids didn't know who Clinton was and got impatient with his chat, saying, 'Come on, it's your turn.'" http://pge.sx/1J9yg2i
TROUBLE IN THE HOUSEHOLD -- "Daughter-in-Law of Senator Skelos Is Arrested in Domestic Dispute on Long Island," by Times' William K. Rashbaum: "Adam B. Skelos's wife, Ann Marie Skelos, was arrested on Wednesday night outside the couple's home in Rockville Centre, on Long Island, after an argument she had with her nephew ... Ms. Skelos, 33, a lawyer, was charged with criminal mischief and attempted criminal mischief - both misdemeanors - for removing her nephew's glasses from his face and breaking them during the argument." http://nyti.ms/1hPKHXS
NO SANCTIONS FOR DISTRICTS WITH HIGH OPT OUT RATES-Times' Kate Taylor: "School districts will not be penalized for having large numbers of students refuse to sit for the New York State standardized tests this year, education officials said on Thursday, ending months of uncertainty over how they would respond to a growing anti-testing movement. For months, state and federal officials warned that districts that fell below a 95 percent participation rate might lose federal funds, while the leaders of the so-called opt-out movement have dismissed these as empty threats. On Thursday, Merryl H. Tisch, said in a phone interview that the federal Education Department informed the state's Education Department 'a couple of weeks ago' that it was leaving any decision about financial penalties to the state. And Tisch, whose board oversees the state agency and appoints the commissioner, said the state did not plan to withhold money from districts." http://nyti.ms/1TWOwvF
-- Cuomo in Utica: "I don't believe there are sanctions for opt outs. And parents, at the end of the day, parents are in charge and parents make the decisions." http://politi.co/1MGHSW6
MEDIA MORNING -- "[Mort] Zuckerman takes Daily News off the market," by Joe Pompeo: "In a memo to staffers ... the 78-year-old mogul wrote, 'I have met with several potential interested and well-intentioned suitors during this process. For a variety of reasons, I have decided to withdraw the Daily News from the market and have instructed our financial advisors to inform the suitors.' Presumably the News was not going to fetch the reported $150 to $200 million Zuckerman was said to be asking for the paper." http://politi.co/1fulcJQ
--"Top Bloomberg editor exits after Federal Reserve data flub," by Post's Kevin Dugan : "Chris Wellisz, a top Bloomberg editor who on Wednesday afternoon inadvertently broke an embargo of highly sensitive Federal Reserve data, left the company Thursday ... The 15-year veteran of the financial news giant had published a single headline about July Fed meeting information 24 minutes before a 2 p.m. 'embargo' agreement. ... Wellisz was a well-regarded team leader for US economic policy who started his Bloomberg career in Singapore and Japan ... Morale in the office is extremely low." http://bit.ly/1gZYx9k
HILLARYWATCH -- "Dozens of Clinton emails were classified from the start, U.S. rules suggest," by Reuters' Jonathan Allen: "While the department is now stamping a few dozen of the publicly released emails as 'Classified,' it stresses this is not evidence of rule-breaking. ... The new stamps indicate that some of Clinton's emails ... are filled with a type of information the U.S. government and the department's own regulations automatically deems classified from the get-go - regardless of whether it is already marked that way or not. In the small fraction of emails made public so far, Reuters has found at least 30 email threads from 2009, representing scores of individual emails, that include what the State Department's own 'Classified' stamps now identify as so-called 'foreign government information.' ... This sort of information, which the department says Clinton both sent and received in her emails, is the only kind that must be 'presumed' classified." http://reut.rs/1PpogDv
--"Democratic rep: Clinton email flap 'could upend her campaign,'" by Politico's Nick Gass: "Kentucky Rep. John Yarmuth[:] said ... 'I just never feel I have a grasp of what the facts are ... "Clearly, she has handled it poorly from the first day. And, there's the appearance of dishonesty, if it's not dishonest.' ... If Clinton "intentionally misled or lied to the American people' and knowingly broke federal rules by transmitting classified information through her private email server, 'then I think she has disqualified herself,'" said Yarmuth, the only Democrat in the Bluegrass State's delegation." http://politi.co/1J99sr7
TWEET DU JOUR -- Maggie Haberman @maggieNYT: "Clinton has done one national interview since her shift to national interviews. It was over six weeks ago."
FIRST LOOK - New Hillary video - SCANDAL FACT CHECK : "The Clinton campaign will release this new video this morning featuring National Press Secretary Brian Fallon responding to the latest GOP lies and misdirection about Hillary Clinton's emails. In the video, Fallon corrects false tweets from partisan and non-partisan sources. The campaign continues to step up our efforts to provide important education about Hillary Clinton's emails and frame Republicans as more focused on partisan investigations like this one than getting anything done." 2.5 min. video http://bit.ly/1PDbO3F
REAL ESTATE -- DOWN TO THE WIRE-"City ended talks on Willets Point appeal just minutes before deadline," by POLITICO's Sally Goldenberg: "The de Blasio administration's decision to part company with one of the city's most prominent developers over the Willets Point redevelopment project came down to the wire, a top city official said Thursday. At 1:58 p.m. Wednesday, just two minutes before paperwork was due in a state appellate court, City Hall decided to walk away from Related Companies and Sterling Equities, known jointly as the Queens Development Group, said Alicia Glen, deputy mayor for housing and economic development." http://politi.co/1Jni6ng
BRIDGE TOO FAR?-"City Hall responds cautiously to mega-project for Long Island City," by POLITICO New York's Sally Goldenberg: "The de Blasio administration offered a measured critique of a bold plan to build a multi-million-square-foot mixed-use development in Long Island City, coupled with a foot bridge to Roosevelt Island. During an interview on Thursday, Alicia Glen, the deputy mayor for housing and economic development, called the plan 'exciting,' but cautioned it is 'a little out of scale.'" http://politi.co/1PCNqPV
DIAMOND IN THE ROUGH-"A new incarnation for NYC's old Verizon building," by WSJ's Anthony Paletta: "After decades suffering from its location, the building at 100 Barclay St. is finally benefiting from it. The 32-story structure, designed by the architect Ralph Walker and completed in 1927, for decades housed the New York Telephone Co., then its Verizon offspring. Over the years it was overshadowed by the massive World Trade Center towers that grew up next door, only to be buffeted by the debris of their collapse and bypassed by the temporary Vesey Street pedestrian bridge that resulted. ... Today, borne on more felicitous tides ... the landmarked art deco jewel, wedged between 7 World Trade Center and West Street, is receiving a renovation that makes amends for the past." http://on.wsj.com/1Nye9hp
THE HOME TEAMS -- POLITICO New York's Howard Megdal: The day ahead: The Yankees host the Indians again. The Mets are in Colorado to face Jose Reyes and the Rockies. The Liberty host the Dream.
#UpstateAmerica: A couple from suburban Syracuse moved to Florida after a homeowners association sued them for parking a pickup truck in their driveway. http://bit.ly/1U2bQmg
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