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POLITICO New York Playbook, presented by Nuclear Matters: EX-LEADER trials -- DE BLASIO loses white voters -- CUOMO's Statue of Liberty play

11/18/2015 06:45 AM EDT

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

PROSECUTORS: SKELOS USED 'STRONG-ARM' TACTICS-POLITICO New York's Josefa Velasquez: In their opening statement in the corruption trial of state Senator Dean Skelos on Tuesday, federal prosecutors painted a picture of a powerful politician who abused his office to benefit his son and co-defendant, Adam. For nearly an hour, assistant U.S. attorney Tatiana Martins told a jury of nine women and three men of the power Dean Skelos, the former senate majority leader, had amassed in Albany and how he used his position to "strong-arm businesses that depended on his vote in the Senate." "This case is the age-old tale of abuse of political power," Martins said in her opening remarks, adding that the senator would extract payments from companies with business before the state or they would "fear his wrath." Martins said the elder Skelos targeted companies that had an interest in pending legislation or in laws coming up for renewal as a way to help his now 33-year-old son make money off of no-show jobs. "Should a politician and his family be entitled to more just because they have power?" she said. Those companies, prosecutors say, include real estate giant Glenwood Management, AbTech Industries, an environmental technology company, and Physicians Reciprocal Insurers, a medical malpractice firm.

Chris Curcio, the vice president of sales and marketing at PRI, took the stand Tuesday evening and said that Adam Skelos rarely showed up to work, where he was making an annual salary of $78,000 with health benefits, and didn't have a license to sell malpractice insurance. When confronted about his work schedule, the younger Skelos, according to Curcio, said that his father had made an arrangement with Anthony Bonomo, the company's CEO and one of the state's most prolific donors.

SHRUGGING OFF SILVER'S CASE - POLITICO New York's Jimmy Vielkind: Members of the State Assembly aren't planning any drastic changes to their normal routines once jurors decide the fate of their former leader, Sheldon Silver. "I think whatever happens as a result of his trial is not relevant," Carl Heastie, Silver's successor as speaker, told reporters Monday after a party conference at the Capitol. "If you have outside income, you should disclose it and there should be no conflicts of interest between your outside income and your job as a legislator."

Many members privately acknowledged that Silver's actions were unseemly, if not illegal outright. But Silver's focus was never on anything but a close toeing of the legal line. "He was so committed to the letter of the law that sometimes he missed the spirit of it. Part of it is his legal training, part of it is just him," said one senior Democrat in the Assembly, speaking on background. "Something may be bad politics, it may be bad judgment, but the question for him was always whether it was against the letter of the law."

-- At Silver's trial , prosecutors played recordings of the legislator's voice and sought information about exactly how he disclosed his outside legal fees on required forms.

'NO AUTHORITY' TO REJECT SYRIAN REFUGEES-Gannett's Jon Campbell: "Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke out Tuesday against Republican governors seeking to block Syrian refugees in their states, questioning their authority to do so and accusing them of making a 'pure political statement.' In the wake of the attacks on Paris last week, at least 24 governors across the country -- all but one belonging to the GOP -- have said they will keep Syrian refugees from entering their states, citing concerns about terrorism and a Syrian passport found on one of the attackers. Speaking to students Tuesday at the Harvard Kennedy School, Cuomo, a Democrat, said states have 'no authority to turn (refugees) down ... How? How? Where does it say in the state constitution you can refuse a person placed by the federal government?' Cuomo said. 'What -- are you going to have your militia fight the federal government at the borders of your state? It's a pure political statement. It's up to the federal government.'"

-- Here's Cuomo's speech to students at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

-- Senate Republicans called for a moratorium on Syrian immigration.

-- In New Jersey, Gov. Chris Christie lined up against the federal government and directed state agencies not to participate in resettlement.

-- Obama's response: "They're scared of widows and orphans coming into the United States of America as part of our tradition of compassion," Obama said in Manila before the start of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit. "First, they were worried the press was too tough on them in the debates. Now they're worried about 3-year old orphans. That doesn't sound very tough to me."

DE BLASIO TO ANNOUNCE PLAN FOR 15,000 HOUSING UNITS FOR HOMELESS -POLITICO New York's Laura Nahmias: Mayor Bill de Blasio's administration is unveiling a plan to create 15,000 new units of supportive housing for homeless individuals and victims of domestic violence over the next 15 years. The plan, which will cost $2.6 billion and which will be funded through a combination of city money, low-income housing tax credits and private funding sources, means that de Blasio is effectively walking away from the New York / New York housing plans, which were repeated agreements between the city and state to share funding for new supportive housing units. This time, the plan is being announced by the city alone.

But de Blasio and other elected officials are expected on Wednesday to call for Governor Andrew Cuomo to step up and commit to creating an additional 15,000 units at the state level.

-- In a letter sent to Cuomo late last week, a bipartisan group of 26 state senators led by Brooklyn Republican Senator Marty Golden called on the governor to commit to 35,000 supportive housing units for the homeless and victims of domestic violence over the next decade.

WHITE FLIGHT -- "Mayor de Blasio Has Lost Support of White New Yorkers, Poll Finds" -- NYT's Michael Grynbaum, Alex Burns and Dalia Sussman: NYC is "a city that is deeply divided about his ability to lead, with his efforts to create a more liberal New York overshadowed by growing worries about homelessness and crime, a new poll finds. ... Just 28 percent of white New Yorkers approve of the mayor's performance, and 59 percent now disapprove, up sharply from the start of his term ... Mr. de Blasio's support among white residents has descended to a level so dismal that it has challenged a core assumption of his political strategy: that in a diversifying city, moderate white voters had lost much of their electoral influence, and that the mayor's path to re-election runs through nonwhite communities.

-- Course correction: "The mayor's advisers are now making concerted efforts to recapture the support - or, at least, tamp down the opposition - of a group that, aides fear, could rally around a potential challenger in 2017. In recent weeks, Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, has paved roads on Staten Island; toughened his remarks on crime; become a regular presence on the radio station WNYC, a gathering point for white liberal New York; and scrapped his acidic criticism of his predecessor, former Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg."

-- The Numbers: De Blasio's job approval rating: 51-36% among Democrats; 28-59% among whites; 57-25 among blacks; 54-26 among Hispanics; Right direction / Wrong direction: 44-50% among Democrats; 31-62% among whites; 45-46% among blacks; 41-51% among Hispanics:

News' lede: "a steep dip in his approval rating and has failed to bridge the persistent race gap..."

Post headline: "Most NYers think de Blasio is clueless on homeless crisis"

-- Warning shot: BDB's job approval rating among whites, in the Oct. 29 Quinnipiac poll: 28-65%:

-- Flashback, WSJ, June 2015: "New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio Is Unpopular With White Voters":

-- Flashback, NYT, April 2000: "Giuliani's standing with black voters, which has never been strong, is weaker than ever; the number of New York City black voters who said they approved of Mr. Giuliani's job rating was so low as to be virtually unmeasurable."

WELCOME TO THE BEAT: The New York Times announced that Vivian H. Yee will be joining its Albany bureau as the next legislative session gets underway, taking Thomas Kaplan's slot after he moved to the paper's 2016 coverage team. Yee has previously covered Brooklyn, and is on Twitter @VivianHYee.

TABS -- Post: "CHARLIE: I PAID $10M BLACKMAIL: Sheen's HIV confession" -- News: "NRA's SICK JIHAD: Over 2,000 suspects on terror watch list have legally bought firearms in the U.S. because gun nuts are blocking law that would end this madness" -- amNY: "PARADE PATROL: Unprecedented security at Thanksgiving Day bash"

-- Metro: "GETTING SYR-IOUS: After dodging the question for two days, Mayor Bill de Blasio said he would welcome Syrian refugees here, echoing statements he made before the Paris terror attacks" -- Newsday: "SKELOS & SON" -- Hamodia: "Jonathan Pollard Scheduled To Be Paroled on Friday" and "Despite Paris Terror, de Blasio Says NYC Will Welcome Refugees" -- El Diario [translated]: They forgive misdemeanors in Manhattan

FRONT PAGES -- NYT, 1-col. below the fold: "New Poll Shows Mayor Has Lost Whites' Support" -- WSJNY, 4-col. above the fold: "A $3 Billion Housing Plan"

BIRTHDAYS: Fox news anchor Megyn Kelly is 44 ... Brooklyn-born rapper Fabolous is 37 ... Also celebrating: Tom Namako, the deputy news editor at BuzzFeed (formerly of the Wall Street Journal and New York Post) ... Rita Cosby, television host and WABC radio host ... and yesterday: Michael Armstrong, comms. director for Assemblywoman Margaret Markey of Queens.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "My clients are little people who have nothing to do with the political life." -- former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver, via POLITICO New York's Colby Hamilton, covering Silver's corruption trial:

BONUS QUOTE OF THE DAY: "One of the state leaders was indicted because of one of the laws that I passed that required more disclosure." -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to Harvard students, via NYPost's Kirstan Conley:

VIDEO OF THE DAY: Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, doing the "stanky leg" dance, to help raise awareness about arts education, via Brooklyn magazine:

FLASHBACK: State Senator Kevin Parker, breakdancing:

FLASHBACK: Public Advocate Letitia James, ballroom dancing:

ON AIR: First Lady Chirlane McCray appears on WNYC's "Brian Lehrer Show" this morning.

** A Message from Nuclear Matters: Providing more than 61 percent of New York's carbon-free electricity, nuclear energy plants play a vital role in achieving our clean-energy and carbon-reduction goals. New York's nuclear energy fleet supports about 18,000 jobs and provides $2.5 billion to the state's GDP. Learn more at **

EAT BEAT - "New Takeout Spot Offering 'Jewish Soul Food' To Go," by DNAinfo's Lisha Arino: "Kitty's a-Go-Go, an offshoot of speakeasy Kitty's Canteen on Stanton Street, will serve some of its sister restaurant's most popular 'Jewish soul food' dishes, like matzo meal fried chicken and 'bisgels,' a biscuit-bagel hybrid, alongside new menu items like a pastrami Rueben sandwich and catfish po' boy served on a housemade challah roll."

--"Michael Jordan's Steakhouse says bums are putting them out of business," by Post's Julia Marsh and Reuven Fenton: "The entryway to the Grand Central Terminal eatery is being overrun by bums, thanks to a long-term construction project on Vanderbilt Avenue that has created a festering enclave of vagrants, restaurant owner Matthew Glazier says in court papers. And business is so bad as a result that revenue has dropped 24 percent, according to the suit against his landlord, the MTA."

PAGE SIX, teased on Post cover: "VIP battle over table at Rao's," by Ian Mohr: "A Charity supporter says celebrity private eye Bo Dietl sold him his coveted Thursday night table at Rao's - then refused to honor the reservation and threatened to punch him. But ­Dietl fired back, 'Meanies can't have my table!' The trouble started when National Securities broker Christopher Bond won a reservation for eight at Rao's for $6,000 at a Long Island gala for a children's hospital in March."

SHAKEUP AT WILSON ELSER - Albany Business Review's Marie French: "Three partners at the biggest lobbying firm in Albany have struck out on their own to create a new law firm focused on government relations. Cynthia Shenker, Theresa Russo and Douglas Clark are the founding partners of Shenker, Russo & Clark. All of them left Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker, where they were partners... The new lobbying firm rents offices on State Street. Chief operating officer Richard Lauricella said the company currently has four other employees besides the three founding partners. At least two new attorneys - a partner and another associate - are likely to join by the end of the year, he said. Shenker, Russo & Clark's clients that came with the partners include Albany Medical Center, the Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association and St. Mary's Healthcare System for Children, Lauricella said."

-- Wilson Elser hired John Jay Bove, a former staffer for state Sens. Owen Johnson and Simcha Felder, will be a partner, and Kevin M. Bronner Jr., who has worked for the Senate, the Department of Taxation and Finance, and the Business Council of New York State, will be a government affairs specialist.

-- Statewide Public Affairs announced Monday that Jim Quent , previously with Mercury, would enter into partnership with the firm and be involved with an expansion into New York City.

TRANSPO BEAT -- New President of NYC Transit -- Times' Emma Fitzsimmons: "Veronique Hakim, the head of New Jersey Transit, is leaving the agency to lead New York City Transit as the subway system struggles with chronic delays brought on by booming ridership and aging infrastructure. Ms. Hakim will become president of the agency that operates the city's buses and subways and is part of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. She spent more than two decades at the authority before going to New Jersey, first as head of the turnpike authority and then as executive director of New Jersey Transit for the last year and a half.

"Ms. Hakim, 55, who is called Ronnie, will start at New York City Transit on Dec. 28. She will replace James L. Ferrara, who had been interim president of the agency since Carmen Bianco retired in August ... At New York's Metropolitan Transportation Authority, she was special counsel at New York City Transit and was executive vice president at M.T.A. Capital Construction, which oversees major projects like the Second Avenue subway line."

SCHOOL SAFETY -- "Calls mount to remove metal detectors from NYC schools" -- A.P.'s Jonathan Lemire: "'Making students have to go through metal detectors to go to school sends a terrible message to students about where they are headed and how they are viewed,' said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York City Civil Liberties Union. ... Some parent groups and education activists have appealed to Mayor Bill de Blasio to eliminate or reduce the use of metal detectors, noting almost half of black students are scanned daily, while only 14 percent of white students are. ... A panel convened by City Hall comprising criminal justice and education experts recommended this year that some detectors be removed. A Manhattan education council urged their elimination, and several online petitions support the cause. But education officials say there are currently no plans for substantive changes."

ENCRYPTION ASSISTANCE -- NYPD turns to lawmakers -- POLITICO New York's Azi Paybarah: Police commissioner Bill Bratton said he wants Senators Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand to help him persuade technology companies to stop creating encrypted phones and apps that are impenetrable to law enforcement - a tool he said may have enabled terrorists to plot the deadly attacks in Paris on Friday. Bratton said he wants to work with lawmakers to see if there is "some way we can find common ground with the manufacturers to meet our needs, while at the same time, responding to some of their needs to stay competitive and meet public demand."

-- News editorial: "Congress must bar major technology companies from building devices that are entirely closed to law enforcement agencies bearing search warrants."

-- NYT editorial: "[R]equiring that companies build such back doors into their devices and software could make those systems much more vulnerable to hacking by criminals and spies."

HILLARYWATCH -- LINGO -- Anne Rumsey Gearan @agearan : "A change at the @washingtonpost copy desk today: 'Per the Clinton campaign, the preferred first reference' is 'Hillary Clinton.' No Rodham."

REAL ESTATE -- SCHNEIDERMAN INVESTIGATING ABYSSINIAN DEVELOPMENT CORP. -Daily News' Juan Gonzalez: "The problems keep mounting for the Rev. Calvin Butts, one of the city's most influential black leaders. State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has requested information from city officials about Abyssinian Development Corp., the financially troubled nonprofit run by Butts. The request to the Mayor's Office of Contract Services was submitted last month, two government sources told the Daily News. A spokesman for Schneiderman declined to comment.

In September, The News reported the de Blasio administration had suddenly canceled $3.1 million in city contracts to Abyssinian Development - Harlem's largest provider of affordable housing and social services - after the group failed to file required annual tax forms and independent audits for the past three years."

"....Meanwhile, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has called an emergency community meeting for Wednesday night in East Harlem to protest the shuttering of that neighborhood's largest supermarket, the Pathmark at 125th St. and Lexington Ave.Mark-Viverito is still fuming over Butts' decision in April 2014 to sell the land under the Pathmark, which Abyssinian Development partly owned, for $39 million to one of New York's biggest real estate firms, Extell Development Co. Butts did so without any prior notice to the community.Two weeks ago, Extell bought the Pathmark lease from the bankrupt A&P company for $21 million and now wants the city to rezone the site so Extell can build high-rise luxury units. But that could mean the Pathmark site could remain an empty hulk for the next couple of years."

ANTI-AIRBNB ADS LAUNCHING -- News' Jennifer Fermino: "The anti-Airbnb coalition that includes unions and affordable housing advocates is launching ads accusing the company of exploiting blacks to promote its business. The 30-second ad - paid for by the Share Better coalition - will begin appearing on NY1 and on websites Thursday. It consists of snippets from the company's recent City Council appearance to discuss a bill that would fine illegal hotel operators who use the site as much as $50,000."

DEEP DIVE - "This is the story of one block in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn" - New York Mag: "Go door to door, meet the neighbors, watch prices dip and soar, learn how historical forces shape a single street-and also, how to play skully."

THE HOME TEAMS -- POLITICO New York's Howard Megdal: Knicks 102, Hornets 94: "Porzingis! Porzingis! Porzingis!" roared the crowd. The precocious rookie Kristaps Porzingis stayed out of foul trouble, scored 29 points and added 11 rebounds. He is living up to the hype so far. To call him a fan favorite is an understatement right now.

-- Nets 90, Hawks 88: A pair of free throws from Thaddeus Young gave the Nets their second victory, and raises questions about the Hawks, frankly.

-- The day ahead: the Nets go to Charlotte to face the Porzingis-vanquished Hornets.

#UpstateAmerica: Saratoga County wants to be featured on New York's new quarter.

** A Message from Nuclear Matters: Some of America's existing nuclear energy plants face early closure due to current economic and policy conditions. Providing more than 62% of America's carbon-free electricity, existing, state-of-the-art nuclear energy plants play a vital role in achieving our clean-energy and carbon-reduction goals.

In New York, nuclear energy plants provide 31 percent of the state's electricity and 61 percent of our carbon-free electricity. The existing nuclear energy plants in New York also support about 18,000 jobs and provide $2.5 billion to the state's GDP.

If we want to keep New York working, we need policies that will keep New York's state-of-the-art nuclear energy plants working for all of us. Join us at **

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

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