Sunday, May 14, 2017

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deB Bus Owners Bribes Continues for 3 More Years
End de Blasio's giveaway to bus companies (NYP) Last month, the de Blasio administration extended a city program that has been eroding savings gained through a competitive-bidding process and undermining the integrity of the city’s contracting system. The program was bad policy from the outset, but it was intended to last only one year. It’s now been extended for a third year. The City Council should defund it in the upcoming budget negotiations.  The de Blasio team conceived of the School Bus Grant Program as a one-year workaround to overcome its objections to competitively bid contracts awarded to school-bus transportation companies by the Bloomberg administration. Mayor de Blasio criticized his predecessor for driving too hard a bargain on behalf of taxpayers and, rather than wait to negotiate a new set of contracts, he chose to give the companies grants to increase employee wages and benefits.  The Bloomberg folks started a process in 2012 to re-bid school-bus transportation contracts that were costing the city more than $1 billion annually. The contracts had historically included employee protections for seniority and pay, but a 2011 legal decision ruled those protections illegal. Re-bidding the contracts without those provisions injected new competition into the process and saved the city more than $400 million.  The grants effectively invalidated a competitive-bidding process that awards contracts to the lowest responsible bidder. They also increased city costs without any additional benefit to taxpayers. In addition, the program set a troublesome precedent for other vendors that provide services to the city and might seek similar enhancements to their already agreed-upon contracts.  After a failed attempt to pass state legislation reinstating employee protections, the de Blasio regime has now extended the program for a third year at a projected cost of more than $30 million. This reinforces the status of this supplemental funding as a permanent entitlement, not a temporary bridge to new, more cost-effective, bus contracts.

Update on the Brooklyn DA Race 
NAACP leader stumps for formerprosecutor in race for Brooklyn district attorney (NYDN) * Working FamiliesParty endorses 'progressive choice' Eric Gonzalez for Brooklyn districtattorney (NYDN)  * The owner of two Brooklyn construction companies was charged with manslaughter for ignoring complaints about a poorly maintained retaining wall that collapsed at a work site in 2015, killing an 18-year-old laborer and injuring two others, The New York Times reports.

City Even Killing Affordable Housing in the Bronx Breaking Yankee Stadium Affordable Housing Deal by Schlein Who is Still A Bronx Shadow Boss
City backtracks on promise to build affordable housing units (NYP) The de Blasio administration is reneging on the city’s decade-old promise to replace parkland lost during the construction of the new Yankee Stadium in favor of a high-rise development.  The city’s Economic Development Corp. is pushing plans to build up to 1,045 units of market-rate and affordable housing as well as commercial space along a vacant four-acre lot on East 149th Street in The Bronx.  The area was long earmarked to be the last leg of the Mill Pond Park off the Harlem River.  Geoffrey Croft of the watchdog group NYC Park Advocates said the sleazy switcheroo “screams of Brooklyn Bridge Park all over again, where [some of the] waterfront parkland once promised to a neighborhood was taken away by government in favor of high-rise housing.”  * The de Blasio administration is reneging on the city’s decade-old promise to replace parkland lost during the construction of the new Yankee Stadium in favor of a high-rise development with 1,045 housing units, the Post reports. * Yankee Stadium Deal Stanley Schlein Rides Again | Village Voice * Bronx Lawyer Is a Power Behind Several Thrones - The New York Times * Bronx's Stanley Schlein Could Benefit From Carl Heastie Speakership ...

The Danny Farrell Era is Coming to A Close
The longtime head of the powerful Assembly Ways and Means Committee, Herman “Denny” Farrell, will not seek re-election in 2018, and it’s unclear whether the 85 year old will step down before his term is up, Ken Lovett writes in the Daily News.

Newsday to End NY's Voter Suppression Vote for A Constitutional Constitutional Convention in Nov.  Dem Senate Leader Stewart-Cousins Against Convention 
If state lawmakers refuse to make it easier to cast ballots and to run for office in New York, the re-energized public can get it done on its own – by voting in November for a constitutional convention, Newsday writes.   * Democratic lawmaker warns against convention to change N.Y. constitution (NYDN) State Senate Democratic Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins is the latest state leader opposing a push for a convention to make changes to the state constitution.  “While the intent of one may be good, the reality is much different,” Stewart-Cousins told the Daily News Monday. “In this dangerous era of Trump there is a concern that powerful corporate interests will try, and possibly succeed, in making fundamental changes to our State Constitution that are antithetical to our New York values.”  The Yonkers Democrat is the latest legislative leader to oppose the measure. Only Assembly GOP Minority Leader Brian Kolb backs a constitutional convention.  Every 20 years, including this year, New Yorkers are asked to vote in a public referendum whether to hold a constitutional convention.  The head of the state AFL-CIO, fearing potential anti-worker changes could be adopted, has said he is “adamantly” against a constitutional convention while a number of government reform groups support the idea as the best way to get needed ethics and other changes enacted.  Gov. Cuomo recently told the Daily News Editorial Board that he supports the idea in concept but fears it would be controlled by special interests groups.  Democratic activist and Effective New York founder Bill Samuels, who is funding an effort in support of a convention, recently called on Cuomo to take a position on the issue “without any equivocation.”

Will Anyone Explaine Why Everyone Around Mayor Sleaze Faces Charges But the Prosecutors Give Him A Pass?
When Will the Media Look At Why the Political System Will Re-Elect A Mayor Who Has Sold the City for Power?
A mayor sliding across the sleaze  (NYDN)   In just a few days, a guy who kicked big bucks to de Blasio’s operation in the hopes of winning favors from his administration will take the stand as the government’s star witness in its case against another guy.  That guy is on trial for the Ponzi scheme he allegedly ran, when he wasn’t also kicking big bucks to the de Blasio’s operation in the hopes of getting government favors.  Yet de Blasio looks like a solid bet to win reelection since prosecutors let him off the hook with a public scolding in March for his various sundry schemes.  Now that he’s not facing charges and his most potent potential rivals have ceded the field, the mayor seems undisturbed by the sleaze dripping everywhere in de Blasio’s New York.Like his donor turned federal witness, Jona Rechnitz, paying a hooker to entertain top cops as he joined them on a private flight to Vegas and Super Bowl party there. Hand-delivering $60,000 in a $820 Ferragamo bag to another sucker caught up in that Ponzi scheme, the powerful and now-disgraced corrections union boss who declared “it’s about time Norman Seabrook got paid” as he took that relative pittance in exchange for dumping $20 million of his members’ money into a failing hedge fund.  The head of that jails system, Joe Ponte, violating clear rules by using his city car for frequent trips to Maine — the sort of thing civil servants get fired for doing and a conflict of interest so severe that even the Department of Investigation led by de Blasio’s 2013 campaign treasurer called him out after the mayor tried to blame the “systemic” abuse on mistaken “guidance” from an unnamed official. The city okaying a luxury building to go up on the site of what had been a nursing home for AIDS patients. The city’s best-paid lobbyist — also a longtime confidant of and big donor to de Blasio — represented that group for a while, though he says he wasn’t involved in the deal.  And also says he wasn’t involved in the ceremony on the steps of City Hall last month where the mayor honored Dwight Gooden 31 years after his World Series win with the Mets, an event the city paid for even though it was, the New York Times reported, “conceived as a scene for a television series in development” produced by one of the same lobbyist’s clients. Last May, de Blasio promised to deliver a list of all the money his operations collected from people whose requests his administration then rejected. Months later, he backtracked, echoing Trump’s audit alibi for hiding his taxes by saying that list would have to wait until the various probes of his operation were done.  This April, after the probes were over and he’d wriggled off of the legal hook, de Blasio said there would be no list at all but just an Op-Ed “this month” detailing a few “examples.”  After that, it’ll be time for Mike Bloomberg’s advice to critics after he won reelection in 2005 and was presumably term-limited out: “They can boo me at parades.”

Judges Cannot Double Dip on Pension Pols Can 
Court bars judges from taking both salaries and pensions (NYP)

Charles Barron Where de Blasio Wants to Put Black People 

DEB Opposes Bill Limiting Noise Near Schools Sides With Developer Who Hired His Lawyer Who is the Lobbyist for the Developer 
De Blasio opposes bill limiting construction noise near schools, siding with building project backed by one his donors (NYDN) The bill is being pushed by parents at Public School 163 on the Upper West Side who are fighting a 20-story nursing home set to be built right next to their kids’ school.  The huge nursing home is backed by SEIU Local 1199, the health care workers union that has long supported de Blasio and wrote two $250,000 checks to his now defunct nonprofit Campaign for One New York.  Half of that money arrived shortly before de Blasio began siding with the nursing home builder against the interests of the parents, records show. Those donations were part of a year-long investigation by the Manhattan U.S. attorney that was closed last month. Prosecutors decided not to bring charges, but made a point of saying they were able to establish that de Blasio had solicited funds from entities doing business with City Hall and in some cases intervened on their behalf.  For the last three years, Local 1199 has been pushing for approval of the nursing home tower in an empty parking lot off W. 97th St. located just 30 feet from PS 163.  The developer is represented by the lobbyist law firm of Kramer Levin — the same firm that represented de Blasio personally during the investigations of the mayor’s fund-raising tactics.

The parents sued the city, contending that not enough had been done to protect the children and teachers from expected disruption caused by the project. De Blasio’s Law Department filed a “friend of the court” brief siding with the developers.  The parents won the first round in court in December 2015, but since then an appellate court sided with the city. The parents have moved to appeal to the state’s highest court.  Meanwhile, the parents also met in early 2014 with City Councilman Mark Levine (D-Manhattan) to get him to sponsor a bill restricting noise at construction sites within 50 feet of schools and hospitals to no more than 45 decibels.  The PS 163 parents “realized there is a citywide problem,” said parent Rene Kathawala, a lawyer and parent of two children at the school who led the lawsuit.  Levine filed the bill in 2014, and the Council’s Environmental Protection Committee held a July 2015 hearing. Doctors from the Children’s Environmental Health Center at Mount Sinai Hospital testified in favor of Levine’s bill, citing multiple studies that show that high levels of noise seriously undermine a child’s ability to learn. That included a World Health Organization recommendation that noise levels should not exceed 35 decibels on average “so students are able to hear and understand spoken messages in classrooms.”  But at the hearing, the bill was strenuously opposed by the de Blasio administration, the Real Estate Board of New York and the Building and Construction Trades Council. All contended it would add unnecessary costs to development and delay projects.
The Pay to Play Conflict of Interests of de Blasio'sCriminal Law Firm in the Federal and State Investigation That Also Lobby's Himfor Developers

Record Year for Lobbyists Even Before the the Manhattan DA and Fed Let de Blasio Lobbyists Off of Criminal Charges 4 Days After Bharara Was Fired
It’s A Good Time To Be A Lobbyist In NYC (Village Voice) Total compensation hit $95.4 million last year, up from $86 million in 2015 and far beyond the $62 million lobbyists took home in 2013, the last year Michael Bloomberg was in office. The winners so far have been those most closely tied to Mayor Bill de Blasio: James Capalino, an old friend linked to the Rivington House scandal, and Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, the law and lobbying firm which represented de Blasio during federal investigations into his fundraising tactics. (He was eventually cleared of all charges.)  Further down the list, but never too far, is Constantinople & Vallone, the government relations consulting firm co-founded by Peter Vallone Sr., the former Speaker of the City Council. The firm took in a little over $3 million in 2016, representing a wide range of clients including TD Bank, Walgreens, T-Mobile, and real estate developers like Alma Realty, who were initially tied to a proposed affordable housing development on the Queens waterfront.  Now one of their own is making the relatively rare move of trying to join the legislative body they lobby. Keith Powers, who until recently served as vice president at Constantinople & Vallone, is a top contender for an open City Council seat on the East Side of Manhattan. Powers, a Democratic district leader and longtime activist, worked for State Senator Liz Krueger, a prominent progressive in the area, and former assemblyman Jonathan Bing before joining Constantinople & Vallone in 2011.

Senate GOP Wants to Link Mayoral Control Extension of Mayoral Control of City Schools to Expansion of the Number of Charters Schools
State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said that renewal of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s control of city schools should be linked to an expansion of charter schools and also signaled the Senate needs more details on how the city spends state education dollars, the Daily News reports.* While New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña was in Albany this week, updating the state Legislature on the progress of the city’s public school system and making the case for Mayor Bill de Blasio’s continued control of city schools, The New York Times writes.  * Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie drew a line in the sand over mayoral control of city schools, saying the Assembly will not trade anything for its renewal after state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said he wants to link it to an expansion of charters, the Daily News writes. * John Flanagan stands up for New York City's kids (NYP)  The Post applauds state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan’s promise that he won’t extend mayoral control of New York City’s public schools unless the city’s charter schools get a fair shake, including the chance to keep growing. * Chancellor Praises de Blasio’s Education Gains as Debate to Control Schools Nears (NYT)

Education Update 
City still pays full salaries to two teachers in jail for crimes against students as NYC fails to fire bad educators (NYDN) * Manhattan school trashes all its textbooks (NYP) In a scene out of “Fahrenheit 451,” administrators at Life Sciences Secondary School have ordered all textbooks rounded up and removed — calling them “antiquated,” sources say.  Principal Kim Swanson and Assistant Principal Derek Premo, who launched the ban, “really frown upon the use of books,” an insider told The Post.  “They just took books that teachers have been using and not replaced anything.”  While the administrators tout “modern technology” over books, they have failed to provide the necessary equipment, the staffer said.   “Most classrooms have only two computers, and not all are hooked up to the Internet. Our hands are tied, and not having books has not helped the cause.” * Principal pulls school paper that critiques teachers’ performance (NYP)
de Blasio Fake News Inflated Grad Rates

Rivington Deed, CONY, Closed LICH Hospital Lobbyists "Investigation Over" Welcome Back Capalino @City Hall With 86 Mets
City Pays for Mets Moment, Guided by Firm With Troubled Tiesto de Blasio (NYT) The steps of City Hall had the look and feel of a celebratory moment in sports history three decades ago, with banners and bunting again marking an improbable, come-from-behind World Series victory by the New York Mets.  A sparse but enthusiastic crowd of several hundred city workers, tourists and passers-by gathered. And from a small stage set high for the cameras, Mayor Bill de Blasio offered Dwight Gooden — the former Mets pitcher known as Doc, whose battles with drug addiction caused him to miss the original festivities — a chance on Friday to relive the 1986 moment.  The city paid for the event, which had been conceived as a scene for a television series in development, produced by the sports radio host Amy Heart.  So how did Ms. Heart get the city not only to pay for the backdrop of a scene in a television pilot but also have the mayor take part? By enlisting the influential lobbying firm of James F. Capalino, a friend and longtime donor to Mr. de Blasio whose business skyrocketed with the mayor’s election.  More recently, Mr. Capalino’s name had been linked in the news media with questionable access to city officials and investigations into potential pay-to-play issues. Before the investigations came to light, Mr. Capalino bundled almost $45,000 for the mayor’s 2017 re-election campaign. His firm, Capalino & Company, donated to Mr. de Blasio’s political nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York, and the firm played an early role in what became a municipal fiasco surrounding the sale of the Rivington House nursing home to luxury developers, lobbying City Hall on behalf of the original owner, a nonprofit group.  In August, Mr. de Blasio said that while Mr. Capalino was “a friend, someone I talked to a lot over the years,” he had stopped communicating with him. “I do not have contact with him anymore,” Mr. de Blasio said at the time, “because of the atmosphere we’re in, and the ongoing investigations.”  Those state and federal investigations concluded last month with prosecutors harshly criticizing City Hall’s fund-raising activities but bringing no criminal charges.* Lobbyist James Capalino is back pulling strings at City Hall (NYP)  Welcome back — to that same old place that you laughed about: Mayor de Blasio’s lobbyist pal James Capalino is apparently again pulling strings at City Hall.  It turns out that last week’s heart-warming ceremony to honor the 1986 Mets was a Capalino production. The New York Times reports that the city-funded, de Blasio-emceed affair was done to provide footage for a TV project.  Yes, it was sweet to see troubled former Mets star Dwight Gooden attend a ceremony like the one he missed back when the team won the World Series. No doubt it will make for great television.  Throughout it all, Capalino was also one of the top fund-raisers for the mayor’s campaigns and his pocket nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York.  The linkage between donations and City Hall favors led to the months-long federal and state probes of de Blasio’s administration — during which Capalino and the mayor kept their distance.  But the prosecutors announced weeks ago that they couldn’t find enough evidence to make any charges stick, and that apparently reopened the influence door.  While de Blasio was handing Gooden a symbolic key to the city, Capalino was fingering the real thing.
@nahmias  Remember last month, when @NYCMayor said he'd write an op-ed about his donors, to be published "this month?" It's May now. No op-ed!

Another Real Estate Scandal for Capalino
De Blasio lobbyist tied to another real estate scandal (NYP) A lobbyist tied to the ​de Blasio administration’s Rivington House scandal helped a Soho developer win approval for a condo tower that will be 100 feet taller than zoning allows, a lawsuit charges.  James Capalino, a longtime supporter of Mayor​ de Blasio, was paid more than $100,000 to conduct “a lobbying campaign out of the public eye” for developer Murat Agirnasli, according to the suit by a rival developer. Agirnasli’s SoHo Broome Condos LLC wants to put a 25-story building with 54 luxury apartments and ground-level commercial space on the site of the former Our Lady of Vilnius Church at 568 Broome St.  The project would sit next to — and block the Hudson River views of — a 27-story, rental-apartment building under construction by developer Lou Madigan at 111 Varick St.  Madigan filed the Manhattan Supreme Court suit on behalf of 111 Varick St., alleging that the city Department of Buildings illegally let Agirnasli use a crescent of Port Authority-owned “green space” across from the church site to declare Broome a “wide street” under zoning law.  The move allegedly allowed Agirnasli to raise his project’s height from 185 feet to 287 feet.  Capalino spokesman James Yolles said, “Not only did the DOB issue a lawful determination, but it subsequently concurred with that initial approval in a review.”  Madigan’s suit seeks DOB records that it says will reveal that the “illegal” allowance was “granted at the behest of a well-connected lobbyist.”  Capalino’s lobbying firm has been the city’s top earner every year since de Blasio took office.  The firm donated $10,000 to de Blasio’s nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York, and Capalino raised nearly $45,000 for de Blasio’s re-election bid before the mayor last year announced he was no longer meeting with the lobbyist, citing “ongoing investigations” into pay-to-play schemes.
More on Lobbyists Capalino

Bronx DA Goes After A Cop That Ticketed Councilwoman for Using A Cell Phone While Driving
Bronx DA retaliating against cop for writing ticket to council pol: suit (NYP) A city cop says the Bronx DA is retaliating against her for going public about a ticket-fixing scandal.  NYPD Officer Michele Hernandez sued the city last year, claiming that police brass forced her to rip up a ticket she gave Bronx Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson for yapping on her cellphone while driving.  Hernandez has now amended her $35 million lawsuit to also accuse Bronx DA Darcel Clark and three staffers of misusing their authority to harass and intimidate her as a favor to Gibson — who chairs the council’s Public Safety Committee, which “has jurisdiction and budget control over the Bronx DA,” the suit notes. The DA’s harassment of Hernandez kicked off in March, when Darcel’s office contacted her union to inform them that she was under investigation, according to the lawsuit.  Hernandez said the DA failed to reach out to her.  DA staffers then demanded that Hernandez appear for questioning, according to the lawsuit. Again, they went behind her lawyer’s back, although this time they reached out to her directly through the NYPD, the lawsuit charges.  On April 25, Hernandez submitted to “testy” questioning about the ticket incident in their offices — but only out of fear she would otherwise be suspended from her job or be arrested, according to the lawsuit.  “This so-called investigation is in retaliation for police Officer Hernandez expressing her First Amendment right to expose public corruption involving these parties,” her lawyer, Eric Sanders, told The Post.  The Bronx DA’s Office declined to comment.  Hernandez’s initial Manhattan federal lawsuit claimed that after she stopped Gibson in March 2014, the councilwoman called Kevin Catalina, then-deputy inspector of the 44th Precinct, to intervene.  Catalina “begged” Hernandez to leave Gibson alone because the councilwoman “meets with the mayor and the police commissioner monthly in her role with the Public Safety Committee,” the lawsuit said.  After agreeing to “void” Gibson’s ticket, Hernandez was subjected to unfair assignments and discipline for her initial “passive” refusal, her lawsuit claimed.

The Cover Up of NYPD's Gun License Division Scandal 
Head of scandal-plagued NYPD division quietly retires
The former head of the NYPD’s scandal-plagued gun license division has quietly put in his retirement papers — taking a lucrative blue parachute out of the beleaguered department. Deputy Inspector..* Top cops who retired amid probe want vacation, overtimepay (NYP)

52 City Hospitals Flagged for High Patient-Infection Rates 
City hospitals are making people extremely sick (NYP) New York hospitals are making people sick at an alarming rate.  The state Health Department “flagged” 52 hospitals for patient-infection rates that greatly exceeded the state average — and 15 of them are in New York City, The Post has learned. And here’s a scary — and counterintuitive — fact: “The longer a person stays in the hospital, the higher the total risk of acquiring an infection,” the department says in a report on hospital-acquired infections based on 2015 figures.  Bacterial infections can be deadly because of a growing resistance to drugs, said former Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey, who is part of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths, an educational campaign.

Corrupt Silver's 2003 Landlord Loophole Law Still Screw Tenants With Rent Hikes and Tenants Out Push Gentrification
New York Landlords Exploit Loophole to Hike Rents DespiteFreeze (ProPublica)  Thanks to a 2003 state law, owners of rent-stabilized apartments can arbitrarily boost rents to a legal maximum that they set themselves. The tactic fosters gentrification, eviction and homelessness.  But for renters in almost 30 percent of the city’s 860,000 rent-stabilized apartments, the law’s protections against steep rent hikes have vanished thanks to a late-night loophole created by state lawmakers in 2003. The loophole involves a seeming benefit to tenants known as a “preferential rent” — a rent below the legal maximum allowed under rent stabilization.  ince ProPublica launched its “Rent Racket” reporting project in November 2015, tenants have been sharing leases, rent histories and stories of their experiences via an online reader survey. Preferential rents have emerged as their most common complaint. Some tenants provided records showing legal maximums that exceed $10,000, or rents that suddenly doubled to more than $7,000 when the preferential rate was revoked.  The complaints are particularly common in up-and-coming neighborhoods such as Crown Heights and Prospect Park South, where tenant advocates say preferential rents are being used as a tool to foster displacement and gentrification.  Landlords are supposed to set the maximum legal rents in accordance with the stabilization rules, which include allowances for renovations, annual rent hikes and other factors. They submit the maximum legal and preferential rents each year to New York State’s Division of Housing and Community Renewal.  But the division rarely checks to make sure the legal maximums are in compliance. When it supplies an apartment’s rent history to a tenant, it provides a disclaimer: “DHCR does not attest to the truthfulness of the owner’s statements or the legality of the rents reported in this document.”  That frees landlords to put down any figure they choose as the legal rent. Some owners submit maximums above $60,000 a month, ProPublica found. Most of these maximums may be unjustified, according to a court filing by state lawyers for the division’s Tenant Protection Unit. A 2014 lawsuit by the Rent Stabilization Association, the landlord group, sought to disband the unit, which can audit landlord records and seek penalties. The association argued that Gov. Andrew Cuomo lacked the authority to establish the unit, and challenged several amendments that strengthened state rent laws. * A rent hike hidden in N.Y. law: Hundreds of thousands ofNew Yorkers are at risk of getting hit hard (NYDN)

We are Shocked: de Blasio Bows to Developers Landlords Again 
De Blasio expresses 'regret' over co-op proposal (NYP) Co-op owners opposed to a city plan that would impose burdensome rules on their buildings are claiming a measure of victory after meeting with Mayor de Blasio.  The HDFC Coalition said on its Facebook page that de Blasio was willing to “pause” a proposal that would lead to “a ‘one-size-fits-all’ regulatory agreement” for certain co-ops.  A month after a Post report revealed the secret city plan, the group met with the mayor and administration official who “expressed regret” about how the proposal was initially done, according to an HDFC Coalition leader.  As The Post reported in February, the de Blasio administration wants co-op buildings in the Housing Development Fund Corp. program to agree to new rules that would force them to hire city-chosen monitors and set limits on sales prices. Buildings that don’t agree would lose their tax breaks, and co-ops that do would get a better break.

The Mayor Asked for Donations to Fix Flint Water Supply But Will Not Comment on Lead Levels in the City Schools?
FLINT, MI -- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray have started the "NYC Loves Flint" effort to urge residents of the Big Apple to aid two funds in water crisis relief efforts.   de Blasio and McCray, who also serves as Mayor's Fund Board chairwoman, are urging donations towards the United Way of Genesee County's Flint Water Fund and the Flint Child Health & Development Fund established at the Community Foundation of Greater Flint.  "While we need to hold people accountable for the terrible decisions that led to this disaster, that cannot be the only focus of our outrage," said McCray in a message on the city's       website.
 "The people of Flint are counting on us to turn our anger into ACTION. And that is exactly what we are doing today," she said. "Thanks to all of you, the people of Flint will receive some much-needed support."  The Flint Water Fund is being used to purchase water filters, replacement filters, and provide emergency support services and prevention effort, while The Flint Child Health & Development Fund aims to provide educational, health and nutritional aid to Flint children ages 0 to 6 suffering from lead exposure.(MLIVE 2/20/2016) * De Blasio won’t comment on high lead levels in city schools (NYP)

Cover-Up Lead in Schools Water Discovered A Year Ago One School Higher Then Flint 
According to an analysis of data from the New York City Department of Education, about one out of every 20 water taps in elementary schools has tested positive for elevated lead levels, the Post reports. * New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio refused to comment on a recent report that showed roughly one in 20 water taps in city elementary schools had elevated levels of lead, the New York Post writes.FLINT  Brooklyn school reports higher lead levels in water than Flint (NYP) * Students at P.S. 289 George V. Brower School in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, drank from a water fountain that was more contaminated than sources in Flint, Michigan, and contained 1,000 times the amount of lead permitted by federal safety regulations, the New York Post reports.  * City pre-K programs also have high lead count in drinking water (NYP) * DOE claims schools have never had a case of leadpoisoning (NYP)  But two experts said that state regulations require lead testing only for 1- and 2-year-olds, and that school-age children go largely unchecked.  “To hang your hat on that false logical narrative not only creates a false sense of security — it’s beyond irresponsible,” said Marc Edwards, a civil engineering professor at Virginia Tech.  Known for helping uncover the lead-contamination crisis in Flint, Mich., Edwards said it’s impossible for officials to gauge the situation without actually testing exposed kids.* New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene data shows about 7 percent of the city’s inspected universal, full-day pre-K programs operated by private groups have high lead levels in their water, the New York Post reports.

DEB Protects His Puppet Correction Commissioner Against DOI Report He Used His City Car Illegally for Out of State Trips 
De Blasio lets embattled DOC head keep job when others weren't so lucky (NYP) * During Rikers Upheaval, the ‘Prettiest Village in Maine’ Beckoned (NYT)  * New York City Department of Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte will pay the city back for thousands of dollars in out-of-state gas purchases and tolls he incurred while making several trips to his home state of Maine in 2016, Politico New York writes.

Jeff Thamkittikasem, one of New York City’s top jail officials, was busted for misusing a city car, an offense that was shrugged off by the mayor, and has contributed thousands of dollars to de Blasio’s mayoral campaigns, the Daily News reports.

A get-out-of-here card for jail boss Joseph Ponte (NYDN ED)  Two years ago, alarmed at violence spiraling out of control on Rikers Island, this Editorial Board called on Mayor de Blasio to fire Correction Commissioner Joe Ponte, writing:   “De Blasio is not in command on Rikers because Ponte is not in command on the scene.”  Who knew how literally true those words would prove to be? One kept taking personal trips even after suffering a $1,500 fine from the city Conflicts of Interest Board — issued because city rules incontrovertibly and justifiably forbid personal trips in city vehicles, as every employee is informed when they pick up their car keys.  Ponte and crew thought they’d found a loophole, claiming that a phone call here and email there while on the road while supposedly on “24-hour call” meant they were working all along.  A mayor’s job is to lead his administration. Yet de Blasio Friday rushed to Ponte’s defense, whatevering: “He was advised, he followed that guidance, that guidance was wrong.”  Nonsense, says DOI Commissioner Mark Peters, who rightly retorts that “City Hall harms government integrity by even trying” to defend such indefensible conduct.  To rephrase our previous take: “Ponte is in command because de Blasio is not.”

De Blasio’s obscene defense of Joe Ponte’s abuses (NYP Ed)  Now Mayor de Blasio’s own former campaign treasurer is calling out City Hall’s low ethical standards. Yes, Mark Peters now heads the city Department of Investigation, so he’s only doing his job. Still, it should’ve stung Friday when he slammed the mayor for his dismissive reaction to a blistering DOI report on the city Correction Department.  Peters’ agency found “systemic” misuse of city vehicles by Correction Commissioner Joseph Ponte and 20 other top officials, in clear violation of city rules, costing taxpayers thousands of dollars.  Ponte used the car to visit his family in Maine — so often that he was out of state for 90 days last year, including 35 workdays. (That’s seven full weeks.) Other officials used vehicles for shopping trips and casino jaunts.  But de Blasio said he couldn’t care less. First his spokesman put out a statement saying the mayor preferred to focus on reforms Ponte has enacted, “not the number of times the commissioner visited his family on weekends.”  Then de Blasio himself claimed Ponte was guilty only of having been given bad advice about city rules. Wrong, said Peters: “Our investigation conclusively demonstrated” that Ponte and the others received no such advice. In fact, said the DOI chief, a senior staffer had previously been fined for such behavior.  Added Peters: “There can be no defense of this behavior, and City Hall harms government integrity by even trying.” Wow!  The mayor apparently doesn’t care that Ponte & Co. claimed they were entitled to use their vehicles because they’re on 24-hour call — yet admitted that none of them ever responded to a single emergency while roaming around in their city cars.  Ponte alone was away for 27 inmate-on-inmate stabbings, three slashings of correction officers and an escaped prisoner — not to mention his ongoing overhaul of the department. If the mayor is this blasé about his commissioner being hundreds of miles away for a quarter of the year — on the taxpayers’ dime, to boot — then New York has a serious problem.  We’re glad to see at least one person at City Hall is willing to call him out on it.* Chaos at Rikers, but City Jails Chief Was Gone for 90 Days (NYT) De Blasio Blames Jails Chief’s Getaways on Bad Advice (NYT)  The mayor offered a familiar defense for Joseph Ponte’s use of a city-owned vehicle to travel beyond the five boroughs on 90 days last year: He was told it was O.K.* DOC Commissioner's wife was behind the wheel: neighbors (NYP)

DOI Peters Turns Against Mayor EXIT SOON?
De Blasio's biggest critic once worked on his campaign (NYP) When Mayor de Blasio appointed him as the government’s top investigator in 2014, there was good reason to think DOI Commissioner Mark Peters would end up as the mayor’s stooge.  After all, Peters had served as de Blasio’s campaign treasurer.  If anybody was going to expose the administration’s shortcomings, it sure wouldn’t be someone who helped put de Blasio into City Hall, argued the critics.   But over the past year, Peters has demonstrated that he’s his own man — producing scathing reports on life-and-death failings at the child-welfare agency and at the Housing Authority.  He’s also one of the few officials in the government willing to chastise City Hall, which he did Friday in extraordinary fashion after uncovering misconduct by the city’s jails chief.  When de Blasio took to the radio to defend his jails commissioner with flimsy excuses, Peters served up a blunt and unprecedented rebuke.  “There can be no defense of this behavior, and City Hall harms government integrity by even trying,” said Peters.  Mic drop, law-and-order style.  Peters, who previously ran for Brooklyn district attorney and who is likely to run for office again, would argue his objectivity was never in question.   But his reports — and his public statements — developed a sharper edge after de Blasio sided with former Police Commissioner Bill Bratton over a controversial June 2016 DOI report.  That report concluded that a decrease in quality-of-life summonses sparked no increase in felony crime between 2010 and 2015.  Bratton took the findings as an affront to his beloved policing tactic known as “broken windows” and ripped DOI’s report as “basically useless.”  Stuck in the middle, de Blasio sided with his police chief.  “The core findings, we don’t see merit in,” the mayor said.  The next month, DOI hammered City Hall for allowing a property it controlled to be flipped for a $72 million private profit. Peters even knocked the mayor’s lawyers for obstructing the investigation.   Far from being a stooge, Peters has become the strongest independent voices in the administration.

Will Schumer Stop the Escape From NY Trump Tax? Will the NYC Pensions Blow Up?
Trump'stax plan could have rich New Yorkers fleeing for Florida (NYP) “The taxpayers who really take it on the chin will be those in the same high-income brackets that are now subject to New York’s millionaire tax: single filers with incomes starting at $1 million and married-joint filers earning at least $2 million,” said the report, written by E.J. McMahon, the center’s research director.   McMahon said for a top bracket, multimillion-dollar earner, the net tax difference between New York City and Florida is now 7.7 percent of income.   If deductions for state and local taxes were eliminated, Gotham’s gilded would pay 12.7 percent more than Floridians. “That’s likely to induce many more affected New Yorkers to reconsider their residency status,” he said.* Defuse this city pension bomb  (NYDN Ed) E.J. McMohan NYC Pension Ticking Time Bomb
More on Escape From NYC

@PreetBharara  Citizens working together are more powerful than US Attorneys. And presidents
New York’s subway is struggling with old infrastructure and overcrowding. The M.T.A.’s failure to modernize its signal system is a crucial example.* As New York City’s subway faces a deepening crisis over delays, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority says that modernizing the signals is a top priority, but the rollout of a new signal network is unfolding at a glacial pace, The New York Times reports.   * Cuomo’s James A. Farley Post Office Building renovation is a step in the right direction, but he has brushed off more sweeping proposals that might tackle once and for all the whole panoply of problems that plague New York Penn Station, the Times writes.   * Penn Station faces long-term infrastructure upgrades, but its security needs are immediate, though political and financial complexities involved in wresting control away from Amtrak mean local and state officials have little choice but to work with federal officials, Newsday writes.  * The Metropolitan Transportation Authority routinely delays or skips maintenance on subway station escalators and elevators, according to an investigation by the New York City Comptroller’s office, The Wall Street Journal writes.  * Until the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s political overseers are willing to risk annoying the unions, ever-rising fares will do more to line employees’ pockets than to improve service, the Post writes.  * The MTA must ensure that their existing 248 elevators are working or, at a minimum, the MTA’s online listing of elevator status must be accurate and current so that no one in a wheelchair is left stranded on a subway platform, the Daily News writes.   * The next head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority must combat overtime costs and related work rules, which are often the third rail of public transit politics because they involve unions and bargaining, Newsday writes.  * 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.
Angry New Yorkers rally outside Gov. Cuomo’s office todemand better MTA service (NYDN)

de Blasio's Campaign Budget Balloons Without Additional Revnues or Fiscial Responsibility  
De Blasio’s $6B construction plan balloons budget to record high (NYP) de Blasio on Wednesday released an updated 10-year construction plan for the city that adds roughly $6 billion in new costs he described as “crucial” to maintaining the city’s infrastructure needs.  The proposed spending puts the capital budget at a record high $95.8 billion — up nearly 7 percent since it was set at the previous high of $89.6 billion in January.  New big-ticket items include a $1.9 billion subsidy to make 10,000 units in the mayor’s affordable-housing plan even cheaper, $300 million to renovate homeless shelters and $355 million for facade repairs at city public-housing developments.  Government watchdogs expressed concern that the budget added more than $700 million in new agency spending since January despite reduced tax-revenue projections from real-estate transactions and personal income taxes.  New spending items include $36 million for a plan to expand pre-K to 3-year-olds as well as funding to install air-conditioning units in thousands of public-school classrooms.  “This spending growth is not accompanied by any additional increase to the city’s budget reserves, and budget gaps projected in future years have grown,” said Citizens Budget Commission president Carol Kellermann.* De Blasio's latest budget blowout (NYP Ed) de Blasio’s $85 billion plan for the coming fiscal year does little to guard against the “risks and uncertainties” he acknowledges — namely, slower revenue growth and the chance of less federal aid.  And while he brags of having tucked away some $5 billion in reserves for a rainy day (the most ever, he says), it won’t likely be enough to cover the rising costs baked into his budget’s baseline, should the economy turn south or the feds cut aid. Or both.   Outlays in de Blasio’s new budget run nearly 18 percent over what his predecessor shelled out in his last spending plan. That includes a 2.2 percent bump just this year, overall, and a reckless 5.2 percent spike in city-funded spending.  Meanwhile, inflation since the end of the Bloomberg era totals just 5 percent.  And the outlays will only grow after the City Council adds its two cents (actually, more like 20 billion cents).  No wonder the Citizens Budget Comission blasted de Blasio’s plan: “In an atmosphere of political and economic uncertainty,” said CBC President Carol Kellermann, the budget should’ve “exhibited more spending restraint.” It doesn’t pair its higher outlays with “any additional increase” in city reserves, and it grows the gaps in future budgets.* Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday proposed an $84.9 billion operating budget for New York City that included new spending to provide legal services to immigrants, a nod to changing federal policy under President Donald Trump De Blasio Proposes $84 Billion Budget as Possible Federal Cuts Loom (NYT) * De Blasio also released an updated 10-year construction plan that adds roughly $6 billion in new costs, such as a subsidy to make affordable housing units even cheaper, and $300 million to renovate homeless shelters, the New York Post writes.  * De Blasio plays a dangerous game with New York City’s increasingly fragile budget, mistaking threats from Washington to deeply slash aid for a political mandate to spend, spend, spend like there’s no tomorrow, the Daily News writes.
Closing Hospitals,HHC, LICH

Nobody Connects the Mayor and His Loan Sharking Campaign Donor Rechnitz Corruption After The Bharara Firing Media Cover-Up 
Key witness in NYPD corruption probe was an alleged ‘loan shark’ (NYP) The government’s key witness in multiple corruption probes was a part-time “loan shark” who made money doling out predatory loans, court documents alleged on Tuesday.  Jona Rechnitz — the government’s witness against two NYPD cops accused of taking bribes — “was nothing more than a loan shark” when it came to his business dealings with Hamlet Peralta, the former owner of a Harlem eatery that was popular with cops, Peralta’s lawyer said.  Peralta, the former owner of the Hudson River Cafe, stands accused of running a $12 million Ponzi scheme tied to an allegedly fictitious wholesale liquor business.  Peralta’s lawyer, Cesar de Castro, made the allegations against Rechnitz as part of a legal tug-of-war with feds about what evidence can be introduced at Peralta’s upcoming May trial.  The government wants to call as witnesses victims of Peralta’s alleged scheme who were recruited by Rechnitz — and who learned of the scheme through Rechnitz.  Rechnitz, a real estate investor, is also the government’s key witness in the upcoming bribery trial of Norman Seabrook, the former head of NYC’s correction officers’ union.

Shady donor brags he’s ‘got the mayor on lockdown’ after calling in ‘favor’ (NYP) Mayor de Blasio gave a retired NYPD official a plum post in his administration after getting a call from a shady businessman who told Hizzoner the appointment would be a personal favor, The Post has learned. During a conversation with de Blasio, Jona Rechnitz noted that he hadn’t asked for much since forking over huge contributions to de Blasio’s mayoral campaign, personal charity and Democratic allies, sources said Rechnitz, a crooked real-estate developer who’s now a key cooperating witness in the NYPD corruption scandal, later bragged to his associates that “I’ve got the mayor on lockdown,” sources said.  Ex-Chief of Department Joseph Esposito scored the gig atop the Office of Emergency Management — which pays $220,000 a year — despite having testified in federal court in support of the NYPD’s “stop and frisk” policy, which de Blasio ran against and rolled back upon taking office.   Rechnitz called de Blasio directly, using his cellphone while inside the 1 Police Plaza office of then-Chief of Department Philip Banks III, sources said.  Rechnitz put the phone on speaker so Banks, then-Deputy Chief Michael Harrington and Rechnitz crony Jeremy Reichberg could listen in, sources said.  Rechnitz donated $50,000 to the de Blasio’s since-suspended Campaign for One New York charity — which is under state and federal investigation — and he and his wife also gave de Blasio the maximum total of $9,900 for his 2013 mayoral campaign. In addition, Rechnitz kicked in the maximum $102,300 toward a failed effort, spearheaded by the mayor, to help Democrats win control of the state Senate in 2014.  Reichberg donated the maximum $4,950 to de Blasio’s campaign and bundled another $41,650 in political contributions for him. Reichberg is charged with providing some of those payoffs, and with helping arrange for a hooker to accompany him, Rechnitz, and two cops on an infamous 2013 trip to Las Vegas for Super Bowl XLVII. Rechnitz has pleaded guilty to his role in those schemes and another involving the since-ousted head of the correction-officers union, and is cooperating with the feds in a bid for leniency. Rechnitz donated $50,000 to the de Blasio’s since-suspended Campaign for One New York charity — which is under state and federal investigation — and he and his wife also gave de Blasio the maximum total of $9,900 for his 2013 mayoral campaign. In addition, Rechnitz kicked in the maximum $102,300 toward a failed effort, spearheaded by the mayor, to help Democrats win control of the state Senate in 2014.  Reichberg donated the maximum $4,950 to de Blasio’s campaign and bundled another $41,650 in political contributions for him. Reichberg is charged with providing some of those payoffs, and with helping arrange for a hooker to accompany him, Rechnitz, and two cops on an infamous 2013 trip to Las Vegas for Super Bowl XLVII. Rechnitz has pleaded guilty to his role in those schemes and another involving the since-ousted head of the correction-officers union, and is cooperating with the feds in a bid for leniency.* * As New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s re-election campaign approaches, a mapping tool shows the campaign has shifted toward receiving smaller contributions from many parts of the city, in contrast to the way he raised money last year, the Times reports.

Update NYPD Gun Scandal That the Media Downplays Where is the Knapp Commission Type Investigation?
Gun lawyer linked to corruption scandal charged with bribery (NYP) A self-proclaimed gun lawyer to the stars kept an NYPD cop on the payroll in a bribes-for-permits scam that secured his clients expedited license renewals and also smoothed over legal issues that might have cost them their pistol permits, federal authorities said. John Chambers, 62, was charged with bribery and conspiracy in Manhattan federal court Tuesday in the latest wave of arrests stemming from a sprawling NYPD corruption scandal first reported by The Post. * More charges in the NYPD corruption scandal — and it’s not over yet (NYP) More than a year after news first broke of the NYPD corruption scandal, Acting US Attorney Joon Kim on Tuesday unveiled fresh criminal charges in the case — and the investigation’s not done yet.  This particular scheme had the added fillip of making a mockery of New York’s highly touted gun-control laws.  Corruption was “pervasive” at the NYPD’s gun-licensing division, according to Kim. Among those charged with taking payoffs for processing and expediting pistol permits was the division’s No. 2. Starting in 2013, the alleged scam got gun licenses for pretty much anyone willing to pay a bribe.* NYPD cops accepted strippers, vacations for expedited gunpermits: feds (NYDN)

No background checks, no questions as to whether the applicant actually needed a gun, no follow-up on major red flags.  One license, Kim said, went to a man who’d been the subject of a domestic-violence complaint involving a death threat. As a result of the probe, more than 100 gun licenses have been yanked. Businessman Alex “Shaya” Lichtenstein recently was sentenced to 32 months in prison for bribing cops as an “expediter” of gun licenses. The new charges allege that several cops tried to cash in and corner the expediter market for themselves by forcing Lichtenstein to deal with them. A former Brooklyn prosecutor also allegedly set himself up in the expediting business.  All are said to have lavished cops in the licencing bureau with cash, jewelry, paid vacations and visits to strip clubs.  Commissioner James O’Neill says the licensing bureau has been swept clean and permit approval limited to the commanding and executive officers.

All well and good. But the overall investigation is still open, with the largest corner of the scandal unresolved. Kim’s office (then under Preet Bharara) filed charges last year against four officers in connection with alleged bribes and favors involving businessmen Jeremiah Reich­berg and Jona Rechnitz, who were also big donors to Mayor de Blasio.  Yet the names of other top brass have surfaced as involved with Reich­berg and Rechnitz, including ex-Chief of Department Philip Banks, once deemed a top contender to succeed then-Commissioner Bill Bratton.  How much more is coming?

Back to Before the 70s of NYC Fiscal Meltdown When Promised and Spending Like A Drunken Sailor Ruled Same Guy Who Used Closed LICH Hospital As A 2013 Campaign Prop 

de Blasio's 3-K Funding Fantasy
De Blasio’s “3-K for All” education push is a worthy expansion of an existing child care program for poor tots, but it’s also a way to score political points during an election year, the Daily News writesDe Blasio needs a lot of help from Cuomo, Trump to fund pre-K expansion (NYP) * De Blasio's pre-school plan is funded by a fantasy budget (NYP Ed) Mayor de Blasio announced another “historic” initiative Monday, promising to expand universal full-day pre-school to every 3-year-old in New York City by September 2021. The cost of implementing this plan, leaving aside technicalities such as finding space for tens of thousands of tots and training thousands of teachers to teach them, will come in somewhere in the area of $1.1 billion annually.  The city already spends $200 million on its EarlyLearn program (which has had its own challenges with declining enrollment) and plans to add another $177 million, to expand “3K for All” to another eight high-need districts. That leaves a mere $700 million for Albany and the federal government to cough up in order to fulfill Mayor de Blasio’s re-election campaign promise.  Will they pay up? The mayor isn’t too worried about that aspect of his plan. By 2021, he said, there will have been two congressional elections, as well as a presidential election. “We don’t know what we will be dealing with — could be very similar, could be very different,” mused the mayor. “We’re gonna hold out hope.”* New York City Will Offer Free Preschool for All 3-Year-Olds (NYT)  The plan would expand Mayor Bill de Blasio’s signature prekindergarten program slowly, starting in two districts, in the Bronx and Brooklyn, next year.* De Blasio has lost touch with reality (NYP)  Even his Protector the NYT Thinks 3K funding Long Shot * Facing the hostility of Republican-occupied Washington, and a dubious reaction from some lawmakers in Albany, the odds for de Blasio’s pre-k for 3-year-olds program look long, but the mayor has overcome dubiousness before, The New York Times writes.

As the Number of Affordable Housing Apts Decreases the Number of Homeless Students Increases  
The number of New York City public school students living in homeless shelters has increased in each of the last five years, reaching nearly 33,000 in the 2015-16 school year, the city’s Independent Budget Office calculated, The New York Times reports* There are only 35 affordable apartments for every 100 low-income families in New York City, and insufficient federal funding will only push thousands more to the brink of homelessness,writes Jacquelyn Simone, a policy analyst at Coalition for the Homeless.

How Minorities Mom and Pop Stores Being Hurt by Gentrification Being Cover-Up By the Media  
Gentrified areas of the city are seeing a dip inminority-owned businesses, report says   * New York City neighborhoods that experienced the highest rates of gentrification in the city since 2000 showed an increase in new businesses and job growth, but an inequitable distribution of the accompanying benefits, according to an analysis by Comptroller Scott Stringer, Gotham Gazette writes.  * New York City and state leaders have long indulged an injustice against working-class neighborhoods to the benefit of wealthier ones, baked into the city’s property tax code, but a class-action lawsuit filed Tuesday could be a galvanizing force for change, the Daily New writes.  * Manhattan business leaders and elected officials lambasted de Blasio for not including funding in his proposed budget to support City Council legislation seeking to exempt about 3,300 small businesses from the commercial rent tax, Politico New York writes.

Most of the Council, Including Those Running For Speaker Opting Out of the Public Campaign Funding Program Although They Still 
Claim to Be Champions of the System
The NYP Does Not Understand That Councilmembers Running For Speaker Will Be Taking Money From the Same Special Interests That Funded the Mayor's Race and PACs Including Campaign for One NY The
hypocrisy of the city council campaign-financeprogram (NYP) It looks like several City Council members will be opting out of the city’s public campaign-finance program for this year’s elections — although they still claim to champion the system.  The excuse for having taxpayers fund campaigns is that it supposedly reduces the influence of special interests and “pay to play” fund-raising. Yet the councilors who are opting out insist that doesn’t mean they’ve sold out.  What’s going on? Well, among the dubious reforms the council rammed through last year was one that lets incumbents spend campaign funds on “office-holder expenditures.”  As Gotham Gazette reports, several members have used the new loophole to spend like drunken sailors.  Councilman David Greenfield (D-B’klyn) has already raised and spent over $300,000 to air his weekly radio program — which is more than he’d be able to spend in total if he were in the public-finance system. Special interests? Pay to play? Greenfield heads the Land Use Committee, and much of his cash has come from developers.  Also over the public-system spending limit is Julissa Ferreras-Copeland (D-Queens), one of the contenders to be the next speaker. (As head of the Finance Committee, she too has had great “luck” in raising private funds.)  Meanwhile, At least eight other council members spent more than the public-system limit of $49,000 last year. Some, like Brad Lander (D-B’klyn) say they’re staying within the system’s overall spending limits; others, like Corey Johnson (D-Manhattan and another would-be speaker) aren’t so sure.  Members seem willing to stay within the limits if they face no real opponent for re-election — in other words, if it’s a no-risk proposition. How moral of them.  Candidates have until June 12 to join the program. Yet, of about 40 incumbents likely to run this year, only Councilmen Stephen Levin and Robert Cornegy Jr. have opted in (Public Financing).  And at least a quarter of the 40 are looking to opt out of the system because it doesn’t serve their selfish interests — that is, because they get an advantage from dropping out.  Taxpayer funding of campaigns is supposed to level the playing field between incumbents and machine pols on the one hand and challengers and outsiders on the other. The evidence is growing that it does the reverse.

When None Profit Boss Became Dept Mayor City Funding of His Group Skyrocketed 
Deputy Mayor Richard Buery’s March 2014 arrival at City Hall coincided with a big cash windfall for the Children’s Aid Society, where he served the previous five years as president and CEO
City boosted nonprofit’s funding when former chief became deputy mayor (NYP) A powerhouse nonprofit saw its city grant funding skyrocket once one of its former chiefs joined the de Blasio administration, The Post has learned.  Deputy Mayor Richard Buery’s March 2014 arrival at City Hall coincided with a big cash windfall for the Children’s Aid Society, where he served the previous five years as president and CEO.  According to the group’s financial filings, its city grants jumped from $7.6 million in Fiscal 2013, the last one over which former Mayor Michael Bloomberg had complete control, to $11 million in Fiscal 2015, the last year for which records have been made public.  The DOE’s contribution in grants nearly tripled over the two years, from $658,587 to $1.77 million. And grant money from the Department of Youth & Community Development spiked from $5.61 million to $8.49 million.

Before Becoming Mayor de Blasio A Critic of FOIL Delays As Mayor Becoming An Expert at FOIL Delays 
Before becoming mayor, de Blasio was a critic of delayed Freedom of Information requests, but he’s now reportedly insisted on putting those requests to agencies deemed politically sensitive through an additional, time-consuming City Hall review, the Daily News writesCurses, FOILed again by a secretive Bill de Blasio (NYDN Ed) As the city’s public advocate, de Blasio made much of local agencies’ sloth in dredging up documents asked for by journalists and others interested in the inner workings of city government, issuing a 2013 report that scolded agencies for ignoring, losing or epically delaying requests.  Last year, the Village Voice set out to replicate de Blasio’s experiment, asking two dozen city agencies to deliver their logs of FOIL requests — and revealed this month that the agencies de Blasio now oversees as mayor fared terribly, too.  Winning the tortoise award: The Department of Education, which took an average of 103 days to respond to Freedom of Information requests that it is generally supposed to fulfill within 25.  The Administration for Children’s Services took more than six months to simply produce the list of records requested.  Five agencies, including the Fire Department and Department of Buildings, didn’t even dignify the Voice’s inquiry with a reply despite their legal obligation to send acknowledgment.  Of all city agencies, the mayor’s office was among the slowest, with responses on average taking more than two months and the log produced only after nearly three.  Before becoming mayor, de Blasio called for mandates that agencies provide monthly reports to the City Council and public advocate on the status of FOIL requests, and for all agencies with long lags to publicly explain themselves or get fined.  Now, he has reportedly insisted on putting information requests to agencies deemed politically sensitive through an additional, time-consuming City Hall review.  Far from following his own good advice, de Blasio for no evident reason acts like someone with something to hide.
de Blasio Transparency, FOILS and Special Agent Lobbyists Emails

If Your Corruption is to Help Developers Manhattan DA Vance Lets You Go DEBLASIO or Slaps the Wrist Developer Bribers DEPT OF BUILDINGS
Corruption bust fizzles as bribers get slap on the wrist (NYP) Some crackdown.   A corruption sting that led to headlines and the indictments of 50 city officials and the business people who bribed them has resulted in only a handful of prison sentences.  And one of the most brazen bribers, accused of making $200,000 in mortgage payments for a Department of Buildings official and paying for his cruise vacation, is still on the lam more than two years after a 2015 press conference announcing the busts.  Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. described a two-year probe that uncovered various bribery schemes, many involving expediters who paid off high-ranking bosses, clerks and inspectors in return for favors such as dismissing violations. The city staffers were charged with accepting more than $400,000 from the expediters, who act as middlemen for developers and builders, and from others.  Vance proudly proclaimed that all were indicted on felony counts, which carried maximum sentences of up to 15 years in prison.  City Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters, whose agency participated in the probe, said at the time that the accused “did New York City real harm and now they must face the criminal-justice system.”  But that justice system went easy in many cases.  Twenty people pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of giving unlawful gratuities or attempting to “reward official misconduct.”  Most of them were sentenced to community service. Even many who pleaded to felonies did not receive jail time.  One of the bribers, Frank Dwyer, who owns several Manhattan bars including Jack Dempsey’s and Bourbon Street, was accused of paying off Donald O’Connor, the DOB’s chief of development for Manhattan construction.  O’Connor pleaded guilty to bribery and misconduct. He was sentenced to four months in jail. Dwyer got community service.  David Weiszer, an expediter, was accused of making the home-mortgage payments for Gordon Holder, the DOB’s chief of development for Brooklyn. He was also charged with buying Holder and his wife SUVs and a Caribbean cruise, and giving them cash for travel and home renovations.  Weiszer, 67, took off months before the indictment was announced and hasn’t been found.  Holder reportedly cooperated with authorities and his case is ­under seal. His wife, Janelle Daly, pleaded guilty to giving unlawful gratuities and received community service.  A spokeswoman for Vance said, “While prison time is an appropriate disposition for certain nonviolent defendants, justice is being served in these cases through the return of more than $300,000 to New York City taxpayers to date.”

All of the Candidates Running for Brooklyn DA Either Worked for or Supported Disgraced Hynes, Now Blast Him and Praise Thomson Who Beat the Former DA 
Debating fantasies in the Brooklyn DA race (NYP)  All six Democratic candidates for Brooklyn district attorney are united on a couple of policing issues — but one is moot, and the other is a fantasy.  The race includes acting DA Eric Gonzalez, City Councilman Vincent Gentile and four alums of the office: Marc Fliedner, Patricia Gatling, Anne Swern and Ama Dwimoh.  All have denounced stop, question and frisk — a tactic the NYPD now uses only in rare cases, where clearly warranted. The department abandoned stop-and-frisk as a mass anti-crime strategy even before Mayor de Blasio agreed to legal settlements that basically make it impossible to revive.  On Broken Windows, the complaints run from Gonzalez’s charge that enforcing outstanding warrants for quality-of-life offenses “does not keep us safe” to Fliedner’s claim that it (and stop-and-frisk) “aren’t working.”  Gentile calls it a “prosecute-first” policy; and the rest insist it’s an outdated failure.  They all miss the essence of Broken Windows — which is to protect public order in small ways, and so head off greater threats to public safety. That’s been the core of NYPD policies that have massively reduced crime these last 23 years.  And though quality-of-life enforcement remains vigorous, the manner of enforcement continues to change. Cops now issue fewer summonses, and the City Council has softened many penalties — all in response to the grievances the candidates express.  Time and again, we’ve fretted about the risks of this softening — but the NYPD, to its great credit, keeps bringing crime down.  Which is the best of both worlds — unless the critics’ railing against straw men finally forces police to abandon the approach that keeps this the safest large city in the nation.  Bluster on an issue that’s still live,   * Brooklyn Moves to Protect Immigrants From Deportation Over Petty Crimes (NYT)  Under a policy that was to be introduced Monday, the Brooklyn district attorney’s office will prosecute some cases to achieve what it calls immigration-neutral dispositions.  * Under a policy that to be introduced today, the Brooklyn district attorney’s office will prosecute some cases to achieve what it calls immigration-neutral dispositions, the Times writes.* Brooklyn DA Investigates Greenpoint Rape Claim, ReversingEarlier Stance (DNAINFO)
More on the Brooklyn DAs 

Many NYC's African-American Homeowners Pay More Taxes Than Homeowners in Upscale Neighborhoods Like Park Slope Like de Blasio
NYC property taxes favor rich and white homeowners,lawsuit claims (NYDN) This year Mayor de Blasio will pay $3,581 in property taxes on each of two row houses he owns in ultra-gentrified Park Slope. The city says his properties are worth about $1.6 million apiece.  Some 14 miles away, in middle-class Laurelton, Queens, Arthur Russell, 66, who retired from computer sales, will pay a property tax bill that, at $4,569, is about 28% higher than the mayor’s — even though the city says his single-family home is worth 75% less than de Blasio’s properties, at $396,000.  If Russell were taxed like the mayor, his bill would fall by roughly $3,500 a year.  “That money could be vacation money,” said Russell, who is African-American. “It’s a substantial amount. My frustration is that it’s blatant abuse. People, if you take a look at this thing, you see disparity.”  Across the five boroughs, the city Department of Finance is subjecting tens of thousands of homeowners to similarly unequal billing — with the winners located primarily in upscale neighborhoods like Williamsburg, Brooklyn Heights and Greenwich Village and the losers located overwhelmingly in working- and middle-class neighborhoods like South Jamaica, East New York and Brownsville.  Often, the brunt falls most heavily on black or Hispanic property owners.* New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio criticized a lawsuit backed by coalition of civil justice and real estate interests demanding that he fix the city’s unbalanced property tax system as wrong-headed, but wouldn’t say how the problem should be fixed, the Daily News writes. *  Mayor de Blasio claims unfair property tax system thatfavors the rich too complex to fix right away (NYDN)

A City With No Jane Jacobs is A City Controlled by Developers NYC 2017
Learning FromJane Jacobs, Who Saw Today’s City Yesterday (NYT) Jacobs had a term, “monstrous hybrids,” for the unhealthy partnerships that can arise between governments and big businesses.

 Suck Power Outof Neighborhoods . . . Where is This Generations Jane Jacobs

Sampson's Businessman Also Headed to Jail 

Shady businessman linked to Sampson sentenced to 2 years behind bars (NYP) A shady Queen businessman was sentenced Friday to two years behind bars for running a mortgage-fraud scam, after cooperating with authorities and rolling over on former state Sen. John Sampson. Edul Ahmad, ex-associate of Sampson and Queens Congressman Gregory Meeks, had been under the impression that he’d be getting by with a slap on the wrist, seeing how he wore a wire during a sit-down with the senator at a Queens restaurant in 2012.  Brooklyn federal Judge Dora Irizarry apparently felt Ahmad’s role in the scam was one that should not go ignored and instead chose to teach him a lesson.  She said that simply the fact that he cooperated “to me that doesn’t show remorse.  “What it shows is someone who is ready to do what he needs to do. Laws be damned, rules be damned.”  During a meeting in 2006, Ahmad wrote Sampson — a powerful Brooklyn Democrat at the time — a check for $188,500 to help him deal with ongoing legal problems.  The politician paid him back with political favors, and Ahmad was later arrested for mortgage fraud.

Is the Judge Trying to Get Ahmad to Talk About Why He Gave A Secret $40,000 Loan to Meeks?

Times Editorial deB Press Problem: True News Can You Imagin What A Press Made Up of NEWFIELD, BARRETT, BRESLIN, HAMILL, KEMPTON, COOPER, SCHIFF Would do to This Jerky Corrupt Lying Mayor 
The New York Times writes that de Blasio shows his inner President Donald Trump when he shuts down reporters for doing their jobs, and so far, de Blasio looks like he’ll be remembered for his petulant whining.  
Bill de Blasio’s Press Problem? Don’t Ask (NYT) Mayors of New York tend to be remembered for the way they wrangle with City Hall reporters, a signature battle stance that says a lot about the personality of His Honor and his relationship with the press. For Rudy Giuliani, it was the righteous snarl. For Michael Bloomberg, the smirky insult.  For Mayor Bill de Blasio, it’s looking like, the petulant whine.  It’s been evident for months that the mayor hates it when he thinks reporters at public events aren’t asking the right questions, or are being too hostile or skeptical, or are getting the facts wrong, or are trying to stray off topic when he wants to stay on, on, on.  As J. David Goodman and William Neuman reported in The Times on Tuesday, Mr. de Blasio has taken message-controlling to unusual lengths. Taking beatings from beat reporters has been in the mayoral job description forever, but this mayor has apparently decided that face-to-face interaction with reporters is overrated. At one appearance after another, he took no questions, even at benign events like a ferry ride on the East River to announce some new ferry routes. It seems the press was included simply so it could exult with him in the magnificence of the achievement.  When the press refuses, you get episodes like this one, on March 23, when reporters kept asking questions unrelated to the topic of the day. He resisted; they persisted; he walked out. As a snippet of transcript shows, if you take the Q. out of Q. and A., what remains is absurdist theater:  O.K., Mara. You’re smart — I’m here to talk about this. Mara, I’m here to talk about this. If you want to ask question about this —  I’m here to talk about this. If you want to talk about this, great, if not, we’ll take questions another way, another time. Does anyone want to ask about the mansion tax? Same thing. Guys, you can ask all you want. Here’s what we are here to talk about. Last call, anyone want to talk about mansion tax? About mansion tax.  I’m going to do this again one more time. This is how we set things up, guys. You don’t want to be a part of it, you don’t have to come. We’re here to talk about something that would reach 25,000 seniors. Everything else you want to talk about you’ll get answers to through our press office. If someone has a question on this, ask about this; if you don’t, that’s cool. Do you have a question on this? O.K. — That is great, guys. I’m done, thank you. He insists he is as accessible as any mayor ever, if not more so. He does free-form Q. and A. once a week. He does radio and toWhen shutting down reporters for doing their jobs, Mr. de Blasio — who so fiercely poses as an anti-Trump — displays his inner Donald.wn halls. He says that between email and phone calls with his staff, reporters do get answers. They just don’t necessarily get them any time or any place they ask.  As for reporters being stifled at staged events: “You don’t want to be a part of it, you don’t have to come.”  That is a bad, bad thing to say. Especially now. This is the age of President Trump, defamer of the news media, suppressor of facts, denier of reality. 

Lots of Lies, Changing Excuses On Why the Promised List From de Blasio's Donors Never Appeared 
De Blasio won't show list of donors who didn't get what they wanted(NYP)  Nearly a year after Mayor de Blasio pledged to produce a “stunning” number of instances of donors who didn’t get what they wanted from the city, he walked back the promise and said he intends to provide only a few examples.  The mayor said last May 18 that he would provide examples of a “stunning numbers of donors and supporters” to his causes who either didn’t get what they wanted from the city, or who saw the opposite action of the one they sought.  His pledge came in the wake of news that federal and state prosecutors were investigating whether the administration had engaged in pay-to-play deals with donors to the now-shuttered Campaign for One New York and other mayoral non-profits.  The mayor repeated his pledge May 19, telling WNYC radio that “you’re going to see more and more proof — which we are going to lay out in the coming days and weeks — of the many, many times that people supported something I believed in, but it did not result in any outcome for them.”  De Blasio later pushed back the timeline for providing the documentation until after the investigations had concluded, but never wavered in his commitment to provide it.  As recently as February 27, Hizzoner referred specifically to a “list” of donors that his administration was still planning to release.  “I am going to give you a list when all this is cleared,” he told NY1’s Errol Louis that day.  On Wednesday, more than a month after both investigations were closed, the mayor claimed he never committed to providing a list of donors who came away empty-handed.  “I didn’t say I had the perfect list of everybody. I said I wanted to give examples,” he said at an unrelated press conference in midtown. “So what I will do, and I think I will probably do it in the form of an op-ed…. I’m going to just give illustrations of some of the ones I think are the most powerful examples to set the record straight that it’s just not how things work.”  Also Wednesday, a day after touting his transparency about his finances by publicly posting his 2016 tax returns, the mayor said he still can’t say how much he owes in legal fees to defend against the concluded probes.* New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said he does not plan to release a long-awaited list of donors who didn’t get what they wanted from city government, but will instead write an op-ed that presents a few examples, Politico New York reports.

True News Wags the Post
Again the NYP Ed Follows the Us On the Fake List of Donors Who Got No Favors From the Pay to Play Mayor
De Blasio’s bails on promised ‘lots of evidence’ he didn’t sell favors (NYP) So Mayor de Blasio won’t be producing that list after all — the one of the “stunning number” of fat-cat donors he claims got rejected on their pleas for favors from City Hall. Indeed, he now says he never said he’d produce it.  We’re not surprised: No one else who’s looked into this could find them, either. But plenty of big-buck contributors did get exactly what they were looking for. A year ago, the mayor promised to produce “a whole lot of evidence” in short order to prove he runs a “clean and appropriate” government — said evidence to include that “stunning number” of disappointed givers.  He later vowed to “give you that list when all this is cleared” — i.e., when the ongoing criminal investigations ended.  Well, Acting US Attorney Joon Kim and Manhattan DA Cy Vance announced that de Blasio & Co. will face no criminal charges, but the “whole lot of evidence” isn’t coming. De Blasio says he’ll honor his word by penning an op-ed with a few “examples for you that illustrate the point.”  For the record, Kim also declared that the investigation had uncovered “several circumstances in which Mayor de Blasio and others acting in his behalf solicited donations from individuals who sought official favors from City Hall, after which the mayor made or directed inquiries to relevant city agencies on behalf of those donors.” Still, as Politico reported two years ago, more than two-thirds of the donors to his now-defunct Campaign For One New York were doing city business or seeking city action at the time they donated.  A few didn’t get what they wanted? Maybe. But some — like the donors who wanted horse-drawn carriages banned — lost out despite the mayor’s best efforts. We wonder if de Blasio will have the chutzpah to cite that as an “example.”

The Monserrate the Mess Buries the Lead "City Hall’s plan to sell 23 Acres Near Citi Field to Developers for $1"
Monserrate leads rally against City Hall plan as ex goesto court (NYP)  Monserrate was leading the charge against City Hall’s plan to sell 23 acres near Citi Field to developers for $1, saying it doesn’t provide enough affordable housing. He sidestepped questions about his 2009 misdemeanor-assault conviction involving former girlfriend Karla Giraldo Barba and a 2010 political-corruption rap that landed him in prison.

Cuomo Made $783,000 From Selling 3,200 Books How Do I Get A Contract With Harper Collins 
Cuomo made over $417K last year — mostly from his failing book (NYP)  The governor said he raked in another $218,100 from “All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics and Life,” a 2014 book that bombed on the sales racks. The 500-page book has sold just 3,200 copies, according to the tracking company NPD BookScan.  But it provided a windfall for Cuomo.  His taxes in 2013 and 2014 showed he received $565,000 in advances and other payments in those years.  No income from the book was reported in 2015.  So his total take from taking pen to page has come to $783,000. “This [latest] payment was contractual and per the agreement with the publisher [HarperCollins],” explained Cuomo spokeswoman Dani Lever.  Initially priced at $29.99, the book was available Tuesday on Amazon for $13.05. (NYP* Gov. Andrew Cuomo reported earning royalties for his memoir that amount to roughly $245 per book, but it was originally sold for $29.99, and when asked about the timing of the payments, the publisher said it does not comment on financial agreements, The Buffalo News reports. * How did Cuomo make $783,000 on memoir that sold 3,200copies? (Buffalo News) * How Did Gov. Cuomo Make $783,000 In Royalties From A Book That Sold Only 3,200 Copies? (International Business Times) * Problems in advance and giving elected authors the royalty treatment (NYP) What his returns show is that in 2016, he earned income of $218,100 — greater than his $179,000 gubernatorial salary — from HarperCollins Publishers, a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. Very good for Cuomo. The money was for his memoir, “All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics and Life,” published in 2014.  It was, for the governor’s bottom line, a rousing financial success. It was, for the publisher, a decisive setback.  In 2013, Cuomo earned $188,333 from the book; in 2014, another $376,667. In 2015, he reported no income from the book. So his income so far for having authored the 528-page volume is $783,100.  Yet the book (list price: $29.99) sold an estimated 3,200 copies of 200,000 printed.  That comes to $245 per book going to Cuomo. Or, put another way, payments to the author of $783,100 on sales of $95,968.  Namely, publishers hungry for big-name authors lavish them with giant advances, and minimal payment contingent on actual sales.  Which means people who are supposed to work only for the public get big-money personal payments that would in other contexts be deemed unacceptable — especially in a state Capitol where Cuomo looks to limit outside income as part of ethics reform.  We do not here allege any specific conflict of interest, though it is a fact that News Corp. lobbies the state, as many corporations do.  And it is a fact that HarperCollins and its parent company have benefited from state tax breaks for electronic book sales and online-only subscription-based publications.  News Corp. also gets plenty of ongoing help from state tax credits for film and TV production.  To eliminate even the appearance of corruption, better to limit public officials’ author payments to royalties of books sold. No more advances.  That is actually the rule in House of Representatives. It has been in place since 1995, when incoming House Speaker Newt Gingrich signed a deal with — yep — Murdoch’s HarperCollins, including a $4.5 million advance.  An uproar ensued, prompting Gingrich to rip up the contract and accept only royalties. He also made it the permanent rule of the House.  Advances were initially meant to frontload payments of some portion of royalties to support an author during the writing of the book. That does not apply here, since politicians are still drawing a public salary when writing.  The large payments surely do help the likes of Cuomo, who aren’t known for hunching over the keyboard themselves, to pay ghostwriters, researchers and the like. A royalty-only contract might complicate those economics.  But leaders as creative as Cuomo can surely figure that out.

Fredric U. Dicker‏ @fud31  Republican McLaughlin wonders where ''Republican" Flanagan is hiding re Cuomo book deal & hiring of "lobbyist's daughter as secretary":

The timing of Mr. de Blasio’s apparent retrenchment coincides with what had been expected to be a period of greater openness after the mayor and his aides were cleared of any criminal wrongdoing by state and federal prosecutors last month. The mayor’s relationship with reporters soured during the investigations into his fund-raising practices, which came to light last spring, including moments of lashing out against some outlets, notably The New York Post.

It is a model that is largely untested in New York, among the last American cities with a robust coterie of news organizations covering local government, and one that struck many observers as a break in decades of political norms. To others, including those close to Mr. de Blasio, it is in keeping with the administration’s attempt to respond to a shifting media landscape in a city where, despite having several daily newspapers, television stations and a 24-hour local news network, residents increasingly find their information online and through social media.

Lawmakers No Name Change for Failed Start-Up New York 
The state Legislature won’t let Gov. Andrew Cuomo change the name of his Start-Up NY economic development program to the Excelsior Business Program, which comes after critics have lambasted the initiative as a failure, the Post reports.  MORE ON THE ALBANY SWAMP Melissa DeRosa was appointed secretary to Cuomo, which revived questions about her family ties to firms with business before the state because her father and brother are lobbyists and her husband is an executive at Uber, The New York Times reports.  * Gov. Andrew Cuomo said businesses in the Start-Up NY tax break program should continue reporting to the state how many jobs they create and how much they invest in their operations, despite no longer being required to do so, Newsday reports.

Cuomo Grows the Lobbyist Albany Swamp Bolton St Johns King Where Have You Gone Sheldon Silver?
Cuomosignals again that the swamp won (NYP Ed) DeRosa is by all accounts eminently qualified for the job, the most powerful insider post. (She’ll replace Bill Mulrow, who’s returning to his Wall Street firm and will chair the governor’s re-election campaign.)  Her father, Giorgio DeRosa, a senior partner at Bolton-St. John, one of the state’s powerhouse lobbying firms.   Her brother, Joseph, also a BSJ lobbyist.   And her husband, Matthew Wing, a top executive at Uber and himself a former Cuomo flack.  That could mean a lot of recusing: With offices in Albany, Buffalo and the city, Bolton-St. Johns represents more than 100 clients, from corporations and tech firms to nonprofits and labor unions.  The promotion follows Cuomo’s surrender on winning any ethics reform this year, as well as his Nostalgic comments about the days when Sheldon Silver ran the Assembly (those being the days before Silver’s conviction on multiple corruption charges).  Meanwhile, Cuomo’s longtime pal, confidant and former executive deputy secretary, Joe Percoco, goes on trial in October, accused of accepting $315,000 in bribes to rig state contracts. Another Cuomo family friend, lobbyist Todd Howe, has already turned state’s evidence in the ongoing investigation. Andrew Cuomo won election in 2010 promising to change how Albany does business. How distant those days seem. * In Albany, no one is stepping on the tax-and-spend brakes (NYP) * Ugly war of words over Cuomo appointment (TU) Charges of sexism, thuggery and worse in partisan bickering

NYP Where is the Pay to Play Bribes to Business YES We Know They Don't Work 
New York’s bribes to businesses are the worst in the nation (NYP Ed) A new study by a respected think tank finds that New York’s vast system of business-tax incentives — a key part of Gov. Cuomo’s economic program — is not only the most expensive of any state, but also the least effective.  No real surprise there: Cuomo’s own New York Tax Reform and Fairness Commission came to the same conclusion four years ago.  And yet the subsidies — totaling as much as the next three states combined — keep growing: In 2015, the last year studied, they totaled $8.25 billion — nearly 20 percent of the national total.  The study, by the nonpartisan W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, flagged the film and TV production credit as the least effective subsidy of all.  As the Empire Center’s E.J. McMahon recently noted, the new state budget extends this credit to one of America’s most well-heeled (and politically wired) industries by $420 million a year for three years after it was originally set to expire.  But even subsidies to other industries, the Upjohn report concludes, “are not cost-effective,” with “no statistically significant effects.”  Four years ago, the state commission was even more emphatic: It found “no conclusive evidence that business-tax incentives actually increase economic gains . . . above and beyond what would have been attained” without them.  Last month, the left-of-center Investigative Post, ProPublica and other outfits combined for an exhaustive exposé of the waste, noting how billions in outlays have failed to boost the upstate economy — and how development agencies make little effort to see if any of these giveaways are effective.  What keeps it all going? David Friedfel of the Citizens Budget Commission told Gothamist that politicians think “the next benefit will be effective.”  Or they just have too much political capital at stake. Cuomo’s Start-Up NY, now renamed Excelsior Jobs, just got another $38 million in ad money despite creating just 772 jobs in three years — and will no longer require businesses to report annually on how many jobs they’ve actually produced.  Moreover, the Upjohn report concluded, once a benefit goes to one industry or area, others demand their share. Meanwhile, companies dangle the threat of relocating elsewhere to conduct a virtual auction between states with taxpayer dollars.  Business-tax subsidies didn’t start with Cuomo, but he’s made them a cornerstone of his program — with little to show for them and precious little oversight of how the money is spent.  Better to use most of that $8.25 billion to lower tax rates for all New Yorkers.* Cuomo: Forget ethics reform — let's build things(PoliticoNY)

Cuomo Increase in State Budget 2% Assembly 5.6%
Assemblycalls bluff on Cuomo's state budget increase claim (NYP) Cuomo is boasting that he increased the state budget by only 2 percent — but the Assembly says its analysis shows “total state spending” went up 5.6 percent over last year.  “The truth is on our state budget, our state budget year-to-year went up 2 percent. It has gone up 2 percent for the past seven years,” Cuomo crowed during an event in Hauppauge, LI, on Wednesday. “Two percent is the lowest increase in spending in the history of the state of New York.”  He claims “state operating funds” spending is $98.1 billion, up from $96.2 billion. But analysts for the Democratic-run Assembly came up with a higher increase.  “Total state spending” — including special revenue funds and capital projects — is projected at $111.2 billion, an increase of $5.9 billion, or 5.6 percent over last year, the Assembly report said.* Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he increased the state budget by only 2 percent, which he called the lowest increase in spending in state history, but the Assembly said its analysis shows total state spending grew 5.6 percent over the last year, the New York Post reports.

Groundhog Day NYCHA Repair Problem Unsolved
NYCHA tenant lives in ‘deplorable conditions’ with nosink or bath as agency stalls on repairs (NYDN) A forsaken Harlem man and his 14-year-old son are living in a hell NYCHA has inflicted on them.  Water has been a constant issue at the tiny family’s King Towers apartment — flowing behind the walls, blowing out the bathroom light and causing plaster to flake and collapse throughout the apartment. As a result, the kitchen cabinet leaned precariously off the wall. Electric wall sockets in every room except one ceased to function.  The father — a 46-year-old maintenance man who spoke to the Daily News on the condition of anonymity because his teenage son was embarrassed by the squalor — has had to shave in the living room for years because the lights in his bathroom don’t work.  Finally, in December, a New York City Housing Authority crew arrived at his apartment and replastered and rewired everything. The crew removed his entire kitchen — the cabinets, the sink and the countertop, and promised to replace it all in two weeks. Last week, the tenant stood in a kitchen with no cabinets or countertop. The NYCHA crew that four months earlier had promised to fix his apartment woes has yet to return, work orders and other documents The News reviewed show. The tenant was given a temporary laundry slop sink, but he can’t use it for dishes because it collects runoff from his washing machine. He cleans his dishes in his bathtub — which he can’t use for bathing because NYCHA removed the shower enclosure.

AG Follows NY Times, Mayor to Move To Attack Trump While Moving Away From NY to Raise $ and Power 
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has hired Bernie Sanders’ digital consulting team, Revolution Messaging, as he increases his progressive profile with lawsuits and attacks on President Donald Trump
AG Eric Schneiderman hires Bernie Sanders’ consulting firm to boost progressive profile (NYDN) The state attorney general has hired Bernie Sanders’ digital-consulting team at a time he’s upping his progressive profile with lawsuits and attacks on President Trump’s agenda.  AG Eric Schneiderman, who is expected to seek a third term in 2018 and has also been mentioned as a potential gubernatorial candidate, turned to Revolution Messaging to help raise funds and build on his campaign's social media presence, a source close to him said.  “It certainly drew our attention,” the source said of the firm’s work with Sanders’ bid for the Democratic presidential nomination. Revolution Messaging bills itself on its website as “a full-service agency fighting for progressive causes.” The D.C.-based firm has been sending out fund-raising requests for Schneiderman and other emails touting actions he’s taken, including against the Trump administration.  Mayor de Blasio in September hired Revolution Messaging for his reelection campaign this year. And Schneiderman’s former chief of staff, Micah Lasher, paid the firm $35,000 during a failed state Senate run last year. Two recent polls show Schneiderman’s ratings climbing to their highest nonelection-year levels, though a large segment of voters still don't know who he is.State Republican Party spokeswoman Jessica Proud accused Schneiderman of having “completely abused his office for political purposes.”  “Watching him and other Democrats trying to trip over themselves to be the Trump antagonists is laughable,” Proud said. “They’re all lining up to raise their national profiles.”* New York Politicians Offer Tax Returns and Pokes at Trump (NYT)

de Blasio Raises the Rent While Telling Other City Landlords to Freeze Theirs 
De Blasio hiked his own rents while calling for others to freeze theirs, new figures show (NYP) The mayor and his wife have increased the monthly rent on one of the units in a two-family house they own to $2,850 last year, from $2,400 in 2009. The increases came in $50 and $75 increments annually, according to a City Hall source who would speak only on background. They raised the other unit's rent by $25 to $1,825 in June of 2015. They charge $4,500 for their primary residence, which they left in 2014 to move into Gracie Mansion. The two row houses, worth a combined $3.7 million according to city assessments, are on 11th Street in Park Slope.  The City Hall source would not explain why the mayor raised his own rents while pushing for a rent freeze from the city's Rent Guidelines Board, which has ruled for two years against increases on one-year leases for rent-stabilized apartments. Several years ago, a previous City Hall spokeswoman said the mayor charged his tenants more when he made home improvements.* The Daily News writes that de Blasio refused to let the Rent Guidelines Board give landlords permission to hike rents in stabilized apartments, but as a landlord he embraced a different philosophy and raised the cost of living in apartments he owns.* The Post writes that de Blasio upping what he charges tenants shows he isn’t a fan of the golden rule, and that the next time he waxes moralistic, it’s worth remembering he’s talking about enforcing virtue for others, not himself.
Mayor @BilldeBlasio wants city landlords to freeze rent. He's boosting it for his own tenants. "Apples and oranges," he tells @Ny1  * Nicole Gelinas writes in the Post that de Blasio and his wife avoided paying thousands of dollars by making a byzantine tax code work for them by not paying taxes on any of the rent payments they have received from two houses in Brooklyn. OTHER LANDLORDS Landlords propose hike for rent-stabilized apartments (NYP)

282,344 or 8% of All of New York's Registered Voters Voted for de Blasio in the 2013 Democratic Primary This Year the Turnout Will Be Must Lower

New York's Falling Voter Participation Rate is A Canary in the Coal Mine Warning for Our Failing City and Democracy  2013 Was the Lowest Turnout Since Women Given Right to Vote in 1918 . .200,000 Votes Less Than 2009. Only 282,344 New Yorkers voted in the 2013 primary for de Blasio. That is out of 3,222,468 registered democratic voters 8%, in what everyone knows is the real election in NYC.  If you look at the 4,727,307 registered NYC voters then de Blasio became the mayor with just 5% of the voters voting for him.  de Blasio Was Elected Public Advocate in 2009 With Just 4.4% of the Democrat Vote or Less than 1.7% of the City's Residences In the 2005 primary runoff Comptroller John Liu received 127,173 or just 4% of the registered Democrats in the city (3,177,740) in the runoff. De Blasio did a little better with 138, 736, he got 4.4% of the city's democratic voters. John Liu was elected with just 2.7% of all the city's registered voters casting their vote for him. New York: Turnout Appears Headed for Record Low What In A Mandate? worry--50% drop in primary turnout since '89 * NYC voter turnout stinks: report(NYDN * New York Ranked 42 of 50 in Voting Age Turnout 50.7% Mayor O’Dwyer election in 1941, which took place one month before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor received more than a million more votes than de Blasio * Forty Years of Freefall in New York Voter Turnout (Gotham Gazette) * NewYork election law will disenfranchise thousands: Ivanka and Eric Trump aren'talone; Bernie Sanders' voters will get hurt by an insanely early partyregistration deadline (NYDN) 

3 Million Registered Voters Cannot Vote in the Primary Unlike other states, New York allows only registered party members to vote in their respective primaries. So the 5.3 million registered Democrats can vote for Sanders or Hillary Clinton and the 2.6 million Republicans can vote for Donald Trump, John Kasich or Ted Cruz. But nearly 3 million independents and other party members are shut out.* de Blasio Was Elected Public Advocate in 2009 With Just 4.4% of the Democrat Vote or Less than 1.7% of the City's Residences In the 2005 primary runoff Comptroller John Liu received 127,173 or just 4% of the registered Democrats in the city (3,177,740) in the runoff. De Blasio did a little better with 138, 736, he got 4.4% of the city's democratic voters. John Liu was elected with just 2.7% of all the city's registered voters casting their vote for him. New York: Turnout Appears Headed for Record Low What In A Mandate? worry--50% drop in primary turnout since '89 * de Blasio Was Elected Public Advocate in 2009 With Just 4.4% of the Democrat Vote or Less than 1.7% of the City's Residences In the 2005 primary runoff Comptroller John Liu received 127,173 or just 4% of the registered Democrats in the city (3,177,740) in the runoff. De Blasio did a little better with 138, 736, he got 4.4% of the city's democratic voters. John Liu was elected with just 2.7% of all the city's registered voters casting their vote for him. New York: Turnout Appears Headed for Record Low What In A Mandate? worry--50% drop in primary turnout since '89 

Cuomo Joins Trump Slams the Failing NY Times 

Cuomo on NYTimes college tuition editorial: According to them (NYT) , my father &; I wouldn't win governor elections; they're unfair to my admin (Video)

The questions on free college have begun to multiply. We are not the only ones to notice that Mr. Cuomo didn’t seem to think his new scholarship through. How could he have, in the time allotted? This was not the product of extensive hearings or long study; there was no sense that it emerged because public-policy or higher-education experts — never mind students! — had told the governor, let’s examine what is keeping young New Yorkers out of college, and figure out how to get them in and keep them there.  So it’s not clear whether this would needlessly harm private colleges and universities by stealing students, as some officials have complained, or place damaging financial strains on the SUNY and CUNY systems, which have been starved of funds for years.  It’s not even clear how “outrageously ambitious” the program is. By one legislative estimate, it will reach only about 32,000 students. The program’s strict income limits leave a lot of people out. It is not for part-time students, a huge portion of the community-college population. Students have to earn 30 credits a year to participate. It’s not for poor families, who are expected to use the state’s Tuition Assistance Program or Pell grants or other aid to cover tuition. And even though the cost of room and board and books is what’s keeping many poor students out of college, the Excelsior Scholarship covers none of that.  No, this is one program for one slice of the middle class.  Democrats in the State Senate for the perennial failure of other goals, the ones he seems less interested in achieving, like Albany’s Holy Grail: meaningful ethics reform and public campaign-financing.  It’s too bad many important priorities aren’t as politically tantalizing to him as “free” college. E. J. McMahon of the Empire Center for Public Policy told The Times it seemed to him that Mr. Cuomo had “hastily reverse-engineered” the process to get the headline he wanted, which sounds about right.* Defending Tuition Plan, Cuomo Blasts The Times (YNN)

Defendants Have Longer Wait on Rikers Because de Blasio Keeps 8 Judgeship Slots Open 
Blame de Blasio for NYC court delays: He won't pickjudges for eight open slots (NYDN) Every day in criminal courts throughout the five boroughs people wait.  Defendants. Victims. Witnesses. Prosecutors. Lawyers.  They wait for the opportunity to have their day in court — to defend their innocence; to bear witness to the harm done to themselves or others; to make their case on behalf of the people, or to hold the government’s feet to the fire on behalf of the rule of law.  In fact, waiting is what everyone in New York City’s criminal courts does most, and mostly it’s waiting for an available judge to oversee a trial. Many of those defendants are spending their time waiting on Rikers Island.

Third of Child Deaths in NYC Attributed to Homicides as ACS and the Homeless System Keeps Failing Kids
In 2013 the NY Times Wrote "Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio rose to power by denouncing the city’s inequality, children like Dasani were being pushed further into the margins, and not just in New York"
Nearly a third of NYC’s child deaths attributed to homicides (NYP) Nearly a third of the children who died of injuries in New York between 2010 and 2014 were murdered, according to a shocking new analysis by the city’s Health Department.  Even more appalling is the fact that almost half of the kids two years old or younger were homicide victims.  The study released Friday by the city’s Health Department, looks at the deaths of injured youngsters 1 to 12 years old.  And things do not appear to have gotten much better. Over the past years, the city has been shocked by more child killings, including the brutal murder of 6-year-old Harlem boy Zymere Perkins, allegedly at the hands of his mother’s boyfriend.  Child abuse-related killings accounted for 31 percent of the deaths of kids in the years covered by the study.  The Administration for Children’s Services has come under fire for years for failing to properly track suspected child-abuse cases.* Parents Arrested 5 Months After 10-Month-Old BrooklynGirl Drowns in Bathtub (WNBC)  Little Meilani Hernandez was pronounced dead Nov. 6 after being taken to a hospital in Brooklyn TIMES UPDATE Living by the Girl Scout Law, Even Without a Home (nyt)

Reporter Tweets She Never Seen Lying Like the WH Preet Tweets Back She Has Not Covered Certain NY Pols

Cuomo Builds His Middle Class Record as Opposted to Early Years Fiscal Watchdog 
In the past four months, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has seemed intent on expanding his appeal by pursuing initiatives aimed at a larger constituency of vital importance to his and his party’s long-term prospects: the middle class, The New York Times reports.  * Hillary Clinton Praises Cuomo College Plan

Cuomo vs de Blasio War Expands to the Airports
The governor has flooded New York City’s airports with state troopers over the past few months, causing friction with de Blasio and the Port Authority because it’s seen as a move of one-upmanship in Cuomo and de Blasio’s ongoing rivalry, the Daily News reports.

As deB 2013 Contributors Abanden Him Mayor's Fund Rasing Goes Hollywood for Anti-Trump $$
Look how de Blasio's replacing his pay-to-play donors (NYP) Mayor de Blasio escaped criminal charges from the federal and state probes of his various fund-raising scandals — but it looks like he’s still paying a price.  Most of the big-bucks donors who helped put him in City Hall have been keeping their ample checkbooks closed this time around.  An analysis by The New York Times and CUNY’s Urban Research Center shows that only 16 percent of those who made the maximum donation ($4,950) to de Blasio’s 2013 campaign have given to his 2017 committee.  Indeed, as of mid-March, only 8 percent of the 12,368 people who contributed in 2013 had donated this cycle.  Why so many “missing” donors? Perhaps they’re idealists, disappointed by the mayor’s performance. Perhaps they feel they already got what they paid for.  Or perhaps they don’t want to risk being caught up in some future de Blasio fundraising scandal.  The mayor himself last year stopped taking meetings with one longtime friend and fund-raiser, uber-lobbyist James Capalino, amid speculation that the veteran fixer was getting favored treatment for his clients.  Capalino rose to become the city’s top-earning lobbyist in the de Blasio years, repping clients such as the luxury-condo developers who took over the site of Long Island College Hospital (which candidate de Blasio had vowed to save), as well as investors involved early on in what became the notorious Rivington House flip.  Capalino doesn’t seem offended by the mayor’s distance: He’s already raised $44,940 for the 2017 campaign. And, to replace all those less-loyal fund-raisers and donors, the mayor’s gone national: For example, he held several campaign-cash events during his West Coast trip last week, collecting checks from Silicon Valley and Hollywood progressives.  Of course, de Blasio’s new fans aren’t that interested in serious New York City issues like homelessness, deadly bungling at the Administration for Children’s Services, etc. No, they’re giving because the mayor takes every chance to “confront” President Trump.  Get ready for a long election year, with lots of de Blasio posturing for his distant paymasters — and not a lot of talk about what really ails the city.

The Pill Pusher Medicaid Rip Off Former Albany Assemblyman Graduate of Albany School of Crime Indicted  
Alec Brook-Krasny He was just Indicted For $13 million Opioids Medicaid pills fraud 

Ex-State pol among 13 people busted for Brooklyn pill-mill scheme  New York Daily News   Former Coney Island assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny was part of a vast criminal enterprise that doled out opioids like candy and defrauded Medicare and Medicaid out of millions, authorities said.  “I’ve never really seen anything like it,” city Special Narcotics Prosecutor Bridget Brennan said Friday in announcing the takedown.Investigators got wind of the scheme in 2013 after they identified a group of so-called doctor shoppers who were receiving boatloads of prescription drugs from two medical clinics owned by the same doctor.   * Former Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny resigned to take a higher-paying job as the chief financial officer of a medical lab, but was indicted in connection to three Brooklyn pill mills and accused of pumping $6.3 million in narcotics onto the black marketthe Post writes.

The medical practices — Parkville Medical Health in Kensington and LF Medical Services of NY in Clinton Hill — were run by Dr. Lazar Feygin, authorities said.  PM Medical in Midwood followed the same criminal blueprint as Feygin’s clinic. In all, the three medical practices pumped more than 6.3 million painkillers onto the black market and received more than $24 million in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements, authorities said.  “The defendants are crooks who stole millions from New York City’s cash-strapped healthcare system,” said city Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters.  “They used pain pills instead of revolvers, but they robbed the city all the same.”  Roughly 1,300 people died of fatal overdoses last year — more than twice the number of homicides and traffic fatalities combined. Brook-Krasny was charged with using the Sheepshead Bay medical lab that he ran to bolster the scheme.  The disgraced lawmaker is accused of arranging to alter test results to allow Feygin’s patients to continue receiving opioid prescriptions.

When in the Assembly Brook-Krasny Crusaded Against Opioid Addiction
Ex-Assemblyman Who Crusaded Against Opioid Addiction Arrested In Connection With Pill Mills, Medicaid Fraud (Gothamist)  The irony in this is that, as assemblyman, Brook-Krasny introduced at least two bills meant to address opioid addiction. One, introduced in January 2014, called for the creation of a community drug addition services program, to fund detox facilities and connect addicts with long-term treatment. The bill was stricken from consideration a week after Brook-Krasny introduced it. In May of that year, shortly after Brook-Krasny attended an Assembly "roundtable Opiate and Heroin Epidemic," the assemblyman introduced a bill seeking $500,000 "to raise awareness of the inherent dangers and costs of heroin." The bill was referred to the Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse the same day, and never went anywhere from there.

Authorities said Brook-Krasny also defrauded Medicare and Medicaid by ordering the unnecessary lab testing of specimens sent from Feygin’s clinics.  All but Brook-Krasny were arrested Friday. Brennan said the former assemblyman, who resigned in 2015, is out of the country but authorities are in touch with his lawyer.  The 59-year-old Brook-Krasny, of Brooklyn, was hit with four charges including conspiracy and healthcare fraud.* Three Brooklyn Clinics, 6.3 Million Oxycodone Pills and 13 Indictments (NYT)  Ex-Assemblyman indicted in $6.3M narcotics scheme (NYP) Albany wasn’t corrupt enough for this politician. Unable to satisfy his greed on a $92,000-a-year salary, Assemblyman Alec Brook-Krasny resigned to take a higher-paying job as the chief financial officer of a medical lab.  But the better life didn’t last, and he was indicted Friday in connection to three Brooklyn pill mills accused of pumping $6.3 million in narcotics onto the black market, officials said.  Brook-Krasny, 59, who abruptly resigned in mid-2015 after nearly a decade in office, allegedly schemed with a crooked doctor who headed two of the clinics.  He allegedly ordered bogus tests and deleted positive alcohol results from reports to ensure patients who drank heavily would still get their oxycodone prescriptions, officials said.  Brook-Krasny, who represented Brighton Beach and other southern Brooklyn neighborhoods, previously told The Post that he had to step down because he wouldn’t break the law like other legislators do.  He wasn’t arrested with his 12 co-defendants Friday because he’s currently on vacation in Israel, a law-enforcement source said.  He found himself in hot water last year for continuing to use official legislative license plates more than eight months after he had left office, The Post reported.* Almost 500 people died from opioid overdoses on Long Island in 2016, the most ever, with the powerful drug fentanyl leading the way, newly released records show, according to Newsday.

CUNY Journalism: Everyone Agrees Local Newspaper Coverage Dying But What About the Walking Dead Local TV News
Media coverage of New York plunges (Crains)  More bad news could be on the way  For the week beginning Jan. 29, The New York Times published 48 stories on New York. That’s less than half the 109 stories for the same week in 2009 and less than a third of the 153 stories in 2001. Meanwhile in Queens, with 2.3 million residents, 35,000 major crimes a year and 200,000 criminal cases annually, the pressroom at the courthouse is locked because no one wants to use it. Those depressing examples come from a two-part series published this week by The Daily Beast with the headlines "In New York City, Local Coverage Declines—and Takes Accountability With It" and "The New York Times Turns Its Sights Away From New York City." The stories, by veteran journalist Paul Moses, show the retrenchment from local coverage of citywide media and the retreat of the Times, whose readership and priorities are now global, not local. (The urban reporting program at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism funded Moses' work, and I had a hand in prompting it.)  Anyone who cares about media coverage of the city and its impact on public policy should read the stories.  Despite Crain's, the same problem afflicts economic and business coverage, with the exception of real estate, where Crain's and a group of aggressive competitors still do comprehensive work.  I am the only journalist tracking the local economy any more. The Times hasn’t done a significant story in forever, and the cuts to the Greater New York section of The Wall Street Journal has ended that newspaper's interest in the subject.  I also have been surprised that the city’s burgeoning tech sector is mostly ignored. That might be your fault, because when I write about it, fewer people read it than virtually any other topic I cover. The only way to follow what is happening beyond Uber and Airbnb is to track stories in the national tech-oriented press.  One relatively new entrant, Politico New York, is making a difference with aggressive state and local political and government stories and an emphasis on real estate and health care. Unfortunately, most of the stories are behind a pay wall too expensive for me and for the J school, even with a discount.  The community-news site DNAinfo has built a platform to cover the city, but it shows no interest in doing the kind of important citywide stories that would fill the gap and supplement its neighborhood structure.  There could be more bad news on the horizon, as cable giant Spectrum appears to have little interest in its NY1 news channel. The channel's demise would be another significant blow to the city.

For DiNapoli the Buck Stops At the Headhunter for His Party Boy Pension Manager 

DiNapoli blames headhunter for hiring corrupt pension manager (NYP) Korn Ferry, the largest headhunting firm in the world, failed to catch that Navnoor Kang was fired from his last job in 2013 as a bond trader at Guggenheim Partners for allegedly accepting bribes and breaking more than 50 ethical and compliance rules, according to the report.  How Kang, 37, got his job at the New York State pension in the first place has so far been an unanswered question in the scandal, which has cost pensioners potentially millions in lost gains and fees.  Kang was arrested in December 2016 for allegedly steering billions of dollars of business to two traders in exchange for hookers, piles of cocaine, and VIP tickets to a Paul McCartney concert, according to the indictment last year.   In 2014, the New York State pension fund, which has about $178.6 billion in assets, needed someone to run a $50 billion bond portfolio, and turned to Korn Ferry to help it fill the position.  The pension fund had trouble filling the role because it paid far less than what a trader could make at a private firm, and because the position was located in Albany, the report said.  Kang lied to Korn Ferry, saying that he was laid off — an excuse the firm found “plausible,” according to the report.  The report says the headhunter almost never receives damaging information during its reference checks.  A Korn Ferry spokesperson didn’t return an e-mail seeking comment. * New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli blamed a prominent Wall Street headhunter for hiring a pension manager tied to bribe allegations to fund his sex, drugs and rock ’n’ roll lifestyle,the New York Post reports.

No Follow Up On Queens Machine Control of the Surrogate Court TRUE NEWS HAS LEARNED NEWS MEDIA FOLLOW UP ON COURT WILL BE IN 2044

Council Who Outlawed Campaign for One NY Now is Going to Support de Blasio Legal Defense Bailout? Where is the Penalty for Going Around the Election Law? 
De Blasio receives broad support for legal defense fund (NYP) de Blasio appears to have broad support in the City Council for a bill that would allow him to establish a legal defense fund — since it would cover all elected officials as well, sources said Monday.  “This is a sore subject for members,” said one source. “You could be innocent and go bankrupt defending yourself.”  The Conflicts of Interest Board rattled New York City’s political world last week by setting a $50 limit on contributions to legal defense funds. That’s a big problem for the mayor, whose legal bills from state and federal investigations could run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Queens) said he would support a bill that capped donations at $4,950, the same limit applied in mayoral elections.  “I think we should never go back to the days of the Campaign for One New York,” Van Bramer said, referring to de Blasio’s now-shuttered nonprofit that sought to promote his political agenda and raked in six-figure contributions.

State BOE May Still Bring Charges Against de Blasio that DA Vance Covered Up
Even though Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. didn’t bring any charges against de Blasio in his Senate fundraising investigation, the state Board of Elections could still potentially bring a case against him, Gotham Gazette reports.

Taxi Values Dive By 80% After There Owners Spent $400,000 to Help Elect de Blasio in 2013 
Taxi medallions reach lowest value of 21st century  (NYP) A New York City taxi medallion sold for $241,000 last week — less than one-fifth of what the cab-ownership tags were going for just four years ago. In 2013, some medallions sold for more than $1.3 million.  Medallion owners are fuming.  There are currently 13,587 yellow-taxi medallions in the Big Apple — and more than 50,000 Uber and Lyft cars.
TAXI,  Owners, Lobbyists, Campaign Contributions and the App Uber Revolution

Here Come the City Bike Competition Plies of GPS Started Bikes All Over the Sidewalks 
Citi Bike competitors ready to roll into NYC  (NYP) At least five rogue companies are muscling in on Citi Bike’s turf with service that eliminates the use of docking stations — and there are no laws on the books to regulate them, The Post has learned. Spin, Noa, BlueGoGo, Mobike, and Ofo each plan to dump thousands of bicycles on the Big Apple streets starting over the next few weeks in some of the busiest neighborhoods, source said.  The companies use GPS-equipped bikes with a mechanism that locks the back tire. They can be rented using an app, which then unlocks the two-wheeled rides.  The companies charge a dollar or less for 30 minutes and the riders can leave the bike on the sidewalk when they get to their destination.  Officials and transit advocates worry bikes will be left haphazardly on sidewalks, streets, and in parks.  “New York City must proceed carefully to avoid the pitfalls seen in China, where piles of low-quality bicycles have been discarded in heaps on streets and sidewalks,” said Paul Steely White executive director of Transportation Alternatives.  Spin plans to launch above 116th Street in Manhattan — north of Citi Bike’s range — and in Staten Island, said CEO Derrick Ko.* @CitiBikeNYC is offering a single-ride fare for the first time ever, but you gotta actquick. (NYT)* How NYC's coming 'bike war' can serve the public (NYP) New technology shook up the for-hire car-service market, and now it’s threatening to do the same to another form of public transit: bicycling.  As The Post reported this week, five companies plan to bring thousands of short-rental bikes to the city — much like Citi Bikes, except they won’t need docking stations. Instead, they’ll just steal public space. With GPS locating devices and a mechanism that can lock or unlock the back tire via an app, the bikes can be left pretty much anywhere. Current laws may not prevent boatloads of bicycles from clogging sidewalks or otherwise jeopardizing safety.  The city Department of Transportation was clearly right to start asking about the companies’ plans (and insurance). And the City Council is wise to consider new regulations.  What the city shouldn’t do is make it impossible for firms to provide services, at their own financial risk, that the council would have Citi Bike offer at taxpayers’ expense. That’s right: In its official response this week to Mayor de Blasio’s preliminary budget, the council calls for a $12 million handout to Citi Bikes to expand service outside Manhattan. And that’s just to start.  But why boost Citi Bike’s monopoly with public dollars when private companies may be able to do the job with no subsidies? One firm, Spin, already plans to target areas outside Citi Bike’s domain, such as on Staten Island and north of 116th Street in Manhattan.  When then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg first rolled out his Citi Bike plan in 2012, he promised it wouldn’t cost taxpayers a dime. It still shouldn’t — especially if new technology, properly regulated, can foster a free market for bike-sharing.  No, don’t let the new competitors wreak havoc — but do make them serve the city.* Five companies plan to bring thousands of short-rental bikes to New York City, much like Citi Bikes, but they won’t need docking stations and current laws may not prevent boatloads of bicycles from clogging sidewalks or otherwise jeopardizing safety, the Post writes.

de Blasio Collects $$$ Out of Town Because New Yorkers Know What He is About 
De Blasio takes re-election campaign to the West Coast (NYP) A month after skipping town to raise campaign funds out of state, Mayor de Blasio is jetting off again Tuesday to the West Coast, where he will alternate fund-raisers with official business.   Fund-raisers will be held in Seattle on Tuesday, Sacramento on Thursday and San Francisco on Friday.  De Blasio will also meet with life sciences firms in Seattle, discuss immigration with the mayor of Sacramento and meet tech industry leaders in San Francisco.
39 seconds ago
Incredible! NYS budget has significant impact in NYC & DEB is out of town raising $. It sends a powerful message to legislators

The New York Times Turns Its Sights Away From New York City (Daily Beast)  Even as New York City subsidizes the ‘Gray Lady’ to the tune of nine figures, she’s giving less of herself to her hometown.  The New York Times is playing such a vital role in reporting the news from Washington that it seems ill-timed to point out how much it is cutting coverage devoted to another great city — its hometown. As The Times plans further trims to its New York metro coverage—“less incremental” is the phrase they are using — it is worth noting that there has already been a startling reduction in it over time.  A check of coverage for the week starting on the last Sunday of January finds that the paper ran 48 metro stories. This is less than half of the tally for 2009 (102) and  less than a third of the 153 stories in the same period in 2001 (a figure that doesn’t include metro stories in the additional Sunday suburban sections published then).  The Times is not alone in cutting down its coverage, of course. Rather, it is a high-profile example of a market-driven trend that threatens local news coverage in many places: Not only are local news staffs shrinking because of falling advertising revenue, but priorities are shifting away from local reporting to tasks that might be more profitable.  There is simply more potential web traffic in a story of national or international interest than in one targeted locally, even if local means a city as big as New York. Newsroom resources are moving accordingly, and The Times is eagerly courting a worldwide digital audience.  Executive Editor Dean Baquet has tried to make a virtue of the reduced metro desk output, saying the paper is shedding unnecessary stories in favor of bigger ones. The Times will continue to run less “incremental New York news coverage,” he said in an interview with the paper’s public editor, Liz Spayd.   There were some 85 New York metro reporters back when The Times proposed the 2001 deal for its new headquarters.  But the newspaper industry headed into a prolonged advertising slump and while the deal with the city helped the paper remain in the “crossroads of the world,” Times Square, named for it, the number of reporters dedicated to covering New York has since been halved, to about 42.
NYC Daily News

The City Should End the Times $100 Million Tax Breaks for Its Manhattan HQ If It Does Not Cover the City 
City taxpayers, though, have a reason to resent their paper of record’s retreat from local coverage: The Times is receiving a hefty 29-year package of tax incentives to pay for its 52-story headquarters across from the Port Authority bus terminal on 8th Avenue. Its subsidy could eventually be as much as $106 million. The biggest chunk stems from an $80 million reduction in property taxes to subsidize the cost of buying land, according to city records released under the Freedom of Information Law and reported on here for the first time. The paper is also eligible for an additional $26 million in city tax breaks, and has so far collected about a third of that.

Times Obit on Litwin All About RE Corruption Before His Death Only Time the Times Wrote About Litwin's RE Corruption Was During Silver and Skelos Trials
Nicole Gelinas‏ @nicolegelinas   It's a little sad when your obituary is literally a 1,000-word examination of NYC and State real-estate corruption   Leonard Litwin, New York Real EstateMogul, Dies at 102 (NYT)

Deputy Mayor Follow the Rules That I Do Not My Kid Gets Into A Good School While Your Kids Go to Failing Schools 
'Be sensitive': De Blasio defends deputy mayor's schoolfavors (NYP)  “I think we have to put this into context,” de Blasio said during an unrelated press conference on Staten Island.  “I was asking this guy to uproot his family, take a pay cut and get involved in public service, and think it is important to recognize. We have to be sensitive to this situation.”  Buery was so confident that his older son would get into MS 51, which rejects 78 percent of applicants, that he tried to have him attend an orientation in the spring reserved for students who had already been accepted.

New York City Department of Education officials pulled one string after another to help Deputy Mayor Richard Buery’s son get a coveted spot in Park Slope’s best middle school, despite moving into the district right before the start of the school year, the Post reports.  * New York City Deputy Mayor Richard Buery was warned that special treatment paid to getting his kid into a special school might get noticed, but now the favoritism is a matter of public record as the latest example of how political insiders jump to the head of the line, past countless regular citizens, the Post writes.  * A political insider's guide to getting kids into top public schools (NYP) FollowUp Fuming parents stunned by deputy mayor's 'string pulling' (NYP)

Every Few Years A Story Is Written About How Queens Boss Crowley Make Millions Off the Surrogate Court  
Three lawyers control Queens Democratic Party while onerakes millions from Surrogate’s Court wills (NYDN)  For 30 years, the same three men have effectively controlled one of the largest Democratic organizations in America.  They are Gerard Sweeney, Michael Reich and Frank Bolz, the powerful attorneys who serve Rep. Joe Crowley, the chairman of the Queens County Democratic Party. Reich is the executive secretary of the party, a spokesperson and wrangler of district leaders. Bolz is the law chairman, entrusted with keeping county-approved candidates on the ballot and knocking their rivals off.   Sweeney wears no official hat within the party infrastructure. But Queens insiders say he is arguably its most important strategist, helping guide the party’s political machinations on the homefront as it jousts for influence in City Hall and Albany.  He is also the one who gets to be very rich.

Jack Newfield On the Queens Surrogate Court In 1998 Newfield reported that Frank Bolz III, chairman of the Queens Democratic Party's law committee, is the single biggest recipient of assignments from Queens Surrogate Nahman - collecting $178,050 for 47 paid guardianship appointments since 1992.  Bolz is the law partner of Queens Assemblyman Joseph Crowley's father and brother. Gerard Sweeney, Manton's former law partner and campaign treasurer, is the current counsel to the public administrator - appointed by Nahman. Sweeney's law partner, Michael Reich, is executive secretary of the Queens Democ-ratic organization and has received 27 real-estate receiverships from nine differ-ent Queens judges. In 2000 Newfield wrote "The law firm of Queens Democratic Party leader Tom Manton has received more than $400,000 in court patronage since 1997. One partner -- Frank Bolz -- heads the party's law committee. Another, Gerard Sweeney, is counsel to the public adminis-trator. A third, Mike Reich, is executive secretary of the Queens party organiza-tion. They should apply antitrust laws to Manton's Monopoly." The rule is that a lawyer can get only one assignment of more than $5,000 during any 12-month period. Records show that lawyers like Batra, Bolz and Harvey Green-berg get a lot of assignments for $4,800 each.

Surrogate's Court And Why It Should Go (True News, 2005)   A Court, Not Votes, Sustains A Political Machine in Queens (NYT, 2011)
As the appointed counsel to the Queens public administrator, a job he has held without interruption since 1992, the 63-year-old Sweeney raked in just over $2 million last year administering in Surrogate’s Court the estates of people who died without leaving wills. Over the past decade, his haul is even more stunning: $30 million since 2006, according to an analysis of court records.  It’s impossible to know how many millions Sweeney received in his first 14 years on the job because the state’s Office of Court Administration, which oversees Surrogate’s Court, says it doesn't keep those figures.  The three men, with Crowley’s blessing, still determine what type of justice is served in Queens County. No Queens judge rises through the ranks without the party’s blessing and regular donations to its housekeeping account.  The biggest prize is Surrogate’s Court, where wills of the deceased are probated and holdings of those who die without them are evaluated.  It is where Sweeney reigns — and where the real money is made without too many prying eyes.  The court has long been a symbol of political influence and the biggest toll is collected by the counsel to the public administrator, the job Sweeney has held for a quarter century.  Since 2006, the Queens counsel’s office has processed about $588 million worth of property, stocks, cash and other holdings that once belonged to the borough’s dearly departed. That's far more than Brooklyn, the city's largest borough, where the dead left behind $379 million during that period. It also beats Manhattan, where approximately $370 million worth of estates were processed over that time period Sweeney has the Queens haul all to himself. As a major domo in the Queens Democratic Party, a confidante of Crowley and his longtime predecessor, Tom Manton, Sweeney is the only counsel appointed by the public administrator, Lois Rosenblatt. Manhattan, for example, has two law firms processing estates. Brooklyn has three counsels. His firm Sweeney, Reich and Bolz LLP-handles them all.   Sweeney commutes from his $3 million home in Old Westbury, L.I., to court on Sutphin Boulevard in Jamaica, Queens. When he travels to his law firm, he goes back across the Nassau County line to an office building in Lake Success, where the Sweeney law firm relocated last year from its longtime office on Queens Boulevard in Rego Park.

The law partners who run Queens politics offered no excuses for leaving the city, but each of them already live in the suburbs: Reich lives in Lawrence and Bolz resides in Suffolk County, with records listing addresses in Northport and Melville.  Under court rules, Sweeney earns a percentage of every estate he processes. The bigger the estate, the higher the fee. Records show Sweeney churns through a high volume, both large and small.  In March 2016, Sweeney earned $232,752 for administering the estate of a man named Frank Luczynski, whose holdings were valued at over $7 million. The same month he collected $5,908 for handling the property of Edward Schram who had less than $100,000 at his death, records show.  Sweeney refused to speak on the record about his work, but insisted that he doesn’t get to pocket all of his vast earnings. He has expenses, he said, like paying employees at the law firm who assist him. He wouldn't say how much. Since he is not paid with public funds, unlike Rosenblatt's office, he doesn't have to.  His only comment on the record was to praise the unity and continuity of the Queens Democratic machine.“For most part, we have a very close knit group of people,” he said. “Most of them like each other. Most are friends with each other.”  Crowley sees no issue with Sweeney’s remarkable haul. Explaining his longevity as counsel to the public administrator, Crowley said Sweeney is “one of, if not the most, qualified people” to do such work.  For Sweeney, who was law chairman of the party in the early 1990s, the move to Surrogate’s Court was a natural progression of a promising career on the inside track. Manton eventually became a partner of Sweeney’s law firm and the two men were especially close, regularly attending church together.

When Manton died in 2006, Crowley, who had been Manton's hand-picked successor in Congress, took over his party leadership post. Despite the changing of the guard, Sweeney retained his lucrative perch.  Sweeney travels to court at least a couple of days a week, and often appears in person on Thursdays. A study of the cases he handles reveals that his time is often consumed with kinship trials, verifying relations among various relatives to determine who is entitled to money in a will.There’s no term limit on Sweeney’s position. He serves as long as Rosenblatt, who as a public administrator is appointed by the surrogate judge, sees fit.  Rosenblatt is a longtime loyalist, a former member of its law committee and election lawyer for the party. Her boss is Surrogate Judge Peter Kelly, 58, who was elected in 2010. Kelly, a former Supreme Court judge, ran unopposed.Kelly is part of the close-knit group of friends cited by Sweeney that control Queens politics. His sister, Ann Anzalone, is Crowley’s long-serving district chief of staff. She’s also a Democratic district leader, a post her mother held before her.  Although registered to vote at a two-family Astoria, Queens home owned by his mother, Mary Ann Kelly (his sister also resides there), he makes little pretense about actually living there.  Kelly’s primary home is a cozy Cape Cod on a quiet street in Bronxville in Westchester County. Local records show that’s where he and his wife claimed a state STAR exemption in 2016, a property-tax break designed only for a primary residence. Kelly declined to respond to calls and visits to his residences. An aide referred all inquiries to a spokesman for the court system who in turn said residency issues were up to the state Board of Elections.  Records show that Sweeney is at the head of a long line of politically-connected attorneys named by Kelly to handle matters that come before him. Most are appointed as a guardian ad litem, legally designated to aid those unable to advocate for themselves, often due to mental illness or age. Crowley’s brother, Sean Crowley, received appointments with startling regularity for about a decade beginning in 1995 — until new anti-nepotism laws forced him from the court. Sean Crowley netted about $400,000 for his work as a guardian and court evaluator. Once he was barred, as the brother of the county leader, from landing appointments, he left his law practice and became a lobbyist for Davidson, Hutcher and Citron, a leading New York firm. Sean Crowley’s law partner was Scott Kaufman, an attorney who has served as Joe Crowley’s campaign treasurer. Since 2006, records show, Kaufman has earned $550,000 in fees from Surrogate's Court appointments.  Other party regulars receiving steady and lucrative appointments include Bill Driscoll, an influential lobbyist who once served as Manton’s chief of staff. Since 2006, Driscoll has raked in $212,448 from appointments he received in Surrogate’s Court as well as from other politically-tied judges where similar patronage has long prevailed.  Many of Driscoll’s appointments in Supreme Court have come via an old Manton ally named Robert Nahman, who served as surrogate judge before Kelly. In 2010, the party handed Nahman a Supreme Court judgeship, allowing him to serve past the mandatory retirement age of 70.Two other top earners are former or current district leaders — having held unpaid party posts that, despite their obscurity — help elect judges and choose the county leader. Democratic district leader Stephanie Goldstone, a party donor, netted $248,151 in court fees over the past decade. Kenneth Brown, a politically active attorney and former Forest Hills district leader, earned $242,840 from Surrogate’s and Supreme Court during the same time period.  The political appointees don’t deny their connections to the Democratic machine. They insist merit and acumen outweigh patronage.  “However you become known to the court, if a judge is putting their confidence in you to do the job, I think it's for the most part — from what I can see — it’s performance-based,” said Kaufman. “I take a lot of pride in what I do. If I’m appointed, performance is going to be the main objective.”

Escape From NY Continues Could the Undemocratic Corrupt Govt of NY Be the Cause?
People are fleeing New York at an alarming rate (NYP) More people are leaving the New York region than any other major metropolitan area in the country. More than 1 million people moved out of the New York area to another part of the country since 2010, a rate of 4.4 percent — the highest negative net migration rate among the nation’s large population centers, US Census records show.

Only Jimmy Breslin Could Cover the 2017 Mayor's Race "Can't Anyone Here Play This Game" "The Gang That Could Not Shoot Straight" 
You call this a mayoral election? Surely we canget better candidates (NYDN Ed) The 1993 Rudy Giuliani-David Dinkins rematch set the high-water mark for voter turnout in a New York City mayoral election: 57% of registered voters cast 1.9 million votes. It’s been downhill since then.  In 2009, only 28% of registered voters, or 1.1 million, voted for mayor. The low point came in 2013, when a pathetic 24% of 4.3 million registered voters, or 1.088 million, bothered to vote.  Pollsters projected that Bill de Blasio would blow out Joe Lhota. So voters stayed home. De Blasio got 73% of the vote.  Some pollsters are projecting an even lower turnout this year, as de Blasio seeks reelection.  What will it take to get New Yorkers back to the polls, especially at a time when pretty much no Democrat worth his or her salt has the gall to challenge an incumbent of his own party? Candidates with vision and personality to inspire them to register and vote. Ideas, not ideology. A two-party system, not a city run by one party. Real choice, not the illusion of choice.  Were Apple looking for a new CEO, the company would conduct a worldwide search for the most qualified executive to fill the job. Why don’t the best leaders from the public and private sectors apply to control the city’s $85 billion budget? Why don’t the citizens/shareholders demand the best leaders to run their city? Because unions, money, lobbyists, special interests and the media — not resumes — determine who’ll be mayor.  If resumes mattered, Lhota, a former deputy mayor for operations and MTA executive director, not de Blasio, a career political operative and politician, would be mayor today.   So what have we got? Not an election worthy of choosing the 110th mayor of the City of New York . A recent Quinnipiac University poll had de Blasio ahead of Massey by a 59% to 25% margin.  “Campaign finance rules favor incumbents and special interests control primaries,” he explained.  At least we have a contested mayoral race to look forward to in 2021. But four years is an eternity in politics.
Sal Albanese‏ @SalAlbaneseNYC Ex of outright skullduggery by political consultants: Retained & paid by @michelfaulkner & then pens a column minimizing his candidacy
More on Breslin 
More on Campaign 2017        

More On the Fed Cover-Up of Pay to Play As Rechnitz Says He Was Working With Reichberg to Buy Pols, Cops and Seabrook 
Key NYPD corruption witness throws pal under the bus (NYP)  Jona Rechnitz, the government key cooperator in an NYPD-corruption probe, told the feds that his former businessman pal Jeremy Reichberg was with him every step of the way as he bribed city officials — including attempts at bribing Mayor Bill de Blasio, newly unsealed court documents show.  Rechnitz, who is the feds’ key witness in multiple on-going probes, told the feds that an unnamed “friend” introduced him to many of the city officials he bribed, including prison guard chief Norman Seabrook, according to a transcript of Rechnitz’s June 2016 plea.  Sources say the unnamed “friend” is Reichberg, a prominent Borough Park resident who was charged last year with working with Rechnitz to pay police officers James Grant and Michael Harrington for perks, including a private police escort that closed down a lane of the Lincoln Tunnel.  In his plea before Manhattan federal judge Richard Sullivan, Rechnitz said Reichberg hooked him up with many of the officials he bribed — and that together they “agreed… to make contributions and to arrange for contributions by others to political campaigns.”  Rechnitz also said Reichberg rode the coattails of his bribes.

“I also understood that my friend, who had introduced me to many of the individuals, was requesting and receiving certain benefits from the officers and political officials in exchange for the personal and financial benefits that I was providing,” Rechnitz said of Reichberg.  Rechnitz is the key witness in the Manhattan federal prosecutors’ case against the cops and against Seabrook.  Rechnitz was also a government witness in the now-defunct probe into City Hall fundraising.  The real-estate investor told the feds that he donated money to de Blasio’s non-profit Campaign for One New York through fundraiser Ross Offinger in hopes of winning city-issued building permits, sources told The Post.  It’s unclear whether he received any permits as a result of his contributions, but Acting Manhattan US Attorney Joon Kim recently said he will not prosecute De Blasio or his aides due to the “difficulty in proving criminal intent in corruption schemes where there is no evidence of personal profit.”  “With respect to political contributions, I expected my conversations with the fundraiser that I would receive favorable municipal treatment,” Rechnitz said in his guilty plea.* Jona Rechnitz, the government key cooperator in an NYPD corruption investigation, told the feds that his former businessman pal Jeremy Reichberg was with him every step of the way as he bribed city officials, including attempts at bribing de Blasio, the New York Post writes.

Astorino Being Investigated in the Ongoing Rechnitz Probe 
Feds continue probing public official’s pal for corruption (NYP) Manhattan federal prosecutors continue to investigate a public official with ties to real-estate-investor-turned-government-snitch Jona Rechnitz, unsealed court documents show.  In unsealing documents tied to Rechnitz’s guilty plea last June, certain materials were redacted because they “relate to an ongoing investigation,” according to a letter from Acting Manhattan US Attorney Joon Kim.  The ongoing probe involves an unnamed elected official, according to the papers — who sources say is Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.   Astorino was subpoenaed last year over his office’s dealings with Rechnitz and businessman Jeremy Reichberg.  As The Post reported at the time, Rechnitz donated $25,000 to Astorino’s re-election campaign in 2013. A few days earlier, his pal Reichberg — who had no known previous ties to Westchester County — had been named a volunteer county police chaplain.* Attorney Edward Ambrosino, who pleaded not guilty Friday to federal charges of tax evasion and wire fraud, has a long history in Nassau County Republican politics, having served as special counsel to County Executive Edward Mangano, Newsday reports.
Rechnitz the Rat, Seabrook

Dirty Cops Look To Get Off Like de Blasio  
The NYPD officers accused of providing favors in exchange for bribes are gearing up for a massive motion to dismiss their case — citing the same U.S. Supreme Court ruling that helped save New York City Mayor de Blasio from prosecution, the Post reports.

Mayor de Blasio Is Set to Ease Rules on Circumcision Ritual (NYT, 2/24/2015) * De Blasio to act 'soon' on circumcision ritual(PoliticoNY) Health department officials believe the practice can spread herpes simplex virus-1, which is common in adults but can be especially dangerous for infants. The communities that practice metzitzah b'peh have fiercely resisted city attempts, going back before the de Blasio administration, to regulate it. The city's health department currently requires parents to sign a consent form acknowledging that the health department recommends against performing the practice, a Bloomberg-era policy that was challenged in court. Attorneys representing the Orthodox sects said the city's health department was overestimating the dangers, and that there is insufficient evidence to prove metzitzah b'peh is dangerous enough to warrant a public health intervention.  Mayor de Blasio Is Set to Ease Rules on Circumcision Ritual* NYC knew about dangerous Jewish circumcision ritual foryears but didn't warn parents until after baby's death (NYDN)  City health officials had known about the dangers of a controversial circumcision ritual since 1999 but did practically nothing to publicly warn unsuspecting Jewish parents until a baby died six years later, records show.  The first case of a baby becoming sick due to the ultra-Orthodox practice of a mohel sucking the blood from an infant’s newly circumcised penis — a ritual known as metzizah b’peh — surfaced after a concerned physician voluntarily reached out to the city Health Department during the Giuliani administration.  At the time, there was no requirement for doctors to report all cases of neonatal herpes.  But more cases continued to pop up — six in total — and concerned doctors voluntarily contacted the Health Department for guidance.  It wasn’t until after one baby died in 2005 that city health officials decided to issue a public alert and begin to notify Jewish parents about the risks.  Health officials say they reached out to community leaders and recommended against the practice. But nothing was ever publicly disclosed, records show.  Health alerts were not started until sometime after 9/11, according to Health Department spokesman Chris Miller.  “You’re talking about two decades and two administrations ago — the fax machine was still a dominant communication device,” Miller said.  But at the same time, the Health Department suddenly stopped issuing a citywide health alert each time a new bris-induced herpes case was reported. Asked why they stopped, a high-ranking Health Department staffer explained last week there was so much attention given to the issue that officials felt doctors were already aware of the disease. Moving forward, those alerts will once again be issued, the official said.

NYC Dept of Health Board of Directors
Mary T. Bassett, MD, MPH  Commissioner of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and Chair of the Board of Health.
Pamela S. Brier, MPH  Former President and CEO of Maimonides Medical Center and a current member of the Board of Health.
Sixto R. Caro, MD  Member of the Board of Health and operates a private practice.
Joel A. Forman, M.D.  Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinan School of Medicine and serves on the Board of Health.
Susan Klitzman, DrPH, MPH, CPH  Senior Associate Dean for Administration and Professor of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences at CUNY School of Public Health in addition to her membership on the Board of Health.
Deepthiman K. Gowda, MD, MPH  Director of Foundations of Clinical Medicine, Director of Clinical Practice, Program in Narrative Medicine and an associate professor of medicine at CUMC Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in addition to his membership on the Board of Health.
Lynne D. Richardson, MD, FACEP  Professor & Vice Chair of Emergency Medicine and Professor of Population Health Science & Policy at The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.
Gail B. Nayowith, MSW  Principal of the 1digit LLC, the project management and consulting practice in addition to being a member on the Board of Health.
Ramanathan Raju, MD  Former President of the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation as well a member on the Board of Health.
Rosa M. Gil, DSW  President and CEO of Communilife, Inc. in addition to serving on the Board of Health.
Karen B. Redlener, MS  Executive Director Children's Health Fund & Community Pediatric Programs of Montefiore Health System as well as a member of the Board of Health.

How de Blasio Get Out of the Circumcision Mess
de Blasio Special Treatment for A Non Progressive Voting Block It is All About Votes

Stop pandering and protect the newborn, Mr. Mayor (NYP Ed) * City evaluating Hasidic community's cooperation in herpes cases (NYP) * De Blasio’s bad deal endangers infants (NYP Ed) * New York City has been largely unsuccessful in gaining full cooperation from the Hasidic community in rooting out mohels involved in neonatal herpes cases, but de Blasio says he still needs to evaluate whether a deal with the community is “working effectively or not,” the Post writes.  * As ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jewish community leaders fail to cooperate with the de Blasio administration to evaluate a controversial circumcision practice linked to several cases of neonatal herpes, the city must step in and protect these newborns, the Post writes.
Team de Blasio’s special treatment for big-buck donors (NYP) It’s no secret that people who kicked in big bucks to Bill de Blasio’s campaign and non-profit slush fund enjoy clout at City Hall.  US Attorney Preet Bharara is taking a long, hard look at the access enjoyed by folks who want something from the city and those who use their influence to get favors for others. New e-mails this week put one of those people, Moishe Indig, in the spotlight.  Indig is a well-known political insider and an unofficial lobbyist for Brooklyn’s Aroni Satmar community. The e-mails, which were obtained by Politico, document his notable influence at City Hall.    Indig reportedly has emerged as a focus of Bharara’s ongoing probe into Team de Blasio; The Post reported last December that he was interviewed by the FBI.  His ties to the mayor are longstanding: He’s credited with steering thousands of his community’s bloc voters to de Blasio’s campaign after being promised that a city Health Department requirement for a ritual circumcision practice linked to herpes would be rescinded. He’s also served as a key fundraiser.  Beyond that, the e-mails show that when members of the community need favors from City Hall, they turn to Indig.  That’s what two tech investors seeking a lucrative deal did. Within days, Indig, through de Blasio’s senior adviser, arranged a meeting for them with Human Resources chief Steven Banks. Six months later, they had their $250,000 deal.   Indig also got the city to reverse an order to close a Brooklyn religious school he controlled. De Blasio denies he personally intervened and claims Indig’s folks got nothing from Banks.  Indig, of course, is only one of many with “most favored donor” status. And Bharara and his team will determine whether Team de Blasio crossed a legal line.  Of course, the ethical line was obliterated a long time ago.*  A circumcision ritual with a rare but real track record of infecting infants with herpes is continuing to put newborn boys at risk, with the blame shared both by the practitioners and a lackadaisical New York City mayor who is letting them get away with it, the Daily News writes. * De Blasio never enforced agreement to ID mohels withherpes (NYP) The de Blasio administration has never enforced an agreement it made two years ago to identify mohels who transmit herpes to infants during circumcisions — which it boasted would protect both “children and religious rights.”  A new case of life-threatening herpes in a newborn has made a shambles of that claim, as the Department of Health scrambles to track down the latest mohel who may be carrying the viruThe Mayor’s Office announced on Feb. 24, 2015, that “for the first time” a rabbinical coalition “from across New York City” had pledged to turn over the mohels linked to spreading herpes and require them to undergo testing.  If there was a match to an infected infant, the mohel would be banned for life from performing circumcisions.  “This new agreement fulfills the mayor’s commitment to finding a more effective policy that protects children and religious rights in a way that more actively engages the cooperation of the community.  This agreement focuses on two key areas: maximizing awareness of parents and minimizing risk to infants,” City Hall said in a fact sheet at the time.  The agreement was meant to allay concerns after the administration removed a restriction imposed under Mayor Michael Bloomberg that required parents to sign consent forms before a mohel could perform the ancient ritual known as metzitzah b’peh.  The practice requires the mohel to suck blood from the incision on an infant’s penis.  But the self-policing hasn’t worked.    There have been six neonatal cases of herpes resulting from metzitzah b’peh since the deal was announced in 2015, and only two of the suspect mohels have been identified.  The city Health Department said that a code of silence in the Hasidic and other ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities has made it difficult to track down the mohels who could be spreading the virus. ince 2000, a total of 24 infants have been infected. Two have died and two others have suffered brain damage.* De Blasio Seen In Bind On Bris Ritual (Jewish Week)  New infant herpes cases suggest charedi community isn’t living up to its bargain on metitzah; city eyeing new regulations.
de Blasio campaign 2017 and His National Campaign    

NY1 lays Off the Light News Reporters Keeps the Lobbyists and Political Reporters 
Weather on the 1s? Stormy, as Familiar Faces Depart From NY1 (NYT) Change landed hard on NY1 and its viewers this week, in the form of layoffs for about a dozen employees, many of them recognizable and beloved on-air figures.  Local news coverage has long been on the wane in New York City, as newspapers like The Daily News, The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times invest less in neighborhood-level coverage. Even the popular digital local news organization DNA Info laid off some of its more experienced reporters recently, before merging with the website Gothamist.
So far NY1's revamp focuses on stuff New Yorkers justdon't care about  (NYDN) * Amid Layoffs, NY1's Co-Founder Laments An Abandonment OfThe News Station's Purpose (Brooklyn Patch) Richard Aurelio said the news channel was never meant to be a money-making machine.

A Dialogue?  de Blasio and His Puppet Council Speaker Pick the Members of the Conflict of Interests Board
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to have a “dialogue” with the city’s Conflicts of Interest Board after the board issued an opinion that would restrict how the mayor raises money for his legal defense fund, Politico New York writes.
Ethics Board Fixes Speakers Election

Capalino and His Shadow Govt Secret Agents Lobbyist are NYC's New Gangster Class
City& State - New York City’s top 10 lobbyists: #1 Capolino earns 247% morethan the #3 lobbying firm Pitta Bishop. 
More Capalino

4 Years After He Was Indicted 2 Years After He Was Found Guilty Senator Sampson Going to Jail in April  
Convicted ex-state Sen. John Sampson makes last effort toavoid prison ahead of April 21 surrender date (NYDN) Convicted ex-State Senator John Sampson looks to be heading for prison after a federal appeals court denied his last-ditch effort to avoid prison while fighting his case.  It didn't take long for Second Circuit judges to rebuff Sampson's bid to stay out during his appeal.  The judges heard arguments Tuesday morning and turned around a terse denial in the afternoon.  Sampson, 51, has an April 21 surrender date for a five-year sentence on his obstruction of justice conviction. When Brooklyn federal Judge Dora Irizarry sentenced Sampson, she refused to let him stay out on appeal. Sampson challenged her denial in the Second Circuit.  Sampson's lawyers told the appellate judges they should let Sampson stay out because his convictions would fall apart on appeal.  At a 2015 trial, jurors determined Sampson was guilty of trying to hamper a mortgage fraud investigation into an associate who loaned him money. He also fibbed to the feds about secret ownership of a liquor store, jurors decided.

de Blasio and Media Increase Anger on the Homeless for Housing Polices That Has Killed Low Income Housing in the City

Homeless man’s nonstop drunken singing is driving people crazy (NYP)  Residents of an Upper East Side high-rise are being driven out of their minds — and apartments — by a homeless man who drunkenly sings at the top of his lungs all day and night.  The caterwauling crank has been plaguing the Saratoga condo tower at East 75th Street and First Avenue, where he sits on the edge of a cement planter and screams out freestyle lyrics of a decidedly personal nature.  “You don’t want me, you don’t want me . . . Will you love me? Who will love me?” he is heard yelling out in a sing-song voice in a nighttime video recorded by a resident.  In one recent performance witnessed by The Post, the trashy troubadour got even more intimate, if not downright gross, belting out in broad daylight, “I have a tiny d- -k!” in between slugs from a 22-ounce can of Coors stashed in a brown paper bag.  The NYPD identified the crooner as Damond Hood, 41, and said he had been busted 15 times since 1999, most recently in February for trespassing inside a nearby 7-Eleven store. He was also hauled off to the hospital for acting out on March 1 and March 8, cops said.

Combating homelessness today: Looking beyond shelters —and making it easier to get housing  (NYDN) * Adding Homeless Shelters Is a Political Risk, but de Blasio Sees No Alternative (NYT)  The mayor plans to begin opening the first of 90 new shelters during the heat of a re-election campaign.* New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s push to open 90 homeless shelters in the run up to his re-election campaign is based on a calculation is that inaction would be more damaging, and the plan’s scale, a seeming deterrent, may work to his advantage, The New York Times writes. * Notorious Spitting Woman of Upper East Side Arrested:Police (WNBC)

Even the Crown Heights Gentrifies are Against the Shelters 
Brooklyn residents ‘furious’ with de Blasio’s homeless initiative (NYP) The gentrifiers are revolting. We’re told Crown Heights residents are furious that Bill de Blaiso’s revived “Fair Share” initiative on homeless accommodation is treating some neighborhoods more fairly than others — namely, his own.  Hizzoner recently said 90 new shelters will be spread evenly across the five boroughs.  But the Crown Heights insurgents say three shelters are being built in their hood — but zero are going up in neighboring Park Slope, where de Blasio lived before Gracie Mansion.  “I think he’s absolutely concerned about his property value, and he knows how mobilized Park Slope is as a community,” said Jennifer Catto, one of the residents suing to stop shelters being built.  Catto’s argument is that shelters are being shoved into poorer neighborhoods, where residents are expected to put up less of a fight.  De Blasio spokesperson Jaclyn Rothenberg said, “We are committed to opening facilities in every community across the five boroughs, including neighborhoods like Park Slope.” Of the five shelters announced this year, none are in Park Slope.

Manhattan's Posh Homeless Hotels 

These are the 30 posh hotels where NYC places its homeless (NYP) The city has used 30 Manhattan hotels to house the homeless, including the iconic New Yorker, the upscale Excelsior and the tourist-friendly The Manhattan at Times Square.  The city’s use of Manhattan hotels shot up 58 percent in the last year as bookings expanded from the outer boroughs to prime tourist destinations in Midtown and Soho.   And the homeless lodging has reached beyond fleabag flophouses to boutique hotels and brand names sought by visitors who don’t necessarily want to mingle with the down-and-out.  “We rode the elevator up to our room with homeless people who were barefoot,” one guest at the Art Deco New Yorker hotel griped on the site Trip Advisor in August.  A total of 1,453 Manhattan hotel rooms were listed on the city’s “Shelter Scorecard” for February. The citywide average per room is $222 per day, including social services. The average cost per day at a shelter is $150.  The city spent $72.9 million on hotel housing in the year ending Oct. 31, 2016, a report by Comptroller Scott Stringer says.

NYCHA Meltdown 

The New ACS Fix: A New Plan to Fix Last Failed New Plan, More Consultants, More Money and Press Releases 
ACS hires outside firms for independent review  (NYP) New Administration for Children'sServices boss expects more resources for fixing the troubled agency (NYDN) * The city’s embattled child welfare agency is hiring two national child advocacy organizations as outside consultants, along with an expert from Los Angeles to independently review its operations, the New York Post writes.
More On Child Abuse ACS

Corruption, Billions in Pork for Upstate and No Jobs Growth As TV Tax Payer Ads Tell Us How Great Upstate Jobs Growth is Going  
Money for nothing: Cuomo’s $25 billion upstate-jobs failure (NYP)* Job growth across upstate New York remains sluggish despite billions in economic development subsidies, The Investigative Post reports in the first part of a “State of Subsidies” series with partners including ProPublica and The Times Union. * New York has sunk a lot of taxpayer money – $25 billion by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s estimate – into recharging upstate’s moribund economy, but the return has been anemic job growth that is a quarter of the national average, Investigative Post’s Jim Heaney writes in The Buffalo News. ** With New York spending billions on economic development for uncertain gains, the state should develop a program that better demands and measures success, the Times Union writes.  * While Albany’s elected leaders are hashing out the latest state budget, they need to add some relief for businesses plagued by the high costs of workers’ compensation, The Buffalo News writes. * GE to cut jobs in Schenectady  * "Upstate jobs grew just 2.7 percent, worse than inall but three states." via @nypost  * Churchill: Under Cuomo, upstate's painful decline goes on (TU)

Mayoral Update
More on Campaign 2017        

IDC Senators Targeted 
Marisol Has Sold Her Soul' Anti-IDC Activists Chant AtProtest Outside Marisol Alcantara's Office (Gothamist) 110 demonstrators marched in front of and across the street from state Senator Marisol Alcantara's office Friday afternoon, the latest in a series of demonstrations targeting Democrats who are aligned with the Independent Democratic Conference. * State senator candidate is exec at company that owns problem properties(NYP) * Bronx Assemblyman Mark Gjo­naj, who is running for New York City Council, went to bat for the owners of a restaurant facing community backlash after a vicious bar brawl, and received campaign donations from the owners 10 days later, the New York Post writes.

NYCLASS Clueless Stooges In Lobbyists de Blasio PACs Corrupting the 2013 Election That Will Go Unpunished After the Bharara Dumping 
De Blasio gets bombarded by animal rights activists (NYP) Animal-rights activists turned on Mayor de Blasio with a vengeance Sunday — publicly heckling him for failing to fulfill his 2013 campaign pledge to ban horse-drawn carriages from the city’s streets.  The protest by NYCLASS outside a Greek Independence Day event in Midtown came little more than a week after federal and state officials said they wouldn’t prosecute de Blasio over pay-to-play suspicions involving hefty political donations from the activists and others.  It also came as a fellow attendee, potential mayoral challenger John Catsimatidis, blasted the closing of the corruption probes.  “It’s not what I think. It’s what the people think. The people think that not everything was right,” billionaire Gristedes owner Catsimatidis said. “You know I’ve put a lot of energy out to get this done,” de Blasio said as protesters blocked his path to the Greek Independence Day parade.  “I did not have the kind of support I was hoping for in the Council,” he said.  NYCLASS board members Wendy Neu and Steve Nislick donated at least $134,900 to de Blasio’s campaign and his since-shuttered nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York.  Proposed legislation to restrict carriage horses to Central Park died in February 2016 when the council cancelled a vote on the bill.  A council spokeswoman said there were no plans to revive it.  Catsimatidis, who lost the 2013 Republican primary race for mayor to Joe Lhota, said he would decide in the next few weeks whether to run for mayor again.

After Bharara de Blasio Blames the Workers for the Rat Bags who Pay to Play With Him And the Press for Not Following His Script 
De Blasio punishes 3 more City Hall officials linked to scandals (NYP)   de Blasio penalized at least three city workers involved in his administration’s corruption scandals, in addition to firing a deputy commissioner last month, sources said.   Geneith Turnbull, who managed the purchase of goods and services for city agencies, was demoted from deputy commissioner at the Department of Citywide Administrative Services to analyst, a spokeswoman confirmed.  Turnbull earned City Hall’s ire after the city approved contracts with a janitorial supply company under scrutiny from federal and city investigators, one source said.  JAD Corp. of America president Joseph Dussich gave $100,000 to the mayor’s charity, Campaign for One New York, before his company won a $15,000 no-bid contract to use rat-repellant trash bags in a Parks Department pilot program in 2015. The city awarded a $5.9 million contract later that year to a company that bought Dussich’s bags in bulk. Federal and state investigators did not charge the mayor or his aides after the year-long probe, and Dussich lawyer said his client was “exonerated.”  Two other DCAS staffers, including axed former deputy commissioner Ricardo Morales’ chief of staff and policy adviser, were transferred to different offices, a DCAS spokeswoman said.  They lost their computer and email privileges, and swallowed $20,000 pay cuts in the move, one source said.  “It was a pay cut and title cut as if they committed” an infraction, the source said.  Morales, who managed the city’s office space and real estate sales, was canned on Feb. 24 in what a de Blasio spokesman called a reorganization. The 22-year civil servant approved the controversial removal of a Manhattan nursing home’s deed restriction in 2015 which led the owner to flipping the building for a $72 million profit.

The AG After Bharara
Schneiderman: Corruption Is A ‘Cancer In StateGovernment’ (YNN) Schneiderman’s office is prosecuting Sen. Robert Ortt, who is charged with three felony fraud counts stemming from his wife receiving a no-show job. The man who held his post before him, ex-Sen. George Maziarz, faces five counts of filing a false instrument as well. Ortt angrily rebutted the charges on Thursday after his arraignment, calling the case a “political” witch hunt against him by Schneiderman. Schneiderman, however, noted he has prosecuted Democrats in the past, including ex-Sen. Shirley Huntley and political operative Steve Pigeon. “This is an investigation that has been ongoing that started with a referral from the Board of Elections,” he said. “The notion this is a political effort is completely at odds with the facts.”  Schneiderman also dismissed any questions over whether he would have to step up his office’s anti-corruption work with the departure of Preet Bharara as U.S. attorney. Schneiderman’s office worked with Bharara on several cases, including a sweeping bribery and bid-rigging cases that drew in charges for a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and upstate developers, as well as the ex-president of SUNY Nano.  “We’ve been proceeding with these cases all along. We’re going to do that and we will work with whoever is in place,” Schneiderman said. “Certainly, I had a good working relationship with Preet and wish him well, but the work of the office goes on. The work of investigating corruption goes on.”

de Blasio: "I Decide What is the News" Blames Reporters for His Walk Out of Press Conference NYC Owellian Nightmare Soviet Union Dreaming Mayor 
De Blasio’s pathetic demand to dictate the news (NYP Ed)  In a week when Mayor de Blasio, having escaped indictment in his various corruption scandals, should have been soaring high, he instead came off as a petulant kid, testily ducking reporters’ questions as his minions scrubbed the record in sad efforts to hide the embarrassments.  The mayor walked out of his own press conference Thursday because no one wanted to ask about the issue he hoped to promote, his dream of a new “mansion tax.” Instead, reporters sought his comments on news of public interest — a racially motivated murder; an arrest over the threats to Jewish Community Centers; the court ruling against his bid to shield his communications with his “agents of the city.”  De Blasio’s response: “This is how we set things up, guys. You don’t want to be a part of it, you don’t have to come.”  Wow: Most 7-year-olds don’t whine that sadly to other kids who won’t play their game.  Then the mayor’s staff followed up by scrubbing the offending questions from the official transcript — instead labelling them “inaudible,” with rich echoes of all those “expletives deleted” in the Nixon tapes. On Friday, the mayor continued to pout in public, insisting the reporters didn’t know their jobs, because the mansion tax and the senior housing it’s supposed to fund are “what their readers really care about.”  More egg-on-the-face: City Hall also got caught censoring an embarrassing de Blasio answer from the online video of a presser earlier in the week.  As he notes on the opposite page, Seth Barron of City Council Watch asked about the mayor’s high-profile ban on federal immigration agents in city schools: Has anyone from ICE ever tried to enter a school?  No, de Blasio admitted — thereby admitting his “solution” was just grandstanding.  The exchange was edited out of City Hall’s YouTube video of the press conference — until Barron pointed out the mysterious gap, and aides posted a clean version.  The tone for such stupidity is plainly set at the top: De Blasio’s hunger to control the public debate is as palpable as it is futile.  Grow up, Mr. Mayor: City Hall reporters aren’t your stenographers or your cheerleaders. And nobody gets to dictate news coverage in this town.*De Blasio blames reporters for press conference walkout (NYP)

de Blasio Would Only Answer Questions on the Mansion Tax Bill Which Everyone in Albany Says Has No Chance of Passing and Even the AARP is Against 

Judge Lobis Rules de Blasio Must Release His Shadow Lobbyists Agent of City Emails is Also the Judge Blocking the Mayor's Criminal Lawyer Lobbyist From Building A Nursing Home   
De Blasio must release emails with close private advisers (NYP) de Blasio administration will be forced to release emails between the mayor and one of his closest private advisers — a so-called “agent of the city” — after a judge sided with The Post and NY1 in a public disclosure lawsuit. In a 13-page ruling, Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Joan Lobis rejected the administration’s argument that emails between Mayor Bill de Blasio and BerlinRosen co-founder Jonathan Rosen can be shielded from disclosure because Rosen is an informal, unpaid consultant — even though he represents private clients with interests before the city. “Here, the mayor is seeking to apply … deliberative privilege to someone who is not part of the mayor’s office or that of any other city agency, and who has not been hired by the mayor but is merely advising him on an informal basis,” she wrote. “Clothing informal relationships such as that of Rosen and the mayor with the inter-agency or intra-agency privilege impermissibly broadens the exception of FOIL, counter to the public interest in transparency in government,” she added, citing the Freedom of Information Law.  Lobis concluded that “correspondence between the mayor and Rosen, who has not been formally retained by the mayor or any other city agency, is not exempt from disclosure under the inter-agency or intra-agency deliberative privilege under FOIL.

” Her ruling also said de Blasio hurt his own case by saying in December — after the lawsuit was filed — that the agents of the city would lose their “deliberative privilege” going forward. The other so-called agents are Bill Hyers and Nick Baldick at Hilltop Public Solutions; former US Ambassador to South Africa Patrick Gaspard; and AKPD partner John Del Cecato.  A spokesman for the mayor’s office said an appeal would be filed but declined further comment.* Outing Mayorde Blasio's secret agents (NYDN Ed) Hand them over, Mr. Mayor — every last email to or from your administration and the media consulting firm BerlinRosen, as you must under the Freedom of Information Law.  So ordered Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Joan Lobis on Thursday, not that there was the remote possibility of any other outcome, given the absurdity of the mayor’s defense.  Namely, that de Blasio confidante Jonathan Rosen, co-founder and principal of the highly connected consultancy, was an “agent of the city,” his emails therefore shielded from release to reporters.  In the months following de Blasio’s January 2014 inauguration, Rosen’s firm was paid not by the city but by the de Blasio-affiliated nonprofit Campaign for One New York, and by campaign committees working with the mayor to elect a Democratic majority to the state Senate. It simultaneously represented clients, like real estate developers, with big projects under consideration by City Hall.  Reporters, pursuing communications between Rosen and de Blasio and their respective teams to shine light on potential conflicts, invoked state law designed to advance the public’s right to know about the workings of its government.  That Freedom of Information Law has narrow exceptions intended to protect delicate internal administration deliberations and the like.  By deeming Rosen — a consultant and adviser — an “agent of the city,” De Blasio sought to turn those exceptions into loopholes large enough to drive much of his mayoralty through.

de Blasio Said His Lawyers Told Him That He Does Not Have to Make His Secret Agents Email Public
His lawyers made him do it: The mayor’s lame secrecy plea (NYP Ed) Score a big win for The Post — but an even bigger victory for New Yorkers’ right to find out what their mayor doesn’t want them to know. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Joan Lobis ruled in favor of The Post and NY1, whose reporters have been trying for two years to obtain e-mails between Mayor de Blasio and political fixer Jonathan Rosen.  The judge flatly rejected de Blasio’s insistence that his communications with Rosen can be hidden from public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Law — and ordered him to turn them all over. Rosen is practically a shadow mayor: He’s represented de Blasio’s campaigns as well as his self-promoting nonprofit. Yet the consultant also represents outside private interests that do business with the city. Score a big win for The Post — but an even bigger victory for New Yorkers’ right to find out what their mayor doesn’t want them to know. Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Joan Lobis ruled in favor of The Post and NY1, whose reporters have been trying for two years to obtain e-mails between Mayor de Blasio and political fixer Jonathan Rosen.  The judge flatly rejected de Blasio’s insistence that his communications with Rosen can be hidden from public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Law — and ordered him to turn them all over.   Rosen is practically a shadow mayor: He’s represented de Blasio’s campaigns as well as his self-promoting nonprofit. Yet the consultant also represents outside private interests that do business with the city. A similar line helped him evade criminal charges in the recent investigations. But Lobis ruled that it’s nonsense: The e-mails can’t be withheld merely because de Blasio “desired that the discussions be secret.”  Especially for a mayor who ran by blasting everyone else in City Hall for “blocking information that belongs to the public.” The courts have a duty to handle de Blasio’s appeal with maximum speed, lest he continue to frustrate the sunshine laws. New Yorkers have a right to know before they cast their votes.

Sex Bathhouse King Donor to Queens Pols 
Indicted bathhouse owners gave $206K to Queens Democrats (NYP) The owners of a steamy Queens bathhouse indicted on tax-fraud charges last week showered $206,400 on borough Democrats over the past decade, according to campaign filings.  Spa Castle CEO Steven Chon and several members of his family gave $31,300 to Queens Democratic Party Chairman Joe Crowley; $35,200 to Rep. Grace Meng; and $12,350 to Queens Borough President Melinda Katz since 2006, according to federal, state, and city campaign filings.  Crowley welcomed Chon as his guest to see South Korea’s then-President Park Geun-hye address Congress in 2013. The invite came six weeks after Chon and four relatives pooled $12,700 for Crowley’s campaign coffers, records show.  A rep for Crowley did not return messages.  Chon, 57, and his siblings, Victor Chon, Daniel Chon, and Stephanie Chon, were indicted on 11 felony charges Wednesday for allegedly failing to pay $621,000 in sales taxes, $207,000 in withholding taxes, $610,000 in corporate taxes, and $131,000 in MTA-surcharge taxes. All four pleaded not guilty.  The College Point complex had quietly become an underwater warren for X-rated activities, The Post reported last March. One staffer said “there is a big problem with customers having sex in the pools, and the management doesn’t know how to handle it.”  The city temporarily closed the spa for two months last year after a 6-year-old girl nearly drowned in one of its pools.

de Blasio's Nixon Rose Mary Woods Video 10 Minute Gap in His Press Conference Official Posted Tape Silenced Reporter Barron Question That Exposed Fake News Conference 
City Hall's Press Conference 19 Minute Video Trimmed to 9 Minutes
Mayor de Blasio refuses to answer off-topic questions from reporters in disastrous press conference, storms off (NYDN)  When the mayor’s official YouTube account originally posted video of the press conference, it was 19 minutes and 36 seconds long — and at the end, it included a close-up shot zooming in on the anti-de Blasio sign in the window of the skyscraper.  Within a couple hours of the press conference, the video was neatly trimmed to just over nine minutes, with the shot of the skyscraper sign cut out. * Mayor de Blasio Redacts Video Record to Remove Off-Message Statements (City Council Watch) At question time I asked the obvious question: “How many incidents have there been so far of ICE agents trying to enter schools, with or without warrants.” Mayor de Blasio answered, “None, so far.” Hmm. Then I had another question for Chancellor Fariña.  Later I went on YouTube to review the video of the press conference. But when the video came to my question there was an odd skip: the first question was cut from the video, and picked up again about 15 seconds later with my question for Fariña.  Someone with authority in Mayor de Blasio’s communications department decided that his answer to my question was off-message, and edited the tape to erase the part where the mayor admits that his new policy directive addresses a problem that does not exist. Basically it was all for show. A few hours later they wrote back with a link to the unedited video. They removed the original, edited version,  and did not answer my other questions. I can send you the email if you want to see it. Here is the unedited video, which picks up where I first asked my question. Now it seems that in addition to limiting the types of questions the mayor will even hear, he and his staff will change the public record if his answers come out wrong.

Now de Blasio Says His Lawyers OKed Agents of the City That Why He Will Appeal Remember the DA Vance Said He Was Dropping the Charges Against de Blasio Because He Said the Mayor's Lawyers Said He Can Go Around the Election Law
Mayor Breaks Silence on 'Agents of the City' Ruling During Weekly Radio Show (NY1) In an interview on WNYC radio Friday morning, he did discuss his plans to appeal the decision. And he said he is doing so because he said his lawyers assured his outside advisors that they could provide direct advice to the mayor on a number of issues and have it remain confidential.

Since the Mayor Disagrees With Vance That He Violated the Intent and Spirit of the Law the DA Must Release the de Blasio Interview
Laura Nahmias‏Verified account @nahmias   But mayor doesn't explain the ways in which he disagrees. D.A. said, essentially, de Blasio and team sought to circumvent donation limits. .@BilldeBlasio says he disagrees with D.A. Vance's letter's statement that the team's fundraising violated intent and spirit of the law.

The Feds and Manhattan DA Have an Obligation to the Public to Release the Transcripts of Their Interview With the Mayor

NYT: After He Escapes the Corruption Charges de Blasio Tells the Press To Drop Dead
The Mayor Will Now Take Your Questions. Wait,Where’d He Go? (NYT) Mayor Bill de Blasio walked out on his own news conference on Thursday without answering any questions, irked that reporters were not asking what he wanted them to ask.  In an extraordinary test of wills with the City Hall press corps, Mr. de Blasio refused to respond to questions that might ordinarily be considered well within the bounds of what the mayor of New York City would be expected to address. He was asked about the murder of a black man who police said was stabbed to death in Manhattan by a white man who had come to the city to harm black people, and the arrest in Israel of a man accused of making a string of telephone threats against Jewish community centers and other sites in the United States.  The mayor had called reporters to a chilly block of East 56th Street to make a pitch about his proposal for a so-called mansion tax on the sale of apartments or houses of more than $2 million, to pay for rent relief for older New Yorkers. The plan would need approval by the state legislature and is seen as having little hope of success in a State Senate that has generally responded hostilely to both new taxes and the mayor’s initiatives.  Against the backdrop of a luxury high-rise (with a handwritten sign in one window reading, “De Blasio doesn’t care about the working middle class”), the mayor spoke about the tax over the din of construction, passing trucks and a heckler who shouted, “Everyone hates you, de Blasio!”  Then he said he would take questions on the tax proposal.  But the first question was about the arrest a day earlier of a man who, the police say, came to New York from Baltimore to kill black people. He is charged with murdering a black man, Timothy Caughman, in an attack on Monday. Mr. de Blasio released a statement lamenting the death but has not spoken publicly about it.  “O.K., Mara, you’re smart,” he said to the reporter, Mara Gay of The Wall Street Journal, who asked the question. “I’m here to talk about this,” he said, waving a flyer about the tax proposal. “I’m here to talk about this. If you want to talk about this, I’m here to talk about this. If you want to talk about this, great. If not, we’ll take questions another way another time. Does anyone want to ask about the mansion tax?”  Another reporter, Grace Rauh of NY1, asked about a judge’s decision earlier in the day, ordering City Hall to turn over emails between officials and a mayoral adviser — a ruling the city said it would appeal. “Guys, you can ask all you want,” Mr. de Blasio said. “Here’s what we’re here to talk about.” He held up the flyer again. “Last call. Anyone want to talk about the mansion tax?” The showdown came amid existing tensions with reporters who regularly cover the mayor. Mr. de Blasio frequently holds events to promote his initiatives or policies, in which he insists that reporters ask questions only about the topic he has chosen to discuss. He typically holds only one news conference a week in which he will take questions on any topic. The restrictions have been a frequent source of friction with the press.  “This is how we set things up, guys: You don’t want to be a part of it, you don’t have to come,” the mayor said on Thursday. “If someone has a question about this, ask it about this. If you don’t, that’s cool.”  He turned to a New York Times reporter, who asked about the arrest in Israel on Thursday related to anti-Semitic threats in the United States. A recent wave of threats against Jewish institutions in this country included several in New York City, although authorities in Israel did not say whether the man they arrested was involved in the New York incidents.  Two weeks earlier, Mr. de Blasio decried the incidents during a visit to a Jewish center on Staten Island that had recently received a bomb threat.But on Thursday Mr. de Blasio cut off the question. “O.K., that’s great guys,” he said. “I’m done. Thank you.” He strode away and got into a waiting SUV.

NYP: de Blasio Dodges Questions Ducks Press 
De Blasio dodges questions, then bails on press conference (NYP) An irate Mayor de Blasio abruptly cut short a Midtown press conference on Thursday because reporters wouldn’t ask questions about the longshot mansion tax he’s pushing in Albany.  As he’s done throughout his administration, Hizzoner refused to respond to questions he considers “off topic” — even on Wednesday’s shocking killing of a black man by a white supremacist in midtown.  “I’m here to talk about this. If you want to talk about this, great,” Hizzoner huffed, speaking of his proposed tax on property sales of $2 million or more.  When the next reporter asked about a judge ordering the administration to publicly disclose emails between the mayor and an outside consultant — in response to a lawsuit filed by The Post and NY1 — the mayor lectured reporters on the rules he’s conjured up governing press conferences.  “This is how we set things up guys. If you don’t want to be a part of it, you don’t have to come,” said de Blasio, who was speaking in front of the super luxury hi-rise at 432 Park Ave. When the third question had to do with an Israeli-American teen who was detained in Israel for allegedly calling in bomb threats to Jewish centers, the mayor threw up his arms.  “That’s great guys,” he said sarcastically. “I’m done.”  As the mayor walked away, a reporter shouted after him, “Mr. Mayor, what are you afraid of when we ask you questions?”  The mayor didn’t respond, ending a press conference that had been bumpy from the beginning.

Daily News Reports Today How the Prosecutors and the Media are Covering Up and Cleaning Up de Blasio Pay to Play Shadow Govt City Hall Federal Investigation de Blasio Donor Secretly Pleads Guilty
Jona Rechnitz, a Brooklyn real estate investor and major de Blasio donor, has secretly pleaded guilty to making campaign donations to public officials in exchange for an official action
Key Mayor de Blasio donor secretly pleads guilty togiving campaign cash for ‘official action’ (NYDN) A major donor to Mayor de Blasio has secretly pleaded guilty to making campaign donations to public officials in exchange for official action, the Daily News has learned.  This stunning admission was made by Jona Rechnitz, a Brooklyn real estate investor who months ago began cooperating with prosecutors in former Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's pay-to-pay probe of de Blasio.  The assertion surfaced in court papers detailing for the first time Rechnitz's admissions of criminal activity.  Rechnitz's criminal "information" was quietly unsealed by the courts March 15, the same day the U.S. Attorney's office announced it had decided not to bring criminal charges against de Blasio or his top aides. Prosecutors requested the unsealing order two days before. Rechnitz's information makes no mention of de Blasio, but Rechnitz was a major donor to the mayor through multiple avenues.  In October 2013, shortly after the mayor won the primary, Rechnitz collected $41,650 for the mayor's campaign. In January 2014, he followed up with $50,000 to the mayor's nonprofit, Campaign for One New York, and in October 2014 he wrote a $102,000 check to the state Democratic Senate campaign committee as part of de Blasio's failed 2014 bid to switch the Senate to Democrat control.
The U.S. Attorney's statement on the de Blasio probe made clear that the mayor "and others acting on his behalf solicited donations from individuals who sought official favors from the City."  The strongly worded statement by Acting U.S. Attorney Joon Kim stated that de Blasio then "made or directed inquiries to relevant City agencies on behalf of those donors."

The documents reveal that Rechnitz admitted that he and others "known and unknown provided financial and personal benefits and political contributions to public officials including law enforcement officials in exchange for official action as requested by Rechnitz and others."  Back on June 6, Rechnitz pleaded guilty in a sealed courtroom and was then released on $500,000 bail. He then began helping prosecutors and the FBI try and make a case that de Blasio used his official powers to raise funds for his campaign and a nonprofit he created, the Campaign for One New York, that could accept checks of unlimited amounts.  Rechnitz specifically admitted that he conspired to "deprive the public of its intangible right to honest services of law enforcement and other public officials." He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy, also admitting his role in the bribery of Norman Seabrook, president of the Corrections Officers' Benevolent Association.\Seabrook is facing multiple corruption charges for taking bribes to steer $20 million in union pension funds to a tainted hedge fund. Rechnitz, prosecutors say, delivered $60,000 in cash to the union boss inside an $800 Ferragamo bag.

Prosecutors Had Pay to Play Evidence That de Blasio Did Officials Acts After Rechnitz Raised $200,000 for Him Including CONY 
Mayor de Blasio donor raised nearly $200G for political favors, prosecutors say (NYDN) A major donor to Mayor de Blasio told prosecutors he had “many” discussions with a fund-raiser about obtaining “official acts” as a result of his political donations, the Daily News has learned.  Letters reviewed by the Daily News describe the role of donor Jona Rechnitz, the government’s star witness in the investigation of de Blasio’s fund-raising tactics.  In a July 20 letter detailing Rechnitz’s cooperation, prosecutors wrote that they were “actively investigating a fund-raiser for an elected official in connection with promises of official acts made to donors to that elected official.”  Prosecutors noted that the unnamed fund-raiser “had many dealings and interactions with (Rechnitz), including discussions regarding official actions that the fund-raiser would attempt to make happen as a result of (Rechnitz’s) donations.”  The letters obscured the names of the fund-raiser and the elected official, but during the investigation, the mayor’s office confirmed that the Manhattan U.S. Attorney had subpoenaed de Blasio’s key fund-raiser, Ross Offinger.  In his statement last week revealing the decision not to charge de Blasio, acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon Kim specifically stated that de Blasio and his representatives solicited donations from entities seeking favors from City Hall, and that de Blasio and his minions in turn intervened on those donors’ behalf.   During his plea in a sealed courtroom on June 6, Rechnitz, 33, said, “With respect to political contributions, I expected for my conversations with the fundraiser that I would receive favorable municipal treatment.”  On Thursday, The News revealed that in June, Rechnitz had secretly pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to deprive the public of its right to honest services.  He admitted he provided contributions to public officials in exchange for official action. Top Donor to Mayor's 2013 Campaign Pleads Guilty to Federal Bribery Charges (NY1)

More Hidden Pork in the State's Budget Corruption Investigations Have Had No Effect  
The Post writes that if you were betting, sadly, the smart money would be on New York officials showing they’ve learned nothing from recent corruption convictions and will not compromise on proposals to make state spending more transparent.
Will any scandal put an end to NY pols' shadowy-spending ways? (NYP)  Kudos to Citizens Union for pointing out that Gov. Cuomo’s budget plan includes $13.8 billion in shadowy spending — nearly a tenth of the total $152.3 billion plan.  The watchdog group’s “Spending in the Shadows” report flags outlays that face little or no public scrutiny — including for some programs that resemble the Buffalo Billion projects that now have several Cuomo ex-associates facing federal corruption charges, and/or the funds key to the corruption that earned ex-Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver his long federal prison sentence.  The budget includes $9.5 billion in “economic development” funds, which face minimal oversight and are notorious for abuse.  On top of that, Citizens Union identified some $4.3 billion in shadowy spending spread out across 60 different “discretionary” programs. That’s up by $2 billion over the gov’s original budget last year, but about equal to the amount in the final, enacted plan — meaning the Assembly and Senate upped the “pork pot” that much in the 2016 negotiations. How much will it grow this year?  Yes, both chambers of the Legislature have ideas for greater transparency in (Cuomo-controlled) economic-development spending. The gov, meanwhile, has proposals for more sunlight on the lawmakers’ pork. Or will New York’s top officials prove they’ve learned nothing from the corruption convictions of Silver and ex-Senate boss Dean Skelos and the indictment of Cuomo’s former right-hand man, Joe Percoco? Sadly, the smart money’s on option No. 2.

AG Indicts Albany Senate Pols Could Lead to GOP IDC Coalition Running the Senate
Republican N.Y. pol indicted for election law violation,compromising GOP hold on state Senate (NYDN) A Republican state Senator from western New York was indicted Wednesday for violating state election law, jeopardizing the GOP’s hold on the Senate.  Sen. Robert Ortt’s office confirmed that an Albany grand jury had indicted the Niagara County Republican on a felony charge of offering a false instrument for filing. He is to be arraigned in Albany City Court Thursday morning.  Ortt, in a statement, called the charge “baseless” and vowed to fight it.  "We look forward to telling voters the truth about (Attorney General) Eric Schneiderman and exposing him for the power hungry, political opportunist he is and I will fight this ridiculous charge,” Ortt said in a statement. Ortt’s indictment came hours after he voluntarily appeared before the grand jury empaneled by Schneiderman to investigate the finances of the Niagara County GOP and former Sen. George Maziarz, who was also indicted. The Buffalo News first reported the indictments.   A spokesman for Schneiderman declined to comment  A source close to Ortt said the indictment involves the disclosure of money that his wife earned while working for two vendors that were contracted by the Niagara GOP.  Ortt’s indictment imperils the GOP’s tenuous hold on the Senate. Republicans hold only 31 of the Senate’s 63 seats but maintain control through an alliance with Brooklyn Democratic Sen. Simcha Felder. The eight-member Independent Democratic Conference has also allied itself with the GOP. * A grand jury indicted state Sen. Robert Ortt and former state Sen. George Maziarz on felony election law violations, and former Niagara County GOP Chairman Henry Wojtaszek pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor election law violation, The Buffalo News reports.  * Ortt called the charge he faces “baseless” and vowed to fight it, but the charge nonetheless jeopardizes the Republicans’ tenuous hold on the state Senate, which they maintain through an alliance with Democratic state Sen. Simcha Felder, the Daily News reports.  * While announcing indictments against former state Sen. George Maziarz and his successor, state Sen. Robert Ortt, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Maziarz bankrolled the Niagara County GOP Committee, which essentially acted as a pass-through account for no-show jobs, The Buffalo News reports. * Maziarz, who pleaded not guilty to three felony violations of election law, was released on his own recognizance and offered no comment after his appearance in court; Ortt also pleaded not guilty, The Buffalo News reports.  * The Buffalo News writes that, without regard to the merits of this Maziarz and Ortt case, it’s heartening to see that prosecutors are finally getting serious about enforcing state election laws.  * The Daily News writes that Ortt has the presumption of innocence and the right to remain in the state Senate, but he has no right to remain chairman of the mental health committee and pocket a $12,500 cash stipend while under a cloud of suspicion.

Eric Garner Case Revived by Trumps' DOJ
Employee Accused of Records Leak in Eric Garner Case Resigns (NYT)  In announcing the forced resignation, a city agency confirmed that leaked disciplinary records of the officer who placed Mr. Garner in a fatal chokehold, were authentic. * Sources said federal prosecutors have revived the grand jury probe into the death of Eric Garner, who was placed in a chokehold by an NYPD officer before he died, and a police witness questioned in front of the panel believes an indictment is looming, the New York Post reports. * The New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board forced one of its employees to resign after discovering that person leaked the disciplinary history of the NYPD officer who placed Garner in a fatal chokehold, and the board confirmed the records were authentic, the Times reports.

NYC Health Care Hospital System (HHC) Is In Crisis Before the Buffalo Bribe 
Increasing Debt and Washington Cuts Will Create A Crisis

Health care overhaul would squeeze city hospitals: IBO  (NYP) The city’s cash-strapped public hospital system is facing dire new financial problems because of sweeping changes planned for Obamacare, according to a report released released Tuesday. The Independent Budget Office said at a time when more than $1 billion in anticipated federal and state funds have not been secured by NYC Health + Hospitals, the agency’s fiscal future remains “highly dependent on the outcome of the health care debate in Washington.” “The current House Republican plan, released on March 6, would place a heavy burden on H+H in the coming years,” the IBO said. “The plan would gradually reduce the federal government’s support by introducing per capita caps to Medicaid and reduce the federal matching rate for … Medicaid expansion starting in 2020. The IBO also found that the city’s contribution to the hospital system is expected to increase by 4 percent and hit $1.9 billion by 2020 – even as inpatient and outpatient visits drop. * The House GOP plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act could cost already cash-strapped New York City hospitals hundreds of millions of dollars and potentially blow a multibillion-dollar hole in future state budgets, the Daily News reports.  * Gov. Andrew Cuomo warned of a hefty income tax hike if a newly added provision in the Republicans’ proposed federal health care bill succeeds in shifting Medicaid costs from counties to the state, the Times Union reports.

Dr. Trump’s poison pill attacks Medicaid in New York  (NYDN) The price of passing the very bad health-care bill cooked up by President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, which will kick 24 million Americans off the insurance rolls, just got devastatingly awful for New York, courtesy of a dirty $2.3 billion payoff to every Empire State county outside the five boroughs.  With that brutal blow, Trump confirms his turncoat status by forcing his own city — which is paying millions in security costs to guard Trump Tower — to potentially swallow billions in new costs atop billions in cuts already in the offing. Desperate for votes, Trump and Ryan are buying off upstate Reps. Chris Collins and John Faso and, they hope, other on-the-fence New York Republicans by absolving every county outside the five boroughs of the local share of their Medicaid bills — while leaving New York City holding the bag for its local $5.4 billion share a year.

The Buffalo Bribe Will NYC Billions and Close Hospitals

Collins and Faso want the state to pick up counties’ tab. That would mean Gotham, pop. 8.4 million, which already ponies up nearly half of all state taxes, would pay twice: once for its own Medicaid, once for Chemung, Oswego, Cattaraugus, Nassau, Westchester and the rest, pop. 11 million. Gov. Cuomo sanely says no way; he won’t let the state budget take that huge hit. If counties don’t pay, their hospitals will have to slash care. * House Republicans' backroom deal on Obamacare repeal saves cash for ruralNew Yorkers at city's expense (NYDN) * U.S. Rep. Chris Collins has long loathed Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and he ignored Cuomo’s phone call about a Collins-sponsored provision in the GOP’s federal health care bill that may blow a $2.3 billion hole in Cuomo’s budget, Politico New York reports. * Cuomo-Hochul vs. Faso-Collins: The heated andincreasingly personal battle over Medicaid in New York.  * It’s not that surprising that the national fight over Medicaid has suddenly focused on New York, given that the state has long had one of the nation’s most expensive Medicaid programs and about one-third of the state’s residents are covered by it, The New York Times reports.  * The Buffalo News writes that Collins’ amendment shifting Medicaid costs from the county to the state is “disastrous” because it could hurt hospitals, and essentially offers up “blood money” that New York’s members of Congress should reject. * The Daily News writes that the health care bill confirms President Donald Trump is a “turncoat” by forcing his own city to potentially swallow billions in new costs atop billions in cuts already on the table.* Health care bill's 'Buffalo Bribe' detonates across NewYork (PoliticoNY) 'They've declared war on New York,' said Gov. Andrew Cuomo. * City's Only Republican Congressman Unsure If He Will Support His Party's Plan to Overhaul Affordable Care Act (NY1) After meeting face-to-face with President Donald Trump, the city's only Republican Congressman is still unsure if he'll support his party’s plan to overhaul the Affordable Care Act. * Proposed Changes to State's Medicaid Formula Set Off Cascade of Questions in State Capitol (NY1) * The GOP’s healthcare plan has a Catch-22 for New Yorkers (NYP) The GOP healthcare plan includes a Catch-22 for New York.  The plan blocks tax credits from going to policies that include abortion provisions. But under New York State rules, insurers are required to provide abortion coverage.  “New Yorkers will not be able to avail themselves of these tax credits to buy health insurance,” said Rep. Dan Donovan (R-SI), who cited the abortion issue as one reason he’ll vote “no” on the bill.,  The GOP healthcare plan affords eligible Americans who are not on Medicaid or employer-provided insurance tax credits to help buy health insurance. Plans, however, cannot include coverage for abortions. * Cuomo warns of big state tax hike if the House’s Obamacare repeal plan goes through (NYDN) Kill this bill: GOP health care plan hurts New York (NYDN) 

Cuomo 2020 Chess Movies and Don't Forget the Buffalo Billion Trial
We've previously noted here that Cuomo goes out of his way to avoid directly attacking Donald Trump. Cuomo says he's running for re-election, and the last thing he wants is a president actively involved in helping party-mates in his home state. (In a normal world, this wouldn't even be in question ... but welcome to New York, 2017!) As Collins and Rep. John Faso made their move, Republican State Committee chairman Ed Cox spent Monday in meetings at White House. He's close to Reince Priebus, and is hoping to upend whatever Cuomo-Trump ceasefire might exist. That will play out over months. But while it does, Collins' attack is a reminder that the opposition party isn't as weak everywhere as it is in New York. * Andrew Cuomo’s every move is now about his 2020 hopes (NYP) * Why Robert Moses Keeps Rising From an Unquiet Grave  (NYT) In moving to replace a highway, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo invoked the legacy of the master builder of New York.* Cuomo Blasts Amendment to Federal Health Care Bill That Keeps City on Hook to Fund Medicaid (NY1)

More on Closing Hospitals,HHC, LICH
Another ACS Death?
ACS made seven visits to home where 1-year-old was found dead  (NYP) A 1-year-old girl — whose parents had been investigated seven times for neglect and child abuse — was unresponsive Monday in her Staten Island home and later died at the... 

New Bronx Judge Soft On EMT Killer Witch Bronx Pol or Political Bosses Got Judge Kirschner Elected?
Judge was soft on accused EMT killer weeks before rampage (NYP) A rookie judge appointed by Mayor de Blasio refused to hold a mentally unstable career criminal on even $5,000 bail in a violent case last month — leaving him free to allegedly kill a city EMT.  Bronx Criminal Court Judge David Kirschner, who has only been on the bench since June, balked at a prosecutor’s request to set bail for suspected gang-banger José Gonzalez on Feb. 26.*  Queens judges threaten jurors for bad English and order them to take language lessons (NYDN) * 

Judge who set accused EMT killer free ignored skipped court appearance (NYP) The judge who freed a mentally unbalanced career criminal less than a month before he allegedly murdered an FDNY EMT ignored the fact that he had previously failed to show up in court as ordered, an official transcript revealed Monday. A prosecutor also told Bronx Criminal Court Judge David Kirschner that Jose Gonzalez had a pending assault case at the time he was busted for an unprovoked, Feb. 25 attack on an NYPD cop who was investigating a robbery, the records show The defendant stands before this court with four misdemeanor convictions, one failure to appear,” Bronx Assistant District Attorney Hayden Briklin said in court on Feb. 26, according to the transcript. By this arrest alone, the defendant has proven he cannot follow court orders and say out of trouble and not get re-arrested.” Briklin asked Kirschner to set bail at $5,000, but Kirschner instead released Gonzalez, 25, without bail pending his scheduled appearance the next day in connection with his 2016 arrest for allegedly punching a worker at the homeless shelter where he lived. On Thursday, Gonzalez — who had been arrested a total 31 times and sent to a psych ward six times — was accused of fatally mowing down EMT Yadira Arroyo after stealing her ambulance in The Bronx * The judges & others who left alleged EMT killer walking free (NYP) Just what does it take to get a ticking-time-bomb thug off the streets? That searing question is prompted by news that the man charged with the murder of an EMT last week had no business walking free — yet officials failed to rein him in. At just 25, José Gonzalez already had 31 arrests, including violent incidents, before his fatal run-in with EMT Yadira Arroyo. Reports also say he was a Bloods gang member. Yet a Mayor de Blasio-tapped rookie judge, David Kirschner, still gave him a free pass — just three weeks before the fatal encounter. The judge refused to grant a prosecutor’s bid for $5,000 bail on charges of resisting arrest and kicking out a police-van window. This, when Gonzalez still faced charges in an earlier assault case. You would think with 31 arrests the judge would have taken this a little more seriously,” an NYPD source said. Gonzalez got a break in the earlier case, too: Bronx Judge Laurence Busching denied a prosecution request for bail of $2,000 after Gonzalez was charged in an attack on a worker at his homeless shelter. The judges weren’t the only ones who let down New Yorkers. Police had sent Gonzalez for psychiatric care at least six times. He reportedly had a reputation for outbursts when off his medication. And he was staying in a “supportive shelter.” Somebody at some point should’ve made sure he was confined, getting proper care or at least forced to take his meds. We don’t understand why [Gonzalez] kept getting released,” says Arroyo’s uncle, Edwin Rosado. “He should never have been let out of jail — especially if they’re saying he’s freaking nuts.” The NYPD is doing its job — including dealing with emotionally disturbed persons. But cops seem to be the only part of city government that’s looking out for public safety. And the result is tragic: a slain EMT hero — and five young boys now without a mom.* Freed From Custody, and Accused of Killing E.M.T. Three Weeks Later (NYT) 

Lots Pots of Member Item $$$ in the Albany Budget
Citizens Union, a good government group, issued a report that found opaque pork barrel spending in the proposed state executive budget has increased by $2 billion this year to $4.3 billion, the Times Union reports.

Bharara to NYU Law School

Investigative News After Bharara LOL
You can live in de Blasio’s apartment for $1,825 a month (NYP)

No Longer Facing Jail de Blasio Skips Town to Cheer Red Socks and Celebrate His Friends Ability to Take Out Bharara 
De Blasio skips town to cheer for the Red Sox (NYP)  Mayor de Blasio struck out with Big Apple baseball fans Sunday as he rooted for his favorite team, the Boston Red Sox, during a spring-training game in Florida.

After Bharara Deverlopers and Their Manchurian Fake Progressive Mayor Will Do Great Harm to New Yorkers

What May Be Next for Bharara 
Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s next career options appear to include taking a faculty position at a prominent law school or a job at a prestigious Manhattan law firm, though he’s been approached about seeking public office, The Wall Street Journal reports.

de Blasio Axed Over Probe Message to Others to Keep Quiet 
De Blasio official axed over probe says it was to warn others to keep quiet (NYP) The only city official fired in the just-concluded federal and state probes into de Blasio 
who was fired on Feb. 24said that top City Hall aides turned to him into a pariah after he was grilled by probers last spring. Staffers with the city Department of Investigation and city comptroller quizzed Morales last March and April about two real-estate transactions that allegedly benefited developers and lobbyists who gave donations to the mayor’s campaign and the mayor’s nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York. Morales also received a federal subpoena in May. One of Morales’ projects was the controversial removal of a deed restriction for the Rivington House nursing home on the Lower East Side. The removal forced the for-profit nursing-home provider — who had bought the Rivington building for $28 million from its former nonprofit operator — to flip it because he could no longer afford to run it as a nursing home. He eventually sold it for $116 million.

This 2016 Story By Gotham Gazette Trying to Disqualify DA Vances From Investigating Because of His Ties to de Blasio Is Worth Another Read in Light of the Manhattan DA's Dropping On the de Blasio Investigation Strangely Time to Bharara's Firing 
Gotham a None Profit Secretly Funded Most Always Supports or Runs Interference for Those Going After the Mayor
Vance Has Ties to Several in De Blasio Probe (Gotham Gazette) Perhaps the most notable and concerning connection to some is that Vance has also employed two of the political strategy groups subpoenaed in the investigation spurred by the state Board of Elections enforcement counsel, Risa Sugarman, who found problems with the unsuccessful 2014 efforts by de Blasio and his allies to win key swing Senate seats. Specifically, Sugarman pointed to ways in which de Blasio’s allies attempted to evade state campaign donation limits.

The Interlocking Directorates Between DA Vance, Mark Guma and Red Horse 
Meanwhile, state Board of Elections records show Vance’s connection to two firms included in the BOE referral to law enforcement. Filings show Vance’s campaign paid Mark Guma Communications $1,327,351 from 2009 to 2013 for television and radio advertising, political mailers, and consulting.  Mark Guma Communications was subpoenaed by Sugarman in her investigation into what she described as de Blasio’s team’s efforts to intentionally evade campaign finance laws by funnelling donor cash into county committees, which have larger contribution limits, and out to candidate campaigns, which have much lower limits. A subpoena does not indicate charges or guilt.   Vance’s campaign also did business with Red Horse Strategies, which was also subpoenaed in Sugarman’s investigation, to the amount of $25,000 in 2009.   Both firms assisted Democratic Senate candidates in the 2014 election cycle.

What Does the Director of the Advancement of Public Integrity at Columbia University Jennifer Rogers Think Now?
To some, these connections simply show the close-knit nature of New York politics, but to others they present reason for Vance to recuse himself in the de Blasio-related investigation.  “Cy Vance seems to be a very straightforward guy,” said Jennifer Rodgers, former assistant U.S. Attorney and current executive director of the Center For The Advancement of Public Integrity (CAPI) at Columbia University. “In the case of any personal involvement I believe he’d be the first to recuse himself. In the absence any personal involvement the fact that New York City politics turns out to be this weird incestuous pool with everyone working with the same consultants says nothing of the independence of Cy Vance.”    John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany, said he believes the connections are a good reason for Vance to disassociate himself from the case. “Given the sweeping breadth of the investigation into areas touching DA Vance's own political activity - at least two of his own political consultants were subpoenaed - Vance should welcome a complete takeover of the investigation by Preet Bharara,” Kaehny told Gotham Gazette.

What Will NYS Board Of Elections Chief Enforcement Counsel Sugarman in Light of DA Vance Dumping the de Blasio Case?

“Documents were obtained via subpoena from five political consultants involved in these campaigns: Berlin Rosen, LTD., Mark Guma Communications, The Parkside Group LLC, AKPD Message and Media LLC, and Red Horse Strategies LLC. We sought information about work these consultants performed in connection with campaigns for the state senate races of Justin Wagner, Terry Gipson and Cecilia Tkaczyk. Thousands of documents were produced. Review of the documents revealed evidence of campaigns that were coordinated at every level and down to minute details.”

Cuomo Says Move On From deB Probe Dumb People Care About Housing
Is the Gov Saying de Blasio Pay to Play With Developers Has Nothing to Do With Lack of Affordable Housing?
Cuomos ays it's time to move on from de Blasio probe (NYP) “I think what’s good is we can actually talk about issues that matter to people now,” he told reporters at the start of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.  “In this city, we have to be talking about homelessness — which is at an all-time high — housing, etc., civil rights abuses that are going on at Rikers Island.”   City Hall officials didn’t respond to a request for comment about the governor’s apparent dig, and de Blasio refused to take questions from the media during the parade — other than from NBC. More On deB Mayor de Blasio wants to move on after fund-raising probe  New York Daily News

de Blasio Blasts Big Pharma for Overdose Crisis Took $50,000 from OxyContin Maker Purdue Pharma
Mayor blasts Big Pharma for overdose crisis (Crains) Bill de Blasio says prescription pill makers are to blame for city's rising death toll  The mayor made the comments despite his former Campaign for One New York having received a $25,000 donation in 2015 from Elizabeth Sackler, whose family owns OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma. The campaign was a fundraising apparatus that de Blasio used to promote his policy agenda but later shut down amid controversy and investigations. * As Drug Deaths Soar, Mayor Offers Plan to Cut Toll (NYT) Bill de Blasio’s initiative against opioids stresses greater access to anti-overdose medication and treatment, and a police focus on dealers. * Pharma family behind Oxycontin has given over $50K to de Blasio (NYP) Mayor de Blasio collected more than $50,000 in donations from two members of the family that owns the pharmaceutical giant behind OxyContin — which he accused this week of “fueling” a national crisis of opioid overdoses, according to a report. During a Bronx press conference Monday outlining plans by the city to invest $38 million a year to combat the problem, de Blasio singled out Oxycontin.  “A bill of goods was sold to people that these drugs were not dangerous and didn’t lead to long-term addiction, when, in fact, it was well known they did,” he said. He didn’t mention that OxyContin is manufactured by Stamford, Conn.-based Purdue Pharma.    Arts philanthropist Elizabeth Sackler, whose relatives own the company, contributed $30,000 to de Blasio’s now-defunct nonprofit Campaign for One New York, Crain’s reported. She and her son, Michael, donated $14,400 to de Blasio’s 2013 mayoral campaign and another $5,950 to his 2017 campaign.  In 2014, the mayor attended a dinner celebrating Sackler as the first woman elected to the Brooklyn Museum’s board of trustees.    When asked if the mayor plans to return the Sackler donations, Dan Levitan, a spokesman for the mayor’s campaign, would say only, “Elizabeth Sackler is a celebrated historian, activist and philanthropist and we were proud to have her support.”  Michael Sackler said that he and his mother did not own any stock in the company.* New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio collected more than $50,000 in donations from two members of the family that owns the pharmaceutical giant behind OxyContin – which he accused this week of “fueling” a national crisis of opioid overdoses, the New York Post writes.

de Blasio Mask is Silent Not Amused of Preet Dump is All Show He and His Lawyer Lobbyist Celebrate 
De Blasio not amused by the Post’s ‘PREETY HAPPY’ cover (NYP) Mayor de Blasio refuses to say whether he’s “PREETY HAPPY.”   De Blasio wasn’t amused Monday when asked about the front page of Sunday’s Post, which had “PREETY HAPPY” as the headline next to an image of the Mayor drinking champagne in celebration of President Trumps’s sudden firing of Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara’s.    Bharara’s office is currently probing de Blasio’s campaign fundraising practices.  “Are you ‘PREETY HAPPY?’” NY1’s Errol Louis asked Hizzoner during their weekly segment. “I don’t pay attention to the front page of the New York Post as a matter of course and I am just not going to comment,” responded a stone-faced mayor. “There is an ongoing investigation going on.” The mayor also wouldn’t comment when asked whether his lawyers have told him whether Bhahara’s ouster “is good or bad” for him.* Fired U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara got a rousing farewell from his staff at the U.S. attorney’s office and was soaked in the sustained applause of more than 100 associates and admirers on the steps of the Manhattan office, the Daily News reports. * De Blasio 'impressed' by ousted Brooklyn U.S. AttorneyCapers – silent on Preet Bharara (NYDN)

Cuomo Not Following Bharara Firing

After two days of silence, Gov. Andrew Cuomo claimed he “didn’t follow the situation” involving the firing of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who indicted his onetime closest aide, Joe Percoco, and investigated his administration, the New York Post reports.

As the Legal Bills Increase for de Blasio Aides the Press Ignores What They Are Being Investigated For
De Blasio aides' legal bills are costing taxpayers millions (NYP) The city’s top lawyer predicted Monday that taxpayers will have to shell out “a few million dollars more” for the legal bills of mayoral aides swept up in several corruption probes.  And that’s on top of the $10.5 million already spent on outside lawyers.   Corporation Counsel Zach Carter described the additional legal costs as not “a large magnitude” and said it appears the federal probes are “winding down and concluding.”  “We believe that there will be a few million dollars more expended, but I can’t give you an exact figure,” Carter testified at a City Council budget hearing. “I don’t believe that it will be a large magnitude of expenditures.”   According to records obtained by The Post in January, the city expected to spend a total of $11.6 million — a figure that now seems low.* The outside legal defense for the de Blasio administration has cost New York City $10.5 million so far, and might cost millions more, said Zachary Carter, head of the city’s Law Department,Gotham Gazette reports.

Cuomo de Blasio Silent About Bharara Firing . . . So are the Entire Political Class of NYC Progressives and Albany Criminals Who Will Steal More


De Blasio and Cuomo have nothing to say about Bharara'sfiring (NYP) The silence was deafening from New York’s two leading politicians over the firing of their mutual nemesis — corruption-busting former Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara.  Gov. Cuomo tweeted seven times about a Wednesday wind storm in Rochester, three times about a bomb threat against an upstate synagogue and twice about the blizzard forecast to sweep the state. Cuomo also announced his creation of a task force “to look at the detrimental impact of plastic bags on our natural resources.”    Mayor de Blasio, meanwhile, used his official Twitter account to issue a reminder about the start of Daylight Savings Time, blast the Republican plan to replace ObamaCare and wish a “Happy 14th Birthday” to the 311 government-answer system created by former Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Cuomo 2020 At Least He Thinks So and With Bharara Gone Who Knows
Cuomo takes key step toward launching presidential campaign (NYP)   * Sources said Gov. Andrew Cuomo has hired two Florida fundraisers, including a former Hillary Clinton money man, which is a sign that he’s building a national network to launch a presidential bid, the Post reports.

Corporate Media Owned by the Permanent Govt Wins . . . Clueless Kid Reporters Wins . . . The People Lose Their Govt

NY Now Remains A City of Sheep With A Fake News Media and A Govt Run by Shadow Govt Lobbyists and Their Developer Clients 

Fiscal Conservative Cuomo Gone Today Spend Spend As Feds Cut Back Housing $$$ A Plan for 2020 or 
Another Campaign Slush Fund Brooklyn Billion Buffalo Billion for 2018? Or Both

Plan Will Increase Gentrification in Central Brooklyn 
Cuomo’s $1.4 Billion Plan Targets Brooklyn in Fight Against Poor Health and Poverty (NYT) The proposed plan, called Vital Brooklyn, would bring “health and wellness” resources into communities like East New York, Brownsville, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Crown Heights.* New York City to Get Less Federal Aid for Housing (NYT)  The city says it may face a shortfall of over $58 million by year’s end to programs that house low-income residents.* NYCHA fears Trump’s proposed budget will slash $6B fromU.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (NYDN) NYCHA relies heavily on HUD funds, with nearly 70% of its operating budget and almost 100% of its capital projects funded by the feds.  In response to the memo, NYCHA Chairwoman Shola Olatoye said, "We are concerned about these rumored cuts. The loss of federal funds of this size would deeply impact our ability to serve 600,000 New Yorkers who rely on NYCHA." * Gov. Cuomo announces $1.4 billion 'holistic' plan toenhance central Brooklyn's community (NYDN) Dubbed the “Vital Brooklyn” initiative, Cuomo’s plan would invest state money on a wide swath of projects intended to boost wellness and economic development in one of the city’s poorest areas. Cuomo hopes his initiative — which he repeatedly described as a “holistic” approach to community transformation — will reduce central Brooklyn's high homicide, unemployment and health-risk factor rates. Among the key components of Cuomo’s initiative are $700 million in capital funds to transform the area’s health care network — including the creation of 36 community care centers — and $563 million for new affordable housing, including more than 3,000 multi-family units at six state-owned sites. Another $140 million would be spent to improve open space and recreation, including enhanced facilities at community gardens and school yards, and the creation of five acres of recreational space at state-funding housing developments.   Cuomo’s plan also calls for $325,000 to be spent to improve healthy food options through new farmers markets and other programs.  It also has additional funds for job training and crime prevention, including SNUG anti-gun violence programs and midnight basketball.  “I'm excited about that midnight basketball because it's a program my father started,” Cuomo said, referring to former Gov. Mario Cuomo.  Cuomo said the central Brooklyn initiative would be similar to his “Buffalo Billion” program, which he credited with jump-starting that city’s economy. That program, however, has been mired in controversy following the arrest of several top administration officials on bid-rigging and other corruption charges.NY Estimates 1 MILLION Lose Coverage Under Obamacare Replacement Plan... Cuomo said the House GOP plan to repeal and replace Obamacare would jeopardize the insurance coverage of more than 1 million New Yorkers and cost the state and its hospitals $2.4 billion a year once fully phased-in, the Daily News reports.  * Art programs throughout the five boroughs are bracing for crippling cuts if President Donald Trump goes through with his proposal to defund the National Endowment for the Arts, which gave $14.5 million to 419 city organizations last year, the Daily News reports.  * Any dim hope that Trump intends to spare the metropolis he hails from is now put to rest by a draft spending plan detailing huge cuts for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Daily News writes. * After spending $1bn in Buffalo, Gov. Cuomo plans to invest $1.4 bn in central Brooklyn (WSJ) * #Cuomo tells #Brooklyn pols they'll have to fight for $1.4B 'Vital Brooklyn' in Albany if they wantit.  * De Blasio appeared to dismiss Cuomo’s $1.4 billion revitalization initiative for Central Brooklyn as a publicity stunt until he sees “actual results” and blasted Cuomo’s actions on affordable housing as “big talk, very little action,” the Observer writes. * Residents in central Brooklyn met the announcement of Cuomo’s $1.4 billion plan to revitalize the area with a mix of elation and skepticism about the potential for gentrification, which could lead to the displacement of its black and Latino residents, the Times reports.

If Councilmember Rose Did Not Get Away With Data and Fields Campaign Corruption Would Have Tried to Use A Non Profit as A Campaign Tool?
Staten Island nonprofit donated to campaign of city polwho steered $1 million into the group (NYDN) For years, Central Family Life Center ran modest senior and youth programs out of a blue-gray cement block building on Staten Island subsidized by modest amounts of taxpayer dollars.  Then in fiscal year 2014 they hit the government-funded jackpot: a $500,000-a-year contract sponsored by City Councilwoman Debi Rose to run an anti-gun violence program. By last year, they’d taken in $1 million for this project. The Democratic pol, records obtained by the Daily News show, appears to have gotten something in return.  In the last two years, Central Family board members and staff have written dozens of checks for her campaigns, while the group’s leadership has promoted two fund-raisers for her, including one held at a board member’s place of business.  The group’s promotion of Rose’s fund-raisers raises issues about whether the taxpayer money she steered into the group wound up helping her campaign.  Council rules state that these funds “may only be allocated for a public purpose and may not support political activities (including but not limited to lobbying, campaigns or endorsements) and/or private interests."  

Campaign finance records show that since 2009, the group’s executive director, Demetrius Carolina, six of 12 board members and at least three staffers have written Rose 33 checks that total $2,835.  Carolina and board member Shawn Stradford have also promoted two recent campaign fund-raisers to raise thousands more for her.  An Oct. 27 political fund-raiser for Rose was plugged on Central Family’s Facebook page and on an electronic invite site created by Stradford.  The event — listed as “I’m with Debi! Re-election Fundraiser for Councilwoman Rose” — was held at Stradford’s funeral home on Castleton Ave. in Staten Island.  Unlike typical city programs, projects funded by council discretionary funds don’t require competitive bidding or anyother protocol aimed at protecting the taxpayer’s investment.  Instead, council members simply pick recipients and designate them to receive funds. In 2014, Rose picked Central Family for the first of two $500,000 grants to run the anti-run violence program on Staten Island.

Major de Blasio 2013-2015 Donors to His Campaign and CONY PAC Stingy Afraid of the Feds This Time Around 
De Blasio donors are getting stingy amid corruption probes (NYP)   Major donors are shutting the money spigot to Mayor de Blasio’s re-election campaign as corruption probes swirl around City Hall, according to sources and campaign filings.  De Blasio, the subject of state and federal investigations into his fundraising, collected 19 percent less cash in the second half of 2016 compared to the first half. From July to December, he collected $842,728 from 2,788 donors. In the six months prior, he cashed $1.04 million from 1,216 donors, according to city campaign finance records.  Much of the drop in campaign cash is due to the wealthiest donors shunning Hizzoner as the probes heated up. The number of individuals who give the maximum allowed by law — $4,950 per primary and general election — plummeted from 130 to only 87.  And the total amount those “max donors” contributed nosedived from $633,600 in the first half of last year to $391,050 in the second half. Even de Blasio’s biggest bundlers have abandoned ship.  De Blasio has continued to hold fundraisers, but his outreach to top donors in the real estate, finance, and political worlds has been muted, multiple sources said.  The mayor this weekend hit the road to fund-raise in Chicago, Florida and Los Angeles. He’s had to rely on a mix of smaller gifts, which will be matched six times over thanks to the city’s campaign finance laws.  In the first half of last year he collected $58,680 in checks under $175 from 680 donors. That nearly doubled to $110,150 from 2,229 small donors in the second half of 2016.  But a de Blasio ally warned: “He still needs to have big donors. You can’t just get by on $20 donations.”

Why Does the Post Arron Short Take Quotes form Berlin Rosen Dan Levitan Who Lobbying Firm is At the Heart of the Federal Pay to Play Federal Corruption Story 
“We are proud to be powered by low-dollar contributions from regular New Yorkers,” said De Blasio campaign spokesman Dan Levitan.

De Blasio’s Pay to Play Permanent Campaign
77% Of the Campaign for One NY PAC $4.3 Million Was Used to Paid His Campaign Consultants 

The Campaign for One NY PAC was Created by de Blasio to Allow His Campaign Contributors to Go Around the Election Law and Fund His Permanent Campaign
Steve Nislick and Wendy Neu — the two anti-horse-carriage lobbyists prohibited from donating large amounts to de Blasio’s mayoral campaign because of their efforts to enact a ban — each gave $50,000 to the group in 2015.  That donation came three days after a meeting on horse carriages. The two have given a total of $125,000 to the group since its inception.  Other noteworthy donations included a whopping $350,000 from the American Federation of Teachers — the umbrella union for the city’s teachers — and $100,000 from Two Trees Management, a real estate developer that does business with the city.

Even the NY Times Agrees:  Mayor de Blasio’s Hired Guns: Private Consultants Help Shape City Hall (NYT, 2015)
Berlin Rosen Was Paid $488,413 by the Campaign for One NY
Bill Hyers; Hill Top Was Paid $228,965 by the Campaign for One NY
John Del Cecato’s AKPD Was Paid $1.1 Million by the Campaign for One NY
Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Election campaign pollster Was Paid $325,127 by the Campaign for One NY

On a wintry Sunday in February, Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York huddled at Gracie Mansion with a trusted adviser, John Del Cecato, to polish his marquee speech of 2015, the annual State of the City address. In the days before the address, Mr. de Blasio and Mr. Del Cecato would spend hours together, meeting at City Hall and Gracie Mansion. Those sessions, according to the mayor’s schedules, were among roughly 60 they shared in the first 17 months of his administration.  Mr. Del Cecato is not on Mr. de Blasio’s staff — at least not officially. He is one of several political consultants advising the Democratic mayor whose firms have been paid using money contributed by private donors.  These consultants helped guide Mr. de Blasio’s campaign for mayor in 2013, and they have remained at his side as a kind of privately funded brain trust, offering strategic advice and helping to shape the message that comes from City Hall. Their involvement also poses conflict-of-interest concerns, as some of the consultants’ firms have clients that do business with the city.  For their place in the mayor’s orbit, these consultants have been well compensated: In the first year and a half of his term, their firms have collected nearly $2.3 million in payments. Most of the money has come from a nonprofit organization, the Campaign for One New York, that was created by political professionals from his mayoral campaign as a vehicle to push his initiatives, and whose donors have included real estate developers and unions.  Through the middle of this year, 77 percent of the group’s spending went to several consulting firms that also worked for Mr. de Blasio’s 2013 campaign.

  1. The mayor appoints 50% of the Campaign Finance Board
  2. The Council Speaker appoints 50% of the Campaign Finance Board
  3. Team de Blasio elected Mark- Viverito Speaker
  4. The mayor appoints 50% of the Conflict of Interests Board
  5. The Council Speaker appoints 50% of the Conflict of Interests Board
  6. The Goo Goos and the Media Asked the CFB to Investigate the 1NY PAC
  7. The Goo Goos and the Media Asked the Conflict Bs to Investigate the 1NY PAC
  8. NYCLASS PAC By Attacking Quinn Help Elected the Mayor
  9. The Advance Group Ran the NYCLASS PAC
  10. The Advance Group Worked Illegally to Elect the Council Speaker
  11. The CFB Gave A Small Fine to Advance Even Ordered Speaker to pay them
  12. The Conflict Bd Gave Small Fine to Advance Even Ordered Speaker to pay them
  13. The CFB Covered Up the NYCLASS Scandal
  14. The Conflict Bd Covered Up the NYCLASS Scandal
  15. Berlin Rosen Works for 1NY PAC and as A Campaign Consultant to de Blasio
  16. Hilltop Works for 1NY PAC and as A Campaign Consultant to de Blasio
  17. Hilltop Works for 1NY PAC and as A Campaign Consultant to de Blasio
  18. Red Horse Works for the One NY PAC and 4 out of 5 of the city’s Das
  19. Red Horse Work for Over 40 Council Members as a consultant or UF PAC
  20. NYCLASS PAC By Attacking Quinn Help Elected the Mayor

Leading the Way in NYC's Lobbyists $urge is the Mayor's Lawyer and Rivington's Deed Change Lobbyists Capalino 
City data reveals three-year pay surge for NYC lobbyists (NYDN) There's never been a better time to lobby City Hall. Total pay for the Big Apple's lobbyists spiked for the third straight year — with Mayor de Blasio's longtime pal James Capalino living large at the top, new data from the city clerk's office shows. Total compensation for lobbyists was $95.4 million last year — compared to $86 million in 2015 and far above the $62 million lobbyists earned in 2013, the last year of the Bloomberg administration. The mayor said last fall that he would no longer meet with Capalino, the veteran city hall insider who, among other high-powered clients, worked with both the original seller and developer of the Rivington House, a Lower Eastside nursing side home flipped for luxury condos.  U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is investigating that deal.  Despite the ongoing probe, Capalino's firm raked in $13.5 million in 2016, data shows. He made $12.8 million in 2015 — putting him on the top then too.  Capalino has denied that his firm was involved in the controversial lifting of a city deed restriction that made the Rivington deal possible.  He has been a major donor to de Blasio’s causes, including his firm giving $10,000 to the mayor’s nonprofit, Campaign for One New York, records show.

The lobbyist’s clients who do business with the city, including RAL Development and Cipriani USA, also donated to the nonprofit, which raised $4.3 million. Mayor de Blasio abruptly shut down the Campaign for One New York last May.  Another winner in 2016 was the lobbying arm of Kramer Levin Naftalis Frankel, the law firm representing the mayor in investigations of his campaign’s fund-raising tactics.  Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP earned over $3 million in lobbying last year, the city clerk’s records show, ranking seventh in all lobbying firms.  The last time the firm made the list of the city’s top 10 highest-earning lobbyists was in 2013, when it made roughly $1.7 million, the city clerk’s office said. The firm hosted the mayor’s sit-down last week with prosecutors in Bharara’s office. Kramer Levin Naftalis and Frankel has sent de Blasio bills for work that began a year ago, but the mayor has said publicly that he has yet to pay a dime. De Blasio said he will first start a legal defense fund to help pay the fees.

de Blasio Tells City Flacks to Stop Using City Resources to Promoting Him 
De Blasio tells staff to stop promoting him when using city resources (NYP) Four months after staunchly defending a taxpayer-funded video that tapped Broadway stars to trumpet his accomplishments, Mayor de Blasio has ordered staff through Election Day to stop promoting him whenever using City Hall resources to communicate with New Yorkers.  Dan Gross, the mayor’s deputy communications director, sent an email out to other mayoral staff this week, saying that de Blasio’s “name and likeness” should no longer appear on any “ordinary” communications, such as ads, flyers and public service announcements initiated out of City Hall. He said staffers should instead use “the generic NYC bubble and ‘Office of the Mayor.'”  The email, which was first obtained and posted by the Village Voice, notes that the new policy actually went into effect January 1 and runs through November 9 when de Blasio is up for re-election.  In December, de Blasio came under fire after recruiting “Aladdin” star James Monroeand Jenna Ushkowitz from the hit TV show “Glee” to sing about his accomplishments in a 3 1/2-minute video. Critics accused the video of being nothing more an early campaign ad – an accusation Hizzoner denied.  The stringent, new policy comes at a time when federal and state prosecutors are investigating de Blasio’s past campaign funding practices.

Cuomo Leave Corruption With Me to the Prosecutors While Demanding the Albany Lawmakers Pass New Ethics Laws
Cuomo's ridiculous 'leave it to the prosecutors' plan forpreventing corruption(NYP Ed) Cuomo bristled this week when a reporter asked about adding independent oversight for state economic-development programs: “You do have independent oversight, right? That’s called 62 district attorneys, an attorney general, US attorneys in the Southern District, Northern District, etc.,” he said.  Really, governor? By implication, that means anything’s OK unless it’s criminal — and that the public is adequately protected by prosecutors going in after the fact, even if billions have illicitly gone out the door. Of course, prosecutors have indicted nine people for corruption surrounding the Buffalo Billion projects — including Cuomo’s longtime closest aide, Joe Percocco.  But maybe, if proper controls were in place, all that alleged bid-rigging wouldn’t have happened in the first place.  Cuomo has his own ideas for more oversight — by officials he appoints. But he has no appetite for restoring the powers taken from state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli in 2011 to eye the contracts in question. The gov is also rebuffing efforts by the Assembly to require financial disclosures by the decision-makers of his Regional Economic Development Council — which doles out $750 million a year in grants, tax breaks and other incentives.  To be fair, state lawmakers are also resisting Cuomo’s push for new ethics rules to govern their work. We’d suggest that all sides ought to agree to greater transparency and independent oversight. It’s long past time to root out Albany’s culture of influence-peddling and corruption. If the governor and Legislature insist on leaving the job to prosecutors, there’s an excellent chance they’ll wind up regretting it.

de Blasio Heads Out of Town to Raise $$$ Gives SI the Cold Shoulder
De Blasio heads out of town on campaign fundraising circuit (NYP) Mayor de Blasio will rack up frequent-flier miles this weekend by holding three out-of-town fund-raisers — including an A-list Beverly Hills affair being thrown by hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons and legendary TV producer Norman Lear.  De Blasio has already cited small donations from ordinary New Yorkers, which qualify for public matching funds, as a key part of his campaign for re-election this fall.  Now he’s hitting the road to line up big-buck donors a week after meeting with federal prosecutors investigating his past campaign-finance practices. De Blasio heads to Chicago Friday to address the nonprofit City Club of Chicago. He then travels to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., to deliver the keynote address at the Broward Democratic Party’s annual fund-raising dinner. De Blasio keeps giving Staten Island the cold shoulder (NYP) Mayor de Blasio has spent 2017 staying far away from Staten Island.  By the end of this week, Hizzoner will have left theBig Apple and jet-setted across the country more times in the past nine days than he’s gone to the “forgotten borough” all year, a report says.  On Sunday — instead of going to the Staten IslandSt. Patrick’s Day Parade — he is skipping it for a fourth straight year and flying to California for a fundraiser in Los Angelesaccording to the Staten Island Advance.  “He won’t be able to attend due to scheduling conflicts,” de Blasio spokeswoman Jessica Ramossaid of the March 5 parade. The mayor has been practically living out of his suitcase since last weekend — traveling to Atlantafor the Democratic National Committee meeting to elect a new party chair and then toWashington D.C. to attend the US Conference of Mayors.  In comparison, the mayor has visited Staten Island a total of three times this year — and none of the appearances were public, the Advance reports.

Campaign Manager de Blasio Who Set Up A System to Go Around the Election Law Knows Nothing About Favors to Get Votes and Campaign $$$
De Blasio evasive when asked about sitdown with feds (NYP) de Blasio repeatedly deflected questions Tuesday about his more than four-hour grilling last week by federal prosecutors reviewing his campaign financing.  “There is an investigation going on and I want to respect that. I have nothing more to say,” he said about the “voluntary” sit-down with the feds on Friday. “It was a fine conversation.”  Asked about his plans to form a legal defense fund to cover his mounting expenses, Hizzoner said, “It takes real resources to cover legal bills. Like I said many times, I’m not a millionaire or a billionaire. We’ll figure out a plan.”  De Blasio also danced around questions about the firing of a top city official who approved the 2015 sale of a Lower East Side nursing home to a condo developer – just hours before the mayor was questioned.  Ricardo Morales, deputy commissioner of the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, OK’d the removal of a deed restriction on Rivington House, allowing it to be sold and converted into a luxury condo.  De Blasio said he did not want to get into specifics, calling the move a “personnel decision” that involved the deputy mayor and DCAS. The mayor has neither confirmed nor denied media reports that he helped Brooklyn Rabbi Moishe Indig, who raised money for him, in getting the Buildings Department in 2014 to lift a partial vacate order at a Hasidic school.  De Blasio also has denied allegations by John Ciafone — husband of production company Broadway Stages owner Gina Argento — that his wife was pressured into delivering donations to his 2013 mayoral campaign and to CONY.* De Blasio says axing city official who lifted deedrestriction on NYC nursing home wasn’t his decision (NYDN)  de Blasio said he was not involved in the decision to fire the city official who approved lifting deed restriction that allowed a Lower East Side nursing home to be flipped for luxury condos — and declined to explain it beyond saying his agency needed “someone better” for the job.

Voters Fed Up With de Blasio's Federal Investigation
Voters fed up with de Blasio's handling of investigations (NYP) Fifty-two percent aren’t happy with how de Blasio is dealing with public corruption, while 28 percent approve of his methods and the rest are undecided, according to a Quinnipiac poll with an error margin of about 3 percent.

ON NY1 LAST FRIDAY DE BLASIO CONFESSED HE RUNS A SHADOW GOVT AND THE MEDIA MISSED THE LEAD Progressive de Blasio Admits He Does Favors For His Friends Who Contribute to His Campaign and PACs Or Community Leaders Who Deliver Votes
De Blasio’s bizarre ‘never pressure’ defense of favors for his friends (NYP) To hear Mayor de Blasio tell it, it’s no big deal that he helps out folks looking for favors from city government — because “I would never pressure anyone.” Seriously?  “I believe it is perfectly appropriate to put an issue on the agency’s plate, and the agency has to make the decision they see as right,” he said Monday on NY1.   He’d done the same as a City Council member and public advocate, he noted, implying it’s all part of the process of good government — even if the favors are for people who’ve kicked in political money for you.  De Blasio’s word no doubt didn’t carry great weight with city agencies when he was a lowly council member or public advocate. But as mayor? That’s something else entirely.  A mayor can’t make “requests” to agencies that answer directly to him — and fear for their jobs and budgets. He doesn’t need to twist any arms.   That’s why US Attorney Preet Bharara is now looking into the reopening — reportedly at the instigation of a de Blasio donor and political power broker — of a Brooklyn girls’ school closed for safety violations.

The Buildings Department shut down the Bais Ruchel school in December 2014 for illegal classrooms and inadequate fire escapes. Six days later, the order was rescinded after a personal inspection by the Brooklyn building commissioner. In the interim, Moishe Indig, who’d hosted a campaign fund-raiser for de Blasio, had contacted the mayor about the problem.  City Hall denies any intervention, but lo and behold, de Blasio’s friend got his favor.
The Lobbyist's Shadow Government

de Blasio Triangulates Trump and Dow 2100 . . 
Wins Higher Poll Numbers by Attacking Trump and Increase the City Budget With Trump 3000 Point Wall Street Increase 

de Blasio Poll Number Up Because Most New Yorkers Don't Care About Corruption OR Read the Papers That is Why We Have the Pols Arrests All the Time 
De Blasio climbs in polls despite corruption probe (NYP) Despite federal and state probes into his campaign fund-raising, Mayor de Blasio has scored his best marks with voters in a year, a poll released Tuesday said.  Forty-seven percent favor de Blasio’s re-election this November, while 44 percent want him booted out of office, according to a Quinnipiac University survey with a margin of error of about 4 percentage points.  The results end a year-long trend of voters rejecting the mayor’s re-election bid, including a Jan. 18 poll in which his candidacy was opposed, 48 percent to 42 percent.  In the new poll, de Blasio also earned his best job-approval rating in 13 months: 50 percent to 42 percent.* De Blasio’s high job approval rating puts him ahead ofGOP mayoral challenger Paul Massey in new poll (NYDN) de Blasio has pulled up his job approval rating to its highest level in a year and would easily beat his leading Republican challenger, according to a new poll.  De Blasio leads Republican Paul Massey by a 59% to 25% margin in the Quinnipiac University poll released Tuesday.

At the Same Time the Feds Are Grilling Him de Blasio Praises NYC's Progressives Election Laws Raising $ by Email Mayor Is Under Federal Investigation of Creating A Pay to Play PAC Campaign for One NY to Go Around the Progressive Election Law
e Blasio, who faces multiple pay-to-play probes into whether he provided political favors to wealthy donors, sent out a fundraising solicitation Monday that said he really wants donations from regular New Yorkers  de Blasio hits up ‘regular’ NYers for donations after being grilled by feds (NYP) de Blasio, who faces multiple pay-to-play probes over whether he provided political favors to fat-cat donors, sent out a fundraising solicitation Monday claiming he really wants donations from regular New Yorkers.  The e-mail correspondence to de Blasio supporters, which seeks campaign dough for his re-election bid, was sent out three days after the mayor was grilled by federal prosecutors as part of a wide-ranging investigation into his previous fund-raising efforts.  Hizzoner is seeking donations as low as $3, so he can qualify for public matching funds.
How Dumb Does deB Think New Yorker's Are?
“I want to talk to you about New York City’s progressive campaign finance laws, and then I am going to ask you to do something important to support and take advantage of them,” de Blasio said in the e-mail.  “In New York City, every single resident who contributes between $1 and $175 to a campaign has their contribution matched SIX to ONE. What that means is that a $10 contribution turns into $70, $20 turns into $140, and so on. “This is important because it allows people to run for office without being a millionaire or asking millionaires for money. It opens the doors of politics to people without connections to the city’s rich and powerful, and levels the playing field for working people who want to run for office .

The Federal Investigation Shut Down the Campaign for One NY Slush Fund So Mayor Forced to Collect Money Legally 
The feds have been probing the mayor over whether he and his advisers exchanged favors to donors for contributions to his 2013 campaign and his now-shuttered nonprofit, the Campaign for One New York.  Hizzoner raised $4.3 million — mostly from unions, real estate firms and other companies that do business with the city — for CONY, which promoted his political pet projects.Donors to the mayor’s re-election campaign and other citywide campaigns are limited to giving $4,950 per election cycle — and only $400 if they do business with the city.

de Blasio Admits Play Doing Favors for Contributors and Political Supporters The Pay Was the Campaign for One NY
De Blasio admits he pulls strings at city agencies for friends (NYP) Bill de Blasio admitted Monday he has a long history of doing favors for community members who need help with city business — but claims it’s OK because he “never pressures” his department heads.  During his first interview since being grilled Friday by federal prosecutors reviewing his campaign fundraising, de Blasio tried to paint a rosy picture of the more than four-hour meeting by telling NY1 it went “fine.”  However, he declined to discuss specifics about the session. Hizzoner also would neither confirm nor deny various media reports over the weekend that he helped Brooklyn Rabbi Moishe Indig, who raised money for him, in getting the Buildings Department in 2014 to lift a partial vacate order at a Hasidic school.  “I am not going to go into the tick-tock of it all,” said de Blasio. However, de Blasio did not deny picking up the phone in the past to try to remove bureaucratic red tape on behalf of certain individuals — dating back to his years holding public office before he became mayor.  “I will tell you, when I was a City Council member, public advocate and again as mayor, I believe it is perfectly appropriate to put an issue on the agency’s plate, and the agency has to make the decision they see as right,” de Blasio said. De Blasio defended taking off much of Wednesday and Thursday to prepare for the meeting, claiming the city still operated fine because he can “walk and chew gum” at the same time.  He said he believes “that all the topics” prosecutors raised “were covered” and that the session went well. “I was happy to go in and recount the facts,” he said. “It was fine.”

Send True News Your Questions To Catch A Lying Mayor Who Think We Are All Dumb

Mayor de Blasio says talk with U.S. attorney went 'fine'in first comments since questioning (NYDN) Mayor de Blasio said he told federal investigators "everything I know" about probes into his fundraising during a questioning session Friday and believes the meeting went "fine."  "We've done everything legally. We've held ourselves to high ethical standards. And I was very comfortable going over everything I knew."  Probers have zeroed in on de Blasio's relationship with several donors, including Broadway Stages owner Gina Argento - whose husband told the Daily News she gave after de Blasio asked her to because she feared having her film permits quashed if she refused.  De Blasio dismissed his claims as "Conspiratorial" Argento's husband John Ciafone told The News de Blasio's associates never made a threat, but didn't have to because she knew how much sway his administration had over the fate of her business, which relies on the city issued filming permits. De Blasio said those comments are "news to me" and "doesn't make sense from everything I've known of" Argento. "

Will the Mayor Release All The Special Agent Emails to Prove Their In No Press CONY Contributors Conspiracy  
The problem with a lot of the coverage is it conflates everything and suggests that there's something wrong with asking someone to support your campaign when you're running for office. I just don't think that's right. That's not what our law says," he said. In another case, investigators are looking into whether de Blasio intervened to get a vacate order lifted on a Brooklyn school building to aid Rabbi Moishe Indig, who raised money for him. "I don't intervene and tell agencies how to do their business," de Blasio said Monday.  But when pressed directly on whether reports of his involvement of the issue were accurate, he would not say, declining to get into a "tick tock" of events.

Why Did DNAINFO Axe At Least 5 Reporters In An Election Year? Real News Journalism Dying in NYC  Shades of the NYT Michael Powell
DNAinfo axes at least five NYC editors and reporters (NYP) DNAinfo, the hyperlocal news website founded by billionaire John “Joe” Ricketts, is laying off at least five people in its New York City office. The layoffs were said to include managing editor Mike Ventura as well as reporters Murray Weiss, James Fanelli, Adam Nichols and Jeff Mays. Weiss and Fanelli had formerly written for The Post.  Ricketts, a Donald Trump supporter in the general election, is the founder and former CEO of TD Ameritrade, which he left in 2011 to concentrate full-time on entrepreneurship and philanthropy. The Ricketts family also owns the Chicago Cubs baseball team.

WTF The Times Story Right After de Blasio Gets Grilled By the Feds is the Mayor Might As Well Be Unopposed At the Times is Selling Its Brand We are Truth Teller On the Academy Awards Has the Paper Have No Shame?
Why de Blasio Might as Well Be Running Unopposed (NYT) Mr. de Blasio, after all, has mostly failed in polls to win the support of white voters, even many Democrats. He is struggling to contain a surging homeless population. He clashes fruitlessly and often with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a fellow Democrat. His administration is mired in a series of overlapping fund-raising investigations, including some by the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, that could result in indictments of Mr. de Blasio or top officials in the coming weeks. The mayor was interviewed by federal prosecutors for four hours on Friday.  It might seem enough fodder for any challenger. But defeating an incumbent in New York City is no easy task; a one-term mayor has been ousted only twice in the last 50 years: Abraham D. Beame by Edward I. Koch in 1977, and David N. Dinkins by Rudolph W. Giuliani in 1993.  Scott M. Stringer, the city comptroller, during a rally on public housing outside City Hall. Mr. Stringer, who has been flirting with a run for mayor, has publicly clashed with Mr. de Blasio on policy matters such as homelessness, child welfare and policing.  

NYT Buries the Lead on the Leak Info From de Blasio's Lawyers to Them
And the lifting of the deed restrictions is apparently no longer among the matters federal prosecutors are pursuing as they wind down their investigation, people with knowledge of the matter have said.  But, those people said, prosecutors are continuing to focus on the lease negotiations for the restaurant, the Water’s Edge in Long Island City, which was owned by Harendra Singh, a longtime supporter of Mr. de Blasio’s. The restaurant is on city land, and the negotiations in 2014 and 2015 were handled by the administrative services department on behalf of the city.  Mr. de Blasio, who has steadfastly denied wrongdoing, said on NY1 on Monday night that it was “perfectly fair” for him to “put forward concerns from community members, whether they’re civic leaders, faith leaders, business leaders. But agencies have to make the decision they think is best.”  In one example, the mayor was asked about reports that he had intervened to get favorable city action for Moshe Indig, a businessman and leader in the Satmar Hasidic community in Williamsburg.  “I don’t intervene and tell agencies how to do their business,” the mayor said. “Agencies come to their own conclusion when they look at a community concern like the concern of a house of worship.”

The NYT Should Be Asking Why Don't We Have Leaders Anymore in NYC?
There is another side of the ledger to consider, political observers said, that has so far warded off serious contenders in the Democratic primary — often the deciding contest in a city where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans six to one.Crime has remained low on Mr. de Blasio’s watch, even as he has moved to overhaul police practices despised by Democratic voters. The economy is growing. The administration has pushed through new programs to address the needs of the less fortunate, who are also Mr. de Blasio’s base of support, like universal prekindergarten and a push to build affordable housing. He champions the rights of transgender people, immigrants and low-wage earners. He finds broad support among blacks and majority approval from Hispanics.  “He’s in this sweet spot of being progressive enough to satisfy the progressives, but not so far to the left that people think he’s an unrealistic leader,” said Christina Greer, a professor of political science at Fordham University. As for quality of life in the city, she added, “Things are either status quo as they were under Bloomberg, or not as bad as people said they would be under de Blasio.” The election of President Trump has also been a boon for the mayor, who staked out a position as a vocal opponent of the new administration early on.* * New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer seemingly dismissed the idea of running for mayor in an interview, but offered strong criticisms of de Blasio's management style on the issues of homelessness and affordable housing, DNAinfo writes.
More on Campaign 2017        

State BOE Recomends de Blasio Upstate Senate CONY Money Laundry Operation for Criminal Prosecturon 

Remember That Berlin Rosen of Campaign for One NY Started in the AG's Shop
The state Board of Elections, at the urging of Chief Enforcement Officer Risa Sugarman, made five formal criminal referrals in 2016 to local district attorneys or the state Attorney General’s office
N.Y. Board ofElections recommended five cases for criminal prosecution in 2016 (NYDN) Members of Mayor de Blasio’s fund-raising operation are not the only ones facing potential criminal charges recommended by the state Board of Elections.  The board, at the urging of Chief Enforcement Officer Risa Sugarman, made five formal criminal referrals in 2016 to local district attorneys or the state Attorney General’s office, the Daily News has learned.  The News first reported last year that a referral involving de Blasio and his fund-raising operation related to their unsuccessful attempt to help state Senate Democrats capture the chamber majority. The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office has been presenting evidence to a grand jury.  Sugarman said the five referrals in 2016 were “a more wide-ranging group of violations” than in 2015, which she previously revealed had covered failure to file required campaign financial disclosure statements to wrongful personal use of campaign funds.  Her office in 2016 also received approval from the Board of Elections to issue nine subpoenas.  In addition to the criminal referrals, Sugarman said her office settled eight civil cases for a total of $46,709 in fines. That included $1,000 from disgraced former New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner, who missed a single required campaign disclosure filing, a record $27,400 from the Independent Democratic Conference for failing to file timely disclosure reports, and $14,000 from the Nassau County Legislature’s presiding officer, Norma Gonsalves, whose campaign was found to have violated disclosure laws eight times between 2013 and 2015.

de Blasio Scapegoating the Rivington Deed Change Scandal After Firing Morales and Ignoring Others That Knew
A scapegoat for the Rivington Street scandal (NYP) It sure looks like Ricardo Morales is being set up as City Hall’s scapegoat for the notorious Rivington Street flip.  Yes, as deputy commissioner at the Citywide Department of Administrative Services, Morales OK’d the lifting of deed restrictions on the Lower East Side nursing home — letting the developer turn the site into luxury housing for a $72 million profit. But he wasn’t remotely the highest-ranking official involved.  City Hall insists it’s sheer coincidence that Morales was fired by Mayor de Blasio on Friday just hours after his own long grilling by federal prosecutors. But Morales’ lawyer suspects otherwise, with good reason.  After all, it’s been seven months since city Comptroller Scott Stringer issued a damning report that put the lie to de Blasio’s insistence that the fiasco was an innocent mistake.  Stringer found the process, dating back to the start of de Blasio’s term, involved “dozens of Administration officials, including three Deputy Mayors, the Directors of the Mayor’s Offices of Intergovernmental Affairs and Contract Services, three City Commissioners and numerous members of their staffs.”  That is: Morales was hardly going rogue.  Many of these officials knew the powerful union 1199SEIU was pushing for the OK, yet none is said to have told the mayor, or First Deputy Mayor Tony Shorris, what was going on, despite vocal community opposition, until the deal was done.  US Attorney Preet Bharara is probing whether this involved more than massive incompetence. Either way, one relatively lowly deputy commissioner shouldn’t be the only one losing his job.

After Meeting With the Feds de Blasio Fires Official At Center of Deed-Lifting Probe Is Morales Talking to the Feds?
New York City Official at Center of Deed-Lifting Probe Fired (WSJ)  Ricardo Morales approved removal of restrictions that allowed Rivington House to be sold to luxury-housing developers in deal examined by Manhattan U.S. Attorney in broader investigation into Bill de Blasio* City fires official who OK’d lifting deed restriction to convert nursing home into luxury condos. Ricardo Morales, a deputy commissioner at the Citywide Department of Administrative Services, was let go on Friday evening and escorted from the agency’s offices in lower Manhattan, according to a person familiar with the matter. * (NYDN) The city official who approved lifting deed restrictions that allowed a Lower East Side nursing home to be flipped for luxury condos has been fired.  Ricardo Morales, a deputy commissioner at the Citywide Department of Administrative Services, was let go on Friday — hours after Mayor de Blasio’s highly anticipated sit-down with federal prosecutors, his attorney confirmed Saturday.  The Wall Street Journal first reported the firing.  U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is investigating the Rivington deal as part of a broader investigation into whether de Blasio’s administration gave special favors to donors.  Guy Oksenhendler, an attorney for Morales, said he found the dismissal — in the context of the day’s events — to be highly problematic. “I find the timing of my client’s firing extremely suspicious,” he said. “Around the time that meeting would have concluded, my client was terminated.”  Oksenhendler added that he believes Morales was targeted by the mayor himself. In 2015, Morales signed off on the removal of a deed restriction on Rivington House, which had been a nursing home for people with AIDS.  Allure Group bought the property for $28 million, paid a $16.1 million fee to the city, then sold it to a luxury condo developer for $116 million.  The Daily News found last year that lobbyist James Capalino, involved with both the original seller and the developer, has steered $50,000 in donations to de Blasio’s 2017 reelection bid and personally wrote a $10,000 check to the Campaign for One New York. A probe by city Controller Scott Stringer backed the mayor’s claim that he was not personally informed about the pending deal, but focused on City Hall aides who were.  City Hall officials were informed in January 2014 that DCAS was about to lift the deed restriction on Rivington House — but failed to tell the agency they wanted to make sure the site stayed a health care facility, according to the report.  Nearly a year later the mayor’s aides found out that the deed restriction had been lifted and that the Allure Group might sell it for private luxury housing — but failed to do anything in the 72 days before the sale actually closed, Stringer found.
Laura Nahmias‏Verified account @nahmias De Blasio won't confirm or deny whether or not Morales's firing was related to either Water's Edge or Rivington scandals.
Queens Crapper‏@QueensCrapper  Interesting timing - Rivington house figure fired right after Preet meet

de Blasio Distracts By Meaningless Special Agents City Hall Aides Lobbbyists Redacted Email Dump on the Day He Meets the Feds  

New 'Agents of the City' Documents Released After de Blasio's 'Pay to Play' Investigation Meeting (NY1) * HEAVY REDACTIONS mark de Blasio's latest 'agents' emails release -- POLITICO NY's Read more. * New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration is continuing to significantly redact the mayor's emails to staff and political consultants, amid a court battle between the city and two news agencies over the disclosure of City Hall emails, Politico New York reports.
de Blasio Transparency, FOILS and Special Agent Lobbyists Emails

Has Any of the NY Media Sent A Report After de Blasio Escape to Atlanta After Being Grilled for 4 Hours By the Feds?
Feds send message with de Blasio interrogration (NYP) Hard-charging US Attorney Preet Bharara sent a message to Mayor de Blasio Friday — trotting out the same prosecutors who took down Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos to interrogate Hizzoner about his campaign fund-raising activities.  “Preet’s office is a force to be reckoned with, but these prosecutors he rolled out for this case are a big deal and very competent, indicating that they are taking this matter very seriously,” a federal law-enforcement source told The Post. Mayor Meets with U.S. Attorney's Office Over 'Pay to Play' Investigation (NY1) Mayor Bill de Blasio took no questions from reporters after leaving a long anticipated meeting Friday morning with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Midtown.  The mayor arrived in an SUV shortly after 9 a.m. to attend the meeting inside 1177 Sixth Avenue.  He emerged roughly four hours later.  For the past two days, the mayor has been inside in his attorney’s office for hours at a time, presumably preparing for this interview. From Manhattan, the mayor was back to politics; he was heading to Atlanta to attend the Democratic National Committee's winter meeting.* It's time to bring the de Blasio investigations to some conclusion (NYP Ed)

Team Bharara On the de Blasio Hunt
De Blasio leaves meeting withfederal prosecutors after more than four hours (PoliticoNY) The prosecutors, from the office of Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan, included Mr. Bharara’s deputy, Joon H. Kim, and the chief and deputy chief of the office’s Public Corruption Unit. The F.B.I. agents, the person said, included the chief of the Public Corruption Squad handling the case 

With Less Than 200 Words the Times Source is Clearly Team de Blasio or His Lawyers They Say Nothing About How It Went On Is That A Sign?
Investigators Question Mayor de Blasio in Federal Fund-Raising Inquiry (NYT) The interview, at the Midtown Manhattan offices of the mayor’s lawyers, focused on various topics that have come under scrutiny in the nearly yearlong inquiry, people with knowledge of the matter said. The mayor and several staff members arrived for the session in two large black sport utility vehicles around 9 a.m., driving into a garage beneath the building without speaking to waiting reporters. They left the same way. About a half-dozen prosecutors and several F.B.I. agents were present, a person with knowledge of the session said. The mayor was joined by his lawyers, Barry H. Berke and Dani R. James of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, and one of their associates.  

You Got to Love How WCBS TV's Kramer Chases de Blasio Good TV
De Blasio Meets With Federal Prosecutors, FBI Agents Investigating Campaign Funds (WCBS) As de Blasio was about to end his highly-anticipated session with prosecutors and FBI agents, he had his police detail put up barricades – and then station a phalanx of detectives and officers to keep reporters at bay.  

Kramer asked de Blasio: “Mr. Mayor, how did it go? What did you tell the prosecutors?” One officer tried to physically restrain her from following the car as she pointed out that she is allowed to walk on a public street. But that did not stop CBS2 cameramen from capturing the mayor in the back seat of his sport-utility vehicle doing his best to ignore the demands for answers. Despite his reputation for tardiness, de Blasio arrived 20 minutes early Friday for his 9:30 a.m. date with prosecutors and FBI agents investigating whether the mayor or his aides gave donors favorable treatment in exchange for campaign cash, Kramer reported. The mayor never rolled down his window as he arrived for the meeting and the army of detectives and security were on hand to keep reporters at bay from the beginning, Kramer reported. Prosecutors also declined comment.  Gerald Lefcourt, one of the city’s top defense attorneys, earlier this month explained to Kramer how important Friday was for the mayor.  “This is the biggest moment in his life,” Lefcourt said. “Certainly he has to be very careful because everything is on the line.”

de Blaso Meets With Feds Today on Selling Out His Office With Out Immunity 
Update Response following di Blasio's 4hr grilling by US Attorney: “At all times the Mayor & his staff acted appropriately; well within the law."

When de Blasio arrived at Berke’s office Friday morning, he sat in the backseat of a black SUV with his aide Jonathan Viguers, which swiftly pulled into a garage on W. 46th Street.  A little while later, Assistant US Attorneys Andrew Goldstein and Tatiana Martins, two of the prosecutors who secured corruption convictions of former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, also showed up at Berke’s office.  Prosecutor Russell Capone was also said to be involved in the de Blasio probe.
Mayor de Blasio Will Meet With Federal Prosecutors on Friday (NYT)  An inquiry is focused on whether Mr. de Blasio or others in his administration traded beneficial city action for donations to his 2013 campaign or his now-defunct nonprofit group. The meeting had originally been scheduled for two weeks ago, but prosecutors postponed it for reasons that remain unclear.  In recent weeks, investigators appear to have focused on a relatively new area in the inquiry, looking into the mayor’s relationship with a Brooklyn businessman who hosted a fund-raiser for him in October 2013, after the Democratic primary but before the general election, according to two of the people. Like others interviewed for this article, they declined to comment because they were not authorized to discuss the continuing investigation.  The businessman, Moishe Indig, is a prominent rabbi and leader in the Satmar Hasidic community in Williamsburg who was on the Village Voice’s 10 Worst Landlords list in 2010. Mr. Indig’s lawyer, Susan R. Necheles of Hafetz & Necheles, declined to comment. In addition to investigating whether the city took any action on behalf of Mr. Indig as a result of his support for the mayor, the prosecutors and agents are also likely to focus on a number of other donors who have come under scrutiny, including two who have been of intense interest to prosecutors. They are Harendra Singh and Gina Argento. Mr. Singh is the former owner of the Water’s Edge, a popular restaurant and wedding venue on waterfront property in Long Island City, Queens, that is owned by the city. In 2014 and 2015, Mr. Singh, who was having financial difficulties, was negotiating a new lease with the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which handles such matters.

City for Sale Part II 31 Years After Part I
A person briefed on the matter said that emails from 2014 and 2015, including several between officials in City Hall and the agency’s commissioner at the time, Stacy Cumberbatch, and her senior staff, suggest that the mayor took a keen interest in the process. The person said city officials eventually took over the negotiations because they were unhappy with how Ms. Cumberbatch handled the talks.  In one email with the subject line, “Heads Up re: Harendra Singh,” according to the person, an aide to the mayor told the commissioner in June 2014 that “the mayor would like you to meet with Harendra asap since it is a time sensitive issue that he has,” apparently referring to the lease negotiations.  In another email sent later that day, the aide added: “One other note for this is the mayor wants a briefing from you on this before the meeting between you and Harendra takes place. Thank you!” Before the negotiations were completed, Mr. Singh was arrested on unrelated federal fraud and bribery charges brought by prosecutors in Brooklyn in September 2015. He is now cooperating in the fund-raising inquiry.  After the interview, Mr. de Blasio is expected to fly to Atlanta to attend the Democratic National Committee winter meeting, where a new chairman is to be elected on Saturday.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's office to grill Mayor de Blasio overfund-raising probe (NYDN) Prosecutors from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s public corruption unit will sit down Friday with Mayor de Blasio face to face and question him about whether he traded government favors for political donations, sources told the Daily News. The feds are focusing on whether de Blasio or his aides used their official standing in City Hall to help out donors in exchange for contributions made either to his 2013 mayoral campaign or his now-defunct nonprofit, law enforcement sources tell the Daily News. But de Blasio must be truthful at the sit-down, which doesn’t come with any protection of immunity, or he could face criminal charges for fibbing to the feds.  The rendezvous is scheduled to take place at the Sixth Ave. offices of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, where Hizzoner holed up for several hours both Wednesday and Thursday.  The mayor also admitted last month that he was already interviewed by prosecutors from the Manhattan district attorney’s office regarding an unrelated investigation.  That probe, looking into fund-raising practices for 2014 state Senate races upstate, is reportedly no longer targeting the mayor, but remains focused on several of his top aides.  Yet another investigation encircling City Hall is looking at how a deed restriction was lifted at a Lower East Side nursing home now being turned into luxury housing.  Federal and state grand juries began hearing testimony related to probes around the same time.  Bharara’s office has been investigating whether the mayor and others at City Hall gave favorable treatment to donors to Campaign for One New York.  The feds began zoning in on the mayor last fall after they subpoenaed thousands of emails and documents relating to the progressive-minded nonprofit.  The group, which could accept unlimited contributions because of its status, allegedly funneled money from wealthy donors into de Blasio’s campaign coffers — avoiding campaign finance restrictions.  Campaign for One New York, with its donations from a mix of developers, unions, lobbyists, and other firms, some with business before the city, was essentially a slush fund for the mayor, critics and ethic watchdogs contend. Donors who had business pending with the administration gave at least $3 million of the $4.3 million de Blasio raised for the nonprofit. The U.S. Attorney’s office declined comment. New York's Ten Worst Landlords (Village Voice 2010) * FBI grills de Blasio’s Satmar pals in fundraising probe (NYP) * FBI questions Brooklyn landlord Moishe Indig in investigation into de Blasio’s fundraising (NYP) Hasidic rabbi and political operative hosted 2013 fundraiser for mayor

Thursday Mayor Preps for Preet in His Lawyers Office All Day for Second Day in A Row

De Blasio spends second day prepping for feds’ questions (NYP)  de Blasio on Thursday spent a large chunk of his second straight workday huddling with his lawyer — apparently prepping for a long-anticipated sit-down with federal prosecutors investigating his campaign fund-raising.  De Blasio spent more than five hours at the Midtown law office of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, arriving with his security detail in a black SUV around 11:30 a.m. and leaving around 4:40 p.m.  On Wednesday, de Blasio had no public schedule and spent several hours at the law office. De Blasio — who had already met with Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr.’s office in relation to a state probe, had just two scheduled events for the day, and took no media questions.  nd after his not-so-busy workday, de Blasio planned to skip town Friday for two days to attend the Democratic National Committee meeting in Atlanta to campaign for Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison to become DNC chair.

Ethics Panel Cracks Down On Pols Political Campaign Use of Twitter 
New York city’s ethics panel reinforced existing rules on the use of Twitter and other social media accounts by elected officials, including barring them from using the official accounts of their office for political purposes, the New York Post writes. * The Conflicts of Interest Board just released its newest Advisory Opinion, and it's about social media. Read more:
So de Blasio Now Gets Unions to Tweet for His Re-Election on the Day He Faces Feds FAST
8 minutes ago

NYC defies national trends 23% cut in traffic deaths over 3 years

De Blasio's legal defense fund may raise more conflict questions (PoliticoNY)  At a press conference this week, de Blasio wouldn’t commit to setting up the fund in a way that limits people with business before the city from giving to the fund.   "We're going to set up a clear standard that's fair and avoids conflicts,” he offered. “But I'm not going to go into detail because that's going to take a lot of work, a lot of lawyers figuring out what's the right way to do things.”  Election lawyers who spoke with POLITICO New York said the mayor could structure the fund as a trust fund, essentially a bank account whose donors wouldn’t have to be disclosed and wouldn’t be subject to any kind of donation limits or rules dictating who can give.  When facing trial soon after he left office in 2008, former state Senate majority leader Joe Bruno helped cover his own bills through a defense fund that brought in roughly $1 million without disclosing its donors. Court documents in the unrelated arrest of his successor, Dean Skelos, revealed that $200,000 of the money in his legal defense fund came from Glenwood Management, the developer whose payments to state officials played a key role in the trials of Skelos and former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver. Former Republican state senator Guy Velella set up a legal defense fund as he faced federal corruption charges in 2004, but suspended it shortly after it was created, amid criticism that donors could be seeking favors in return. So did former Democratic state senator Hiram Monserrate, who created his own legal defense fund as he faced assault charges in 2009. Monserrate’s fund, which did not disclose its donors, was roundly condemned by good government groups, and at least one Democratic lawmaker introduced legislation attempting to force any donors to such funds be disclosed.  Another New York City lawmaker’s experience might be instructive in de Blasio’s case. Staten Island City Councilwoman Debi Rose set up a legal defense fund several years ago to help pay legal bills related to her 2009 campaign for Council, in which her campaign was accused of financial improprieties. She herself was never charged with anything.   In an advisory opinion which has not been made public, the City’s Conflicts of Interest Board decided that Rose’s fund would be required to operate under the same contribution restrictions as a New York City campaign, and the fund’s donors are disclosed biannually by the City’s Conflicts of Interest Board.  After the 2009 city elections, in a post-election report, the City’s Campaign Finance Board said that separate legal defense funds are very rare and should fully disclose their funders and expenditures in the same way campaign accounts do.

Now True News Looks Forward to How WNYC Will Question and Follow Up Questions With the Mayor. . . Wake Up Daily News Stop Your Cover-Up NY Times of the Mayor's Corruption

Bharara Knows If de Blasio Walk No Ethics and Pols Like de Blasio Above the Law

Fair enough, but it’s no guarantee that de Blasio will get the last laugh. Manhattan DA Cyrus Vance Jr. and federal prosecutor Preet Bharara convened grand juries to examine the millions in donations de Blasio and aides solicited from firms and individuals with city business.  Several of those donors got favorable government action near the time of their donations, raising the possibility of illegal pay-to-play schemes. Extortion charges are also possible if donors believed their business would be harmed if they refused to contribute to the mayor’s slush funds. If de Blasio is not charged, there will be two main consequences in addition to the election. First, he’ll have no trouble raising money to pay his legal bills. He would still have power over donors’ businesses and contracts, and while some may complain at having their arms twisted, most will pay up.  The second impact is that the city should scrap its ethics and campaign finance laws and the state and feds should dismantle their anti-corruption bureaus. After all, if what de Blasio has done is legal, nothing is illegal, so let’s dispense with the hokum that the laws apply to politicians and private citizens equally.  If de Blasio walks, pols are above the law.

DOI Slams ACS Again Does Peters Who Was Cut Out of the Pay to Play Investigations Smell Blood in the Waters of de Blasio Land?
de Blasio Blasts DOI His Own Agency

.New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio slammed the city Department of Investigation, dismissing its findings about the city’s child welfare agency as “simplistic,” and explained the deaths of two children last fall on failures by individual caseworkers – not systemic problems, the Daily News writes.

Mayor de Blasio insists ACS has no systemic issues inface of damning Department of Investigation reports (NYDN) Mayor de Blasio slammed the Department of Investigation on Tuesday, dismissing its findings about the city’s dysfunctional child welfare agency as “simplistic.”  Responding to questions Tuesday, de Blasio blamed the deaths last fall of 6-year-old Zymere Perkins and 3-year-old Jaden Jordan on failures by individual caseworkers — not agency breakdowns.   Asked whether he had regrets about the pace of reform following the DOI’s reports, the mayor pooh-poohed the DOI’s findings. “Any oversight agency we look at, in looking at their reports, we look at the things that are accurate and we also look at the things that may not be accurate of the full reality,” de Blasio said. “It’s absolutely simplistic, with all due respect, to act like any other report by any other part of government is false. “I think there’s some temptation in the reporting, to take something that is unusual and exceptional and try and suggest that it’s systemic when I’m not sure it is systemic,” he added.  DOI released a report in May exposing systemic failures to properly monitor cases and adequately supervise caseworkers handling investigations of alleged abuse and neglect.

de Blasio Blames Everyone But Himself for ACS Melt Down 
The adult in the room at Administration for Children's Services(NYDN Ed) Instead, debuting Hansell on Tuesday, de Blasio went to embarrassing rhetorical lengths to reject established evidence that ACS is adrift — and to forward blame to outside forces.  While boasting of shrinking the number of kids in foster care, de Blasio pushed back on the notion that ACS hesitates to remove children from harm’s way, citing “cases where ACS decided a child should be removed and a court did not agree.”  He speaks of Family Court judges whom he appoints. Who weigh evidence amassed by ACS staff. Who decide whether children are at imminent risk of harm and so must be placed in foster care. De Blasio mused that judges may “have a belief” at odds with ACS’s judgments about what’s best for children’s safety. Sure, that possible — or ACS failed to marshal evidence necessary to meet its burden of proof under law.  Brushed off by the mayor, too, were recent probes finding alarming dysfunction within ACS — including a Department of Investigation report last month that nights and weekends were amateur hour for child safety workers, who lacked access to crucial information.  DOI rightly deemed that a “systemic failure,” on the heels of an earlier report finding dangerous holes in safety investigations. Again, God knows why, de Blasio bristled at the characterization .  The Administration for Children’s Services is set to be run by a competent professional who does not shy from tough realities. Pity the man he ultimately reports to still has a habit of hiding under the desk where the buck stops.

DOI commissioner slams ACS in wake of child's death  (NYP) The head of the city Department of Investigation blasted child-welfare officials Sunday for failing to address the bureaucratic bungling that led to a child’s death last year.  “We are nowhere near solving this problem, or getting to where we need to be to keep all of the children safe,” DOI Commissioner Mark Peters said on John Catsimatidis’ “Cats Roundtable” on AM 970.   Peters last month issued a scathing report that said ACS wasted two days locating suspected abuse victim Jaden Jordan, 3, of Brooklyn — even though the boy’s address was in the agency’s files.  By the time caseworkers found the child on Nov. 28, he had been beaten to death.  Peters also faulted ACS for not having “fully staffed call centers” at all times.  “Initially, when we came to them with some of these concerns, they told us that their review showed there were no real problems with how this case was handled,” Peters fumed.  DOI is currently probing the death of Mikey Guzman, 5, who died after being found unconscious in his Queens home Jan. 22.  ACS had previously substantiated eight cases of abuse or neglect involving his family, but never removed any of the six kids, sources have told The Post. *  The beleaguered New York City Administration for Children’s Services has failed to deliver its annual report by the city’s deadline, an oversight mandate created by de Blasio when he was a city councilman, and also failed to release its quarterly report, the Post writes. * Former ACS head didn’t enforce safety program for caseworkers (NYP) Mayor de Blasio’s child-welfare commissioner turned her back on a safety program that was a key reform adopted in the wake of the infamous 2006 beating death of little Nixzmary Brown, The Post has learned.  The Administration for Children’s Services modeled its “ChildStat” program after the NYPD’s widely copied “CompStat” crime-fighting initiative, holding weekly meetings at which abuse cases are randomly reviewed for shortcomings.  But ACS Commissioner Gladys Carrión — who abruptly quit amid furor over a series of child deaths tied to her agency — all but stopped attending ChildStat sessions shortly after taking office in 2014, three former city officials said.  As a result, ACS caseworkers now rarely show up for the meetings at which their investigations are analyzed, said the sources, who include a recently retired ACS supervisor.  Under terms of their contract, caseworkers — who directly investigate allegations of abuse — cannot be forced to attend, but they were “strongly encouraged” during the previous administration of former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, sources said.

AVS Melt Down Following Zymeme Death Caseloads Exploding 
Embattled NYC Children's Services agency caseloadssharply rising following Zymere Perkins death (NYDN) Last fall, the city’s child welfare agency came under heavy fire for failing to intervene before 6-year-old Zymere Perkins was beaten to death in a squalid Harlem apartment caseworkers had visited many times.  In response, the Administration for Children’s Services insisted that everything was under control, pointing out that caseloads were well below acceptable maximum levels.  The day before Zymere died, the average caseload was 9.2 per worker — well below the target of 12 cases ACS had set “based on national best practice standards.”“Best practice” went out the window in December.  Following Zymere’s death, ACS began getting an increased number of abuse calls. As a result, by December, workers were juggling the highest caseloads in years — on average, 13.8 cases at any given time.  This is happening even as the city hired 600 more caseworkers last year; at the same time, however, more and more caseworkers are leaving, overwhelmed by a very stressful job. The end result is child welfare workers managing more cases each week, increasing the likelihood of missing something or improperly closing a case.

The State of the City is What is Really Happening Not Fake Campaigns Pie in the Sky Promises
Help unwanted: Mayor de Blasio's jobs promise is all packaging (NYDN)  Consider the mayoral State of the City address a piece of theater, projecting possibilities for a future New York ever more excellent than the one that rises so tall.  So a review is in order for the central scene of Mayor de Blasio’s 2017 effort, a promise to create 100,000 well-paying jobs within the coming 10 years, 40,000 of them before the end of the second term he hopes to win in November:* Bill de Blasio Seeks a Runway to Vogue Voters (NYP)  Facing re-election, the mayor discovers the promise of the garment industry to deliver jobs and, maybe, fund-raising support.

NYP Find Council Speaker Candidates At An Anti-Trump Rally and Ask them Candidates How They Will Solve the City's Affordable Housing Crisis  

Just four in 10 kids graduate college- or career-ready from the city’s public high schools. Yet Mark-Viverito’s only concern was to force new school curricula that reflect the backgrounds of all students.  She had nothing on the homeless crisis or the woes of the Administration for Children’s Services and the Housing Authority.  Of course, de Blasio engineered her rise to the speakership, so she doubtless feels obliged to avoid issues that would embarrass him. But the City Council could at least focus on the nuts-and-bolts problems facing each member’s constituents. Something for every council member to consider, when the time comes to choose Mark-Viverito’s successor.

Rat Disease Building Owner Was Know by Pols and City Again Nobody Did A Thing 
After the Rat Disease Story Make the Press the Mayor Gets Involved 

De Blasio puts city’s ‘worst landlord’ on notice over rat infestation (NYP) de Blasio is vowing to “take over operations” of a rodent-infested Bronx building hit by a deadly outbreak of a rare rat-borne disease. * Plastic Bag Fees Make Sense. Just Not to Albany.  (NYT Ed)In blocking New York City’s plan to impose a fee, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has needlessly held back a workable solution *Notorious slumlord owns building with disease-carrying rats (NYP)  * NYC Council Members Trash Cuomo for Strangling TheirFive-Cent Plastic Bag Fee (NYO)
The rodent-infested Bronx building affected by a deadly outbreak of a rare rat-borne disease is owned by a notorious slumlord once deemed to be the worst in the city — and has a basement officials say was illegally divided into eight apartments.  Ved Parkash, whom Public Advocate Letitia James dubbed the city’s “worst landlord” in 2015, owns the decrepit building where Braulio Balbuena Flores was living in a basement apartment when he contracted leptospirosis last month.Two other people working at a small business on the same block in the Concourse section also caught the bacterial disease, which is linked to rat urine, within the last two months — and one of them later died, according to officials. Officials said the building’s basement had been illegally converted into eight units, which were vacated on Tuesday.  Parkash also sent two exterminators to the building to begin addressing the rat problem.  “When we came here, we saw substantial evidence of rodent infestation,” said city Health Commissioner Mary Travis Bassett. Last April, 38 tenants filed suit against Parkash, complaining about horrific building conditions.  “Rat infestation has been a problem that’s been going on for years,” said Bianca MacPherson, a paralegal at the Urban Justice Center, which is representing the tenants.  Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz blasted the landlord and the city, saying there have been 1,500 complaints made at the building since 2010.* Residents in the Grand Concourse area of the Bronx were furious after learning three people living or working on one block had been infected by a rare disease spread by rat urine, saying the city had been slow to respond, the Journal reports. * Cuomo signed a bill effectively killing a 5-cent fee on plastic bags in New York City, disappointing environmentalists as well as city leaders who characterized the move as a classic case of Albany’s overreach, The New York Times reports. *Andrew Cuomo blocks 5-cent ‘bag tax’ (NYP) 

City to Limit Funding Of Non Profit That Rented Slum Building Where Child Died 
City to limit relationship with provider that oversaw shelter where toddlers died (NYP) The city is moving to limit its relationship with a homeless services provider that oversaw the shelter were two toddlers died last year when a radiator scalded them with steam.  Homeless Services officials said the agency will remove or replace the Bushwick Economic Development Corp as the service provider at 33 cluster sites — which are regular apartment buildings that have some units reserved for the homeless — and then at 11 commercial hotels that are being used as shelters.  The firm, known as BEDCO, also manages eight traditional shelter sites that are not being impacted by the city’s actions.   City officials said a combination of factors prompted the move — including poor outcomes from the firm’s social services as well as the number of violations at certain sites.  A number of building owners have filed lawsuits against BEDCO alleging that the firm stopped paying its bills — including $1.5 million owed to the former owner of a shelter on DeKalb Avenue in Brooklyn.  The firm also helped place and support the five homeless families at the building where the Ambrose sisters — 2-year-old Ibanez and 1-year-old Scylee — died after a radiator apparently malfunctioned and scalded them with steam.  BEDCO director Frank Boswell didn’t respond to an email and phone call seeking comment.

What About the Other Non Profits Renting to Slum Landlords?
Mayor de Blasio tocut off city's use of nonprofit that has been cited for placing homeless inrun-down housing (NYDN) Eight months ago the city signed a $16 million contract with a nonprofit that had been cited repeatedly for housing the homeless in decrepit apartments and hotels.  On Thursday Mayor de Blasio pulled the plug, announcing that in the coming months, the city will phase out its use of Bushwick Economic Development Corp.  In Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, BEDCO houses hundreds of homeless families and single adults in 11 hotels and 33 so-called “cluster sites,” private apartment buildings notorious for scandalous conditions.  De Blasio had criticized both programs before he was elected mayor but was forced to expand the use of both as the shelter census rose from 53,000 in January 2014 to 60,000 this week.  The city will move the all the homeless individuals now living in these hotels and apartments to either permanent housing or other hotels and cluster sites not run by BEDCO.  The nonprofit, which receives tens of millions of taxpayer dollars each year from the city and state, was one of several groups DHS paid to house the homeless.  In March 2015, the city Department of Investigation cited several of those groups — including BEDCO — for routinely placing families in squalid apartments with dozens of housing, building and health code violations.  At one BEDCO building on E. 174th St. in the Bronx, DOI found a large dead rat that had been lying in the lobby for days.  At the time, DOI criticized the city’s habit of repeatedly retaining the groups on an “emergency” basis without actual contracts. That gave the city little leverage to demand the groups remedy horrendous living conditions.  BEDCO also placed families in the Bronx building where two infants were scalded to death in December due to a faulty radiator. A tenant at the building told the News she'd reported a busted radiator in her apartment to BEDCO, but no one came to fix it.  The BEDCO announcement came three days after the mayor was criticized for saying nothing about the homeless crisis during his rambling 65-minute State of the City address Monday night.  The decision to cut off BEDCO is part of a de Blasio promise made last year to eliminate all "cluster sites” by 2018. He’s also vowed to end the use of hotels, but without a specific deadline.  The cut-off also represents an abrupt about-face. Just eight months ago, DHS renewed two BEDCO contracts, including a $2.2 million contract that was to continue through June and a $16.8 million contract that was to continue into 2020.  The nonprofit currently has 12 contracts with DHS, most of which expire this year. It also manages eight traditional shelters, and the city says it will review those contracts as well within the next 90 days. Last year, Banks said, the city eliminated 10,000 code violations in shelters and “cluster sites,” and will stop using these apartments and hotels as soon as possible.


The Times writes that Cuomo looks inconsistent now that he has halted New York City’s plan to impose a 5-cent fee on plastic bags because he’s not known for letting perfect be the enemy of the good and has argued for region-by-region initiatives in the past.  * The Times Union writes that New York City could once again lead the way on statewide law – as it did with its indoor smoking ban – if the state would not stand in the way of innovators trying reduce the use of disposable plastic bags. * The Daily News writes that Cuomo joined the gang “infantilizing New York City” when he did not stand up and reject the Legislature’s attempt to kill the city’s imposition of a nickel fee on disposable bags.

Cuomo’s mighty pen must defend the city’s nickel bag fee(NYDN) * The Times writes that the state Legislature is abusing its power by overriding New York City’s plan to impose a nickel surcharge on plastic and paper bags, and Cuomo should stand up for home rule by vetoing the legislation.* The Post writes that Cuomo is reportedly trying to broker a compromise on the plastic bag surcharge, but he has better things to do and should just sign the bill and kill what amounts to a punitive tax.
Cuomo says he’s torn between the environmental andeconomic impact of 5-cent plastic bag fee (NYDN)   Sources say @NYGovCuomo has already reached out to State and City legislative leaders in an attempt to broker a compromise on bag fee * Only the New York state Legislature could take the uncontroversial idea of a 5-cent fee on plastic bags in New York City and twist it into a radical scheme to harm New Yorkers, Nicole Gelinas writes.

Assembly halts city's plastic bag fee. Speaker Heastie: "We have heard from many constituents concerned about the financial burden."
State lawmakers to vote on delaying city’s 5-cent bag fee (NYP) ALBANY — State lawmakers within days plan to vote on a bill that would postpone the city’s 5-cent plastic-bag fee for a year.* 5-Cent Plastic Bag Fee Slated to be Postponed, Less Than 2 Weeks Before its Start (NY1) * Environmental groups and New York City politicians urged the state Legislature not to block the city from adding a 5-cent fee on plastic and paper bags, with some saying Albany is moving to make a power grab, the Daily News reports. * Carl’s dirty deed to stop bag fee soils democracy (NYDN Ed) * Carl’s dirty deed to stop bag fee soils democracy (NYDN Ed) Heastie and his fellow Democrats join John Flanagan and the Republican-controlled Senate in bipartisan, bicameral ignominy: subverting local representative government to undo a fully legal act of New York’s City Council.  In the process, they are violating basic fairness — by leaving intact word-for-word identical bag fee laws in Suffolk County and Long Beach, L.I.  They are caving to Albany Megalobbyist Pat Lynch, a longtime aide and ally of Heastie’s disgraced predecessor Sheldon Silver, who represents, at $15,000 a month, the Orwellian-named American Progressive Bag Alliance (the chemical companies that make the bags).  They are insulting the democratic process by speeding the bill through without any hearings, testimony, public discussion or real debate. Compare that to the City Council’s two years of hearings and public testimony.  They are stoking false fears. Heastie baselessly claims that a phrase in the city’s law that “stores shall charge a fee of not less than five cents for each carryout bag” means that stores could charge more than that. But that wording just lets retailers sell sturdier plastic totes for a buck or so; Suffolk has the same language. Besides, the Council has offered to change the wording to specify precisely five cents.  None of that matters to Heastie. In cahoots with Flanagan, in cahoots with Lynch, he is set to treat his own city’s voters like children.  The arrogant asses in Albany should wear bags over their heads for this one. Governor, veto this piece of garbage.* Assembly votes to delay controversial 5-cent 'bag tax' (NYP)

de Blasio's Jobs Plan Will Costs Up to $91,000 A Job and Not Happen Until 2027
De Blasio's 'jobs plan' is a laughable con  (NYP Ed) de Blasio must’ve thought he was doing stand-up comedy Monday night at the Apollo — because his vow to create 100,000 jobs was a real knee-slapper.  Hizzoner was focusing his State of the City speech on Gotham’s “affordability crisis.” He said “half of the equation” is jobs.  Yes, jobs are key. But the idea that de Blasio (of all people) will snap his fingers and — puff! — tens of thousands of jobs will materialize is simply preposterous.  Even the mayor admits his 100,000 jobs — many supposedly to pay $50,000 a year and up — won’t fully appear for another 10 years. That is, long after he’s left office.  Start with his $136 million plan for a “hub” in Sunset Park for clothing makers and film and TV companies. If all goes well (cross your fingers), de Blasio says it’ll lead (eventually) to . . . all of 1,500 jobs.  That’s right: 1,500 jobs — at a cost to taxpayers of $91,000 a job. (And that doesn’t count Gov. Cuomo’s own $420 million a year to supposedly boost film and TV jobs.) Yet the biggest irony is that de Blasio has practically done everything in his power to discourage job growth — like pushing for a $15 minimum wage, paid sick leave and family leave, all of which make it more expensive for employers to hire workers. If Hizzoner truly sought to gin up jobs, he’d move to scrap all the mandates on employers and lower New York taxes, perennially among the highest in the nation. He could also make New Yorkers more attractive to employers and push up wages by seeing that kids get a decent education in the public schools. Right now, two out of three kids who graduate aren’t ready for college or the workplace — yet the mayor brags of gains he’s made in the schools.* De Blasio must’ve thought he was doing stand-up comedy Monday night at the Apollo Theater – because his vow to create 100,000 jobs was a real knee-slapper, as the idea that de Blasio will snap his fingers and jobs will materialize is simply preposterous, the Post writes. * Day after State of City speech, @BilldeBlasio's jobs announcementlight on details (PoliticoNY) * Stringer also bashed the mayor’s 10-year plan to create 100,000 jobs with city subsidies — the main focus of the de Blasio’s State of the City speech this week — arguing that many private-sector jobs are already created almost every year.  The comptroller’s analysis showed that the city has added a net 635,000 private-sector jobs since 2009 alone. “I don’t think people truly ­understood what he was talking about because [there’s] no plan, no timetable for a plan,” said Stringer, a possible mayoral contender this year. “[It’s] just an empty promise, and it’s certainly not enough.”* Stringer, a rumored mayoral candidate, tore into New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s new plans to create jobs and affordable housing, and his decision to withhold specifics to address the city’s homelessness crisis in his State of the City speech, the Observer reports.

Dumb TV News Runs de Blasio Con Job As A Campaign Commerical
Mayor announces new fashion and film complex in Brooklyn, to create jobs with salaries of $53K to $57K (WNBC)

de Blasio and Mark-Viverito Give Tenants Being Pushed Out By Their Gentrification Producing Housing Policies That Pushing Tenants Out A Right to A Lawyer in Housing Court 
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito revealed a $93 million program to guarantee legal counsel to any tenant facing eviction, the Observer writes. 

All Incumbents, the Party Machines Even the Unions Like NY's Declining Voter Participation Rates
NY Voter Suppression State Senate Republicans have balked at making voting easier, worried, it seems, that it will bring out more Democratic-voting minorities, but that’s no excuse, as encouraging greater participation in elections is the democratic thing to do, the Times Union writes. * Politicians push to make voting easier in New York:  (DNAINFO)
Voter's Protest: New York's Decreasing Voter Turnout

Who Made 4 Dems to Vote Against Sanctuary Cities CUOMO?
4 Mainstream Senate Democrats Against Sanctuary Cities (Kings County) While the progressive wing of the Democratic Party continues to rail against the Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference for being aligned with “Trump Republicans,” Sen. Kevin Parker (D-Flatbush/Kensington/Midwood/Windsor Terrace/Park Slope), along with three other Democrats from the mainstream Senate Democratic Conference voted for an Anti-Sanctuary Bill, Kings County Politics has learned.  It passed the Senate, 36-26, on June 17 of last year as Trump was spewing anti-immigrant rhetoric in the lead-up to the presidential election. Parker and fellow Democratic Senators George Latimer (D-Westchester County), Timothy Kennedy (D-Buffalo) and Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Island) voted for the measure.  “I did vote no in committee and I’m the founder of the Democratic Task Force on New Americans,” said Parker, noting the task force strongly supports New York being a Sanctuary State. “Every member of the Independent Democratic Conference voted against the anti-sanctuary city bill that came up at a time when Donald Trump spewed hateful anti-immigrant rhetoric on the campaign trail. It matters how senators vote, and the fact is that four Democrats, including Senator Parker, voted in line with Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant platform,” said Giove.  According to the transcript of the session, among the senators that spoke up vehemently on the senate floor against the measure was IDC Member Sen. Jesse Hamilton (D-Central Brooklyn), who has been the target of mainly white progressive Democrats in the past few days for being a member of the IDC.

A Fight Between Lobbyists Who Gets the Body Camera Deal and Who Gets Campaign $$ And Secret Part of the NYPD's Budget
De Blasio and Stringer Trade Barbs Over Police Body Camera Deal (NYT) * Nearly $390 million of the NYPD’s budget is shrouded in secrecy, with the names of vendors getting paid listed as “not available” on the city’s transparency website, though the payments are vetted by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, the Daily News writes.

Will de Blasio Be Forced to Resign by Tanking Poll Numbers if He is Indicted and Take A Ferry or Trolley Out of Town? 
Will deB Make History by Being the First NYC Mayor Arrested ?
De Blasio's criminal defense lawyer, Barry Berke, already had at least one meeting of his own with prosecutors in an attempt to convince them not to press charges, sources told NBC 4.   Berke has not returned numerous calls for comment. The planned meeting with federal prosecutors comes after the mayor met with the Manhattan district attorney's office. Prosecutors there are apparently wrapping up a separate criminal investigation into whether anyone at City Hall crossed any lines in helping raise money to try to help Democrats take control of the state Senate.   De Blasio said he hasn't been informed that he's the target of an investigation in that case.* Hizzoner instead defended his taxpayer-funded legal bills on Brian Lehrer’s radio show Friday, while remaining silent on the ACS and the Department of Investigation’s damning report on “systemic” problems within the agency.
Who’s who in the federal NYPD/City Hall corruption probe:(DNAINFO)
More on Mayor Walker

The Feds Try to Turn de Blasio Staff Against Him NY Post Leaves Out Lobbyists, Contributors and Developers Many Have Already Become Federal Witnesses  Who Will Turn on the Mayor Facing Prision Time? 
De Blasio’s aides fear he will ‘sacrifice’ them to the feds (NYP) de Blasio’s aides are scared stiff about his impending interview with federal prosecutors in Manhattan over his fund-raising operation, a City Hall source said.  “Folks in the mayor’s office are very nervous about the mayor going in and speaking,” the source said. “Everybody is expendable.”  City Hall aides believe “someone is going to be sacrificed,” the source said  “It’s tough to see how the mayor walks in there, turns to [US Attorney Preet Bharara], and says, ‘I’m innocent. I did nothing wrong. My staff is innocent. They did nothing wrong,’ ” the source explained. “He’s got to give them something.”

For Three Years True News Has Been Reporting That Campaign for 1NY PAC Was Corrupt 
De Blasio agreed to the interview after Bharara convened a grand jury in December to look into whether he and his team gave favors to donors for their contributions to his 2013 campaign and his nonprofit, Campaign for One New York

de Blasio Already Spoke to the Manhattan DA on Laundry CONY Money to Upstate Democratic Candidates 
He answered state prosecutors’ questions on Jan. 25 in a separate probe of whether Team de Blasio broke election law when it funneled money through upstate county committees to help Democrats win the state Senate in 2014.
While de Blasio and the press focus on Putnam $$$ laundering the FBI looks at the Terminator: Citizens United 

Rechnitz in the Middle of NYPD GifeGate and Seabrook-Platnum Hedge Fund Arrests is Already A Federal Rat
A cloud of suspicion has hovered over City Hall since April, when The Post reported that the FBI grilled about 20 cops over gifts and trips they allegedly received from de Blasio donors Jona Rechnitz and Jeremy Reichberg in exchange for favors such as providing police escorts.
Rechnitz the Rat, Seabrook Indictment 
Sex, strippers and cops on call: How two Orthodox Jewssparked New York's worst scandal in decades(IBTIMES)  Jewish community leaders say Jona Rechnitz and Jeremy Reichberg 'embarrassed the whole community'.

Berlin Rosen is the Top Boss of de Blasio's Shadow Govt of Lobbyists

Avi Fink Involved In At Least the LICH Hospital Sale and the Rivington Deed Change to Help Developers and Lobbyists Capalino
Another top mayoral liaison, Avi Fink, met with federal prosecutors regarding the donors and development projects, the source said.
CONY Paid for A Dirty Money Mailing That Help Close A Hospital to Build LuxuryHousing for A Developer That de Blasio Campaign CONY Manager Hilltop Now WorksFor
Closing Hospitals,HHC, LICH

Almost Everyone Knew About The Rivington Nursing Home Deed Change But the Mayor? 
The inquiry included the city’s lifting of deed restrictions on a Lower East Side nursing home. The move had allowed the Allure Group, whose executives had met with Fink, to sell the building to developers at a $72 million profit.

Timeline On the Village Nursing Home Investigation

de Blasio Created A Shadow Govt of Lobbyists That the Press Ignored But the Feds Have Not
Since then, federal and state prosecutors have widened their inquiries to business leaders, lobbyists, city employees and campaign workers to see if the mayor was engaging in pay-to-play schemes.

Where are the Follow Ups on de Blasio's Aides Wolfe, Gold and Offinger Who Have Been Served Subpoenas

State prosecutors in November and December met with campaign fund-raiser Ross Offinger, top political aide Emma Wolfe, union political operative Josh Gold, and political consultants Bill Hyers and Hayley Prim of Hilltop Public Solutions to answer questions, according to a second political source.
Where is the Media Follow Up on Team de Blasio CorruptionSubpoenas?

de Blasio's Wolfe Target of the Feds In Hiding
De Blasio’s top adviser absent amid scandal  (NYP) Emma Wolfe, one of Mayor de Blasio’s top advisers, has been noticeably absent and harder to reach over the last four months while embroiled in a federal and state probe of his fund-raising.  Wolfe, de Blasio’s director of intergovernmental affairs, is one of several aides now under scrutiny.  “Emma’s been pulled out of a lot of meetings,” said a city government employee who is typically there with her. “She’s his closest confidante in many ways. How effective can she be in that role?”  For the last two to three months, Wolfe has missed meetings with a top government official — meetings she typically attended in the past, the source added. “It has to be hard [for the mayor]. You lose your sounding board,” said the source. “You lose your political compass, to some degree.”  Wolfe, who worked as de Blasio’s chief of staff when he was public advocate, is regarded as “indispensable” to the mayor, according to a council member who recalled a recent, unexplained weeklong silence. Another council member said he abruptly stopped receiving calls from Wolfe in November.

The BOE Commissioners Fix the Ballot Again 
Something is rotten at the Board of Elections (NYP) Something stinks in Harlem — and at the Board of Elections.  In what critics claim is an extraordinary political deal, seven of the 10 commissioners on the city’s Board of Elections abstained in a vote to remove a politically-connected candidate, Larry Scott Blackmon, from the ballot — overruling their own lawyers and ignoring legal precedent.  The case involves the Feb. 14 special election to fill the Harlem City Council seat vacated by Inez Dickens, who won the state Assembly spot given up by Manhattan Democratic Party chairman KeithWright.  Among the nine candidates is Blackmon, who is backed by Dickens and Wright.  But Blackmon made a big mistake — he submitted petitions to run under the banner of the “Harlem Family” Party while gathering petitions.  The board’s chief lawyer, Steven Richman, said the name violated the law because it sounded too similar to the Working Families Party, and could mislead voters to thinkBlackmon had the WFP’s support.  “This is not a curable defect,” Richman said. “There’s a potential for confusion and fraud.” Candidates are barred from running under a partisan party banner in a non-partisan, special election. The board’s staff then recommended yanking Blackmon from the ballot. Board president Frederic Umane agreed.

Not Even Ballot Fixing By the BOE in 2010 is Investigated
Head of Board of Elections Fired One Week Before Election (WNYC) Sources at the Board of Elections say Gonzalez was fired over irregularities that initially appeared on the ballot of a special election in Queens for the City Council seat in the 28th district.*  Gonzalez Firing, DOI Investigation, Could Ease Awaited Bloomberg BoE Power Play(CHN)

de Blasio Refuses to Stop the Corrupt Rivington Nursing Home Deal By Using the False Claims-Act

Big de Blasio donors and Lobbyists Like Campalino seemingly greasing the skids, damn the law and the consequences.
On Monday, state Sen. Daniel Squadron demanded an explanation for why the city has declined to sue the developer de Blasio claims deceived his officials into lifting deed restrictions protecting the Lower East Side nursing home known as Rivington House, allowing its conversion into luxury condominiums . Following a frenzy of lobbying by two donors to de Blasio’s Campaign for One New York, lobbyist Jim Capalino and union 1199SEIU, a city agency scrambled to satisfy the demands of nursing home buyer the Allure Group.  Those demands included the deed restrictions’ removal at the bargain price of just $16 million, far lower than area property values would dictate, all on the pretense that a nursing home would remain. Allure then turned around and sold the building to a luxury condo developer for $116 million. Quite the rip-off. Like this editorial page, Squadron remains puzzled over de Blasio’s claim that his lawyers are powerless to file a credible case under the state False Claims Act, which punishes malefactors who bilk New York taxpayers.
Timeline On the Village Nursing Home Investigation
DE BLASIO DILEMMA: Both Rivington Nursing Home Deed Change and LICH Hospital converting to luxury apartments...Both Under Fed Investigation . . .  Both Involve Lobbyist Capalino 

de Blasio Goes Around Bidding to Give More Money to A Bus Contractor Interconnected to the Federal Investigation Senate Political Donor DOI Investigates
City Hall’s putrid multimillion-dollar gift to a political donor (NYP Ed)  Why let a few corruption probes stop you from rewarding your donors with taxpayer cash?  Prosecutors are looking closely for ties between a private bus company founder’s $100,000 political gift and Mayor de Blasio’s $61 million grant to that firm — yet Hizzoner is set to hand it millions more.  On Tuesday, a Department of Small Business Services hearing will consider shelling out fresh tens of millions to school-bus companies like Reliant Transportation — whose founder, Alex Lodde, gave $100,000 to de Blasio’s 2014 push for state Senate Democrats.  Reliant has already scored $61 million in such grants over two years. Why? To “encourage” bus companies “to maintain the wages and benefits” of senior employees, says Team de Blasio.  Huh? Mayors have a duty to safeguard taxpayer funds and bargain for the lowest price for services — not hand millions to (some) companies to raise their workers’ pay.  As the Citizens Budget Commission says, the grants are “supplementary payments” to contractors “above the terms of legally binding” deals, “in exchange for no additional services.” And they make a mockery of the bidding process — setting a “troublesome precedent” for other vendors: Bid low, then beg for a “bonus” to pay your people more.  Is it even legal? “The state Constitution prohibits the city from giving money directly to a private corporation” absent a strong “public purpose,” notes City Councilman Dan Garodnick (D-Manhattan), and it’s a “stretch” to say these payments qualify.  * City probes bus company’s donation to de Blasio cause (NYP)  The Department of Investigation has taken an interest in a city program that has delivered more than $60 million in subsidies to a school-bus company whose CEO made a $100,000 contribution to a political cause championed by Mayor de Blasio. For the first two years of the program, only one firm — Reliant Transportation — had applied for and collected $61.2 million to boost the salaries of its drivers.  A third round of funding begins this year.  Less than two months after the program first launched, Reliant CEO Alex Lodde donated $100,000 to an upstate Democratic committee as part of de Blasio’s controversial Senate push. The effort ultimately failed. De Blasio had pledged to make up the wages lost by veteran drivers when his predecessor removed seniority requirements in a new round of contracts.  Critics say the mayor is exceeding his authority by giving away taxpayers’ money when there’s no contractual reason to do so.

After the Feds Join the Lawsuit for Voter Suppression by the BOE the AG Also Joins
AG Eric Schneiderman to sue NYC Board of Elections overimproper purging of 200,000 voter registrations  (NYDN)  Claiming that the New York City Board of Elections improperly purged over 200,000 voter registrations, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said his office would seek to intervene in a federal lawsuit on the matter.  "The right to vote is sacred, protecting all other rights,” Schniderman said Thursday. “Yet the NYC Board of Elections' practices were directly responsible for disenfranchising over 200,000 voters — violating federal and state laws, and undermining New Yorkers' trust in the institutions meant to protect their rights.”  Schneiderman sent a letter Thursday to U.S. Eastern District Court Judge Nicholas Garaufis in Brooklyn seeking to join a federal lawsuit brought by Common Cause on behalf of the purged voters. Garaufis already granted the U.S. Justice Department permission to intervene in the suit two days before Donald Trump took over as President.  NY AG Schneiderman Alleges 'Gross Negligence' by CityBoard of Elections (WNYC)  The New York City Board of Elections' improper purge of nearly 120,000 Brooklyn voters ahead of last year’s presidential primary was just one part of wider problem that extended over two years and stretched across the city, according to an eight-month investigation by New York State Attorney General’s office.  Beyond the Brooklyn purge, first reported by WNYC, Schneiderman’s office found that the city improperly removed another 60,000 voters in 2014 and 43,000 voters in 2015, in violation of state and federal laws. These actions were taken with the knowledge of borough officials and the central staff, commissioners, and executive management, who the AG alleges either did not know or did not care that they were breaking the law. In December 2013, the city Department of Investigation released a report that found systemic problems at the city Board of Elections, particularly related to their maintenance of voter rolls, and recommended the agency review its cancellation policies to ensure ineligible voters were removed. According to Schneiderman’s motion, in late January 2014, officials from the Queens Borough Office signed up for a subscription to the private, commercial website, where people share their family history data. Schneiderman described the source as "completely improper." The Queens staff told the board’s head of Voter Registration and the top two executives at the board of their plan to use the website for voter list maintenance. No one attempted to stop them, according to AG’s investigation. The investigation began after WNYC reported that the city Board of Elections improperly removed 117,000 voters in Brooklyn from the rolls in the run-up to the hotly contested presidential primary between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. The AG’s investigation found that staff at the Queens and Manhattan borough offices also removed voters from their rolls for not voting, although the exact number of voters removed is unknown. Voters are only supposed to be removed from the rolls if they have died, are in prison or on parole for a felony conviction, or have been deemed incompetent by a court.  If the board has evidence a person has moved, the law requires it to send the voter a notice confirming the move and then the voter is placed in “inactive status.” The board must then wait two federal election cycles (usually up to four years) before the voter can be removed from the rolls, according to state and federal law. According to the AG’s office, the city board improperly removed another 103,000 voters whom the city Board of Elections believed had moved outside of the city, but only gave them 14 days to respond to a cancellation notice, instead of the two federal election cycles mandated under state and federal law.
AG Pushing Voting Reforms

The AG Wants Former Congressman Vito Fossella Mother Removed As Head of BOE Voter Registration 
Schneiderman also wants the court to remove the city’s current head of Voter Registration, Beth Fossella, who has served in the position since 2001. She is the mother of former congressman Vito Fossella, who left office under a cloud in 2009. The AG also wants the court to order the board to create a training program for employees on how to comply with state and federal law. * Fossella faces calls for his resignation - POLITICO * Affair revelation halts GOP congressman's re-election pursuit -

The Post Attacks the AG's Election Reforms As Not Addressing Real Problem Political Machine Control of the BOE What About the PACs and Pay to Play Lobbyists Controlling the Elections?
The Political Machines Run the BOE
None of solutions addressed the problems that left voters plagued with closed and inadequately staffed polling stations, broken machines and flatly incompetent poll workers. Driving all those woes is the fact that most New York boards of elections — particularly in the major cities — are controlled by political bosses who use them as patronage mills.  The answer lies in demolishing and rebuilding the Board of Elections structure. But Schneiderman didn’t want to go there — just as we expected. Nor do they address the issue of possible voting fraud — of the kind that city Board of Elections Commissioner Alan Schulkin spoke of in an undercover video, where he also defended voter-ID laws. (For his troubles, Schulkin is losing his job.) But precious few of Schneiderman’s suggestions have anything to do with what actually went wrong at polling stations this year — or the purge of one in eight voters from the Brooklyn rolls.* Schneiderman goes Hollywood for donations (NYDN)

Schneiderman Gives the Easy Solutions

All the hyper-partisan AG offers is the usual liberal wish list on elections: early voting, same-day registration/voting, “no excuse” absentee voting, full voting rights for felons out on parole, making it harder to challenge a voter’s eligibility and so on.  Which is why his “report” quickly won praise from the usual bevy of “progressive” and good-government reform groups.
Special Election and the Election Law
Attorney General Schneiderman and His Re-Election
BOE History of Corruption and Incompetence Timeline
10 Areas Where DOI Can Investigate the BOE

Justice Dept Joins Lawsuit BOE Violated Federal Law in the Brooklyn Voter Purge
Where is the Criminal Investigation?
Justice Department Says City Board of Elections Violated Federal Law inBrooklyn Voter Purge (WNYC)  The United States Department of Justice is taking on the New York City Board of Elections for improperly purging nearly 120,000 Brooklyn voters before the April 2016 presidential primary.  In a motion filed in federal court Thursday, the DOJ claims the Board violated the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 when it removed those voters from the rolls.    It's the first time federal authorities have taken a position on the purge, which was first reported by WNYC on the eve of the primary vote in April. Numerous elected officials and advocates had requested federal intervention since.  The case was originally filed in federal court in Brooklyn last November on behalf of the good government group Common Cause, which advocates for individuals' voting rights, along with two named plaintiffs.     Lawyers for the plaintiffs also sought intervention from the Justice Department, citing WNYC's reporting.

The suit challenges the Board’s removal of voters from the registration rolls in violation of the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. The law prohibits removing voters from the rolls unless the person has failed to vote in two successive federal elections and has failed to respond to a notice from the Board indicating that their registration will be cancelled.  The government said that some voters had in fact voted in prior elections, and in other cases the notice itself was improperly handled.    WNYC reported that the board mysteriously purged 120,000 Brooklyn voters from the rolls prior to the hotly contested primary between Hillary Clinton and challenger Bernie Sanders last April. The board then said it would reinstate those voters in time for last summer's congressional primaries and the fall general election for president. WNYC also reported that the purge disproportionately affected Latino voters in Brooklyn's 7th Congressional district.  Elected officials and advocates cited the station's reporting in their complaints to the federal government and the court. They also argued that more voters may have been improperly purged on other dates, and that the problem persists. The court case describes the situation of two foreign service workers, Benjamin Buscher and Sean Hennessey, the two named plaintiffs, who keep a permanent residence in Brooklyn while they work overseas for the State Department. In October of 2016, both men applied for absentee ballots to vote in the general election, according to the complaint.  When those absentee ballots did not arrive, they contacted the Kings County Board of Elections Office and were told that their registrations were no longer valid and that they had missed the deadline to update their registration.  The plaintiffs contacted the nonprofit Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, which learned that the Board had removed the plaintiffs more than two years before.  The case was brought on behalf of the plaintiffs by the Lawyers Committee along with LatinoJustice PRLDEF and the law firm Dechert LLP.  Five additional named plaintiffs have been added to the lawsuit.  The city Board of Elections had no comment, and the city Law Department, which is defending the board, says the matter is under review. In a letter to the judge, the Justice Department said it is in talks with the board about an appropriate remedy and will have an answer by February 6.* The Justice Department is getting involved in a lawsuitagainst the NYC Board of Elections.(NYT)

de Blasio's Alternative Facts On Union Apprenticeships Program
Channeling Trump, de Blasio has 'alternative facts' too (Crains) Mayor denies expressing skepticism about a union-friendly mandate, but his own transcript proves he did  But the Crain's report was accurate. Just two weeks prior, the mayor had addressed the apprenticeship mandate at a press conference, saying, "I don’t think requirement works, practically speaking," as his office's own transcript and video show. When asked why he did not think such a requirement would work, de Blasio then cited the high volume of nonunion work in the city.

Cuomo Cut Off From Gleenwood by Silver and Skelos Corruption Has Found New Pots of RE Campaign LLC Contributions What Cap?
No doing-biz limits + LLC loophole = $$$ for Cuomo from entities with state business - new big donors 
CAMPAIGN CASH -- Cuomo's newest big donors -- POLITICO New York's:  "Most of the donors who helped Gov. Andrew Cuomo raise $4.4 million over the past six months were familiar names. Contributors like Brookfield Financial ($100,000 this filing period), Howard Milstein (who, with his family, gave $50,000) and Genting ($50,000) have all regularly appeared in the governor's campaign finance reports in the past. But there were 20 donors who hadn't previously given to Cuomo since he took office in 2011 and gave $25,000 or more from mid-July through mid-January. ...
-- FISHER BROTHERS ($130,000): While Cuomo had previously picked up $281,000 from executives at the real estate firm, he hadn't previously received any donations directly from the company itself. Some of these earlier donations prompted scrutiny as they were made weeks before Cuomo approved a bill of the 421-a tax abatement that included a special carve-out for one of the company's properties. ... The two new donations came three days before Cuomo announced that a 421-a renewal would be in his budget this year. ... SOMERSET PARTNERS &
-- KEITH RUBENSTEIN ($84,500): An LLC tied to real estate investment firm Somerset Partners gave Cuomo $50,000 in November, and founder Rubenstein gave $34,500 last week. While neither had previously given to the governor, Rubenstein hosted a $2,500 a head Bronx fundraiser for him last April." * Cuomo raises $4.4M with help of real estate donors (Real Deal) *No doing-biz limits + LLC loophole = $$$ for Cuomo fromentities with state business - new big donors via @mahoneyw: * Cuomo Again Rakes in LLC Cash — While Proposing to Cap It  via @WNYC

Nonprofit that runs deadly ‘exploding radiator’ building racked up 185 violations (NYP) The nonprofit agency that oversaw a Bronx apartment where two baby sisters were scalded to death has racked up a city-high 185 open violations at a separate site it manages for the homeless, according to a scathing report.  Investigators for the state Senate Independent Democratic Conference found that 1055 University Ave. in The Bronx had 185 unresolved violations, the most of any of the so-called “cluster sites” that the city leases for homeless families.  Units for the homeless in the building are supervised by the Bushwick Economic Development Corp, or BEDCO, the Brooklyn-based nonprofit that also oversees the Hunts Point Avenue apartment in The Bronx where the Ambrose sisters — 2-year-old Ibanez and 1-year-old Scylee — suffered lethal steam burns from a faulty radiator.  he violations at the University Avenue apartments include rodent and roach infestations, mold, lead paint in some apartments and no smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, the report found. BEDCO could not be reached for comment.“[Homeless people] get sent to places that are so appalling and so deplorable that, if they could, the rats would put in a request for transfer,” said State Sen. Diane Savino (D-SI). “That is how bad our shelter system has gotten.”  The report also found that 38 of the 41 cluster sites used by the city for the homeless had open violations. Six of the 10 worst are based in The Bronx

Cuomo Disguises Corruption: Changes the Name of Corrupt State-Up NY to Excelsior Business Program 
What Was the Point of the $50 Million in Ads During the 2014 Election? 
Cuomo ‘fixes’ failed jobs program — with a new name (NYP) It may be the closest Gov. Cuomo ever gets to admitting failure: He now wants to rename his signature job-creation program and ease terms for eligibility.  As The Post reported Thursday, Cuomo’s budget bids adieu to Start-Up New York — a 2013 program offering tax breaks to new companies — and rebrands it as the Excelsior Business Program, with some relaxed rules.  The “why” is no mystery: Taxpayers shelled out tens of millions not just for the tax breaks, but also for TV commercials touting the program (and, indirectly, Cuomo).  But Start-Up through 2016 produced just 408 jobs, far below the 5,000 once promised.  What was to be one of Cuomo’s proudest “economic development” initiatives instead became a running joke and a symbol for his failure to aid the economy at all.  Now he pretends a rebranding and some carburetor tweaks will turn a lemon into a lean, mean jobs-growth machine. Really? One tweak will allow firms that already operate in New York to qualify, if they’re less than five years old. How does that lure new business? Another lets a company sign up if it creates just one job over its first five years.  Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said someone asked if Cuomo will buy “a couple of hundred-million” in new ads to promote the new name. Sadly, with this governor, that may prove no joke.* Start-Up New York Gets a New Name, and a Focus on Start-Ups (NYT)
Fredric U. Dicker ‏@fud31 "It may be the closest Cuomo ever gets to admitting failure." 

With Trump de Blasio Wounded With Expected Federal Indictments See Opportunity to Win Progressive Votes For Reelection 
New Yorkers are furious about de Blasio’s anti-Trump rally (NYP)  Mayor de Blasio caused traffic mayhem for his own political gains on Thursday night as he headed a massive anti-Trump protest in Columbus Circle. “It’s terrible, I just want to go home,” fumed Mary Aliaj, a 30-year-old Staten Islander who works at the nearby Valery Joseph Salon. “It is worse [than Trump],” she said. “This is disturbing. I don’t think [the mayor] is going to solve anything. They should of done it somewhere that doesn’t stop other people. It’s wasting time and disturbing other people.” Many residents that weren’t involved in the protest — attended by Alec Baldwin, Cher, Mark Ruffalo, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rosie Perez, Shailene Woodley, Robert DeNiro and Natalie Merchant — were outraged by de Blasio and how the traffic-snarling protest seemed to be fueled by his quest for the political spotlight and anger toward the President-elect. A Quinnipiac poll found New Yorkers nearly evenly divided over the issue, with 46 percent against and 45 percent in favor.

Trump to GOP Leader Kick Cuomo and de Blasio Out of Office  
NY GOPchair: Trump says boot Bill de Blasio, Andrew Cuomo out in next elections (Real Deal) Donald Trump indirectly provided “an assignment” to New York Republicans on Thursday: kick Bill de Blasio and Andrew Cuomo out of office. Ed Cox, chair of the New York GOP, told an audience of state party members at the Loews Madison Hotel that the president-elect provided the mandate in a phone call. The assignment wasn’t specific: He didn’t mention Paul Massey, the real estate broker who plans to run on the Republican ticket and has already raised $1.6 million for his campaign. After Thursday’s event, Cox told The Real Deal that his organization is yet to choose a candidate to back. He said he’s sure that indictments against de Blasio will eventually materialize, and that the party is waiting to see what happens before launching their full-scale opposition.

 Cuomo's Flack Ring of Truth On Bipartisan Rule  Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi responded that the governor “has always worked in a bipartisan way, as everyone knows.”  “That won’t change,” Azzopardi said. “We hope it doesn’t change for the (state) Senate.”

With Cuomo's Art of the Double Talk and Framing Media Debate Who Needs Fake News 

Fredric U. Dicker ‏@fud31   "It’s a damning indictment of Cuomo’s wage-raising agenda..cross purposes with his 'NY Open for Business' campaign."

Cuomo’s minimum-wage hikes are already killing jobs (NYP Ed) As of Dec. 31, the Empire State shares with California the dubious distinction of having the country’s most onerous minimum-wage requirements. Employers now face at least 14 different minimum-wage levels, depending on the size, type and location of a business, as well as the type of employee. (The state restaurant association has compiled all of the wage requirements in a chart at   It’s a damning indictment of Gov. Cuomo’s wage-raising agenda, which is working at cross purposes with his “New York Open for Business” campaign. In a 2015 New York Times article about the continued economic difficulties in this part of the state, Cuomo shrugged that “the state can only do so much” and “it’s up to the localities to also come up with a business plan.” They’d love to — if Cuomo would stop shackling them with unmanageable costs.

Rosenthal Taking Over the Fight for Passage of the Child Victims Act in the Assembly From Markey Who Lost Her Reelection Bid 
Manhattan assemblywoman to lead fight for passage of Child Victims Act(NYDN) The Assembly has a new lead advocate for the Child Victims Act, which is designed to make it easier for child sex abuse victims to seek legal recourse as adults.  Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) will carry the legislation after its longtime sponsor, Margaret Markey (D-Queens), lost her primary in September.  Rosenthal, one of several legislators who expressed interest internally of picking up the fight, was selected by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie. “I really wanted this bill because I think it’s so important in terms of protecting our children who are vulnerable to pedophiles who have not been brought to justice, as well as helping to heal survivors who have been denied justice,” she said. “I will be a strong advocate for this.”

The Polls Were Wrong on Election Day, In 2012 Not Even Trump Was Thinking President But In Bubble NY Media Debates Cuomo 2020?
Cuomo brushes off ‘flattering’ rumors of 2020 White House bid (NYP) * Cuomo’s 2020 ambition only means trouble for New York (NYP) One part of it is the governor’s sharp left turn — which, to be fair, is also aimed at his 2018 re-election run. He’s eager to avoid the progressive pique that brought him Zephyr Teachout’s annoying primary challenge in 2014, and a large Green Party dissent vote in the November election.  On the other hand, even his desire for a strong 2018 showing is linked to his 2020 ambitions: He wants to show Democrats nationwide that he’s a big winner.  The problem for New York is that it all exacerbates Cuomo’s already-enormous penchant for a big show now, no matter what the hidden costs.  Hence his deal to close the Indian Point nuclear plant, his plan for tuition-free college (announced with Sen. Bernie Sanders by his side, no less) — along with pushes to double the child-care tax credit for middle-class families, cap prescription-drug costs and on and on.  All those shoutouts to the Democratic base come at a cost — whether to taxpayers, or to everyone’s electric bills.   Worse, the big costs don’t show up for years: Indian Point won’t close before 2021, when Cuomo hopes to have moved to the White House.

Back to the Old Machines for the Run Off Again
 Old lever voting machines could come out of mothballs for NYC runoffelections (PoliticoNY) Though the state was required to replace its lever voting machines a decade ago, it's possible the dust could be blown off those old gray behemoths later this year.  “The New York City [Board of Elections] commissioners have mentioned that they are considering using the lever voting machines for the runoff election,” state board co-chair Douglas Kellner said during a meeting on Monday.  At issue is whether the city board can program electronic machines in time for a runoff election in this year’s citywide primary elections. Such a race would be held two weeks after the Sept. 12 primary if no candidate receives 40 percent of the vote.   The city board notes that while the idea came up during its most recent meeting, it hasn’t actually made a request to use the machines yet or even decided that would be the best way to go.

Replacement Commissioner Shows How Elected Officials Control the BOE
BOE Control Another Reason to Ban Elected Officials From Holding Party Positions . . .  Where are the Reformers? 
Staffer to assemblyman voted to replace elections official (NYP) Manhattan Democratic Party bosses voted Sunday to replace their disgraced city Board of Elections commissioner with another controversial candidate for the job.  The district leaders picked Jeanine Johnson, a staffer to Harlem Assemblyman Keith Wright, to fill the spot left open by Alan Schulkin, who’ll leave the job at the end of December.  Johnson landed in hot water last year when she made a plea deal over drunken driving charges.  Schulkin didn’t get floated for another term after a hidden-camera video surfaced last month depicting him saying that the city’s municipal ID contributed to voter fraud. He said Sunday there were “no hard feelings” over his departure, and Wright praised him for his service. “Alan has been a responsible, hands-on commissioner,” Wright said without irony. The Board of Elections has two commissioners — one Democrat and one Republican — from each borough. Johnson’s selection by borough Dems does not necessarily mean she’ll get the job. City Council Democrats will also have to approve her nomination.  Manhattan Democratic Party bosses voted to replace disgraced city Board of Elections Commissioner Alan Schulkin with Jeanine Johnson, a staffer to Assemblyman Keith Wright who last year made a plea deal over drunken driving charges

While New Yorkers Have Stop Voting Helped By Its Repressive Voting Laws, Its Dead keep Voting

The Post after seeing the story last week of an irate Queens woman, Michelle Dimino, who was getting absentee ballot for her dead father, who died in 2012. Still, a city Department of Investigations probe of the 2013 elections found that at least 63 ineligible voters were still in the voter registration books at polling sites. DOI undercover probers were able to “cast a vote” in the names of 61 of the 63 ineligible voters — including 39 dead people, 14 convicted felons, and eight non residents. The BOE declined to discuss its procedures for purging dead voters. City Comptroller Scott Stringer said the examples of dead voters on the rolls “ raise important flags” and “are emblematic of the incompetence of the agency.”  He’s currently auditing the BOE.

Shocking BEDCO The None Profit That Uses City Money to House the Homeless in Slum Building Has Tax Problems
Firm managing building where 2 tots died hid years of tax problems (NYP) A firm that manages dozens of city homeless shelters — including the Bronx site where two toddlers were killed by a radiator steam leak in December — has kept years of tax problems hidden from the city even as it continued to collect millions in taxpayer dollars, according to DNAinfo.  The outlet reported that Bushwick Economic Development Corp. (BEDCO) was hit with a $532,898 tax lien by the state last month — and that the firm failed to report at least two prior IRS tax liens on city questionnaires.   Those omissions can result in the loss of a contract or even criminal charges, according to DNAinfo.  BEDCO has collected more than $155 million for providing services to the city’s homeless families since January 2010, according to online records.  “We are very concerned with this vendor and are thereby conducting an intensive review of their contract,” said a City Hall spokeswoman.

Crime at Housing Projects Up As Inner City Schools Keep Failing  
Crime at housing projects rises despite city-wide drop (NYP) Crime at city housing projects increased 2.4 percent last year, even as the city enjoyed a historically low crime rate overall.   Rapes surged by 20 percent, from 153 to 184, city records show. Assaults went up 7 percent, from 2,138 in 2015 to 2,292 in 2016. Burglaries rose 4 percent in the past year, from 401 to 416, while grand larcenies increased by 1 percent, from 1,043 to 1,052.  Homicides dropped 8 percent, from 52 in 2015 to 48 in 2016.  One out of five shootings in New York last year took place on NYCHA property, records show. There were 190 shootings last year, down 17 percent from 229 shootings in 2015.* The NYPD’s success — and the failure of NYC’s schools (NYP Ed) Which brings us back to New York’s public schools, whose failure has the same disparate impact. That is: This city’s schools fail the underprivileged in the same way that the Chicago PD does, and for a similar reason: Because no one has yet proved to the voters that it doesn’t have to be this way. Which is why charter schools are a threat to the vested interests of the school system: because they’re starting to provide that proof.Charter students in Brownsville and Bed-Stuy now score higher than the city’s average in reading and math — and those charter kids are more than twice as likely as kids in regular schools in the same areas to score at the highest achievement levels. Charters in Harlem and the South Bronx also massively outperform the regular public schools in those ’hoods.  All this, when lotteries for entry guarantee that the charters can’t “cream off” the best students: The children start off equal; it’s the schools that make the big difference.

NYT Says High Crime Neighborhoods Outside of Manhattan Just Don't Get the Same Crime Fighting Resources 

Crime and Gratitude in New York (NYT Ed)  The news is good, but 335 homicides in a city of more than 8.5 million is still a lot of human agony. The Times spent the last year logging every murder in the 40th Precinct in the South Bronx, one of several neighborhoods beset by gangs, drugs and guns, where violence and poverty and mistrust of the police are entrenched. New Yorkers there have not shared in the peace dividend the city as a whole enjoys.  The Times series noted that neighborhoods in boroughs outside Manhattan just don’t get the same crime-fighting resources that those in Manhattan do. It found that the 40th Precinct’s detective squad lost about eight investigators between 2001 and 2015. While crime citywide fell by more than a third over that period, the rate in the 40th Precinct remained essentially unchanged. The Police Department’s job is the same across the city; its methods and commitment to crime prevention should also be the same. The challenge for Mr. de Blasio and Commissioner O’Neill is to keep tamping down violence in the hot spots, deploying resources as fairly and effectively as possible.

Mayor's Race Whose In, Who is A Maybe 

A Fake Museum Exhibit to Show Good Crime Numbers . . .  Why the Soviet-Style Propaganda?

De Blasio’s Soviet-style propaganda machine hits a new low (NYP) de Blasio used one of the city’s gleaming cultural icons for “cheap propaganda” Wednesday — promising an NYPD photo exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum that turned out to be nothing more than a self-promotional stunt, critics griped.  In fact, the “exhibit,” contrasting New York’s bad old days with the safer, cleaner Big Apple of today, was quickly dismantled by City Hall staffers after a related discussion on record-low crime statistics and a Q&A with reporters.  No member of the public at large ever got to see it. “I urge everyone to really look at it because it reminds us of all of the work that went into changing things,” de Blasio said at the press conference, hailing the display as “powerful” and “wonderful” — even as workers were working feverishly to remove the photos before the museum opened to the general public.  Critics derided the move as another example of de Blasio’s Communist-style propaganda. A spokeswoman for the museum said of the display, “It was part of the press conference and taken down at the end.”  But earlier, the mayor had cited the exhibit as the reason for holding the press conference at the museum.  “I didn’t choose the location,” he told reporters.* The Post writes that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s need for ego boosts bit him in the butt this week when reporters learned his administration staged a photo exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum and claimed the exhibit was why they held a press conference there.  * The Times writes that Cuomo’s last minute veto of a bill that would have had the state assume the cost of legal services for those who can’t afford it means lower-income New Yorkers will continue to wait for equal justice. The perils of Cuomo’s rush to build, build, build (NYP)

“The location was chosen because we had this wonderful exhibit that talked about the history, and we wanted to put this in historical perspective.”   The ruse raised eyebrows, particularly coming on the heels of another taxpayer-funded prop — a video of Broadway stars literally singing de Blasio’s praises in a year-end review of City Hall’s 2016 accomplishments.  “It’s just bizarre. They made a fake museum exhibit,” said a source. “It’s not even good propaganda — it’s cheap propaganda.”* Shootings in New York Fall to Lowest Number Since the ’90s (NYT) The city recorded 998 shootings in 2016, the lowest of any year since at least 1993. Officials credited the decline to the Police Department’s focus on gang violence.* Brooklyn Museum 'photo exhibit' was created by NYPD forde Blasio crime stat briefing, taken down after event (NYDN) * City's Declines in Crime Give de Blasio Critical Campaign Issue to Promote in Coming Months (NY1) * How to Predict Gentrification: Look for Falling Crime (NYT)

The Future Of NYC's Democracy Is Up to Bharara NYC Elections With Falling Voting Participation are Now Controlled (Fixed) by Incumbents, Lobbyists Who Work for Unions, Developers and Party Insiders 
Incumbents in New York traditionally are all but certain to win second terms — David Dinkins didn’t, but Bloomberg managed to massage the city’s term-limits laws and take a third — so the fact that challenges to de Blasio are even being discussed is a fair measure of his weakness. But so far, the city’s public-employee unions are lining up behind de Blasio, his fund-raising is proceeding apace and only marginal players have announced candidacies.That could change in a flash if either US Attorney Preet Bharara or Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. — or both — were to indict de Blasio or senior members of his administration — or both.City Comptroller Scott Stringer has indicated that he’ll run in such a case. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and Brooklyn Rep. Hakeem Jeffries have been hovering on the periphery for months and could join in. And there are others.Bill de Blasio’s fourth year in office, in other words, could turn out to be anything but happy. Time, and New York’s corruption cops, will tell. Grading de Blasio’s pivotal year (NYP Ed) * Another Year of Corruption and Scandal in NY

The Media Never Looks At the Campaign Power of the UFT The CFB and the DA's Cover-Up How the UFT and Their Lobbyists Break the Election Law 
WHO OWNS THE CITY COUNCIL? The UFT's United for the Future and the Developer's PAC Jobs for New York Elected Most of the Council Members
The mayor placed himself in thrall to the United Federation of Teachers almost immediately upon taking office (a $350,000 UFT payment to a key de Blasio not-for-profit apparently remains under federal investigation), and the results show. Teacher-evaluation standards have been gutted, and student-exam scores have been fairly flat over the years — and especially if you correct for the watering down of testing standards. The administration’s hostility to charter schools is manifest, never mind that fully 10 percent of city public-school students — some 106,000 — attend charters, with another 44,000 on waiting lists.
UFT Illegal PAC United for the Future
Who Watches the Watchmen DAs Conflict of Interests With Elected Officials and Lobbyists

de Blasio A Poor Manager But, Do His Policies Really Close the City's Income Inequality Gap?
If Developers Who Contribute to de Blasio and His PACs are Pushing Out Tenants, Raising Rents All Over the City Has Does That Close the Income Gap?
To all this, add the recent scandals in the Administration for Children’s Services; City Hall’s inability to deliver much beyond words when it comes to affordable housing; the abject failure of de Blasio’s pipe-dream promise to reduce “income inequality”; and those enduring low poll numbers — and it would seem that the mayor would be vulnerable at the polls this fall.

de Blasio Defends Tax Pay Adds 
Come On Press A Man Under 8 Federal Investigations Will Never Admit to Any Wrong Doing 
De Blasio defends glitzy taxpayer-funded video (NYP) Mayor de Blasio staunchly defended a taxpayer-funded video put out by City Hall this week that used Broadway stars to trumpet his administration’s accomplishments – insisting it wasn’t an ad because no one paid for air time.   At the same time he was touting new technology to get his administration’s message out, the mayor fell back on an antiquated notion of what constitutes a commercial as his main defense to criticism that the video looked like a re-election commercial. “The notion it was an ad is outrageous and ludicrous,” he said at an unrelated press conference in midtown on New Years Eve safety measures.  “Ads have to be broadcast. You have to pay to get time for an ad,” he added. “No one’s doing anything like that. So I think it’s a pretty big misunderstanding of what we did.”  Pressed repeatedly about that line, de Blasio insisted it was just a “cursory message about me.”  “You guys can ask all day long. I think it was a lighthearted attempt to get information out,” he said. “I just am not reading into it what you’re reading into it.”  At one point, Hizzoner was even asked if the job was going to his head — based on the fact the video had Broadway stars singing his praises — to which he responded: “I feel my head is quite fine.”  City Hall officials said they have no plans to halt the video communications next year, despite rules against taxpayer funds being used for commercials that feature elected officials during a re-election year.

de Blasio's City Hall Govt Media Expands to the Transportation Dept No Secret As MSM Cuts to the Bone, They Become Mostly A Stenographer Operation 
Transportation department to pour money into video team (NYP)  The Depart of Transportation is following City Hall’s lead and procuring its own video team for short films to “promote agency initiatives” — a scheme that will cost taxpayers as much as $300,000, documents show. A request for bids posted online seeks a vendor to produce video and audio recordings, photography and film editing and production services for videos that highlight agency projects and city infrastructure over the next three years. “The films and photographs shall have maximum visual impact, strong pacing and be accessible for a variety of audiences,” the bid documents state.* The New York City Department of Transportation is following City Hall’s lead and procuring its own video team for short films to “promote agency initiatives” – a scheme that will cost taxpayers as much as $300,000, the Post reports.

DM Shorris Allure Deceived Us On Nursing Home Deed Change So Why Does the City Refuse to Sue?  Where is Corp Council Carter?  Blocking Special Agent Emails? 
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the city likely doesn’t have a case to go after the nursing home operator who officials claim conned them into waiving a deed restriction so the Lower East Side property could be sold off for luxury condos, the Daily News reports.
Show us your papers, Bill (NYDN Ed) de Blasio’s No. 2, Tony Shorris, swears his underlings were deceived into handing the keys to a former city public school building turned AIDS home on the Lower East Side, known as Rivington House, to a nursing home operator secretly planning luxury condominiums for the site.  As First Deputy Mayor Shorris told the City Council in September, speaking of dealings with the Allure Group: “We believe, and not as a lawyer, but that there was deceptive practices by Allure; that’s part of the reason I think the the city, but I also believe the state, may not have been informed correctly of their intentions.”  De Blasio, too, has trotted out the we-were-wronged excuse, complaining as the scandal unfolded: “We have a lot of evidence that they misled us.”  Oh really? We’re still waiting for the legal case that proves it — and so is so is state Sen. Daniel Squadron, who last week sent a letter to state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and city Corporation Counsel Zachary Carter urging Action under state and city statutes that allow civil lawsuits against schemers who rip off the government. For victims wronged, Shorris and de Blasio appear awfully reticent to step forward and make their case — saying only, through a Carter spokesman: “We have awaited the conclusion of ongoing investigations to determine whether there is evidence to support a claim of fraud in connection with the Rivington transaction.”  And who can blame them. Heaven or hell knows what potentially devastating information about the city’s own actions would surface in the objective glare of court proceedings, about matters so sensitive that Carter’s Law Department took the extraordinary measure of denying the city Department of Investigation access to City Hall’s computer networks to reconstruct why city officials so badly botched Rivington House.  Count on Carter to do squat. But Schneiderman has his work cut out for him.

Squadron Whose District Contains the Rivington Nursing Home Says Months After Deed Scandal Hit That the Mayor Should Take Action
1. Squadron is Running for Comptroller if Stringer Runs for Mayor
2. Squadron Has A Friend in Washington That May Know Something In Federal Case is Going to Break
NYC pol demands de Blasio take action against Manhattannursing home owners that tricked city in order to sell to condo developer(NYDN) de Blasio should go after the nursing home operator he claims conned the city into waiving a deed restriction so they could sell the place to a luxury condo developer. So says state Sen. Daniel Squadron (D-Brooklyn) who Wednesday demanded that the city file a False Claims Act suit against Allure Group for misleading the city in the Rivington St. nursing home transaction. Allure Group bought the property for $28 million, paid the $16 million fee to the city, then sold it to a developer for $116 million.  That assumed the property would become a for-profit nursing home. Turning it into luxury condos greatly increased its value, a result the de Blasio administration says it did not expect.  But a powerful lobbyist steered $50,000 in donations to de Blasio after pressing the city for a deed change that allows one of his clients to turn a building restricted for use as a nursing home into luxury condos.  Since October lobbyist James Capalino has collected $40,000 in checks for de Blasio's 2017 reelection bid and personally wrote a $10,000 check in May to Campaign for One New York, the nonprofit de Blasio uses to promote his causes.  Capalino represented both the original seller of the nursing home at 45 Rivington St. on the Lower East Side and the developer who will turn it into luxury condos.
DE BLASIO DILEMMA: Both Rivington Nursing Home Deed Change and LICH Hospital