Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Week New Yorkers Lost Control of Their Govt , Democracy and Fair Elections for A Very Long Time And Breslin And Berry

The 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.


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.

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.”

Reelection Politics Meets Rikers Closing No Jail SI 

NYC Neighborhoods Already Playing A Price From Develops, Homeless Shelters May Not Survive the Closing of Rikers 
De Blasio faces uphill battle trying to replace Rikers Island (NYP) * Mayor Backs Plan to Close Rikers and Open Jails Elsewhere (NYT)  A commission’s recommendation to close Rikers Island, and move prisoners to smaller jails in New York City, has won the support of Mayor Bill de Blasio.  * The main obstacle to closing Rikers Island is political, but reforming our jail system and closing Rikers is not simply good public policy – it is a moral imperative, write Melissa Mark-Viverito and Jonathan Lippman in The New York Times.  * De Blasio endorsed the sentiment but not the specifics of the new “Close Rikers” report, and for good reason: It’s an enormous leap, resting on some huge assumptions, like that the city can cut its jail population in half and build five new jails, the Post writes.* Why the ‘Close Rikers’ plan is pure fantasy (NYP Ed) The plan drawn up by a blue-ribbon panel under former state Chief Judge Jonathan Lippmann rests on some huge assumptions: that the city can cut its jail population in half and build five new facilities (one near each county courthouse) to replace Rikers. But can the city cut the daily jail numbers from 10,000 in detention to 5,000 — and keep it there? That requires (among other things) changes in state law to drastically ease bail requirements — changes the state Senate’s sure to balk at. (It’s balking at less-dramatic reforms right now.)  And then those reforms have to actually work — to not impact public safety — or the pendulum will swing right back.  It also requires the police to keep on succeeding in driving crime rates down, so that ever-fewer New Yorkers get sent to jail.  This, when many of the same voices who are loudest in demanding that Rikers close are just as adamant that the NYPD abandon the Broken Windows community policing that’s gotten the city this far — driving the jail population down from 20,000 to 10,000 over the last few decades. f the city closes Rikers, then finds it needs more jail space than the plan projects, it’ll be spending far more than $10 billion to build new facilities (and fighting more community sentiment) than Lippmann and his experts guess. * De Blasio’s jail break: The hard realities of his plansto close Rikers Island (NYDN ED) De Blasio’s jail break: The hard realities of his plans to close Rikers Island (NYDN) De Blasio’s newfound commitment takes a stand bolder in appearance than in reality, so carefully has he scoped out the exit doors to avoid political confinement by controversies sure to be in store.  First: in the City Council, which will have to approve the relocation of the city jails to sites yet to be selected in city neighborhoods not likely to roll out the welcome mat for criminal defendants and attendant traffic.  Multiply by, oh, 10 the complications de Blasio’s had siting homeless shelters and you begin to comprehend the complexity of the task.  The Lippman report advises one in each borough near court houses — in three of five instances on existing jail sites.  As part of a fleshed-out blueprint, de Blasio owes the city proposed locations, and soon. * Developers eye Rikers Island as NYC's next big realestate hub (NY Curbed) The 413-acre island could give way to a Stuy Town style housing development * De Blasio’s newfound commitment to closing Rikers Island takes a stand bolder in appearance than in reality, so carefully has he scoped out the exit doors to avoid political confinement by controversies sure to be in store, the Daily News writes.* Rikers Island Commission Unveils Plan to Shut Down Jail Complex (NYT) With Mayor Bill de Blasio now backing the plan, Melissa Mark-Viverito, the City Council speaker, announced a 10-year goal for the departure of the last inmate.* The jail commission’s report said Albany lawmakers should consider reclassifying prostitution as a civil offense rather than a criminal one, which would essentially let prostitutes off with a summons instead of sending them jail, the New York Post reports.  * Former Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman’s commission on closing Rikers gave a specific, sensible, defensible plan that saves money and spreads the burden, but instead of making the case for it, de Blasio chose to be noncommittal on a solution, the Times writes. * Violence against inmates increased at Rikers despite reforms (NYP) * How Rikers Island became the hellhole it is today (NYP)

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.

Bharara's Tweet Albany Passes Drain the Swap Ethics Reforms APRIL FOOLS
@PreetBharara   #BREAKING: Bold, sweeping, principled ethics reforms finally enacted in New York State! The swamp, drained. #AprilFools

Monday Emergency Spending Plan  State Budget Deal Stalled Over Teen Felony Law Sat Update Threat of Withheld Pay Moves Deal Closer 

Monday 4/3/17  NYP: Shit Show Budget
Emergency spending plan to pass amid 's--t show' budget talks (NYP) * With No Deal, Cuomo Will Ask for Emergency Budget Measures (NYT) With no agreement as of Sunday evening, New York legislators could face a pay freeze, but issues like raising the age of criminal responsibility have knotted negotiations.* Albany Works Overtime as Budget Deal Proves Elusive (NYT) * After failing to reach a state budget agreement over the weekend, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is resorting to a strategy popularized by his predecessor, David Paterson: a temporary budget extender.  * Cuomo said he was sending an emergency measure to both houses to keep the state government “fully functioning” until May 31, with lawmakers agreeing to pass the extender bill Monday after a budget deal couldn’t be reached over the weekend, The Buffalo News reports.  * State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan is being undermined by his No. 2, state Sen. John DeFrancisco, whose actions have complicated budget talks and highlighted tensions between the Senate’s conservative upstate members and more moderate downstate ones, Ken Lovett writes in the Daily News.

Albany nears budget deal while threat of withheld pay looms  (NYP) ALBANY – Under the threat of losing their pay for seven weeks, state lawmakers inched closer to a budget agreement Saturday * New York is facing the potential of its first ever state government shutdown unless Cuomo and the Legislature can reach a budget deal, as state Senate Republicans raised the possibility of rejecting Cuomo’s extender if they don’t like it, the Daily News reports.
Cuomo’s budget deal in peril over teen felony law (NYP)  Cuomo and state lawmakers failed to reach agreement on key details of their $153 billion spending plan just hours before Saturday’s deadline to have a new budget in place.  A dispute over a criminal-justice issue — whether to treat to treat 16- and 17-year-olds accused of felony crimes as juveniles instead of adults — was a main impediment.  Democrats and Republicans could not agree on whether the teens should be treated as adults for certain serious crimes and if separate youth courts should be created to handle their cases. Sources said GOP lawmakers were trying to remove the issue from budget talks but Democrats refused to back down.  Legislative leaders are also still haggling over whether to raise the cap on the number of charter schools allowed in New York City and provide charters more financial assistance, as well as how much money to disburse to all public schools. Government-watchdog groups slammed the secrecy.  The governor said late Friday that if the legislature doesn’t pass a budget this weekend, he’ll do an emergency extension through May 21. * As Clock Winds Down, Albany Budget Deal Is So Close, Yet So … (NYT)  The state on Friday seemed perilously close to producing a late budget, with stumbling blocks centered on issues like charter schools and raising the age of criminal responsibility.* Cuomo, state lawmakers blow new budget deadline amidgridlock on negotiations (NYDN) * At the stroke of midnight, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statement saying that if no budget agreement is in place by the end of the weekend, he will put forth emergency legislation to extend the current budget, the Times Union reports. * A dispute over whether to treat to treat 16- and 17-year-olds accused of felony crimes as juveniles instead of adults was a main impediment to budget negotiations, with GOP lawmakers trying to remove the issue and Democrats refusing to back down, the Post reports. * Democrats across the country are looking for a hero, and Cuomo can make a real impact if he moves quickly on including Raise the Age in the state budget, with the lives of thousands of young people hanging in the balance, Van Jones and Jessica Jackson Sloan write in the Daily News.  * At the stroke of midnight, Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a statement saying that if no budget agreement is in place by the end of the weekend, he will put forth emergency legislation to extend the current budget, the Times Union reports.

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 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.

de Blasio Hoist By His Own Petard

De Blasio's plan to pay for legal defense is illegal, board rules (NYP) The city’s Conflicts of Interest Board dealt a major blow to Mayor de Blasio on Wednesday — ruling that his plan to form a legal defense fund to pay for legal bills was against the law. “The board has concluded that contributions to legal defense funds are no different from gifts directly to the public servant,” wrote board chair Richard Briffault.  That means donations to a legal defense fund are limited to $50 per individual — except for family members, who can contribute as much as they want. Hizzoner had earlier announced that he would form the fund and seek donations from supporters to pay for hefty legal bills resulting from separate state and federal probes into his fundraising. While not mentioning the mayor by name, the board issued the ruling after it “received requests for advice from public servants to help establish legal defense funds.” Both the Manhattan DA’s office and the US Attorney’s office announced earlier this month that the mayor would not be charged as a result of their investigations. But de Blasio still faces huge legal bills, since his lawyers have been working for months to get him off the hook.  Comptroller Scott Stringer had advised the mayor to seek guidance from the board on how to structure the defense fund — but it was unclear whether de Blasio requested the ruling.  De Blasio’s camp previously put out a statement saying “no taxpayer dollars will be used to fund the Mayor’s individual compliance with these reviews.”  The legal expenses of mayoral aides who were also under investigation are being covered by taxpayers to the tone of $11.6 million. Last month, de Blasio said the legal defense fund was his only option to pay the legal since he’s not rich. “We have to do that. It’s the only way,” the mayor said at the time. “I inform you again that I am not a billionaire like my predecessor. There’s no way I can possibly cover these fees personally.” He hasn’t disclosed what he owes.* De Blasio Stymied in Attempt to Pay Legal Fees With Donations (NYT) A city agency capped donations to the mayor’s planned legal defense fund to cover legal bills he incurred during inquiries into his fund-raising practices.* DeBlasio’s legal defense fund-raising suffers blow as city board rules eachdonation cannot exceed $50 (NYDN) * De Blasio’s price to pay for his fundraisingescapade (NYDN Ed) * It is poetic justice that to pay the lawyers who defended his unethical scheme of raising money in massive sums, de Blasio will have to go begging, collecting less than $50 at a time, the Daily News writes.   * It is poetic justice that to pay the lawyers who defended his unethical scheme of raising money in massive sums, de Blasio will have to go begging, collecting less than $50 at a time, the Daily News writes.  * De Blasio should just bite the bullet and send taxpayers his legal bill (NYP Ed) * In the wake of the city Conflicts of Interest Board decision limiting donations to de Blasio’s legal defense fund to $50 per person, the mayor has no choice but to bite the bullet and charge the taxpayers, and he might as well admit it, the Post writes.
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

Hit on Brooklyn DA Gonzalez
Acting Brooklyn DA Eric Gonzalez got rent reduction meantfor low-income seniors despite $210G salary (NYDN) For the last two years, acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez benefited from a rent break intended for senior citizens who make less than $50,000 a year, the Daily News has learned.  Gonzalez is 48 and makes $210,000.  He did this by accepting a modest reduction to his rent courtesy of the Senior Citizens Rent Increase Exemption, a program that was applied to the rent he pays on his already rent-stabilized apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  The city says this happened as a result of a bureaucratic bungle in May 2015 in which an actual senior citizen tenant in Gonzalez’s building applied for a exemption and the city mistakenly awarded it to Gonzalez instead.

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 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

Tweed Courthouse Education Staff Increasing, Consultants Everywhere and Students Still Not College Ready 
Why Boss Tweed would envy NYC’s public-schools chief (NYP) We always worried that it sent a bad message to have the city Department of Education headquartered in the Tweed Courthouse building. But even we’re shocked to see the city schools chancellor goosing the payroll in a way that Boss Tweed would envy.  As Selim Algar reports in Wednesday’s Post, pay has more than doubled for DOE Central Administration staff in the de Blasio era. Indeed, it’s set to nearly triple by next year — from just over $4 million in 2013 to $11.4 million in 2018. Why? Chancellor Carmen Fariña is vastly increasing the size of the central bureaucracy, apparently on the theory that it’s the best way to improve your child’s classroom education.  The chancellor may well believe that — after all, she spent her career in the city system, and she believes in it. And never mind that reducing the central schools bureaucracy has been the goal of local education reformers for all those same decades.  Just weeks ago, The Post’s Susan Edelman and Bruce Golding exposed how Fariña’s Renewal Schools program has proved a jackpot for outside consultants, paid under contracts that total around $40 million a year — on top of the $8.5 million payroll for 72 DOE bureaucrats dedicated to the program.  One consultant, Laura Kotch, had co-authored a book with Fariña. She was earning $1,200 a day — while Sandra Kase, another of the chancellor’s friends, collected $1,400 a day and over $167,000 for all of 2016.  All this, when Renewal is failing badly at turning around dozens of low-performing city schools. Usually, when we rage about how the school system is run to serve the adults, not the students, our target is the teachers union. Sadly, Fariña is proving that management can be every bit as sordid.* DOE doubles number of top administrators under de Blasio (NYP) * De Blasio's $400M education project yields lukewarmresults, charter school advocates say (NYDN)
More on Education 2017
de Blasio Fake News Inflated Grad Rates

Third Party Gives the Mayoral Candidates A Moment But You Cannot Run for Mayor As A Group
Long-shot mayoral candidates battle over big issues, butunited in trashing de Blasio  (NYDN) Six mayoral hopefuls vying to run on a long-shot third party line clashed on a slew of issues Tuesday night, but had one thing in common — bashing Mayor de Blasio.  At a forum run by the Reform Party, the candidates — many of whom face steep odds running on the Democratic or Republican lines — did not hold back in ripping Hizzoner.  "He fell on his face," said former city Councilman Sal Albanese, a Democrat, when asked about de Blasio's handling of homelessness in the city.  "We don't need an activist, we need a full-time mayor," quipped Michel Faulkner, a retired New York Jet turned minister running as a Republican. Candidates at the forum, hosted by party chair and Guardian Angels founder Curtis Sliwa at WABC radio's Penn Station studio, offered varied views about a variety of issues.  Billionaire supermarket magnate John Catsimatidis was not among the panelists but could not resist ripping de Blasio while giving advice to the candidates before the forum began.  "These professional politicians, they learn how to glom," he said, before asking Sliwa, the host, if he had "a translation for the word glom?" "Pick-pocket," Sliwa replied.  Sliwa and his supporters have in recent years taken over the party, which was by Republican Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino in 2014 to oppose Common Core.* Six challengers to de Blasio appeared on stage for a mayoral forum hosted by the Reform Party, offering a range of perspectives on issues that affect the city, Politico New York writes. * Reform Party Hosts 1st Mayoral Candidates Forum of 2017 -- March 28 [Video] Reform Party of NYS vice chairman... Video  
de Blasio campaign 2017 and His National Campaign     

With Over 1 Million NYC Voters Not Registered as Dem or GOP By Being A None Crony Third Pary Leader Sliwa's Reform Party Could Become Real in the General 
Editorial: Cronies with benefits (TU Ed) No politician in his right mind would come out and say, "You help me get elected, and I'll give you a nice taxpayer-funded job." It not only reeks of slimy politics, but it could well get an elected official indicted.  Yet this quid pro quo goes on under New Yorkers' noses every day, corruption so routine you'd almost think this must be how government is supposed to work.  It isn't. New York can change it: By ending the ability of political parties to cross-endorse candidates. The practice, called fusion, allows candidates to appear on multiple ballot lines. New York is one of only eight states that allow this in all races. California allows it in presidential elections only.   So we see candidates running, for example, on the Democratic and Working Families party lines, or the Republican and Conservative lines. The pairings (or triplings, quadruplings or what have you, depending on how many ballot lines a candidate can snag) don't always seem to make ideological sense; Democrats in the city of Albany sometimes appear on the Conservative line; Republicans in Rensselaer County might have a Working Families endorsement. We've seen major parties turn third parties into little more than endorsement proxies, and third parties created by major party candidates just to attract voters on a particular issue, such as the Women's Equality Party that Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo invented for the 2014 election.  Defenders of this system say it can serve a publicly beneficial role. Third parties can leverage their potential votes to persuade major party candidates to adopt more liberal or conservative positions than mainstream politicians might normally include in their platforms.   The problem is that this too often boils down to a less high-minded result: political favors. As the Times Union's Chris Bragg found, for example, the state Senate Republican majority's payroll is amply stocked with Independence Party officials, notably from swing districts where the Independence line — which many people mistake for a party of independents — was likely helpful to a GOP candidate. The positions include part-time jobs that come with full health benefits and few enough hours to allow those folks to hold down private sector jobs, too.  And here's no surprise: New York has the largest legislative payroll in the nation, bigger even that California, which has twice New York's population.  If this really is about ideology, why can't the people in these third parties field their own candidates, or fight their battles within the major parties? If it's about patronage, why should hard-working New Yorkers have to pay for it?   There's a simple solution here: Change the state constitution to end this practice. Either the Legislature should do this willingly, or New Yorkers could try to make it happen through the Constitutional Convention that they'll have an opportunity to vote for in November, a chance they get to improve their government once every 20 years.  We wouldn't stand for politicians who openly trade favors for votes. Why, then, do we continue to accept a system that encourages them do just that?
The WFP and Berlin Rosen Has Played Fast and Lose With the Election Law, Data and Field ArrestsMore About WFP Data and Field 

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.”

NYC Mayoral Candidate Albanese Has to Go to National Radio to Present His Reform Platform

“Drain the Swamp?” Let’s Start at Home: Non-PartisanElections and Democracy Vouchers are the Way Forward (Rita Cosby, National Radio Blogger)  In unusually coordinated and near-simultaneous announcements, federal and state prosecutors recently announced that Mayor Bill De Blasio would not face criminal corruption charges.  But as every Law and Order watching New Yorker knows, that hardly means the Mayor and his cronies are innocent.  In fact, the prosecutors concluded that De Blasio and others acting on his behalf solicited donations from individuals who sought official favors from the city after which the Mayor made or directed inquiries to city agencies on their behalf. Enough evidence to convict under present law?  Maybe not.  But hardly a vote of confidence for our Mayor -- or for our present political system.   The latest De Blasio Debacle is but one symptom of New York’s sclerotic political system.  This system allows entrenched politicians and political operatives to run wild and rob us of democracy through corruption.  The path forward involves change – change we can count on to get us to a true democracy we can believe in. 

Over A Million Voters Will Not Vote In NYC Primaries Only Half A Million Can Vote in the GOP Primaries Time for Non-Partisan Elections?
Non-Partisan Elections. New York should follow the example of other cities – yes, even we can learn something from cities like Boston, San Francisco and Seattle -- and should hold open, non-partisan elections. The New York City Charter should be amended to allow candidates for city office of any party affiliation to run in a general primary, with the top two finishers to run in a general election. The number of independent voters is growing nationally as well as in New York City. Unfortunately, the current electoral rules are designed to disenfranchise them. We need to open up elections to attract the best candidates and to enable voters to elect them.

The Lobbyists and Incumbents Have Gamed Public Financing  Albanese Wants to Return Public Funding Back to the Public 

*Democracy Vouchers.  We should adopt “Democracy Vouchers” as they are called in Seattle, for example, for all city elections.  These are vouchers provided by the city to each voter for $100 with $25 coupons that can be sent to the municipal candidate of their choice for participating candidates.  This will stop the nonsensical fund-raising apparatus that enables the entrenched political class to control the electoral process and invites corruption.  Large donors expect favors and, as has just been seen with Mayor De Blasio, they get them.  It is time for this vicious cycle to end.

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.

Voter Suppression Works in NY - No Early Voting, No Registration on Election Day, BOE and Petitions Stop Challengers From Running 
According to a new report, New York ranked 41st in the country for voter turnout in the 2016 general election, with just more than 57 percent of the voting-eligible population casting ballots, the Times Union reports.

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. 24, said 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

The decision also gives a green light to politicians who are willing to abuse the power of incumbency to stay in office. Let’s face it — that includes just about every pol on the planet.  In plain English, the statement by prosecutors boils down to this: You can avoid the law, you can evade the law and you can do your big donors’ bidding.  To be clear, there was nothing ethical or admirable about what de Blasio did. The favorable government actions he gave to donors are open and notorious, as are the benefits he got from the millions of dollars the donors gave to his slush funds outside the campaign finance laws.  There were plenty of reports that his team singled out wealthy individuals and firms who had business pending before City Hall, knowing they would be more likely to fork over mountains of money to help their businesses or protect them from punishment.   It was a two-way street. The money they gave helped de Blasio build his reputation nationally and hire private consultants to deliver his city agenda. Those consultants, his “agents of the city,” made millions without him having to use his own funds to pay them.   Most important, the slush funds enabled the mayor to establish a shadow government and wage a permanent campaign for re-election.  And now prosecutors have given the sordid scheme their blessing all because they didn’t catch the mayor taking a brown paper bag filled with cash.

Even the NY Times Is Concerned That Pay to Play is Legal Now
Questioning Whether de Blasio Will Learn From a Teachable Moment (NYT)  The mayor says the decision by prosecutors not to charge him means he can continue his fund-raising practices as before. Some onlookers in and outside of government aren’t so sure.

MTA Fares Go Up Again
The price of a monthly MetroCard will jump to $121 from $116.50 on Sunday in New York City after a fare increase was approved by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in January, the Journal reports. * Tolls to Rise at City Bridges and Tunnels This Sunday (DNAINFO) * Un-fare:Straphanger are paying more, and deserve better service (NYDN Ed) 

As Subway Riders Suffer the Gov Cuts $65 Million From Its Budget

A line tucked in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive budget calls for a $65 million cut to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority at a time when commuters are fuming over frequent delays, spotty service, overcrowding and fare hikes, the Daily News reports. * After a long period of improvement, the New York City subway system’s reliability has dropped significantly, with delays more than doubling over the last five years, the Times reports.  * Members of the MTA board have not reported their incomes and financial information, or have not updated them, despite a requirement to submit annual public disclosure reports each spring to the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics, the New York Post reports.  * A national pro-Republican political action committee is preparing to ramp-up efforts to oppose Cuomo – not in expectation of his likely run for a third term next year, but with an eye to his potentially seeking the presidency in 2020, the Times Union reports.

New York New York It is Now Legal to Steal Elections More PACS, Lobbyists Both Pay to Play and Dumping PAC Money Into County Committees to Get Aound the Election Law are Now Legal  

No Charges, but Harsh Criticism for Mayor de Blasio(NYT) The federal inquiry found a pattern in which the mayor or his associates solicited contributions from donors seeking favors from the city and then contacted city agencies on their behalf, according to a statement from the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York. But the decision not to bring charges, the statement said, came after weighing among other things, “the high burden of proof, the clarity of existing law, any recent changes in the law and the particular difficulty in proving criminal intent in corruption schemes where there is no evidence of personal profit.”   State prosecutors, who examined Mr. de Blasio’s unsuccessful 2014 effort to help Democrats regain control of the State Senate, concluded that they could not prove each element of the crimes that they considered charging beyond a reasonable doubt, according to a letter outlining their findings. The letter said this was because the mayor and those involved in the fund-raising effort had relied on the advice of their lawyers, a valid defense in a criminal case and because of ambiguities in the way the election law statutes were written. In his statement, Mr. Kim said investigators had examined several instances in which the mayor and “others acting on his behalf” solicited donations from people who were seeking “official favors from the city, after which the mayor made or directed inquiries to relevant city agencies on behalf of those donors.” In his letter, Mr. Vance said the office’s conclusion was “not an endorsement of the conduct at issue.”  “The transactions appear contrary to the intent and spirit of the laws that impose candidate contribution limits, laws which are meant to prevent ‘corruption and the appearance of corruption’ in the campaign financing process,” he wrote.* Vance Has Ties To Several in the de Blasio Probe

Making County Committee PACs Legal 
Mayor de Blasio dodges state, criminal charges infund-raising probe (NYDN) The mayor quickly claimed vindication, even though neither prosecutor declared that de Blasio or his aides followed the letter of the law in the 2013 campaign or the next year’s State Senate race. Vance, in a 10-page letter explaining his decision, acknowledged “the conduct here may have violated the Election Law ... (but) the parties involved cannot be appropriately prosecuted, given their reliance on the advice of counsel.” Essentially, those who participated were led to believe by election lawyer Lawrence Laufer that their fund-raising efforts were legal. The district attorney added that his decision “is not an endorsement of the conduct at issue; indeed, the transactions appear contrary to the intent and spirit of the laws.” The behavior of the mayor and his staff “creates an end run around the direct candidate contribution limits,” wrote Vance. Under fired U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, federal prosecutors in Manhattan thoroughly investigated incidents where “Mayor de Blasio and others acting on his behalf solicited donations from individuals who sought official favors,” Kim said.  Afterward, “the mayor made or directed inquiries to relevant city agencies on behalf of these donors,” the prosecutor added. * Reformers Laud Bharara As a Difference-Maker (The Chief)
Sal Albanese‏ @SalAlbaneseNYC   .@errollouis there is a solution 2 ending DEB et al unethical pay 2 play. I look forward to discussing it on your program

The Prosecutors Have Legalized Pay to Play and Corrupt Election PACS Run By Lobbyists to Control Elections
De Blasio Proves That Some Laws Are Made to Be Unbreakable (NYT) Prosecutors said the mayor and his aides had not violated election laws by funneling money to candidates. That may be the real crime.

The decision by federal and state prosecutors not to file criminal charges against de Blasio is a huge victory for him – and for corrupt officials everywhere – and gives a green light to politicians who are willing to abuse the power of incumbency to stay in office, Michael Goodwin writes in the Post.

Daily News Says Lasting Taint True News Says Pay to Play Has Been Legalized by the Prosecutors
Slime, not crime: Prosecutors spare Bill de Blasio buthis dealings with donors leave lasting taint (NYDN Ed) Mayor de Blasio escaped legal jeopardy on Thursday. He did not, and must not, escape ethical or political jeopardy for putting a For Sale sign on City Hall.  On Thursday morning, Acting Manhattan U.S. Attorney Joon Kim and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance simultaneously announced that, following investigations of more than a year, they do not intend to prosecute de Blasio or his political aides involved in trading favors for donation  Their decisions are the begrudging result of an exceedingly high bar set for proving public corruption crimes, especially since a recent Supreme Court ruling.  This does not change the fact that de Blasio will be forever tainted by cynical self-advancement at the expense of government integrity. An operation created as an adjunct to the mayoralty, the Campaign for One New York, raised more than $4 million — including many exorbitant contributions — to advance de Blasio and his agenda, most of it from firms and groups doing business with city government.    

A second mayoral effort funneled nearly $1 million into upstate county political committees in futile hopes of winning state Senate seats for Democrats and thus majority control of the entire Legislature — again, with big financial backing from city contractors.  They were both strategic, carefully lawyered end-runs around the city’s public campaign financing system, which strictly limits contributions by donors enmeshed in city business deals — to head off the obvious temptation to bribe elected officials.    De Blasio said: Give here. Even if, in fact especially if, you have business before the city. Then, he and his staff proceeded to ensure that donors got the attention and access they desired. Kim’s statement of exoneration left no doubt de Blasio left a trail of troubling evidence, stating without condition that federal investigators found “several circumstances in which Mayor de Blasio and others acting on his behalf solicited donations from individuals who sought official favors from the city, after which the mayor made or directed inquiries to relevant city agencies on behalf of those donors.”  All that was not sufficient to prove corruption, for lack of evidence that the mayor or aides personally profited, or that the mayor did more than arrange for meetingDe Blasio thus escaped charges — but not his record. Those heaps of money in resulted in case after case of public policy clumsily bent to satisfy big-money donors:  Frantic and fumblingly failed efforts to save a Lower East Side nursing home and Brooklyn hospital, on behalf of 1199SEIU, the Campaign for One New York’s biggest contributor.  Tens of millions of dollars in subsidies to a Dallas school bus company that took such sudden interest in Putnam County Democratic Party politics it donated $100,000.  A risible attempt to ban carriage horses, backed by generous donors but ultimately thwarted by the City Council.Municipal labor contracts that booked billions of dollars in phantom health care savings, with the teacher’s union the first to accept — not long after a $350,000 donation.  De Blasio cannot rewrite the sordid history here: In a condemnable but not criminal scheme, he plotted to sell off chunks of his city for his own political advancement. And got away with it.

Mayoral Campaign Election, Democracy RIP

Prosecutors Cleaning Up de Blasio Pieces Seabrook Next to Plea? No Trials That Could Expose the Prosecutors Cover-Up?

Brooklyn NYPD Bribery Scheme Said to Be Even More Widespread (NYT)

Brooklyn man gets 32 months in prison for bribing copsto snag quick gun permits (NYDN) The man who copped to bribing NYPD officers for quick gun permits will spend 32 months in a federal lockup and two years on supervised release, a judge decided on Thursday.  Alex Lichtenstein, 45, pleaded guilty on Nov. 10 to charges of offering a bribe and bribery for participating in a corruption scheme spanning from 2013 to 2016.   While Lichtenstein and his lawyer had brokered a plea deal with prosecutors, the feds recently pushed for the Brooklyn bizman to get the max under their agreement - six years.  Prosecutors argued that Lichtenstein - who submitted photos of himself alongside cops in his bid for sentencing leniency - didn't understand the gravity of his crime.* Judge goes easy on Shomrim leader who bribed cops forgun permits (NYP) The Shomrim patrol leader who bribed NYPD cops to “expedite” gun permits got a lighter jail sentence than federal prosecutors wanted Thursday — because he has a history of community service.   Judge Sidney Stein sentenced Alex “Shaya” Lichtenstein to 32 months in jail and ordered him to pay a $20,000 fine and undergo alcohol addiction treatment as penance for bribing cops.  Prosecutors wanted him to go away for 4 to 6 years, but the judge cited Lichtenstein’s charitable works in giving him a lower-than-expected sentence.   “Mr. Lichtenstein has led a life of great deeds,” Stein said. “He has also committed a great crime.”  “You participated in corrupting the New York City police department,” he told Lichtenstein, who cried when he did not receive the probation sentence he was hoping for.   Lichtenstein was found guilty in April of paying favors to officers in the Licensing Division for quick pistol permits that he he then sold to members of the Borough Park ultra-orthodox community for as much as $18,000 a pop.  He also admitted to offering a whistle-blowing cop $6,000 per permit to keep his mouth shut and help with the scheme. Investigators recovered a trove of audio tapes Lichtenstein made while he cut deals with cops — recordings meant to ensure the oft-drunk Lichtenstein could recall specific details in the deals, sources say.  Prosecutors say the recordings connect Lichtenstein to a separate investigation into a high-ranking NYPD official who allegedly traded favors with two of Mayor de Blasio’s financial backers.   According to tapes, Lichtenstein met with NYPD Deputy Inspector James Grant, who stands accused of accepting bribes from big-time de Blasio donors Jeremy Reichberg and Jona Rechnitz in exchange for preferential treatment.  City and federal prosecutors declined on Thursday to charge de Blasio or his aides in the scandal.    Lichtenstein, who admitted to two counts of bribery during a November plea deal, said he will not be cooperate with investigators.* A member of a neighborhood watch group in Brooklyn admitted to bribing NYPD officers and handing out cash and gifts to others, suggesting that a major federal investigation into corruption within the police department is still turning up new evidence of misconduct, the Times reports.

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)

NY Times Finally Does An Editorial on Preet Bharara
New Yorkers, who have had a front-row seat to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s work over the last seven years, know him for his efforts to drain one of the swampiest states in the country of its rampant public corruption and was an equal-opportunity prosecutor, The New York Times reports. Mr. Bharara won convictions of more than a dozen lawmakers, culminating in 2015, when he brought down two of the state’s three most powerful politicians: Sheldon Silver, the Democratic former Assembly speaker, and Dean Skelos, the Republican former Senate majority leader. Both men have appealed their convictions, which included charges of bribery, extortion and money laundering.  Mr. Bharara also tangled repeatedly with the other member of that entrenched trio, New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo. He investigated Mr. Cuomo’s suspicious disbanding in 2014 of the Moreland Commission, an anticorruption panel that Mr. Cuomo had established a year earlier to address the epidemic of self-dealing in state politics. Mr. Bharara eventually decided there was not enough evidence to charge the governor with interfering in the commission’s work, but at the time of his firing, Mr. Bharara’s office was prosecuting two of Mr. Cuomo’s former advisers in a bribery and bid-rigging scandal. At the time of his dismissal, his office was in the final stages of a criminal investigation into the campaign fund-raising of New York City’s mayor, Bill de Blasio. It may be a while before the full story comes out, or before the Southern District of New York sees another prosecutor as cleareyed about rooting out public corruption. In the meantime, Mr. Bharara deserves credit for leaving New York a little cleaner than he found it. “We are not trying to criminalize ordinary politics,” he said in a 2015 speech. “Just try not to steal our money.”

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.

Silver Wants Corruption Conviction Tossed
Sheldon Silver’s lawyers want his corruption conviction tossed (NYP) Lawyers for Sheldon Silver have 12 minutes on Thursday to argue before a three-judge appeals panel that the disgraced ex-Assembly Speaker’s conviction should be tossed — or that he be granted a new trial.  The appeal lawyers think Silver deserves another shot because, they argue, the definition of public corruption has changed since he was found guilty in November 2015.    They plan to cite the US Supreme Court’s move in June to toss the public corruption conviction of ex-Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, who accepted more than $165,000 in loans and gifts from a business executive in exchange for promoting a dietary supplement because there was no proof the McDonnell took the Ferraris, Rolexes and ball gowns in exchange for an “official act” like legislation.  The government’s case against Silver also included allegations of corruption that might now be deemed innocent, such as help he provided a co-conspirator’s daughter to land a job interview, Silver’s lawyer Steven Molo said in court filings.* Sheldon Silver Appeal Looks to New Definition of Corruption (NYT)

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 



De Blasio claims he wasn't following Cuomo to bomb threat (NYP) * This week’s snowstorm was just the latest excuse for Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio to try and outdo each other, with the two trading press briefings about the city’s storm response, the New York Post reports.

Cuomo and de Blasio turn bomb scare into latest round of feud (NYP) Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo turned a Brooklyn bomb scare Thursday into the latest round of their endless feud — with the governor beating his rival to the address and vowing state cops would crack the case.  Cuomo practically needed a cape for his heroics at the the Jewish Children’s Museum. He swooped onto the scene at 11:15 a.m., risking life and limb as he raced into the building despite a threat that warned three pipe bombs would go off as part of a “well planned attack.” Cuomo then soothed shaken staffers outside in full view of the cameras — promising that his state troopers would bring the perpetrator to justice.  By then, Cuomo and most of the cops were long gone, Hizzoner did a quick walk-through before darting off without letting the media get near him.  The game of one-upmanship has become a tired ritual since de Blasio took office in 2014 — and has included everything from serious issues like child welfare to the saga of a wayward deer that died as the two pols bickered over its fate.  Thursday’s bomb scare — which comes amid a rash of antiSemitic threats in the city and around the country — was e-mailed to the Eastern Parkway museum around 8 a.m. Officials there called the cops and alerted both the governor’s office and City Hall.    Cuomo happened to be speaking at nearby Medgar Evers College — touting an affordable-housing plan that steps squar-ely on the toes of Hizzoner, who has made that one of the signature issues of his administration. “He’s right here . . . we called him, he showed up,” museum founder Devorah Halberstam said of Cuomo.* Cuomo’s millionaires tax could make high-income earners move out of the state, a rush that will only grow if Washington, D.C., scraps or trims the federal deduction for state and local taxes, making everyone in the state feel the pain, the Post writes.

NYPD officials would not say whether they’d be working with state law enforcement on the investigation.  Cuomo has previously used his troopers to nettle the mayor. He announced last December that he’d double the number of state troopers in the city to protect potential terror targets, but the mayor shot back that the city does not need policing help.  That same month, the state issued a scathing report of de Blasio’s embattled Administration for Children’s Services after the mishandling of two cases that resulted in the deaths of Zymere Perkins,6, and Jaden Jordan, 3.

More on War: de Blasio vs Cuomo  

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. 

Goodbye Bronx is Burning 1970's Here Comes Bronx Gentrification and High Rents
Here Is The South Bronx's 1,300-Unit Gentrification DeathStar (Village Voice) The Bronx is New York City’s poorest borough, with neighborhoods in the South Bronx seeing their poverty rates hover persistently around 40 percent. However, over the past several years, there’s been a concerted effort to rebrand the Boogie Down, led by developers looking to boost real estate values and encourage wealthier renters to hop on over the Harlem River. Now, from the developers who brought you the "Bronx is Burning" party in 2015 comes two towers totaling 1,300 units, where market-rate renters will be able to look out upon Manhattan and literally turn their backs on the Bronx.  The Long Island City-style development at 2401 Third Avenue and 101 Lincoln Avenue, first revealed by New York Yimby, will feature gyms, doggie day-care, a pool, a cafe, and something referred to as a “library/wine room.” This would be the largest market-rate housing development in the Bronx in at least thirty years, says YIMBY writer Rebecca Baird-Remba.

It would also mark a turning point in the development of the Bronx, which heretofore has seen almost all new large-scale housing development built as “affordable” units, with various incentives given to developers to keep rents in line with what the neighborhood can afford. As the Times noted earlier this month, that plan has mostly worked — affordable housing is being built on formerly vacant land, as the city has given away tracts for practically nothing. But that new development has raised land values and rents in surrounding areas, paving the way for the market rate development that’s just gearing up. “These are the green shoots of how the Bronx will become more market-rate,” Jeff Levine, the chairman of Douglaston Development, told the Times, referring to affordable housing being built throughout the Bronx. The South Bronx has seen its rents rise by at least a third since 2013. * * Bronxites at highest risk of housing displacement in NYC@RegionalPlan report says: 

Former Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes targeted dad of sexabuse victim instead of perv rabbi, lawsuit says (NYDN) A Brooklyn dad claims the borough’s former district attorney Charles Hynes targeted him while cutting a sweetheart deal with a prominent rabbi accused of sexually abusing boys. Samuel Kellner says in a federal civil rights lawsuit that Hynes falsely charged him with extortion after he led an effort to lock up Baruch Lebovits. “The ‘investigation’ by Hynes into [Kellner] deviated so egregiously from acceptable law enforcement activity as to demonstrate an intentional or reckless disregard for proper procedures,” reads the lawsuit targeting Hynes and the city. The sordid saga began in 2008 when Lebovits allegedly molested Kellner’s son. A prosecutor told Kellner that the district attorney’s office wasn’t going to open an investigation because the alleged offense was a misdemeanor and there were no other known victims, the suit says.  But Kellner, working with a detective, found other boys who were preyed upon by Lebovits.  Hynes’ office launched a probe but Kellner claims the former DA did nothing when Lebovits’ supporters succeeded in convincing one of his victims to drop the case.  “Hynes’ deliberate indifference towards [the boy’s] plight and failure to protect him was part of a policy, custom and practice of deliberate indifference towards witness tampering and intimidation of victims of pedophiles and their families within the ultra-Orthodox community,” says the suit filed in Brooklyn Federal Court. Lebovits was ultimately convicted in March 2010 of multiple counts of sexual assault and sentenced to serve up to 32 years.  Kellner’s joy was short-lived.  He claims in the suit that Hynes quietly dismissed his son’s case against Lebovits in October 2010.  “The suffering and courage of a victim in coming forward to report his abuse meant nothing to Hynes,” Kellner’s attorney Niall Macgiollabhui wrote in the suit.  Things got worse forKellner in April 2011 when he was charged with trying to blackmail Lebovits’ wealthy family and paying a man to falsely accuse the rabbi.  Hynes held a news conference trumpeting Kellner’s arrest. Lebovits was sprung from jail the next day. His conviction was overturned in 2012.  “What is truly shocking is that instead of locking up pedophiles and protecting children, Hynes was instrumental in securing the release of a notorious predator from prison and dismissing the cases of two victims he and his office knew to have been abused,” Macgiollabhui told the Daily News. “At some point Hynes will have to explain why he conspired in the shadows with the family of a convicted child rapist to undermine the conviction his own office had just secured.” The criminal charges against Kellner were dropped in March 2014 after a prosecutor re-examining the case found inconsistencies in the accounts of two key witnesses.  Lebovits pleaded guilty to reduced charges in May 2014 and was sentenced to serve another year.  He was released after just 86 days.  A spokesman for the city’s Law Department said it will review the complaint.  Kellner filed a defamation suit against the Jewish Daily Forward newspaper in November 2014. That case was settled in January under a confidentiality agreement.
More on DA Hynes

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.

Last Night on NY1 de Blasio Said He Did Not Know Any of the Work His Law firm Did! Not Only Did He Know He Took Court Action to Help His Lawyer Lobbyists Kramer Levin
De Blasio denies conflict with using law firm that lobbies his administration (NYDN)  de Blasio said there’s no conflict in his use of a law firm that also lobbies his administration on behalf of private clients.  “My experience with this firm is as someone receiving legal services from them — for which they will be fully compensated,” de Blasio said of the firm Kramer Levin Naftalis and Frankel, which is representing him in a series of investigations into his fund-raising tactics.  “I don’t know any of the other work they do. I don’t experience any of the other work they do,” he said on NY1’s “Road to City Hall.” “I just don’t see any such challenge or conflict.”  In addition to its legal practice, Kramer Levin has a lobbying unit — whose earnings surged to $3 million for lobbying the city last year, the same year the firm was hired by the mayor.  De Blasio has not yet paid his legal bills and plans to raise donations to do so. He has refused to rule out taking legal defense money from donors with business before the city.  The mayor said he’s sure his officials would not give special treatment to lobbyists for the firm that represents their boss.

All the Daily News Had to Do Was Link to a 2016 Article by the Daily News to Show That Not Only Did the Mayor Know About Kramer Levin Lobbying Work, His Law Dept Filed an "Amicus Brief" in Support of His Law Firm Who He Has Not Paid Client

Team de Blasio Files Amicus Brief Again A Judge Who Stopped A Developer Client of Kramer Levin Because of A Toxic Site
Deputy mayor says city isn't taking sides in spat between PS 163 parentsand developer (NYDN, April 27th 2016)  The city’s lawyers jumped to defend the developer of an Upper West Side nursing home in court independently from City Hall because of a technicality in the case — and not because of the mayor’s ties to the law firm for the controversial project, officials said Wednesday.  First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris, the number two official at City Hall, said the mayor’s office was completely unaware that the law department was filing papers in Jewish Home Lifecare's legal bid to construct a 20-story nursing home on W. 97th St.  The nursing home — which is being sued by parents who claim the construction will harm kids in neighboring P.S. 163 — is repped by Kramer Levin, the law firm where Mayor de Blasio’s lawyer Barry Berke is a partner.  Berke is defending de Blasio in the federal investigation into his fund-raising.  Zachary Carter, the Corporation Counsel for the city's Law Department, said his office weighed in independently after a judge said the environmental review process didn’t take into account the impact on the school.  De Blasio has not yet paid his legal bills and plans to raise donations to do so. He has refused to rule out taking legal defense money from donors with business before the city.  He also said that the amicus brief the city filed wasn't to support the developer in its fight with parents over construction noise, but because the judge's ruling that the environmental review process wasn't adequate could negatively impact other projects. * De Blasio Throws Support Behind Controversial JHL Nursing Home Project (DNAINFO) De Blasio's Office of Sustainability is seeking to overturn a Dec. 9 decision that blocked Jewish Home Lifecare's construction of the 20-story nursing home on West 97th Street, next to elementary school P.S. 163 and a residential complex.

If the Daily News Reporter Durkin Checked Her Own Papers She Would Have Noticed A Rivington Deed Change 1199 Connection to Kramer and Levin Jewish Home Lifecare Developer Client 
Rene Kathawala, whose children attend P.S. 163 and an attorney for the parents suing, called the city’s meddling “political” and noted another possible explanation: the powerful health care union 1199 SEIU United Health Care Workers.  The union is a major de Blasio backer, writing a $250,000 check on March 2, 2015, to Campaign for One New York, the group de Blasio set up to support his pet projects like pre-K.  With its members working at many JHL facilities, 1199 became a vocal supporter of the W. 97th St. project, testifying to the BSA in support of it. (NYDN)

On April 27, 2016 Real Deal Reported Kramer Levin's Berke Was the Lawyer for the Jewish Home Lifecare Development Two Days Later Real Deal Said Another Lawyer Was Handling the Case On May 6th the Daily News Reported That Berke Was the Lawyer for Both the Development and the Parking Lot That Was Part of the Project 
In a fight with Public School 163 parents — an Upper West Side school fighting to stop the owner of a toxic lot and developer who want to put a nursing home nearby — Kramer Levin represented both the owner of the W. 97th St. parking lot, PWV Owners LLC, and Jewish Home Lifecare, the nursing home group that wants to build the 20-story facility. (NY Daily News, (May 6th 2016) * Judge Says More Environmental Review Needed on UWS NursingHome (Manhattan Express)  According to Marty Rosenblatt, a neighbor who arranged for expert lead testing on the site, the mayor’s favor for the JHL project may stem from his close relations with Kramer Levin Naftalis and Frankel LLP, a law firm that represented JHL in the past and currently represents Joseph Chetrit, a real estate developer with a big investment in the 97th Street development being approved. In late 2011, Joseph Chetrit partnered with Larry Gluck of Stellar Management, who owns the parking lot on West 97th Street that would be replaced by the nursing home, to complete a land swap deal for JHL’s current campus on West 106th Street, which like the West 97th site is between Columbus and Amsterdam Avenues. Many observers believe Chetrit, a well-known developer, plans to construct a tall luxury condo development on JHL’s former campus.  Kramer Levin, Rosenblatt noted, represented JHL on the nursing home project during its appearances before the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals in 2015. (Manhattan Express)

The NY Post Says The Fact That de Blasio Has Not Paid His Law Firm and They Are Lobbying Him for Their Clients Sets Up Some Shady Ways
The idea that the law firm is, in effect, extending him credit is troubling enough, since that can be seen as a “favor” — just as any lower-than-usual rates it charges would be. But how can a mayor up to his eyeballs in corruption probes try to keep such key info secret, especially when he insists he has done nothing wrong?  What makes the secretive deferred-payment deal particularly problematic is that the law firm, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel, also lobbies city agencies on behalf of clients with business before the city. So de Blasio may return those favors in some shady way. (NYP)

Federal Rat Rechnitz Attended Fund Raiser At Kramer Levin Office in 2013
By Dec. 3, 2013, weeks before Mr. de Blasio took office, Mr. Rechnitz was sitting in a conference room packed with other potential donors at the Midtown law firm Kramer Levin. There, according to a person who also attended the meeting, the mayor spoke to the group before leaving the room. Those in attendance were then asked for contributions. (NY Times)

Kramer Levin Pushing Tall Building On Two Bridges Community and Protesters
Waterfront Developers Reject Demand for Longer CommunityEngagement Process (DNAINFO) Developers bringing three massive residential developments to the Two Bridges waterfront have rejected a demand from neighborhood representatives to allow more time for community engagement before the city kicks off its official review of the projects' anticipated impact, stating they believe it would be "counterproductive."  Kramer Levin Lobby for Two Bridges Associates Limited Partnership City Planning, Department of (DCP), City Planning Commission (CPC), Mayor, Office of the (OTM), Borough President - Manhattan, NYC Council Members, Community Boards * Out of the mouths of attorneys: Kramer Levin’s leaders onland use, rezoning (Real Deal) 

  Kramer Levin, whose real estate condo practice is co-headed by Jay Neveloff and Jonathan Canter, took the top spot in 2015, with seven projects valued at $7.3 billion, up 73 percent year-over-year.

Neveloff A Trump Attorney Runs the Real Estate Department for Kramer Levin
For those in the industry who lack close ties to Trump, there are numerous potential middlemen that could help gain access, sources say. One is Trump’s attorney Jay Neveloff, who heads the real estate department at Kramer Levin. Asked for comment, Neveloff said he is certain Trump will not be susceptible to special interests (Atlantic Yard Review).

List of Kramer Levin Clients That They They Lobbied de Blasio's City Hall List in Formation 

137 Centre Street, LLC
Roseland Development Associates, LLC
VIDEO: Roseland Ballroom Being Gutted to Make Way forApartment Tower
The Shubert Organization, Inc., Seaver Realty LLC, Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, DH VERNON LLC. Lenox Terrace Development Associates  Lenox Terrace ResidentsFighting Against Proposed Commercial Rezoning (DNAINFO), Urban Strategic Partners, LLC, The Core Club 55th Street LLC, Douglaston Development, SJC 33 OWNER 2015, LLC, MIP One Wall Street Acquisition LLC, The Archdiocese of New York, South Street Seaport Limited Partnership, NY 70th St. LLC, Design Center Inc., 94th Street Property TIC, 172-174 East, LLC,   DH VERNON LLC, 771 Washington Street Investor LLC, 458 LLC, 137 Centre Street, LLC, Graduate Center Foundation Housing Corporation LIC, YWA-Amsterdam LLC, 21E12 LLC, 245 Fieldston LLC, RFR Holding Corp, MIP One Wall Street Acquisition LLC, DiamondRock Hospitality Limited Partnership for the benefit of DiamondRock NY LEX Owner, LLC., 249 W 28th Street Properties, LLC, Brickman 95 Morton LLC, The Archdiocese of New York, FPG Cobble Hill Acquisitions, LLC

Kramer and Levin is Pushing A Toxic Lot According to Judge Lobis Development On the Upper West Side
De Blasio’s law firm also represents controversial UWS developer he backed (Raw Deal, April 27, 2016) Kramer Levin is working on both the mayor’s corruption probe and Jewish Home Lifecare’s nursing home project The law firm aiding Mayor Bill de Blasio in his fight against a federal campaign finance investigation is also working with Jewish Home Lifecare, the developer of a controversial 20-story nursing home on the Upper West Side, which de Blasio has supported.The firm is working with JHL on its 97th Street project, in which the developer hopes, among other things, to dig up a lead-tainted parking lot adjacent to P.S. 163. Residents have fought the project for years. It passed an environmental review last year, but that review was vacated by the New York Supreme Court in December.  The developer is seeking to overturn that ruling. De Blasio’s office filed an amicus brief on that case in March. “That is an example of where the relationships bump into one another and it would be best to keep them apart,” *  Suit linked to mayor’s campaignc ontroversy could disrupt land-use rules (Real Deal April 29, 2016) The mayor’s office filed a friend of the court brief in favor of the developer, Jewish Home Lifecare, setting off accusations that de Blasio simply wanted to help out the law firm representing the developer, Kramer Levin. The firm is also representing de Blasio in the federal investigation into whether he funneled contributions to candidates in the 2014 state Senate election to avoid contribution limits. City officials told the website that Kramer Levin attorney and longtime de Blasio ally Barry Berke wasn’t involved in the lawsuit, though the firm does represent the developer in other matters. Greenberg Traurig is representing the developer in the lawsuit. The city’s brief claimed that the lawsuit could “upset the consistent and predictable process developed over decades by the city for reviewing potential environmental impacts of projects and programs throughout the city.” The brief argued that Supreme Court Justice Joan Lobis’ ruling in favor of the parents and students would “insert an arbitrary threshold for adequacy into the environmental review process.”  The appeals court is slated to hear the case in June

The Council Speaker Was Helped By the Nursing-Home in Her 2009 Campaign
Nursing-home associates donate to Mark-Viverito’s re-election (NYP)  Nearly two-dozen associates of an upper Manhattan nursing home donated to a City Council member’s re-election campaign after she got the facility a unique exemption from local construction rules.  A total of 17 trustees, four staff members, an associate and a lobbyist for Jewish Home and Hospital — many of whom don’t live in the city, let alone uptown — contributed to Melissa Mark-Viverito’s 2009 council campaign, online records show.  Their combined $7,825 in donations made up 10 percent of the total that Mark-Viverito — currently the front-runner for council speaker — raised for the race.  Many of their grants were matched with public funding at a rate of 6 to 1, making them worth much more.  While there’s no evidence Mark-Viverito’s campaign solicited the contributions, the donations all came after she got the nursing home the right to construct a building at 120 W. 106th St. that would exceed the height limit under a rezoning plan.  It was the only facility to get a carve-out after the center, now known as Jewish Home Lifecare, spent $100,000 on lobbying directed at council and community-board members.

New York City Housing Authority managers will soon be allowed to enter apartments when tenants are not home in order to make certain repairs that “impact the well-being and safety of” tenants, such as lead paint inspections and mold removal, the Daily News reports.  * Only days after de Blasio announced plans for 90 new homeless shelters in the city, Crown Heights residents came out in force against a planned shelter there, indicating that the mayor’s citywide homeless shelter plan may be dead on arrival, the Post writes.

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.

The Feds Cut Public Housing More  Remember in 2013 Mayor Candidates Promised Us the Moon and Media Ate It Up Well FAKE NEWS
Federal Aid Reduced for New York City Housing Authority (NYT) The agency will see at least $35 million less federal aid this year and is bracing for additional cuts

In 2013 the Mayoral Candidates Sleep Over in Public Housing and Made Fake News Promises of Fixes The Reality is NYCHA is Dying and Will Be Sold Off Building By Building as Pols Continue to Cut Ribbins on Small Fixes 

The slow death of New York’s public housing (NYP Ed) New York City’s public housing is slowly sinking into decrepitude as its oldest developments creakily approach 80 years in age. It’s long past time to set ideology aside to fund vital repairs — and to think about a future without public housing.  Nearly half the New York City Housing Authority’s properties won “troubled” or “low-performing” ratings in the most recent federal inspections.  According to the city Independent Budget Office, 10 percent of NYCHA developments received inspection scores below 60 to fall in the “troubled” category. And only 9 percent rated “high-performing,” with scores of 90 or above.  The IBO found that just 20,000 of NYCHA’s 400,000 residents live in “high-performing” projects. Three times as many live in “troubled” ones.  Indeed, the budget office noted that the lower-scoring projects were mostly the larger, older ones. That raises the troubling prospect that lots more NYCHA housing is headed into crisis as it ages. The agency is the nation’s largest public-housing authority — and the city’s largest slumlord. NYCHA residents regularly complain of mold, unlit halls and stairs and the lack of heat, hot water and cooking gas. The average public-housing elevator is out of service on a monthly basis.  The rent rolls simply don’t support maintenance needs, leaving NYCHA regularly on the edge of insolvency. And, thanks to decades of deferred maintenance, it faces a capital-repair backlog of $17 billion. Imagine what that could grow to when the time comes that large developments have to be replaced. They weren’t built to last forever, after all. When close to 50 percent of your housing stock is in substandard shape, it’s time to question your business model.  Public housing in New York was created in 1934 to be a way station for the “deserving poor” striving to join the middle class. Today, except for the lucky few who live in those “high-performing” projects, it’s the housing of last resort.  In the short term, one obvious fix is to sell off unused NYCHA-owned land to fund major repairs in existing properties. But ideologues keep vetoing that move — because they refuse to accept the simple fact that NYCHA will never have the cash to build on those sites.  This, when even a stalwart progressive like Mayor de Blasio doesn’t propose building new public-housing projects. His affordable-housing plans all turn on various ways to get the private sector to provide new units. The clear truth is that time will inevitably spell the end of all current NYCHA properties — with no hope that new ones will replace them.

Campaign 2013 Media Failure And Broken Political Promises
NYCHA and Housing, Rent, Cameras

NYCHA is Falling Apart 10% Troubled $17 Billion Shortfall Federal Funds Decreasing  
10 percent of NYC’s public housing rated as ‘troubled’ (NYP) Physical conditions at 10 percent of the city’s public-housing developments are so poor that the feds have rated them “troubled.”  The city’s Independent Budget Office said a review by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development showed that the oldest and largest developments had the biggest ­issues. Roughly 64,000 out of 400,000 NYC Housing ­Authority tenants reside in the lowest-rated buildings.  This includes the Patterson Houses in The Bronx, rated worst in the city, where tenants have complained in recent years about the lack of heat, hot water and cooking gas, according to published reports.  Officials have said ­NYCHA is facing a $17 billion shortfall in its capital program, but noted that Mayor de Blasio has committed $1 billion over the next 10 years toward roof repairs.* At a time when America’s most powerful landlord, President Donald Trump, has threatened to put legal services for the poor on the chopping block, New York City is pointing toward justice with guaranteeing lawyers for those facing eviction in Housing Court, the Times writes.
blair horner‏ @blairhorner  While the governor's nuke bailout raises electricity rates for public housing

True News' Modest Proposal for the City's Homeless Crisis: NYT House the Homeless On the Emplty Floor of Your HQ 
Instead of Cheerleading on A New de Blasio's Plan to House the Homeless (All the Others Have Failed), the NYT Should Put Their Money Where Their Mouth is and Set An Example for Community Fighting Hotel Shelters by Housing Homeless in Their Empty Headquarters Building

Fighting for New York’s Homeless: What’s Fair? (NYT) After a long, lagging period of resistance, Mayor Bill de Blasio recently announced a plan to develop 90 shelters across New York, to mitigate the soaring rate of homelessness, which has characterized life in the city as profoundly as luxury-condominium construction in recent years. The plan is part of a broader strategy, outlined in a 128-page paper released by the city, to reduce the number of homeless people living in primary shelters by 2,500 over the next five years, employing prevention — fighting illegal evictions, for instance — and rehousing efforts.  That figure represents only a small fraction of the 60,000 people currently in the shelter system, and if the goal seemed less than ambitious, especially for someone who came to power on the rhetoric of fighting inequality, Mr. de Blasio at least seemed willing to acknowledge it, adopting a sober tone that contrasted with Mayor Eric M. Garcetti’s recently as he addressed housing problems in Los Angeles.  If fair share legislation passes, Mr. de Blasio will have to sell neighborhoods hesitant about accepting homeless shelters on the idea that economic integration is a good idea, vital to civic health. Does he have the charm to do this? * 'Shut it Down,' Crown Heights Locals Tell City Over Homeless Shelter |  DNAInfo Reports * New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s latest homelessness plan is built on the belief that neighborhoods should provide shelter space to take care of their own, but the City Council isrevamping a process that would instead spread around new shelters geographically.* Rich, white neighborhoods spared under de Blasio's homelessshelter plan (NYDN) * State Senate Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeffrey Klein called New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s plan to build 90 homeless shelters over five years a “terrible idea” and predicted it was going to be “outrageous,” the Daily News reports.

True News Had Today's Daily News Story About de Blasio's Law Firm Making Millions Lobbying City Hall and Representing the Mayor For Free Two Weeks Ago 
Law firm's lobbying unit sees big income boost after deBlasio hires its attorneys for his corruption probe defense (NYDN) The same year Mayor de Blasio hired Kramer Levin Naftalis and Frankel to represent him in corruption probes, the law firm’s lobbying unit suddenly started raking in bigger bucks.  By the end of 2016, Kramer Levin reported receiving more than $3 million in revenue from its activities lobbying the city.  That put Kramer Levin on the Top 10 lobbyist list for the first time since 2013, the last year of the Bloomberg administration, when the firm reported $1.7 million in lobbying revenue.  In the last two years, Kramer Levin has reported lobbying the Office of the Mayor on behalf of dozens of clients, usually developers seeking zoning changes or tax breaks. In 2016 the firm made $3 million by pressing de Blasio’s team for 30 clients. The firm actually lobbied on behalf of more clients in 2015 — 39 — but made less money, under $2 million, records show.  Neither the mayor nor the law firm would discuss the figures, which were made public last week by the city clerk’s office. Both have said in the past that the firm keeps the two activities separate, so there’s no conflict.The mayor first revealed in March 2016 that Kramer Levin partner Barry Berke, a prominent criminal defense lawyer, would represent him personally in investigations that were then beginning to surface in public.Berke had sponsored a fund-raiser for the mayor at the firm’s office in 2013, and then served as de Blasio’s campaign treasurer in 2014.  His job was to steer the mayor through the shifting waters of investigations by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. and the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics (J-COPE).  Bharara is examining whether de Blasio and his team did favors for donors to the mayor’s now defunct nonprofit, Campaign for One New York. The Daily News found that at least $3 million of the $4.3 million he raised came from people doing business with his administration.  Some of Kramer Levin’s clients have donated to the campaign, including DDG, a developer who wrote a $10,000 check to the mayor’s group eight days after the city Bureau of Standards & Appeals approved a zoning change for his proposed Tribeca luxury condo.

Last month, de Blasio revealed he’s been getting legal bills from the firm since last year, but they’ve agreed he can defer payment until he sets up a fund-raising committee to pay what he owes.  It’s unclear how large the tab is from the high-priced firm because de Blasio has refused to disclose the amount. His press secretary, Eric Phillips, did not respond to questions about the status of the legal defense fund or whether de Blasio has begun soliciting donations.  That means that for the last year, a law firm that regularly lobbies the mayor’s office on behalf of private sector clients was effectively representing the mayor for free.  Good-government watchdogs have criticized the whole arrangement, noting that de Blasio will face even more conflict-of-interest issues if he seeks donations from entities whom do business with the city.  De Blasio has said there is no conflict because Kramer Levin is able to keep its lobbying of his office separate from its representation of him.  And the mayor promises to disclose donations, though he wouldn’t commit to avoiding the solicitation of entities that do business with the city.

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.

Rivington Deed Change, LICH Closed Capalino Still Making Millions During the de Blasio Era
De Blasio cronies are still making record amounts of cash (NYP)His firm, James F. Capalino & Associates, raked in $13.5 million in 2016 — $500,000 more than the roughly $12.9 million in payments it received in 2015.  Since de Blasio took office in 2014, Capalino has nearly tripled its earnings.  The new figures from the clerk’s office come as de Blasio faces probes into whether his administration illegally traded political favors for campaign contributions.  Capalino lobbied City Hall on behalf of the Rivington House nursing home to have deed restrictions lifted from the property just 16 days after de Blasio took office.  The sale and resale of the Lower East Side property — and the city’s eventual lifting of deed restrictions there — has sparked a number of federal and state probes.  Capalino so far has raised $44,940 for the mayor’s 2017 re-election bid and gave $10,000 to the Campaign for One New York, a nonprofit now under investigation by the feds that raised more than $4.3 million to back de Blasio’s pet projects.  

Capalino clients including Two Trees, Toll Brothers, Asphalt Green, Brookfield Properties and Douglaston Development also contributed to CONY. Capalino was the lobbyist who also pressed top de Blasio officials to back luxury condos at a former Brooklyn hospital site at the same time he was writing big checks to de Blasio’s political causes.  De Blasio last year said he would no longer meet with his “friend” Capalino on city business following claims that the veteran lobbyist was getting favored treatment. * New York City lobbyists took in a record-setting amount of money for the third straight year, and James Capalino, who is close to the mayor, remained at the top of the heap with his firm bringing in $13.5 million in 2016, the New York Post reports. * Bill’s belated awakening: De Blasio kicks his lobbyist pal to the curb (NYDN)
More About Lobbyists Capalino
The Privatization of the Tammany Hall Machine
DE BLASIO DILEMMA: Both Rivington Nursing Home Deed Change and LICH Hospital converting to luxury apartments...Both Under Fed Investigation . . .  Both Involve Lobbyist Capalino
Closing Hospitals,HHC, LICH

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.

CM Rose Who Got Away With WFP's Data and Fields is Not Reaping Campaign $$$ From A Non Profit She Funds With $500,000 Discretionary Funds
Staten Island nonprofit donated to campaign of city pol who 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 any other 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.

Berlin Rosen and de Blasio Know Their Way Around the Election Law
Berlin Rosen Work In the Campaign Where Campaign Workers Have Just Been Arrested for Trying to Defraud the CFB Matching Fund Program
In 2009 Berlin Rosen was paid $125,000 to manage council candidate Debi Rose.  Rose's Campaign treasurer and political consultant were both indicted along with a WFP operative.  The campaign workers were arrested for lying to the CFB about undervaluing work done by a for profit company Data and Fields Services created by the Working Families Party.  The SI DA's Special Prosecutor said the Rose campaign got got "sweetheart deals on campaign services from Data and Field and NY Citizen Services. 

Berlin Rosen Ran All the Campaigns in 2009 That Received Funding from the WFP's Data and Field
Mayor de Blasio's 2009 campaign for public advocate campaign paid WFP's Data and Field $225,000 and Berlin Rosen $6,000.  Councilman Lander's campaign paid Data and Field $55,000 and paid Berlin Rosen $85,000.  Speaker Mark-Viverito's campaign paid Data and Field $1000 and Berlin Rosen $75,000.  Councilman Dromm's campaign paid Data and Field $55,000 and Berlin Rosen $20,000. Councilman Van Bramer's campaign  paid Data and Field $35,000 and Berlin Rosen $80,000.  Councilman Williams' campaign paid Data and Field $55,000 and Berlin Rosen $125,000. Securing the WFP nomination comes with important perks. The candidates that Berlin Rosen worked for in 2009 received $466,000 from Data and Field.   Perhaps chief among them is a formidable ground game, courtesy of the party’s political-consulting arm, Data and Field Services (DFS), created in 2007. DFS works only for candidates whom the WFP endorses. The two entities are supposed to be legally separate to comply with election and campaign-finance laws, but they share office space on the third floor of the building at 2-4 Nevins Street in Brooklyn.   In 2013 Berlin Rosen work with the Advance Group for two council candidates Mark Levine and Laurie Cumbo fined for receiving mailings controlled by the NYCLASS PAC under investigation controlled by the Advance Group. Berlin Rosen's candidate Corey Johnson also received funding from another PAC the Advance Group was working for the UFT's United for the Future PAC.  The Advance PAC funded Johnson despite the fact that Advance Was working for his opponent Yetta Krukland.

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.

The Queens Courts and the AG Prosecution of CM Wills Case is A 3 Year Joke 
Wills Skips Court Date Again YES 
Again While the Council Ethics Committee Ignores 
* A judge spared embattled New York City Councilman Ruben Wills from being arrested, after the Queens Democrat failed to appear in court this week due to what lawyers said were medical complications from an undisclosed health issue, Politico New York writes.
Judge threatens to arrest councilman if he skips court date (NYP) A Queens judge has an arrest warrant at the ready for indicted City Councilman Ruben Wills if he fails to show up in court Thursday. That’s because Wills was a no-show Wednesday, with his lawyer e-mailing Justice Ira Margulis that the court date slipped his mind and he forgot to tell the councilman about it. “Last time he was having surgery and I forget to tell him the new date,” lawyer Steve Zissou admitted to Margulis via e-mail, as the counselor himself was also absent from court. Wills underwent surgery for an undisclosed medical issue in February, but had indicated he would be well enough to return to court Wednesday, Assistant Attorney General Travis Hill told the near-empty courtroom. The Democrat, who is charged with stealing more than $30,000 in taxpayer money — using some of the cash for department-store shopping sprees — was ordered to return to court Thursday. If Wills is a no-show, Margulis said he’ll be forced to issue the arrest warrant, which he drafted Wednesday but held pending Thursday’s appearance.

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.

State Special Elections Are Fixed By the Democratic Bosses Instead of being open to the public to decide in a normal, competitive primary
Elect for a real election, not a phony ‘special’  (NYDN) The people of Harlem have a new (and old) councilman, with Bill Perkins being sworn in for the job Wednesday, having won the nine-candidate Valentine’s Day special election to fill a vacant seat. Perkins, an incumbent state senator who held the same Council seat until term limits kicked in, bested eight rivals, as the contenders engaged in 10 debates or forums during an intense six-week campaign.  That was democracy as intended: open and competitive. As for filling Perkins’ freshly opened seat in Albany, the folks who run things up there — where vacancies are filled through a closed, boss-dominated system — can learn a thing or two from their Big Apple cousin.  Cuomo is saying that he intends to schedule a special election to fill Perkins’ Albany post. Big mistake, governor. An Albany special election isn’t special or even a real election. Under the rigged rules — yes, here the term really applies — Democratic and Republican Party insiders each pick one candidate. Those names will appear on the May 23 ballot, but it’s a formality; in overwhelmingly Democratic districts, the Dem always wins. Meaning, the party, not the people, decide. Making the farce even more unfair, the sure winner wouldn’t be crowned until after the Senate’s 11-day Memorial Day recess. Which means by the time he or she took the oath, there’d only be 11 days left in the six-month legislative session.  Yet that fraudulently chosen incumbent would get to serve an entire additional session, straight through to the end of 2018 . Better for Cuomo to do nothing and let the Senate seat be filled through a normal competitive primary in September, then a general election in November. It’s democratic with a small “d” — and fair with a capital “F.”

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        

Cuomo Apears With and Calls Mangano Arrests By the Feds for Pay to Play A Personal Matter  

Cuomo appeared Sunday with Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano to tout a road improvement project, the first time they’ve been in public together since Mangano and his wife were charged with accepting gifts in return for government contracts
Cuomo appears with indicted county executive (NYP) Gov. Cuomo’s “zero tolerance” policy against abusing the public trust might not be as strict as it sounds.  Cuomo appeared Sunday with Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano to tout a road-improvement project — the first time the two have been in public together since Mangano and his wife, Linda, werecharged in October with accepting gifts from a restaurateur in return for government contracts.  Cuomo took pains to soften Mangano’s legal predicament at the Long Island press conference — at one point referring to the federal charges as “his personal situations.” “The county executive and I have a working relationship,” Cuomo said. “There are a lot of state projects that are going on, and I’m working with him the way I have.”  Cuomo has been much more critical when it comes to alleged corruption within his own administration.  When longtime family friend and adviser Joe Percoco was indicted in September, he said at the time he has “zero tolerance for abuse of the public trust from anyone.”  “If anything, a friend should be held to an even higher standard,” he added. * For the first time since January 2015, 60 percent of New Yorkers have a favorable view of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and his job performance rating is now positive for the first time since July 2014, according to a statewide Siena College poll released today. * Cuomo insisted there was already enough independent oversight of the state’s economic development programs, pointing to the local and federal prosecutors already in place,State of Politics writes.
Ted Hamm‏ @HammerDaily    -- Didn't Kathy Hochul refute corruption charges against Cuomo by saying "voters don't care"? Just saying...
Lobbyists Al D'Amato and the Long Island Investigation
More About Cuomo

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.

More de Blasio Corrupt Entanglement: The Conflict of Interests Board Ruling on Rose Data and Field Investigation Same WFP Corrupt D and F That Elected the Mayor as the Public Advocate in 2009
De Blasio’s legal defense fund mystery (NYP Ed) Even after his sitdown Friday with prosecutors from the office of US Attorney Preet Bharara, Mayor de Blasio still hasn’t explained just how he’ll pay the lawyers representing him in multiple corruption probes.  That is, whether his legal defense fund — which will cover his costs from investigations into the possible sale of City Hall favors to his donors — will take money from people doing business with the city.   Well, why not? His white-shoe law firm — which has yet to receive a penny from him despite nearly a year’s worth of legal work, essentially extending him a line of credit — itself lobbies city agencies on behalf of clients with business before the city.  Fact is, the mayor says he and his lawyers just haven’t decided how to set up his defense fund, so he’s not ruling anything out.  And while he pledges that he will “set a clear standard that is fair and avoids a conflict,” he won’t commit to getting a ruling from the Conflicts of Interest Board.  No surprise there: Back in 2009, when Councilwoman Debi Rose’s campaign was under investigation, she set up a legal defense fund and submitted it for COIB clearance.   According to Politico,

The COIB’s unpublished ruling said she needed to operate under the same restrictions as an election campaign.   In de Blasio’s case, that would mean a maximum gift of $4,950 per person — but only $400 from anyone doing city business.

And he’d have to publicly disclose the names of all donors.  Which may not be quite what the mayor had in mind. So city Comptroller Scott Stringer and good-government groups like NYPIRG are right when they say the mayor should get a ruling from the Conflicts of Interest Board.  That would be true in general, but it’s particularly called for now, given the focus of these investigations. Because the less Mayor de Blasio discloses, the more you have to wonder just what he has to hide.

De Blasio aide Emma Wolfe eyed in party-favor probe - NY Daily News 2014

Prosecutor investigating Working Families Party sought interview with de Blasioaide Emma Wolfe A special prosecutor investigating the Working Families Party’s relationship with get-out-the-vote corporation Data& Field Services wants to interview Emma Wolfe, an aide to Mayor Bill de Blasio, The Wall Street Journal reports:  Since 2012, the prosecutor, Roger Bennett Adler, has been investigating theWorking Families Party's relationship with Data & Field Services, a corporation formed by the left-leaning party to provide its candidates with get-out-the-vote staffing and expertise. Investigators are looking at whether the for-profit firm charged significantly lower fees than is typical for such service, potentially providing an unfair advantage to favored candidates.

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

Airbnb Uses White Hosts in Black Neighborhoods to Speed Gentification  
Airbnb revenue in black neighborhoods mostly goes to whitehosts: study (Real Deal) Startup says it's benefiting minorities in 72 communities, but Inside Airbnb claims few actually reap the rewards   According to a new study by an Airbnb watchdog, most of the money earned in predominantly black neighborhoods goes to white hosts who are new to the neighborhood, furthering economic disparity and gentrification.  “Black neighborhoods with the most Airbnb use are racially gentrifying, and the (often illegal) economic benefits of Airbnb accrue disproportionately to new, white residents and white speculators,” the author of the study, Murray Cox, wrote.  The study, conducted by Inside Airbnb, used facial recognition software to determine hosts’ races based on their Airbnb profile photos in the city’s 72 predominantly black neighborhoods.  Whites make up 13.9 percent of the overall population in those neighborhoods, but disproportionately account for 74 percent of the Airbnb host population, according to a draft of the study, which The Real Deal obtained a copy of.  When it came to earnings, white hosts in these neighborhoods pocketed a total of $227 million – or 59 percent of the income earned in these neighborhoods – compared to the $160 million black hosts earned during the month of Sept. 2016, the study reported. Based on the population breakdown, that means white hosts disproportionately reaped 530 percent of the economic value that Airbnb brought into predominantly black neighborhoods that month, the study says.

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.

Inbox: Government Watchdogs Call for JCOPE to Investigate Keith Wright's Arrangement as Party Chairman and Lobbyist
Watchdogs want probe of Democratic leader's lobbying job(NYP) Government watchdogs on Friday urged the state ethics agency to investigate whether Keith Wright is violating New York’s conflict-of-interest-law by working for a high-powered lobbying firm while continuing to serve as the Manhattan Democratic leader.  The Post first raised questions last month about Wright’s unusual dual role — becoming a lobbyist at Davidoff, Hutcher, & Citron while remaining the local party boss.  “Keith Wright can be a party chairman or a lobbyist, but he can’t have it both ways,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York.  “The opportunities to wield his political position for personal enrichment, or use his position to advance a client’s agenda present a clear conflict of interest. He’s got to make a choice.”  Wright, a former Harlem state assemblyman, lost a bid to succeed Charles Rangel in Congress last year. Dick Dadey of Citizens Union called Wright’s dual roles a “troubling conflict.”  “Chairman Wright cannot possibly fulfill his public role as the county chair of Manhattan Democrats, while also serving as a private lobbyist. Chairman Wright cannot lobby Manhattan elected city officials for support on interests he represents, while at the same time working with these same officials on political matters over which he has considerable power as county chair. He can be one of the other, but not both,” Dadey said.  The advocates cited Section 73 of the Public Officers Laws that states that political party chairpersons are prohibited from receiving compensation for lobbying before a state or city agency “where such appearance or rendition of services is in connection with the adoption or repeal of any rule regulation having the force and effect of law.”  They called for JCOPE to conduct a “thorough investigation” and provide an advisory opinion of Wright’s dual roles.

NYP Joins True News A Week Later in Asking Why Are Manhattan Democrats Being Led by A Lobbyists

Manhattan Democrats let their chief be a lobbyist, too? (NYP Ed) Are Manhattan Democrats going to sit still while their chairman works as a lobbyist — or will they dethrone Keith Wright?  Wright’s old job representing Harlem in the state Assembly presented no conflict of interest. His new one with the lobbying firm Davidoff Hutcher and Citron plainly does.  His spokeswoman insists, “It is legal” — but even if so, it’s wrong. As John Kaehny of Reinvent Albany notes, “The potential for abuse and corruption is sky-high. It’s the worst of Albany culture.”  Take it from the late Stanley Friedman, longtime Bronx Democratic leader until he was convicted on corruption charges in 1987. As he told The New York Times in 1992, “If a political leader is going to represent private industry in matters before government . . . he’s dead meat. If you control votes and you’re asking for government contracts, somebody’s going to think you’re getting two for the price of one.”  It reeks — and if Manhattan Democrats go along with it, so do they.

Not One Elected Official or District Leader in Manhattan Has Opposed Democratic Boss Wright From Being A Lobbyists 
Manhattan Used to Be the Center of the Reform Movement Which Grew Out Of the Anti-Vietnam Movement, Today Reads Like A Major Player in Newfield's Book "City for Sale" Stanley Friedman
Critics say party head joining lobbying firm ‘worst of Albany culture’ (NYP) Former Harlem Assemblyman Keith Wright has joined a high-powered lobbying firm — but he’s keeping his other job as Manhattan Democratic Party leader. While Wright insists the dual roles are legal, critics say the conflict of interest is glaring.  Wright joined Davidoff Hutcher & Citron this week, where he’ll “focus on a variety of issues at the city and state level,” the firm said in a statement.  Jeanine Johnson, Wright’s spokeswoman, argued there’s no issue with a lobbyist also wielding political power.  “It is legal,” she said.  “It’s an obvious conflict of interest. It’s unethical, and maybe illegal, for the county leader to be a lobbyist,” said John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany.  It poses a challenge if not an outright conflict of interest,” he said. “He’ll have a distinct advantage when lobbying elected officials from Manhattan.” The state public-officers law prohibits “political party chairmen” from being paid to work on “the adoption or repeal of any rule or regulation having the force and effect of law.”  Wright, who last year lost a bid to succeed longtime Harlem Rep. Charles Rangel, also is prohibited from lobbying the state Legislature for two years.  The state Joint Commission on Public Ethics, which enforces the law, declined to comment.

Wright's Flack Incorrectly Says He Will Have No Control Over Public Activities 
While Johnson argued that Wright no longer has “any control over any public activities,” as New York County chairman, he’s in a prime position to influence whether elected officials face primary challenges — leverage that could come in handy for a lobbyist.

The NY Post Missed the Fact That Wright Appoints BOE A Commissioner Who Has Great Power On Challengers to Elected Officials Remaining On the Ballot 
"Under the eye of Assemblyman Keith Wright, chairman of the New York County Democratic Committee, members voted unanimously to nominate Jeanine Johnson, his chief of staff and attorney—who received a drunk driving charge last year, according to the New York Post." NY Obsever

Wright won’t be the first political party chairman from New York City to earn a living as a lobbyist. Stanley Friedman, a former Bronx County Democratic leader, was a registered lobbyist for taxi- fleet owners. In 1986, Friedman paid for his double-dealing when he was convicted of corruption charges in a wide-ranging scheme to defraud the city Parking Violations Bureau. He served four years in prison and was released in 1992 before landing a job running a hotel on Staten Island.
A Look Back At the Manhattan Democratic Reform Movement

The Manhattan County Leader is Now A Lobbyists 
Keith Wright’s next act will be lobbying with Sid Davidoff’s firm   (PoliticoNY) Former state Assemblyman Keith Wright has joined Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP, a prominent law and lobbying firm.  In announcing his new position, Wright, a Democrat from Harlem, said in a statement that he is “excited” and “ready for a new challenge. It is not often that you get the opportunity to work among friends and that’s what the team at DHC is.” According to a statement from the firm, Wright will focus on “a variety of issues at the City and State level” and “will
Brooklyn Democratic Boss Seddio

Brooklyn Boss Seddio A Lawyer Hired by SUNY to Closed Down A Hospital to Build Luxury Housing Working With de Blasio's Lobbyists
In disappointing turn for de Blasio, Long Island College Hospital will not include affordable housing (Politico) The land owner, Fortis Property Group, said it will not seek permission to rezone the site of Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. Without a rezoning, which requires several layers of city approval, Fortis is free to build market-rate condos without any price-controlled housing for lower-income residents. (Politico)

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

Increase Funding Has Not Stopped Increases in Homelessness When Will the NY Daily News Connect Higher Rents Connected to Gentrification As the Cause?
Despite increasing funding for homeless services each year, the de Blasio administration has repeatedly failed to successfully decrease the number of homeless in the city and ultimately ends up spending more to combat the problem than predicted, the Daily News writes.

After an Angry Tweet From NY1 to True News The Station Covers de Blasio's Legal Crisis Hours Later
Errol Louis‏@errollouis Feb 21  Every week I invite viewers to send questions. Every week, @unitedNYblogs whines, bitches and moans. And contributes nothing.  NY1 Inside City Hall 7PM Fef 22nd
Note: The video was only on the link for the whole program not post on the news blog as an individual site 

Wednesday NY1 Did Report That de Blaso spent most of the day (several hours) at his lawyers Kramer and Levin and that he left in a freight elevator. . .  About de Blasio Proposed Legal Fund, Errol Louis said " "Not to pile on to many Hypotheticals, but donating high price legal services to a mayor by a law firm that does business with the city elsewhere with the city is a Huge no no   . . . It is called a Loan" 

BILL'S BILL: When Bill de Blasio is away from City Hall (usually on Fridays), he's often spending part of his time raising money for his 2017 re-elect campaign - but he's also girding for an interview with officials in U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's office, who are looking at donations given to entities controlled by the mayor and his allies. As NY1 reported , de Blasio -- who was conspicuously late in arriving at City Hall yesterday -- spent part of his day huddling with his attorneys. And attorneys are not cheap. Though de Blasio is entitled to use taxpayer dollars to pay for his defense, he is opting not to ask voters he'll face later this year with his legal bills. So, he's raising money for a legal defense fund. As our Laura Nahmias reports , there is an obvious irony in de Blasio's strategy. Nahmias writes: "good government officials and election lawyers say legal defense funds can raise more conflicts of interest than simply spending taxpayer dollars on legal defense, opening the mayor up to the same kinds of questions about donor influence and campaign contribution limits that led to the criminal probes in the first place." * NYC Mayor De Blasio Expected To Meet With Federal ProsecutorsProbing Campaign Fundraising (WCBS) 

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

de Blasio is A Campaign Manager Mayor Who Blames Everyone By Himself for ACS Failures, Homeless Failures, Affordable Housing Failures 
De Blasio is still in denial over ACS dysfunction (NYP)  Though forced under public pressure to dump Gladys Carríon and install a new chief at the Administration for Children’s Services, Mayor de Blasio remains as clueless as ever about the deadly troubles at ACS.  In formally introducing David Hansell as the troubled agency’s new head Tuesday, de Blasio again denounced as “simplistic” the finding of his own Department of Investigation that ACS suffers “high-level” and “systemic” dysfunction. He even cited the “temptation” some supposedly have to take “something that is unusual and exceptional and try and suggest that’s systemic when I’m sure it’s not systemic.”  By “unusual and exceptional,” he means the growing number of young children who died on de Blasio’s watch despite being put on ACS’s radar.   And that was before the death of 6-year-old Zymere Perkins, bludgeoned to death with a broomstick after five ACS probes.   Yet the real culprit, de Blasio says, isn’t a failing system (no matter what his own investigators found), but individual caseworkers.  That would be funny if it weren’t so tragic: Last December, after a series of Post articles and editorials exposing ACS’s continued failures, de Blasio denounced us for “denigrating the work of all the people at ACS who protect children.”  Now the mayor’s the one scapegoating ACS staffers — even as he still suggests, as he did two months ago, that the whole ACS crisis is nothing more than “fake news.”  As in the early months of the homeless crisis, when he was claiming the bad news was Post-manufactured, de Blasio refuses to accept any failures on his part.  Commissioner Hansell has promised a top-to-bottom review of ACS. Let’s hope he ignores the mayor’s nonsensical hints and starts with a thorough read of those DOI reports. * NYC's homeless shelter crisis may cost $200M more thanMayor de Blasio's proposed budget, report says (NYDN)

Cuomo Wants Happy News Flacks to Control What is Printed About Him 
Cuomo warns state agencies to start pumping out good news (NYP) Gov. Cuomo’s office has warned public-relations officers at 55 state agencies to start churning out a lot more good news about the administration — or else, sources said.  Cuomo’s communications director, James Allen, delivered the stern message in a conference call last week, leaving some of the agency officials rattled.  “If you don’t generate more press releases . . . changes will be made!” Allen declared, according to one source.  He singled out some low-performing state agencies by name, the source added.  One state p.r. vet said the call was jarring.  “I don’t like being threatened,” said the official. Whatever its intent, the call quickly achieved its goal.  Within the space of a few hours, the administration issued a flurry of press releases Tuesday from various agencies spotlighting its achievements.
The announcements included:
  • Solar power in the state increased nearly 800 percent over the past five years.
  • The State Police Forensic Investigation Center had slashed the amount of time it takes to process forensic evidence in drunken-driving cases.
  • There’s a crackdown on illegal waste dumping in the city, Long Island and the Hudson Valley.
  • A sting by the state Department of Financial Services caught 11 health insurers allegedly providing inaccurate or misleading information to consumers about providing contraceptive coverage.
  • Some 370 CUNY and SUNY students registered to take part in the first Making College Possible Coding Challenge.
Agency press secretaries are managerial employees who serve at the pleasure of the governor, so they already spend their time trying to make him look good.  “The time-honored tradition is the governor gets credit for good news generated by an agency. If it’s bad news, it’s the commissioner’s fault,” said one state official.

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.

Today the Media Reports Instead
NY Times Cheesecake for the Soul: A ‘Golden Girls’ Cafe Opens (NYT) The tonic that is a timeless show about four aging housemates is being dispensed in Manhattan.
Daily News  Mayor de Blasio pushes mansion tax in Albany that wouldfund affordable housing for seniors (NYDN)

Sal Albanese ‏@SalAlbaneseNYC    NYC political reporting especially on local races is almost non existent. As print media sheds reporters it leaves a huge void.* I recall when @nytimes actually had a great reporter, Jonathan Hicks devoted 2 elections in NYC Currently they hardly cover the Mayor's race * I recall local press outlets covering local races with some good reporting. That's also generally history. Today they are 1 big ad * Press corps is apathetic about political reform even though it's one of our greatest problems

NYP Right the Council Speaker de Blasio's Puppet Speaker Distracts From the Real Problems 
But It is the Media and Community Leaders Job to Bully the New Council Speaker Be Responsible For Solving the Real City's Problems 
Why no council speaker should give a ‘state of the city’ speech (NYP) This lame tradition of council speakers giving such a yearly speech was started by Peter Vallone when he thought he had a political career beyond City Hall; it turned out he didn’t. His successors, Gifford Miller and Christine Quinn, kept it up — and also failed to win higher office. But Mark-Viverito continues the practice, even though she has no obvious hopes to move up. Indeed, part of the introduction to her speech was a “What’s Next” video making light of her future prospects.  And that silly video set the tone for her equally silly remarks about resisting Washington. The speech hit all the predictable progressive beats and applause lines:  1.  Cooperation with federal immigration authorities? Resist! 2.  Free birth control! Comprehensive sex ed!  3.  Dismiss warrants for low-level offenses committed 10 or more years ago!   Now, look: New York leaders will surely have plenty of gripes with Washington in the months ahead — but Mayor de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo will inevitably lead those fights. Wouldn’t it be nice if the council had its eye on less sexy issues?

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.

de Blasio 2014 to 2017 Vs More de Blasio State of the City Campaign Promises Real Problem Cover-Up

What Happens to the 2013 Campaign Promise to Keep A Hospital Open, Solve Homelessness, Child Abuse and Solve the Affordable Housing Crisis?

Mayor de Blasio touts the good, pledges job creation, andignores his problems in State of the City address (NYDN)  In his fourth State of the City address, de Blasio stood on the stage of the historic Apollo Theater, touting three years of accomplishments but saying little about several perplexing issues that have left him vulnerable to attack from both the left and right.  Little was said, for instance, about the city’s rising homeless shelter census or the bureaucratic bungling at his child welfare agency. Nor did he mention the $11.6 million taxpayers have shelled out for lawyers representing city workers in the ongoing probes. Instead, he admitted that his push for more affordable housing was not enough unless New Yorkers were making enough to pay the rent. With that in mind, he made a bold new promise to create 100,000 “good-paying” jobs by 2027, including 40,000 within the next four years. What wasn’t said seemed to overshadow what was.  The mayor was elected complaining about his predecessor’s inability to provide permanent housing for the homeless, but he has found himself struggling in vain to reverse the steady rise in the city’s homeless shelter population.  When he arrived at City Hall, the shelter population hovered around 53,000. As of Sunday, it had reached a record 60,111. Meanwhile, de Blasio has been stuck placing families in fleabag hotels and decrepit apartments known as “cluster housing,” where two tots were recently scalded to death by a busted radiator.  The mayor said absolutely nothing on another major headache — a series of revelations about his dysfunctional child welfare agency, the Administration for Children’s Services. ACS’s involvement with families of children who were seriously injured or killed exposed serious shortcomings in this agency’s ability to protect children, with more bad news expected in the coming weeks from an ongoing city Department of Investigation probe.  ACS Commissioner Gladys Carrion resigned in the middle of heightened criticism after stating, “We can’t protect all of them.” Since she left Feb. 3, the agency has been run by an acting commissioner while de Blasio searches for a permanent replacement. * In a move that surprised many at the State of the City, de Blasio avoided talking about homelessness in favor of a socio-economic challenge that is, in many ways, beyond the control of any politician: the creation of well-paying private sector jobs, the Times writes.  * They’re calling it a “prediction,” but it’s hard to interpret a yellow cab industry group saying it’ll yank wheelchair-accessible cabs off the street unless the city bails out the beleaguered industry as anything but a threat – if not outright blackmail, the Post writes.  @SalAlbaneseNYC  He couldn't get 'em to pass a bag tax, but they're gonna pass a mansion tax? * While New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s State of the City speech ran more than 8,000 words, just 214 of them were devoted to Education, prompting some critics to believe that schools won’t get much attention in his re-election campaign, The New York Times writes. * De Blasio’s State of the City Has Critics Asking: What About Schools? (NYT)

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)

2 of 3 NY Senators Skip Their Committee Meetings
I-Team: 2 of 3 New York Senators Skip Their Committee Meetings (WNBC)  The meetings are supposed to be opportunities for lawmakers to debate, vet and advocate for proposed legislation. But more often than not, the meetings are sparsely attended affairs held in nearly empty conference rooms with little discussion beyond opening pleasantries.  To measure committee attendance, the I-Team reviewed more than 200 committee meetings amounting to nearly two full days of video archived on the state Senate website. The overall attendance rate was 35 percent.  Unlike in the State Assembly, where rules require lawmakers be physically present to cast their committee votes, Senate rules allow members to send in “vote sheets” without ever showing up in person. The result is a lot of committee meetings where chairpersons simply move a list of bills forward based upon written instructions of absent members.  On one occasion last year, the Standing Committee on Rules approved 25 bills in just five minutes despite video showing fewer than half of the senators on the committee were physically present in the room. Another time, the Standing Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks, and Recreation approved 17 bills in just five minutes. Only two of the 14 committee members were present.   Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Brennan Center for Justice, a government watchdog, said Senate rules may actually incentivize poor committee attendance. Because it is nearly impossible for bills to get a committee vote without the blessing of Senate leadership, members of the minority party may feel as though there is little point in showing up to fight for their own bills, Norden said. Conversely, members of the party in power may have little incentive to show up, because their legislation is almost guaranteed to sail through. “There isn’t an opportunity in the committees the way there is in some other states for dissension, for the ability to force a conversation or hearing if the chair or the majority leader in the Senate doesn’t want it to happen. So in that sense, it’s For example, last year Sen. Roxanne Persaud (D-Canarsie) proposed a bill to provide cash assistance to single mothers struggling to afford diapers. Sen. Tony Avella (IDC – Bayside), Chair of the Children and Families Committee, declined to bring the diaper bill to a vote.    Avella blamed Persaud for failing to push her own bill hard enough. “She never asked for the bill to be moved,” Avella said. “She never called me or filled out the form to move the bill out.”  When asked why Persaud didn’t push harder to move her own bill out of committee, she suggested to do so would have been pointless. 

I-Team: 2 of 3 New York Senators Skip Their CommitteeMeetings (WNBC)  The meetings are supposed to be opportunities for lawmakers to debate, vet and advocate for proposed legislation. But more often than not, the meetings are sparsely attended affairs held in nearly empty conference rooms with little discussion beyond opening pleasantries.  To measure committee attendance, the I-Team reviewed more than 200 committee meetings amounting to nearly two full days of video archived on the state Senate website. The overall attendance rate was 35 percent.  Unlike in the State Assembly, where rules require lawmakers be physically present to cast their committee votes, Senate rules allow members to send in “vote sheets” without ever showing up in person. The result is a lot of committee meetings where chairpersons simply move a list of bills forward based upon written instructions of absent members.  On one occasion last year, the Standing Committee on Rules approved 25 bills in just five minutes despite video showing fewer than half of the senators on the committee were physically present in the room. Another time, the Standing Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks, and Recreation approved 17 bills in just five minutes. Only two of the 14 committee members were present.   Lawrence Norden, deputy director of the Brennan Center for Justice, a government watchdog, said Senate rules may actually incentivize poor committee attendance. Because it is nearly impossible for bills to get a committee vote without the blessing of Senate leadership, members of the minority party may feel as though there is little point in showing up to fight for their own bills, Norden said. Conversely, members of the party in power may have little incentive to show up, because their legislation is almost guaranteed to sail through. “There isn’t an opportunity in the committees the way there is in some other states for dissension, for the ability to force a conversation or hearing if the chair or the majority leader in the Senate doesn’t want it to happen. So in that sense, it’s For example, last year Sen. Roxanne Persaud (D-Canarsie) proposed a bill to provide cash assistance to single mothers struggling to afford diapers. Sen. Tony Avella (IDC – Bayside), Chair of the Children and Families Committee, declined to bring the diaper bill to a vote.    Avella blamed Persaud for failing to push her own bill hard enough. “She never asked for the bill to be moved,” Avella said. “She never called me or filled out the form to move the bill out.”  When asked why Persaud didn’t push harder to move her own bill out of committee, she suggested to do so would have been pointless. 

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 said he plans to meet with federal prosecutors in the next few weeks

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 

The building was run like a “RICO enterprise’’ complete with “mail fraud, wire fraud, extortion, obstruction of justice and transportation of stolen property,’’ the suit says. The plaintiffs even claim to have a company mole as a witness.  That person is a former rental agent and Two Trees worker who acknowledged that the defendants “intentionally sat down and agreed in advance to take part in an unlawful scheme to illegally charge inflated rents to rent-stabilized tenants,” the suit says. The lawsuit suggests that government officials turned a blind eye to the allegedly illegal shenanigans because they were “influenced no doubt by campaign contributions made by Defendants and their associates. “It is a matter of public record that seven developers wrote checks totaling $245,000 to Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Campaign for One New York before de Blasio announced plans for a Streetcar along the Brooklyn waterfront, with stops near the developers’ projects, including $100,000 from Defendant Jed Walentas,’’ the suit says. De Blasio has denied any connection between the big bucks and pushing his street-car plan. Court papers describe the Walentases as a $4 billion family empire “known for its singular role in transforming the Brooklyn neighborhood of “DUMBO” (an acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) where the company’s holdings include 12 buildings comprising more than 3 million square feet of commercial and residential real estate.’’ The family also is behind the $3 billion conversion of the old Domino Sugar factory in Williamsburg into luxury pads. Two Trees bought the 125 Court St, property at Atlantic Avenue in 2003 for $16.5 million, according to reports. They then went after millions of dollars in public funding by promising to provide rent-stabilized and affordable housing, the suit says. But over the years, the developers knowingly misrepresented the market value of units so they could illegally inflate rents, the court papers say. The lawsuit adds that “despicably, Defendants even perpetrated this fraud upon the low-income tenants of the units designated as ‘affordable housing.’ ” The tactics led to a 300 percent tenant turnover rate at the building between 2005 and 2013, or 10 times the citywide figure, the suit says. Berman said he is seeking $10 million in back rent for his clients.* Tenants Take the Hit as New York Fails to Police Huge Housing TaxBreak (Propublica)

Conflict of Interests Berlin Rosen Works for the Mayor and Two Trees During Affordable Housing Deal Developer 40 More Apts Out of 2200?
Berlin Rosen who is not for some reason not listed as registered lobbyist work for a lot of real estate developers.   Berlin Rosen’s current and recent clients include Two Trees Management Negotiations between Mr. de Blasio’s team and two trees' Walentas’s firm took place over a few days. The two men share a mutual adviser: Jonathan Rosen, one of the mayor’s top political hands and the chief executive of a public affairs firm, Berlin Rosen that counts Mr. Walentas’s company as a client. Berlin Rosen served as a consultant to de Blasio campaign and runs he slush fund PAC NY1 which pushes the mayor’s agenda. The agreement comes after a New York Times report last week that redevelopment of the former factory site could hit a snag with the de Blasio administration, even though a previous proposal from Two Trees had received support from local leaders and residents. The de Blasio administration wanted even more space for affordable housing. de Blasio has prevailed in his bid to wring more affordable housing from Two Trees’ redevelopment of the Domino Sugar site on the Williamsburg waterfront, with the developer agreeing to add 40 more units

The Most Powerful Man in Politics –Outside City Hall (NY1)
NY1 Berlin Rosen and the Wiseguys Lobbyists
Lobbyists Berlin Rosen Takes OverNYC Government
The Privatization of the Tammany Hall Machine
How Berlin Rosen Comprised Journalism
Sugar Fix: Berlin Rosen an Unregistered Real Estate Lobbyists 
The WFP Has Played Fast and Lose With the Election Law,Data and Field Arrests
Media Cover-Up of NYCLASS, Other Citizens United PACs,  MayorOne NY PAC
How the Advance Group Conspired to Steal the 2009 and2013 Election 
CrainsNY on the Advance Groups Double Dipping

de Blasio Stonewalls Bullies the Weak Press On U.S. Attorney Bharara Meeting 
De Blasio refuses to address upcoming Bharara meeting (NYP)  de Blasio — who is under heavy fire over everything from a federal corruption probe to his beleaguered child-welfare agency — shut down a press availability Tuesday rather than answer questions about his upcoming meeting with US Attorney Preet Bharara.   “This is not what we’re talking about,” de Blasio said, when a Post reporter asked for details about the Bharara meeting following a photo op regarding the NYPD’s bulletproof squad-car windows in The Bronx. “C’mon c’mon — we’re on this topic,” the mayor insisted.  The US attorney sit-down was revealed Friday — and since then, de Blasio has kept his media briefings on-topic only.  When another reporter asked Tuesday about comments he made that characterized drunken driving as a minor offense not worthy of reporting to federal immigration officials, he snapped, “This is not about this topic here.”  The mayor left while several reporters had their arms raised to question him.

Everyone in the Press Who Talked to de Blasio's Press Spokesman Levitan Knew About Berlin Rosen Conflict of Interests With the Administration That Supreme Court Justice Lobis Pointed Out Yesterday 

There are 163,000 Google Hits for Berlin Rosen' Dan Levitan on Google Most of Those As Spokesman for Mayor de Blasio

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.

Will the Left Destroy Schumer? Who is Their Last Hope to Use the Senate to Block Parts of Trump Agenda  

Protesters deliver boxing gloves and protein bars toSenator Schumer's home and urge him to fight President Trump:(DNAINFO) *  Thousands of protesters gather outside Chuck Schumer’s apartment (NYP)  "Thousands of angry demonstrators gathered outside Sen. Chuck Schumer's luxury Brooklyn apartment building - holding up signs and chanting 'What the f-k, Chuck?!' - to protest his lukewarm stance on President Trump's cabinet picks. 'Senator Schumer needs to know we're watching him,' fumed Brad Wolchansky, a 40-year-old soccer coach from Flatbush who was carrying a cardboard cut-out of a giant eye on Tuesday night."

Weiner Continues His Fall From Top of the World

Prosecutors Weigh Child-Pornography Charges AgainstAnthony Weiner  (WSJ)  Former congressman is being investigated for sexually explicit exchanges he allegedly had with a 15-year-old girl * Anthony Weiner may get slapped with child pornography charge (NYP) * PROSECUTORS WEIGH CHILD PORN CHARGES AGAINST WEINER -- Wall Street Journal's "Federal prosecutors are weighing bringing child-pornography charges against former congressman Anthony Weiner over sexually explicit exchanges he allegedly had with a 15-year-old girl, according to people familiar with the matter. Mr. Weiner, a New York Democrat, is being investigated by the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which seized his electronic devices, including a laptop and a cellphone, as part of the probe. Officials initiated the investigation last fall, after the Daily Mail in the U.K. reported that Mr. Weiner had exchanged sexually explicit messages and photos with the girl. In recent weeks, according to some of the people familiar with the matter, attorneys for Mr. Weiner have had discussions with federal prosecutors in Manhattan in hopes of dissuading them from bringing charges, or at least from bringing the most serious one: production of child pornography, which carries a 15-year mandatory minimum prison sentence upon conviction."
More Weiner  and More  

de Blasio vs Cuomo War Update: The Albany Budget "Tin Cup Day" Edition
@NYCMayor says states new 421-a proposal produces roughly half the affordable units the mayors proposal last year would have  Big BdB beef with Cuomo proposals: Gov's new 421-a plan. BdB says costs city too much in forgone tax $ for not enough affordable housing.  "Were particularly adamant that we cannot revert back to a plan that subsidizes luxury condominiums," @NYCMayor says  .@BilldeBlasio raises concerns about pre-k grant consolidation program. Includes rate cut that would effectively eliminate 3,400 pre-k seats * De blasio says charter school initiatives in budget would cut funding for public schools. He also says no need to raise cap on # of charters * Unsurprisingly, @NYCMayor is critical of state cut that defunds some DOHMH programs, foster care programs, aging programs * Now, @NYCMayor turns to homelessness. He says city will announce "new comprehensive vision" for city's homeless in February. * Cathy Young calls @NYCMayor pledge of no new prop tax rate increases a "shell game" because assessments keep going up * De Blasio makes another push for ‘mansion tax’ (NYP) * De Blasio Steps Away From Trump Turmoil to Defend His Ideas in Albany (NYT) New York City’s mayor, who has publicly opposed the new president, attended the state budget hearing, where he spoke about education, children’s services and affordable housing.* De Blasio fights Cuomo’s proposal to abolish charter school cap (NYP) * De Blasio told CNN’s Jake Tapper that it is OK to shield undocumented immigrants who drive drunk from federal authorities if it does not “lead to any other negative outcome.” * Speaking to state lawmakers, de Blasio insisted the “overwhelming majority” of cases investigated by the city’s Administration for Children’s Services are handled properly and he blamed the media for painting an unflattering picture of the agency, the Daily News writes. * * State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan called New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proposed tax on home sales of more than $2 million “a non-starter,” after meeting with the mayor yesterday, State of Politics reports. * Video: Felder Slams De Blasio On Nickel Bag Tax & Being Unresponsive

Fredric U. Dicker@fud31   “This is not about free tuition,it’s about shifting costs &putting added burdens on people in the city..a sham.”

Anyone Who is Not Outraged Does Not Protest Our Corrupt Play2Play Mayor Who Spends $11.6 Million of City Money on Lawyers is Not A Real New Yorker But A Low Life Sheep 

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 Ancestry.com, 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 - CNN.com

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)

Goldman Sacks Deputy Mayor Glen Helps Developers Ignores Homeless Housing  
Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen helps her Goldman Sachs friends instead of pushing for more homeless housing, activists charge (NYDN) Housing activist groups launched a blistering attack on Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen, pinning the blame on her for the city’s failure to stem its homelessness crisis.  In a letter to Mayor de Blasio, groups including the Met Council on Housing and New York Communities for Change charge his top deputy for housing and economic development has “had the wrong priorities from day one.”  “She has enabled the real-estate elite, her long-time friends from Goldman Sachs, to make massive profits while refusing to help New Yorkers who are sleeping on the streets,” they wrote of Glen, who worked at Goldman before coming to City Hall.  The city has launched a rental subsidy program for people leaving homeless shelters, which is run by the Human Resources Administration, an agency outside Glen’s purview. Nonetheless, the activist groups, which also include Faith in New York and Tenants & Neighbors, accuse her of being too cozy with developers and say she could use her influence to pressure more landlords to accept the vouchers. They also fault her role in negotiating deals with developer Blackstone to take over Stuyvesant Town and Fairstead Capital at Savoy Park. “Glen’s harmful decisions, more than anyone else’s at City Hall, have worsened the tale of two cities you vowed to end,” they wrote. “She hobnobs with her developer and landlord friends over drinks while failing to push them to play a bigger role in expanding the number of apartments available for homeless New Yorkers.”

421-a Wasted $2.5 B in Tax Expenditures and It Is Coming Back to Waste More and Increase Gentrification
City wasted $2.5B in tax expenditures through 421a: IBO (Real Deal)  Program doesn't fulfill its purpose, agency report charges * The New York City Independent Budget Office released a report on Monday that claims the city squandered $2.5 billion to $2.8 billion in tax expenditures from 2005 to 2015. The report asserts that these dollars were wasted because condo owners receiving the benefit saved more in taxes than they paid in higher sales prices. The agency — which looked at 101,477 condo sales over 11 years — points out that Manhattan condo owners paid a mean of $35,500 more for properties with the 421a tax abatement. The report found that Manhattan buyers paid between 53 to 61 percent of their tax benefits extra for their properties. In the outer boroughs, buyers paid a mean of $31,200 for condos with 421a — or 42 to 50 percent of the benefit that they are expected to receive.  The crux of the report is that the tax benefit is being passed off to the condo buyer instead of the land owner/developer, when the program is ostensibly designed to encourage development. The IBO posits that the tax abatement therefore hasn’t fulfilled its purpose and may actually raise land and housing prices. (The developer would likely argue that the tax break is a major selling point — that it’s what makes the project feasible in the first place.) He also claimed that his program would’ve added 25,500 affordable housing units over 10 years, whereas the governor’s will only add 21,750. (The mayor’s math seems a bit different than the governor’s, which estimates that 2,500 affordable units each year would be created. A spokesperson for the Department of Housing Preservation and Development said the discrepancy is due to the small condo projects allowed outside Manhattan.) * A report by New York University’s Furman Center found that, under the latest 421-a tax abatement proposal, New York City would lose $2.6 to $5.7 million in tax revenue for each 300-unit building, The Wall Street Journal reports.

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 minwageresource.com.)   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.

NYP Correctly State That de Blasio Affordable Housing Plan is Peanuts Does Not Help Fight Homelessness Paper Does Not Connect the Damage Gentrification and Airbnb is Doing to NYC Affordable Housing Stock 
The futility of de Blasio’s ‘record’ housing success (NYP Ed) de Blasio high-fived himself Thursday for financing “more affordable housing in 2016” than at any time in 27 years. But his strategy hasn’t eased the city’s housing crunch one bit — or even made a dent in the ranks of the homeless.  Since 2014, the city has spent billions to build and preserve 62,500 homes, including 22,000 units last year, the most since 1989.  Yet it’s an old and futile tale. In the 1980s, Mayor Ed Koch launched a $5 billion, 180,000-unit program. In 2006, Mayor Mike Bloomberg bragged that his housing plan was the biggest “in the nation’s history.” But the city’s housing shortage never goes away.   Subsidized housing hasn’t even cut the ranks of the homeless, as promised. The shelter census is at 60,200, a record high.  A new Coalition for the Homeless report offers clues as to why: Though “more people are exiting . . . to stable housing than at any time since 2004,” a far greater number are entering the system. So the shelter population is up 14 percent since 2014, “despite Mayor de Blasio’s efforts” to offer more permanent housing. As for the city’s programs to boost the housing stock: A 2014 report put the number of city units at 3.4 million, including 2.2 million apartments. De Blasio’s bragging about adding 22,000.   New York City has a vast pent-up housing demand, but laws from rent regulations to the tax code choke non-luxury construction. Decades of efforts have proved that city government can’t make up the difference.  So de Blasio can set all the new-units records he wants — and his successor will still face a crisis every bit as big.

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.

Mob Still on the Waterfront
Along New York Harbor, ‘On the Waterfront’ Endures   (NYT) Much has changed since the days when mobsters controlled the waterfront, but investigators say organized crime still has a presence there.


Port Authority
Outgoing Port Authority exec to cash in with double-dip pension(NYP) 
As Port Authority commissioners decided how to spend $32 billion over the next ten years, three Democratic state legislators from New Jersey argued that $3.5 billion for a new bus terminal in Manhattan was not sufficient, the Times reports.

Most New Yorkers Are Roughly 1 Paycheck Away FromHomelessness: Study (DNAINFO)
Cuomo vetoed legislation late Saturday that would have shifted the cost of expensive 
The increase in the state’s minimum wage is a huge victory for the working class, and those counting the proceeds of their well-earned raises owe thanks to Cuomo and de Blasio, who pushed the issue in New York City and around the state, the Daily News writes.
Legal Services for the Poor from counties to the state in the coming ye
New York's forgotten poor: Income needed to survive is nearly 3 times poverty rate
De Blasio leaves subway fare cuts for low-income ridersup to MTA, thinks it's too expensive for city (NYDN)
City council talks public money for Citi Bike pushinto poorer neighborhoods (NYDN) Several New York City Council members have called for the city to create a public-private financial partnership to bring the CitiBike program to disadvantaged areas, noting the company hasn’t done so because it likely wouldn’t be profitable

Sandy Repairs Not Done, Broken Promise

Bad Landlords

No Money for Constitutional Convention Promoting
Cuomo remains noncommittal on the idea of promoting a constitutional convention, which he has described as the best way to initiate reform in the state, as funding proposed to study possible issues never made it into his final spending plan, the Times Union reports. * 309 days until we decide whether to hold a Constitutional Conventionin NY. Educate yourself: 

No Bail From the Speakers Bail Fund
New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito’s ballyhooed bail fund to free low-level detainees hasn’t given out a single penny more than a year after it was announced as the first major step in reducing the jail population, the Daily News reports.

Groundhog Day EDITORIAL: Cuomo vows to clean up Albany — again  via @poststar

Trump's Dumping of Obama Care Will Blow A Hole In NYS's Budge What Will It Do to HHC?
ars, though he promised to introduce a new plan in the coming months, the Times Union writes.

CUNY’s Independence Is Under Attack by Cuomo, City Council Members Say (NYT) The City Council’s Black, Latino, and Asian Caucus say that actions heralded by the governor could put the university and its mission at risk.* * Alarmed by what they said is Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s bid to politicize CUNY, a key bloc of New York City Council members pushed back against his assertions that the university’s administration has been financially irresponsible, The New York Times reports. Pols demand $2 Million for CUNY

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 

NYP Joins True News A Week Later in Asking Why Are Manhattan Democrats Being Led by A Lobbyists

Manhattan Democrats let their chief be a lobbyist, too? (NYP Ed) Are Manhattan Democrats going to sit still while their chairman works as a lobbyist — or will they dethrone Keith Wright?  Wright’s old job representing Harlem in the state Assembly presented no conflict of interest. His new one with the lobbying firm Davidoff Hutcher and Citron plainly does.  His spokeswoman insists, “It is legal” — but even if so, it’s wrong. As John Kaehny of Reinvent Albany notes, “The potential for abuse and corruption is sky-high. It’s the worst of Albany culture.”  Take it from the late Stanley Friedman, longtime Bronx Democratic leader until he was convicted on corruption charges in 1987. As he told The New York Times in 1992, “If a political leader is going to represent private industry in matters before government . . . he’s dead meat. If you control votes and you’re asking for government contracts, somebody’s going to think you’re getting two for the price of one.”  It reeks — and if Manhattan Democrats go along with it, so do they.

Not One Elected Official or District Leader in Manhattan Has Opposed Democratic Boss Wright From Being A Lobbyists 
Manhattan Used to Be the Center of the Reform Movement Which Grew Out Of the Anti-Vietnam Movement, Today Reads Like A Major Player in Newfield's Book "City for Sale" Stanley Friedman
Critics say party head joining lobbying firm ‘worst of Albany culture’ (NYP) Former Harlem Assemblyman Keith Wright has joined a high-powered lobbying firm — but he’s keeping his other job as Manhattan Democratic Party leader. While Wright insists the dual roles are legal, critics say the conflict of interest is glaring.  Wright joined Davidoff Hutcher & Citron this week, where he’ll “focus on a variety of issues at the city and state level,” the firm said in a statement.  Jeanine Johnson, Wright’s spokeswoman, argued there’s no issue with a lobbyist also wielding political power.  “It is legal,” she said.  “It’s an obvious conflict of interest. It’s unethical, and maybe illegal, for the county leader to be a lobbyist,” said John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany.  It poses a challenge if not an outright conflict of interest,” he said. “He’ll have a distinct advantage when lobbying elected officials from Manhattan.” The state public-officers law prohibits “political party chairmen” from being paid to work on “the adoption or repeal of any rule or regulation having the force and effect of law.”  Wright, who last year lost a bid to succeed longtime Harlem Rep. Charles Rangel, also is prohibited from lobbying the state Legislature for two years.  The state Joint Commission on Public Ethics, which enforces the law, declined to comment.

Wright's Flack Incorrectly Says He Will Have No Control Over Public Activities 
While Johnson argued that Wright no longer has “any control over any public activities,” as New York County chairman, he’s in a prime position to influence whether elected officials face primary challenges — leverage that could come in handy for a lobbyist.

The NY Post Missed the Fact That Wright Appoints BOE A Commissioner Who Has Great Power On Challengers to Elected Officials Remaining On the Ballot 
"Under the eye of Assemblyman Keith Wright, chairman of the New York County Democratic Committee, members voted unanimously to nominate Jeanine Johnson, his chief of staff and attorney—who received a drunk driving charge last year, according to the New York Post." NY Obsever

Wright won’t be the first political party chairman from New York City to earn a living as a lobbyist. Stanley Friedman, a former Bronx County Democratic leader, was a registered lobbyist for taxi- fleet owners. In 1986, Friedman paid for his double-dealing when he was convicted of corruption charges in a wide-ranging scheme to defraud the city Parking Violations Bureau. He served four years in prison and was released in 1992 before landing a job running a hotel on Staten Island.
A Look Back At the Manhattan Democratic Reform Movement

The Manhattan County Leader is Now A Lobbyists 
Keith Wright’s next act will be lobbying with Sid Davidoff’s firm   (PoliticoNY) Former state Assemblyman Keith Wright has joined Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP, a prominent law and lobbying firm.  In announcing his new position, Wright, a Democrat from Harlem, said in a statement that he is “excited” and “ready for a new challenge. It is not often that you get the opportunity to work among friends and that’s what the team at DHC is.” According to a statement from the firm, Wright will focus on “a variety of issues at the City and State level” and “will
Brooklyn Democratic Boss Seddio

Brooklyn Boss Seddio A Lawyer Hired by SUNY to Closed Down A Hospital to Build Luxury Housing Working With de Blasio's Lobbyists
In disappointing turn for de Blasio, Long Island College Hospital will not include affordable housing (Politico) The land owner, Fortis Property Group, said it will not seek permission to rezone the site of Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. Without a rezoning, which requires several layers of city approval, Fortis is free to build market-rate condos without any price-controlled housing for lower-income residents. (Politico)

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.

Since 2011 SUNY has Raised the Tuition 30% Now Cuomo Want Free Tuition? Progressive Cuomo 3 Days After Vetoing Legal Help for the Poor
SUNY Wants More Money 
Cuomo seeks free SUNY tuition for those making under$125,000 (Buffalo News) More than 200,000 New York State college students would get free tuition if they attend a public university or community college in the state and have a family or individual annual income below $125,000, according to a budget proposal from Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The proposal, which would need legislative approval, would be phased in over three years. The plan comes from a governor who in his first year successfully pushed an effort for what was called a “rational” SUNY tuition policy. That program led to five straight years of $300 annual tuition hikes, or a total of 30 percent over the period.* Cuomo Plays Progressive Three Days After Vetoing Help forthe Poor (Village Voice) On Tuesday, he took the stage with Bernie Sanders to unveil a plan to offer free college tuition for families earning less than $125,000. As the crowd of LaGuardia Community College students chanted “Bernie, Bernie, Bernie,” Cuomo clapped along, a wide grin on his face. Never mind the well-intentioned Excelsior Scholarship will need legislative approval, where Cuomo’s Senate Republican friends still hold sway, or has no clear funding stream, beyond some money from existing tuition assistance programs. The announcement made a striking headline and scene for the once proudly centrist governor, now beginning to tinker with the idea of a White House run: a progressive icon with the 25-and-under crowd crediting him with a “revolutionary idea.”  But New Year’s Eve was another reminder that Cuomo’s liberalism will always have a ceiling. In a move that galled criminal justice reform advocates and elected officials in both parties, the governor quietly vetoed a bill on Saturday that would have required the state to pick up the cost from counties to fund legal services for the poor. The legislation had passed the Democrat-controlled Assembly and Republican-controlled Senate.* Cuomo announced a plan to offer free tuition at state colleges to hundreds of thousands of middle- and low-income students from families who earn $125,000 or less annually,The New York Times reports. *
Brigid Bergin ‏@brigidbergin  Team Cuomo knows how to make news. Proposed free-tuition is a big idea & teaming up with @SenSanders ensured lots of ppl paid attention

de Blasio Who Pays for the Free Tuition? State and Federal Grants Already Cover Much of This Cost
de Blasio said he supported the concept of Cuomo’s plan to make public colleges tuition-free, provided that the state does not try to hit the city with additional costs to fund the initiative
De Blasio gives Cuomo backhanded compliment on college tuition plan (NYP) de Blasio gave Gov. Cuomo a backhanded compliment Tuesday over Cuomo’s plan to make New York’s public colleges tuition-free, saying he supports the concept — provided the state doesn’t try hitting the city with additional costs to fund it.  During his weekly appearance on NY1, Hizzoner said “the concept” of free tuition “is one I absolutely agree with,” but due to past experience with the governor, he first wants to learn all the details of Cuomo’s plan before deciding whether to lobby hard in Albany to support it.  “You know, we had a big controversy here last year in the state budget when the state tried to move some important costs over to the city,” said de Blasio, referring to a Cuomo plan the governor eventually backed off from that called for the city to pick up about $800 million in Medicaid and CUNY costs now paid by the state. “We want to make sure that is not happening here,” he added.

The Post writes that Cuomo’s plan to fund public college tuition for middle- and low-income families won’t do much to ensure that all New Yorkers have access to quality higher education, because to do that, he would have to fix the K-12 system
Cuomo’s free-tuition plan misses the real need (NYP) state and federal grants already cover so much of those sums that Cuomo figures he can take it down to zero with less than $200 million a year in new taxpayer funding.  (The plan covers New York residents whose family incomes top out at $100,000 this year, rising to $125,000 in 2019.)  Perhaps it will help Cuomo escape the stench of the Buffalo Billion corruption prosecutions, which have ensnared several of his onetime intimates. The governor’s certainly been extra headline-hungry of late.   But, hey, Sanders crowed his approval: “If New York state does it this year, mark my words, state after state will follow.” Well, maybe California — but progressives don’t have many other strongholds left.  Then, too, the gov will have to sell the Legislature on his plan — and provide a lot more clarity on his assumptions. It wouldn’t be the first time that a new entitlement turns out to cost more than anyone thought.  More important: Lowering tuition from nearly to completely free won’t do much to assure that all New York students have access to quality higher education.  For that, Cuomo would have to fix New York’s K-12 public-education system, which leaves far too many high-school grads unable to do university-level work without a year or more of remedial work in college.   That problem is especially acute for the lower-income kids targeted by the free-tuition plan.  “Free stuff” that you can’t actually use isn’t all that marvelous a gift. * The Daily News writes that Cuomo smartly seeks to have the wealthy continue to pay tuition at public colleges, but he should explain why parents earning double the state’s median family income qualify for a free ride.

Airbnb Booming in the City Which Has Not Started to Enfore New State Regulations 
NYC sees more New Year’s Eve Airbnb rentals thanany other city (NYDN) The company says it has 55,000 bookings projected for New Year's Eve in the five boroughs, up from 47,000 last year.  New York City is so popular, it's the No. 1 city for all Airbnb bookings in the entire world to ring in 2017, according to the company.  The new record comes at the end of a tough year for Airbnb in New York, following a state law imposing fines for many home rentals.  The law levies penalties of up to $7,500 for people who rent their apartments for less than 30 days if they are in a building with three or more units.  A court upheld enforcement of the law after Airbnb sued. The company and New York City settled this month, paving the way for the city to start cracking down on Airbnb hosts.* New York: In Airbnb’s biggest market, lawmakers last year said they would impose steep fines for advertising home rentals that violate New York City’s short-term rental rules. Airbnb initially challenged the new rules, but last month withdrew its lawsuit.

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 


Lawsuit to Protect Lobbyists and Goo Goos Funding 
The American Civil Liberties Union and the New York Civil Liberties Union foundations have jointly filed a lawsuit alleging an ethics law passed by the state Legislature earlier this year is unconstitutional, the Times Union reports.   "This law was pitched as a vehicle to address the problem of money in politics, but instead of doing that, it takes aim at free speech rights of groups like the NYCLU and ACLU and hundreds of other educational and advocacy groups and their supporters," said the NYCLU's executive director, Donna Lieberman. "The law goes way beyond lobbying or electioneering expenditures and makes public names and addresses of supporters who have nothing to do with lobbying or electioneering activities." The government reform group Citizens Union has also filed a lawsuit over similar concerns. Good government groups have put forth the idea that the law was passed to target them in order to stifle their criticism of state government. The Cuomo administration has said the law is meant to prevent the use of tax deductible donations for lobbying.  "Everyone is all for transparency unless it applies to them," said Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi. "I'm amazed they are able to compartmentalize this hypocrisy."