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Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters yesterday that he won't weigh in on the New York City mayoral primary after receiving multiple questions about Public Advocate and Democratic mayoral frontrunner Bill de Blasio's plan to raise taxes on the wealthy to fund school programs. "I am going to stay out of the New York City mayoral," Cuomo said. "Let's find out who the mayor is and what policies they actually put forth, and then let's take a look at them and consider them, and we'll have an opinion." De Blasio, who has a long relationship with Cuomo, has publically pressured Cuomo on plans to save a number of failing Brooklyn hospitals. Cuomo has avoided major appearances in the city this summer--including the West Indian Day Parade. Cuomo has held numerous events upstate and in Western New York. Some pundits see Cuomo's reluctance to engage in the race as a way for him to avoid having his name associated with the likes of Anthony Weiner and Eliot Spitzer. Cuomo told reporters yesterday that things aren't that complicated. "I'm not registered to vote in New York City, so I don't think it's a situation where it's appropriate for me to express a preference."

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Cuomo's Developer Donations

The New York Daily News reported today that Gov. Andrew Cuomo received $76,000 in donations from real estate developers just weeks before signing legislation that gave tax breaks to their properties. Three partners at Fisher Brothers donated $25,000 each to Cuomo on Dec. 27 of last year. Cuomo signed legislation giving tax breaks to their properties at New York Curb Exchange and 86 Trinity Place on Jan. 30. The Daily News reported last week that Extell Development Co. gave Cuomo $100,000 a few days before he signed the bill that gives creates $35 million in tax breaks on their One57 luxury apartment tower. The Moreland Commission that Cuomo created to investigate corruption has subpoenaed the five companies that received tax breaks from the bill. Cuomo administration officials say that the bill was supported by the city and wasn't their focus. The News writes however that legislators claims they don't know who inserted the tax breaks for the five subpoenaed companies.


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The Daily News recently highlighted a $100,000 donation to Gov. Andrew Cuomo by Extell Development that appears to have been made the same day as a piece of legisaltion that granted the company tax breaks was passed in the Assembly. The tax breaks applied to the One57 building at 157 W. Fifth St., and others.

The bill had been scheduled for a vote in June 2012. Cuomo's representatives have denied any connection between Cuomo's approval of the bill and the donations but Sen. Ruben Diaz sees things differently.

He used his newsletter to imagine what would happen if he was caught up in similar controversy.

My dear reader, can you imagine if I did that kind of thing? Can you
imagine if I, Senator Reverend Ruben Diaz, Sr., received $100,000 from any developer right before I threw my support for a piece of legislation that benefited that developer?

Is there anyone reading this who doesn’t think there would be full-scale
local, state, and federal investigations claiming that I had accepted a
bribe in exchange for a political favor? Is there anyone reading this who doesn’t think that every single editorial board would be condemning me as corrupt? I can only imagine the torch and pitchfork crowds descending on my office.

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Yesterday Interfaith Medical Center in Brooklyn filed a request to close in bankruptcy court. Most of the patients the hospital serves are without insurance and the hospital has suffered greatly since the state slashed Medicaid reimbursements. Unless there is some sort of bailout the hospital will close its emergency room in September and close totally in November. The news comes as Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill is on the verge of closure. Public Advocate and Democratic Mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio has made the hospital issue a focus of his campaign and has gone to court to keep LICH open. He has also released a plan that would create a super-authority to oversee Brooklyn Hospitals that would be run by the mayor and governor. De Blasio has continued to press his long-time friend Gov. Andrew Cuomo to act to save the hospitals. Meanwhile, the Cuomo administration holds out hope that the federal government will approve a request to use $10 billion the state saved from restructuring Medicaid payments to buoy the Brooklyn hospitals.


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Campaign Finance Board Seeks to Deny Liu Public Funds (Wall Street Journal)

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Forgotten Coney Island

Only a few blocks down from the amusement district, where the sounds of the frolicking beachgoers and carnival games have come back with renewed vigor after the seashore neighborhood's near-cataclysmic meeting with Hurricane Sandy, there is a different Coney Island that most tourists and beach goers don’t see.

This is the Coney Island that continues to struggle to return to normalcy nearly a year after Hurricane Sandy came ashore. The Coney Island where parks and playgrounds remain fenced off because of sinkholes or other damage done by last year’s storm.

“They say Coney Island is open for business. Sure, the entertainment district is, but no one talks about the parts of Coney Island where people actually live. They don’t talk about the neighborhoods,” said Ed Cosme, a resident who formed The People’s Coalition of Coney Island to raise awareness about the problems in the parts of the neighborhood that don’t normally draw tourists and bathers.

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Common Cause New York and The Fair Elections For New York campaign both want Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Moreland Commission to follow the money when it comes to political donations from pro-hydrofracking groups.

Common Cause issued a report that found pro-hydrofracking groups have contributed over $14 million to candidates and commitees from 2007 to 2013. The group's analysis claims to show that the candidates who recieved the most money have been the most vocal on the subject of allowing hydraulic fracturing in the state.

"Powerful businesses and industries which stand to benefit from fracking use campaign contributions to gain influence with their local lawmakers, candidates, and party organizations," said Susan Lerner, director of Common Cause/NY, in a statement. "We see a wide spectrum of fracking related interests taking full advantage of New York's lax campaign finance laws in the hope of a future payday if fracking is permitted."

Citizen's Union is a member of The Fair Election For New York campaign and Gotham Gazette is published by Citizen Union's sister organization Citizens Union Foundation.

Common Cause wants the Moreland Commission to look at the following issues:

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled a new plan to get storm-ravaged communities to work together in planning their futures during his NY Rising: Storm Recovery Conference in Albany yesterday. The 102 communities impacted by flooding across the state will be eligible for up to $750 million in combined state and federal aid. “What does the community think is the best approach to rebuild?" asked Cuomo. "And what are the best ideas and what is the best vision and let’s fund the community’s vision rather than ask the community to fit in the template that’s established from up above.” The Cuomo administration unveiled a website designed to help communities apply for the program and to find out how much recovery funding they are eligible for. You can watch a video of the conference here.

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Campaign financing might not have been the first thing Gov. Andrew Cuomo wanted to discuss today.

Cuomo debuted a campaign finance reform proposal late in the legislative session this year without much of a public push and watched the bill arrive stillborn.

Now, with the July campaign finance filiing deadline having come and gone, Cuomo's cash and how he raises it is a major topic of discussion.

What stood out to many reporters and insiders was that much of Cuomo's cash comes from large donors who control limited liability corporations. The donors give as individuals and through their LLCs and to organizations that support him. This allows major donors to skirt the state's already-lax limits on individual donations.

Today on The Capitol Press Room, Susan Arbetter asked Cuomo about using "loopholes" in the campaign finance law. "Those aren’t loopholes,” Cuomo said. “Those are the laws that are written.”

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Over 80 percent of the cash Gov. Andrew Cuomo raised this election cycle came from donors who gave $10,000 or more according to an analysis by New York Public Interest Group's Bill Mahoney. Only .89 percent came from those giving $1,000 or less.

Cuomo has raised $6.2 million in the past six months--giving him a total horde of $27.8 million for his relection campaign next year.

The news of Cuomo's successful fundraising and Mahoney's analysis comes as Cuomo has pledged that he is committeed to reforming the state's campaign finance system and has called a Moreland Commission to look into problems with campaign finance at the state Board of Elections.

Here is a list from Mahoney of those who gave Cuomo $40,000 or more in this election cycle:

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Tagged in: Andrew Cuomo NYPIRG

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New York is the only state in the nation besides North Carolina that prosecutes 16 and 17 year olds in the adult criminal justice system.

The result? Over 45,000 16 and 17 year olds a year are arrested as adults. Many of them go into the adult prison system and advocates say their lives are then irreversibly changed by the experience — and not for the good.

Juvenile justice advocates think its time for New York to rethink its laws. Advocates, politicians, faith leaders, judges and the formerly incarcerated rallied outside the New York Metropolitan Corrections Center yesterday to kick off a campaign to change state law.

“We should be providing our youth the support and services they need to overcome challenges and be successful, not prosecuting and incarcerating them as adults,” said Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, at the rally. “The time to end this cruel, wasteful and destructive practice is long overdue."

Advocates say that statistics shows 70 percent of those under 18 who are arrested are black and Latino. That group makes up 80 percent of teens who are incarcerated.

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo's nominees to head his Moreland Commission that will investigate corruption in Albany have already raised the hackles of some advocates and legislators.

Cuomo announced the formation of the commission this morning. The Daily News reported yesterday that the committee — which will have subpoena power — will be chaired by Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, Syracuse District Attorney William Fitzpatrick and lawyer Milton Williams. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has also leant his staffers and the power of his office to broaden the scope of the investigation.

Rice, who ran for attorney general in 2010, has long been a Cuomo ally, which does nothing to allay the fears of some legislators that Cuomo will have undue control of what the commission will and won't look into.

Furthermore, good government advocates worry that Rice is too close to the largest political donors in the state to cast a critical eye on their behavior. Rice is in the middle of running for reelection and is one of the state's most prolific fundraisers.

"This isn't kind of message we were looking for," said one advocate who asked to remain anonymous. "We are talking about someone who is just as beholden to this system as anyone else in the state."

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Yesterday the names of 9 individuals caught on wiretap by Sen. Shirley Huntley were made public. Six of those individuals were sitting Democratic State Legislators. The list includes already-indicted Sens John Sampson and Malcolm Smith and their colleagues Sens. Jose Peralta, Velmanette Montgomery, Ruth Hassel-Thompson and Eric Adams. Two political operatives were also taped as well as Councilman Ruben Wills. Huntley, who was facing her own legal troubles, invited pols to her home under the ruse that she had a broken ankle and then recorded them. Taped parties reacted in different ways to finding out their names were on the list. Officials said eight one of the recorded parties are under investigation for wrongdoing. Sen. John Sampson was indicted earlier in the week on embezzelment charges and he is just the latest in a long line of state legislators facing federal indicments. Gov. Andrew Cuomo threatened to convene a Moreland Commission if legislators don't pass major elections and ethics reform.


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Who is state Sen. John Sampson? This morning, everyone knows Sampson as the man who turned himself in to the Federal Bureau of Investigation to face multiple charges for embezzling money he was in charge of as a lawyer to fund his ill-fated run for Brooklyn District Attorney.

But Samspon has long been a player in Albany, and rumors of corruption have swirled around him for years.

Elected to his seat in 1996, Sampson has worked as an attorney for Alter & Barbaro, Esqs., since 1994. For a while Sampson was the answer for all the Senate Democrats' problems and became one of the most powerful men in Albany.

In 2009, during the Senate coup, the Democratic conference elevated Sampson to conference leader (a position that had previously not existed) in a bid to return Sens. Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada to the fold.

Sampson's time as a leader of a majority conference was brief; Democrats lost their majority in 2010.

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It has been three months since Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave his State of the State Address and announced a 10-point plan to address injustices facing women in today's society.

Since then, Cuomo has successfully passed major gun law changes and enacted a state budget.

Supporters of the plan expectthe legislation will resemble the already-proposed Reproductive Health Act that would take abortion out of New York's penal code and make it part of health law. But the wide-ranging proposal was also supposed to deal with human trafficking, pay discrepency and sexual harassment.

Cuomo indicated earlier this week on Susan Arbetter's The Capitol Pressroom radio show that he is in no hurry to introduce precise bill language on the issue.

“Oftentimes they don’t want the bill to come to the floor for a vote because they don’t want to take the position,” Cuomo told Arbetter, adding, “What we need to do is strip away the devil is in the details as just an excuse.”

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Following a week littered with indicments and arrests of state legislators and their cronies, Gov. Andrew Cuomo took to the airwaves to talk reform.

Cuomo didn't get into specific fixes today, but floated the targets of possible reform — Wilson Pakula, the enforcement wing of the state Board of Elections and cross-party endorsements. “These are crises, but they’re also opportunities,” Cuomo said. He added that he would want to "pull back the lens and do as much as we can."

RELATED: For a look at Cuomo's previous efforts to fight legislative corruption and what others think can be done to fight it, check out today's stoy: "Can Anything Be Done About Corruption in Albany?"

Cuomo also took time on Susan Arbetter's Capitol Pressroom to address Fred Dicker's latest column in The Post that said Cuomo is plotting to use recent scandals to overthrow Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Cuomo and Dicker used to be two peas in a pod with Cuomo appearing regularly on Dicker's show to float ideas until Dicker began attacking Cuomo for a more liberal agenda.

“I’m a partner to Assembly Speaker Silver, I’m a partner to Dean Skelos and Sen. Klein on the other side. But it is wholly up to the legislative bodies to select a leader,” Cuomo said. “I would never even for a moment try to influence that decision. And, again, in this case I don’t see what the Speaker had to do with any of these purely personal individual acts by two Assembly people.”

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Sen. David Carlucci is "shocked and outraged" over the alleged bribery scheme that his fellow Independent Democratic Conference member Sen. Malcolm Smith was arrested for today, according to a statement from Carlucci's office.

Carlucci represents Spring Valley, New York and a Senator from Spring Valley is mentioned throughout the complaint against Smith. However, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara told reporters today that there is no evidence of wrongdoing involving the Senator from Spring Valley.

Here is Carlucci's ful statement:

Like many New Yorkers, I am shocked and outraged over the alleged misconduct undertaken by various public officials at the state, city, and local government. This conduct is reprehensible in its entirety, and public corruption in any form cannot be tolerated at any layer of government. I look forward to hearing the details of this wide-ranging investigation as they begin to unfold. As the United States Attorney had indicated, in no way whatsoever was I, or any member of my staff, involved in the alleged criminal misconduct and subsequent charges filed this morning. On the contrary, these actions speak to a broader, more fundamental reason as to why I ran for office in the first place – to clean up the culture of corruption that pervades our politics.”Three years ago I came to Albany to shake up the status quo and bring change to our State Capital. While we have made great strides since, there clearly remains much more work to be done. I am committed to working to reform our system of government in a way that increases transparency and holds public officials accountable to the people they serve.

IDC head Sen. Jeff Klein has stripped Smith of his chairmanship and committee assignments and issued a statement saying Smith might want to consider resigning.

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More People Moving to City Than Leaving

According to Mayor Michael Bloomberg the city's population has reached an all-time high of 8.3 million and for the first time since the 1950's more people are moving into the city than moving out. The city's population grew by 161,000 between 2010 and 2012 bringing the population to 8.3 million. Each borough saw an increase in population but Brooklyn trumped them all with a jump of 61,000 people. "The facts bear out that this is a great place to come, to live, to vacation, to get medical care, to get an education," Bloomberg said.


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Mayor Michael Bloomberg wants to see the state adopt the city's ban on large sugary beverages, but that isn't Gov. Andrew Cuomo to-do list.

During a press conference this afternoon, Cuomo bluntly responded to a quesiton about the drinks ban saying: "We're not considering it. I haven't really studied it ether."

It seems a bit of a switch for Cuomo, who had positive things to say about the ban in June 2011.

"Obesity is a major problem that we desperately need to address,” Cuomo said on former Gov. David Paterson's now-cancelled radio show in June 2011. “So I don’t see that this can do any harm.”

The soda industry wants to do its best to make sure the restriction on the sale of large sugary beverages does not move beyond New York City.

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Former Green Party presidential candidate and consumer advocate Ralph Nader has some advice for Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The governor has said he has no "Plan B" for paying for Hurricane Sandy relief if congress doesn't come through, but Nader suggests Cuomo stop refunding the stock transfer tax that he says would net the state $16 billion in revenue.

Here is Nader's letter to Cuomo:

Dear Governor Cuomo,

The people of New York are working to recover from the devastation left in Hurricane Sandy’s wake. But as you know, much remains to be done. While some tragic losses can’t be mended, we can – and should – do our best to rebuild, to limit the suffering inflicted and the displacement endured, and to do our best to prevent such destruction from natural disasters in the future.

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State Sen. Daniel Squadron was ahead of his time as far as dealing with gun violence in New York goes.

The senator who represents parts of Brooklyn and lower Manhattan wrote an op-ed in the Daily News and held a rally where he called for legislators to return to Albany to pass bills that are aimed at reducing gun violence. One of those bills would crack down on assault weapons. At the time, legislators were considering coming back to Albany for a special session to give themselves a pay raise.

Now, following the massacre in Newton, Conn., legislators may return to Albany for a special session to pass tougher gun laws – including a measure that would patch holes in the state's assault weapons ban.

Squadron issued this letter to his supporters today:

Dear Friend,

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