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Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver announced he is moving to expel Assemblyman Vito Lopez last night. Silver, facing a firestorm of criticism for his office's handling of the Lopez sexual harassment scandal is looking to take decisive action as soon as Monday. Silver refused to expel Lopez last year as the scandal broke but stripped Lopez of his seniority and committee assignments. Now, with more criticism focused on his office following the release of the Joint Commission on Public Ethic's damning report, Silver says he plans to introduce a resolution that according to his spokesman Michael Whyland will be, "voted on Monday to ask the Ethics & Guidance Committee to consider the full JCOPE report and to recommend appropriate sanctions including expulsion of Assemblymember Lopez." Earlier Thursday Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters the Assembly shouldconsider expelling Lopez. “The reaction from the legislature should be zero tolerance,” Cuomo said. “If he doesn't resign, he should be expelled.”

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Other Stories We're Following

City to Sell Councilwoman's Debt to Collectors (Daily News)

Voting Machine Firm Offers City Help in Upcoming Election (Daily News)

Lopez's Girlfriend Sticks With Her man (Daily News)

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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.


Other Stories We're Following

Lawmakers Demand Edits to Lopez Sex-Scandal Report (NY Times)

Council OKs Paid Sick Leave (Gotham Gazette)

Albany Reporters Officially Protest Being Blocked From Hearing (Capital)

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NEW YORK — After almost four years of negotiations and months of political bickering, about one million working New Yorkers are a step closer to gaining paid sick days.

The City Council approved a bill today that will require many businesses to give sick workers time off. It passed 45 to 3.

The bill is much transformed from the one originally introduced in 2010 and kept from a vote by Speaker Christine Quinn until a near insurrection from her colleagues and criticism from advocates threatened to become a political liability as she seeks the Democratic nomination for mayor.

Under the bill approved by the Council, eligible workers would be guaranteed a minimum of five paid sick days. The bill also says that no one in New York can be fired for taking an unpaid sick day. Whereas the original bill would have forced businesses with five or more employees to provide paid sick days, the version passed today applies to those with 20 or more employees.

The law would go into effect in April of next year, with the possibility of expanding to businesses with 15 or more employees in late 2015, depending on the law's success. Full-time and part-time workers would be protected under the law, although it excludes interns and seasonal workers.

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A judge ruled on Wednesday for the city to extend its hotel program for displaced victims of Hurricane Sandy. The city had originally planned on kicking remaining 196 evacuess out of hotels on April 30 but an extensionwill give victims until May 15. Five Sandy evacuees filed a lawsuit to gain the extension on Monday. The city Department of Homeless Services provided hotel rooms to victims who did not qualify for the FEMA hotel program. The FEMA program had previously been extended untill May 29.


Other Stories We're Following

Vito Lopez is Formidable Candidate For Council Despite Scandal (Daily News)

Quinn Pushes NYPD Inspector Bill (NY Post)

Mayoral Candidates As Cause Celebrities (Wall Street Journal)

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg has lashed out at critics of the New York Police Department's stop-and-frisk tactics, including mayoral candidates, who he said are playing politics and undermining law enforcement.

During a speech to an audience of NYPD leaders today, Bloomberg took umbrage at two bills proposed by City Council members that seek to increase oversight of stop, question and frisk, directly tying the program to the city's record-low crime rates and ongoing counterterrorism efforts.

The outgoing mayor also took grave offense with some of his potential successors and their willingness to make the city less safe by supporting "politically driven legislation."

"My message is simple: stop playing politics with public safety," Bloomberg said to an audience of NYPD leaders. "Look at what’s happened in Boston. Remember what happened here on 9/11. Remember all of those who’ve been killed by gun violence — and the families they left behind. We owe it to all of them to give our officers the tools they need to protect innocent lives or people will needlessly die and we’ll all be responsible."

Calling the police department officers "first preventers," the mayor argued that the numbers used to argue against stop-and-frisk prove the need for the practice. Bloomberg defended the program as a deterrence against gun possession and crime, and that the movement to end stop-and-frisk would turn the clock back on the city's low crime rates.

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Bronx state Sen. Gustavo Rivera has made it clear he favors Council Speaker Christine Quinn as the next mayor. Now he's endorsing her proposal to change the legal age to buy cigarettes to 21 from 18.

"I strongly support any effort, such as raising the minimum age to buy tobacco, that will reduce our youth's access to these products and prevent them from becoming lifetime consumers, " Rivera said in a statement.

Rivera was the first state legislator to endorse in the mayoral race when he announced his support for Quinn earlier this month.

Quinn, the frontrunner for the Democratic mayoral nomination, introduced her anti-tobacco legislation this week.

Rivera's saw his own anti-tobacco legislation, which banned smoking within 100 feet of all school entrances, passed in 2012.

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New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn wants the police department to be bigger than it is under Mayor Michael Bloomberg — and to better relate with the people that it protects.

The Democratic candidate for mayor defended most of Bloomberg's current policing strategy anc called for an additional 1,600 uniformed officers, but tried to reach a middle ground on the city's stop, question and frisk policy.

While she reiterated her support for an independent police monitor to oversee the department, Quinn distanced herself from a proposed law that would expand the city's law against racial profiling.

"We need to sustain the progress we've made over the past 12 years, fix what hasn't worked and build a stronger bond between police and the communities they serve," she said.

Quinn also defended Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, who Quinn has previously lauded despite disagreement on the stop-and-frisk policy. She called his work "incredible" and said that anyone who fails to recognize his work "is simply out of touch with the reality of life in New York City."

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The City Council has once again delayed a vote on paid sick leave despite an earlier goal of a vote tomorrow.

After working to move the controversial bill to the Council floor for three years, Manhattan City Councilwoman Gale Brewer said yesterday that she hopes the bill will come to a vote in early May after negotiating the final language.

She added that only small, auxiliary verbs like "may" or "must."

"I think we'll be fine," Brewer said. "I still feel ecstatic."

Whatever language is eventually adopted into the bill is a result of weeks of negotiation between City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, labor advocates and the city's business leaders.

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The long-vacant Kingsbrige Armory is again the focus of a redevelopment project designed to bring much-needed jobs and economic stimulus to the Bronx. Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Bronx officials announced yesterday that they have a deal with a developer to turn the massive ice center with 9 regulation ice rinks for skating and hockey and a 5,000 seat arena. The $275 million deal is expected to create 267 permanent jobs and 890 construction jobs. The plan will need approval by the City Council before moving forward. In 2009 Bloomberg and Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. clashed over a proposal to turn the site into a shopping complex. Diaz and Bronx residents were concerned the project would create low-paying jobs and conflict with local businesses. The fight eventually spawned the city-wide push for the living wage. The developers of the ice center have signed an agreement promising to pay workers $10 an hour with benefits or $11.50 an hour without, as well as giving Bronx residents hiring preference.


Other Stories We're Following

Cancer Rate 15% Higher Than Normal For 9/11 Responders (Daily News)

Petraeus to Join CUNY as Visiting Professor (NY Times)

New York City Storm Victims May Get Federal Reimbursement For Repairs (NY Times)

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Lawmakers want New York City to be the first city in the U.S. to raise the legal smoking age to 21 from 18.

The law would make ban vendors from selling any tobacco products to New Yorkers under the age of 21, which Council Speaker Christine Quinn cautiously likened to the sale of alcoholic drinks.

She pointed to an 80 percent decline in drunk driving deaths after the drinking age increased in the 1980s.

Quinn stood alongside Health Department Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley, fellow council memebers and anti-smoking advocates when she unveiled the new legislation today. The bill would join a group of bills also recently endorsed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg aimed at curbing New Yorkers' smoking habits.

"This can work," Quinn said during a press event at City Hall.

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The Community Outreach Unit run by the New York City Council has served as a public relations machine and boosted the name recognition of Council President Christine Quinn thereby helping her mayoral bid according to The New York Times. The unit that has organized rallies and sponsored education fairs has a payroll that tops $1 million. Employees of the unit include a former Quinn campaign aide, a political operative from a union whose support Quinn has courted and a former spokesman for a Quinn ally. The employees have not been shy about their enthusiasm for Quinn. Quinn told the Times that she is "proud" of the unit. While a great deal of councilmembers interviewed by the times had no idea what the office did others said the office was designed only to serve Quinn.


Other Stories We're Following

Tough New Test Spurs Protest (NY Times)

Minor Parities Ramp Up Opposition Wilson-Pakula Act Repeal (NY Times)

City Opposes Bill Requiring Wheelchair Accessibility For New Cabs (NY Times)

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Corruption in Albany Means Tons of Cash For Legal Fees

State officials have spent nearly $7 million of campaign cash on legal fees related to criminal and ethics investigations into them since 2004 an analysis by The Daily News and the New York Public Interest Group finds. Senate Democrats have proposed a rule banning legislators from spending campaign cash on legal fees. The analysis found that lawmakers have spent $2 million of campaign cash on legal fees in the last two years alone. That spurt is boosterd by former Sen. Carl Kruger who spent $1.5 million of his campaign cash on legal fees. Kruger is currently serving seven years in prison after pleading guilting to a number of corruption charges. Other major spenders are former Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, former Controller Alan Hevesi and Assemblyman Vito Lopez.


Other Stories We're Following

Senate Blocks Drive For New Gun Control (NY Times)

Cuomo on Background Check Defeat: 'Sad Statement on Power of Extremists' (Gotham Gazette)

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After three years of waiting and debating, Councilwoman Gale Brewer said the controversial paid sick days bill could go to a vote as early as next week.

"April 25 -- that's the goal," Brewer said this afternoon. She said the language was still being finalized, but was confident it would go to a vote sooner rather than later.

The bill, Intro 0097, would be introduced through the Committee on Civil Service and Labor, which will convene the day before the bill heads to the Council's floor. It already has several cosponsors, including Speaker Christine Quinn, who held back a vote on the measure since Brewer first introduced the bill in 2010.

Quinn came under pressure in recent months as supporters of paid sick leave -- including unions and fellow mayoral candidates, most notably Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and former Comptroller Bill Thompson -- demanded that the bill go to a vote. Quinn had long held that she didn't oppose the spirit of the bill, rather that the city's economy was too fragile to expect small business to offer paid sick leave to their employees.

However, despite initial opposition from chambers of commerce from all five boroughs and various business leaders, Quinn was able to draw up a compromise version of the bill that would not got into effect until next year, and only if it meets a minimum measure of a financial index released by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

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City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has followed up on a promise to help prepare New Yorkers for the coming changes to the healthcare industry.

Quinn announced a new partnership today to help prioritize retraining for current healthcare workers to meet new standards and incentivize jobs in the industry. The effort comes as city leaders seek to capitalize on the expected demand for healthcare jobs stemming from the rollout of the national Affordable Care Act and the state's Medicaid redesign.

Quinn first announced the new partnership, called the New York Health Employment Coalition, during her State of the City address in February.

"If we get this right, it will mean thousands of new job opportunities for working and middle class New Yorkers," Quinn said when she introduced her proposal in February. "If we get it wrong, we’ll see major disruptions in our healthcare system, and healthcare professionals could actually lose their jobs.

The coalition is co-chaired by Health Committee Chairwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo, Greater New York Hospital Association President Kenneth Raske, 1199 SEIU Training and Employment Funds Executive Director Deborah King and the City University of New York's Dean of Health Bill Ebenstein.

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Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Christine Quinn said yesterday that she wants the city to control the Metropolitan Transportation Authority which is currently run by the state. "The MTA chair is appointed by the governor. The mayor has a minority of the appointments on the MTA board. The majority of the new members are appointed by the governor and county leaders outside of our city," Quinn said. "This has resulted in an MTA that doesn't respond quickly enough to the needs of New Yorkers and the changing face of our city." Transportation advocates have criticized Quinn's plan. Quinn also said that by 2023 no New Yorker should have a commute of more than an hour in any direction.


Other Stories We're Following

Man Faces Hate Crime Charges in Brooklyn Burning Spree (NY 1)

New Yorkers Brace For Cuts to Unemployment (NY Times)

Cuomo's Re-election Machinery Already at Work (NY Times)

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Bronx State Sen. Gustavo Rivera says he officially endorsed City Council Speaker Christine Quinn in her mayoral bid earlier today because she "has been there" for the people he represents.

I asked Rivera what brought about his endorsement so early in the race before any other state legislators have made tipped their hats.

"First of all I respect all the candidates but I had to make an assesment on who is going to be best for job," he said. "We need a leader to bring people together with common interests. She is a proven leader knows how to bring interests together in the City of New York. I was not looking to endorse someone I agree with 100 percent of time."

Rivera said that he has had a good working relationship with Quinn and that she has responded quickly on issues, such as getting properties in the Bronx away from absentee landlords.

"Whenever we have reached out she has been there," Said Rivera.

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Council Speaker Christine Quinn has landed the endorsement of Sen. Gustavo Rivera. An endorsement from anyone who hangs out in Albany might not seem like a good thing given the recent federal corruption indictments of Sen. Malcolm Smith and Assemblyman Eric Stevenson but Rivera has a reputation as a reformer.

Rivera defeated former Sen. Pedro Espada in 2009 and has allied himself with reform elements in the State Legislature since then. Rivera provides Quinn with a major Latino endorsement and support from the Bronx.

Quinn praised Rivera, calling him "a breath of fresh air for the people of the Bronx and his colleagues in Albany."

Here is Rivera's statement:

Speaker Quinn, throughout her career, has consistently fought for New Yorkers from all walks of life – particularly working class and low-income families. She has made it her mission to expand access to quality education, child care and after-school services, as well as to expand and prioritize affordable housing projects. Simply put, Speaker Quinn has delivered on those issues most critical to my constituents and my community.

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City Council Speaker Christine Quinn called Councilman Dan Halloran's press release celebrating his district's participatory budget "stupid" and "outrageous."

Quinn spoke about the embattled Republican councilman during a press conference in City Hall today, referencing one of Mayor Michael Bloomberg's oft-used turns of phrase.

"I don't usually quote Mike Bloomberg, but it's one of the stupidest things I have ever seen," Quinn said, adding that Halloran would have no say in how discretionary funds would be allocated for the projects his residents voted on last week.

"I don't care how many stupid press releases he issues," she said.

Halloran, who is accused in a bribery scheme to get Democratic Sen. Malcolm Smith on the Republican mayoral ballot line, sent out the press release yesterday in which he congratulated the winners.

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Democratic mayoral hopeful Christine Quinn is calling on her fellow candidates to "pledge to condemn and reject all independent expenditures" in the race to lead City Hall.

Quinn, the City Council speaker, said in a letter to nine other candidates that a television ad attacking her was "an all-out effort to undermine New York City’s public campaign finance system, the most progressive system in the county."

Quinn repeated her position against independent expendiatures during a press conference at City Hall today. She also defended her support of a bill the Council passed in March that excluded union communications from being considered independent expeneditures. The law drew criticism from the city's Campaign Finance Board when the bill was first floated in late 2012.

"What we did was just relation to member to member communications," she said, and defended the bill by arguing it received support from the city's leading good government groups. She said the TV spot against her was different because it was created for a general public and its backers refuse to disclose who is paying for it.

The ad in question was released yesterday and accuses her of back-room deals and putting politics before people. It was the first television advertisement to be released in this year's mayoral race.

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The video begins with a fog-shrouded room and ends with City Council Speaker Christine Quinn's disembodied head floating in the air. "All that's clear when the smoke clears is her political ambitions," an announcer intones in a deep voice. The anti-Quinn advertisement was paid for by a coalition of left-leaning labor groups and Democratic activists, The New York Times reported today.

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