First Read - November 24, 2015

WEATHER: Partly sunny across the state. New York City, high 47; Albany, high 42; Buffalo, high 41.



* In a four-part special report, City & State and City Limits look at the troubling problems facing Rikers Island, proposed reforms, the growing calls for the correctional facility to be shut down and the impact that could have on New York City:



* New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres discusses his push for civil forfeiture reform through increased transparency in the process, and the fight he expects to face from the NYPD in a video interview:

* Kathryn Wylde, President and CEO of the Partnership for New York City, writes that Mayor Bill de Blasio’s proactive commitment to physical and mental health will help ensure that New York remains the world’s most vibrant and productive city:



* Whether Albany dysfunction can constitute illegal behavior as well was at the center of both side’s closing arguments in the three-week corruption trial of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, The New York Times reports:

* The founder of the environmental services company at the heart of the corruption case against former state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son testified that days after Hurricane Sandy hit, the senator provided valuable business intelligence that the company felt would be helpful, the Times reports:

* Welquis “Ray” Lopez, a top-level staffer for current Majority Leader John Flanagan and a former employee of Skelos’, scurried out of the corruption trial of his former boss after being accused of coaching a witness on the stand by Judge Kimba Wood, the Post reports:

* New York State’s Court of Appeals declined to hear an appeal from groups seeking the public release of transcripts from the grand jury that considered evidence in the death of Eric Garner at the hands of police officers, ending a yearlong legal effort, the Times reports:

* In a surprise announcement, New York City Councilwoman Maria del Carmen Arroyo said that she’s resigning her South Bronx seat effective Dec. 31, citing family issues, and a special election to fill her seat will occur in early 2016, the Post reports:

* Assemblyman Pete Lopez formally joined the crowded race to seek the Republican and Conservative nomination for the 19th Congressional District being vacated by Rep. Chris Gibson at the end of next year, WRGB reports:

* The state Gaming Commission is putting forth a series of sweeping rules regarding the use of drugs for Thoroughbreds following their report on allegations that PETA made based on an investigation they conducted in 2013 at the Saratoga Race Course, the Times Union reports:

* New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s eyes welled with tears during an announcement of a major mental-health initiative for the city as he spoke of the addiction challenges faced by both his late father and college-age daughter, the Post reports:

* De Blasio said his son Dante has been active in protests over racial issues at Yale — and they both agree the school should drop the name of a prominent defender of slavery, the Daily News reports:

* Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced a new “See Something, Say Something” smartphone app to make it easier for the public to report suspicious activity, but stressed the app should not replace emergency calls, the Daily News reports:



* Despite de Blasio's moves to more than double funding for unsheltered homeless people, that might not be enough as the population appears to be growing faster than the city's efforts to address its needs, Politico New York reports:

* More than 150 low-performing schools where less than 10 percent of the students passed this year’s state math and English exams claimed high pass rates for class work in the same subjects, according to a StudentsFirstNY study, the Post reports:


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* EDITOR’S NOTE: There will be no Last Read this week and there will be no First Read on Thanksgiving and on Friday. We will be sending First Read out this weekend.



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* The de Blasio administration’s mental health plan is far-reaching and comprehensive, with initiatives that go beyond the pile of puzzle pieces that emerged previously, but now the talk must turn into policy and programs that lead to fundamental change, amNew York writes:

* Cuomo should follow the lead of Illinois and introduce legislation that would automatically enroll employees in a program that diverts small percentages of their pay into an account for their retirement in order to solve a future financial burden on young people and the state, the Times Union writes:

* The Daily News eulogized John Zucotti as a son of Brooklyn who was New York City’s true leader and kept the city afloat in the tumultuously perilous years when Abe Beame served as New York’s mayor from 1975 through 1977:

* A law that would require Suffolk county to create a real multiyear budget detailing  how all the county’s borrowed money will be repaid, and how that will affect future budgets, is an immediate necessity, Newsday writes:

* Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s crackdown against daily fantasy sports gaming in New York may be easily criticized politically, but legally it will be much harder to beat due to stringent gambling laws in the Empire State, writes Bill Hammond for Politico New York:



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* City Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod sat down with Opinion Editor Nick Powell to discuss two potential zoning amendments and what they mean in the grand scheme of the mayor’s housing program:



CITY & STATE CAREERS - WHO’S HIRING: To advertise your employment opportunities with City & State, email sdiliberti@cityandstateny.comor call 646-442-1617. Visit www.CityandState.Careers to view all jobs.

Director of Data Analytics, Office of the NYC Comptroller

Seeking an exceptional candidate to lead a division responsible for generating independent research, performing predictive modeling, and providing analysis of programmatic, budgetary and economic issues regarding City’s financial conditions. Ideal candidate will have strong financial/budgetary quantitative data analysis skills and demonstrated experience analyzing large, complex data sets. View full listing here.

Political Director – 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East

Political Director will direct electoral, legislative and issue based campaigns, lead the political staff, manage department and PAC budgets, build and maintain relationships with political figures, including federal, state and city elected and appointed officials, employers, labor unions and community organizations, and help build membership programs.   View full job description/apply. Submit Resume by 11/27/15



HAPPY BIRTHDAY: To Ryan Naples, Legislative Counsel at the NYS Department of Labor … to Darcy Stacom, Vice Chair of Investment Properties group for CBRE … to NY Post Reporter Rich Calder … to Charise K. Lawrence, director of Brooklyn community outreach for NYC Department of Aging … to Regine Roy, constituent affairs director for state Sen. Kevin Parker … and to Assemblyman Bill Nojay.


Entergy has announced the company will close its FitzPatrick Nuclear Power Plant in Upstate New York. If that happens, it will be a devastating blow to a regional economy that’s already lagging behind the rest of the state.

Now the Governor and state leaders need to save Upstate New York’s energy jobs by making a deal with Entergy or making it possible for a new owner to operate FitzPatrick. See our video at




6:50 a.m. - New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and First Lady Chirlane McCray appear live on CNN.

9:30 a.m. - New York City Coalition Against Hunger releases annual survey on demand at soup kitchens and food pantries and new findings on food insecurity and hunger in the city and the state, St. John’s Bread and Life Soup Kitchen, 795 Lexington Ave., Brooklyn

10 a.m. - Gov. Andrew Cuomo makes an announcement, Alcoa Plant West, Rte. 131, Massena.

10 a.m. - The New York City Council Committee on Finance holds a public meeting, Committee Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

10 a.m. - New York City Councilman Andy King and MetroPlus Healthcare’s Roger Milliner announce new health plan initiatives for low-income New Yorkers and New York City employees, 940 E. Gun Hill Road, Bronx.

10 a.m. - Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul reads to children at Cornerstone Manor’s Women's Shelter, 150 E. North Street, Buffalo.

10:25 a.m. - Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer appear on “The Brian Lehrer Show,” WNYC.

10:30 a.m. - The City Council Committee on Rules, Privileges and Elections continues meeting on the appointment of Janet Alvarez to the New York City Tax Commission, Council Chambers, City Hall, Manhattan.

10:30 a.m. - New York City Coalition Against Hunger releases annual survey on demand at soup kitchens and food pantries and new findings on food insecurity and hunger in the city and the state, NYC Human Resources Administration SNAP Office, 12 W. 14th St., 5th Floor, Conference room, Manhattan.

10:30 a.m. - New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer delivers remarks at NYC Coalition Against Hunger Annual Flagship Event, Human Resources Administration, 12 West 14th Street, Manhattan.

10:50 a.m. - Hochul tours Buffalo City Mission Men’s Shelter to thank workers preparing food for Thanksgiving, 100 E. Tupper Street, Buffalo.

11 a.m. -Labor groups hold rally demanding Walmart in East Greenbush rehire Thomas Smith, fired for redeeming empty cans and bottles left in an abandoned shopping cart, 220 Green St., Albany.

11 a.m. - “The Capitol Pressroom” features Bob Lowry of the New York State Council of School Superintendents, David Albert of the New York State School Boards Association, Jeffrey Gold of the Healthcare Association of New York, Peter Iwanowicz of Environmental Advocates of New York and Lisa Dix of the Sierra Club, WCNY.

11:45 a.m. - De Blasio delivers remarks on food insecurity, St. John’s Bread & Life, 795 Lexington Avenue, Brooklyn.

12 p.m. - The Assembly Committee on Agriculture holds an oversight hearing on the SFY 2015-2016 State Budget for the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, Roosevelt Hearing Room C, Legislative Office Building, 2nd Floor, Albany.

12:30 p.m. - New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito hosts press conference before pre-stated meeting, Red Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

12:45 p.m. - U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer calls on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban the sale of high-powered, long-range green laser pointers to the public, Terminal at Buffalo Niagara International Airport, Cheektowaga.

1 p.m. - Mark-Viverito and Councilman Mark Levine present a proclamation to The Riverside Church in celebration of their 85th Anniversary, City Council Chambers, Manhattan.

1 p.m. - Mark-Viverito, Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland and FDNY Commissioner Daniel Nigro honor FDNY Lieutenant Adam Vilagos who saved the life of baby boy in Corona last week, City Council Chambers, Manhattan.

1 p.m. - The New York City Council holds stated meeting, Council Chambers, City Hall, Manhattan.

1 p.m. - New York City Coalition Against Hunger releases annual survey on demand at soup kitchens and food pantries and new findings on food insecurity and hunger in the city and the state, Project Hospitality Food Pantry, 514 Bay St., Staten Island

1:15 p.m. - Cuomo Participates in New York State's Annual Thanksgiving Food Donation Drive with Reverend Patrick Young, Congressman Joseph Crowley, Senator Jose Peralta and Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry, First Baptist Church of East Elmhurst, 100-10 Astoria Blvd., Queens.

1:30 p.m. - Public Advocate Letitia James chairs stated council meeting, City Hall, Manhattan.

2 p.m. - State Sen. Rob Ortt announces a plan that would amend state law detailing the funding formula from Seneca Niagara Casino revenue, Holiday Inn Hotel, 114 Buffalo Ave., Niagara Falls.

2:15 p.m. - Cuomo participates in New York State's Annual Thanksgiving Food Donation Drive with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, BedStuy Campaign Against Hunger Super Pantry, 2004 Fulton Street, Brooklyn

3:30 p.m. - Cuomo participates in New York State's Annual Thanksgiving Food Donation Drive? with Congressman Charles Rangel, Assemblyman Keith Wright and New York City Council Member Inez Dickens, Martin Luther King Jr. Democratic Club, 2155 Adam Clayton Powell, Manhattan.

4 p.m. - De Blasio holds press conference to highlight need for increased Federal Transportation Funding, Amtrak Rotunda, Penn Station, Manhattan.

4:30 p.m. - Cuomo participates in New York State's Annual Thanksgiving Food Donation Drive with Senator Adriano Espaillat and Assemblyman Guillermo Linares, 210 Sherman Ave., Manhattan.

5 p.m. - City Council Members Jimmy Van Bramer and Margaret Chin host tour of the Museum of Jewish Heritage’s new exhibition “Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933-1945” for elected officials, 36 Battery Place, Manhattan.

5 p.m. - Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams will honor more than thirty Brooklyn Business Cornerstones, employees distinguished by long tenures with their companies, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

5 p.m. - Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer offers testimony at public hearing of the Quadrennial Advisory Commission, CUNY School of Law, 2 Court Square, Long Island City, Queens.

5 p.m. and 6 p.m. - “MetroFocus” features the Empire State Pride Agenda’s Melissa Sklarz and journalist Laurie Dhue, WLIW21 (5 p.m.) and THIRTEEN (6 p.m.).

6 p.m. - Brewer attends Children’s Aid Society Frederick Douglass Center Thanksgiving Dinner, 883 Columbus Avenue, Manhattan.

6:30 p.m. - New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina meets with Sunset Park residents to talk about school overcrowding, P.S. 516, 4222 4th Ave., Brooklyn.

7 p.m. - Public Advocate James hosts African Immigrant "Talk to Tish" Town Hall, All Muslim Center, 1263 Edward L. Grant Highway, Bronx.

7 p.m. and 10 p.m. - “Inside City Hall” features Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland and the NY1 Wise Guys with Alfonse D'Amato, Anthony Weiner and Roberto Ramirez, Time Warner Cable News NY1.

7:30 p.m. - Adams will join star athletes from the New York Giants and New York Jets as well as a number of hip-hop celebrities at a Thanksgiving turkey drive, Roosevelt Community Center, 50 Stuyvesant Ave., Brooklyn.

8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. - “Capital Tonight” airs, Time Warner Cable News.

8:30 p.m - Public Advocate James attends the Bayside Hills Civic Association General Meeting, Colonial Church of Bayside,55-2 217th Street, Oakland Gardens, Queens.



What’s Your Purpose? Find it at Metropolitan College of New York. Join us at our Grad Info Session on Thursday, December 3 from 6 – 8pm and learn how a master’s degree from MCNY can empower you and our community. Learn how to advance your career from industry leader Assemblyman Victor Pichardo. Availability is limited. RSVP here.



KICKER: “To taint your fellow legislators and the democratic process with your own corruption, and say that that’s politics as usual, it is not even close, not by a mile. This, ladies and gentlemen, was bribery. This was extortion. This was corruption — the real deal. Do not let it stand.” - Assistant U.S. Attorney Andrew Goldstein during prosecution's closing arguments in the corruption trial of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, via the Times.