First Read - March 11, 2014


WEATHER: Some sun, mostly clouds. New York City, high 58; Albany, high 48; Buffalo, high 42.


IS MORE MONEY THE ANSWER? Gov. Andrew Cuomo has rebuffed calls for more state education funding, pointing to New York’s high per-pupil spending, but some school districts are still struggling with larger classes and shrinking staffs, writes City & State’s Jon Lentz:

FAIR PLAY: Former New Jersey Gov. Christine Todd Whitman discusses public financing of elections in New York, Bridgegate and the Port Authority and the EPA’s response to 9/11 under her watch in an interview with City & State’s Morgan Pehme:



* State Senate leadership is considering bringing the DREAM Act to the floor--even though it may not pass--amid pressure on Senate co-leader Jeffrey Klein and his breakaway Democrats from traditional Democrats to bring more progressive legislation to the floor, the Daily News reports:

* Top union leaders part of the Central Labor Council sent a letter to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council to urge them not to do away with horse carriage rides, the Daily News writes:

* Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s education panel recommended delaying the use of Common Core test scores to determine the promotion of students in grades 3 through 8 this year, but it did not propose a delay of using the scores to evaluate teachers, the New York Post reports:

* Three incumbents are up for re-election to the state Board of Regents, though this year’s new candidates, incumbents and process have been under far more scrutiny than in years past because of issues related to the Common Core, the Times Union writes:

* State Sen. Adriano Espaillat received donations for his congressional bid from the state Senate Independent Democratic Conference and Klein, something allies of his main challenger, Rep. Charles Rangel, say undermines his claims of being progressive, the Daily News reports:

* All five borough presidents spent a total of $319,965 on transition and inauguration events, with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer raising the most—more than $99,000—to help pay for her $191,174 inaugural party, the Daily News writes:

* Nassau County’s financial control board extended a three-year wage freeze for county employees but offered a set of conditions the county and unions can meet to end the freeze, Newsday writes:

* Harlem pastor and congressional candidate Michael Walrond says thousands of young people will vote because he is running for Rangel’s seat, though critics are questioning his previous out-of-state housing, the Daily News writes:

* The Chicago high school student whose essay on killer whales, which ran on the Huffington Post, was lifted from for a piece of legislation from state Sen. Greg Ball will attend Animal Awareness Day May 28 in Albany, the Times Union reports:



* A review of Port Authority operations since New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took office suggests that the agency was used as a political tool for Christie long before the George Washington Bridge scandal, The New York Times reports:


INFRASTRUCTURE, ALBANY AND MORE: Have an infrastructure and transportation, state government or upstate politics tip? Contact Albany reporter Matthew Hamilton or 518-436-3763.



What's the next big storm that's going to impact New York City? Read the Center for an Urban Future’s new report on a wide range of infrastructure vulnerabilities facing New York City—from roads and subways to water mains, steam pipes, public schools, roads, bridges and homeless shelters. While the devastating effects of Super Storm Sandy focused much-needed attention on critical issues, there are a number of infrastructure vulnerabilities that have little to do with storm-preparedness or resiliency—that if left unchecked, could wreak as much havoc on New York City’s economy, competitiveness and quality of life as the next big storm. Download Caution Ahead: Overdue Investments for New York’s Aging Infrastructure at 9am TODAY by clickinghere




* Despite criticism from mainline Democrats, members of the state Senate Independent Democratic Conference are no less principled or worthy of carrying their party’s standard, writes City & State’s Morgan Pehme:

* Kerry Kennedy’s drugged driving ruling reflects the difficulty in keeping bad drivers off the road, although some lawmakers want to stiffen penalties, the Manhattan Institute’s Nicole Gelinas writes in City & State:

* The Daily News writes that New York City should be within shouting distance of universal prekindergarten now that Mayor Bill de Blasio appears to be heading toward defeat on his plan to tax the rich to fund it:

* The Post writes that polls suggest New Yorkers think de Blasio should help working people, not strip them of their livelihoods by canning horse-drawn carriage rides:



New Yorkers are resilient, and the Environmental Protection Fund ensures our communities are, too. Natural systems like floodplains, marshes, coastal dunes and wetlands are a cost-effective first line of defense. Conserving and restoring them creates jobs and boosts the economy. Growing the EPF in the budget will help strengthen our natural infrastructure and our communities. The Environmental Protection Fund works. Find out more




* Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney is mulling a primary challenge against Rep. Richard Hanna, a Central New York Republican who has a reputation for bucking his party on issues like abortion and the Affordable Care Act. “I’m thinking about it,” Tenney told City & State last night when asked if she will run. “I haven’t made any decision yet, though.” Tenney declined to explain why she might challenge Hanna, but the moderate congressman has drawn criticism from fellow Republicans before, including when he suggested at a 2012 rally for the Equal Rights Amendment that women should contribute to Democrats. Hanna has already won the Independence Party line as well as several key Republican county committee endorsements,the Syracuse Post-Standard reports, but the congressman could still face an attack on the right from Tenney or another more conservative candidate. The Post-Standard cited a report in the New York Post in which anonymous sources said that Tenney might jump into the race. Tenney told City & State that she did not have a set timetable for making a decision, but that it would be “probably fairly soon, since the petitioning season has started.”  

* Cornell University announced on Monday that its president, David Skorton, will be leaving next year to become secretary of the Washington, D.C.-based Smithsonian Institution. Skorton also serves as chairman of the board for the New York Racing Association, and it is unclear how long he will stay on in that role. A NYRA spokesman would only say that “we believe that he will continue to lead the Board with distinction.” The eventual departure could come at an opportune time for NYRA: Skorton plans to stay on at Cornell through the end of June 2015, and NYRA’s major reorganization plan is due in April 2015. But he may not be around to see if the three-year overhaul of the troubled horse racing body is a success: the reorganization is expected to be completed by October of 2015, several months after Skorton leaves the state.   



New York’s Association of Proprietary Colleges will be at the Capitol today – look for our ambassadors and their blue backpacks.  They represent 45,000 students; and 6,500 dedicated educators and professionals at our 25-degree granting colleges. By combing the state’s investment in the Tuition Assistance Program with nearly $123 million in college provided scholarship and aid students across New York are given a chance to succeed. Please and follow us on Twitter @APCColleges.




* Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams discusses his vision for the office, which breaks from his predecessor Marty Markowitz, in an interview with Nick Powell:


WHO’S HIRING: To advertise your employment opportunities in City & State First Read, or call 646-442-1662.  

Account Director, Nicholas & Lence Communications

Description: NLC is growing! Our communications and PR firm features diverse NYC based clients. An experienced Account Director with 5-7 years of NYC PR agency experience is needed, who can secure media coverage and brainstorm and execute strategic PR plans. Strong writing skills, personal media contacts and social media strategy knowledge are required. Applicant must reside in NYC/NJ area.

Further Info: Please email resumes and cover letters to Shin-Jung Hong


Government and Public Affairs Position for Major NYC Construction Trade Association

Salary:  Competitive compensation and benefits package

Description:  NYC Construction Association seeks Chief of Staff to the President and CEO. Responsibilities include development and implementation of association’s legislative and public policy agenda for NYC and NYS. Will provide support to association committees, communications program and special events. Qualifications include excellent written and oral communications skills. Must be hands on and comfortable in a team-oriented environment.

For More Information: Send cover letter, resume and sample of writing ability


Digital Project Manager for Political Media Company

Salary: range of $45,000 - $50,000 / year, with possible incentives

Description: City & State NY seeks driven, experienced individual to consult on digital and rich media efforts, with specific emphasis on web and email execution and management. Candidates should have knowledge of HTML, general web development, ad opps and email marketing. Knowledge of ModX CMS and Sailthru a plus. Duties to include: Coordinating all emails and digital marketing, enhancing overall web experience, growing online audience, helping drive digital revenue opportunities. Previous experience at a news organization also a plus. Relevant degree preferred, but not required.  

If you are interested please send a cover letter, resume and salary requirements  


MOVING ON: Juan Ignacio Rosa, former director of community affairs for former New York City Councilman Robert Jackson, is the new chief of staff for Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa … andJames Katz, formerly of Attorney General Schneiderman’s office, has joined the New York City Economic Development Corporation as director of policy and planning.



City & State’s Upcoming 3/24 Issue Spotlight: TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE

Promote your organization’s infrastructure objectives and benefits to NY’s public officials in this strategic government relations communications venue. City & State magazine’s comprehensive special section will feature: Public Officials Q&A with Joan McDonald, Tom Prendergast, Polly Trottenberg, Pat Foye and Joseph Robach (officials pending confirmation); Featured Editorial: MTA Capital Plan | Top Projects in Bridges, Highways, Ports and Railroads | Scorecard: Key Players, Issues and Stats.  The ad deadline is March 20.  For advertising information, please contact or call 212-284-9714.




Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule. 

9 a.m. – The state Senate Environmental Conservation Committee meets, Legislative Office Building, Room 901, 181 State St., Albany.

9 a.m. – The state Senate Agriculture Committee meets, Legislative Office Building, Room 411, 181 State St., Albany.

9 a.m. – New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams speaks at the Community Board 17 Commerce Committee’s Business Networking Breakfast, Tropical Paradise Ballroom, 1367 Utica Ave., Brooklyn.

10 a.m. – The state Senate Education Committee meets, State Capitol, Room 124, Albany.

10 a.m. – The Brian Lehrer Show includes interviews with New York City Public Advocate Letitia James on her lawsuit against the co-location of charter schools and The Center for an Urban Future’s Jonathan Bowles and Adam Forman on a new report on the city’s infrastructure, WNYC. 

10 a.m. – The Geraldo Rivera radio show includes interviews with former Gov. George Pataki, Carter Dillard of the Animal Defense Fund and defense attorney Gerald Shargel, WABC.   

10:30 a.m. – The state Senate Transportation Committee meets, Legislative Office Building, Room 804, 181 State St., Albany.

11 a.m. – The Capitol Pressroom features Assemblyman Philip Palmesano and state Sen. Thomas O’Mara, and UUP Vice President Jamie Dangler, WCNY.

11 a.m. – ACS CAN State Advocacy Director Michael Burgess announces a new colon cancer screening goal and calls for support, Legislative Office Building, The Well, 181 State St., Albany.

11 a.m. – Reps. Grace Meng and Richard Hanna hold a House Small Business Subcommittee on Contracting and Workforce field hearing on the Small Business Administration’s outreach to local small businesses, Queens College, Rosenthal Building, 65-30 Kissena Blvd., Queens.

11 a.m. – New York City Council Members Daniel Dromm, Fernando Cabrera, Chaim Deutsch, Rafael Espinal and others join the Campaign for Fiscal Equity and Alliance for Quality Education to call for more state school aid, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

11:45 a.m. – Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the Fair Elections for New York Campaign call for the passage of public financing of elections in the budget, State Capitol, Million Dollar Staircase, between the 3rd and 4th floors, Albany.

12 p.m. – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio makes an announcement, Blue Room, City Hall, Manhattan, and

1 p.m. – Public Advocate Letitia James joins advocates to discuss a plan to provide free lunch to all New York City public school students, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

1 p.m. – The New York City Council Cultural Affairs, Libraries and International Intergroup Relations Committee and the Libraries Subcommittee hold a joint preliminary budget hearing, City Hall, Council Chambers, Manhattan.

3 p.m. – The state Senate convenes, State Capitol, Senate Chambers, Albany.

3 p.m. – City Council Members Jumaane Williams and Robert Cornegy join the SUNY Downstate Coalition of Faith, Labor and Community Leaders concluding a 48-hour fast to protect health care services, entrance of SUNY Downstate, 470 Clarkson Ave., Brooklyn.

4 p.m. – The state Department of Transportation holds an open house on the High Speed Rail Empire Corridor, Utica Union Station, 321 Main St., Utica. Public hearing follows at 6 p.m.

4 p.m. – Dede Scozzafava, deputy secretary of state for local governments, delivers a regional budget message, LeRay Town Hall, Board Room, 8650 LeRay St., Evans Mills.

5:30 p.m. – State Sen. Neil Breslin holds a fundraiser, University Club, 141 Washington Ave., Albany.

5:30 p.m. – New York City Public Advocate Letitia James attends an Interfaith Medical Center Coalition meeting, 1545 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn.

6 p.m. – The Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee holds a fundraiser, Hilton Albany, 40 Lodge St., Albany.

6 p.m. – Donald Trump attends the Onondaga County Republican Party Executive Leadership Reception, Doubletree by Hilton Syracuse, 6301 Route 298, East Syracuse.

6 p.m. – Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams announces the 15th Annual Central Brooklyn Jazz Festival, Brooklyn Borough Hall rotunda, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

7 p.m. and 10 p.m. – Inside City Hall features New York City Department of Investigation Commissioner Mark Peters; the Wise Guys with Alfonse D'Amato, Anthony Weiner and Adolfo Carrion; and the Center for an Urban Future's new report on the state of city infrastructure, Time Warner Cable News NY1.  

7:30 p.m. – De Blasio attends a DSCC fundraiser with President Obama at a private residence, New York City.  

8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. – Capital Tonight features the Business Council’s Heather Briccetti, the Working Family Party’s Bob Master and Citizen Action’s Jess Wisneski, Time Warner Cable News.   


KICKER: “The things that matter most to us are blocked in the Senate because the Republicans remain in control. If Espaillat really wants to be a Democrat, he shouldn’t take the money that empowers the very groups that block” the Democrats’ agenda. – Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell on state Sen. and congressional candidate Adriano Espaillat accepting campaign donations from the state Senate Independent Democratic Conference and leader Jeffrey Klein, via the Daily News.