First Read – March 24, 2017

WEATHER: A chance of rain and sleet in New York City, a wintry mix is likely in Albany and rain in Buffalo. New York City, high 50; Albany, high 42; Buffalo, high 49.



* Shortly after a vote on the House Republicans’ health care bill was postponed, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul blasted the GOP proposal in an interview, including an amendment from New York Reps. Chris Collins and John Faso that would shift upstate county Medicaid costs to the state.

* The Veterans Defense Program is an invaluable resource for veterans suffering from mental health issues, but with only one office upstate in Batavia, it’s time for the state Legislature to provide resources for a downstate office, U.S. Army veteran Peter Ivan writes.

* The theme for the 2017 Somos el Futuro conference is: “A Legacy of Nourishing and Empowering Future Generations,” but 30 years after the founding of the New York state Assembly and Senate Puerto Rican/Hispanic Task Force, a column by Gerson Borrero asks: Has Somos worked?

* Are the Post’s Yoav Gonen and NY1’s Grace Rauh the biggest winners, or did Jeff Klein or Eric Schneiderman have a better week? Did anyone have a worse week than ex-state Sen. George Maziarz and his successor, Robert Ortt? Cast your vote in the latest Winners & Losers.



* 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.

* James Jackson, a white man who police say traveled to New York City to kill black men and killed a black 66-year-old man in midtown Manhattan, was arraigned and charged with second-degree murder as a hate crime, The New York Times reports.

* Rensselaer County District Attorney Joel Abelove filed a civil complaint in state Supreme Court seeking to overturn Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order giving the state attorney general authority in cases where unarmed civilians are killed during confrontations with police, the Times Union reports.

* 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.

* More news below …



Homeownership rates remain at historic lows, and New Yorkers are finding it difficult to save for their first home.  A proposal to help first-time home buyers, NY First Home (A.5616-Ramos/S.4058-Little), passed the State Senate unanimously in 2016 and has broad public support (84% of New Yorkers – Siena Research poll).  Tell state lawmakers in Albany to pass NY First Home to incentivize homeownership and provide another reason to call New York home.



* 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.

* Seneca Nation of Indians’ President Todd Gates said the nation is looking to make financial agreements directly with the three cities that host its casinos and that its obligation to the state has ended, The Buffalo News reports.

* In their budget resolutions, state Senators and Assembly members came out against a proposal to add a Medicare surcharge for so-called high-income public sector retirees, as the federal government does, the Times Union reports.

* New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio walked out on his own news conference without answering any questions because he was irked that reporters were not asking him about what he wanted to discuss, the Times reports.

* A grass-roots group is urging the Queens Democratic Party to kick out state Sen. Jose Peralta because they believe his membership in the Independent Democratic Conference, which is allied to the GOP in the state Senate, thwarts progressive goals, the Daily News reports.



Be a Success Story!  Whether you are starting a new career or enhancing your professional credentials, a master’s degree can be an essential part of your professional and personal development. Metropolitan College of New York (MCNY) offers accelerated graduate degree programs in business, education, emergency management, financial services, healthcare, media or public affairs to help you achieve your academic goals.  Accelerate your future!  Learn how at an MCNY Graduate Info Session, Thursday, March 30, 6-8pm at our Manhattan Campus, 60 West Street @ Rector Street - RSVP: or call 877-650-9483




* 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.

* The Times writes that President Donald Trump is easily provoked to outrage, and tweeted condolences to an American killed in a terrorist rampage in London, but seems unable to summon that emotion on behalf of Timothy Caughman, who police say was stabbed to death by a white man who traveled to New York to kill black men.

* The Times Union writes that U.S. Rep. John Faso’s decision to support the American Health Care Act amounts to a stunning series of betrayals to his constituents, women in his district as well as state taxpayers.

* Faso writes in the Post that property taxes are killing upstate New York, and what is driving these local costs – and the ensuing brain drain – is Medicaid, so he and U.S. Rep. Chris Collins introduced a measure to save upstate county taxpayers $2.3 billion and give Albany two and a half years to modernize its Medicaid program.

* De Blasio writes in the Daily News that New York should live up to its reputation of being a proudly progressive state, take care of our people and pass an expanded state millionaires tax and a mansion tax.

* NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. write in the Journal that federal legislation requiring New York to honor concealed-carry firearms permits issued in other states would constitute a dangerous interference with local laws.



Rebuild New York Now, a broad coalition of elected officials, environmental groups, labor and businesses seeking to raise public awareness about New York's infrastructure challenges, has launched a statewide campaign calling for investments that will ensure the safety of New York families who worry daily about the quality of the drinking water in their homes and children's schools. It's time to invest in our water like our lives depend on it. Because they do.




* New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito speaks about her plans after she leaves office, including the possibility of something on the national level – “some sort of a role in the work that needs to get done to push back” against President Donald Trump.



* For years, New Yorkers have pegged New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and his former primary foe, Christine Quinn, as rivals. But City & State obtained emails between Quinn, now executive director of Win, a nonprofit that shelters homeless women and children, and City Hall that suggest they routinely support one another like friends. For instance, Lincoln Restler, who does intergovernmental affairs for the mayor’s office, offered to “nudge the right folks” at the city Department of Homeless Services when the city had concerns about one of Win’s shelters. The concerns prompted the administration and Quinn to shift plans for a joint press appearance to a second Win facility. And at another point, Quinn thanked Restler for “finding an internship” while sending him what appears to be an individual’s cover letter and resume. She also frequently gave de Blasio positive publicity: Quinn provided quotes featured in administration announcements about homelessness policies; she told City Hall she would praise their effort to repair shelters in an editorial run on City & State’s Slant platform; and she agreed to “amplify” de Blasio’s message on social media. The correspondence between December 2015 and December 2016 was received in a Freedom of Information Law request.



Mark Weprin, former Deputy Secretary of Legislative Affairs for Governor Cuomo, NYC Council Member, and NYS Assemblyman, has joined Greenberg Traurig’s dynamic Government Law & Policy Practice. Mark joins the firm’s deep roster of attorneys with experience in government and elected positions, and is part of a one-stop team of a multidisciplinary attorneys representing real estate clients, corporations and non-profit organizations in legislative, regulatory,  real estate, land use, zoning, government, environmental and tax matters.



HAPPY BIRTHDAY: Belatedly, on Thursday, to state Sen. Todd Kaminsky … today, to Patrick McCarthy, managing partner at Mercury Public Affairs … to Laura Dolan, account executive at Geto & de Milly … to Aaron Rutkoff, deputy managing editor at Bloomberg … to Betty Cooper Wallerstein, president of the East 79th Street Neighborhood Association … to Cassandra Anderson, associate vice president of the New York Insurance Association … to Thomas Staudter, presidential communications specialist at Lehman College … to David McNally, AARP New York’s director of government affairs and advocacy … to Chapin Fay, vice president and associate counsel at Mercury Public Affairs … to Matthew Engel, President of CHIP … and to Clare Newman, chief of staff and executive vice president of the Brooklyn Navy Yard … on Saturday, to Anna Brower, communications director for New York City Public Advocate Letitia James … and to Katherine Delgado, deputy chief of staff in the Westchester County Executive’s Office … and on Sunday, to Jeremy Soffin, executive vice president at BerlinRosen … to Rory Whelan, former regional vice president of government relations at Time Warner Cable … to Cathy Calhoun, chief of staff to the New York State Department of Transportation … and Sara Valenzuela, vice president at Patrick B. Jenkins & Associates … and to John Byrne, executive assistant district attorney for special investigations in the Nassau County District Attorney’s Office.


The Professional Staff Congress/CUNY welcomes Albany’s focus on free tuition. But affordability won’t be meaningful without new investment in quality education. Students like Fatime Uruci of John Jay College are making the most of their CUNY opportunity. But CUNY needs 4,000 more full-time faculty and funding to support its 12,000-adjunct faculty. This is the year to invest more in CUNY classrooms so students like Fatime can realize their dreams.



MOVING ON: Omar Khan, a former assistant trade representative in President Barack Obama’s administration, who also worked at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and on the Hurricane Sandy Recovery Task Force, is joining Mercury’s New York City office as a senior vice president.


Have a birthday, career change, birth or death to announce? Let us know and we’ll include it in First Read – just email



CITY & STATE CAREERS – WHO’S HIRING: To advertise your employment opportunities with City & State, email or call 212-268-0442 ext. 2022. Visit www.CityandState.Careers to view all jobs.

Data Analyst, Citizens’ Committee for Children

Unique opportunity to serve as part of the team managing NYC’s premiere child well-being database. Support CCC’s research, community education and advocacy by providing data collection, analysis, mapping, and producing data reports.  Candidate must have experience analyzing large data sets and proficiency in ArcGIS.   




Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany.

8 a.m. – New York Nonprofit Media hosts FundCon bringing together fundraising and development executives from nonprofits across New York to discuss how to create a campaign and raise money, The Convene, 32 Old Slip, Manhattan.

9 a.m. – Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul delivers remarks at the Region II Consortium of Alcohol and Substance Abuse Services legislative breakfast, DoubleTree Hotel and Conference Center, 1111 Jefferson Road, Rochester.

10 a.m. ­– New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio appears live on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show,” WNYC.

10 a.m. – U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney, state Sen. Liz Krueger, Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Councilman Ben Kallos, Win CEO Christine Quinn announce their welcoming of supportive housing for women and children, 316 E. 91st St., Manhattan.

10 a.m. – New York City Councilman Robert Cornegy and the Black, Latino and Asian Caucus hold a press conference to demand a targeted response by the NYPD to Monday's fatal stabbing of Timothy Caughman by 28-year-old white supremacist James Jackson, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

10:30 a.m. – Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul visits SUNY Brockport to promote the benefits of the Excelsior Scholarship College Affordability Program, College Ballroom, 350 New Campus Drive, Brockport.

11 a.m. – “The Capitol Pressroom” features City & State Albany reporter Ashley Hupfl on this week’s Winners & Losers, Ken Lovett of the Daily News and Michael Gormley of Newsday, U.S. Rep. John Faso on the AHCA and state Sen. Brad Hoylman, WCNY.

11 a.m. – Assemblyman Sean Ryan, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and others unveil a package of actions designed to better protect seniors in nursing homes, Edward A. Rath County Office Building, 16th floor conference room, 95 Franklin St., Buffalo.

11:30 a.m. – New York City Councilmen Jimmy Van Bramer and Jumaane Williams tour Queensbridge Houses with Jon Trickett, a member of the British Parliament, and Cleveland City Councilman Zack Reed, Jacob A. Riis Settlement House, 10-25 41st. Ave., Queens.

11:30 a.m. – New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and others attend ceremony commemorating the 106th anniversary of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire, Washington Place and Greene Street, Manhattan.

12 p.m. – Advocates for people with developmental disabilities and the #bFair2DirectCare campaign urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature to provide funds so direct care workers can be paid a living wage, Duffy Square, 47th Street and Seventh Avenue, Manhattan.

12:45pm – Van Bramer speaks at the Share for Life Conference on Civic Engagement, Woodside Houses Community Room, 50-19 Broadway, Queens.

1 p.m. – Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi and others hold a press conference to raise awareness of homeless families with disabled children living in New York City's shelters, Association for Metroarea Autistic Children, 25 W. 17th St., Manhattan.

1 p.m. – Van Bramer hosts a participatory budgeting vote kickoff and project expo, Kaufman Studios, 34-12 36th St., Queens.

1:30 p.m. – State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announces the recipients of over $20 million in grants for land banks across New York state, Albany County Building, Cahill Room, first floor, 112 State St., Albany.

2 p.m. – State Sen. David Carlucci and Meals on Wheels Rockland rally against the president's planned budget cuts and raise awareness of the impacts they would have throughout the Hudson Valley, 121 W. Nyack Road, Nanuet.

3 p.m. – Assemblyman Richard Gottfried hosts a presentation by the Medicare Rights Center to discuss benefits and programs that help pay Medicare costs and how they may be of benefit to seniors and caregivers, Hudson Guild, 441 W. 26th St., Manhattan.

7 p.m. – New York City Councilwoman Debi Rose celebrates women in history, P.S. 78, 100 Tompkins Ave., Staten Island.

9 p.m.  – Somos el Futuro conference welcome reception, The Hilton Albany, Chambers Room, 40 Lodge St., Albany.



The Black Car Fund protects for-hire drivers and their passengers in New York by providing workers’ compensation for drivers, driver background checks, defensive driving courses and CPR training--making hundreds-of-thousands of rides a month safer for New Yorkers. The Black Car Fund: Anywhere from everywhere. Safely. Learn More


KICKER:  “OK, Mara, you’re smart. I’m here to talk about this. 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?” - New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio addressing Wall Street Journal reporter Mara Gay, who asked a question not related to the mansion tax proposal, which de Blasio wanted to discuss, via The New York Times.