First Read – August 16, 2017

WEATHER: Partly sunny in Buffalo and mostly sunny in New York City and Albany. New York City, high 89; Albany, high 81; Buffalo, high 76.



* In our agency focus on the state Department of Health, we speak with five top officials to provide insight into the department’s key programs – from Medicaid to medical marijuana – and some of its biggest threats, like Zika and the deepening opioid crisis.

* The racially charged remarks of hedge fund manager Daniel Loeb directed at state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins cannot be dismissed as an isolated incident, and the elected officials who accept his campaign money are implicitly endorsing racism, Zakiyah Ansari and Jonathan Westin write.



* Assemblyman Herman “Denny” Farrell will resign the seat he’s held for the past 42 years on Sept. 5, citing age, health and the demands of the job as chairman of the Assembly Ways and Means Committee as key reasons for his decision to retire, the Daily News writes.

* New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio will face Sal Albanese in the first Democratic primary debate, but three more Democrats who will be on the Sept. 12 ballot failed to qualify for the debate and complained about the strict eligibility criteria, Gotham Gazette writes.

* New York City agencies solicited the advice of the lobbying firm Capalino + Company to shape policy, raise funds for events and answer technical questions on myriad aspects of municipal government, while the firm grew its profits nearly 200 percent between 2013 and 2016, Politico New York reports.

* New Yorkers who purchase insurance through the state’s Affordable Care Act exchange will face steep rate hikes next year, as state officials announced that rates for individual policies offered through the insurance marketplace will increase, on average, by 13.9 percent in 2018, the Daily News reports.

* In the wake of the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, some New York City community leaders and politicians are renewing calls to remove the names of Confederate generals from streets in the Fort Hamilton military base in Brooklyn, The Wall Street Journal reports.

* More news below …


Accelerate your future at Metropolitan College of New York! Join us at our Open House on August 19th at 11 am at our Bronx Campus. MCNY offers personalized education with the flexibility to attend and graduate on your schedule. Seats are filling up fast! Meet with an advisor about your financial aid and scholarship opportunities, available to those who qualify. RSVPhere.



* The state Department of Environmental Conservation reported Tuesday that it was investigating another possible discharge into the Niagara River from the Niagara Falls Wastewater Treatment Plant, so soon after the July 29 incident, The Buffalo News reports.

* New projections by the Regional Plan Association show the number of workers commuting from New Jersey into Manhattan could rise by 24 percent or more by 2040, so the region needs to improve its cross-Hudson transportation systems, Politico New York writes.

* More than $1.9 billion of the $3.4 billion New York City claims to be saving in health care spending on municipal workers over four years is coming from budgetary tricks, new documents show, the New York Post writes.

* The Food and Drug Administration has filed court papers in support of an effort to overturn a New York City law requiring calorie counts to be posted by certain establishments, and federal judge is set to hold a hearing on Wednesday, The New York Times writes.



For over two decades, Ostroff Associates has been a trusted advisor to some of the largest companies in the world.  We are a team of experienced lobbyists with subject matter expertise who know the ins-and-outs of government.  We approach every issue with our collective insight, expertise and strategic thinking necessary to advance complex issues before policy makers at all levels of government.  Learn more about how we work at 




* Republican legislators in New York have steadfastly resisted Cuomo’s commonsense proposal for making a modest investment in prison education programs that have already proved highly successful on a small scale in New York’s prisons, the Times writes.

* De Blasio went on vacation just days after the New York City Campaign Finance Board handed him an extra $1.6 million in public funds for the Democratic primary – cash he’s supposedly entitled to because that race is so competitive – but his vacation shows that he knows it’s a walkover, the Post writes.

* President Donald Trump’s recent declaration recognizing the opioid crisis acknowledges a serious crisis, but it remains to be seen whether this new development opens up more resources, especially in Erie County, where 301 people died of opioid overdoses last year, The Buffalo News writes.

* Cuomo’s bid for a third term next year will likely be successful but difficult, depending on his ability to show he can lead on issues that matter to voters and his ability to demonstrate that he stands for more than his own ambition, Bradley Tusk writes in the Observer.



“Instant” teacher licensing is a threat to charter students and the teaching profession

By Michael Mulgrew

New York State requires prospective cosmetologists to receive 1,000 hours of specialized instruction, and real estate brokers to get 120 hours of instruction and two years of field experience.

But the State University of New York, driven by the powerful charter lobby, seeks to allow some charter schools to create their own, special teaching license for anyone who finishes 30 hours of instruction and works 100 hours in a classroom.

If adopted, these changes will send a cynical message to charter parents: your children do not deserve a fully qualified teacher. Find out more HERE.




* Christina Greer, associate professor of political science at Fordham University, joined the New York Slant podcast to discuss President Donald Trump’s delay in condemning white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, and if New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has fulfilled his own progressive promises.


HAPPY BIRTHDAY: To John Emrick, former chief of staff for the state Senate Independent Democratic Conference … Joe Rossi, Park Strategies managing director … Maryanne Schretzman, executive director of the New York City Center for Innovation through Data Intelligence … Jessica Simeone, news assignment editor at BuzzFeed News … Adrienne Umeh, executive director at the Arthur Ashe Learning Center … and to Deanna Zandt, co-founder and partner at Lux Digital.


MOVING ON: Nick Sifuentes is leaving as deputy director of the Riders Alliance to become executive director of the Tri-State Transportation Campaign.


CONGRATULATIONS: To Michael Owh, director of the New York City Mayor’s Office of Contract Services, and his wife Ellen, on the birth of their son, Amory Jason Yae Joon Owh, on Aug. 15.


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 JOBS – WHO’S HIRING: We have added new features to improve your experience on the site.  To check out the updates, and view all jobs please visit To advertise your employment opportunities with City & State, email or call 212-268-0442 ext. 2022.

Government Relations Coordinator, Davidoff Hutcher and Citron LLP

Davidoff Hutcher and Citron LLP, a top tier New York City based law and government affairs firm is seeking one (1) government relations coordinator to support a team of City and State government relations professionals. Experience working in government and/or in government relations is preferred.Interested parties should send resume and cover letter to the attention of Brittany M. Armstead at

Policy And Advocacy Director, Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York

Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York, Inc. (CCC) is a 73-year-old non-profit, multi-issue child advocacy organization whose mission is to ensure that every New York child is healthy, housed, educated and safe.  Our unique approach to child advocacy is fact-based, relies on partnerships between our professional staff and our lay and professional volunteers on CCC’s Board and Advocacy Council, and requires the ability to effectively engage elected and appointed government officials, City and State agency leaders, direct service colleagues, philanthropic partners, and New Yorkers at large.

Governmental Relations Representative, NYS School Boards Association

NYSSBA, the statewide voice for the interests of public boards of education, seeks an experienced individual for our Latham, NY office to:

•         Be a high profile, visible advocate for NYSSBA’s legislative agenda.

•         Review and analyze legislation in assigned committees.

•         Maintain regular contact with school board members around the state.

•         Represent the Association in coalitions and other meetings.




Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.

8 a.m. – City & State hosts the 2017 On Education conference featuring New York City Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, state Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa, CUNY Chancellor James Milliken, SUNY Chairman H. Carl McCall and others, Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place, Manhattan.

8 a.m. – New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett attends the calorie labeling lawsuit arguments and holds a media availability outside the courthouse following the conclusion of the hearing, Southern District Court, 500 Pearl St., Manhattan.

8:45 a.m. – Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul hosts a roundtable discussion with women leaders, Parkview Restaurant, 145 Front St., Owego.

9:30 a.m. – Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo and the Broome-Tioga Suffrage Anniversary Committee announce upcoming events, Tioga County Courthouse, 20 Court St., Owego.

10 a.m. – The New York City Department of Environmental Protection holds a public hearing, 1 Centre St., Manhattan.

10 a.m. – The New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services holds a public hearing, 1 Centre St., Manhattan.

10 a.m. – Rep. Claudia Tenney tours Family Health Network for National Health Center Week and receives an award, 17 Main St., Suite 302, Cortland.

10 a.m. – Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and Assemblyman Ron Castorina host a press conference to call for placing stop signs at schools and clearing sidewalks of overgrown vegetation to reduce risks to pedestrian safety, Greencroft Playground, intersection of Redgrave Avenue and Greencroft Avenue, Staten Island.

10 a.m. – “The Brian Lehrer Show” features James Fallows of The Atlantic; Kai Wright and Kristen Clarke of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law; and comedian and actress Robin Thede, WNYC.

11 a.m. – Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul announces the winners of the 76West Clean Energy Competition, DoubleTree by Hilton hotel, 225 Water St., Binghamton.

11 a.m. – New York City mayoral candidate Sal Albanese holds a press conference on the increase in homeless students and outlines a plan for “truly affordable housing” and a pied-a-terre tax, outside City Hall gates, Broadway and Murray Street, Manhattan.

11 a.m. – The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and elected officials announce the $1 million grand prize winner of the 76West Clean Energy Competition, DoubleTree by Hilton hotel, Grand Ballroom, 225 Water St., Binghamton.

11 a.m. – “The Capitol Pressroom” features state Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox, Cherie Messore of WNY STEM, Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi on abuse and neglect in state-run group homes and facilities and Manatt’s Bruce Gyory, WCNY.

12 p.m. – Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie makes an announcement regarding mass transit and transportation infrastructure in Westchester County, White Plains Train Station, 16 Ferris Ave., White Plains.

12 p.m. – U.S. Rep. Claudia Tenney and Broome County Executive Jason Garnar tour Interstate 81 and state Route 17 infrastructure improvements, I-81 N. Exit 17 W., Route 7, Binghamton.

1:30 p.m. – Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul delivers remarks at the ribbon-cutting for the new Corning Community College Health Education Center, Corning Community College, 132 Denison Parkway E., Corning.

2 p.m. – The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs holds a public hearing, 42 Broadway, Manhattan.

2:30 p.m. – Tenney tours the Greater Binghamton Airport and announces a federal grant, Greater Binghamton Airport, 2534 Airport Road, Johnson City.

5 p.m. – Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, Western New York clergy and community leaders hold a prayer vigil in response to protests and violence in Charlottesville, Durham Memorial AME Zion Church, 174 E. Eagle St., Buffalo.

5:30 p.m. – State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan and state Sen. Catharine Young host the Saratoga Salute, National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, 191 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs.

6 p.m. – The Suffolk County Republican Committee hosts the Chairman Club’s Fundraising Reception, featuring Reps. Peter King and Lee Zeldin, Tellers American Chophouse, 605 Main St., Islip.

6 p.m. – New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat, state Sen. Marisol Alcantara, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and state Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa hold a rally against the developer SJM Partners, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Workforce 1 and Marshall’s, corner of 179th Street and Broadway, Bronx.

6:45 p.m. – Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer attends A. Philip Randolph Campus High School Summer Bridges to College and Career Readiness Celebration, 443 W. 13th St., Manhattan.


Send sked items to


Come hear the discussionsOn Sustainability - Policymakers and leaders in sustainability and energy will discuss the green initiatives in New York, reducing the carbon footprint, water resiliency and protection, and food sustainability. The expert speakers include Kathryn Garcia, Commissioner of the NYC Dept. of Sanitation, Vincent Sapienza, Acting Commissioner of the NYC Dept. of Environmental Protection, and Mark Chambers, Director of the Mayor's Office of Sustainability.Click here to RSVP for the forum on September 28th at the Museum of Jewish Heritage.



KICKER: “I don't want to embarrass myself by putting the ice cream in my ear. I want to leave the day before that, not the day after.” – Assemblyman Denny Farrell, on his reasons for retiring, via the Daily News.