First Read – April 21, 2017

WEATHER: Scattered showers downstate, heavy rain in Albany and mostly cloudy in Western New York. New York City, high 61; Albany, high 56; Buffalo, high 51.



* Was Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Cuomo’s new Secretary Melissa DeRosa or state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman the winner of the week? Was New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio a bigger loser than Charlie King, G. Steven Pigeon or Greg Ball? Vote now for the latest Winners & Losers!

* President Donald Trump’s executive order to undo the Clean Power Plan and other Obama-era climate policies should provide reason for Cuomo to support New York’s renewable initiatives, writes Heather Leibowitz, director of Environment New York.  

* As the director of NY-Sun, David Sandbank is the man responsible for getting 3,000 megawatts of solar energy in New York by 2023 – more than tripling the current yield. He spoke with City & State to give us an update on the state’s efforts.



* Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he increased the state budget by only 2 percent, which he called the lowest increase in spending in state history, but the Assembly said its analysis shows total state spending grew 5.6 percent over the last year, the New York Post reports.

* Civil rights attorneys and police reform advocates said the NYPD shouldn’t deploy body cameras until it changes policies for a pilot program that they contend gives officers too much discretion as to when to activate the camera, The Wall Street Journal reports.

* Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey met in late February with Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to discuss how Turkey could aid U.S. interests in the region, and in exchange, the U.S. might release Reza Zarrab, a gold trader held in jail, The New York Times reports.

* Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara responded to Giuliani’s role in helping unwind the case against Zarrab by tweeting a message questioning the U.S. Justice Department’s independence under President Donald Trump, the Post reports.

* NYC & Company, New York City’s tourism arm, said it hopes to counter the “hostile” rhetoric of Trump with a $3 million ad campaign aimed at countries that often send the most visitors to the U.S., including Mexico, Newsday reports.

* More news below …



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* New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said the NYC Tech Talent Pipeline, a program created in 2014 that links schools and students with the tech sector, has helped 372 residents land jobs that pay an average annual salary of $67,000, the Daily News reports.

* Multiple sources said the New York City Department of Investigation is probing a housing program that allows tenants to buy their apartments because residents have been taking money from tenant association bank accounts and city employees for the program aren’t actually working, the Post reports.

* De Blasio will head to the Bronx in late May as part of his plan to bring City Hall to each borough for one week and he and his team will be hosted by Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr. and will work out of the Bronx Borough Hall, the Daily News reports.

* Paul Massey Jr., the Republican Party’s best funded candidate for New York City mayor, said he thinks people understand that he is de Blasio’s main competitor, but it seems that some in the party don’t share Massey’s understanding, the Daily News reports.

* New York City firefighter William Tolley, a 14-year veteran of the department, fell from the roof of an apartment building while battling a fire in Ridgewood, Queens, and died, the Times reports.


Spring/Summer Internship Program: City & State is now accepting spring/summer internship applications from college or graduate students seeking journalism experience for college/grad school credit. Two positions are available starting May 15 in the editorial department and will involve research, reporting, posting on social media, assisting the multimedia department and other related responsibilities. Please send resume, cover letter and published writing samples by May 1 to Managing Editor Ryan Somers:



What drives family homelessness in NYC? The Institute for Children, Poverty and Homelessness has released “On the Map: The Dynamics of Family Homelessness,” an in-depth data analysis of factors that impact family homelessness in NYC to inform policy makers, elected officials, educators, health care professionals, service providers, grant makers, community members. Data is presented by City Council district, community board. To obtain a free copy, go to or




* The Times Union writes that the Milton Town Board brazenly violated the town’s good government standards by appointing a Republican committee member to the Zoning Board of Appeals, and justifying it by saying the law seemed unconstitutional.

* The Buffalo News writes that the Erie County Water Authority is a “rogue operation” that has outlived its usefulness, and its most recent offense involves refusing to explain what “emergency” has prompted it to hire a law firm that costs $400 to $435 an hour.   

* The Daily News writes that Cuomo’s book deal was “fully legitimate,” but also shows how people who are supposed to work only for the public can get big personal payments from publishers that would, in any other context, be unacceptable.

* The Post writes that de Blasio backed out of a promise to produce a list of a “stunning number” of donors that he claims had their pleas for favors rejected, which is not surprising, because no one who’s looked into this could find the examples either.

* The Daily News writes that firefighter William Tolley deserves mourning and respect and that firefighting is defined by danger that can prove fatal at any moment even for poised, strong and well-trained professionals.

* Nicole Gelinas writes in the Post that de Blasio and his wife avoided paying thousands of dollars by making a byzantine tax code work for them by not paying taxes on any of the rent payments they have received from two houses in Brooklyn.


Tobacco use kills approximately 12,000 people each year in New York City. Nearly 9,000 licensed tobacco retail outlets citywide are making it harder for tobacco users to quit and contributing to youth starting to smoke. Two-thirds of those outlets are within 1,000 feet of a school. Read the new ACSCAN report here and tell city leaders that it is time to protect the health of New Yorkers by reducing the oversaturation of tobacco retail outlets.



PODCAST presented by Metropolitan College of New York:

* Two of the biggest players in the report on closing Rikers Island, former New York Court of Appeals Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman and Greg Berman of the Center for Court Innovation, talk about becoming “radicalized” on shutting down the island’s jails.


AMSNY: Thank you Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature for investing $20M in research at the state’s 16 medical schools.  We are ready to hit the ground running to create high paying research jobs and make medical discoveries that improve the lives of NY residents. Learn more here.



HAPPY BIRTHDAY: To Assemblyman Edward Braunstein … to Jon Reinish, SKDKnickerbocker senior vice president  … to 1010 WINS anchor Glenn Schuck … to Craig Johnson, a former state senator and principal in the public policy and regulation practice at Dentons … to Martin Needelman, executive director and chief counsel at Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A … to Matthew Orama, special projects manager for New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito … to Joe Reubens, partner at the Parkside Group … to Varun Sanyal, director of economic development policy at the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce … to Katherine Towell, a press officer for the New York City Council speaker … to district leader Cory Evans … and to Nicole Arrindell, staff attorney at MFY Legal Services … on Saturday, to Prisca Salazar-Rodriguez, director of scheduling in the New York City mayor’s office … to Lisa Bova-Hiatt, executive director of the Governor’s Office of Storm Recovery … to John Durso Jr., vice president of community and communications for NBC 4 New York and Telemundo 47 … to state Sen. Rubén Díaz Sr. … to Jeff Mailman, legislative director for New York City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley … to Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano … to Matt Walsh, student legal specialist at the New York City Law Department … to Erik Joerss, director of government affairs at the New York City Charter School Center … to LaShawn Henry, coordinator of employer relations and bargaining at SEIU Local 32BJ … and on Sunday, to Lisa Wager, director of government and community relations at the Fashion Institute of Technology … to Andrew Brent, head of communications for Brookfield Properties … to David Hernandez, director of constituent services for New York City Councilwoman Debi Rose … and to state Senate Deputy Democratic Leader Michael Gianaris.


MOVING ON: Staten Island borough director and citywide Islamic liaison for the New York City Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit Charles Fall is now chief of staff for Staten Island parks for the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation … Francesca Capodilupo, who previously worked as a consultant with the Vinci Group, is joining Red Horse Strategies as a senior associate.


IN MEMORIAM: Executive director of BALCONY, the Business and Labor Coalition of New York Lou Gordon died on WednesdayEleanor Friedman, a longtime Republican district leader and Gertrude & Morrison Parker West Side Republican Club member died in her sleep last week … Sol Greenberg, former district attorney of Albany County, died Thursday … and New York City firefighter William Tolley fell from the roof of a building while battling a fire and died Thursday.


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

6:30 a.m. – Dozens of workers at Tom Cat Bakery and others protest the Trump administration’s clampdown on immigrants and call for a citywide Day Without Bread, Tom Cat Bakery, 43-05 10th St., Queens.

8:15 a.m. – John Miller, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for intelligence and counterterrorism, speaks at a CityLaw Breakfast, New York Law School, Events Center, 185 W. Broadway, Manhattan.

8:30 a.m. – Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul accepts the 2017 Donald H. Gemson Award for Public Policy on behalf of Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network Breakfast, Hard Rock Cafe, 1501 Broadway, Manhattan.

9 a.m. – State Senate interns take part in a model legislative session, state Senate chambers, state Capitol, Albany.

9:30 a.m. – New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer delivers remarks at the sixth annual Business Center for New Americans Immigrant Heritage Week Awards, Business Center for New Americans, 120 Broadway, second floor, Manhattan.

9:30 a.m. – Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer speaks at a Conference on Visual Impairment and Employment, CUNY Baruch College, 55 Lexington Ave., room 14-220, Manhattan.

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

10:45 a.m. – New York City Public Advocate Letitia James delivers remarks at the Queens Chamber of Commerce MWBE Expo, Vaughn College, 8601 23rd Ave., Queens.

11 a.m. – Assemblyman David Weprin and fellow elected officials stand with Harkirat Singh, a 25-year-old Sikh taxi driver who was assaulted while on duty, Sikh Cultural Society, 9530 118th St., Queens.

12 p.m. – Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer attends the Regional Plan Association’s 2017 assembly, Grand Hyatt, 109 E. 42nd St., Manhattan.

12 p.m. – Public Advocate James delivers remarks at the District 13 Grandparents Celebration, Brooklyn Borough Hall, 209 Joralemon St., Brooklyn.

11 a.m. – “The Capitol Pressroom” features David Borton of Sustainable Energy Systems Inc., Walter Hang of Toxics Targeting, Blair Horner of New York Public Interest Research Group, AARP’s Laura Ehrich, the Times Union’s Rick Karlin, City & State’s Ashley Hupfl and others, WCNY.

11:30 a.m. – Brian Stratton, director of New York state Canal Corp., delivers a regional budget briefing, Genesee Community College, Conable Technology Building, Room T-102, 1 College Road, Batavia.

11:30 a.m. – Rep. John Katko and local leaders highlight bipartisan efforts to strengthen water infrastructure in Central New York, Emerson Park Pavilion, 6879 E. Lake Road, Auburn.

1:15 p.m. – Public Advocate James delivers remarks at U.S. Rep Carolyn Maloney and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas' Women's History Event, Astor Room, 35-11 35th Ave., Queens.

3:30 p.m. – Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul delivers regional highlights of the state budget, Oswego City Council Chambers, 13 W. Oneida St., Oswego.

6:30 p.m. – New York City School Chancellor Carmen Fariña delivers remarks at an Arts Matter event, Carnegie Hall, Weill Terrace Room, 154 W. 57th St., Manhattan.

7 p.m. and 10 p.m. – “Road to City Hall” features the Friday Reporters Roundtable, NY1.

7 p.m. – Public Advocate James delivers remarks at the Hamilton-Madison House's 38th annual June Lee Chinatown Banquet, Jing Fong Restaurant, 20 Elizabeth St., Manhattan.

8:30 p.m. – Public Advocate James delivers remarks at the Empire Funeral Directors Associations Inc's Annual Scholarship Dinner, Villa Barone Manor, 737 Throgs Neck Expressway, Bronx.



Bill de Blasio is failing our city's students and their families:

30% of New York high school students don’t graduate. Of those who do, half aren’t taught the skills to go to college or get a job.

Paul Massey will make sure families have the choices they deserve. New York needs innovation with education grants, tax credits, scholarships and savings accounts. Families deserve to choose among the public, charter, private and parochial schools that work in their neighborhoods. Learn more.


KICKER: “Consumers have many choices. We believe if the United States is perceived as hostile, or if visitors lose confidence with our entry process or are unfairly denied entry, they will choose to spend their money visiting and exploring destinations in other countries that are easier to enter, welcome, and inclusive.” – Donna Keren, NYC & Company’s senior vice president for research and analysis, on why New York City’s tourism arm is launching a $3 million ad campaign, via Newsday.