Rep. Chris Collins

Is a Trump Ally Profiting Off Congress?

The Hill reports that Buffalo Congressman Chris Collins told colleagues to buy stock in a biotech company where he’s on the board. He also reportedly has brought the company up in official business.

“If you get in early, you’ll make a big profit,” Collins reportedly told another group of House Republicans last summer, according to a second GOP lawmaker who was part of the same 2012 class as Collins.

Half a dozen Republican lawmakers interviewed for this story said they have heard Collins talking up Innate Immunotherapeutics at official meetings and in informal settings on the Hill.

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Julissa Ferreras-Copeland with her then-newborn son and husband.

Pol Bows Out to Spend Time with Family… and Means It

Normally when a politician says they are retiring to spend more time with their family, we’re skeptical. But Queens Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras-Copeland seems to really mean it, describing the anguish of not being able to spend enough time with her husband and son. Though she was widely-seen as a rising star, Ferreras-Copeland says she’s putting her happiness first.

Why it matters:

  • This shakes up the race to be the next Council Speaker, perhaps the second most powerful role in City politics after the Mayor. Ferreras-Copeland was seen as a serious contender for the position which is voted on by the City Council. While insiders pointed to her as de Blasio’s preferred candidate, her strained ties with Queens Democratic Leader Rep. Joe Crowley might have been a stumbling block.
     
    Without Ferreras-Copeland in the race for Speaker, there are no other serious candidates from Queens, leaving Crowley free to wheel and deal. Look for him to throw his support (and the votes of the dozen-or-so Councilmembers loyal to him) to whichever candidate will deliver the most for him.
     
  • Ferreras-Copeland’s retirement highlights the plight faced by women in government. We mentioned this issue last week whenthe New York Times reported on how many women left working for Mayor de Blasio amid complaints about mismanagement and a hostile workplace. There were suggestions that Ferreras-Copeland couldn’t be Speaker because of her young family, an accusation that virtually never comes up for fathers. 
  • With Ferreras-Copeland leaving, only 8 out of 51 City Councilmembers are likely to be women next year. The successor to current Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, a Puerto Rican woman, is also very likely to be a white man (probably Upper Manhattan’s Mark Levine or Corey Johnson from Chelsea). While both are progressives, many activists are dismayed at the lack of diversity in the New York City Council.

Who’s going to succeed Ferreras-Copeland?

Jackson Heights Assemblyman Francisco Moya is running to succeed Ferreras-Copeland. He has the support of the Queens Democratic Party and is widely-known thanks to his current position, making him the instant frontrunner for the Council seat.

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Andrew Cuomo at the New York Fights Back rally. Is he using it to lay the groundwork to run for President?

Cuomo Takes on Republicans (or at least some of them)

Tuesday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched a campaign to go after Republicans. Standing beside House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Cuomo declared that New York would fight back to take back Congress district-by-district.

Yet this “New York Fights Back” is an interesting campaign.

Why now?

For one, Cuomo has not previously expressed much interest in Congress. In 2011, his first year as Governor, he promised to veto gerrymandered districts; instead he settled for a half-measure that won’t take effect until 2022. When the State Senate and Assembly deadlocked over how to gerrymander the districts, he allowed a court to draw the Congressional lines for New York without offering any input. In 2014, former Rep. Steve Israel (Long Island), then-chair of the national Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, panned Cuomo’s efforts in an interview with the New York Times: “We had conversations several months ago with the governor’s staff about helping to organize and coordinate a campaign and I didn’t see the fruition to those conversations.”

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Bill de Blasio and Melissa Mark-Viverito shake on the New York City budget deal.

What’s in New York City’s New Budget for 2017-2018?

Late Friday night, Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito shook on a deal setting out New York City’s budget. They accomplished this difficult negotiation weeks before the deadline (it’s the earliest budget since 1992), likely in part because the Mayor and Council Members need to go out and campaign for re-election.

The plan has New York City spending $85.2 billion, slightly more than de Blasio’s earlier budget proposal. This is the final budget of Mayor de Blasio’s four-year term, during which time the budget has increased nearly 20% from $72 billion.

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Andrew Cuomo and Bill de Blasio

Cuomo and de Blasio engaged in more one-upmanship?

Mayor Bill de Blasio is planning on signing new laws this week to help low-wage workers. So, of course, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration is trying to pull one over on them.

In this case, the issue is low-wage worker scheduling. The city’s rules would forbid stores and fast-food restaurants from cancelling workers’ shifts without notice. It would also require that companies increase workers’ hours before hiring new employees. The state rules are still being formulated and might apply to more workers. However, the regulations could be weaker on the city rules and prevent New York City and other localities from imposing stricter rules.

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Recently, countdown clocks have shown more and more delays for subway riders.

MTA Leaving Subway Riders High and Dry

  • After weeks of increasingly severe subway delays, the MTA voted on a new spending plan that does not include additional money for repairs and could lead to higher fares.
  • Advocates and unions say more money is needed to actually fix the MTA.
  • Cuomo’s promises of attention so far haven’t translated into significant action.

Just a day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a contest to quickly improve the subways following mounting delays, the MTA board voted for a spending plan that showed where its priorities really are: not with riders.

What’s in the new spending plan?

The MTA voted for $3 billion in new spending between now and 2019. That money will go toward these main expenses:

  • $1.5 billion for a new Long Island Rail Road track
  • $700 million to begin construction on the second phase of the Second Avenue Subway
  • $400 million to replace tollbooths with electronic systems

Replacing the subway’s outdated, Great Depression-era technology did not get any additional funding and the MTA actually pushed back work on the 8th Ave A/C/E lines until 2020. They also cut over $1 billion in funding for new trains.

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Mayor Bill de Blasio

Bill de Blasio Just Can’t Get Out of His Own Way

Memorial Day weekend brought a drumbeat of bad headlines for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio:

Break these down for me

The first two stories, both from the Post are fairly inconsequential but telling about Bill de Blasio’s troubles.

Supporters upset about his tardiness and disorganization:

The de Blasio administration attempted to keep de Blasio’s emails with five outside advisors under wraps. The administration argued that the five were “agents of the city”, even though there were no agreements of any sort to that effect, and so the Freedom of Information Law did not apply. NY1 sued for access to the emails under FOIL and won.

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The Brothers Crowley: Sean and Joe

Power Corrupts: Crowley Delivers

We’ve mentioned Rep. Joe Crowley, before. He’s one of New York’s most powerful representatives and leads the Queens Democratic Party.

What’s new?

Now comes the latest story from the New York Post: Hunts Point Terminal Produce Cooperative (in the Bronx) hired Sean Crowley, brother of the Queens representative. In 2013, Rep. Joe Crowley secured $10 million for the Hunts Point market. Making everything go full circle: Sean’s firm (Davidoff, Hutcher and Citron), their employees, and people connected to Hunts Point Terminal donated more than $70,000 to groups associated with Congressman Crowley.

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Does Adriano Espaillat still stand with Marisol Alcantara?

Congressional Democrats to IDC: Rejoin the Party

The ongoing feud about control of the state Senate took another turn last week.

Remind me: what’s going on?

Even though there are 32 Democrats and 31 Republicans in the Senate, Republicans control the body because nine of the Democrats support the Republican leadership. Eight of the nine are members of the Independent Democratic Conference and they’ve been under pressure recently because of the Senate lulu payroll scandal–three of them were paid for leadership positions they didn’t hold. Brooklyn Senator Simcha Felder, the ninth defector, said that he’d rejoin the Democratic Party if they did, too.

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