First Read – February 4, 2014

Written by Morgan Pehme on . Posted in Latest.

WEATHER: Mostly sunny across upstate and downstate; increasing clouds in western New York. New York City, high 34; Albany, high 32; Buffalo, high 25.


De Blasio Pre-K Push Mirrors Dinkins’ Safe Streets, Safe City Negotiation: While making the case for a temporary tax hike to fund his universal preschool proposal in Albany last week, Mayor Bill de Blasio drew a parallel to former mayor David Dinkins similar efforts to raise taxes to pay for his Safe Streets, Safe City program, Nick Powell writes:



* Though New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio spoke at a pro-Israel lobbying group’s event last month, he backs President Barack Obama’s stance on Iran sanctions, The Wall Street Journal writes:

* A bill aimed at preventing academic boycotts against Israel was pulled from consideration by the Assembly Higher Education Committee, the Times Union reports:

* Some patients enrolled in Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield and Health Republic—two of the largest companies that are part of the state’s health insurance exchange—still don’t have coverage and have problems getting treatment, Newsday reports:

* New York City Councilman Dan Garodnick is proposing a bill that would ban anonymous campaign ads, with the Campaign Finance Board able to impose fines according to how widely the ads are circulated, The New York Times writes:

* A second federal bribery trial for Brooklyn Assemblyman William Boyland Jr., who was acquitted of conspiracy to accept bribes charges in 2011, kicked off, the Times reports:

* Small- and medium-sized liquor and wine store owners say a new bill that would require sprits sold in New York to be kept at warehouses in the state for at least 24 hours before sale would hike prices to wholesalers and ultimately drive them out of business, the Daily News writes:

* De Blasio says he will move forward with plans to make the Lunar New Year and Muslim holy days Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha school holidays, though he has not taken a position on whether the Hindu festival Diwali should be a day off, the Daily News writes:

* De Blasio says he won’t allow charter schools to share space in public school buildings in the future, a move that follows a proposal to cut $210 million from a charter construction fund, the New York Post writes:

* Former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn has joined the board of Athlete Ally, a nonprofit whose mission is to fight homophobia in sports, the Daily News reports:

* A Queens sanitation worker was forced to retire from his Department of Sanitation job after taking a $20 tip, a violation of city ethics rules, according to a ruling by the Conflict of Interest Board, the Daily News reports:

* The New York City Administration for Children’s Services approved for the city to pay for a 21-year-old in foster care to undergo a sex change operation under a policy that covers such procedures if a person has no insurance coverage, the Daily News reports:

* Six Metro-North supervisors allegedly went to Pennsylvania on the company’s time to buy fireworks and cigarettes, the Post reports:

* In his first late-night television interview, de Blasio matched “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” host Jon Stewart joke for joke while touching on snow, pre-kindergarten and pizza-eating issues, the Times writes:



Dutchess County residents are facing the closure of St. Francis Hospital, a critical source of behavioral and mental health services in the Mid-Hudson region. Vassar Brothers Medical Center and Health Quest have the proven financial track record to save services at St. Francis, keep them local, lower costs, and at the same time, offer employment and a fair contract to its workforce of 1,800 employees.  Learn more about Vassar Brother’s plan by visiting:




* While some of New York City’s well-known parks are operated by private conservancies, the city’s Parks Department has little money to operate, something state Sen. Daniel Squadron wants to change, The New York Times’ Michael Powell writes:

* The Times writes that with de Blasio poised to take on union contract negotiations, now is the time for the mayor to put the city and its labor costs on sound footing and upend the widely held expectations of what Democrats can do:

* The Times Union writes that with 11 vacant state Legislature seats—which represent 1.2 million people—it’s time for the state to call special elections:

* The Daily News writes that with the opening of the Museum of the City of New York’s new exhibit on graffiti, the only thing as enduring as the art is the celebration of graffiti by people who live behind clean, vandalism-free facades:

* The Times writes that a bill in the state Legislature to stop state financing for academic groups that take official action to boycott higher-education instructions in Israel should be voted down or vetoed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo if it passes both houses:



* Gun owners joined the New York State Rifle and Pistol Association in droves last year, making the group the largest state affiliate of the National Rifle Association, according to the state-based group. NYSRPA President Tom King said membership numbers leapt from the mid 20,000s to more than 41,000 in 2013. Gun rights activists have been at odds with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and some state lawmakers since the passage of the SAFE Act in late 2012, a potential factor behind the increase in membership. King attributed the growth to a combination of gun owners looking to protect their rights and a desire to join the association’s ongoing lawsuit against the legislation. “They need somebody to protect their rights,” he said. “But they all want to be a party to it, too. They want to be able to say, ‘We helped do this. We were there. We donated for it. We were part of the organization that did it.’ ” National NRA membership has jumped since the Newtown, Conn., shooting that spurred the SAFE Act. The association surpassed the 5-million mark midway through 2013, according to reports.

* Adding to the turnover at New York City’s housing agencies, RuthAnne Visnauskas, acting commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation & Development, has submitted her resignation and will be leaving in two weeks, according to sources with knowledge of the situation. Visnauskas was a holdover from former mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration, in which she served for eight years, first as deputy HPD commissioner before taking over the top job from Mathew Wambua, who left the administration in August for the private sector. At HPD, Visnauskas helped implement Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan, which created and preserved over 160,000 units of affordable housing. Her departure follows that of another former Bloomberg housing official, Marc Jahr, the president of the city’s Housing Development Corporation, who, as City & State reported, was asked to resign at the behest of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s new Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, Alicia Glen. Calls placed to an HPD spokesman went unreturned, and the mayor’s office did not respond to a request for comment. De Blasio has yet to name permanent replacements for Visnauskas or Jahr, nor has he named a chairperson for the New York City Housing Agency, whose former chairman, John Rhea, resigned in December.



ACCA, the global organization for financial leaders and accountants, in partnership with Pace University, presents “Cybercrime in the World Today 2014: Emerging Threats” on Thursday, February 13, 2014. This free event will include a networking breakfast reception followed by a panel of industry leaders. David Szuchman, Executive Assistant District Attorney Chief of the Investigation Division Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, will give an update on the District Attorney’s office and introduce the panel of experts from IBM, Citi, FBI and IFAC.  Please visit  for more details and to RSVP.



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


Communications Manager, Times Square Alliance

Salary: Commensurate with experience

The Times Square Alliance is seeking a smart, creative self-starter to join its Communications Department. The candidate must possess excellent writing and communications skills, experience in project management, digital strategy, content creation and media and public relations. The candidate will create, author, and coordinate key components of our communication vehicles reporting to the Director of Communications.

Further Info: Click here for full job description. Please email cover letter and resume, Attn: HR – COM – Manager.


Health Law and Policy Advocate, Empire Justice Center-Albany Office

Description- This is a dynamic opportunity to help lead and shape our health law and policy work at the state level. With an initial focus on policy, the successful candidate will work with our Health Team to develop and implement a powerful blend of policy, training, technical assistance, and impact litigation to advance the needs of our clients.

To view the full job description and apply, please visit:


Director of Economic Development, Union Square Partnership (USP)

Description:  The Union Square Partnership is seeking a senior-level project manager to implement initiatives that will enhance the streetscape and promote retail and commercial activity in one of the City’s hottest 24/7 districts.  The Director will develop metrics to track the neighborhood’s overall progress and facilitate connections between businesses and a multitude of resources.  Candidates with excellent communication skills and New York City government experience a plus.

Further info: Send resume/cover letter to


Vice President, Communications, Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce

Description: This position is a direct report to the President and CEO and is charged with developing and implementing comprehensive communications and strategic marketing plans to increase the organization’s visibility and sphere of influence as well as developing and enhancing the organization’s media presence. The Vice President for Communications & Marketing must make sure that the look, brand and both written and visual communications of the Chamber continue to match the outstanding programming that is being conducted. Must have press experience as a reporter and/or editor for a newspaper or website.

Further info: Send resume and expression of interest to Carlo Scissura at


HAPPY BIRTHDAY: To Assemblyman Herman Farrell … to Assemblyman Raymond Walter … and to Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney … and belatedly, on Saturday, to Michael O’Loughlin, New York director of M+R Strategic Services.


MOVING ON: David Gahl is now Pace Energy and Climate Center’s director of strategic engagement … former New York City Councilwoman Jessica Lappin has been named as the new head of the Alliance for Downtown New York … Athena Moore has been appointed northern Manhattan director for the Manhattan borough president’s office … and Jason Weingartner, formerly the finance director of the New York Republican State Committee, was named the state GOP’s executive director, replacing Michael Lawler, who is leaving to become a campaign consultant.



Open House for Graduate Programs on February 25th. Join us from 6 to 7:30 PM and meet with faculty, current students, and alumni of Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs. Obtain information about programs, admissions, and career services. The School of Public Affairs offers leading graduate programs in: Public Administration (MPA), Executive MPA, Higher Education Administration (MSEd). TheFeb. 25th Open House is at Baruch College, 151 E. 25th Street. 7th floor Conference Center. Event Details




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

9 a.m. – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio makes an announcement, Blue Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

9 a.m. – State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli speaks at the Public Employee Conference Legislative Breakfast, Empire State Plaza, Hart Lounge, Albany.

9 a.m. – The state Senate Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Committee meets, Legislative Office Building, Room 813, 181 State St., Albany.

9:30 a.m. – The state Senate Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee meets, Legislative Office Building, Room 510, 181 State St., Albany.

9:30 a.m. – The state Senate and Assembly hold a joint budget hearing on housing, Legislative Office Building, Hearing Room B, 181 State St., Albany.

10 a.m. – The New York City Council State and Federal Legislation Committee meets, 250 Broadway, Committee Room, 16th floor, Manhattan.

10 a.m. – The New York City Finance Committee meets, City Hall, Committee Room, Manhattan.

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

10 a.m. – The Brian Lehrer Show features several guests discussing noise in New York City, WNYC.

10:15 a.m. – De Blasio and New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito attend The Clinton Foundation and Univision’s “Too Small to Fail” (Pequeños y Valiosos) campaign kickoff, East Harlem Council Bilingual Head Start, 440 E. 116th St., Manhattan.

10:30 a.m. – The New York City Council Rules, Privileges and Elections Committee meets, City Hall, Committee Room, Manhattan.

10:30 a.m. – The state Senate Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business Committee meets, Legislative Office Building, Room 511, 181 State St., Albany.

11 a.m. – Labor and advocacy group leaders speak at a New Yorkers for Real Immigration Reform press conference, New York Immigration Coalition, 137-139 W. 25th St., 12th floor, Manhattan.

11 a.m. – The Capitol Pressroom features state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, election attorney Jerry Goldfeder and the Fiscal Policy Institute’s Fred Floss and James Parrott, WCNY.

11 a.m. – Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy delivers remarks at Charter School Advocacy Day, Convention Center, Empire State Plaza, Albany.

11:30 a.m. – The state Senate Judiciary Committee meets, Legislative Office Building, Room 509, 181 State St., Albany.

12 p.m. – State Senate Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous urges the Assembly to pass of the Public Assistance Integrity Act, Room 332, State Capitol, Albany.

12 p.m. – The state Senate Health Committee meets, State Capitol, Room 124, Albany.

12 p.m. – New York State Deputy for Transportation Karen Rae, Metropolitan Transportation Authority CEO Thomas Prendergast and others attend the New York Public Transit Association’s Transit Awareness Day, the Well, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

12 p.m. – Mark-Viverito attends the New York City Council Committee on Rules, Privileges and Elections hearing, Committee Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

12 p.m. – State Sen. Tony Avella hosts a Senate public forum entitled “Economic Realities of Hydrofracking,” Hearing Room A, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

12:30 p.m. – State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey delivers a regional budget message, Wells College, Stratton Hall, Room 209, 170 Main St., Aurora.

1 p.m. – Mark-Viverito presides over the New York City Council stated meeting, Council Chambers, City Hall, Manhattan.

1 p.m. – Duffy delivers remarks at the New York State Association of Counties Convention, The Desmond Hotel, Main Ballroom, 660 Albany Shaker Road, Albany.

1 p.m. – The state Senate Local Government Committee meets, Legislative Office Building, Room 945, 181 State St., Albany.

1 p.m. – The state Senate Codes Committee meets, State Capitol, Room 124, Albany.

1 p.m. – The state Senate and Assembly hold a joint budget hearing on human services, Legislative Office Building, Hearing Room B, 181 State St., Albany.

1 p.m. – The Senate Democratic Conference holds a press conference on the state’s minimum wage, Senate Democratic Conference Room, Room 315,  State Capitol, Albany.

1 p.m. – The Business Council of New York State and its research affiliate, The Public Policy Institute, hold a panel discussion on the business tax climate in upstate New York, The Hilton Albany, Albany.

1:30 p.m. – The state Senate Veterans, Homeland Security and Military Affairs Committee meets, Legislative Office Building, Room 816, 181 State St., Albany.

1:30 p.m. – The New York City Council meets, City Hall, Council Chambers, Manhattan.

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

6 p.m. – Mark-Viverito attends Councilwoman Julissa Ferreras’ State of the District, Langston Hughes Library, 100-01 Northern Blvd., Queens.

7 p.m. – Rockland County Executive Ed Day delivers his State of the County address, Rockland County Legislative Chambers, 11 New Hempstead Road, New City.

7 p.m. and 10 p.m. – Inside City Hall features the NY1 Wise Guys, Philomena Lee, whose story inspired the film “Philomena,” and Stephen Berger, former chair of New York State’s 2006 hospital closing commission, Time Warner Cable News NY1.

8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. – Capital Tonight features Stewart-Cousins and State GOP Chair Ed Cox, Time Warner Cable News.



RACING & GAMING: City & State’s Upcoming Feb. 10 Issue Spotlight

Promote your organization’s racing and gaming benefits and objectives 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 Barry Sample, Cecilia Tkaczyk, Christopher Kay andSteven Cymbrowitz (officials pending confirmation); Featured Editorial: RFP: Who’s In?  Who’s Out?  |Current Siting Landscape | Gaming ScorecardKey Players, Issues and Numbers. The ad deadline is Feb. 6. For advertising information, please contact or call 212-284-9714.



KICKER: “I don’t wear the Che Guevara T-shirt at work. I have thought about that.” – New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio during a taping of “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” on if some New Yorkers might be anxious about a liberal Democrat taking charge, via The New York Times.

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