• New York Provides Hurricane Harvey Support
  • Governor Announces State Efforts to Fight Heroin and Opioid Addiction
  • Governor Announces Funding Recipients for Yahoo Community Fund for Niagara County
  • Assembly Speaker to Return to Teaching at Monroe College
  • Attorney General Announces Settlement with ESCO
  • SED Appoints Assistant Commissioner for Innovation and School Reform
  • Western New York Lawmakers Call for Electronic Tolling
  • Political Update
  • Coming Up

New York State Provides Hurricane Harvey Support

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Gov. Cuomo announced that New York State has deployed emergency personnel and equipment to help mitigate damage and provide aid in the recovery effort.

Gov. Cuomo said:

“As our neighbors in the south continue to grapple with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, I am deploying additional personnel and equipment to assist in continued search and rescue operations.  New Yorkers are no strangers to the destruction that can come at the hands of Mother Nature, and we are prepared to continue to support these efforts in any way we can.”

Governor Announces State Efforts to Fight Heroin and Opioid Addiction

Last Tuesday, Gov. Cuomo announced that the state is taking two actions to expand addiction treatment and recovery services for people who are addicted to heroin or other opioids.  The state has issued a Request for Applications (RFA) that will make up to $4.5 million in funding available to develop nine Open Access Centers across the state, and a Request for Information (RFI) that seeks input on the development of two pilot recovery high schools.

Gov. Cuomo said:

“With these latest efforts…New York continues to break down barriers for residents in need of treatment and recovery services.  We will continue the fight to break this vicious cycle of addiction and make critical funding available in order to support a stronger, healthier New York for all.”

Governor Announces Funding Recipients for Yahoo Community Fund for Niagara County

Last Tuesday, Gov. Cuomo announced the recipients of funding through the Yahoo Community Fund for Niagara County.  Yahoo, a Verizon subsidiary, agreed to establish the fund as part of its agreement with Empire State Development to establish a customer care center and expand its data center in Niagara County.

Grants will be going to support a number of organizations, including the Western New York Land Conservancy; the Salvation Army; Literacy New York Buffalo Niagara; and the Niagara Falls Boys and Girls Club, among other groups.

Assembly Speaker to Return to Teaching at Monroe College

Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) announced this week that he will teach two sections of a course in personal finance management this fall at Monroe College’s Bronx campus. Heastie previously taught at the school as an adjunct from 2007 until 2014.

Speaker Heastie said:

“Higher education has always been a priority to me as I recognize the countless doors it has opened for me, and I want to ensure others have that same opportunity. It is a privilege to advocate for students in the New York State Assembly and a mission I am still fully dedicated to. Interacting with students in the classroom has always been a passion of mine and I look forward to connecting with students on a more personal level this fall.”

Attorney General Announces Settlement with ESCO

Last Wednesday, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced an $800,000 settlement with Energy Plus Holdings and Energy Plus Natural Gas, an Energy Service Company (ESCO).  ESCOs are companies that provide electricity and natural-gas services to consumers as an alternative to traditional utility companies.

The Attorney General’s investigation found that the company lured consumers with false promises of savings, and then fleeced them with much higher bills; failed to disclose material terms such as conditions for receiving cash back; and implied that cancellations could be processed immediately. A total of $800,000 will be available in refunds for eligible consumers as part of the settlement that also imposes new restrictions on Energy Plus’s marketing practices to prevent future frauds.

Attorney General Schneiderman said:

“Thousands of New Yorkers were lured by Energy Plus’s false promises of savings, only to be stuck with more expensive energy bills. Our settlement means we’ll be able to refund consumers who were illegally scammed by this company.  Energy service companies should be put on notice: we won’t allow them to exploit New Yorkers looking to save on their energy bills.”

SED Appoints Assistant Commissioner for Innovation and School Reform

Last Wednesday, State Education Department (SED) Commissioner MaryEllen Elia announced the appointment of Dr. Kimberly Young Wilkins as Assistant Commissioner for Innovation and School Reform.  Ms. Young Wilkins will oversee the Office of Innovation and School Reform’s efforts to implement New York’s School Receivership program in schools identified as Struggling and Persistently Struggling, as well as selected grant programs intended to increase student results in low-performing schools.

Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa said:

“Dr. Young Wilkins will play a critical role in ensuring that low-performing schools enhance their overall education strategies to serve every child in New York state.  With her extensive educational background, I have no doubt that Dr. Young Wilkins will excel in this position.”

Western New York Lawmakers Call for Electronic Tolling

Last week, a number of state, local and federal Western New York officials called on the New York State Thruway Authority to dedicate funding to transition the toll plazas in Williamsville and Lackawanna to electronic tolling.  The state announced last week that it is moving forward with a cashless tolling system on the Grand Island Bridge.

Congressman Brian Higgins (D-Buffalo), New York State Senators Michael Ranzenhofer (R-Amherst) and Chris Jacobs (R-Buffalo), Assemblymember Ray Walter (R- Amherst) and Village of Williamsville Mayor Brian Kulpa said that cashless tolling will eliminate traffic congestion, reduce pollution and make the Thruway safer and easier to navigate for drivers.

Political Update

High Profile Primary Races

There are no state offices on the ballot in New York this election season.  All of the elections being held this fall will be to fill local offices.  However, there are a number of state elected who are running for local office, which could mean that the state will be looking at having to fill vacancies through special elections some time in the first half of 2018.

Primary elections are being held on September 12, and the general election is November 7.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is seeking re-election.  His most prominent Democratic opponent is lawyer and former city councilman Sal Albanese.  De Blasio is expected to win the primary easily. If he wins, he will face Assemblymember Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island) in the general election.

A number of state lawmakers are running for local offices.  They include Democratic Assembly members Mark Gjonaj, Robert Rodriguez, Francisco Moya, and State Senator Ruben Diaz Sr., who are all running for open New York City Council seats.  (Click here for the New York City campaign finance board’s Primary Election Voter Guide.)

 In addition, State Senator Phil Boyle running in the GOP primary for Suffolk County Sheriff; Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin is running in the Republican primary for Rensselaer County Executive; and State Senator George Latimer is running in the Democratic primary for Westchester County Executive.

Other high profile primary races include:

  • Buffalo Mayor: incumbent Democrat Byron Brown, seeking a fourth term, is being challenged by Buffalo Comptroller Mark Schroeder and Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant;
  • Rochester Mayor: first-term incumbent Lovely Warren is facing former police chief Jim Sheppard, and former television reporter Rachel Barnhart;
  • Syracuse Mayor: incumbent Democrat Stephanie Miner cannot run for re-election due to term limits; three Democrats — Marty Masterpole, Joe Nicoletti and Juanita Perez Williams – are competing to face Republican Laura Lavine in November;
  • Albany Mayor, where incumbent Democrat Kathy Sheehan is being challenged by Common Council President Carolyn McLaughlin and Common Councilman Frank Commisso Jr.

Assembly Minority Leader Considering Run for Governor

Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb (R-Canandaigua) told the Auburn Citizen that he is considering run for governor in 2018. He has served as Assembly Republican leader since 2009, and was first elected to the Assembly in 2000.

Other possible Republican gubernatorial candidates in 2018 include State Senator John DeFrancisco, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, and Harry Wilson, a Wall Street business consultant.

Winners & Losers

Each week, City & State New York publishes a list of the week’s political “winners” and “losers.”  Read last week’s list here.

Coming Up

The Board of Regents holds its next meeting on September 11 and 12.

Primary elections are being held on September 12.

The Public Service Commission (PSC) holds its next meeting on September 14.

The State Board of Elections holds its next meeting on September 15.

The Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) holds its next meeting on September 19.