First Read – February 20, 2017

WEATHER: Sunny skies across the state. New York City, high 47; Albany, high 42; Buffalo, high 45.



* In Gerson Borrero’s latest “Bochinche & Buzz” column, several GOP insiders say that the state Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference is “getting too big” and “too greedy” and that the discontent has been expressed to Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan.

* In a Q&A marking Presidents Day, Meena Bose, director of Hofstra University's Peter S. Kalikow Center for the Study of the American Presidency, discusses the “uncharted territory” of President Donald Trump and how he compares to past New York presidents.



* The state Senate's Independent Democratic Conference is pushing for a new student debt relief program in the upcoming state budget that would allow workers to pay off the loans pre-tax as well as refinance some loans, the Daily News reports.

* State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan accused U.S. Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand of jeopardizing New York’s interests in Washington, D.C., by their continued attacks on President Donald Trump, the Daily News’ Ken Lovett reports.

* Huge crowds of raucous progressives and quieter conservatives overwhelmed U.S. Rep. Tom Reed's town hall meetings, with the progressives repeatedly interrupting and shouting down the congressman's comments, the Times Union reports.

* Many visitors at the 9/11 Memorial do not realize they are also visiting the site of an earlier attack in 1993 that, while less deadly, presaged an era of terrorism fears in New York City, The New York Times writes.

* Gov. Andrew Cuomo is drawing ire from both sides of the aisle over his spending plan, which recommends slashing a funding stream for disease prevention programs by 20 percent, the New York Post writes.

* More news below …



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* New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio addressed about 1,000 protesters who descended on Times Square Sunday in a show of unity against Trump’s immigration policies, Newsday reports.

* Schumer urged Trump to help with the enormous costs to protect his family in New York by adding funds to the federal budget to reimburse the city, which has been estimated the cost to the city about $100,000 a day, the Post writes.

* Hundreds of supporters and an array of Democratic elected officials are slated to join Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown today when he declares his candidacy for a fourth term, The Buffalo News reports.

* The beleaguered New York City Administration for Children’s Services has failed to deliver its annual report by the city’s deadline, an oversight mandate created by de Blasio when he was a city councilman, and also failed to release its quarterly report, the Post writes.

* The loudest applause at the New York State Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators’ annual Caucus Weekend labor luncheon came when New York City Public Advocate Letitia James called for attendees to unite against Trump, who dominated discussions during the conference, Politico New York reports.



* The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement released a list of the offenses committed by New Yorkers who have been detained, and all those included were deportable offenses under former President Barack Obama’s administration, the Times reports.

* It is unclear what will come of a federal civil rights investigation into the death of Eric Garner, who died after being put in a chokehold by an NYPD officer, now that Jeff Sessions has become U.S. attorney general, The Associated Press reports.

* Investigators are examining 751 previously unreported transactions from former state Sen. George Maziarz’s campaign fund dating as far back as 2009 and totaling more than $151,000, The Buffalo News reports.



FY2017-18 budget provisions on pharmaceutical price controls and reporting threaten thousands of NYS residents’ STEM jobs and medical research. Don’t be tricked by soundbites about lower health costs for patients. These provisions lead to less innovation and fewer new medication options, without any guarantee of lowering NYS patients’ out-of-pocket expenses.

Learn more about Cuomo’s proposals and the crippling consequences they may have:




* New York City is wisely backing away from an abusive “zero tolerance” policing strategy that led officers to blanket minority communities with criminal summonses for minor infractions, but more needs to be done, the Times writes.

* As pension contributions for teacher retirements have declined and many school districts have seen the number of students they serve shrink even as budgets grow, and when expenses shrink, so should the tax burden, Newsday writes.

* Cuomo is right not to rush for a special election to replace the vacant seats in the state Legislature, as special elections are expensive and almost guarantee that party regulars, political hacks and other small, organized groups will dominate the vote, the Post writes.

* While New York City Council debates legislation to curb construction accidents, they should also consider supporting and partnering with nonprofits for better results, Rebuilding Together NYC’s Kimberly George writes in the Gotham Gazette.



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* While there has been some buzz and at least one report that former Assemblyman Keith Wright will run for Bill Perkins’ soon-to-be-vacated state Senate seat in Harlem … he’s not, Gerson Borrero writes in his latest Bochinche & Buzz column. The name that B&B has heard surface among a small circle of bochincheros is Basil Smikle. B&B has learned that Smikle, the executive director at the New York state Democratic Party, is “taking a close look at the possibility.” The popular and charismatic Smikle previously challenged Perkins in the 2010 state Senate Democratic primary. Perkins trounced Smikle with 17,357 votes to his 5,389. Of course, this time Smikle wouldn't be running against an incumbent who is muy querido in Harlem – so he may have a shot!



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HAPPY BIRTHDAY: To Amy Spitalnick, press secretary at the state Attorney General's office … to Matt Browner Hamlin, head of engagement, strategy and planning at Greenpeace International … and to Patrick Rocchio, assignment editor & senior reporter at Bronx Times Reporter.


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 CAREERS – WHO’S HIRING: To advertise your employment opportunities with City & State, email or call 212-268-0442 ext. 2022. Visit www.CityandState.Careers to view all jobs.

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Public Finance/Tax Policy Economist, The Independent Budget Office

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in the New York City area.

10 a.m. – “The Brian Lehrer Show” features David Greenberg, Rutgers history professor; Julie Menin, commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment; historian Alexis Coe and documentary filmmaker Roger Ross Williams, WNYC.

10:45 a.m. – Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul celebrates Presidents Day with a visit to Theodore Roosevelt inaugural national historic site, 641 Delaware Ave., Buffalo.

11 a.m. – Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation hosts a “Preserve Your Medicare Rally” with U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, White Plains City Hall, 255 Main St., White Plains.

7 p.m. – Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer speaks at Manhattan High School for Girls performance of “Shvester Selma,” LaGuardia High School, 100 Amsterdam Ave., Manhattan.

7 p.m. and 10 p.m. – “Road to City Hall” features New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Monday consultants corner, NY1.



TOMORROW! State of NY Finance at 8:00am at The New York Academy of Medicine. Come hear from New York's policy leaders and finance experts responsible for budget, investment, and fiscal affairs in government including New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer. Seb Formoso from the NYC Department of Finance, Ronnie Lowenstein from the NYC Independent Budget Office, Nathan Toth from the NYC Council’s Finance Division, and other distinguished speakers will participate on four panels focusing on financial sustainability and security and funding health care and infrastructure. Last day to register! Click here


KICKER: “Stand up to that orange man!” - New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, urging colleagues to unite against President Donald Trump, via Politico New York.