First Read Tonight – March 24, 2017

WEATHER: Mostly cloudy in New York City, a chance of rain in Albany and rain likely with patches of dense fog in Buffalo. New York City, low 49; Albany, low 39; Buffalo, low 37.



* Perhaps the most contentious policy debate in the nation right now is over the appropriate level of government involvement in overseeing and subsidizing health insurance, so the relatively boring topic of insurance is having its moment in the spotlight.

* For years, New Yorkers have pegged New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and his former primary foe, Christine Quinn, as rivals, but emails between Quinn and City Hall suggest they routinely support one another like friends.

* City & State’s Jon Lentz spoke with Tony Taccone, director of “Latin History for Morons,” the one-man play inspired by actor John Leguizamo’s search for notable Latinos overlooked in American history.



* House Republican leaders pulled legislation to repeal the Affordable Care Act from consideration on the House floor, marking a defeat for President Donald Trump in the first legislative showdown of his presidency, The New York Times reports.

* An Amtrak train carrying nearly 250 people derailed Friday morning as it left New York Penn Station and sideswiped a New Jersey Transit train, which snarled the morning commute for thousands, but no one was seriously injured, The Wall Street Journal reports.

* As Gov. Andrew Cuomo criticized efforts to have the state take on counties’ Medicaid costs, Republican U.S. House members from New York released a statement pushing back against Cuomo’s rhetoric, State of Politics reports.

* After emerging from a closed-door meeting with Cuomo’s office, state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan said they were having detailed discussions on raising the age of criminal responsibility and other policies tied to the state budget, State of Politics reports.

* Several New York City politicians and activists called for prosecutors to bring domestic terrorism charges against a white supremacist already charged with murder as a hate crime for allegedly killing a black man with a sword, the Daily News reports.

* More news below …



Homeownership rates remain at historic lows, and New Yorkers are finding it difficult to save for their first home.  A proposal to help first-time home buyers, NY First Home (A.5616-Ramos/S.4058-Little), passed the State Senate unanimously in 2016 and has broad public support (84% of New Yorkers – Siena Research poll).  Tell state lawmakers in Albany to pass NY First Home to incentivize homeownership and provide another reason to call New York home.



* After refusing to comment on the attack Thursday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio said Friday that the white supremacist’s killing of a black man in midtown Manhattan was an act of “domestic racist terrorism,” the New York Post reports.

* De Blasio defended his decision to cut a press conference short when reporters wouldn’t ask about his mansion tax proposal by saying reporters at the Thursday event aren’t interested in his pursuit of affordable housing, the Post reports.

* Letters from prosecutors show Jona Rechnitz, a major de Blasio donor, told prosecutors he had “many” discussions with a fundraiser about obtaining “official acts” as a result of his donations, the Daily News reports.

* The New York City Independent Budget Office released a report showing that the annual cost of shipping the city’s trash to landfills increased from about $300 million from 2010 through 2014 to $316 million in 2015 and is expected to hit $421 million by 2021, the Post reports.



Too many innocent New Yorkers have lost their freedom because of wrongful convictions. Eyewitness misidentification and false confessions are the leading factors that put innocent New Yorkers behind bars. New York State legislators can make sure it never happens again by mandating recorded interrogations & eyewitness ID procedures. Tell Albany to join Governor Cuomo and support wrongful conviction reforms. Click here




* Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign chairman, has volunteered to be interviewed before the U.S. House Intelligence Committee, which is investigating alleged ties between Trump campaign officials and Russia as well as Russia’s involvement in the 2016 election, The Washington Post writes.

* A federal inspector general has launched an inquiry into the Trump administration’s decision to pull advertising for in the closing stretch of this year’s sign-up season, the Daily News reports.



The Professional Staff Congress/CUNY welcomes Albany’s focus on free tuition. But affordability won’t be meaningful without new investment in quality education. Students like Fatime Uruci of John Jay College are making the most of their CUNY opportunity. But CUNY needs 4,000 more full-time faculty and funding to support its 12,000-adjunct faculty. This is the year to invest more in CUNY classrooms so students like Fatime can realize their dreams.




* Former state Sen. George Maziarz joins others involved in the 2009 state Senate coup who already have had legal woes: former state Sens. Dean Skelos, Tom Libous, Hiram Monserrate, Pedro Espada, the Times Union reports.

* Beyond de Blasio and Republican Paul Massey Jr.’s campaigns for mayor, more than a dozen other New Yorkers have set their sights on City Hall, and some may have a shot at shaking up the de-facto front-runners’ campaigns, the Times reports.

* The Times published its annual State of Your Block, which looks at 311 calls and readers submissions to gauge how several communities are faring and found that the average grade readers gave their block was a C+.



The Parkside Group is excited to announce that it has recently won multiple national awards for its creative work. Campaigns & Elections Magazine presented Parkside with a Reed Award for “Best Direct Mail Piece for a Congressional Candidate”. Last week, the American Association of Political Consultants awarded Parkside with a Pollie Award in the category of “Best Use of Contrast Mail”. To find out how the Parkside Group can help you achieve your goals, visit



5 p.m. and 6 p.m. – “MetroFocus” features Eric Garner’s mother, Gwen Carr, following news that the feds have revived the grand jury probe into her son’s death, WLIW21 (5 p.m.) and WNET Thirteen (6 p.m.).

8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. – “Capital Tonight” features a reporter roundtable to discuss the uncertainty surrounding the American Health Care Act and the war that’s broken out over U.S. Rep. Chris Collins’ amendment, Spectrum News.



New York City’s charter schools are committed to helping all public schools improve. In fact, one charter network is training new teachers from over 40 district schools throughout Brooklyn as part of the Department of Education’s district-charter partnership program. New York needs more quality public schools – charters are part of the solution. Support Governor Cuomo’s Executive Budget and lift the cap on charters in NYC!  Learn More




7:30 p.m. – The Nets visit the Washington Wizards, YES.



As New York aims to become the first Age-Friendly State, AARP New York is showcasing innovative solutions to livability issues, like walkability, transportation, social participation and health care. Join us in Albany for our Leading on Livability Summit on April 12-13, featuring experts from the New York Academy of Medicine, AARP’s Network of Age Friendly Communities, The Center for Inclusive Design and Environmental Access, academia and New York state government. Learn more.




9 a.m. – Assemblywoman Pamela Hunter and the Firemen's Association of the State of New York host the Ninth Annual Onondaga County Fire and Emergency Services Education and Legislative Breakfast, Camillus Fire Department, 5801 Newport Road, Camillus.

9 a.m. – NYC Parks GreenThumb hosts the 33rd annual Grow Together conference, Hostos Community College, 450 Grand Concourse, Bronx.

11:30 a.m. – New York City Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez kicks off Participatory Budget Vote Week and announces all of the projects on the ballots this year and where uptown residents can vote, Inwood Greenmarket, Isham Street between Seaman Avenue and Cooper Street, Manhattan.

12 p.m. – Queens residents march to state Sen. Jose Peralta’s office and demand he vote to fully fund New York City public schools by voting in support of Foundation Aid in the New York state budget, P.S. 69, 78th Street and 37th Avenue, Queens.

12 p.m. – Assemblyman Felix Ortiz holds a health fair with the New York City Health Department, Sunset Park Recreation Center, 4200 Seventh Ave., Brooklyn.

2 p.m. – The Brooklyn Anti-Violence Coalition holds its ninth annual Women of Courage Awards Luncheon, Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church, 212 Tompkins Ave., Brooklyn.



12 p.m. – New York City Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz hosts a women’s rights rally with remarks by Councilman Barry Grodenchik, MacDonald Park, Queens.

12:30 p.m. – U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney holds a “Speak with Sean” town hall meeting and neighborhood office hours, Sheet Metal Workers’ Local 38 Training Center, 38 Starr Ridge Road, Brewster.

3 p.m. – State Sen. James Sanders Jr. hosts a Women in Business Symposium in recognition of Women’s History Month, American Legion Hall Post 483, 240-08 135th Ave., Queens.

3 p.m. – New York City Councilman Barry Grodenchik and Assemblywoman Nily Rozic cast their participatory budget votes, Samuel Field Y, 58-20 Little Neck Parkway, Queens.

5 p.m. – “Common Ground Radio” features state Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, author Denis Hamill, Brenda Wright of Demos and Roger Milliner of MetroPlus Health Plan Inc., 710 WOR.



The state Legislature is in session.

9:30 a.m. – Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and college officials host a press conference to discuss Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed Excelsior Scholarship program, Wagner College, Foundation Hall, Manzulli Boardroom, 1 Campus Road, Staten Island.

10 a.m. – The New York City Council Committee on General Welfare holds a preliminary budget hearing, Council Chambers, City Hall, Manhattan.

10 a.m. – Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, New York Secretary of State Rossana Rosado and others speak on a New York Women Lead panel, Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute at Hunter College, 47-49 E. 65th St., Manhattan.

10 a.m. – New York State Defenders Association attorney Al O’Connor, Rensselaer County public defender John Turi and others host a press conference urging legislators to pass a comprehensive bill that will reduce the risk of wrongful convictions, LCA Press Room, Room 130, Legislative Office Building, Albany.

10:30 a.m. – U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney and female leaders hold a press conference honoring “Fearless Girl” artist Kristen Visbal and pushing to make the statue permanent, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

11 a.m. – The New York State Thruway Authority Board holds a public meeting, Thruway Authority Headquarters, 200 Southern Blvd., Albany.

11 a.m. – United Federation of Teachers host a lobby day with President Michael Mulgrew, Empire State Plaza Convention Center, Plaza Concourse Level, Room 130, Albany.

1 p.m. – New York City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito hosts the first National Conference on Sanctuary Cities with City Councilman Brad Lander and others, Borough of Manhattan Community College, 199 Chambers St., Manhattan.

1 p.m. – The City Council Committee on Sanitation and Solid Waste Management holds a preliminary budget hearing, Committee Room, City Hall, Manhattan.

1:30 p.m. –  The New York City Council Committees on General Welfare, Women’s Issues and Juvenile Justice hold a preliminary budget hearing with the Administration for Children’s Services testifying, Council Chambers, City Hall, Manhattan.

3 p.m. – The state Senate is in session, Senate Chambers, state Capitol, Albany.

5 p.m – The SUNY board of trustees meets, SUNY Global Center Boardroom, 116 E. 55th St., Manhattan.

5:30 p.m. – The New York Campaign Finance Board’s Voter Assistance Advisory Committee holds a public meeting, Joseph A. O’Hare, S.J. Board Room, 12th floor, 100 Church St., Manhattan.



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