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New round in Cuomo vs. de Blasio
Perhaps Alphonso David, counsel to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, thought he’d have better luck with City Council Speaker Corey Johnson when he sent a letter offering the state’s help with the New York City Housing Authority to Johnson and Deputy Mayor Dean Fuleihan.
After all, Johnson already has broken ranks with Mayor Bill de Blasio on issues like congestion pricing and the city’s funding of emergency repairs to the subway system, both of which Johnson supports and the mayor does not.
But if Cuomo and David thought Johnson would automatically support the governor on NYCHA, they should think again.
In his letter, David’s offers were specific: streamlining repairs through design-build, which he suggested be authorized on a project-by-project basis; and a state-of-emergency declaration that could lead to replacing NYCHA leadership or appointing an independent monitor.
In his response, Johnson said he wants “blanket authority” for design-build on “all relevant projects” and an emergency declaration “limited to waiving procurement rules that create barriers to efficient contracting.”
And as the differences became clear, so too did the finger-pointing.
“We cannot ignore the role that decades of state and federal disinvestment in public housing has played in the deterioration of NYCHA buildings,” Johnson wrote. “The Governor has a real opportunity to provide leadership now by including the funding in his upcoming budget that we all know is needed to complete long deferred maintenance.”
Cuomo’s take came during a news conference Monday in the Bronx at Jackson Houses, a NYCHA development — a visit that came while de Blasio was in Texas, meeting with other mayors.
To Cuomo, the responsibility for what he called “a case of pure neglect” is clear.
“I’m not blaming anybody else. Get the facts straight,” Cuomo said. “This is a purely New York City-run agency. The federal government — HUD — is a partner in the management. The state has absolutely nothing to do with it.”
The heated rhetoric continues, even as NYCHA boilers break down.
UPDATE: After The Point was published Monday, a City Council spokeswoman contacted us and said Johnson decided to edit his letter to reflect the fact that the state is not required to fund NYCHA. The edited version reads: “We cannot ignore the role that decades of federal disinvestment in public housing has played in the deterioration of NYCHA buildings.” The letter continues, however, to call on Cuomo to include NYCHA funding in his budget.
Randi F. Marshall
Placing bets on NY gambling
In 2013, when New York voters amended the state constitution to expand casino gambling, the attention was focused on four casinos upstate. But in that move, the state also legalized sports gambling, to be operated by those casinos, in case a federal ban imposed on such gambling in most states ever fell.
Welcome, potentially, to the future.
New Jersey also legalized sports gambling, but was more aggressive. It sued for the right to go ahead with it, arguing that the federal law allowing the pastime in Nevada and three other states but banning it elsewhere is unconstitutional. That’s a contention the U.S. Supreme Court is mulling, with an answer expected in the next several weeks.
Last week, to be sure New York State is ready, Sen. John Bonacic, the Mount Hope Republican who chairs the Senate’s Racing, Gaming and Wagering Committee, introduced a bill to regulate and tax sports betting. The state would take 8.5 percent of gross betting revenue.
Most important, although the state constitution says only those four upstate casinos can run the sports books, the enabling legislation would create a nifty workaround to let downstate gamblers wager in person and online. According to the bill, those upstate casinos could affiliate with “licensed racetracks, off-track betting corporations, the video lottery operator at Aqueduct Racetrack, and the New York Racing Association.”
Mobile internet sports wagering also would be allowed.
New York has always been very slow to allow gambling, but when it comes to sports betting, the state and its players are poised to burst from the gate.
Make deals great again
- Regarding nuclear talks with North Korea, President Donald Trump said over the weekend that he might “leave fast,” or he and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un might make the “greatest deal in the world.” Hopefully, there are other options.
- Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon delivered a fiery speech to France’s anti-immigrant National Front party, saying, “Let them call you racists. Let them call you xenophobes.” Like it’s not true.
- Hundreds of doctors and residents in Quebec are demanding that the province not raise their pay as promised and instead give the money to overworked nurses and other health care workers. Read that again. No joke.
- When Florida Gov. Rick Scott signed new gun-control legislation, he told Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students that by making their voices heard after the shooting at their school, they had changed their state. That’s great. But he implied that if they hadn’t spoken up, Florida would not have changed. Not so great.
- Businesses are discovering that the GOP tax cut bill passed in December with lighting speed, no real hearings and no allowed input from Democrats is filled with errors and ambiguities. You don’t say.
- Chief of staff John Kelly and other White House officials stopped a plan by Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt to hold public debates challenging the science of climate change, saying they were unwise and would be an unnecessary distraction. Good to see the White House setting some bar on what’s an unnecessary distraction.
- In a political rally Saturday, President Donald Trump ridiculed the notion that a blue-ribbon committee could help solve the nation’s drug epidemic. On Sunday, Trump’s administration proposed a blue-ribbon committee to help solve the nation’s school-shooting epidemic. Somebody please explain the difference.
- President Donald Trump praised first lady Melania Trump, saying, “You think her life is so easy, folks?” No, we never thought that, not with Stormy Daniels, Karen McDougal, Jessica Drake and others in the news.
- Congrats to Virginia, Villanova, Xavier and Kansas. Not only are they the top four seeds in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, they also are among 12 schools in the tournament mentioned in the FBI investigation into rule-breaking in college basketball. Which means the title won on the court this year might be forfeited in a different kind of court.