Governor Andrew Cuomo continued his Second Avenue subway pre-opening tour Thursday, with a preview of the 96th Street station. Trains are not yet running, but the station is close to completion ahead of the expected January 1st opening. Governor Cuomo, who effectively controls the MTA, has been on active round of site visits and unveilings as the line extension moves toward completion. Cuomo was joined by local elected officials, including Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney, Congressman Charles B. Rangel and his successor State Senator Adriano Espaillat, Assembly Keith Wright, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito and Council Member Dan Garodnick. Mayor de Blasio did not attend.
Cuomo and Maloney along with MTA Chairman Tom Prendergast spoke to an audience jammed into the station entrance and did a walk-through of the station.
New York State’s Electoral College convened Monday, casting its 29 votes for New York’s home state candidate Hillary Clinton. Led by former president Bill Clinton, the electors met in the majestic state senate chamber at the Capitol for a tightly scripted session without any disruption or deviation. Clinton’s New York victory, expected to be a foundational bloc for her winning campaign, was instead a cruel coda to the disorienting election night experience of an anticipated presidency suddenly vanishing. There were some smiles and applause in the senate chamber Monday, but it wasn’t a celebration. Like a jilted groom recasting the pre-paid reception as a party, New York Democrats could cheer their own victories and predominance in their state but the overriding feeling was the last-minute loss of something so much bigger.
Former President Clinton and Governor Andrew Cuomo were the stars of the show, with Cuomo presiding as president of the convention. They entered the senate chamber together to a standing ovation, after all of the other electors and spectators had taken their seats, later rising to cast their ballots together. Cuomo lauded Clinton during his closing remarks, drawing a standing ovation for the former president.
Mayor Bill de Blasio continued his energetic embrace of New York City’s Muslim population Sunday evening, visiting Staten Island’s Albanian Islamic Cultural Center. de Blasio spoke at a celebration of Prophet Muhammad’s birth. Since taking office de Blasio has embraced the City’s Muslim community, adding two Muslim holidays to the school system’s calendar for example, with that embrace more visible as we enter the Trump presidential era. For de Blasio the Staten Island location was an additional plus, as many Staten Islanders feel that de Blasio has minimal interest in the smallest borough.
Arriving about 30 minutes late, de Blasio joined a group of about 75 men seated on the carpet of a large prayer room. Women were seated on a rear balcony, obscured by a scrim-draped railing. de Blasio was accompanied by the NYPD’s borough commander, Assistant Chief Edward Delatorre and escorted by the Center’s president, Dr. Zarkani Vardar, and Imam Tahir Kukaj. Both Vardar and Kukaj gave warm introductions of de Blasio, with Vardar thanking de Blasio for the respect implicit in his visit. Dr. Vardar’s compliment that he could see de Blasio as president someday drew a smile and a chuckle from the mayor.
de Blasio spoke strongly on confronting anti-Muslim bias and hatred, promising continued vigorous effort by the NYPD. He praised Imam Tahir Kukaj, hailing the NYPD’s arrest of a man charged with threatening the Imam. Afterwards, the mayor greeted and took photos with several dozen well-wishers. He did not take press questions.
U.S. House Members Carolyn Maloney and Jerrold Nadler, in a Friday press conference outside Trump Tower, called for full federal reimbursement of New York City’s security costs incurred in protecting Donald Trump and Trump Tower. As they were concluding their press conference Maloney and Nadler were joined by City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who said that she arrived by subway after being delayed by heavy traffic around Trump Tower.
Congressional Republicans have to date agreed to provide for reimbursement of only $7 million of New York City’s estimated $35 million security cost through Trump’s January 20th inauguration. Maloney, whose district includes Trump Tower and represents Trump in Congress, condemned that parsimony and also urged Trump to act to ease the great disruption caused by his Manhattan presence.
The “friends” scattered, leaving separately through different court house doors, united only in their silent response to press questions.
Joe Percoco, a former top aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo, and seven co-defendants were arraigned today on federal corruption charges. According to prosecutors, some of alleged corrupt actions committed by Percoco were for “friends” of the governor and his political operation.
The eight defendants were arrested and charged in September on a criminal complaint prepared by the U.S. Attorney’s office. Today’s arraignment followed the recent issuance of an indictment by a federal grand jury, which replaced the criminal complaint. All eight defendants were reported to have entered not guilty pleas today.