POLITICO New York Playbook, presented by Nuclear Matters: CUOMO's transit woes — NYC's new menu rules — PLAYBOOK INTERVIEW with John Raskin

05/19/2017 07:20 AM EDT

By Jimmy Vielkind in Albany and Azi Paybarah in Manhattan, with Addy Baird and Daniel Lippman

Victory has a thousand fathers but defeat is an orphan, the cliche goes. And a shiny new subway system spawns a thousand photo ops, but one that's collapsing finds them all traveling by car, pointing fingers. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, facing reporters for the first time in more than a week, attempted to distance himself from the state-created Metropolitan Transportation Authority - whose chairman and CEO he appoints and whose board he effectively controls.

But as our colleague Dana Rubinstein elegantly points out, Cuomo was delighted to wrap himself around the M.T.A. just six months ago, as the Second Avenue Subway opened to riders after decades of planning. And he's installed loyal aides that give him a handle on the authority's everyday operations. As the Times recounts, the M.T.A. was originally cooked up by the administration of Nelson Rockefeller as a way to subsidize money-losing subways with the tolls from bridges and tunnels. Transportation around the region needed to be considered regionally - it made sense then and now, and it's why Mayor Bill de Blasio has brushed aside complaints about service and parried the occasional call for him to take a more active management role.

We explore the point further in this morning's Playbook Interview: There are few individuals more attuned to the problems encountered by the more than four million people who ride the trains each day than John Raskin, executive director of a passenger advocacy group called the Riders Alliance. Raskin placed a lot of blame for the current problems on Cuomo, and said it's his group's job to hold him accountable. Read part of our exchange below, or click here for the full Q&A.

GOOD MORNING AND HAPPY FRIDAY. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of yesterday's Times Square calamity and their families. Got a tip? Feedback? News to share? Let us know. By email: JVielkind@politico.com, APaybarah@politico.com, ABaird@politico.com, and daniel@politico.com, or on Twitter: @JimmyVielkind, @Azi, @addysue, and @dlippman.

WHERE'S ANDREW? In New York City with no announced public schedule.

WHERE'S BILL? Calling into WNYC this morning for his weekly interview. Then, without taking questions from reporters, he'll tour a boardwalk in Queens.

PREET'S TWEETS: He retweeted Sen. Ben Sasse's joke about smoking reefer with Sen. Chuck Schumer, and then retweeted coverage about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's bodyguards attacking demonstrators in Washington, D.C. There was a thought on the Russian probe, and then this advice to a law students: "Study hard, learn the law, hone your craft, refute nonsense, amplify truth, keep the faith and give back."

** A message from Nuclear Matters: New Yorkers understand that if we're serious about fighting climate change, it's time to recognize the value of all carbon-free energy sources, including nuclear. With the Clean Energy Standard, New York is leading the nation in reducing harmful emissions all while preserving jobs and strengthening our fuel diversity. Learn more at nuclearmatters.com. **


TABS - Daily News: "MOMENT OF MADNESS: Maniac plows thru Times Sq., kills tourist" - Post: "MADNESS: Suicidal man plows through tourists, kills 1 in Times Sq." - SEE THEM

- Newsday: "PANIC IN TIMES SQUARE" - El Diario [translated]: Driving out of control - SEE THEM

FREEBIES - Metro: "TIMES SQUARE HORROR" - amNew York: "Car plows into Times Square: 'I WANTED TO KILL THEM'" - SEE THEM

BROADSHEETS - Wall Street Journal, 1-col., above the fold: "Trump Pushes Back As Probe Expands" - New York Times, 1-col., above the fold: "DEFIANT TRUMP DEEMS INQUIRY 'A WITCH HUNT'" - SEE THEM

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Imagine my shock to find out that the M.T.A. ran a service lousier than the subways and buses." - Gene Russianoff, of the Straphangers' campaign, via New York Times

WHAT ALBANY IS READING:

- LULU PASSING UNDER INVESTIGATION - New York Times' Jesse McKinley: "The state comptroller's office is working with law enforcement officials to investigate a pattern of stipends being doled out to state senators for committee positions they did not hold, according to a person with direct knowledge of the inquiry. The person, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation, said that the law enforcement agency contacted the comptroller's office but would not specify which entity had done so. The investigation raised the stakes in a fast-moving scandal that has engulfed the State Capitol and the Senate majority leader, John J. Flanagan of Long Island. His Republican leadership approved the plan to award tens of thousands of dollars to certain Senate committee vice chairmen, even though they are not explicitly allowed stipends under state law." Read more here.

- Cuomo Thursday questioned DiNapoli's role in paying out stipends to state lawmakers. "If it was not legal, the comptroller shouldn't have done it. If it's not legal, the comptroller should call up and say, 'Whoops, I made a mistake, I need the money back,'" he said. Read more here.

- Cuomo used legislative lulu opportunity to rap on the root of legislative pay issues: outside income.

- Nick Reisman on Spectrum News: "Scrutiny on committee attendance comes as the Senate is under fire for doling out thousands of dollars in stipends, called "lulus," to seven senators for jobs they don't actually hold. O'Mara, for example, receives a stipend normally reserved for the Transportation Chairman. The same goes for Ritchie, who earns the health chair's lulu."

- SELLING PARTS OF SUNY POLY - Times Union's Larry Rulison: "What remains of Cuomo's highly touted, billion-dollar Global 450mm Consortium is headed for the auction block. Back in the fall of 2011, Cuomo stunned the high-tech world by announcing he had convinced the world's largest computer chip companies to research next-generation chip manufacturing at SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Albany as part of a five-year, $4.8 billion program. The centerpiece of the deal was the $1 billion, Global 450mm Consortium, or G450C, an unprecedented collaboration between competitors Intel, GlobalFoundries, Samsung, IBM and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. to figure out how to make the chips using 450 millimeter - 18-inch - silicon wafers instead of the current standard of using 300 mm, or 12-inch, wafers. But the G450C never attained its lofty goals. The industry postponed the move to 450mm manufacturing in favor of getting more efficiencies out of 12-inch wafers. The Research Foundation for SUNY, which manages grant money for SUNY schools, disclosed in recently released audited financial statements that it is looking to repurpose the G450C's equipment - known in the industry as tools - or sell them to the highest bidder." Read more here.

GET YOUR TICKETS! The LCA show is on Tuesday, May 23 at the Egg in Albany. Order tickets online here or call Teresa at (518) 455-2388.

WHAT CITY HALL IS READING:

- FOOD RULES: New info on menus will be required - POLITICO New York's Dan Goldberg: New York City on Monday will begin enforcing its new menu labeling rules, meaning chain food retailers with more than 15 locations will be required to post a slew of new nutritional information, including calories from fat, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, sugar and protein. Many New Yorkers are used to seeing calorie counts at places such as Subway or Chipotle but this expands the establishments to chain grocery stores such as 7-Eleven and Costco, which will be required to post information about their prepared meals such as ready-to-eat sandwiches or pizza.

Menus must also say: "2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice, but calorie needs vary," and "Additional nutritional information available upon request." The Department of Consumer Affairs will issue violations for three months and then begin issuing fines, which run from $200 to $600, according to a press release from Mayor Bill de Blasio. The move comes shortly after the Trump administration announced it was delaying federal labeling menu requirements. Read more here.

- THE M IS FOR MUM: "MTA's lack of subway service answers infuriates City Council members" - amNew York's Vincent Barone: "Furious City Council members wondered aloud if they should end a committee hearing early on Wednesday after a representative from the MTA failed to provide answers to questions ranging from the steady decline in subway service to L train shutdown plans. 'I don't know if we should continue the hearing,' said Manhattan Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez, chair of the transportation committee, which held the joint hearing with the finance committee to dissect the mayor's $84.86 billion executive budget. The MTA representative, budget director Douglas Johnson, had just told Rodriguez that the agency would "get back" to him with answers on three straight questions relating to areas underserved by mass transit and ways to work around the 15-month L train service outage in 2019. 'In my role as a budget director, I'm not really authorized or qualified to respond to that question,' Johnson said, one of several similar responses he offered throughout the hearing, which ran more than an hour and a half." Read more here.

- TIMES SQUARE CRASH: No indication of terrorism, says de Blasio - POLITICO New York's Laura Nahmias: Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Thursday afternoon that a fatal incident in Times Square, in which a car killed at least one person and injured nearly two dozen others, did not appear to be related to terrorism. "Based on the information that we have at this moment, there is no indication that this was an act of terrorism," de Blasio said at a press conference near the scene of the accident. ... Richard Rojas, a 26-year old Bronx man with a history of DWI arrests, was taken into custody, police commissioner James O'Neill told reporters. The deceased was an 18-year-old woman who was visiting the city, and her sister, 13, was also injured. ... The incident occurred just before noon in one of the city's most heavily trafficked areas, raising concerns that the incident might be an act of terror. In 2010, a car bomb was disarmed before it could detonate in Times Square. A police spokesman said detectives were investigating Rojas' home for any connection to terrorism, but that none has been found so far. Rojas was arrested in 2008 and 2015 for driving while intoxicated, and earlier this year for menacing. ... De Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo each rushed to the scene shortly after news of the accident broke. Cuomo did not join de Blasio at the press conference but was briefed by O'Neill. Read more here.

- 15 reporters contributed to this story, in the Times.

EAT BEAT -- "DeKalb Market Food Hall May Actually Open Next Month With an Even Hotter Line-Up," by Eater's Serena Dai: "The long-ruminating and eagerly awaited Downtown Brooklyn food hall DeKalb Market will finally be ready for the public early June. The development at 445 Albee Square West will be home to several big names - including the first expansion for LES pastrami king Katz's, Bushwick Vietnamese restaurant phenom Bunker, and the famed street vendor Arepa Lady from Jackson Heights. It will host nearly 40 vendors total. Word of the food hall first came out back in 2011, part of the City Point development that also features popular dine-in movie theater Alamo Drafthouse, a Target, and a yet-to-open Trader Joe's. The opening date has been moving target ever since then. But now, the team behind the market has announced an early June date for a private pre-opening party. A more firm debut date for the public is still to-be-determined. Since the last news of the vendor line-up, it seems like the market's website has added several new options that sound promising." The additions include Wilma Jean, Hard Times Sundaes, and BK Jani. Read more here.

TRUMP WORLD - Where Fifth Ave. meets Pennsylvania Ave.:

- SELFIE AT THE SCENE - "Marla Maples snaps Times Square selfies after crash" - Post's Ruth Brown: "President Trump's ex-wife Marla Maples snapped selfies near the site of the bloody car crash in Times Square that killed one and injured 22 on Thursday.

The 53-year-old actress rushed to the scene following news that Bronx man Richard Rojas had plowed into dozens of pedestrians, posting a series of video updates to her Instagram and Snapchat accounts as she went, according to the Daily Mail. Once on the scene, she was spotted posing for selfies with others right in front of the police tape that was keeping crowds from the body of the 18-year-old girl who died in the carnage, the British tabloid reports." Read more here.

MORNING MEDIA, with POLITICO's Joe Pompeo:

- A FEW TIDBITS FROM THE DELUGE OF ROGER AILES COVERAGE YESTERDAY:

-- Big NYT feature dropped last night: "Roger Ailes's Swift Exit From the Network He Built," by Emily Steel. Some good color and anecdotes in here, but what I'm most curious about is: Which New Jersey diner was Ailes spotted at the week after his ouster, "eating bacon and eggs and drinking what appeared to be a vanilla milkshake"? (I'm serious. Does anyone know?)

-- In Michael Wolff's piece for The Hollywood Reporter, he recounts a conversation he had with the Fox News founder just one week ago, in which Ailes addressed the chatter, heavy in the air lately, about a rumored Fox News competitor: "Roger, yet proscribed by the non-compete provisions of his separation agreement, nevertheless had a plan in his head, and was taking calls. 'I can't call. But I can't stop people from calling me.'"

- NOTES FROM YESTERDAY'S OTR ANCHOR LUNCH, by Hadas Gold : Ahead of his press conference with the Colombian president, a relaxed President Trump criticized the media for not covering his successes and made it clear he doesn't think the media covers all of the good work he says the White House is doing. "I don't watch you guys as much anymore because if I did it would be all hell," Trump griped, according to someone who was there. "You couldn't tell that I went to a good school, studied, that I succeeded in my companies." There was one thing about which Trump was more circumspect: Jim Comey's termination as FBI chief. Trump did however acknowledge that the timing was a "miscalculation," according to our source, and he told the anchors he'd expected to receive bipartisan praise for the move.

You can read the full Morning Media column and sign up to receive it in your inbox by clicking here.

REAL ESTATE, with POLITICO New York's Sally Goldenberg:

- "Cumbo swipes at de Blasio over Bedford-Union Armory plan," by POLITICO New York's Khorri Atkinson: City Councilwoman Laurie Cumbo dealt a significant blow to the de Blasio administration's plan to redevelop the Bedford-Union Armory in Crown Heights, announcing her opposition to the proposal and lambasting the mayor over a project that she said lacks "real" affordable housing and would only accelerate the tide of gentrification. "Our community in Crown Heights has seen rapid gentrification. We have seen luxury condominiums and non-affordable rentals go up, while so many of our [residents] have been pushed out of the very community, forced to watch buildings go up they know they would never have the ability or the opportunity to afford and live in," said Cumbo, who represents the area, at a press conference at Brooklyn Borough Hall. Her rebuke is the latest split between the Council and Mayor Bill de Blasio as he pushes rezonings as part of his plan to build more affordable housing citywide. ... Anthony Hogrebe, a spokesman for the city's Economic Development Corp., which is spearheading the project, said, "we respect the Council Member's views, but we don't believe this project can wait. We are working to bring a long-awaited community recreational center and badly needed affordable housing to Crown Heights," Hogrebe said in a statement. Read the story here.

- "Speyer to be replaced by Bill Rudin as REBNY chair," by POLITICO New York's Sally Goldenberg: Bill Rudin, who runs his family real estate company and chairs the Association for a Better New York, is poised to replace Rob Speyer as chairman of the Real Estate Board of New York next year. "Rob Speyer today announced to the REBNY executive committee that William C. Rudin will be formally nominated, and voted on, to be the next chairman of REBNY at the organization's upcoming Board of Governors meeting on June 15," board spokesman Jamie McShane said. Speyer will finish his fifth year as chairman in January. Read the story here.

- "New York's commercial real estate investment follows national slump," by Bloomberg News via Crain's: "Real estate developer Louis Ceruzzi has grand plans for a sleek $1 billion Manhattan skyscraper, featuring luxury shops and condos that soar high above Fifth Avenue. Two years after Ceruzzi and a partner bought the site, they have yet to break ground. For now, all he has to show for his trouble is an empty lot, an idle backhoe and scattered piles of rubble. The delay suggests an irony: even with election of Donald Trump, the first developer as president, commercial real estate investment has slowed to a near standstill-especially in Trump's hometown, the nation's largest market. In New York City, first-quarter property sales plummeted 58%, to $4.3 billion, compared with a year earlier, according to data from brokerage Cushman & Wakefield Inc. It marked the lowest quarterly sales volume in six years. Nationwide, the picture wasn't much better. Sales dropped 18%, research firm Real Capital Analytics Inc. found." Read the story here.

You can find the free version of Sally's real estate newsletter here: http://politi.co/2a1DgJk

HAPPY BIRTHDAY: On Friday ... Lobbyist Taryn Duffy ... columnist Michael Daly ... Mark Eagan of the Capital Region Chamber of Commerce ... On Saturday ... Assemblywoman Ellen Jaffee ... awesome editor Tom McGeveran ... Cuomo transportation aide Matt Trapasso ... Eva Petkanas of BerlinRosen ... Vinny "Gotta-guy" LeVien ... On Sunday ... lobbyist and former senator Nick Spano ... City & State publisher Tom Allon ... Schneiderman adviser Eric Soufer and awesome editor Gillian Reagan.

THE HOME TEAMS - POLITICO New York's Howard Megdal: Lynx 90, Liberty 71: Maya Moore led five Lynx starters in double figures with 16, and Liberty starting point guard Brittany Boyd was reportedly lost for the season with an achilles injury.

- Royals 5, Yankees 1: Mike Moustakas homered, and Danny Duffy outpitched Jordan Montgomery.

- The day ahead: The Mets host Mike Trout and the Angels. The Yankees travel to the Rays. The Red Bulls host Toronto FC on a hot streak, though missing Sebastian Giovinco.

#UpstateAmerica: The Buffalo Zoo's 16-year-old American alligator, Guzman, will retire to the Sunshine State next week.

#PlanetNYC: A map of where to see NYC's wildlife, from the city's Parks Dept [h/t Shaye Weaver].

THE PLAYBOOK INTERVIEW - Rider's Alliance executive director John Raskin

Why did this explode to such problematic proportions so quickly?

Transit systems fall apart like people do - slowly, and then all of a sudden. That's a famous quote from someone famous, but I forgot who. But it's actually the case: years and years of underinvestment in our transit system and in regional infrastructure more broadly has gotten us to the point where, A, delays and breakdowns happen more often because equipment is older and more vulnerable, and B, when there is a delay or a breakdown, it has unnecessarily catastrophic effects because the rest of the system doesn't have the resilience to be able to absorb whatever went wrong somewhere.

Who's to blame?

Governor Cuomo points out he did not invent the policy of underinvesting in mass transit, that successive generations of leadership in Albany have not invested the resources that everyone knew would be needed to prevent the ultimate collapse of our transit system. But after six years in office, Governor Cuomo has to take some responsibility. He has perpetuated the same practice of avoiding responsibility for what truly ails the public transportation network.

He has pointed out that the size of the capital plan that he helped push through is bigger than ever. Isn't that something?

The capital plan is necessary, it's vital, but it is actually not fully funded because we don't know where all of the money is going to come from and everyone knows that it's not going to provide the full solution. Much of the capital program is dedicated just to keeping much of the subway, bus and commuter rail system just from falling apart further. Other elements of the capital plan are dedicated to network extension - things like the Second Avenue Subway and East Side Access [to bring Long Island Railroad trains to Grand Central Terminal.] There is an estimate that if you had to rebuild the entire MTA network and all of its equipment from scratch, it would cost hundreds of billions of dollars - perhaps as high as a trillion dollars. If you look at the capital program, even if we made all that investment on time and the money were there, it is still less than a $5 billion investment annually in an enormous capital asset that underpins the entire regional economy. Read more here.

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