Legislative leaders will not relent in their support for Israel

12 Min Read

With help from Shawn Ness

DRINKS ON US — Celebrate the end of the session with POLITICO. We’re hosting a happy hour today at the Albany War Room Tavern. Join other New York insiders for drinks and hors d’oeuvres, meet our editorial team and learn more about our coverage of politics, policy and power in Albany. You can respond here.

Hundreds of protesters gathered in Albany today, chanting, “Not a penny more, not a penny more, not a penny more for Israel’s crimes.”

But legislative leadership isn’t paying attention.

In the state with the nation’s largest Jewish population, leaders of the state Assembly and Senate are refusing to even consider a bill introduced by Democratic Socialist lawmakers that would crack down on charities they say are “Israeli” amplify and promote war crimes’.

“It is a non-starter and the speaker’s position has not changed,” Mike Whyland, spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, wrote in an email to POLITICO.

It is the latest indication of how the war in Gaza continues to divide Democrats, exposing a divide between left-wing lawmakers and establishment politicians that has only widened since the conflict began.

Today’s renewed focus on the war has done little to move the issue in Albany, where the leadership and high-ranking Democrats, many of whom are Jewish, are simply unwilling to budge in their support for Israel. That includes avoiding bills critical of the Israeli regime.

“Jewish lawmakers feel like the entire world has very much turned against them, as Jews, and not as legislators,” said Assembly Member Amy Paulin, a Jewish Democrat from Westchester. “We don’t feel it here. We don’t feel it during the conference; we work together as colleagues. These types of divisive issues are rarely discussed.”

Playbook then asked Paulin if she feels opposition to Israel growing in the legislature.

“I don’t know because we don’t talk about it,” she replied.

Contrary to that characterization, MP Zohran Mamdani and Secretary of State Jabari Brisport hours earlier organized the raucous rally for the “Not on Our Dime!: Ending New York Funding of Israeli Settler Violence.”

The measure would strip New York charities of their tax-deductible status if they fund organizations that lawmakers allege are engaged in violations of the Geneva Convention. It secured the support last week of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who stood next to Mamdani at a Bronx rally for the measure.

“It meant a lot to me because it showed that while there are attempts to characterize this as a fringe position, this is in fact the position of the majority,” Mamdani said of AOC’s support. “It’s just not accurately reflected in the centers of power.”

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Brisport feels the same way and told Playbook he has heard from fellow Democrats who said they agree with his bill but are wary of stymieing their party and drawing opposition.

“I won’t share names, but lawmakers have said to me, ‘Obviously I support the cause, but I’m not going to do that.’ [support the bill] currently.’”

In the meantime, the bill in Albany remains as much of an impossibility as it was last year, when Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Stewart Cousins ​​both said they were determined to kill it.

“It was only brought up for inflammatory reasons, and I don’t think the sponsor ever thought it would go anywhere at all,” Assemblymember David Weprin — co-chairman of the National Association of Jewish Legislators — said of the Mamdani-Brisport bill. .

“He’s just bringing it up to cause tension,” Weprin added. “I hope people don’t fall into that trap.” —Jason Beeferman

Gary LaBarbera, chairman of the New York Building Trades Council, said it will be an uphill battle to convince some members to vote for President Joe Biden.

CONVICTION OF THE UNION: New York Building Trades Council President Gary LaBarbera acknowledged that union leaders will have a hard time convincing some of their members to vote for President Joe Biden.

“This is a very unique set of circumstances with Donald Trump,” LaBarbera told Playbook in an interview. “There are people who won’t change their minds.”

LaBarbera was in Albany today to boost internship programs following an allocation of $7 million from the state budget to strengthen workforce training. The funding includes support for direct entry and pre-apprenticeship programs and will strengthen ongoing efforts for high school students, veterans and those who have previously faced legal challenges.

With just over four months until the nail-biter of the presidential election, organized labor is well positioned to leverage its political power — especially in New York, which has one of the highest unionized populations in the country, second only to Hawaii.

That has given union leaders greater influence in New York, a blue state where Trump has nevertheless eaten into Biden’s lead. according to recent polls. The LaBarbera International Union backed Biden’s re-election bid, offering him support from a key demographic group that has supported Trump’s political movement.

Trump has heavily courted working-class voters across the country, potentially leaving this segment of the working-class vote up for grabs. He even made a brief campaign stop at a union construction site in Manhattan last month.

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Union leaders are planning a persuasion campaign for the – potentially small – group of voters who have not yet committed themselves to either man.

LaBarbera listed a series of Biden achievements, including spending on infrastructure and pension protection.

“Look, there will be members who we know will never be convinced that Joe Biden should be the next president,” LaBabera said. “They need to look at what this president has done for organized labor.” – Nick Reisman

RASPBERRY LEAVES QUESTIONS: New York Mayor Eric Adams’ top intergovernmental affairs aide stood up and left a City Council hearing without answering questions about a controversial bill to expand his powers — underscoring strained relations between the mayor and the council.

“This illustrates to me the contempt for this council that we have all witnessed with great clarity,” said Speaker Adrienne Adams as Tiffany Raspberry, the mayor’s director of intergovernmental affairs, left the council chamber.

The mayor’s administration had initially declined to testify on the bill, which would have allowed the council to vote on mayoral nominations to lead 21 agencies. But two hours after the hearing, Raspberry agreed to read a prepared statement but not answer questions — explaining that she had not been “formally invited.”

Councilman Lincoln Restler, who chaired the hearing, responded angrily to the claim, saying the council made it clear last Thursday that they would like someone from the Adams administration to speak.

In her statement, Raspberry said the bill would delay appointments and that confirmation hearings would be “weaponized to score cheap political points.”

The Mayor’s Charter Revision Commission also met for the first time today, in a pro forma affair. Another of Adams’ top aides on intergovernmental affairs, Diane Savino, was named executive director. Jeff Coltin

WILL NOT GIVE UP: Paulin’s proposal to address a key issue raised by the state Supreme Court when Harvey Weinstein’s sex crimes conviction was overturned is dead in the General Assembly for this year.

But the lawmaker said she is not giving up.

“I will stay here as long as it takes to get through this,” Paulin told reporters today.

Her legislation aims to address the issues surrounding the use of so-called Molineux evidence, which is intended to substantiate allegations of sex crimes by establishing a pattern of behavior for the suspect.

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In the Weinstein case, prosecutors were allowed to call witnesses who had accused the former Hollywood mogul of sexual assault and misconduct, but the allegations were not part of the criminal charges he faced.

The measure was approved in the Senate earlier this month.

But lawmakers in the General Assembly had raised concerns about the implications of the bill, which aimed to strengthen prosecutors’ ability to use Molineux evidence in sex crime cases.

“I was devastated because I believe that without this change, serial rapists in New York will not be convicted as easily as they should be, making women especially a problem,” Paulin said.

Lawmakers noted the potential impact on defendants’ rights in less high-profile cases.

Paulin said there was “a group of lawmakers who absolutely didn’t want to do it and then the group that said bring it back with the amendments.” – Nick Reisman

NO SENATE ACTION AGAINST PARKER: Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins ​​said she is not planning any action against Kevin Parker — a fellow Democrat in her conference — following allegations that he pushed attorney Michael Carey into the Capitol two weeks ago.

“I honestly never heard exactly what happened,” Stewart-Cousins ​​said. “There were investigations, the state police looked into it and no one had come back with an official report. And now it’s a non-issue because the charges have been dropped.”

Carey said after the incident that he and Parker “things worked outand that he had told police he did not want to press charges.

Stewart-Cousins ​​was asked about the incident after an event to announce legislative plans to help EMS workers. The package contains an invoice to allow ambulance companies to receive Medicaid payments for delivering patients to places such as urgent care facilities, and An to increase the tax credit for volunteer firefighters from $200 to $800. –Bill Mahoney

More from the Empire State:

— Experts say that the labor market is finally showing signs of returning to pre-pandemic levels. (State of politics)

— Mayor Eric Adams still is is considering revoking Sean “Diddy” Combs’ key to the city as he faces allegations of sexual assault and domestic violence. (Daily news)

— It is still unclear whether there is congestion pricing will fulfill the state’s pledge to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the desired amount. (The New York Times)

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