Hochul heads to the Vatican

With help from Shawn Ness

New from New York

Happening now:

  • First the New York City mayor, and now Gov. Kathy Hochul is headed to Rome.
  • A ‘Big’ Hall of Famer visited the state Capitol.
  • The Adams administration was in Albany today to push for procurement changes.
  • Rep. Nicole Malliotakis showed up outside the trial of former President Donald Trump.

Gov. Kathy Hochul is going to Rome later this week for a climate conference hosted by Pope Francis.

THE POPE AND HOCHUL: Gov. Kathy Hochul will be jetting away to Rome this week for a climate conference hosted by Pope Francis.

She’ll be giving a 15-minute talk, titled “Climate Leadership in the Empire State: Building Resiliency for All,” at 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Vatican City time.

The pontiff will hold an audience with the governor and other world leaders shortly after Hochul’s speech.

The governor’s trip to the Vatican comes just days after Mayor Eric Adams also visited the Holy See. (Adams and his team flew back from Rome today, after arriving on Friday).

The nearly back-to-back visits to the Vatican seem to be coincidental.

“Our goal for this trip is simple: strengthen international connections that will create economic opportunities for New Yorkers and a cleaner future for the next generation,” Hochul said in a statement.

Hochul, unlike Adams, is Catholic, and she frequently talks about her faith during public addresses.

The three-day summit will also be attended by California Gov. Gavin Newsom; Massachusetts Gov. Maura Healey; the mayors of Boston, London, Rome, São Paulo, Paris, Athens and Venice; and other politicians and academics.

A main goal of the summit will be to create a “Planetary Climate Resilience protocol,” fashioned in the likes of the Montreal Protocol, and all the global leaders will sign their names to it. The document will then be submitted to the United Nations.

“This is a great opportunity for New York to discuss their climate bill and all the actions going on right now to reduce our climate footprint,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director at Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “This is a critically important meeting that can hopefully inspire other leaders to take action.”

It won’t be the first time the governor and the pope are side by side. In 2015, then-Lt. Gov. Hochul visited the White House on behalf of her boss, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, for the pontiff’s first visit to the U.S.

“For me personally, as a Catholic, it was amazing to be in the presence of such a humble but inspirational individual,” Hochul said at the time.

Hochul spokesperson Avi Small said the trip is official business of the governor and will be bankrolled by the state.

“Climate change is a critically important issue to the Holy Father, and we are pleased that Governor Hochul will have a chance to possibly meet him and discuss this pressing matter period,” said Dennis Poust, the executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference.

“Our hope is it would be a moment of grace for her as a Catholic to meet Pope Francis.” — Jason Beeferman

State Sen. Luis Sepulveda (not shown) invited MLB star David

BIG PAPI TO ALBANY: Famed Yankees beater David “Big Papi” Ortiz stopped by the state Capitol today to be honored for his charitable work.

“My career as an athlete and off the field with the community, this is what people really love about me as a person,” Ortiz said. “It’s not just me as an athlete who was out there doing my thing.”

Sen. Luis Sepulveda – ironically a Bronx resident – invited the former Red Sox player to Albany and lauded his efforts with groups like the Maestro Cares Gala.

Ortiz said he’s always been a fan of the Empire State: “New York is a state that every Dominican has someone related to them here,” he said.

“The only fans worldwide who stop me and say ‘I love and respect you’ are the Yankees fans. No Dodgers fans, no other team’s fans, but the Yankees fans are the only ones who spread that to me.”

While he said he’s “very familiar with the Bronx,” he hadn’t been to Albany before. “I drive by a lot,” he said. The Capitol is “beautiful,” he said. — Bill Mahoney

A few weeks after the state budget was passed, Mayor Eric Adams has another ask for state legislators.

ADAMS ASK: Adams has another ask for Albany.

Officials with the mayor’s administration were at the Capitol today to push for changes to procurement law to speed up construction of infrastructure and other projects.

“These tools, my colleagues in the rest of the country already have them,” said Tom Foley, commissioner at the New York City Department of Design and Construction, which is responsible for public building projects. “We need these tools… to build better, faster and cheaper.”

The delegation also included Meera Joshi, deputy mayor for operations, and Michael Garner, chief business diversity officer.

Lawmakers supporting the mayor’s agenda indicated they’re willing to give Adams more latitude than previous officials.

State Sen. Jim Sanders also said it might seem late in session for a push, but that Adams was successful last year in a late effort for changes related to minority and women-owned businesses. The session ends the first week of June.

“There’s no waiting for another year, there’s getting it done now,” Sanders said.

But some of the measures Adams’ officials were pushing haven’t even been introduced, including making the Department of Design and Construction into an authority and expanding design-build contracting ability. Two have been introduced: changes to the public hearing requirements (A8864/S7833) which has passed the Senate and changes to the New York State Insurance Fund (A7317/S7975). — Marie J. French

TRUMP ON TRIAL

From left, Sens. Tommy Tuberville and J.D. Vance, Rep. Nicole Malliotakis and Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall all showed up to Donald Trump's hush-money criminal trial.

THERE FOR TRUMP: Rep. Nicole Malliotakis showed her support for former President Donald Trump today at his Manhattan criminal hush money trial, helping to slam key prosecution witness Michael Cohen because a gag order prohibits the former president from doing so.

The Staten Island Republican accompanied Trump in court and then stood alongside Sens. J.D. Vance (R-Ohio) and Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), Iowa Attorney General Brenna Bird and Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall to challenge the credibility of Trump’s one-time fixer.

“He’s a convicted, disbarred perjurer,” Malliotakis told reporters of Cohen outside the courthouse during a break in his testimony.

Prosecutors have said Cohen’s testimony can be corroborated with other evidence.

Malliotakis also assailed Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, the Democrat who has become a frequent foil for Republicans. She said Bragg should be focused on “actual crime.”

NYPD statistics show shootings and homicides have been trending downward in Manhattan since Bragg took office. Emily Ngo

Gov. Kathy Hochul, Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown and the 5/14 Memorial Commission unveiled the final design of a memorial honoring the victims of the Tops shooting in Buffalo.

‘SEEING US:’ After a long public engagement campaign, the City of Buffalo and victims’ families of the racially-motived mass-shooting in Buffalo in 2022 have come to a decision on how to honor the lives lost.

“Seeing Us” will consist of 10 unique pillars inscribed with the names of the victims.

“As we approach the solemn two-year anniversary of when our neighbors were senselessly slaughtered solely because of the color of their skin, we rededicate ourselves in supporting the East Buffalo community, remembering those we lost, and supporting those who were injured,” Hochul said in a statement.

Ten Black people were murdered in a Tops grocery store after a white 18-year-old drove over 200 miles from his hometown in Broome County to the predominantly-Black neighborhood.

Twenty designs were submitted to the 5/14 Memorial Commission, which consisted of 11 members. Five were appointed by Hochul, five from local leadership and one agreed on by both. — Shawn Ness

FAITH COMMUNITY SUPPORTS COLUMBIA STUDENTS: The Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York is creating a safe space for Columbia University students in the wake of recent pro-Palestinian protests on campus.

The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Morningside Heights, the seat of the bishop, is providing room for a daily lunch for students currently banned from the university’s dining halls, Bishop Matthew Heyd wrote in a newsletter to parishioners this morning.

The church is also hosting an alternative commencement for students next week.

Ryan Kuratko and Megan Sanders, college chaplains at Columbia and New York University, are also supporting their respective campuses.

“The Cathedral is providing safe and open space for everyone at a time when Columbia University is not safe,” Heyd said, adding that all events at the cathedral “are open to everyone.”

This comes as Columbia kicks off smaller graduation ceremonies in lieu of its university-wide commencement, which the institution canceled last week.

There have been no arrests at the cathedral so far, Heyd added, noting he instructed the church to not cooperate with the NYPD around the demonstrations.

The Commission on Ecumenical and Interreligious Relations — made up of committees that collaborate with representatives for the Christian, Jewish and Muslim communities — is scheduled to meet this week. The General Convention, the governing body of the Episcopal Church that includes bishops, will also weigh resolutions related to the Israel-Gaza war this summer.

“It’s my hope the Commission can facilitate a wider diocesan conversation about the Israel-Gaza war,” Heyd said.

He, along with two other bishops — who have denounced Israel’s deadly Oct. 7 attack on Hamas militants as well as the taking of hostages — called for a cease-fire in Gaza as well as access to humanitarian aid.

The bishop was scheduled to meet with young adults in the diocese who have expressed concerns about the church response to the war later this morning. Madina Touré

CHECK, PLEASE: The restaurant industry has a bot problem. And state lawmakers may try to crack down on it by the end of the legislative session June 6.

Assemblymember Alex Bores and state Sen. Nathalia Fernandez today pushed a measure that’s meant to address websites that scoop up a restaurant’s reservations and sell them to customers.

That’s costing restaurants, especially those in high-demand in New York City, big when there’s a no-show.

“It’s a lot like ticket scalping, but it’s even worse. Reservation being held by the bot system,” New York State Restaurant Association President and CEO Melissa Fleischut told reporters. “They staff up, they order all the food, they think they’re going to have a full restaurant.”

The measure backed by Bores is meant to differentiate between the legitimate online reservation services like Open Table and the websites — many using automated bots — that have no actual relationship with the eatery.

“It’s so important for us to be protecting not just consumers, but our small businesses and our restaurants,” Bores said. Nick Reisman

LAWMAKERS SAY ‘NEIGH’ TO HORSE SLAUGHTER: One month after the nation’s strictest anti-horse slaughtering law went into effect in New York, two equine protection groups honored five of the lawmakers that helped get it passed.

The two groups selected chair of the Senate’s Racing and Wagering Committee Joseph Addabbo; Senate Agriculture Chair Michelle Hinchey; Assembly Racing and Wagering Committee Chair Gary Pretlow; Assembly Environmental Conservation Chair Deborah Glick; and Assembly Agriculture Committee Chair Donna Lupardo were the five legislators honored.

The law banned the slaughter of all horses for human and animal consumption.

“After nearly 20 years of carrying this important bill, I am thrilled that New York has finally put an end to the horse slaughter pipeline that has run through our state,” Glick, a Manhattan Democrat and bill sponsor, said in a statement. — Shawn Ness

— An increasing number of school districts on Long Island are hiring armed guards. (Newsday)

— Two advocacy groups are suing the state claiming that inmates with disabilities were placed in solitary confinement. (Times Union)

— New York’s biggest teachers union is celebrating record school aid funding and pension changes. (POLITICO Pro)

Correction: A previous version of New York Playbook PM misspelled the name of Dennis Poust, executive director of the New York State Catholic Conference.

Original Politco Link

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