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Thanks, But No Thanks

Gov. Andrew Cuomo departs this afternoon for a whirlwind trip to Puerto Rico during which he will express "solidarity" with the island's officials as they battle a massive debt crisis. 

The trip is just as notable (if not more so) for who's NOT going than for who is joining the governor for the 24-hour visit. 

Cuomo says the purpose of the short journey is to provide assistance in the form of advice on financial matters and health care as leaders on Puerto Rico try to figure out how to address their $72 billion debt. He has refused to take a stance on whether the island, a US commonwealth, should be allowed to declare bankruptcy - an idea of which Congress is not a fan. 

Since the whole focus of this visit is financial, you would think the governor would want to include on his delegation the top investors in the state. NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer was invited to attend, but NYS Comptroller Tom DiNapoli - the sole trustee of the state's massive pension fund - was not. 

At least not at first. 

"As you know, a press release went out with the delegation that had been invited, and we were not on the press released because we had not been invited," DiNapoli said during a CapTon interview last Friday night. "Subsequent to that press release going out, we did get a call saying if I wanted to go, I could." 

(Interestingly, another high-profile elected official who didn't make the cut for this trip, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, hasn't yet received an after-the-fact invite. Maybe it got lost in the mail). 

The comptroller said he didn't take the administration up on its offer, and he's going to remain here at home. That does not mean, however, that he's not monitoring the situation with Puerto Rico. 

DiNapoli was quick to note that the pension fund does not have direct exposure if the island declares bankruptcy, though some of the companies and hedge funds in which it invests undoubtedly do. 

"I haven't put out a broad position," the comptroller said. "There are many smart people who have focused on what to do here, including our friend Dick Ravitch, the former lieutenant governor, who is very involved in these discussions."

"Obviously, the real direction needs to come from the federal government. If there is going to be some reworking of law to allow for some kind of a bankruptcy option that has to be done at the federal level."

"...There have been systemic problems going on for a long time that should have been addressed a long time ago about the finances there, and it's in all of our interests to see that there is not a collapse," DiNapoli continued.

The comptroller said it would be "great" if the New York delegation could provide some ideas to help Puerto Rico save money, but ultimately, this problem is going to have to be solved by Washington, not Albany. 

- Liz Benjamin (@CTLizB). 

Hawkins Pitches Stein To Campus Greens

Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for governor in 2010 and 2014, is back in the political fray for the presidential election cycle. 

In an email to Green Party Party supporters this weekend, Hawkins is pushing the candidacy of Jill Stein, the party's 2012 candidate for president. 

Specifically, Stein is kicking off her campaign is usually fertile territory for a Green Party candidate: college campuses. 

Hawkins forwarded an email to supporters on Saturday with information on the fall organizing efforts as well as email drives to build a database of potential voters. 

Hawkins last year was able to turn left-leaning dissatisfaction with Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo into votes: More than 50,000 - enough to give the party ballot access in the current election cycle. 

Cuomo last year in part contended with a liberal challenge on his left: Fordham Law School professor Zephyr Teachout. 

Now, Hillary Clinton is contending with her own liberal challenge from Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. Whether Sanders can turn the large crowds he's garnering around the country into votes remains to be seen. 

- Nick Reisman (@NickReisman)

Welcome to the Morning Memo, a wake-up call for New York state politics and government. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for breaking news and updates throughout the day on stories we're following. 

Programming Note: Zack Fink is following Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York delegation around Puerto Rico today and Tuesday. Follow him @zackfinknews and check TWC News and NY1 for updates through the day. 

Be sure to send us feedback or tips:

Western NY Lawmaker Hires Attorney To Address 'Unsubstantiated Allegations'

A western New York assemblywoman has hired an attorney to defend against what are being described as malicious accusations.

Buffalo-area attorney Steven Cohen told Time Warner Cable News reporter Ryan Whalen Friday night he’s representing Cheektowaga Republican Angela Wozniak after she learned a man was making unspecified claims against her.

Time Warner Cable News has been following this story for several weeks now, and has learned from multiple sources that the individual making the accusations is a former Wozniak staffer. Cohen said to his knowledge there has been no formal complaint, and neither he nor Wozniak have been provided with any details regarding any charges lodged against her.

“Consistent with good ethical practice we are taking steps to preserve any and all evidence that anybody might be interested in looking at in order to clear Angela’s good name,” Cohen said. “To the extent that this individual is spreading falsehoods with actual malice against Assemblywoman Wozniak, we intend to bring a defamation suit.”

Read more here

- Casey Bortnick (@CaseyTWCNews)

What We're Reading Elsewhere - Labor Day Edition

A majority of Americans -- 78 percent -- back mandatory vacation time at work. 

Casey Seiler questions the drive to shame Netflix's two-tiered paid-family leave policy. 

President Obama will sign an executive order providing federal contractors with sick leave

Eating champion Joey Chestnut travels to WNY, wins Buffalo chicken wing eating contest. 

After losing power as Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver has stopped flying to Albany. 

The state Conservative Party will back Donald Trump for president if he wins the GOP nomination. 


Last Friday on CapTon:

- Up and Down. Here's a link to our full interview with state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli who joined us to discuss the 2016-17 employer pension contribution rates for local governments. They're going to be contributing less in the coming year, but the comptroller has also revised the expected rate of return for the fund down by .5 percentage points due to market volatility. 

- Stop the Madness. Sen. Ruth Hassell-Thompson, a Democrat and candidate in the Mount Vernon mayor's race,explained her call for reallocation of State Police resource to respond to a spate of violence in upstate cities. 

She says a "temporary" redeployment of officers from low-crime areas to high-crime areas could be accomplished without raising taxes on already over-taxed homeowners. 

The senator also said she's satisfied with the AG's decision not to investigate (in his role as a special prosecutor appointed by the governor) the shooting death of an innocent bystander during an undercover drug sting in Mount Vernon by the NYPD that went awry. 

- The Week That Was. Members of our Friday Reporter Roundtable - the TU's Matt Hamilton and CapTon's own Nick Reisman - were in the studio to review the week's headlines.

Topics of discussion: Cuomo's Common Core review and impending Puerto Rico trip and more. 

Programming Note:

There will be no CapTon this evening due to the Labor Day holiday. We will return to the air tomorrow night at our usual times (8 p.m., and 11:30 p.m.) Look forward to "seeing" you then. 

Happening Today

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City this morning, and departs this afternoon along with a delegation of NYC and state officials for a “solidarity” mission to Puerto Rico. 

At 9:30 a.m., Cuomo receives a “Champion of Justice Award” and delivers remarks at the West Indian-American Day Parade breakfast, Lincoln Terrace Park, E. New York Ave., Brooklyn. 

At 10 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, accompanied by his wife, NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray, will speak at the parade breakfast. A Q-and-A with reporters will follow. 

At 11 a.m., Cuomo marches in the West Indian-American Day Parade, Utica Avenue and Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn. De Blasio will also march, though likely not together with the governor. 

At 11:30 a.m., Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan will attend the Great New York State Fair, he’ll start at the Senate booth inside the Center of Progress Building (at Gate 12), fairgrounds, Geddes. 

At 2 p.m., Cuomo & Co. depart for Puerto Rico, John F. Kennedy International Airport. 

At 6 p.m., the National Action Network’s Young Professionals & Leaders Committee hosts “2015 Harlem District Leader Election Debate” for Central Harlem’s 70th Assembly District, Part A, House of Justice, 106 145th St., Manhattan.

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