Former President Bill Clinton heads to Harlem to celebrate community’s restaurant scene

Former President Bill Clinton appeared at an event celebrating Harlem’s restaurant scene Saturday — but he had no appetite to discuss the $25 million in speech money he and wife Hillary earned over the past 16 months. Clinton didn’t take questions after expounding on Harlem’s restaurant renaissance. “Nothing characterizes this neighborhood more than the food, all the different restaurants, all the different people who provide it,” Clinton said at the Harlem EatUp! event in Morningside Park. Bubba addressed the few hundred foodies a day after it was revealed that the Clintons’ income since January 2014 put them in the top tenth of 1% of all Americans. In addition to the $25 million in speech money, Hillary Clinton earned more than $5 million from her 2014 memoir “Hard Choices.” Continue Reading

Queens nonprofit billed taxpayers for boozed-filled conference and parties: controller

ALBANY — The party was on at one Queens nonprofit — and taxpayers paid the bill. PSCH Inc., which has a $30 million contract with the state to provide services for the mentally ill, billed taxpayers for a booze-filled “conference” at a Montauk resort, a staff picnic and a sunset cruise off Long Island, state Controller Thomas DiNapoli’s office revealed Wednesday. The two-day conference was held at the Montauk Yacht Club Resort & Marina in October 2012 and cost taxpayers $31,908, including $10,723 for alcohol. Some PSCH officials and their guests remained at the resort an extra night, resulting in extra costs for rooms, meals and a sunset cruise that cost taxpayers $1,000, the audit found. Those charges were among $152,680 in unsubstantiated or unallowable expenses billed to the state between July 1, 2012, and June 30, 2013, according to an audit by DiNapoli’s office. “The rules for conference costs are clear," DiNapoli said. "And lavish parties with alcohol, cruises and extra guests are not allowable.” On another occasion, according to the audit, PSCH billed the state $22,901 for a staff picnic at Cunningham Park in Queens. It also billed the state twice for some mental health services, costing taxpayers $64,730. Ben Rosen, a spokesman for the state’s Office of Mental Health, said the agency would “seek to recoup any and all of PSCH’s inappropriate expenses.” Willie Scott, PSCH’s vice president for public affairs and development, said the nonprofit was aware of DiNapoli’s audit and “will do whatever the (Office of Mental Health) and the controller’s office tells us to do.” Continue Reading

Bill Murray hangs out with Rick Ross in studio after son’s basketball game

Will Bill Murray make a cameo on Rick Ross' next album? The 64-year-old actor and 39-year-old rap mogul got chummy during an unlikely hang sesh in a studio near Philadelphia Saturday, Fader reports. Murray was in town to attend his son's college hoops game, and at some point afterward, he ended up in the studio with Ross, CBS "Late Show" bandleader Paul Shaffer and Hollywood producer Mitch Glazer. Social media snaps showed Murray in scarf and a warm up from sandwich chain Jimmy John's smiling and goofing around with Ross, who rocked his trademark shades and a leather jacket with massive fur collar. "#Bill Murray funny dude," Ross tweeted Sunday. Murray's son, Luke — who snapped a few of the pics — is an assistant coach for University of Rhode Island, who beat La Salle University in Philly on Saturday. Continue Reading

Mother of Bill Cosby accuser Jennifer Thompson sends letter to comedian’s wife Camille Cosby

When William and Judy Thompson met comedian Bill Cosby in the late 1980s to discuss their teen daughter's modeling and acting career, they felt immediately at ease. Cosby and William Thompson both belonged to black fraternities in college. They both had lived in the Washington, D.C.-Maryland area. Both were born in July and both went by Bill as a first name. Cosby reassured the Thompsons that their then-17-year-old daughter, Jennifer, would be fine living in an apartment with other models as she launched her career. He promised to help the teen, they said. "We thought we were talking to Dr. Huxtable," said William Thompson, referring to the comedian's TV persona in the hit series "The Cosby Show." Jennifer Thompson now says she fended off unwanted sexual advances from Cosby and once performed a sex act on the comedian. He then gave her $700. That encounter - their final - clouded Jennifer Thompson's next two decades. "It basically shattered my faith so that anything that used to look promising to me, I saw it through a different lens," she said. Thompson, now 44, and her parents recently spoke to The Associated Press about the encounters with Cosby. They also revealed that three weeks ago, Judy Thompson sent a letter to Cosby's wife, Camille. "Mother to mother," said Judy Thompson. "This letter was written from my heart." More than 20 women have stepped forward in recent months to level various accusations against Cosby, ranging from unwanted advances to sexual assault and rape. Additionally, Cosby is being sued by three women for defamation and by another woman who says he molested her when she was 15. Cosby has not been charged with any crime, and neither Cosby's lawyer nor his spokesman returned calls seeking comment. Cosby's lawyer, Martin Singer, previously has denied some of the allegations and made no comment on others. Judy Thompson said she was inspired to pen the Continue Reading

State lawmakers passed bills on New York’s lobster regulations, Sandy relief while rent regulations extension drags on

ALBANY — They couldn’t agree on rent regulations or extending mayoral control of city schools, but state lawmakers did manage to get some things done last week. As negotiations dragged on over high-profile issues, lawmakers passed more than 300 bills on issues ranging from regulation of New York’s lobster catch to oversight of Hurricane Sandy relief funds. “There are a lot of small things that got accomplished,” said Assemblyman James Brennan (D-Brooklyn). State lawmakers pass temporary five-day rent regulations extension as city receives calls from nervous tenants Brennan, in response to complaints from Hurricane Sandy ravaged communities about the flow of relief funds, pushed through legislation requiring state budget officials to produce a yearly report on how such money was allocated. “This information will all be made public,” Brennan said. Brennan’s bill and hundreds of others approved by lawmakers in recent days will be sent to Gov. Cuomo’s office in small, periodic batches during the remaining months of the year for his signature or veto. Although the Legislature’s session was scheduled to end last Wednesday, the stalemate over extending rent regulations and other issues will force the Assembly and Senate to return to Albany Tuesday. “They passed a lot of bills and some of them are very important, but the issues that caused Albany's gridlock remain undone and that is the big problem,” said Blair Horner of the New York Public Interest Research Group. “I am starting to get that sickening feeling that Albany might be slinking back toward the bad old days,” Horner added. Measures approved by the Legislature last week include: -Immunizations: The Senate and Assembly passed a measure adding meningococcal disease to the list of vaccines students must receive. -Insurance break: Homeowners who take a natural disaster Continue Reading

Pot for pets? Nevada bill would make medical marijuana available for sick animals

Give a dog a bowl. Pets might soon be able to use pot under a bill introduced Tuesday in the Nevada Legislature. Democratic Sen. Tick Segerblom is sponsoring the measure that would allow animal owners to get marijuana for their pet if a veterinarian certifies the animal has an illness that might be alleviated by the drug. Segerblom said he's concerned that some animals might have adverse reactions, but "you don't know until you try," he said. Some veterinarians who have given cannabis to sick and dying pets say it has relieved their symptoms, although the substance hasn't been proven as a painkiller for animals. Los Angeles veterinarian Doug Kramer told The Associated Press in 2013 that pot helped ease his Siberian husky's pain during her final weeks, after she had surgery to remove tumors. Kramer said cannabis helped his dog, Nikita, gain weight and live an extra six weeks before she was euthanized. "I grew tired of euthanizing pets when I wasn't doing everything I could to make their lives better," Kramer told the AP. "I felt like I was letting them down." The proposal is in its earliest stages and faces several legislative hurdles before it could become law. The pot-for-pets provision of SB372 is part of a larger bill that would overhaul the state's medical marijuana law, removing penalties for drivers who have marijuana in their blood and requiring training for pot-shop owners. Segerblom said he added the provision after being approached by a constituent. Sen. Mark Manendo, a fellow Democrat and animal rights advocate, said he hadn't heard of the practice of giving marijuana to animals and is concerned about its safety. "That gives me pause," he said. "Alcohol is bad, chocolate is bad for dogs." His own dog died in his arms at age 15, and the experience was difficult and emotional, he said. But "I don't know if I would've given him marijuana," Continue Reading

City Council approves bill to improve enforcement of anti-discrimination laws

The City Council passed legislation Tuesday to beef up the city’s Human Rights Commission, which critics complain has been weak in its enforcement of anti-discrimination laws. The bills would require the commission to do at least five housing discrimination and another five employment discrimination investigations within a year starting in October. Continue Reading

Yankees’ Alex Rodriguez still hasn’t paid legal bills from Biogenesis defense: court papers

The Biogenesis saga continues for Alex Rodriguez thanks to his mysterious refusal to pay a relatively small legal bill left over from his ill-fated 2013 challenge to a doping suspension. Court papers recently served on Rodriguez shed some light on the inner workings of the legal army he assembled to fight the steroid ban Major League Baseball imposed on him for his role in the bruising steroid scandal. Suing Rodriguez in New York state court is Gordon, Rees, Scully & Mansukhani, one of the firms that counseled him in the matter and now seeks $380,059 in unpaid fees. RELATED: YANKEES WON'T DECLARE A-ROD'S HOME RUNS 'MILESTONES' Rodriguez, who is scheduled for a deposition in the case next week, was recently served with two documents. A notice to admit requires him to admit or deny a list of 41 factual assertions about his legal defense, and a notice to produce compels him to provide documents and information. Prominently named in the papers is Desiree Perez, an influential figure at Jay Z’s sports agency who, the Daily News revealed last year, was once a fugitive from the law who escaped a major cocaine distribution sentence by cooperating with the DEA. Perez won plaudits from prosecutors after she wore a hidden wire to help the feds bust cocaine traffickers. She figured heavily in Rodriguez's decision-making process in the summer of '13 and throughout the fall, advising him to fight the Yankees and play despite his serious reservations about his health and ability to play without steroids, according to sources familiar with the process. The notice to admit, which Rodriguez has 20 days to answer, states that Perez was A-Rod’s “authorized representative” for his Biogenesis defense, that the Gordon & Rees engagement agreement was addressed to her, that she instructed A-Rod not to pay the firm in order to force the firm to sue. Representatives of Rodriguez and Roc Nation did not respond to requests for comment. Continue Reading

Big-talking Bill leaves city’s future to the imagination

In his mayoral campaign, Bill de Blasio made bold promises to apply progressive values to transform New York for the better. Now, he’s promising even more — more than anyone could ever imagine. Sixteen months into his mayoralty, de Blasio Wednesday published a sprawling array of intentions in a mission statement that amounted to 322 pages of “huh?” because the grandeur of his goals far exceeded the credibility of his plans for getting from here to there. Following his lead, the mayor says that New York will pull 800,000 souls out of poverty within 10 years, eliminate all the garbage now shipped out for disposal within 15 years, reduce by 25% the number of New Yorkers who die too soon within 25 years and extend the No. 3 and 4 subways to the far reaches of Brooklyn’s Utica Ave. someday. He says New York will also reduce unnecessary incarceration, deliver cheap broadband to all, open breastfeeding rooms, repair public housing’s chronically leaky roofs and become a city whose residents eat lots more fruits and vegetables. RELATED: DE BLASIO SHOWS 'ONE NEW YORK' PLAN FOR POVERTY, AIR, SUBWAY And so much more, in a game plan that conquers environmental ills and social inequality in one giant swoop. Where to begin? Not with funding, details of which were nonexistent. Nor with benchmarks for measuring progress because those, too, were largely absent. Nor with persuasive, confidence-building evidence that anyone in the world could reach de Blasio’s target of reducing the city’s emissions of greenhouse gases by 80% by 2050. Realism also requires noting that de Blasio pins many of his hopes on Albany. If the Legislature and governor fail to approve an agenda that includes funding energy efficiency, overhauling tax credits for cleaning up polluted land and a substantial minimum wage hike, a good portion of the mayor’s dreams are DOA. At the same time, while calling for full funding of the Continue Reading

NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton expects to hire more cops this year

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton expects to get more cops in this year’s city budget, he said Sunday. “I’m optimistic that we will in fact see an increase in the size of the department this year,” Bratton said on the John Catsimatidis radio show on AM 970, doubling down on his push to persuade Mayor de Blasio to increase the size of the 35,000-member department. Bratton said the size of the increase is still to be decided. “We are in negotiations with the mayor’s office on numbers that I have proposed to him,” he said. De Blasio’s initial budget proposal this year contained no money for new cops, despite lobbying by Bratton and the City Council, but a revised proposal is due this month. Continue Reading